by Rod D. Martin
August 8, 2015

In case you missed it, the most interesting substantive development of the Republican debate was Mike Huckabee’s pronouncement that the Due Process Clauses of the 5th and 14th Amendments already prohibit abortion.

In other words, he said that the baby is a person, the Constitution already prohibits the taking of a life, QED.

I’m sure this went unnoticed in many circles: it certainly wasn’t as sexy as Trump fighting with this one or that. But this is a dramatically different and better take on the abortion question than any but a handful of people (Newt Gingrich being one of them, four years ago) have ever taken. Let me count but a few of the ways:

1. Merely overturning Roe leaves the states free to restrict abortion (or not), but does nothing more than that. Mike Huckabee’s position would define the unborn child as a person and thus attach Constitutional protections from conception. This is the correct answer medically and ethically, but more to the point, legally: it would stop abortion cold, once and for all.

This also separates the privacy argument from the life issue conclusively. Abortion was legalized on privacy grounds, but if the unborn child is a person, privacy no more enters in than it would a “personal decision” to murder one’s boss. And likewise, separating these two issues means that a ruling against abortion in no way threatens other privacy issues such as birth control. That entire discussion ends.

2. Mike Huckabee’s position ends the waffling in Washington. It’s easy to say you’re pro-life when that requires nothing of you (“it’s in the hands of the courts”). Huckabee’s position actually moves the ball, decisively. Those who take his position are pro-life. Those who don’t…aren’t.

I’m not saying that people who’ve never considered this line of reasoning are thereby morally lacking. But I am saying that once given a fair hearing, this absolutely separates the sheep from the goats. You either believe the unborn child is a person or you don’t: if you do, the Constitution necessarily protects them. There’s no possible middle ground. Ergo, you support Huckabee’s position or you aren’t pro-life. There’s no wiggle room whatsoever.

3. This approach, once comprehended, is brimming over with hope. It says there’s a candidate who actually has a plan to end abortion — not merely overturn Roe and kick everything back to the states — and will act decisively to achieve that end. It says the Constitution was with us all along. It removes any remaining moral ambiguity from the discussion (although the recent Planned Parenthood videos should have done that already). And it unleashes every candidate, from state house to the U.S. Senate, to act meaningfully, once and for all, the end the slaughter.

This is a Wilberforce-like moment. Credit where it’s due: Newt did it first. But Mike Huckabee picked up the ball and ran with it, and will doubtless have company within what is a truly great Republican field. His leadership may just bring a conclusive end to this most sordid, tragic chapter of American history.