Unlike most people who claim to celebrate strict limits on government power over individuals, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) rejects the reproductive rights American women already have. Indeed, less than a week ago, on the heels of a 13-hour filibuster on libertarian ideals, the Republican senator introduced "fetal personhood" legislation—called the "Life at Conception Act"—which would extend constitutional rights to "preborn humans."
Paul's bill (S.583) immediately picked up 15 co-sponsors, all of them Republicans. As Rachel Maddow explained on her show the other day, the legislation, if approved, would "ban abortion altogether at the federal level," and would probably ban hormonal birth control and in-vitro fertilization.
What about giving Americans the ability to make their own choices? Don't worry; the Kentucky senator intended to make "exceptions."
Paul said (clip below) that under his vision, "there are thousands of exceptions" to his proposal to ban all abortions in the United States. He added, "[E]ven if there were eventually a change in the law—let's say people came more to my way of thinking—there would still be a lot of complicated things the law may not ultimately be able to address in the early stages of pregnancy that would have to be part of what occurs between the physician and the woman and the family."
How reassuring. The senator intends to ban all abortions in the United States, and give fertilized eggs all the legal protections afforded to American citizens, but he hopes to do so in a vaguely pro-choice fashion.
How many exceptions would there be? Who would decide them? We don't know—it's not in his bill and Paul hasn't been willing to explain.
Do you ever get the feeling Rand Paul hasn't fully thought through the positions he takes?
Even during his 13-hour filibuster on drone strikes a couple of weeks ago, the Kentucky Republican wanted to know if the Obama administration believes it has the authority to "use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil." The attorney general issued a one-sentence response: "The answer to that question is no." Instead of digging further, asking who gets to define what constitutes "combat," Paul walked away satisfied.
I can appreciate why there are so many Americans eager to have a high-profile champion of civil liberties taking bold stances in the Senate. I just don't think Rand Paul is the champion they've been waiting for.
(This post originally appeared on The Maddow Blog here.)