I have only been a libertarian for a little over two years, and I have noticed that one of the most contentious issues within libertarianism is abortion. Pro-life versus pro-choice. I won’t dive into the validity of those terms based on their semantical implications, but I do want to make clear that pro-choice does not necessarily mean pro-abortion – it’s just pro-choice. I’ve bounced around this issue quite a bit in the past year, leaning both for choice and against abortion as I weighed arguments. Through serious consideration of both sides of the argument, I have concluded that abortion is an immoral act of aggression against a defenseless life.
The reason this is obviously such a conflicted issue in the libertarian community is that we are overwhelmingly pro-choice in almost all facets of life. Want to own a firearm? Sure! You two guys want to get married? Go for it! You want to choose your own healthcare plan? We’re right behind you! So it can be easy to see why libertarians would want to preserve choice in pregnancy, as well.
We also are very pro-life in almost all other facets of life. Peaceable Muslims in Afghanistan that haven’t harmed anyone? Let them live! Selling loose cigarettes on the street? No reason they need to die! Child born with disfigurement or a mental defect? They still deserve life! It’s no wonder that I’ve realized libertarians are the most pro-life group of people I’ve ever met.
Where we struggle to connect, it seems, is in that small period of time in which a child is developing their human features in their mother’s womb. Some say until they are legally born, they are not a person. Some say at the beginning of the second trimester, some at the first. If that child, which was born full-term is a person at that point, why is the child any less of a person at the very start of conception? If we agree that dehumanization is a problem that afflicts the world in general, why do we participate in it when discussing the life of an innocent?
What about rape, incest, or the life of the mother? I’ve never been placed in those positions, nor do I personally know anyone that has. I certainly understand the merits of preserving the life of the mother. I might even be able to make the case that a pregnancy that places the life of the mother in peril might be considered parasitic in nature. The truth is, I don’t know the silver bullet answer to that question, so all I can simply offer is that life should be preserved if at all possible. Rape is certainly a sensitive issue. I just don’t see any reason to terminate the life of an innocent because their life was formed because of an immoral act. I would treat incest the same way I treat rape.
The key to my decision is this: If we can support the right to life of a person from the time he/she is legally born to the time they die 80, 90, or 100 years later, then we can reasonably give that person the right to life 9 months beforehand. Any good mother will agree they took great pains to care for their child while still in the womb. Is that child somehow less alive because he/she was unwanted? I tend to think not. Someone’s choice is not more important than the right of someone else to live.
I don’t know if this issue will ever be settled in my lifetime. I do know that it should be libertarians at the forefront of resolving it. In my opinion, there are no better stalwarts of morality than we. Choose morality. Choose life.
* An admirer of a wide range of libertarians from Thomas Jefferson to Ron Paul, Aaron Virkler has accepted a very broad range of libertarian views into his life. As an Army veteran, he has seen first hand the wasteful and destructive nature of big government.