Two ugly ideological undercurrents have surfaced in the Republican presidential field in the days since the first GOP debate.
Several candidates, led by Marco Rubio, have come out opposing abortion, with no exceptions, even in cases of rape or incest. “I believe a human being is entitled to life, irrespective of the circumstances in which that human being was conceived,” Rubio recently insisted to Glenn Beck.
Led by Donald Trump, other GOP candidates have been calling for an end to birthright citizenship for the babies of people living in the country illegally. Trump, hilariously, insisted to Bill O’Reilly that birthright citizenship — which is guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution — is “not going to hold up in court.”
These two streams meet, of course.
It’s not difficult to imagine a scenario in which an undocumented woman in America is raped by a man (perhaps a relative) who is also not a citizen. GOP politicians holding both views would force this woman to give birth to her rapist’s baby — and then deny that child citizenship.
For his part, Trump would offer these raped women access to abortion; he says he is now anti-abortion, but supports rape and incest exceptions. And Rubio does not want to repeal the 14th Amendment.
But there are at least five Republican presidential candidates whose hardcore anti-abortion, anti-immigrant politics would force more undocumented babies into the world.
Paul has fought birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment for years, introducing a congressional resolution in 2011 declaring that the amendment was misunderstood and that “a person born in the United States to illegal aliens does not automatically gain citizenship.”
Paul also has one of the most extreme anti-abortion positions in the Republican field. He introduced the Life at Conception Act, which would give full “personhood” protection to all embryos and fetuses, effectively outlawing abortion. Ironically, this bill leans on the same constitutional amendment Paul insists doesn’t apply to the children of the undocumented, extending “equal protection under the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution for the right to life of each born and preborn human person.”
Walker has promoted anti-abortion laws without exceptions for rape or incest. “I believe that that is an unborn child that‘s in need of protection out there,” he’s said.
But not constitutional protection. Asked this week whether he would repeal birthright citizenship, Walker said, “Yeah, absolutely, going forward.”
According to a 2008 Newsweek profile, Jindal is “‘100 percent’ oppos[ed] to abortion ‘with no exceptions’ for rape, incest or health of the mother.”
Just this week, Jindal tweeted: “We need to end birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants.”
While allowing for an abortion exception to save the life of the mother, Cruz would demand raped women bring their babies to term. “I think that every human life is a precious gift from God and should be protected in law from conception until natural death,” he told reporters in 2012.
Asked this week about repealing the 14th Amendment’s citizenship guarantee, Cruz replied, “Absolutely. We should end granting automatic birthright citizenship to the children of those who are here illegally. That has been my position from the very first day of my running for the Senate.”
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Santorum’s anti-abortion extremism is a core part of his brand. He’s even called for prosecuting doctors who perform abortions for rape victims: “That would be taking a life” he insisted in 2011 on Meet the Press. “I would advocate that any doctor that performs an abortion should be criminally charged for doing so.”