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#22 Don’t be Thrown off by ABORTION: Pro-life vs. Pro-choice = Semantics

September 16, 2012

This was one of the toughest aspects of Ron Paul for me to come to grips with. I have always been a passionate defender of a woman’s right to choose. I believe that in a free society women should have the right to decide when they’re ready to become parents. If a woman or girl is raped, or impregnated by one of her family members, that right has been unjustly taken away from her. Only the most primitive and cruel society would the force a victim to see that pregnancy through, so the violation can continue for 9 months, rather than allowing a doctor to terminate it in its earliest stage. This would be based purely on some religious notion that an undeveloped zygote has a soul. Therefore taking this action would equate to the “murder of a child.” For Christ’s sake…

Nature aborts life in its beginning stages all the time and modern society offers all kinds of medical procedures that adjust or interfere with our bodies and reproductive organs, preventing life from being able to develop where it would otherwise resulted in its natural course. Human controlled abortion has also been around for a lot longer than surgical procedures have even existed. In some early cultures women would give themselves abortions using herbs that cause still-births if they tired of their mates, so it’s not like abortion is something new that was introduced by medicine, even as a form of birth control.

That’s not to say that I think we should use that method today or that abortion should be used as a form birth control. Sure, I would be supportive of the option if I got someone pregnant through pure carelessness, but I would certainly regret getting us into the position and treating the matter carelessly, because I do have a respect for life and believe it should be treated as responsibly as possible. I don’t think anyone who believes in a woman’s right to choose thinks abortions are happy or non-tragic events, and I think everyone would like to find practical ways for society to reduce the need for abortions and prevent unwanted pregnancies, so in the end, everyone wants the same thing. It SHOULD NOT be such a divisive topic (even though it’s constantly used as a wedge issue), because it is probably one of the least black and white issues we face.

It’s important the we change the discussion on abortion and find a rational way engage in it because it is treated in such extremely varying ways throughout the world, such as China where the government will force women to have abortions for population control, or many other places where women and doctors are executed for having or performing the procedure, regardless of any complex circumstances.

When it comes to Ron Paul’s, stance on the issue, I’ve learned that it is very different from the “pro-life” position that I’ve become familiar with over the years, which is what all of his republican opponents subscribe to. First of all, Ron Paul would NEVER allow a federal ban on abortion as the others would like to, and returning us to the back alley era. That’s probably the most important point to keep in mind: it’s the legal/constitutional aspects of Roe Vs Wade, that Ron Paul takes issue with. Do NOT confuse that with wanting to use the federal government to stop abortion. Those are two very different things and you might not even know that it’s possible to be pro-choice AND against Roe Vs Wade. Why just assume that some law is the ultimate answer to dealing with the issue of abortion or reproductive rights? I know regulators always do a bang up job on everything, but how about we actually look at this carefully and discuss it…

For Ron Paul, being pro-life is a PERSONAL moral position, which admirably comes from a very deep and genuine respect for life. It became extra personal during his years as a physician when he witnessed an illegal abortion, in which the fetus was fully developed and crying when it was removed. Instead of doing what they could to save the baby, the doctors placed it in a bucket and put it away as if nothing happened, which is horrifying to me, even as someone who’s pro-choice, and that is certainly NOT what I envision when I talk about protecting re-productive rights. Even a baby as small as one pound can have its life saved, so it’s not something to be treated lightly or with indifference.

Roe vs Wade actually makes it legal and thereby profitable for doctors to perform abortions up to minutes before birth, when a woman who dumps her child minutes after will be locked up and charged with murder. The law also contradicts itself by holding doctors legally responsible for the life of the fetus during medical procedures, meaning they’ll be sued or prosecuted if the fetus is harmed while under their care, but it gets even more complicated. Sometimes a botched abortion will occur, such as the one Paul witnessed, and those doctors are suddenly charged with murder or wrongful death if they can’t keep that same fetus alive that they were trying to abort. Similar contradictions arise with homicide and manslaughter as well.

So, as a society we DO protect the rights of the unborn to some extent, but having a blanket federal regulation over an issue as complicated as abortion leads to all sorts of these deficiencies and unintended consequences, such as hack doctors who make a business out of doing it under any circumstances, preying on the vulnerable, sometimes allowing young teenagers to have around three abortions in just one year, and things of that nature.

Paul’s belief is that instead of legalizing abortion across the board, creating “abortion on demand,” we should follow the constitution and allow states to set their own limits and regulations for abortion because “the more complicated an issue is, the more localized the solution should be.” I know that’s kind of a scary thought, but stay with me for a moment, because he is also completely sensitive to the most extreme circumstances, such as rape, the mother’s health and the health of her re-productive organs.

As Paul explains in a great discussion with Whoopi Glodberg and the other liberal feminists on the The View, he fully understands and acknowledges that we can’t create a world without abortions while getting them to acknowledge that there should be limitations. He explained that abortions were performed in hospitals under such circumstances, but the law would be there ON PRINICPLE as an acknowledgement of respect for life. If it was a rape situation it would be reported and treated as such, and if the mother’s health was in danger, the procedure would be exempt from the state’s anti-abortion regulations.

What most don’t realize is that our country was already moving in this direction prior to Roe. By the early 1970s a third of the states had liberalized or repealed federal anti-abortion laws within state jurisdiction because doctors were defying them and performing abortions illegally, to prevent women from having it done unsafely. This was the answer to de-criminalizing abortion in our country and being able to help women under difficult circumstances, but the states would still be able to say abortion is illegal under normal circumstances, or that they have certain restrictions if that’s what the people wanted. Roe was the government’s way of exploiting this trend to incorporate it with their healthcare profit machine, making it legal in any stage, under any circumstance overriding any state-level control over the matter, encouraging the loose treatment we see today.

Paul is also firmly against federal funding for abortion because forcing people to pay for something they’re against is immoral and unconstitutional, but he also notes in his book Liberty Defined that proponents of federal funding for abortion are taking the stupidest possible position for their cause because all it accomplishes is providing ammunition for those who seek a federal ban to fight them with; the extreme pro-lifers you and I know best, who actually hate and attack Ron Paul for not being a “true pro-lifer.” Those groups are a common enemy.

While Ron Paul might not view the issue as a simple matter of choice, strict as he is about personal liberties, but he DOES believe in the states right to choose between being illegal under normal circumstances, legal with some restrictions, or even legal with no restrictions. None of these approaches take away the ability for a woman to have a safe abortion if she needs one. It’s just the way it is handled legally that would vary from state to state on the basis of a variety of circumstances.  Ending the federal law would NOT END ABORTION, nor does Paul expect it to, but it would be a practical measure to reduce abortions, that would work together with the monetary reform that would improve conditions with better education, declining poverty, healthier families and so on.

But there is even more to appreciate about Ron Paul’s version of pro-life. For one, he is completely non-hypocritical. He does not believe in capital punishment, aware of all those who have been wrongly executed, and the routine injustices of our legal system towards people of color. He is also 100% anti-war, AND he supports stem cell research on a state controlled bases.

Few things annoy me more than anti-abortion demonstrators who wave signs outside of clinics, because aside from usually being pro-war and pro-capital punishment, they don’t do ANYTHING to support their cause or address the problem at its root; trying to fix poverty and education perhaps. They can twist knives into the wounds of sexual assault victims with graphic images of mutilation all they want to and it will not do one thing to prevent an abortion or an unwanted pregnancy in society. These people are useless and Ron Paul is nothing like them, so don’t let the abortion issue scare you away from him.

Regardless of how you feel about Paul’s position on abortion, I think we can all agree that it could be A LOT worse, and his stances on other issues (such as the FED) pretty much trump everything else. But I feel comfortable on this one too. I respect the nature of Dr. Paul’s pro-life position, and I wish all pro-lifers were pro-life the way he is; understanding about the complexities of different situations and willing to make exceptions for things like rape. Paul regards the level at which we perform abortions in society as tragic, and on certain levels, so do I. A part of the tragedy is that many abortions happen for economic reasons, which is understandable because kids are IMPOSSIBLE to afford without a large income.

A healthy or rapidly healing economy would make such decisions less necessary. More people would leave open the option of welcoming a newcomer into their good healthy home where they can offer that child a promising future. Not a terrible thing, and don’t even think the word overpopulation. Abortion as population control is a very sick and dangerous notion. We have the resources to take care of many more people if we change the way they’re managed. Furthermore, studies show that unplanned pregnancies decrease significantly with the improvement of education, healthier families on stable incomes, better nutrition, access to technology etc. It’s another reason we NEED monetary reform, tax reform, localized food production, the end of big business AND big government etc.

If these are the results Ron Paul wants to see manifest in a new society, my pro-choice beliefs need not stand in the way. I do not feel any defensive instincts with regards to our differences here, and I think it should be possible for us to meet him half way on this one.

Here are the best clips I could find with Ron Paul discussing Abortion and Stem Cell Research:

On abortion and stem cell research:

On The View:

Paul on the reasons for his position:

Abortion Chapter:


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