Rand Paul and a Moment of Truth for American Journalism

 Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Vice President at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Christian Post on April 22, 2015.

It was one of the most gratifying exchanges in recent political memory.

When U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced his presidential campaign recently, he made a standard campaign stop in New Hampshire. While there, a reporter trotted out one of the standard questions any Republican receives when he declares he is running for national office: What are the exceptions to your views about preventing abortions?

Democrats are never – ever – asked what limits they would place on the current federal policy of unrestricted access to abortion-on-demand. To do so would be to assume that any rational person could believe that abortion absolutism is anything but received dogma, something no self-respecting establishment journalist would ever do (at least if he or she wanted to continue working in "mainstream" journalism).

After a moment or two of back-and-forth, a rightly fed-up Paul said this:

We always seem to have the debate way over here on what are the exact details of exceptions, or when it starts. Why don't we ask the DNC: Is it okay to kill a seven-pound baby in the uterus? You go back and you ask [Democratic National Committee chairwoman] Debbie Wasserman Schultz if she's OK with killing a seven-pound baby that is just not yet born yet. Ask her when life begins, and you ask Debbie when she's willing to protect life. When you get an answer from Debbie, come back to me.

An unprepared and intellectually incoherent Wasserman Schultz issued a non-answer: "I support letting women and their doctors make this decision without government getting involved. Period. End of story."

What a cowardly farce of a response!

Does the unborn child, at a stage of full and healthy development, have no right to life independent of the decision of her mother?

The government places innumerable restrictions on various types of medical procedures. Should none be in place when the life of a baby in-utero is involved?

Does the residence of the child (in the womb or outside of it) determine her humanity and, therefore, her right-to-life?

If the child is all but outside the birth canal, with only, say, her feet still within the body of her mother, should the woman giving birth have the legal option of deciding that the attending physician should abort the baby?

We know that unborn children can feel pain, certainly after 20 weeks of pregnancy (that's about five months into the term). That's why so many states are enacting bans on abortion after 20 weeks. According to Guttmacher Institute's brief, "State Policies on Later Abortions" (January 1, 2015), twelve states have passed laws to ban abortion at 20 weeks post-fertilization based on fetal pain: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia.

Abortion absolutism is grounded in a fundamental unwillingness to grant that the unborn child within the womb is, at any stage of her development – up to and including the moment of birth – a human being. Since the killing of innocent humans is regarded universally as immoral, to grant that human life does exist within the womb after sperm-egg fusion is the death-knell of abortion-on-demand.

Recognizing that human life begins at sperm-egg fusion and that her DNA will be the same from the moment of her conception until the day she dies should make most Americans uneasy about terminating her life.

The abortion absolutists are terrified to concede that even if the unborn child is, per Sen. Paul's example, a seven-pound, healthy, fully-developed baby distinct from every other cuddly infant only by virtue of the thin shield of skin and tissue holding her within her mother's body, she is fully human and deserves the same protections that are afforded to all humans.

Doing so indicates that she has a right to life that supersedes her mother's right to abort her. And as medical science continues to pushback the time of post-partum viability, the self-evident humanity of the child must be conceded to begin even earlier.

Of course, logically, the unborn child is a human being from conception onward. What's different is her place of residence (the womb) and the degree of her development. That is all. Our current laws discriminate against unborn children because of their age and their location.

Writing in The Federalist, Mollie Hemingway argues that it's long past time for the conventional national and regional media to start asking hard questions of Democratic candidates about abortion. I can think of no better conclusion to this piece than hers:

The media have a long way to go to make up for the disparity in how they brutally interrogate pro-life views and put the worst construction on them while avoiding any tough coverage of pro-choice views. But there's no time like the present for the media to stop carrying the abortion lobby's water. Let's get to it.