While on a college tour in South Carolina [last] week, a red-headed woman in a baseball cap asked Paul if drugs that prevent conception, like Plan B, should be legal. Paul, leaning gracelessly on the side of the podium, stated matter-of-factly: “I’m not opposed to birth control.” He paused and shrugged. “That’s basically what Plan B is. Plan B is taking two birth control pills in the morning and two in the evening. I’m not opposed to that, or don’t think there should be any laws opposing that.”
As reported by The Daily Beast, Paul’s statement resulted in the prominent social conservative Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, attacking him on Twitter — which left Team Paul “fuming.”
Suderman puts Paul’s remarks in context:
The GOP probably won’t come out as the party of gay rights and the pill in time for the 2016 election, but those issues won’t be front and center. If anything, judging by the Summit, most Republican politicians are likely to try to avoid talking about gay marriage whenever possible. And when it comes to contraception, many will emphasize support for greater access by making it available over-the-counter.
The causes behind the Republican party’s shift are complex—changing social norms, the shifting demographics of the electorate, and the decline of religiosity in American life are all factors. But rather than trace the reasons for the transformation, I think it’s worth dwelling briefly on how rapid and drastic the shift on these issues, especially gay marriage, has been, and what that shift suggests about the stability of internal power dynamics in political parties.
But Ryan Lizza has a hard time squaring Paul’s comments with his support of the Life at Conception Act:
In my recent Profile of Senator Rand Paul, Dr. John Downing, the Senator’s friend and former medical partner, expressed his worries about Paul’s sponsorship of the Life at Conception Act, also known as the personhood law. The bill would ban abortion and grant the unborn all the legal protections of the Fourteenth Amendment, beginning at “the moment of fertilization.” To Downing, who is an ardent Paul supporter, this seemed like political madness. Downing said that he believed Paul’s personhood law would make some common forms of birth control illegal, and thus doom Paul’s Presidential hopes. “He’s going to lose half or more of women immediately once they find out what that would do to birth control,” Downing told me. …
As with so many other issues—the Middle East, civil rights—Paul has placed himself in a political vise on the question of when life begins. His views on personhood will be savaged by Democrats if he runs for President; and his casual endorsement of Plan B has antagonized leading social conservatives who were already highly skeptical of his pro-life bona fides.