Ron Paul: No Pro-Lifer

December 29th, 2011 at 2:26 pm | 30 Comments |

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For at least some of the Republican candidates, I don’t doubt that the position that abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape, incest and the mother’s life stems from sincere, deep moral conviction.

But Iowa front-runner Ron Paul’s position that states should outlaw abortion even in these “hard cases” but the federal government should not extend any rights to the unborn ought to be more disturbing to the pro-life movement than even an outright pro-abortion position.

Let’s start with the pro-life problem with Paul’s position. If abortion truly takes a human life, then there’s a very clear governmental interest in preventing abortions in cases–late term abortions–where there’s little room for scientific doubt that the fetus is a viable human life. If the federal government has any function at all, furthermore, it has a clear responsibility to protect life when the states are unable or unwilling to do so. This is why the federal government provides for national defense and why its failure to prevent lynching in the Jim Crowe South ought to be considered an enormous moral failure.

Pro-choicers, even radical ones who believe that post-delivery infanticide is justified in certain rare cases don’t reject the idea that the federal government should enforce some standards. In fact, they almost all believe in current federal case law that supports legal abortion and then elevate some values–sexual freedom, free choice in general, reduction of overall human suffering–above the value of human life itself.

Many pro-choicers, furthermore, point to the difficulty of determining when when human life begins and have sympathy for the very difficult situations faced by many women who seek abortions. And, thus, while millions of Americans (me included) have pro-life views, hardly any pro-lifers actually feel that abortion should be treated in the same manner as murder and most see some cases–hard cases–where abortion ought to be permitted anyway.

Paul’s position, like a pro-choice position, places another value (a less powerful federal government) above the value of human life. In so doing, it implicitly leaves room for states to allow things like mandatory abortions of the genetically “defective” children, the (theoretical) practice of “farming” fetuses for organ transplants, and taxpayer subsidies for abortion that involve federal dollars. These practices are, for obvious reasons, a lot more problematic than the “hard case” that abortions Paul wants to prohibit and, at least in the first two cases, most pro-choicers would probably find common ground with pro-lifers in believing the federal government should step in to prohibit them.

But Paul’s desire to diminish federal power leaves tremendous room for them. And that’s why it’s morally even more troublesome than a pro-choice position.

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30 Comments so far ↓

  • balconesfault

    I don’t doubt that the position that abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape, incest and the mother’s life stems from sincere, deep moral conviction.

    FWIW, I consider the position that abortion should be illegal except in the case of incest or rape to be morally muddled.

    The foundation for the anti-abortion movement has to be that the fetus has a fundamental right that trumps the will and intent of the woman carrying the fetus. I absolutely cannot understand how that fundamental right is altered in the case of incest or rape, unless the primary purpose is not to protect the unborn, but to constrain the rights of those Jezebels who willingly engage in sex with someone they’re not related to by birth.

    How the nature of the impregnation changes the rights of the fetus seems non-sensical to me.

    Paul’s position, like a pro-choice position, places another value (a less powerful federal government) above the value of human life

    Yep. You’ll also note that Paul places the value of a less powerful federal government above the value of a human life that would be terminated not via abortion, but by mercury in the air they breathe, carcinogens in their water, or the inability to pay for medical treatment.

    The man is consistent in a way that most contemporary conservatives simply can’t wrap their heads around.

    • valkayec

      You’ll also note that Paul places the value of a less powerful federal government above the value of a human life that would be terminated not via abortion, but by mercury in the air they breathe, carcinogens in their water, or the inability to pay for medical treatment.

      You’ll note perhaps that this is the current agreed upon position held by the GOP as exhibited by the bills the GOP House has passed this year. I find it both puzzling and recklessly bizarre: force every fetus to be born, then once the child is living let it die of malnutrition, lack of proper health care, or any number of inhospitable living conditions. Where’s the pro-life belief in that behavior or set of policies?

    • Graychin

      Roe v. Wade did not grant any new power to the Federal government. It took away the right of States to ban abortion.

      Repeal of Roe v. Wade would not make the Federal government less powerful. It would only make state governments more powerful. This is libertarianism?

      • JimBob

        There’s nothing in the constitution about abortion. Amending the constitution to ban abortion will never happen. So overturning Roe and letting states decide is the best option for pro-lifers. But most of the pro-life crowd uses the amend the constitution option just to raise money. Paul is pro-life.

        • Houndentenor

          I know I’m not supposed to say this, but returning abortion to the states would help the Democrats and hurt the Republicans overall.

  • valkayec

    I still can’t get over the idea being pushed by these new pro-lifer groups that a fetus’ life trumps the mother’s life. It sounds to me like the mother is considered far less valuable or important. It says let the mother die but save the fetus. Is this perhaps a renewal of the old Catholic Church position of women during the Dark Ages?

    • PracticalGirl

      Yes, and I continue to get snagged on the the biggest inconsistancy in a pro-lifer’s arsenal: A fetus is a valued person to be protected zealously and without regard to anyone or anything other than itself. The resulting baby? Nothing but a drag on the taxpayers.

    • Primrose

      Even more disturbingly to me there have been a lot of articles lately about mothers who refused life-saving treatment so that their child could be born. It is not their choice that bothers me but the PR motivations behind it. We are being herded into believing that we are less important than the children we create, just vessels, not people.

  • Graychin

    The purpose of the Bill of Rights, completed by the Fourteenth Amendment, was to involve the Federal Government in extending and guaranteeing rights to all persons – and not only those rights specifically enumerated in the Constitution and its amendments. (See the Ninth Amendment.)

    Ron Paul is hypocritical. He claims to be a dedicated libertarian, but based on the old excuse of “states’ rights,” he wants to give back to the states some of their lost authority to deny basic rights to their citizens. Tyranny is tyranny, whether perpetrated by the Federal Government or a State government.

    Roe v. Wade was a rights-expanding decision. It denied the right of states to ban abortion, which the Court rightly saw as an unwarranted government invasion of privacy. The decision weakened the power of state governments over their citizens without giving any new power to the Federal Government.

    We can argue until the cows come home about when “life begins” (or about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin) without ever coming to a consensus. But the Paul Hypocrisy is very clear:

    “I’m for freedom – except freedom of which I don’t approve. It’s just fine with me for the States to take that freedom away. And never mind what your personal beliefs happen to be – if you’re in the minority, that’s just too bad for you.”

    • Houndentenor

      You bring up a good point. Why does no one mention the 9th Amendment. It was clearly the purpose of the framers to leave all unenumerated rights to the people, not just limit it to those listed in the Bill of Rights. In fact, there was concern when the first ten amendments were passed that it would imply that these were the only rights that citizens enjoyed. The 9th makes it clear that I have whatever rights I assert unless the government can make a case that I don’t. I don’t know why that argument is never made. Wait, I do. Both liberals and conservatives are afraid of the ramifications that would have for their agendas.

  • SCRebel07

    I’m pro-choice, but I understand Paul’s positions. If one genuinely feels life begins at conception, it stands to reason that there should be protections for that life, and that the mother or doctor cannot extinguish that life. There’s no contradiction there with Libertarian thought.

    As to the Constitutional question, the 10th Amendment, and the relevant Supreme Court cases, especially Mugler v. Kansas, give States inherent police power to regulate activities outside of the Federal Government’s enumerated powers. Activities such as abortion are clearly within that sphere.

    Furthermore, how can David Frum, or any contributors on this site, parade themselves as being “pro-life” but continually assault Paul in hit pieces for not wanting to kill hundred of thousands of Persians, Pakistanis, Yemenis and others in that part of the world. How can Frum, who himself supported sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, a war that has killed at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians and perhaps countless more we’ll never know about, claim any moral high ground against Ron Paul? How can anyone who has lambasted Paul for thinking that pre-emptive wars based on lies and abstract fear, fought not for America but rather a narrow group of American and Israeli interests, claim to be pro-life, when support for these very wars kills thousands of innocent civilians, and antagonizes people in faraway lands to a degree that puts Americans’ lives in more danger?

    The answer is simple: anyone claiming to be “pro-life” who has chastised Paul’s position on foreign policy as being weak or dangerous for not wanting to hastily enter into undeclared foreign occupations is simply a hypocrite, and likely only cares when the baby killed is an American one.

    • think4yourself

      @ SCRebel:

      “I understand Paul’s positions. If one genuinely feels life begins at conception, it stands to reason that there should be protections for that life, and that the mother or doctor cannot extinguish that life. There’s no contradiction there with Libertarian thought.”

      There is a contradiction with Ron Paul. He personally is against abortion, but he wants to end Federal involvement and allow the States to decide. So if a state like CA has a liberal abortion policy, then President Paul is sanctioning murders to occur in the nation he is governing. As the author notes this is a contradiction. Part of that is cultural conservatives want to end Roe V. Wade and then any state abortion. Libertarians are much more divided based upon if they think a fetus is a person and who’s rights deserve to be trampled in an unwanted pregnancy, the fetus or the mother.

      As to your point about “pro-life” types who support wars like Iraq. Anti-war liberals would agree with you, but you won’t find too many Republicans that do. Because really what’s the value of an Iraqi kid’s life compared to an American.

      • Rabiner

        I don’t see the contradiction. You can personally believe something and not mandate it with authority you don’t feel the government has. He doesn’t think the federal government has the authority to legislate abortion policy. That’s his prerogative, one in which I disagree with.

        I do think its comical that this article was written but there hasn’t been one regarding the shifting positions of Romney on this topic from a huge supporter of abortion rights to where he is today. But then, you could write that article and simply chance out abortion rights for a different topic and it would still be correct.

  • nhthinker

    Eli (a shill for organizations that call themselves “libertarian”) thinks that some States should be allowed to ban their citizens from engaging in gambling but not abortion. That is some very quirky libertarian gymnastics.

    http://www.4scpoker.com/new-online-poker-bill-would-legalize-the-game.html

  • nuser

    A typical Ron Paul bash!Do you for one moment think , that every time you engage in sex
    you are thinking : Oh Lordie be ,I am ,creating a baby? Abortion is a political tool , and has not one iota to do with the sanctify of life or anything else.

  • bill_mcgonigle

    You’re kidding, right? An American can’t be both pro-Life and support and defend the Constitution?

    We’re perfectly secure in our beliefs that this can be handled by States’ powers and that the 10th Amendment still has meaning. States handle all manner of heinous crime.

    Running to a big Federal Government for pet issues is a sure sign of one’s insecurity in his ability to persuade and the “small government except for things I care about” mentality is what has gotten us to the current Leviathan. Failing to understand this disqualifies anybody from calling himself a conservative.

    I can’t believe a blogger has the temerity to tell a man who’s delivered 4000 babies, believes life begins at conception, and calls himself pro-Life that he’s not. They must really be getting desperate to risk looking so completely foolish.

  • anniemargret

    It is a huge leap to say one is ‘pro-life.’ On the surface politically it means of course that there should be no law to protect a woman in even the most dire of circumstances. And oddly enough, there are more men (who will never find themselves pregnant) offering up the most righteous of answers.

    I hate abortion. So does every rational human being. We are talking about the ‘right’ to an abortion, and hopefully we become a nation of rational, intelligent people in which we recognize and accede that people just don’t ‘become pregnant’ on their own.

    Where are the men’s responsibility in this? What role do they play in the abortions being done in America? Did they get their girl-friends pregnant? Did they use birth control?

    If not, and if they are singing the righteous song of the pro-lifers, then they reveal themselves to be hypocrites. Will Santorum hope and pray that all his children don’t have sex until they are married? Or if they do, will he or his wife advise them to use birth control?

    Easy availability and affordability (Free) to all people of sexual maturity should be allowable in a sane society. Instead the pro-lifers are hoping we are going to back to 1958 America, in which women did not have sex before marriage, and men just went to prostitutes to get sex and didn’t touch ‘good women.’

    Hmmmm…..

    In the meantime, as others have opined here, we’ve got the same ‘pro-lifers’ who cheer Perry when they say he has convicted and carried out the death penalty to many, never once losing a wink of sleep in that he may have sent an innocent person to their death!

    These are the same people who will willingly, knowingly, and ignorantly support (refusing to look at the all the facts), the GOP if they tell them to invade Iran, Syria or any other of those Middle Eastern countries because they ‘want to take away our freedoms.’

    These are the same people who joined Glenn Beck’s and Sarah Palin’s risible rants against their taxes being raised for social programs to help the poor and the needy, which of course would include programs to help the babies and children being born to those that don’t really want them, or coming from high-risk environments!

    Save the babies from abortion, but don’t tax me for those same babies once their born-that’s not my affair.

    Hypocrites.

  • heap

    You mean the Ron Paul that put forth legislation defining personhood and 14th amendment protection rights (at the federal level) at conception?

    I don’t agree with his stance on the topic, and I wouldn’t pull the lever for Ron Paul without severe head trauma between now and elections, nor am I one that could be described as ‘pro-life’ but…for chrissakes, this article makes no sense.

    Is this one of those things where the only information you have on the topic is the most recent news fluff (the personhood pledge he signed, but apparently didn’t sign forcefully enough, or something) and ignoring the legislation he has proposed? the Sanctity of Life/We the People acts combined are both at the nutty fringe of the abortion debate, and both were put in front of the legislature by Ron Paul – these aren’t fidelity/loyalty pledges, these are actual pieces of legislation put forth by the candidate.

    If none of that is clear enough – If the guy trying to legislate personhood/rights at the point of conception, at the federal level, is not sufficiently pro-life for you…you’re either so far down the rabbit hole or so far up your own ass as to be topically retarded.

  • Freia

    Maybey it would be easier to discuss if we used other comparisons than abortions? In terms of a car accident, one sometimes come in the terrible dilemma of having to decide whehter to save one person, while the other dies, or let both people die. We make that terrible decision. Most of us would not hesitate. Perhaps except Ron Paul.
    Or even closer to the pregnancy situation: Conjoined twins with separate head, but only partly separate bodies. The heart is not sufficient to support them both: Should we both let them die?
    Here we can discuss similar issues but avoid the problem with abortion.
    Or something that could affect yourself directly: You get a brain tumor; it has to be removed for you to survive. Will you remove it? Are you sure that part of your brain will accept that it is removed? It could be the essensial part of “you”? I.e., that you make a decision you are not allowed to make on behalf of yourself! It is not so easy if you think critically about it.

  • abc123

    Come on now, the majority of Republican legislative attempts to end abortion have not taken extreme cases into account; that’s the main reason they get overturned. Look at what they tried to pass here in in Ohio.You guys are trying too hard to ostracize Ron Paul if you need to make stuff up to do it.

    The attempt to pull back and stop going for the whole enchilada is a recent change, not the long standing policy.

    • Freia

      Despite what I said above, I don’t think Ron Paul would have any problem deciding in the car accident described above. I think, like most of us, he would have a harder time with the conjoined twins, but still, made the right decision. Regarding who has the right when operating on your brain, it it a quite interesting question. Should authorities be allowed to interfer in the decision?
      And ask Ron Paul what he would do if someone chained him to another person? Unvoluntarily, chained by ancles and hands. He has to feed him, take care of him, clean him, sleep with him. That he does not like him is irrelevant. So let us put Ron Paul to a test! Let us link him up to a nice black beggar for the next 9 months, like conjoined twins. If he does that, then I will believe him.

  • Baron Siegfried

    The problem with ‘pro-life’ is that it’s actually ‘anti-sex’. To the right-to-lifers, sex outside of wedlock with the specific intention of creating a baby is sinful. Pleasure is inherently sinful to these people, casual sex is just absolutely horrible, and pregnancy is god’s punishment for your sins. It doesn’t matter if you were raped by a stranger or you were a girl molested by a relative, you had sex and that was sinful, even though you didn’t enjoy it, and now god is going to punish you for it.

    If you have an abortion, not only are you evading god’s just punishment, but you’re penalizing that poor innocent (insert picture of baby harp seal here) life who is far more important than anything else, including the life of the mother. Until it’s born, of course, at which point it becomes an burden on society who deserves nothing whatsoever, as it’s the result of sin.

    You will note that those vehemently opposed to abortion are also vehemently opposed to contraception and the day-after pill. The baby is their excuse, but it’s a deep and visceral hatred of (anyone else) having sex that lies at the root of the issue. It’s gotten to a point that some parents refuse to inoculate their children against possibly fatal STDs because if they’re prot4ected against one STD, why they might be encouraged to go out and have sex!!

    Would anyone care to lay any money down as to whether the evangelicals will denounce the eventual production of an HIV vaccine and / or cure as an abomination? That they will refuse to allow their children to be immunized because if they do, why they might try gay sex if they know they can’t get AIDS! And everyone KNOWS (at least in their circle) that AIDS is god’s punishment for being gay, so a vaccine / cure is a violation of god’s design.

    The fanaticism and intolerance of the pro-lifers is very reminiscent of the rigidity and intolerance of the the prohibition movement in the late 1800s, as well as their tactics. Though at least the prohibitionists didn’t go around killing people selling liquor . . .

  • Nee

    I don’t disagree. The problem is to find what is his lead in the polls all about. I believe that Ron Paul is appealing to the white male vote. This vote according to the best Democratic Party strategists like Thomas Edsall, Stanley Greenberg, Ruy Teixeira has been switching to the Republican party. Tfhey account for most of the dRepublican successes including Bush over Gore in 94. For their troublel they are stiffed by the Rep;ublicans. This movement has been detailed in an important book by a liberal, David Kuhn, in “The Neglected Vote”. That is why there are so many independents and tea partyers. Every candidate has not noticed this. Ron Paul comes closest.

  • Primrose

    I don’t really want to start my New Year with an extended discussion on abortion, not auspicious. However, this article made no sense. I don’t know any pro-choicers who are for infanticide. I can only assume the writer is talking about pro-euthanasia people who extend it to terminally ill babies in great pain, but that is a very different issue.

    Nor do I think he makes the case that Mr. Paul believes in forced pregnancy for a reason other than most forced pregnancy people do. As horrific as I find the idea of denying abortion for rape and incest victims, it actually makes more sense from that perspective. If the mother’s situation doesn’t count, then why would rape and incest be different? As I am sure you all know, it is not my view, but it at least as the courage of its convictions.

    Though, of course, it does mean that Mr. Paul is not a true libertarian, which is a different hypocrisy.

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    Oh so because the left wants to use the federal government to support abortion, the right needs to use it as well! You can always count on neoconservatives to sacrifice principles for expediency.

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  • Rob_654

    Always great to hear a so-called “Libertarian” advocate that the government, be it Federal or State should tell people what to do with their own bodies – it is sort of funny though that Paul is all for personal liberties except for non-white-males – then suddenly he finds exceptions for which the government should and must step in…

  • nvrbl

    Ron Paul has signed the personhood pledge, vowing to only nominate judges that are commited to taking away women’s rights. The personhood ammendments would outlaw birth control pills, iud’s, medically necessary life saving abortions, the morning after pill. Women could be investigated for miscarriages. In short, it gives a fertilized egg more rights to my body than my own. Also, apparently, I am supposed to let some phony christians who don’t believe in science make my medical decisions for me so I can live my life in accordance with their religious beliefs that I don’t share.