Ron Paul Says the Constitution Makes Abortion a States-Rights Issue
The United States Constitution established a carefully limited federal government and Ron Paul actively defends the government it established. He says that the Constitution has nothing to say about abortion, that prior to Roe v. Wade, the issue of abortion was left to the states, and that, if Paul had his way, abortion would again be left to the several states to permit or outlaw as each individual state determined.
Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, but not because the Supreme Court presumed to legalize abortion rather than ban it. Roe was wrongly decided because abortion simply is not a constitutional issue. There is not a word in the text of that document, nor in any of its amendments, that conceivably addresses abortion. There is no serious argument based on the text of the Constitution itself that a federal “right to abortion” exists. The federalization of abortion law is based not on constitutional principles, but rather on a social and political construct created out of thin air by the Roe court.
Under the 9th and 10th amendments, all authority over matters not specifically addressed in the Constitution remains with state legislatures. Therefore the federal government has no authority whatsoever to involve itself in the abortion issue. So while Roe v. Wade is invalid, a federal law banning abortion across all 50 states would be equally invalid.
In a post at ronpaul.com, Paul is described as holding
that the ninth and tenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution do not grant the federal government any authority to legalize or ban abortion. Instead, it is up to the individual states to prohibit abortion.
Is Paul correct? Is it necessary to set aside the Constitution to defend innocent life?
The first thing to consider is the context of the Constitution. In 1787, when the Founding Fathers set to overhaul our country’s failed first attempt at national government, certain things were already in place. The common understanding of Law and Government was famously set forth by these same Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence. The framers of our Constitution held that mankind is “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights , that among these are Life …”, etc. The framers did not need to re-stipulate what they had already published only 15 years prior. The war they fought to secure that right punctuated it far more effectively than mere repetition.
The second thing to consider is the Constitution itself. Now, the main body of the Constitution seems to leave almost everything to the States; but the amendments tell a far different story.
- Amendment 4: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”
Is it really possible that I am protected against seizure of my person but not against the murder of my person? Are the unborn not likewise protected by this very clause?
- Amendment 5: No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…
Was Roe v Wade a “due process of law”? No, it was certainly not. In fact, this provision bars even a state legislature from authorizing the death of non-combatants who are not lawfully convicted for a capital crime.
- Amendment 9: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Thou shalt not construe the Constitution to deny the already-recognized right of life, thou nor the libertarian that is within thy gates.
- Amendment 14, Sections 1and 5:
- 1. …No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
- 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Abortion deprives prenatal persons of their right to life; Congress has explicit power to enforce protection of that right.
One may point out that I am viewing the Constitution, figuratively speaking, through the lenses of my pro-life ideology. I freely admit it. I view the unborn as living persons. From that starting point, it follows that our legal history recognizes: that those persons have been endowed by their Creator with the unalienable right to life; that seizure, or worse, of their person is prohibited by the Constitution; that the right to life was never denied nor disparaged by the enumeration of rights in the Constitution; that no State may abridge that right; and that Congress has explicit Constitutional jurisdiction to enforce that right.
If, on the other hand, the unborn are not persons, why, then the Constitution offers them no protection. If the unborn are not persons, each State may legislate whatever they deem wise respecting these living things just as states regulate groundhog season and insect extermination and Congress has no authority whatsoever to involve itself in the issue (as long as federal interest in inter-state commerce and the protection of endangered species are preserved).
One might infer, since Dr Paul denies fetuses have constitutional protection, that he denies that fetuses are human persons. I won’t. In fact, it sounds like Paul comes close to sharing my view. In that same post at ronpaul.com, Paul is quoted stating his belief that human life starts at conception:
… I can assure you life begins at conception. I am legally responsible for the unborn, no matter what I do, so there’s a legal life there. The unborn has inheritance rights, and if there’s an injury or a killing, there is a legal entity. There is no doubt about it.
How then are these babies beyond the constitutional power of Congress to protect? Either these legal entities are persons whom God has given the right to life which our Law recognizes and which Congress has explicit authority to protect, or the legal lives with inheritance rights are not persons. Which is it, Dr Paul?
Either you are pro-life and you need to correct your flawed Constitutional argument or you are not pro-life.
Again, in this same post, his website points out that
For many years, Ron Paul has been speaking up for babies’ rights. He passionately defends those who cannot speak for themselves because they haven’t been born yet.
Dr Ron Paul, please continue to passionately defend the unborn; but, please begin to do so in the context of a correct view of the Constitution.