During their only debate this campaign season Thursday night, Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) discussed how their Catholic beliefs have shaped their views on abortion.
“Please talk about how you came to that decision,” asked debate moderator Martha Raddatz, ABC’s senior foreign correspondent. “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.
In the only debate between the candidates, Biden and Ryan discussed their views on domestic issues such as the economy, foreign policy and the role of the vice president. Biden and Ryan faced off in the sole vice-presidential debate from Centre College in Danville, Ky.
Near the end of the debate, Raddatz asked about the role their religion has played in their own personal views on abortion.
“I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith,” Ryan said. “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.
The Republican vice-presidential candidate shared how his eldest daughter’s nickname is “Bean” due to how she appeared in her first ultrasound. He also said that he’s troubled by what he feels is the Obama administration’s infringement on “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.
Biden challenged what Ryan’s characterization of the health-care reform as an assault on the Catholic Church, noting that “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.”
He said that while he’s been a practicing Catholic all his life and his faith informs his 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 (inaudible) doctrine. Life begins at conception in the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life.
While he accepts the church’s doctrine when it comes to abortion, he refuses to “impose that on others.”
“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.”
Ryan emphasized made clear Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and would oppose abortions with “exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.”