Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee rejects letting states decide whether to allow abortions, claiming the right to life is a moral issue not subject to multiple interpretations.
"If morality is the point here, and if it's right or wrong, not just a political question, then you can't have 50 different versions of what's right and what's wrong." he said on Fox News Sunday.
The problem with this convoluted thinking is that it proves too much. If you accept his reasoning, that anything that is morally wrong is automatically a federal issue, then you must also believe that murder, rape, kidnapping, assault, armed robbery, and, indeed, most felonies should also be federal crimes. But their not. Yes, if you kill a federal official or law enforcement officer you've violated federal law and yes, robbing a bank is a federal crime but that easily falls under the commerce clause.
The problem with saying that abortion should be a federal issue is that I simply don't see how you can justify that position on the federal level. I once had an online discussion about this issue with Joshua Claybourne which I can't seem to turn up just now. My recollection is that Josh believed you could justify an abortion ban at the federal level under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. It seems his argument was that if the states failed to protect their unborn, that under the 14th, the feds could do it.
The liberal objection is that the 14th only protects "persons" and the unborn don't count. I've seen a case that actually ruled in favor of the liberal position. I, of course, believe that this was wrongly decided.
However, I'm not at all certain I buy the idea that the 14th amendment gives Congress the right to pass a law just because it believes the states should have and failed to. I'm not aware of any other argument for federalizing this issue that actually looks at the text of the Constitution. Most of them are basically like Huckabee's :Abortion is wrong so the federal government should ban it.
I know Fred Thompson has been attacked on this issue. Some people say that if he refuses to endorse either a federal law against abortion or insist that all the states pass abortion bans, then he isn't really pro-life. My view is that he says Roe was wrongly decided and that this issue is for the states to decide. The fact that he hasn't explicitly stated what decision he thinks the states should make makes perfect sense as he isn't running for governor of all 50 states, or even one of them.
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