Kentucky senator and potential 2016 presidential candidate Rand Paul earned accolades from social conservatives across Iowa when he introduced a Life at Conception bill last week. That admiration turned to bewilderment this week when Paul said during a CNN interview that there would be “thousands of exceptions” to the abortion ban he is proposing.
Senator Paul also noted that there would be decisions by families and doctors that “the law won’t apply to”, and “every individual case is going to be different”. So, instead of recognizing that each human life deserves the same equal protection, as is stated in his bill, Rand Paul went on CNN and argued the exact opposite.
Based strictly on this interview, Rand Paul is not advocating a pro-life position. He is advocating a pro-choice one. Therein lies the problem when one tries to blur the lines between being a libertarian and a social conservative.
Paul’s bill, S-583, “would implement equal protection under the 14th Amendment for the right to life of each born and unborn human. This legislation does not amend or interpret the Constitution, but simply relies on the 14th Amendment, which specifically authorizes Congress to enforce its provisions”.
However, Senator Paul’s own words during his CNN interview show that he does not believe in equal protection for the unborn. If he did, how could there be “thousands of exceptions”? How could the decision be left up to “the physician and the woman and the family” if every unborn child is supposed to have equal protection under the law?
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer even stated to Sen. Paul, “Well, it sounds like you believe in some exceptions.”
Here is Paul’s response:
“Well, there’s going to be, like I say, thousands of extraneous situations where the life of the mother is involved and other things that are involved. So, I would say that each individual case would have to be addressed and even if there were eventually a change in the law, let’s say, the people came more to my way of thinking, it’s still be a lot of complicated things that the law may not ultimately be able to address in the early stages of pregnancy that would have to be part of what occurs between the physician and the woman and the family.”
As for Senator Paul’s comment that the life of the mother might be one of those exceptions, perhaps he should listen to what his own father, Dr. Ron Paul, said during a presidential debate in 2007 regarding abortions: “I’m an OB doctor and I practiced medicine for 30 years and I of course never saw one time when a medically necessary abortion had to be done.”
55 million babies have been aborted in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade went in effect 40 years ago. They are currently being aborted at a rate of once every 90 seconds. 4,808 abortions took place in Iowa in 2011. Despite those numbers, Rand Paul did not profess a sense of urgency to get his Life at Conception legislation passed.
“It’s not an easy discussion and we’re divided as a country on it so I don’t think we’re in any real rush towards any new legislation to tell you the truth,” Paul said.
At this early stage, almost three years before the 2016 Iowa Caucus, Rand Paul is the favorite to win that contest. However, his statements on Tuesday will give social conservatives in Iowa pause about what Senator Paul’s true beliefs are in regards to the sanctity of life.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is one of the co-sponsors to Paul’s Life at Conception bill. Rand Paul is scheduled to headline the Republican Party of Iowa’s Lincoln Dinner on May 10 in Cedar Rapids. Senator Grassley and Congressman Steve King will also be in attendance.
Here is CNN’s transcript of their abortion discussion with Rand Paul:
BLITZER: Let’s talk about abortion rights for women right now. The other day, you introduced legislation entitled the Life at Conception Act. I believe you were designing this to overturn in effect, effectively Roe vs Wade. Is that right?
PAUL: I think it’s probably designed even more philosophically than that. It’s designed to begin the discussion over when life begins. And it’s not an easy discussion. And we’re divided as a country on it. So, I don’t think we’re in any real rush towards any new legislation to tell you the truth.
But I would say is that, it’s an important philosophical discussion because all of our rights, all of our rights to do anything we choose to do as individuals sort of stem from an individual right to life. And all of us agree to that at some point in time. So, for the 6-month-old baby that’s been born and that is home in a crib, the state will step in if a mother abuses it or a father does. We all agree we’re going to protect the six-month-old. We pretty much all agree on the one-day-old. Before that, we have some disagreements.
But my intention is to bring it forward, have a healthy, philosophic, and moral discussion over what we should do, what the state should be involved with. When should life be protected? And I don’t think we’re ready yet for our society maybe to change any laws, but I think it’s worthwhile having the discussion if we can keep it from being too much of a flippant discussion over this, that country, this and that, and that it’s an important philosophical foundation to the law of a civilization.
BLITZER: So, just to be precise, if you believe life begins at conception, which I suspect you do believe that, you would have no exceptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother, is that right?
PAUL: Well, I think that once again puts things in too small of a box. What I would say is that there are thousands of exceptions. You know, I’m a physician and every individual case is going to be different, and everything is going to be particular to that individual case and what’s going on with that mother and the medical circumstances of that mother.
I would say that after birth, you know, we’ve decided that when life begins, we have decided that we don’t have exceptions for one- day-old or six-month-olds. We don’t ask where they came from or how they came into being, but it is more complicated because the rest of it depends on the definition of when life comes in. So, I don’t think it’s a simple as checking box and saying exceptions or no exceptions.
I’ve been there at the beginning of life. I’ve held one-pound babies in my hand that I examined their eyes. I’ve been there at the end of life. And there are a lot of decisions that are made privately by families and their doctors that really won’t — the law won’t apply to, but I think it’s important that we not be flippant one way or the other and pigeon hole and say, oh, this person doesn’t believe in any sort of discussion between family. And so, I don’t know if there’s a simple way to put me in a category on any of that.
BLITZER: Well, it sounds like you believe in some exceptions.
PAUL: Well, there’s going to be, like I say, thousands of extraneous situations where the life of the mother is involved and other things that are involved. So, I would say that each individual case would have to be addressed and even if there were eventually a change in the law, let’s say, the people came more to my way of thinking, it’s still be a lot of complicated things that the law may not ultimately be able to address in the early stages of pregnancy that would have to be part of what occurs between the physician and the woman and the family.
This goes for the same with the end of life. I do think life ought to be protected to the end. I don’t believe in, you know, officially euthanizing people, but I also think there is some privacy at the end of life also, and we make difficult decisions all the time on resuscitation, how long to extend medical treatment, and a lot of these are medical decisions.
But, I think that what I don’t believe that I can compromise on is that I think there is something special about life and that all of the rights that we spend time up here discussing, the right to trial by jury, all of these things stem from a sort of a primordial right to your life and how you use it.
Photo by Dave Davidson
blog comments powered by Disqus