By Josh Craddock
Despite signing the Personhood Pledge, doubts remain about Ron Paul’s pro-life credentials. Paul will have to answer serious questions at Wednesday’s sold-out Pro-Life Forum in South Carolina.
One such question deals with his support for keeping the lethal “morning-after pill” legal. In the September Fox News/Google debate, he justified his stance by saying, “We have too many laws already.” In his book “Liberty Defined,” Paul argued that “such circumstances would be dealt with by each individual making his or her own moral choice.” Apparently, Rep. Paul’s definition of liberty includes the sale of chemical abortifacients.
Another challenge could be even more serious: Ron Paul supports a state’s right to keep abortion legal. This led PersonhoodUSA to question Paul’s commitment to their pledge and caused other groups like American Right to Life to reject his signature outright. According to Paul’s caveat, “The 14th Amendment was never intended to cancel out the 10th Amendment. This means that I can’t agree that the 14th Amendment has a role to play here.”
Paul’s perennial Sanctity of Life Act explicitly prevents the Supreme Court from reviewing state laws that regulate the performance of abortion. Paul asserts that “While Roe v. Wade is invalid, a federal law banning abortion across all 50 states would be equally invalid.” Mark Crutcher of Life Dynamics calls the state-by-state strategy endorsed by Paul “an unmitigated disaster for the unborn” that would “guarantee that our great-grandchildren will still be fighting this battle a hundred years from now.” Is this the outcome unrestrained states’ rights defenders desire?
By elevating the 10th Amendment, Ron Paul ignores the federal government’s Fifth and 14th Amendment duty to protect the lives of all Americans from state tyranny. Constitutional scholar Dr. Michael Farris points out that unlike the 10th Amendment, “the 14th Amendment does not deal primarily with disputes between Congress and the states. Rather, the 14th Amendment is the source of law that protects the people against the states.” Even if these amendments did not exist at all and our only guiding principle was the 10th Amendment, a state’s decision to legalize abortion would not be within its rights because no government of any level anywhere in the world has that right. Amoral constitutionalism trivializes moral issues by implying that as long as the process is strictly followed, any outcome is justified.
We must remember that the relationship between national and state governments is irrelevant to fundamental moral issues. No level of government – whether local, state, or federal – has the authority to permit the murder of innocents.
This was essentially the argument against allowing states to regulate slavery. When the Republican Party was founded, it was Democrat Stephen A. Douglas that championed a state’s right to permit the ownership of slaves. During the Seventh Lincoln-Douglas Debate in 1858, Douglas brazenly proclaimed, “I look forward to a time when each state shall be allowed to do as it pleases. If it chooses to keep slavery forever, it is not my business, but its own; if it chooses to abolish slavery, it is its own business, not mine. I care more for the great principle of self-government, than I do for all the Negroes in Christendom.” Ron Paul sides with Douglas’ deformed view that believes states’ rights trump the unalienable rights endowed by our Creator.
President Abraham Lincoln responded to Democratic concerns in his Independence Day message to Congress in 1861, observing, “Unquestionably the States have the powers, and rights, reserved to them in, and by the National Constitution; but among these, surely, are not included all conceivable powers, however mischievous, or destructive.”
The founding Republican platform of 1860 acknowledged “the right of each state, to order and control its own domestic institutions” but firmly denied “the authority of congress, of a territorial legislature, or of any individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in any territory of the United States.” At one time, Republicans realized that the human rights of life and liberty are fundamental, while the rights of states in a federal system are incidental.
Today, the Republican Party strays from its legacy as the party of Lincoln. Rather than acknowledging God as the sole arbiter of moral truth, presidential hopefuls like Ron Paul prefer to punt. When politicians run for state offices, they claim abortion is federal jurisdiction, but when they run for president they punt back to the states. We must not be fooled any longer by leaders who pander to our soft-spot for limited government, while at the same time espousing a view that ignores that any higher standard of morality applies at all.
Josh Craddock, 20, is a pro-life advocate at the United Nations and studies politics at The King’s College in New York City.