Despite valuing individual liberty, most libertarians are pro-choice (2). How can this be, when Libertarianism is predicated on the idea that all humans have basic rights that must not be violated, such as life, liberty, and property?
The first argument is based on the assumption that the federal government would be the governing authority on this issue. This is unlikely. Abortion rates are declining, but the nation is still divided. Austin Petersen, the only pro-life Libertarian presidential candidate in the upcoming election, has insights on this subject. He thinks some libertarians are pro-choice because, “they instinctively recoil at the thought of government getting involved in these decisions.” Petersen proposed Libertarian solutions for protecting life without expanding the federal government’s scope. He thinks a Federalist approach, which would give states the power to choose their own abortion laws, is the best option to safeguard the unborn. Dinesh D’Souza, an outspoken Conservative, has written that “the pro-life movement ... should focus on seeking to reduce the number of abortions,” and that because some pro-lifers, “want to outlaw all abortions, they refuse to settle for stopping some abortions; the consequence is that they end up preventing no abortions.” (3)
The second argument disregards scientific facts. Self-ownership arguments crumble because a baby is a separate entity from the mother. Termination of innocents is incompatible with a philosophy based on individual liberty. Petersen said that Libertarians have “a lack of intellectual honesty. Just like liberals, they make an excuse, like saying it’s not alive...” He acknowledged the scientific arguments, and recommended that it be legal to buy over-the-counter birth control. “In countries where this is legal, less abortions occur. This is a good example of you actually being in charge of your body.”
Petersen implied that single mothers are somewhat of a protected class. “If you say anything bad about single moms, you’re going to get in trouble. They group together. That’s a healthy instinct, but it’s not rooted in logic.” Pro-lifers should point out the fallacy of this argument. Unborn children are people; special interests shouldn’t outweigh justice.
Libertarians are intelligent individuals who value autonomy and evidence. They can be convinced of the validity of pro-life stances by exposure to scientific research and cogent explanations as to why being pro-life is consistent with Libertarianism. Pro-life organizations should explain why a pro-life stance isn’t against women’s rights, clarify scientific arguments, and offer logical alternatives to abortion. These actions will help secure the liberties of people, both born and unborn.
1. “Introduction to Libertarianism.” Apr. 16, 2016. <http://www.libertarianism.org/guides/introduction-libertarianism>
2. “What is your stance on abortion?” isidewith.com. Apr. 6, 2016. <https://www.isidewith.com/poll/965629/962379>
3. “Dinesh D’Souza Quotes.” Apr. 18, 2016. <https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/3545.Dinesh_D_Souza>