Rand Paul spoke yesterday before the Susan B. Anthony List’s “Campaign for Life” Summit, advising the pro-life movement to go on the offensive.
Senator Paul was very warmly received. Although his announcement of candidacy did not mention the defense of life, the audience was well aware of Paul’s defiant response to a reporter during his post-announcement roll-out, “You go back and go ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz (chairperson of the DNC) if she’s OK with killing a 7-pound baby that’s just not born yet.”
Paul’s advice to the pro-life movement was to insist that the other side answer these questions, “why don’t you think this baby has rights?” And, “precisely when do the rights of the person begin?” Paul said the prevention of an individual from harming another was a legitimate function of government, and consistent with his concept of liberty. He attributed his views on abortion in part to his medical training and his experience of treating premature babies weighing no more than a pound.
Senator Paul has found that the Democratic Party’s “no abortions barred” position fails the public’s reasonableness test. The ban on abortions after 20 weeks was found by a Quinnipiac University poll to be favored by 2-1 (60% to 33%), and a large majority of Americans (71% in a Gallup survey) favor at least some restrictions on abortion (versus 28% who say abortion should be legal in all circumstances). To the extent Paul continues to welcome social conservatives as a part of his constituency, he makes himself a viable alternative for a big chunk of the Republican electorate.
Steve Wagner is the founder and president of QEV Analytics, a Washington DC-based public opinion research firm.