The exchange went as follows:
MORGAN: Here's the dilemma, and it's one I put to Rick Santorum very recently. I was surprised by his answer, although I sort of understood from his belief point of view that he would come up with this. But it's a dilemma that I am going to put to you. You have two daughters. You have many granddaughters. If one of them was raped—and I accept it's a very unlikely thing to happen. But if they were, would you honestly look at them in the eye and say they had to have that child if they were impregnated? PAUL: No. If it's an honest rape, that individual should go immediately to the emergency room. I would give them a shot of estrogen or give them—MORGAN: You would allow them to abort the baby? PAUL: It is absolutely in limbo, because an hour after intercourse or a day afterwards, there is no legal or medical problem. If you talk about somebody coming in and they say, well, I was raped and I'm seven months pregnant and I don't want to have anything to do with it, it's a little bit different story. But somebody arriving in an emergency room saying, I have just been raped and there is no chemical—there's no medical and there's no legal evidence of a pregnancy—
The libertarian-leaning Paul has said in the past that though he personally opposes abortion, he would leave the issue up to individual states, as with many matters that he believes are not within the constitutional purview of the federal government.
Steve Benen wrote on Rachel Maddow's blog that he took issue with the premise of the question—that it was very unlikely that Paul's daughters or granddaughters would face a sexual attack—but that Paul's answer struck him as truly offensive. He went on to write that Paul's position impliese that women's claims are not to be taken at face value, and it's up to government to draw the lines.
Paul's response leaves a great amount of ambiguity on where he would draw the line, though he appeared to concede that it is nearly impossible to prove whether a woman was actually raped—what he controversially termed honest rape—and that any woman who claims to have been raped recently should be given the benefit of the doubt and prescribed contraception.
Paul's position on cases requiring physical or chemical abortions, rather than simply emergency contraception, was unclear.