A national pro-life group is raising questions about Sen. Rand Paul's commitment to opposing abortion — potentially foreshadowing one of the chinks in the Kentucky Republican's armor as he lays the foundation to run for the GOP nomination for president in 2016.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said Mr. Paul's recent remarks on abortion during an appearance with former White House adviser David Axelrod at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics "certainly set off alarm bells for social conservatives."
"Sen. Paul surprised a lot of conservatives with his nonchalant attitude on abortion and his role in ending it," Mr. Perkins said in his most recent Washington Update post, titled "Rand Casts a Paul over Life Debate." "As president, Axelrod wanted to know, how hard would his White House push to overturn Roe v. Wade? The Senator's answer: not much. With the country so evenly divided on the issue, he thinks an incremental approach is best."
Mr. Paul said that the debate is about "when life begins and we may not all have the same answer on it."
Mr. Axelrod prodded Mr. Paul on the issue.
"There are two extremes," Mr. Paul told him. "Where we are now is an extreme where there is no real regulation of abortion during entire gestation and then there are people on the other side who say, 'Well, I don't want any abortion during any of the thing without exceptions.' Then there are people who say, 'I want abortion without exceptions.' "
"My personal religious belief is that life begins at the very beginning," said Mr. Paul, who is sponsoring the Life Begins at Conception Act.
Mr. Paul said the country is split between those who say "all life and no abortion" and those who say "all abortion and no life."
"I think where the country is, is somewhere in the middle, and we are not changing any of the laws until the country is persuaded otherwise," he said.
Mr. Perkins said the comments are concerning for social conservatives and said surveys show that the majority of the nation is pro-life.
"Obviously, no president has the power to unilaterally ban abortion, but he does have the power to make the issue a priority — something most Americans assumed Rand Paul would do," he said. "Regardless of the GOP's pick, conservatives expect their nominee to use the Oval Office to advance a culture of life. Changing minds is important, but what better way to accomplish it than using a national platform to talk about its importance?"
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