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Civil Rights, Gender, Government, Health Care, Health Disparities, Healthcare, Media, Media Bias, Politics, Public Health, Public Policy, Reproductive Rights, Women's Health, Women's Rights

What Rand Paul Won’t Admit: He Wants To Force Victims Of Rape And Incest To Give Birth

Rand Paul

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul made his debut as the newest 2016 GOP presidential nominee, then followed it up quickly by totally dodging a question on his abortion policy.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Paul refused to answer a straightforward question about abortion bans, instead offering a rambling philosophical meditation on abortion and ‘things’: “The thing is about abortion — and about a lot of things — is that I think people get tied up in all these details of, sort of, you’re this or this or that, or you’re hard and fast [on] one thing or the other,” Paul said.

Asked specifically whether or not he supported exceptions in abortion bans that allowed those who had been impregnated by rape or incest, or whose health is in jeopardy to still terminate a pregnancy, Paul cleverly dodged being pinned down to an actual statement that would anger either the extreme anti-choice crowd or the rest of the country. Instead, he demanded that reporters ask DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz how she feels about abortion. Despite the fact that, unlike Paul, she’s not actually running for the White House.

“You go back and go ask (DNC head) Debbie Wasserman Schultz if she’s OK with killing a 7-pound baby that’s just not born yet. Ask her when life begins, and ask Debbie when she’s willing to protect life. When you get an answer from Debbie, come back to me,” he demanded.

Unlike Paul, though, Wasserman Schultz actually answered the question: “I support letting women and their doctors make this decision without government getting involved. Period. End of story,” she said, adding: “Now your turn, Senator Paul. We know you want to allow government officials like yourself to make this decision for women –– but do you stand by your opposition to any exceptions, even when it comes to rape, incest, or life of the mother? Or do we just have different definitions of ‘personal liberty’?”

Paul still hasn’t followed through with his promise of an answer.

While Paul isn’t willing to clarify his position on abortion as a presidential candidate, his history in the Senate gives us a clear idea of where he stands. And based on that, it’s pretty obvious why he wouldn’t want to verbalize his stance — after all, would you want to admit that you support forcing victims of rape and incest to give birth?

As a senator, Paul has a perfect voting record with National Right to Life, the organization behind the the law that just effectively criminalized all abortions performed in Kansas during the second trimester. That law, by the way, has no exceptions for rape or incest.

During his time in the Senate, Paul has also introduced the Life at Conception Act, which codifies the notion of “personhood” into federal law. “Personhood” is a fringe movement that would give full legal and constitutional rights to fertilized eggs under the law. It would outlaw abortion in all cases, even for victims of rape or incest, and could even make certain forms of birth control illegal. Because Paul’s personhood proposal holds that the full weight of the 14th amendment kicks in “at the moment of fertilization,” methods of birth control that may prevent implantation — like the copper IUD when used as emergency contraception — could become, as the New Yorker so bluntly put it last year, “weapons of murder.”

Paul’s evasive behavior when pressed on abortion issues isn’t a new development. In a 2013 interview with CNN, Paul called his proposal to establish fetal personhood an “important philosophical discussion.”

When pushed on the matter of exceptions, Paul said:

Well, I think that once again puts things in too small of a box. What I would say is that there are thousands of exceptions. You know, I’m a physician and every individual case is going to be different, and everything is going to be particular to that individual case and what’s going on with that mother and the medical circumstances of that mother. […] I don’t think it’s as simple as checking a box and saying exceptions or no exceptions.

This is a radically different perspective on personhood than the one he offered in a recorded statement asking voters to call their representatives to pass the measure to “ban abortion once and for all.” He urged voters to force their “wavering” representatives to support personhood or face “angry voters back home.”

That statement also clashes with Paul’s position in 2010, when, as part of his Senate campaign, he filled out and signed a questionnaire issued by the anti-abortion Kentucky Right to Life Association. On this sheet, he checked off boxes detailing his positions on very specific aspects of abortion policy including questions about whether he supports a Human Life Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and whether he opposes “abortion in cases of rape and incest.”

On the 2010 questionnaire (see it below), Paul checked “yes” to indicate he does oppose “abortion in cases of rape and incest.” So when he said that abortion exceptions aren’t “as simple as checking a box,” Paul is apparently hoping you won’t find out that he did exactly that when he was running for his current elected office.

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Rand Paul Anti Choice 2

Rand Paul Anti Choice 1  Rand Paul Anti Choice 3

Paul’s deceptive maneuvering in recent interviews reveals an important clue about the run-up to 2016: the fact that the GOP knows that there is no way to answer the abortion question, except to avoid it. Anything less than a complete and total ban is unacceptable to their base, and the rest of the country does not support such an extreme move. That means any time the question comes up, there will be a refusal to answer and a “look over there!” distraction.

Don’t fall for it.

Despite his supposed libertarian values, Rand Paul is against my civil liberties, and those of every woman in America. He believes big government should be making our most private, personal decisions for us. And as he has made clear with his actions over his entire career as an elected official, Paul supports forcing victims of rape and incest to give birth, and he values the life of an unborn fetus over that of an autonomous woman. Paul can’t be the candidate of “personal freedom” and privacy when he thinks they no longer apply the moment a person becomes pregnant.

But Paul is right about one thing — that people in this country hold nuanced and often contradictory views about abortion. Many Americans aren’t “one thing or the other.” But Paul is — he’s made that quite clear with his actions as a Senator. He’s as extreme a candidate as they come. He’d just rather not own up to it in the run-up to 2016.

 

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