“We need to give back freedom and liberty for the people in this country… The Feds are stepping into people’s lives, they’re stepping into people’s businesses, over and over,” said North Dakota Republican Governor Doug Burgum. “If we say that the feds should be in on this one, where do we stop?”
While it may sound patriotic at first, this quote is actually a prime example of cowardice. Burgum’s statement was an answer to whether or not he would support a federal abortion ban.
As he praised individual liberty, one of the foundational values of our country, he ignored the fact that in many places, some humans do not even have the basic freedom to live.
This was perhaps the most important question asked during the Republican Presidential Debate on Aug. 23. While most candidates said they would support a federal abortion ban, others like Burgum did not, some did not answer or avoided the question altogether.
Governor Burgum tried to twist the Constitution and common sense to support his claim that the states should decide who lives and who dies.
In refutation of this, Asa Hutchinson, the former Republican governor of Arkansas who has signed thirty pro-life bills, rightly claimed that a federal ban was constitutional because the court had turned it back over to lawmakers, whether on a federal or statewide level.
Tim Scott, however, had one of the best answers of the candidates, pinpointing exactly why we must protect life.
“We cannot let states like California, New York, or Illinois have abortions on demand, up until the day of birth,” he said.. “That is immoral, it is unethical, and it is wrong. We must have a president of the United States who will fight for at the minimum, a fifteen-week ban… Our declaration of Independence says our Creator gave us inalienable rights, that include life… That is an issue we must fight for. We can’t leave it to Illinois, we can’t leave it to Minnesota.”
Nikki Haley, former Republican governor of South Carolina who in 2016 passed a bill banning the majority of abortions after nineteen weeks, necessarily pointed out that it may not be possible to pass a federal ban.
“Let’s be honest with the American people and say it will take sixty senate votes, it will take a majority of the house,” she said.. “So, in order to do that, can’t we find consensus? Can’t we all agree that we should ban late term abortions?”
While we should all agree that late term abortions ought to be stopped, it is important to note the duty of the president is to use all means necessary to protect the rights of the American people.
Mike Pence, former Vice President and Republican Governor of Indiana, countered Haley by quoting Deuteronomy 11:26, and advocating for a minimum federal ban of fifteen weeks.
“Consensus is the opposite of leadership. But when the Supreme Court turned this question over to the American people, they didn’t just send it to the states,” Pence said. “It’s not a state only issue. It’s a moral issue. And I promise you that as President of the United States, you will have a champion for life in the Oval Office.”
Haley and Pence both had important points about their standards of leadership, but if a federal ban cannot be put in place, like Haley said, it would be better to compromise and save at least some lives, than to refuse to compromise whatsoever and make no progress on the issue.
Haley continued in her response to make some ambiguous statements.
“Let’s treat this like the respectful issue that it is and humanize the situation and stop demonizing the situation,” she said.
It’s unclear exactly what Haley meant by this statement, but the fact of the matter is that killing innocent humans is not a respectful issue.
While pro-life advocates do not wish to demonize or guilt young mothers, many of whom simply feel they do not have other options, it’s important to understand that many activist doctors in abortion clinics are driven by profit and self-interested ideology rather than the health and safety of their patients.
We must not bow down to the idea that being lukewarm or politically correct is the way to win the fight. We must expose abortion for what it is: the vile murder of a human being.
Although Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’s supporters are largely pro-life, his answer was incredibly obscure when answering whether he would support a six-week ban as president.
“I understand Wisconsin is going to do it different than Texas,” he said. “But I will support the cause of life as governor and as president.”
While the first part of his answer made it sound like he would leave abortion legislation to the states, he closed by saying that he would support the cause of life. Nevertheless, the question remains as to how precisely he will do so.
Almost just as notable was that Vivek Ramaswamy did not even answer the question. On the other hand, he has made very direct statements in favor of ending Affirmative Action, and in support of fracking, drilling oil and burning coal.
Ramaswamy claimed that he was “unapologetically pro-life” during a campaign stop, however his team confirmed that he would not support a federal ban.
An Abandonment of Principles After Roe v. Wade was Overturned
After Roe v. Wade was overturned, it was shocking how many Republicans claimed that the fight for life had been “won”, or that there was no need for a federal abortion ban, in a similar vein as Ramaswamy and Burgum.
The foundational premise of any ban, whether advocated for federally or statewide, has always been that abortion kills a living human, not that the state should decide who is able to be killed and who is not.
Our Declaration of Independence says “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
There is no ‘but’ or ‘except for’ in that phrase, nor do those rights originate from the government.
If one state suddenly decided to make murder legal, there would be an uproar nationwide, and Congress would certainly not tolerate it. So how is it different just because that murder happens in the womb?
The Constitutionality and Necessity of a Federal Abortion Ban
“The reason why we should not [have a federal abortion ban] is very simple. It’s the 10th Amendment in the Constitution… there are certain duties allowed to the federal government, delegated to them by the states, the rest are left to the states…”
In this answer, Governor Burgum completely ignored the fact that the duties allowed to the Federal government presuppose the protection of life, and that the state is also obligated to provide “equal protection of the laws” to all persons under the 14th Amendment.
A federal abortion ban is not only necessary, but completely constitutional because the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are meant to provide for the right to freedom for all Americans, in all states.
The preamble to the Constitution explains the purpose of the document, “Provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty.” All other rights are meaningless without the right to life.
Even if a federal ban isn’t possible, America needs a president who isn’t afraid to use the bully pulpit to defend the Constitution and the rights provided by our Creator.
Overall, many of the Republican political candidates for 2024 leave much to be desired. Although some answered well on the issue of abortion, others did not.
Even if it is not possible to ban abortion from the moment of conception, our officials must be willing to defend the rights granted to us by our Creator.
Rachel Cooper is an undergraduate student studying American Sign Language at IUPUI and an opinion writer for The Collegiate Commons.