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Ryan, abortion, and 'unelected judges'

<p>In light of Paul Ryan's dubious reputation as a "numbers guy," it's often overlooked just how far to the right

In light of Paul Ryan's dubious reputation as a "numbers guy," it's often overlooked just how far to the right he is on hot-button, culture-war issues, most notably reproductive rights. The far-right congressman -- who said in 2010, "I'm as pro-life as a person gets" -- has maintained a 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee in each of Ryan's terms in Congress for a reason.

It was noteworthy, then, when the subject came up in last night's debate.

The question was worded in an awkward way. Martha Raddatz told the candidates, "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."

The wording notwithstanding, Ryan, who in the past has even opposed rape and incest exceptions, made his case for life beginning "at conception." The Republican congressman then went considerably further, accusing the Obama administration of "infringing on ... Catholic churches" on contraception, ignoring the reality that churches are exempt, and arguing that the Affordable Care Act includes "taxpayer funding" for abortion, which is patently false.

And when he was done with the falsehoods, Ryan went just a little further still.

"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."

So, Paul Ryan would stack the courts with conservative ideologues, but in his vision, he doesn't want courts in a position to uphold women's constitutionally-protected rights anyway -- preferring instead that Congress and the White House start restricting Americans' reproductive choices.

CNN ran a dial-test focus group, and this was Ryan's lowest point of the debate. Given the reaction, expect to hear more about this going forward.