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How Rand Paul Is Tackling Abortion, Without Reversing Roe v. Wade


“Now the time to grovel before the Supreme Court is over.”

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the U.S. strategy to defeat the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is raising money for an anti-abortion organization that plans to push his plan to end abortion without the need of overturning a Supreme Court decision or a constitutional amendment.

Instead, Paul is arguing for using the words of the Constitution and the very language from the Roe v. Wade decision.


“Now the time to grovel before the Supreme Court is over,” Paul said in the four-page letter sent out by the National Pro-Life Alliance. “Working from what the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade, pro-life lawmakers can pass a 'Life at Conception Act' and end abortion using the Constitution instead of amending it.”

The 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling states: “Texas urges that, apart from the Fourteenth Amendment, life begins at conception and is present throughout pregnancy, and that, therefore, the State has a compelling interest in protecting that life from and after conception. We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”

It continues, “If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment. The appellant conceded as much on reargument. On the other hand, the appellee conceded on reargument 52 that no case could be cited that holds that a fetus is a person within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Personhood laws have been debated in state legislatures across the country. If passed, Paul's bill would define the unborn as persons protected by the 14th Amendment at the federal level.

Paul argues that the Roe ruling itself opens the door for legislative action if law recognizes the unborn as people, thus protected by the Constitution, because even the ruling did not create the right to an abortion.

“When the Supreme Court handed down its now-infamous Roe v. Wade decision, it did so based on a new, previously undefined 'right to privacy' which it 'discovered' in so-called 'emanations' of 'penumbrae' of the Constitution,” Paul wrote. “Of course, as constitutional law, it was a disaster. But never once did the Supreme Court declare abortion itself to be a constitutional right.”

Though he has always taken a pro-life stance on abortion, Paul's strong libertarianism could potentially prompt social conservatives to be cautious about supporting him. However, with both the legislation – first proposed in 2013 – and now the fundraising letter, Paul is putting himself in a leadership role on the issue.

It's also a sign he is shoring up traditional Republican voters, even has he has stood out for trying to broaden the GOP base among young voters, minorities and other traditionally Democratic constituencies.

The National Pro-Life Alliance plans to do TV, radio and newspaper ads; lobby key members of Congress; run a series of newspaper columns and “an extensive direct mail and telephone campaign,” Paul said in the letter.

The letter includes petitions to sign to go to House and Senate leaders and the resident's two U.S. senators and their House member. The organization is trying to get 1 million petitions sent to Congress.

For its part, Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading abortion provider and advocate, has used the proposal to attack Republican candidates in the 2014 midterm elections, such as Rep. Cory Gardner, who is running for U.S. Senate in Colorado.

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