Rep. Ron Paul Signs Personhood Pledge--With Reservations

By Matt Cover | January 10, 2012 | 10:05am EST

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a Republican presidential candidate, and 3-month-old Heide Lange in Dubuque, Iowa on Dec. 22, 2011. (AP Photo)

( – Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) recently became the fifth Republican presidential hopeful to sign a pledge saying that life begins at conception and ends at natural death.

“If elected President, I will work to advance state and federal laws and amendments that recognize the unalienable right to life of all human beings as persons at every stage of development,” the Personhood Pledge says.

"I stand with President Ronald Reagan in supporting 'the unalienable personhood of every American, from the moment of conception until natural death,' and with the Republican Party platform in affirming that I ‘support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment protections apply to unborn children,'" says the pledge.


"I believe that in order to properly protect the right to life of the vulnerable among us, every human being at every stage of development must be recognized as a person possessing the right to life in federal and state laws without exception and without compromise," the pledge says. "I recognize that in cases where a mother’s life is at risk, every effort should be made to save the baby’s life as well; leaving the death of an innocent child as an unintended tragedy rather than an intentional killing."


"I oppose assisted suicide, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and procedures that intentionally destroy developing human beings," it continues.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman are the only two remaining candidates who have not signed the pledge.

Paul signed the pledge December 19, but included a lengthy signing statement that spelled out some of his objections to what he thinks the pledge would obligate a president to do.

Paul says the federal government should stipulate that life begins at conception, but he also believes its involvement should end there, leaving the application of that standard to the states.

“To summarize my views -- I believe the federal government has a role to play. I believe Roe v. Wade should be repealed. I believe federal law should declare that life begins at conception. And I believe states should regulate the enforcement of this law, as they do other laws against violence,” Paul wrote in his signing statement.

Paul said he opposes any federal application of the personhood standard because he thinks that the 14th Amendment does not grant the government the power to enforce constitutional rights, even the right to life.

“The Fourteenth Amendment was never intended to cancel out the Tenth Amendment,” Paul wrote. (The 14th Amendment reads in part, “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.)

Paul claimed that if the federal government were to enforce the right to life, it would ultimately create a “federal police force” to do so, run by a “Federal Department of Abortion.”

“This means that I can’t agree that the Fourteenth Amendment has a role to play here, or otherwise we would end up with a "Federal Department of Abortion.”

Paul said that rights should be protected at the federal level, but only enforced by states.

“We should allow our republican system of government to function as our Founders designed it to: protect rights at the federal level, enforce laws against violence at the state level.”

Personhood USA legal analyst Gualberto Garcia Jones criticized Paul, saying that protection and enforcement of fundamental rights must go hand-in-hand or they’re meaningless.

“The United States suffered through a terrible civil war precisely because the federal government left it to the states to decide whether an entire class of people were to be considered persons or property,” Garcia Jones said in a statement on December 26.

“Rep. Paul's vague statement on the duty of the federal government to ‘protect rights’ is without effect if there is no mechanism for guaranteeing those protections.

“Personhood USA understands and agrees with Rep. Paul, that crimes, including murder, are to be prohibited by state laws,” Garcia Jones said.  “However, pro-lifers are left wondering how a President Paul would seek to protect the right to life in states that would choose to continue to allow abortion after Roe vs. Wade is overturned.”

The current Republican Party Platform states that the GOP believes that the unborn have an inalienable right to life protected by the 14th Amendment, and it supports a “human life amendment” to the Constitution.

“[W]e assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children,” the platform states.

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