Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Is Ron Paul Pro-Life?

I periodically get emails from Christians claiming that Ron Paul is not pro-Life because he just:
  • Voted NO on restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions. (Apr 2005) or
  • Voted NO on making it a crime to harm a fetus during another crime. (Feb 2004) or
  • Voted NO on forbidding human cloning for reproduction & medical research. (Feb 2003) or
  • Voted YES on funding for health providers who don’t provide abortion info. (Sep 2002) or
  • Voted NO on federal crime to harm fetus while committing other crimes. (Apr 2001) or
  • Voted NO on barring transporting minors to get an abortion. (Jun 1999).
The latest such claim was that he does not care about moral issues because he just voted to allow people to abort their babies if they are the wrong gender - HR 3541.

So once again, I dug out the law to see if in fact Ron Paul had made a bad vote. After reading the bill (copy here), I would have to agree once again with Dr. Paul. It’s an atrocious bill for a number of reasons. To be fair, I have found a couple times where he voted contrary to the Scriptures or the Constitution, but not this time.
First, it’s based on the politically correct notion of preventing sex and racial discrimination. 

The bill reads:

  • (B) United States law prohibits the dissimilar treatment of males and females who are similarly situated and prohibits sex discrimination in various contexts, including the provision of employment, education, housing, health insurance coverage, and athletics.) …. (C) A `race-selection abortion' is an abortion performed for purposes of eliminating an unborn child because the child or a parent of the child is of an undesired race. Race-selection abortion is barbaric, and described by civil rights advocates as an act of race-based violence, predicated on race discrimination. By definition, race-selection abortions do not implicate the health of mother of the unborn, but instead are elective procedures motivated by race bias.
This is a terrible basis for any law. Race selection abortion is barbaric because abortion itself is barbaric. Discrimination, on the other hand, is inevitable. It is impossible to live and not discriminate. I am not condoning race discrimination. I am just saying we should not have laws barring discrimination. For example, if someone is denied the right to vote because they are black, the crime is that a qualified voter was denied the right to vote - not that someone discriminated. Anyone who does that for any reason should be horsewhipped and forever barred from ever being an election official. If a state insists on outlawing black people from voting, the proper response is to expel that state from the Union. That preserves our Constitutional republic and disassociates us from reprehensible conduct. Meddling in the states' business undermines our Constitution and the country it established. But I digress.

Second, this bill is unconstitutional  because it usurps power that is retained to the states and has never been given to the Federal Government. The Federal government does not have jurisdiction over murder, which is what abortion is. This bill tries to assert authority based on the commerce clause – See Section 2(b) – as if the abortion industry was a type of interstate commerce to be regulated like the shipment of potatoes. Well, actually we know that the abortion industry does engage in interstate commerce and is tied to interstate sex trafficking. But that’s a great tragedy. To pass a bill based on their authority to regulate interstate commerce and allow the underlying industry to continue, is to implicitly sanction the underlying industry. 
Third, it claims that few states outlaw sex or race selection abortions. But that's a red herring. The real problem is many states which used to outlaw abortion no longer do. Our 2003 legislature in Texas (Republican controlled house) specifically voted to exclude abortions for profit from capitol murder by adding Sect 19.06 to the Penal Code. 

That would have been the place to get a good pro-life bill with some teeth. Instead "pro-life" Republicans changed the law to specifically exclude doctors who are performing a “medical procedure for profit where the death of the baby is the intended result “ from prosecution for capital murder.  A lot of so-called “pro life” people voted for that bill (HB246). Until we fix state law, violating the Constitution only undermines our Republic without stopping abortion.
The biggest problem with the bill, legally speaking, is that it tries to criminalize thoughts – like hate crime legislation.  It should criminalize abortion (but even that still runs afoul of #2). It is a meaningless bill that would do absolutely nothing to reduce abortions even if it were passed. Abortion providers would simply tell people who wanted an abortion because of the baby's gender to "pick another reason." This bill only exists to allow political actors to energize their base by voting for or against an abortion bill.

I would have voted against this bill too.  

On the other hand, if pro-lifers really wanted to do something to stop abortion, it would be very easy for our super majority republican legislature to outlaw abortion – just repeal section 19.06 of the Texas Penal code which was added in 2003. 

My question is, "Why, if we have so many pro life people in our legislature, aren’t they voting to do so?" If Ron Paul were in the TX house, I suspect, based on his record in Congress, that he would be submitting a bill every session to do just this, whether it went anywhere or not.  This is not to say that  Ron Paul hasn’t made some bad votes. I know of two very bad votes this session and there may be others. But I don’t think this is one of them.

Here's Dr. Paul's statement on why he did not support his bill. He reasoning is sound and has nothing to do with supporting abortion. 

Mr. Speaker, as an Ob-GYN who has delivered over 4,000 babies, I certainly abhor abortion. And I certainly share my colleagues' revulsion at the idea that someone would take an innocent unborn life because they prefer to have a child of a different sex.

However, I cannot support HR 3541, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, because this bill is unconstitutional. Congress's jurisdiction is limited to those areas specified in the Constitution. Nowhere in that document is Congress given any authority to address abortion in any manner. Until 1973, when the Supreme Court usurped the authority of the states in the Roe V. Wade decision, no one believed or argued abortion was a federal issue.

I also cannot support HR 3541 because it creates yet another set of federal criminal laws, even though the Constitution lists only three federal crimes: piracy, treason, and counterfeiting.  All other criminal matters are expressly left to states under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, and criminal laws relating to abortion certainly should be legislated by states rather than Congress.

I have long believed that abortion opponents make a mistake by spending their energies on a futile quest to make abortion a federal crime. Instead, pro-life Americans should work to undo Roe V. Wade and give the power to restrict abortion back to the states and the people. It is particularly disappointing to see members supporting this bill who rightfully oppose ludicrous interpretations of the Commerce Clause when it comes to the national health care law, which also abuses the Commerce Clause to create new federal crimes.

Pro-life Americans believe all unborn life is precious and should be protected. Therefore we should be troubled by legislation that singles out abortions motivated by a "politically incorrect" reason for special federal punishment. To my conservative colleagues who support this bill: what is the difference in principle between a federal law prohibiting "sex selection" abortions and federal hate crimes laws? After all, hate crime laws also criminalize thoughts by imposing additional stronger penalties when a crime is motivated by the perpetrator's animus toward a particular race or sex.

I also question whether this bill would reduce the number of abortions. I fear instead that every abortion provider in the nation would simply place a sign in their waiting room saying "It is a violation of federal law to perform an abortion because of the fetus' sex.  Here is a list of reasons for which abortion is permissible under federal law."

Mr. Speaker, instead of spending time on this unconstitutionally, ineffective, and philosophically flawed bill, Congress should use its valid authority to limit the jurisdiction of activist federal courts and (thereby) protect state laws restoring abortion. This is the constitutional approach to effectively repealing Roe V. Wade. Instead of focusing on gimmicks and piecemeal approaches, true conservatives should address the horror of abortion via the most immediate, practical, and effective manner possible: returning jurisdiction over abortion to the states.

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