One popular misconception about libertarianism as a political principle, is that all libertarians are “for” abortion. Yesterday, November 20, 2014, Robert Christian wrote an article asserting that libertarians cannot be pro-life. This offended many libertarians and caused somewhat of an uprising online. Bill Sadler, a Palm Beach County member of the Libertarian Party said, “The author’s concept of libertarianism is almost unrecognizable to me. He may be confusing libertarians with libertines — liberty requires personal responsibility and voluntary associations.”
Adrian Wyllie, the 2014 Libertarian Party of Florida gubernatorial candidate stated, “Though I am personally pro-life, I strongly believe that the government must weigh the rights of the two individuals involved. My position on abortion is that up until the point of viability outside the womb, it is the woman’s choice. Beyond the point of viability, the government has a duty to protect the life of the child.”
Major organizations within the libertarian movement do not feel the government should be involved in the issue. Nonetheless, libertarianism’s basic principle is that each of us has the obligation not to aggress against (violate the rights of) anyone else — for any reason (personal, social, or political), however worthy. That is a clearly pro-life principle. Recognizing that, and seeing the abortion-choice drift within the libertarian movement, Libertarians for Life was founded in 1976 to show why abortion is a wrong under justice, not a right.
Past polling within the Libertarian Party has found its members are split on the issue, just like the general population. This result was again supported in 2013 with a survey of libertarians conducted in the 2013 American Values Survey.
Palm Beach County Libertarian, Larry Stone, said yesterday, “According to the Mayo Clinic, ‘Just four weeks after conception, the neural tube along your baby’s back is closing and your baby’s heart is pumping blood.’ In other words, the baby is clearly alive. To kill it at this point is, by definition, infanticide, and like any other murder, government does serve a function for justice. Yes, I am a Libertarian but Robert Christian displays his bigotry when he tars all of us Libertarians the same. If the fetus were not a miniature human being than I would have no problem with abortion but, if you believe as I do that the fetus is, indeed, a living, human baby then morally, you must oppose its murder.”
Perhaps the most complete response to Robert Christian’s article came from a man who wishes to simply be known as Mark. Here is his response:
“Mr. Christian, I am afraid you have made some seriously false assumptions on a range of topics:
1) In your fourth paragraph, you seem to be implying that Libertarians are COMPLETELY against government of any kind, when you talk about “poisonous anti-government rhetoric.” That is totally false and leads me to believe you really have no grasp on Libertarianism at all. Libertarians are not anarchists. They are for small and/or significantly restricted government. Should they not be “skeptical of government action?” Is our gigantic government not perpetuating the culture of death? Has it not gotten worse the bigger our government gets? Satan loves large governments. They are easy for him and his
subordinates to infiltrate and do their destruction to societies. Has it not been governments which have caused the most terrible of atrocities in history? (e.g. the Holocaust, China’s forced abortions, our taxpayer funded abortion Holocaust). Abortion will not stop until the culture changes. Governments and legislation don’t change cultures, cultures change governments and legislation. Christ did not say, “Go and preach the gospel to all nations…and if they don’t accept it, pass laws so they’ll have to.”
2) In your third paragraph, you said, “Libertarianism is centered on a commitment to the autonomy of the individual.” This again is false. Libertarianism is centered on liberty which means allowing people to
live the freest life they can while not harming anyone else. For this reason, I’d argue that the only pure Libertarian is a Pro-Life Libertarian because life is the first and most fundamental right an individual has. Further, individual liberty is probably the most important principle for a safe and healthy community. Just think about the societies throughout history where individual liberty was not a principle held sacred. (e.g. modern day China, 20th century USSR, modern day North Korea, etc.)
3) In your ninth paragraph, you again totally misrepresent the motives of Libertarians. Libertarians have precisely the common good in mind, and not merely “self-interest” when they advocate for individual liberty and autonomy. They are not in any way attacking the communal
aspects of society. Rather, they are recognizing that a society is only strong when individuals take their freedoms seriously and live responsibility (e.g. by not taking money out of the pockets of those who earned it and giving it to those who have not eared it thus removing their motivation to improve their situation. That approach is extremely harmful to their dignity. Who was it that said, “He who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat?” I think it was a Catholic.)
4) In paragraph eleven, you said “The autonomous, isolated individual of an atomized society is stripped of that which makes a person truly human.” This statement frightens me and leads me to believe you have either seriously misspoken or you have no concept of the fact that a person’s dignity is fundamentally based on their being created in the image and likeness of God; NOT their status as a member of
a community. I cannot imagine where you got that notion but it is evil. What do you say about those men and women who choose and have chosen to live a life of solitude? What would you say about St. Anthony of the Desert (often considered the father of Christian monasticism).
Mr. Christian, take a look around you. Governments have always, are currently and will always result in tyranny. That is what they do. They are secular and led by men who ultimately end up corrupted by power and money. There is no hope in governments; only in Jesus Christ who works through his Church.”