From time to time, people will ask me what I think about the presidential candidate Ron Paul. There is much that can be said here, but let me focus in on the issue that I believe is the most important—abortion.
Paul is a libertarian, but he has a highly rated pro-life voting record in the United States Congress. Nevertheless, Ron Paul does not believe that the 14th amendment protects the life of the unborn. Here’s the language from this portion of the U.S. Constitution:
“Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (Article 1 of the 14th Amendment).
In my view, abortion-on-demand “deprives” innocent “persons” of their “life” without “due process of law” and therefore is a violation of the 14th amendment. This has become a mainstream constitutional opinion among pro-life advocates, but it is not Ron Paul’s view. Paul’s view on this issue is a deal-breaker for me.
The GOP would have to revise its longstanding platform if Paul were to be the nominee. Here’s the wording from the GOP platform:
We assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.
So Paul was out of step with his own party when he ran in 2008, and I think he is out of step now.
Earlier in the campaign when Rick Perry suggested that abortion was a states rights issue, the Susan B. Anthony List released a statement from Robbie George arguing to the contrary. It was a gentle correction of Perry’s misstep off of the pro-life reservation, and I thought it was warranted. George explains how sections 1 and 5 of the fourteenth amendment allow the federal government to enforce protection of human life if the states fail to do so. George has some more extensive reflections here, and I think it would be worth your time to read them.
Let me be clear. Paul stands with pro-lifers regarding the ethics of abortion. He is outside of the mainstream, however, in the way that he approaches it as a legal matter. And the difference between his view and the pro-life mainstream is all the difference in the world. He does not support a right to life amendment to the Constitution. He also believes that the Constitution gives States the right to allow the unborn to be killed. Some states might allow it, and others might not. As a legal question, Paul thinks the Constitution has no role in guaranteeing a right to life for the unborn. I could not disagree with him more on this point.
In the video below, Robbie George presses Ron Paul on his view of the 14th amendment, so you can hear Paul make his case in his own words. The exchange begins at about 16:44.