The Partial Birth Abortion Ban
Ron Paul in the US House of Representatives, June 4, 2003
Mr. Speaker, like many Americans, I am greatly concerned about abortion. Abortion on demand is no doubt the most serious sociopolitical problem of our age. The lack of respect for life that permits abortion significantly contributes to our violent culture and our careless attitude toward liberty. As an obstetrician, I know that partial birth abortion is never a necessary medical procedure. It is a gruesome, uncivilized solution to a social problem.
Whether a civilized society treats human life with dignity or contempt determines the outcome of that civilization. Reaffirming the importance of the sanctity of life is crucial for the continuation of a civilized society. There is already strong evidence that we are indeed on the slippery slope toward euthanasia and human experimentation. Although the real problem lies within the hearts and minds of the people, the legal problems of protecting life stem from the ill-advised Roe v. Wade ruling, a ruling that constitutionally should never have occurred.
The best solution, of course, is not now available to us. That would be a Supreme Court that recognizes that for all criminal laws, the several states retain jurisdiction. Something that Congress can do is remove the issue from the jurisdiction of the lower federal courts, so that states can deal with the problems surrounding abortion, thus helping to reverse some of the impact of Roe v. Wade.
Unfortunately, H.R. 760 takes a different approach, one that is not only constitutionally flawed, but flawed in principle, as well. Though I will vote to ban the horrible partial-birth abortion procedure, I fear that the language used in this bill does not further the pro-life cause, but rather cements fallacious principles into both our culture and legal system.
For example, 14G in the “Findings” section of this bill states, “...such a prohibition [upon the partial-birth abortion procedure] will draw a bright line that clearly distinguishes abortion and infanticide...” The question I pose in response is this: Is not the fact that life begins at conception the main tenet advanced by the pro-life community? By stating that we draw a “bright line” between abortion and infanticide, I fear that we simply reinforce the dangerous idea underlying Roe v. Wade, which is the belief that we as human beings can determine which members of the human family are “expendable,” and which are not.
Another problem with this bill is its citation of the interstate commerce clause as a justification for a federal law banning partial-birth abortion. This greatly stretches the definition of interstate commerce. The abuse of both the interstate commerce clause and the general welfare clause is precisely the reason our federal government no longer conforms to constitutional dictates but, instead, balloons out of control in its growth and scope. H.R. 760 inadvertently justifies federal government intervention into every medical procedure through the gross distortion of the interstate commerce clause.
H.R. 760 also depends heavily upon a “distinction” made by the Court in both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which establishes that a child within the womb is not protected under law, but one outside of the womb is. By depending upon this illogical “distinction,” I fear that H.R. 760, as I stated before, ingrains the principles of Roe v. Wade into our justice system, rather than refutes them as it should.
Despite its severe flaws, this bill nonetheless has the possibility of saving innocent human life, and I will vote in favor of it. I fear, though, that when the pro-life community uses the arguments of the opposing side to advance its agenda, it does more harm than good.
Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.