Skip to comments.Rand Paul on abortion: “We’re not changing any of the laws until the country is persuaded otherwise”
Posted on 04/23/2014 10:35:23 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Via MFP, an eyebrow-raiser from yesterday’s chat with David Axelrod(!) at the University of Chicago. David Corn and Mother Jones are out with another gotcha piece on Paul this morning citing his (mild) criticism of Reagan in the past for not cutting spending more as president, but this clip is more interesting, I think. Knocking the Gipper for not doing enough to shrink government is Libertarianism 101; even mainstream conservatives who venerate him will grudgingly concede that they wish he’d done better before quickly adding that he did what he could with a liberal Congress. And needless to say, no one’s going to stand onstage next to Paul at the 2015 primary debates and rip him for criticizing deficit spending. It’s okay to criticize Reagan as long as you’re respectful and as long as you’re doing it from the right.
So forget the Mother Jones piece. What about this exchange with Axelrod, though? MFP headlines the clip, “Rand Paul: Relax, Im not going to ban abortion” — which does seem a fair interpretation of what Paul’s saying. (Maybe it’d be fairer to say, “Rand Paul: Relax, I’m not going to ban abortion anytime soon.”) He notes that he believes that life begins at conception and points out, correctly, that the public takes a middle-ground approach to abortion in most polls. They support giving women a right to terminate in the first trimester, oppose giving them that right in the third trimester, and usually take a skeptical “if necessary” view of the second trimester. If anything, says Paul, current law is far too biased towards the pro-abortion view since it effectively allows for terminations in the third trimester too, which most Americans believe should be illegal. Axelrod, though, keeps pressing: What does that mean we should or could expect from President Paul once in office? Paul’s answer: Not much. Certainly not an all-out ban; there’s still much persuading to be done before most Americans come around to that view. Presumably, if public opinion changes while he’s in office, he’d consider a ban. If it doesn’t, presumably he wouldn’t. Maybe he’d try at least to bring the law in line with opinion by banning terminations in the third trimester, but judge for yourself at the end here whether you think he’d push on that.
You can see what he’s trying to do with this answer. He’s pitching himself as a “different kind of Republican,” someone who can appeal to young voters and minorities in a way that no one else in the party can. One splashy way to do that is to position himself as a pro-life but modest, incrementalist candidate on abortion; not only will it make the left’s “war on women” demagoguery a bit harder but it might also reassure libertarians, not all of whom are as pro-life as the Pauls are, that he hasn’t completely sold out to conservatives in running for the GOP nomination. Meanwhile, though, he’ll be lambasted for this by whoever ends up as the social-conservative champion in the primaries — maybe Huckabee, maybe Santorum, maybe (most dangerously of all for Paul) Ted Cruz. If abortion is morally equivalent to slavery, as many social cons believe, then Paul’s approach is intolerable. He’d have a moral duty to work with the legislature and the courts to ban it, whatever the political consequences. Paul can sustain an attack like that from Huck or Santorum, I think, because they’re niche candidates who aren’t competing with him for the wider grassroots conservative vote. I’m not so sure he can sustain it from Cruz, who is competing. The question for Cruz is, how forcefully does he want to push the “ban at all costs” position? It might give him an opening against Paul in the primaries but it’d also make things easier for Democrats in attacking him in the general. Paul is right about the polling on this. It’s purely a question of how the GOP wants to deal with the reality of it.
Update: Ramesh Ponnuru notes that it’s hard to call Paul wishy-washy on this topic when he’s the lead sponsor of the “Life at Conception Act.” Right, but it’s one thing for a legislator to float a bill and another for a president, with his bully-pulpit power to set agendas, to push for it. The question raised by the clip, I think, is what sort of priority abortion would be for Paul as president. He’s right that it’ll take lots of persuasion to build congressional support to act. Would a “different kind of Republican” be willing to do that? Many of the not-so-different kinds haven’t been in the past.
Update: Matt Lewis responds:
Shorter Rand Paul: First you win the argument, then you win the vote – http://t.co/FskwxLOMOD
— Matt Lewis (@mattklewis) April 23, 2014
Yeah, but what if you’ve spent 40 years making the argument against abortion and the public still supports terminations in the first trimester? Should you ban it anyway, assuming you have the votes in Congress, or do you bow to public opinion? That’s what makes the Paul clip interesting. The public opposed ObamaCare in 2010 and that didn’t stop Democrats from passing it anyway. They’ve paid a price for that politically, but Nancy Pelosi herself said recently that it was all worth it. Would the next GOP president agree?
Update: Good point by John McCormack. One reason Paul is respected on the right is because he’s a man of principle. Agree or disagree, but when it comes to libertarian priorities like shrinking government or surveillance, he fights hard for what he thinks is right whether or not the public agrees. Why the difference in abortion?
@allahpundit @mattklewis True: Paul's position on FP/cutting spending is public opinion be damned.
— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) April 23, 2014
Update: Almost forgot — here’s what Paul said not long ago about another hot-button social issue.
[Q:] Right. But it seems what theyre saying is that the Republican Party should stay out of issues like gay marriage.
[A:] I think that the Republican Party, in order to get bigger, will have to agree to disagree on social issues. The Republican Party is not going to give up on having quite a few people who do believe in traditional marriage. But the Republican Party also has to find a place for young people and others who dont want to be festooned by those issues.
Not unlike Mitch Daniels’s “truce” comment on social issues. If Rand’s trying to build the party by pushing his core issues, namely, smaller government and protecting civil liberties, a strong push on abortion or gay marriage might alienate some of the voters he’s trying to reach. Again: How much of a priority would social issues be to his administration?
So the opposite of what happened with Obamacare?
We just love to play nice while the left plays for keeps with their agenda.
He’s clearly not in touch with what’s going on.
...and the hits just keep comin’...
Isn’t the country already 2/3 opposed to abortion? What is the Paulista waiting for? He’s going Todd Akin.
“Not changing any of the laws”?
So he’s against parental or spousal notification/consent, waiting periods, mandatory full disclosure including ultrasound, and sanitation that would be good enough for pets?
Sorry Rand, but if you were truly a Christian, this would not be the approach you would be taking.
Rand Paul is apparently just another “moderate” in the mold of Dole, McCain & Romney.
Are Repubs just abnormally stupid? Reagan won because he had the courage of his conservative convictions, and he advocated those convictions unashamedly. Modern Repubs aren’t bright enough to break that code.
Hes clearly not in touch with whats going on.
And he’s another weasel politician without strong moral values.
No, that's the point. He's just expressing reality. In a country where the Supreme Court has already ruled that abortion is a right, and there is a majority in favor of that, no President is going to change it.
Libertarianism is a mental disorder.
(with apologies to Michael Savage for modifying his phrase.)
Then, how did we get gay marriage laws all of a sudden?
No he isn’t. Most of the country already is persuaded otherwise, and has been for a while. He is just already eaten up with Beltway disease.
That's one of the most useless polls I've ever seen. The 58% includes 38% who say that abortion "should be legal in few circumstances" -- what the heck does that mean? Without clarifying the scope of "few," the poll is meaningless...
Which abortion laws do you want to change a the federal level?
In other words, it’s just as easy to look at the poll results and say “78 percent say that abortion should be legal in all or some circumstances.” “Few” is the key to the poll, and “few” is about as vague as it gets.
Runt Paul is a libtardian , just like his old man.
You can read the libtardian platform and see where he is on the issues.
“Are Repubs just abnormally stupid? Reagan won because he had the courage of his conservative convictions”
Please list the abortion laws that Reagan changed in the 8 years that he has president. Thanks.
What part of “I’m not a ‘Paulista’” don’t you understand? I haven’t said a damn thing supporting Paul. I think his statement here was idiotic — of course we should be “changing . . . the laws,” and of course much of the country has already “been persuaded” on pro-life issues. All I did was criticize an idiotic CNN poll. And you, for some reason, responded with name-calling and insults.
When Rand speaks of public opinion, he is talking about people willing to get out and vote. You want to change the abortion laws in this country? Vote in people to the House and Senate that are willing to change the law. Make sure the Supreme Court has a clear cut group of Judges that will respect the voting public.
No President has the power to stop abortions. He can push legislation that will severely affect them through funding and when they are allowed to occur. He can be an advocate for changing the perception of abortions. You need to change the law and that comes from the Legislators and the courts.
He clearly states his opinion of abortion:
“He notes that he believes that life begins at
Rand would not be an Obama type president. He respects the Constitution...Obama thinks he is the King of America and can legislate with his phone and a pen. Obama clearly believes he can ban laws just because he doesn’t like them.
It isn’t Constitutional and is very dangerous to our country.
Change WHAT laws?
What we are trying to change is a SCOTUS ruling which found a perverted “right” to abortion on demand.
No elected representative ever cast a vote on it.
And in the words of Jim Robinson, “please remember to use common courtesy when posting and refrain from posting personal attacks, profanity, vulgarity, threats, racial or religious bigotry, or any other materials offensive or otherwise inappropriate for a conservative family audience.”
With a Dimmo congress that whole 8 years? None. But he did propose a Constitutional amendment which would have outlawed abortion except to save the mother’s life. That’s far more courage than Rand Paul is showing. He’s given up without a fight. He’s already tacking left and he hasn’t even received the nomination. He obviously don’t care about the traditional Repub base.
KNOCK IT OFF!
And, Paul is grossly ignorant if he doesn't know the majority believes that abortion should be banned in all cases except in cases of rape, incest and the mother's life being endanger. That has been true in polls for 40 years.
And, since the states would decide the issue, more than half of them would ban abortion immediately in most cases.
Paul also fails to acknowlege a 15% or so shift in favor of the pro-life position over the past 20 years and that the younger generation is the most pro-life generation.
\ Paul is either completely ignorant of the subject matter or is really pro-life.
Other polls show it means that the majority (55-60%) favor only allowing abortion in the case of rape, incest and the mother's life being endangered.
What Rand Paul is not pointing out about the so-called right to an abortion is the following. The states have never amended the Constitution to expressly protect having an abortion as a right. This so-called right was not only wrongly legislated from the bench by activist justices imo, but the legislative powers that they usurped were 10th Amendment-protected state powers.
That would have been done decades ago in half or more of the states if not for Roe.
The only question on the issue that matters in regard to Paul is, can he be trusted to put judges on SCOTUS that would overturn Roe. I'm not convinced that he would.
President Reagan was a hero and an inspiration to the pro-life movement.
While everyone (except Rand Paul) knows about Reagan’s aggressive Cold War actions of the early 1980s, some forget that he wrote a book on abortion, published in 1983.
Reagan describes his efforts here. “”Over the first two years of my Administration I have closely followed and assisted efforts in Congress to reverse the tide of abortion-efforts of Congressmen, Senators and citizens responding to an urgent moral crisis. Regrettably, I have also seen the massive efforts of those who, under the banner of “freedom of choice,” have so far blocked every effort to reverse nationwide abortion-on-demand.””
One success is mentioned here.
“Moreover, Reagans putting the Mexico City Policy during his presidency to cut off taxpayer-funding of groups that promoted and performed abortions in other nations has saved literally millions of lives in the decades since.”
Lots, but mostly we want a passionate pro-life president that will do everything he can to sell and promote life to America, a candidate's campaign and positions signals what he will use the world's greatest bully puppet for, and what he won't.
There is abortion at the federal level in regards to foreign policy, military hospitals and other federal health law and hospitals, budget items, all kinds of things, we do not plan to elect people who's politics go against ours, because you want to pretend that a president has no effect on them.
Two thirds of the country are opposed to late term abortions, or abortions as a form of birth control.
Maybe one third of that two thirds is opposed to any abortion for any reason or at any time, including the morning after pill.
Any discussion of what can and can't be done about abortion at the ballot box needs to start with those numbers.
Could a president be much more pro life than GWB was??? How many abortions was he able to stop, other than by the force of personality (which I do not at all demean)?
The Bushies are not Conservatives.