Re: The Nation as a Caricature of Itself

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Kathryn, I’ve always enjoyed Katha Pollitt’s columns but I hadn’t read the one you cited. I was quite surprised to read the opening paragraph, which includes these words: “Senator-elect Rand Paul and incoming Representatives Mike Fitzpatrick and Tim Walberg oppose most common methods of birth control, in vitro fertilization and stem cell research, and join Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey in opposing abortion even for rape or incest; Toomey supports jailing doctors who perform abortions.”

As far as I can tell, the claim about Rand Paul stems from an answer he gave to a pro-life group’s survey. He checked “yes” when asked whether he was “morally and/or medically opposed to chemical abortions, such as RU-486, the abortion pill, and other drugs known to prevent the newly created human being from attaching to his/her mother’s womb (implantation).” Paul also said that he supports a “Life at Conception Act,” which says nothing explicit about any form of contraception but instead “declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being.” In short, Paul has never said (as far as I can tell) that he opposes any form of contraception, let alone most common ones, or IVF. The claim that he does is a strained inference.

NARAL, the pro-abortion group, notes that Fitzpatrick supported the “Right to Life Act”–the same legislation that Paul supported–and claims that it “would ban most common forms of birth control, like the pill, and stem-cell research.” This is, again, a strained inference, not an explicit position of Fitzpatrick. (It is in truth impossible to make any kind of halfway serious argument that the Right to Life Act would ban stem-cell research.)

Walberg supported a “Sanctity of Human Life Act” that authorized Congress to protect all human lives but did not specify how Congress should exercise that authority. That appears to be the basis for the claim about him.

Toomey has explicitly said that he believes abortion should be legal in cases of rape and incest. I am not aware of any comments Rubio has made on the subject.

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