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Does Ron Paul Believe That Abortion Policy Should be Left to the States?

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Of course not.

To amplify Matt’s response to Althouse’s silly dodging and weaving about Paul merely wanting to “divert[] the matter to the state courts,” let’s consider the content of the federal abortion bill Paul has repeatedly introduced. Among other things, the bill states that:

(1) the Congress declares that–

(A) human life shall be deemed to exist from conception, without regard to race, sex, age, health, defect, or condition of dependency; and

(B) the term ‘person’ shall include all human life as defined in subparagraph (A); and

(2) the Congress recognizes that each State has the authority to protect lives of unborn children residing in the jurisdiction of that State.

States have already have laws banning homicide, and if fetuses are “persons” under the equal protection clause (whose core purpose is to prevent states from denying the protection of generally applicable laws to classes of persons) all 50 states would be required to prosecute all abortions not necessary to save a woman’s life as first degree murder. Perhaps some state courts would try to argue that the complete exclusion of this federally defined class of “persons” can survive strict scrutiny, but presumably this isn’t Paul’s intent or preferred position.  Far from leaving the abortion issue to “the states,” the intended effect of the Sanctity of Life Act is to create a national abortion code that would apply severe criminal sanctions to women who obtain abortions. The bill empowers state courts in the sense that it strips jurisdiction from federal courts, but state courts would be working under federal law that seeks to criminalize abortion.

As Matt implies, the best defense you can make for the claim that Paul just wants to return abortion to the states and doesn’t want women to be subject to criminal sanctions is that he’s a manipulator and hypocrite who pretends to want the federal government to nationalize fetal personhood but really considers the bill he supports a symbolic nullity. Admittedly, Republican abortion politics is replete with exactly this kind of cynicism, but in Paul’s case there’s reason to actually take his stated positions seriously. And if you do, it’s pretty clear that he wants all American women to face severe criminal sanctions if they obtain abortions.  And, certainly, Paul — like virtually all anti-choice Republicans — has never believed that abortion policy should be “left to the states.”

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