Last night Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan participated in this year's only vice presidential debate. Here are the candidates comments on the topic of abortion and their closing statements.
Moderator Martha Raddatz: I want to move on, and I want to return home for these last few questions. This debate is, indeed, historic. We have two Catholic candidates, first time, on a stage such as this. And I would like to ask you both to tell me what role your religion has played in your own personal views on abortion.
Please talk about how you came to that decision. Talk about how your religion played a part in that. And, please, this is such an emotional issue for so many people in this country…
Paul Ryan: Sure.
Moderator Martha Raddatz: … please talk personally about this, if you could.
Paul Ryan: I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do. My faith informs me about how to take care of the vulnerable, of how to make sure that people have a chance in life.
Now, you want to ask basically why I’m pro-life? It’s not simply because of my Catholic faith. That’s a factor, of course. But it’s also because of reason and science.
You know, I think about 10 1/2 years ago, my wife Janna and I went to Mercy Hospital in Janesville where I was born, for our seven week ultrasound for our firstborn child, and we saw that heartbeat. A little baby was in the shape of a bean. And to this day, we have nicknamed our firstborn child Liza, “Bean.” Now I believe that life begins at conception.
That’s why — those are the reasons why I’m pro-life. Now I understand this is a difficult issue, and I respect people who don’t agree with me on this, but the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortions with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. What troubles me more is how this administration has handled all of these issues. Look at what they’re doing through Obamacare with respect to assaulting the religious liberties of this country. They’re infringing upon our first freedom, the freedom of religion, by infringing on Catholic charities, Catholic churches, Catholic hospitals.
Our church should not have to sue our federal government to maintain their religious liberties. And with respect to abortion, the Democratic Party used to say they wanted it to be safe, legal and rare. Now they support it without restriction and with taxpayer funding. Taxpayer funding in Obamacare, taxpayer funding with foreign aid. The vice president himself went to China and said that he sympathized and wouldn’t second guess their one child policy of forced abortions and sterilizations. That to me is pretty extreme.
Moderator Martha Raddatz: Vice President Biden?
Joe Biden: My religion defines who I am, and I’ve been a practicing Catholic my whole life. And has particularly informed my social doctrine. The Catholic social doctrine talks about taking care of those who — who can’t take care of themselves, people who need help. With regard to — with regard to abortion, I accept my church’s position on abortion as a — what we call a de fide doctrine. Life begins at conception in the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life.
But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the — the congressman. I — I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that — women they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor. In my view and the Supreme Court, I’m not going to interfere with that. With regard to the assault on the Catholic church, let me make it absolutely clear, no religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy Hospital, any hospital, none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact.
That is a fact. Now with regard to the way in which the — we differ, my friend says that he — well I guess he accepts Governor Romney’s position now, because in the past he has argued that there was — there’s rape and forcible rape. He’s argued that in the case of rape or incest, it was still — it would be a crime to engage in having an abortion. I just fundamentally disagree with my friend.
Moderator Martha Raddatz: Congressman Ryan.
Paul Ryan: All I’m saying is, if you believe that life begins at conception, that, therefore, doesn’t change the definition of life. That’s a principle. The policy of a Romney administration is to oppose abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.
Now, I’ve got to take issue with the Catholic church and religious liberty.
Joe Biden: You have on the issue…
Paul Ryan: … why would they keep — why would they keep suing you? It’s a distinction without a difference.
Moderator Martha Raddatz: I want to go back to the abortion question here. If the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected, should those who believe that abortion should remain legal be worried?
Paul Ryan: We don’t think that unelected judges should make this decision; that people through their elected representatives in reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process should make this determination.
Joe Biden: The court — the next president will get one or two Supreme Court nominees. That’s how close Roe v. Wade is. Just ask yourself, with Robert Bork being the chief adviser on the court for — for Mr. Romney, who do you think he’s likely to appoint? Do you think he’s likely to appoint someone like Scalia or someone else on the court far right that would outlaw ... outlaw abortion? I suspect that would happen.
I guarantee you, that will not happen. We picked two people. We pick people who are open-minded. They’ve been good justices. So keep an eye on the Supreme Court…
Paul Ryan: Was there a litmus test on them?
Joe Biden: There was no litmus test. We picked people who had an open mind; did not come with an agenda.
Moderator Martha Raddatz: OK, we now turn to the candidates for their closing statements. Thank you, gentlemen. And that coin toss, again, has Vice President Biden starting with the closing statement.
Joe Biden: Well, let — let me say at the outset that I want to thank you, Martha, for doing this, and Centre College. The fact is that we’re in a situation where we inherited a god-awful circumstance. People are in real trouble. We acted to move to bring relief to the people who need the most help now.
And — and in the process, we — in case you haven’t noticed, we have strong disagreements, but I — you probably detected my frustration with their attitude about the American people. My friend says that 30 percent of the American people are takers. Romney points out 47 percent of the people won’t take responsibility.
He’s talking about my mother and father. He’s talking about the places I grew up in, my neighbors in Scranton and Claymont, and he’s talking about — he’s talking about the people that have built this country. All they’re looking for, Martha, all they’re looking for is an even shot. Whenever you give them the shot, they’ve done it. They’ve done it. Whenever you’ve leveled the playing field, they’ve been able to move. And they want a little bit of peace of mind.
And the president and I are not going to rest until that playing field is leveled, they, in fact, have a clear shot, and they have peace of mind, until they can turn to their kid and say with a degree of confidence, “Honey, it’s going to be OK. It’s going to be OK.” That’s what this is all about.
Moderator Martha Raddatz: Congressman Ryan?
Paul Ryan: I want to thank you, as well, Martha, Danville, Kentucky, Centre College, and I want to thank you, Joe. It’s been an honor to engage in this critical debate.
We face a very big choice. What kind of country are we going to be? What kind of country are we going to give our kids? President Obama, he had his chance. He made his choices. His economic agenda, more spending, more borrowing, higher taxes, a government takeover of health care. It’s not working. It’s failed to create the jobs we need.
Twenty-three million Americans are struggling for work today. Fifteen percent of Americans are in poverty. This is not what a real recovery looks like. You deserve better. Mitt Romney and I want to earn your support. We’re offering real reforms for a real recovery for every American.
Mitt Romney — his experience, his ideas, his solutions — is uniquely qualified to get this job done. At a time when we have a jobs crisis in America, wouldn’t it be nice to have a job-creator in the White House?
The choice is clear: a stagnant economy that promotes more government dependency or a dynamic, growing economy that promotes opportunity and jobs. Mitt Romney and I will not duck the tough issues, and we will not blame others for the next four years. We will take responsibility. And we will not try to replace our founding principles. We will reapply our founding principles.
The choice is clear, and the choice rests with you. And we ask you for your vote. Thank you.