Paul: 'Thousands of exceptions' to ban on abortion

The comments come just a week after Paul, a possible White House contender in 2016, introduced the "Life at Conception Act." 

The measure "legislatively declares what most Americans believe and what science has long known — that human life begins at the moment of conception," Paul said in a statement announcing the bills' introduction. 

Text of the legislation has yet to be made public, but the release said it would "implement equal protection under the 14th Amendment for the right to life of each born and unborn human."

The 14th Amendment overturned the Dred Scott decision, which prevented former slaves from becoming citizens. 

It's unclear precisely what Paul's legislation would do, but he said his intention with the act was to open up a discussion on abortion. 

He told CNN that he doesn't think Americans are ready to "change any laws," but that it's important to have a national debate over when life begins.

"My intention is to bring it forward and to have a healthy philosophic and moral discussion over what we should do, what the state should be involved with, when should life be protected. And I don't think we're ready yet, our society, maybe, to change any laws, but I think its worthwhile having the discussion if we can keep it from being too much of a flippant of a discussion over this that concrete this and that," he said.

Paul has taken a harder line on abortion with some previous statements.  At the 2012 Values Voters Summit he charged that "the coarsening of our culture towards violent death" has "led to the death of 50 million unborn children in the last 40 years."

"I don't think a civilization can long endure that does not have respect for all human life, born and not yet born," he said then.

But he indicated in his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference this past weekend that, looking forward, he may take a more hands-off approach to some issues.

"Our party is encumbered by an inconsistent approach to freedom. The new GOP, the GOP that will win again, will need to embrace liberty in both the economic and personal sphere," he said in the speech.

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