For Ron Paul, life, morality, liberty inextricably entwined
See LSN video of Ron Paul at Value Voters Summit (Families are under attack says Paul)
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 17, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - For all the criticism aimed at Ron Paul from both the left and right, one thing he can’t be called is incoherent.
On topics ranging from the Federal Reserve and U.S. entanglements overseas to abortion and homosexuality, the 12-term U.S. Congressman and OB/GYN physician unfailingly brings the principle of liberty to the table as his philosophical touchstone.
But this level of consistency - Paul has been dubbed “Dr. No” for promising to veto any bill not explicitly Constitutional - has landed him in an uncomfortable spot on the American political scene. Despite emerging the victor of both the CPAC and the Values Voter polls (critics point to the hundreds of Paul supporters who showed up merely to vote), the conservative Paul continues to struggle to prove his legitimacy as a candidate to the mainstream - including mainstream conservatives.
Voter hang-ups with Paul are manifold: maligned by the right for his non-interventionist vision of America, he has turned off countless Christian voters rooted in Zionism for what they consider his betrayal of Israel. On the left, his criticism of all government entitlements wins him few supporters.
Paul’s social agenda also seems to defy definition. Supporters point to his strong position statements, while major organizations such as the National Organization for Marriage decry his opposition to several conservative goals. NARAL Pro-Choice America has rated Paul as high as 75% pro-choice, including votes against unborn crime victim protections and laws barring interstate transport of minors for abortions. (NARAL nonetheless decries Paul’s “extreme position on choice” and notes: “On the occasions he voted pro-choice, Paul often made speeches on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to explain why and to reaffirm his anti-choice views.”)
But the ostensibly mixed record does not mean a moderate agenda - only that Paul holds disentangling government power from moral imperative paramount. That, his advisors say, is the key to understanding his social policy.
“Morality informs policy and law, but law can’t dictate morality. It’s a one-way street,” Ron Paul senior advisor Doug Wead told LifeSiteNews.com. Morality, according to Paul, “comes from the Creator, come from Biblical instruction, come from the church,” said Wead - and thus “to expect the government then to dictate morality doesn’t work.”
Paul’s strong pro-life views - Wead said the congressman has made “a life study” of the issue - are perhaps the biggest point of deviation from the left-leaning libertarians closest to Paul on other topics.
In a 1983 book-length essay on abortion, “Abortion and Liberty,” Paul wrote that “abortion is the most fundamental issue involving natural rights and individual liberty,” and called it a characteristic of totalitarian regimes alongside euthanasia and genocide.
Paul also slammed pro-abortion libertarians who argue that the procedure is a legitimate protection against the unborn child “aggressing” on its mother’s personal liberty. “The fetus, of course, neither aggressed nor intruded. The mother and father placed him there,” he said.
His anti-government views, he argues, are not inherently detrimental to advancing a pro-life culture: in his recent book, Liberty Defined, Paul advocated deregulating the adoption market as one means of reducing abortion, and criticized pro-life opponents who interpret his states-rights position in a negative light.
“Instead of admitting that my position allows the states to minimize or ban abortions, they claim that my position supports the legalization of abortion by the states. This is twisted logic,” Paul wrote.
Paul’s deregulaton emphasis has also raised questions about his stance on the morning-after pill, which he admits could be used to kill early human life but which he says could “never be policed.” FOX’s Megyn Kelly asked Paul about the drug during a September debate, asking, “Aren’t those lives [aborted by the morning-after pill] just as innocent?” Paul responded, “They may be, but the way this is taken care of in our country, it is not a national issue, it is a state issue.”
However, Paul is simultaneously a supporter of “personhood” legislation - a position arguably too extreme for many even in the pro-life movement - based on his belief in the sanctity of life from its very beginning.
Spurred by his experience as a resident watching colleagues leave aborted babies to die in buckets, Paul introduced the Sanctity of Life Act, which defines personhood from the moment of conception. The bill simultaneously disallowed federal courts from arguing legal questions on abortion, leaving states to hash out for themselves the ramifications of the definition.
This dedication to life in all its stages Paul once phrased as critical to the survival of a free society.
“Abortion and the killing of newborns cannot qualify as victimless crimes. The unwritten commitment to the life conceived occurs at the time of conception,” he wrote in Abortion and Liberty. “If we don’t accept this proposition, the basis for personal responsibility for all acts, the key to a free society, is destroyed.”