WASHINGTON, D.C., March 21, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Some pro-life activists were left scratching their heads after a recent interview Senator Rand Paul did on Wolf Blitzer’s CNN show “The Situation Room,” in which the senator seemed to say he supported “thousands of exceptions” to his general belief that abortion should be illegal. But Paul spokesman Doug Stafford told LifeSiteNews.com in an interview on Wednesday that the senator’s remarks were misunderstood, reiterating that Paul is staunchly pro-life.
In the interview, Blitzer asked Sen. Paul about his pro-life views, asking, “Just to be precise, if you believe life begins at conception, which I suspect you do, you would have no exceptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother – is that right?”
Paul, who is a doctor as well as a senator, answered, “I think that…puts things in too small of a box. What I would say is there are thousands of exceptions. I’m a physician, and every individual case is going to be different. Everything is going to be particular to that individual case and what is going on that mother and the medical circumstances of that mother.”
“It sounds like you believe in some exceptions,” Blitzer said.
“Well, there is going to be, like I say, thousands of extraneous situations where the life of the mother is involved and other things that are involved,” replied Paul, “so I would say that each individual case would have to be addressed, and even if there were eventually a change in the law – let’s say people came more to my way of thinking – there would still be a lot of complicated things the law may not ultimately be able to address in the early stages of pregnancy that would have to be part of what occurs between the physician, and the woman, and the family.”
After the interview, the Atlantic Wire ran a story with the headline “Rand Paul Isn’t 100% Pro-life Anymore,” arguing that the language Paul used in his answer sounded remarkably similar to pro-choice rhetoric claiming abortion should always be a private matter between a woman and her doctor.
But Paul’s chief of staff, Doug Stafford, said the Atlantic got it wrong.
Paul “was speaking medically,” Stafford said.
By “thousands of exceptions,” Stafford told LifeSiteNews.com, Paul meant that a singular exception to save the life of the mother would likely cover thousands of individual cases – for example, ectopic pregnancies or others that directly threaten the mother’s life.
The senator is not in favor of the more nebulous “health of the mother” exception that pro-life advocates argue can be applied to any woman facing an unwanted pregnancy.
But what about Paul’s statement that the Life at Conception Act may not be able to address early abortions? That, too, was a misunderstanding, according to Stafford. He said the senator was talking about things like emergency contraception pills, which may cause very early abortions, but since they contain the exact same drugs used in standard birth control pills, the senator believes they will be nearly impossible to ban.
Senator Paul “has always said it is not practically possible to legislate things like the morning after pill or other emergency contraception,” Stafford said. “It simply isn't possible to do so. The law will likely never be able to reach that.”
“You can legislate abortifacients like RU-486, and he would,” he said. “But you can’t legislatively ban artificial estrogen and progesterone.”
While the Atlantic accused the junior senator from Kentucky of taking a defeatist attitude toward his own bill, Stafford told LSN that the senator was merely being realistic about the chances of passing a total abortion ban while the country as whole is either focused on other issues or, in many cases, even supportive of legalized abortion.
The senator, he said, “was trying to say that while he believes in all of these things and will keep pushing them, he won’t succeed soon because the country isn’t there yet. I think public opinion polls show that. The country is at best split, and we don’t yet have a culture that fully supports life.”
However, Stafford said that he sees public opinion moving in the direction of favoring more limits on abortion-on-demand. Recent polls have shown the same, including a CNN poll showing 62 percent of Americans now support at least some restrictions on the procedure. But a significant minority of Americans still strongly believe abortion should be legal and freely available.
Said Stafford, “We shouldn’t change what we believe based on polls, but we should take it as a sign we have work to do. Public education must continue, and pro-life advocates should work for more pro-life candidates.”