Are being pro-marijuana legalization and anti-abortion at odds with one another? Some Ron Paul critics think so. At first it might seem the two issues have little to do with one another, but both deal with how much say the government has in what we do with our bodies. Is Paul a hypocrite for supporting one and not the other?
In an interview with Jay Leno last week, here’s how Paul explained his support for legalizing marijuana:
“The role of the federal government is to protect our liberties. That means they should protect our religious liberties to do what we want; our intellectual liberty, but it also should protect our right to do to our body what we want, you know, what we take into our bodies.”
His comments have drawn some snark from some detractors, who say this is ironic or inconsistent given Paul’s stance on another bodily autonomy issue: A woman’s right to choose an abortion. Paul, who was an obstetrician for years before becoming a politician, is personally anti-abortion—though he’d preferably leave the issue of its legality up to the states.
In my book, that makes Paul pretty consistent—while he’s in favor of medical and overall marijuana legalization, he also thinks regulating it should be left up to the states, not the federal government. Similarly, he’s against a federal abortion ban.
But even if Paul did want to outlaw abortion, I’m not sure this would make him inconsistent. I’m as pro-choice as you can be, but I understand that some people really do believe abortion is tantamount to murder. And if you believe abortion is tantamount to murder, making it illegal seems reasonable—even if it interferes with a woman’s right to control her own body, and even if you believe the federal government shouldn’t be able to say what drugs we do or do not legally take. Regardless of how you feel about marijuana, it doesn’t kill anybody.
Of course, Paul voted in favor of a federal-ban on late-term abortions in 2003, a move he says was intended “to offset the effects of Roe v. Wade.” And in 2005, he co-sponsored a law (the Sanctity of Life Act) that would have federally defined life as beginning as conception. While I don’t think there’s anything hypocritical about Paul’s support for marijuana legalization in conjunction with his anti-abortion stance, saying abortion should be left up to the states and then voting in favor of federal laws limiting abortion is.