Many in the Ron Paul camp have been claiming that he is the most Pro-Life candidate, some for reasons of war, but others due to his creative stance on abortion. This assertion is typically accompanied by the suggestion that federal legislation will not and can not succeed in protecting the unborn. They believe that it was the federalization of the abortion issue that created this mess in the first place. It is said that Ron Paul as President would remove federal jurisdiction regarding abortion and turn it over to the states. Some good analysis of Paul's message reveals that his message is more about state's rights and what he considers to be the democratic process than the fundamental right to life of an unborn child.
The 14th amendment of our constitution states: "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Supporters of the right to life recognize that this should extend to unborn persons; no class of persons should be denied their right to life. Ron Paul recognizes that the unborn child is equal in dignity to other persons, however, he does not recognize that the unborn child has the same protections provided other persons in the 14th amendment. His position is based upon his belief that the protection of unborn life is not specifically enumerated in the constitution. He does not draw this conclusion for slavery or privacy. In the New Hampshire debate Paul defended the federally enforceable right to privacy, a right that all states must respect, to protect Americans from government intrusion into their home. He departs from this approach when addressing abortion where he has continuously deferred to choice:
"Only the moral character of the people will eventually solve this problem, not the law."
We all would agree that the most important long term goal of the pro-life movement is to convert the hearts of the people and build moral character. We've all probably heard this argument before from the mouth of a very spiritual friend, whose goal was to emphasize the role of family and prayer. But what is a legislator accomplishing when he claims 'laws won't solve anything'? Some may defend his position as a common libertarian position that merely seeks to put the power into the hands of the states. However, if libertarians are interested in defending basic civil liberties, then what liberty is more fundamental than the right to life? The right to life is a natural right rooted in the most basic human good of each and every person, life. We receive our natural rights from our nature as human persons, as a result of who we are, and no government law or constitution has the ability to take away or fail to recognize that right. Such a right is implicit in the US constitution and the lack of a specific reference to the unborn does not give reason to claim that they do not possess that right. Only a strict positivist, one that thinks rights must be enumerated by the constitution to exist, would make such a suggestion and would act as though protecting a group of persons right to life was a matter strictly about process and state's rights.
Its hard to take Paul's state's rights approach very seriously when you view his Sanctity of Life bill, which would remove federal jurisdiction on the issue of abortion, in light of his vote against banning the transport of minors across state lines for an abortion. Without such a law, a state's freedom to require parental notification would be undermined by a neighboring state's failure to recognize parental rights. The deficiency of Paul's political philosophy here is glaring when contrasted with Rick Santorum's philosophy on the fundamental role of the family as a essential building block in a healthy society. A state that does not protect the integrity of a family in such matters, and gives priority to the choice of a minor over the responsibility of a parent, has undermined the very structure of a just society.
Ron Paul lays out his philosophy in his book where he writes:
My argument is that the abortion problem is more of a social and moral issue than it is a legal one. If we are ever to have fewer abortions, society must change. The law will not accomplish that. However, that does not mean that the states shouldn't be allowed to write laws dealing with abortion. Very early pregnancies and victims of rape can be treated with the day after pill, which is nothing more than using birth control pills in a special manner. These very early pregnancies could never be policed, regardless. Such circumstances would be dealt with by each individual making his or her moral choice.
Ron Paul's message is clear, priority must be given to choice over the fundamental right to life.
Ron Paul also hinges his argument against abortion, and especially the morning after pill, on the belief that pro-life laws would not be enforceable. If a law is not enforceable then it is inoperative and would have no impact. In the case of abortion and the morning after pill this is a poor assumption. The morning after pill, and most certainly abortion, can be enforced in the process of regulating medicine, at the state level, and through the FDA. The practice of medicine is a healing art with the intrinsic purpose to heal persons. Medications must have a medical purpose for their justification. It is well within the realm of the state to forbid the sale and distribution of the morning after pill at hospitals, pharmacies and health clinics. The morning after pill serves no medical purpose; it only serves to destroy a human life at its earliest stage. Pro-life laws canbe most effective in keeping life destroying practices from the hospitals and clinics where our friends and children seek medical attention while at the same time protecting the integrity of the medical profession. Ron Paul should most certainly understand this but his notion of liberty appears to be a freedom built on choice NOT a freedom built on virtue and natural rights.
Ron Paul's comments quoted above have always reminded me of my favorite bumper sticker:
I imagine that an accurate Ron Paul pro-life bumper sticker might look like this:
UPDATE: Ron Paul is at it again. The other day on the tonight show Ron Paul again stated his position on the morning after pill and contraception. He's okay with it. Well, I followed the link to the CNN interview from February and Paul falls apart when pressed on abortion:
"When pressed last month on whether he would want one of his daughters to carry a baby to term if she was raped, Paul said he would not.
"No. If it's an honest rape, that individual should go immediately to the emergency room. I would give them a shot of estrogen," he said."
Paul was challenged on this idea, if you believe in life at conception then giving the morning after pill is abortion not just birth control. But Paul won't answer that challenge. Instead he jumps right to the idea that a 9 lb baby or baby after 7 months is a person whether conceived in rape or not. What about the first seven months? He dodges the question about the woman going to the ER or abortion clinic several weeks after the rape. What would Ron Paul say then, is the child a person at 3 or 4 weeks? Watch the video, he really stumbles dealing with this question and shows his true colors.