Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced “The Life at Conception Act,” a personhood measure that would outlaw abortions by declaring that “human life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore is entitled to legal protection from that point forward.” “The right to life is guaranteed to all Americans in the Declaration of Independence and ensuring this is upheld is the Constitutional duty of all Members of Congress,” Paul said in a statement. Anti-abortion activists have tried to advance similar measures across the nation.
But on Tuesday, during an appearance on CNN’s The Situation Room, Paul — who is said to be eyeing a run for the White House in 2016 — seemed to waver from his belief that all abortion is tantamount to killing human life and should be illegal. Asked if the measure offers exceptions for rape or incest victims, the Tea Party star admitted that it includes “thousands of exceptions” and explained that medical decisions “in the early stages of pregnancy that would have to be part of what occurs between the physician and the woman and the family” — free of government interference:
BLITZER: 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: I think that once again 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…. There are a lot of decisions made privately by families and doctors that really won’t, the law won’t apply to, but I think it is important we not be flippant one way or the other and pigeon hole and say this person doesn’t believe in any sort of discussion between family and physician. [...]
BLITZER: It sounds like you believe in some exceptions.
PAUL: 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 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.
Paul describes himself as pro-life and has called on Congress to “end abortion on demand once and for all” and overturn Roe v. Wade. But in the answer above, he almost seems to adopt a pro-choice frame, inadvertently making the case for why the right wing’s efforts to declare a fetus a person (and outlaw abortion) undermines women’s health care and well being and invades the doctor/patient relationship.