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And you thought Mississippi was conservative? Meet Mitt, Ron, Newt, & Rick

Women’s reproductive rights haven’t been this threatened by a group of Republican presidential hopefuls in decades. As Rachel Maddow summarized brilliantly the other night, Rick Santorum, “libertarian” Ron Paul, and Newt Gingrich have all signed pledges backing the Personhood movement that aims to make all abortions illegal (even in the case of rape and incest) by defining fertilized eggs as people, which would in turn ban most forms of birth control. Mitt Romney hasn’t signed anything yet, nor did he attend the Presidential Prolife Forum in South Caroline this past Wednesday like all the others, but he did tell Mike Huckabee last October that he “absolutely” would have supported a personhood amendment to his state’s constitution when he was Governor of Massachusetts. Rick Santorum is the only one — so far — who’s actually said out loud that birth control is “not okay” and is a dangerous problem in this country, but that kind of thinking is basically built into the personhood movement (whether these candidates, who will say anything to appease their religious base, realize it or not). So you know where these guys stand.

As Maddow pointed out, you don’t get more right wing in this country than Mississippi. Every county in that state voted to ban gay marriage back in 2004. But when it came time to vote on a right-wing personhood amendment last year, Mississippi decidedly said thanks but no thanks — that’s too hardcore, even for us. Which puts every single one of the Republican presidential candidates to the right of – i.e. more fringe and radical thanMississippi. So now you really know where these guys stand.

Two important studies just came out this week that are quite relevant to this topic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data yesterday showing that the US still has the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world. And the new global abortion study from the U.S.-based Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization (that’s published in the Jan. 19 issue of The Lancet) found that abortion rates are highest where the procedure is illegal, such as in Latin America and Africa, and that 95 to 97 percent of abortions in those regions were unsafe. According to the LA Times, “Experts couldn’t say whether more liberal laws led to fewer procedures, but said good access to birth control in those countries resulted in fewer unwanted pregnancies.”

In the face of numbers like these, in this day and age, it is absolutely insane that every single Republican presidential candidate is ready and willing to lead the fight against keeping abortions safe and birth control accessible.

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photo via Flickr