Video: What is the libertarian position on abortion?

posted at 3:48 pm on June 15, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

My friends Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch from Reason Magazine are inviting people to submit questions on libertarianism, which the two will answer in video responses, in order to promote their new book The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong with America, due out on June 28th.  I decided to ask about abortion (as did National Review’s Mark Hemingway), which is a tough question for libertarians.  On one hand, they usually don’t like government intrusion on medical decisions of any sort, but the reliance on individual rights poses a conundrum for the unquestionably human in utero.  As I framed it in my private tweet to Nick — sans crotch shot, I can assure you — if we can abort human beings, why can’t government treat individuals in a utilitarian manner in any other context?

Nick and Matt provide a thoughtful, measured response in this video:

I have to say, I appreciate the approach they took in this response, and there is much to consider in it. In the end, I believe that one cannot draw a “sliding scale of humanity” before birth without allowing for one afterward. There is no difference in the individuality or humanity of the child in the womb, which starts at fertilization with a complete and unique DNA set, and whose growth scientifically demonstrates its individual (although dependent) life. The only difference along that sliding scale is the utility of the being. If utility is an overriding issue in this context, it would certainly allow for utility as a consideration for other people to dictate control over individuals in other private contexts as well, such as health care at a minimum, at least conceptually. But I certainly appreciate the thoughtful discussion of the issue, and I’ll be interested to see what more they have to say on the subject.

 

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Good question, Ed.

Nick G. is usually very straight-forward but I had a hard time understanding his explanation.

Ian on June 15, 2011 at 3:53 PM

The comments on this topic should be…interesting.

MadisonConservative on June 15, 2011 at 3:56 PM

I’m pretty thorough libertarian, and I feel that it is within the obligation of the government (state, not federal) to regulate and prevent abortion in most instances. Government should, by and large, have a monopoly on violence except in instances of defense of life and property from wrongdoers. Abortion is violence against an innocent life, and the government should step in to protect that helpless party. That said, if a person in their right mind chooses to euthanize themselves, that should be allowable as there is no helpless party.

Dead Hand Control on June 15, 2011 at 3:57 PM

Tough question, and one that would likely receive a varying answer when posed to different libertarians.

Jeddite on June 15, 2011 at 3:57 PM

So, basically, the libertarian perspective on abortion is that everyone has various opinions on the topic, none of which should exclude them from being libertarian? Otherwise, he just said our concept of humanity and the relevance of abortion changes over time.

Bee on June 15, 2011 at 4:00 PM

There is either life or death

There is no in between

Kini on June 15, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Has anyone been banned from Mediaite because of conservative views? I have been in constant “awaiting moderation” for several weeks now. Out of the blue without explanation. And I notice HA links to their articles…

And as for the libertarian stance on abortion, Ron Paul did a lousy job in expressing it in the CNN “debate” the other night.

ndanielson on June 15, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Was it just me, or did they not really answer the question?

Dead Hand Control on June 15, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Since abortion as a practice has been around since antiquity, I’m not convinced that the definition of “life” has changed because of more recent scientific discoveries. Obviously the purpose of abortion has consistently been the termination of a life, at whatever stage that may be.

RedRedRice on June 15, 2011 at 4:04 PM

Did they answer the question? I’m confused. lol

kagai on June 15, 2011 at 4:05 PM

“— if we can abort human beings, why can’t government treat individuals in a utilitarian manner in any other context?”

Well, I guess that all depends on who is elected to control said government…

… Oh, wait!

Seven Percent Solution on June 15, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Human life and human rights begins at conception. A “libertarian” should have no trouble with this self-evident truth.

Roy Rogers on June 15, 2011 at 4:06 PM

So, it would seem if we make homicide legal, they may not agree with it personally and would probably not go the route of actually committing a murder because it’s against their personal morals, but hey, as long as it’s legal, it’s okay.

Is that the gist of the argument I just heard?

ButterflyDragon on June 15, 2011 at 4:08 PM

Bee on June 15, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Something like that. The fact is that Libertarianism doesn’t say much about how one views an “unborn” person. It concerns itself with individual liberty. The definition of an “individual” is a personal view which the libertarian uses to form his opinions. Those who see the “unborn” as a person at conception will usually see them as possessing a right to life. Those who see the “unborn” as a person only when the fetus reaches a development milestone would see it differently.

MJBrutus on June 15, 2011 at 4:09 PM

There is either life or death

There is no in between

Kini on June 15, 2011 at 4:02 PM

I would disagree. I saw a special the other day about advances in our medical fields that really do blur the lines between life and death.

Conception, different story, but end of life issues, it can be “iffy”.

ButterflyDragon on June 15, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Was it just me, or did they not really answer the question?

Dead Hand Control on June 15, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Well, they did and they didn’t.

Dongemaharu on June 15, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Their answers are polite and respectful, which is very welcome.

But I also had a hard time following Nick Gillespie’s argument. At a minimum, the legal framework we have makes no sense whatsoever once the child is able to survive outside the womb. Citing to sliding scales and current cultural imperatives strike me as dubious support from a libertarian perspective.

DRPrice on June 15, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Is that the gist of the argument I just heard?

ButterflyDragon on June 15, 2011 at 4:08 PM

No you heard no such thing. You have provided a self-serving straw man. Congrats.

MJBrutus on June 15, 2011 at 4:11 PM

So, if any person is completely dependent on another human being for their survival, the person providing the care should be allowed to kill the dependent person if they feel it is the right thing to do? Is this the Libertarian stance?

Goodbye, Grandma, I’m a Libertarian…starting now!

kagai on June 15, 2011 at 4:12 PM

To logically decide such an issue one needs a legal definition of at what point in a pregnancy does the fetus deserve to be defined as a human being and thus enjoy the constitutional rights of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ At present the law says virtually nothing except that in certain cases it it is an enhanced crime to kill a pregnant woman. A good moment to choose might be that at which the fetus could survive premature birth. Once such a legal definition is made abortion should be a crime after that date except for the situation where delivery truly would menace the life of the mother.

Before the date where rights would be conferred on the fetus the mother or, ideally the potential parents, may decide as they wish.

Annar on June 15, 2011 at 4:13 PM

“— if we can abort human beings, why can’t government treat individuals in a utilitarian manner in any other context?”

It’s a good thing that Obowmacare was passed to keep us all safe from that senario…

/

Seven Percent Solution on June 15, 2011 at 4:14 PM

No you heard no such thing. You have provided a self-serving straw man. Congrats.

MJBrutus on June 15, 2011 at 4:11 PM

No such thing. In my opinion, abortion is legalized murder. Period.

He clearly stated that he thinks the legal framework in place is pretty good. In simple terms, since it’s legal, he’s okay with it.

But that he also believes people have the right to lobby against it and change people’s minds.

That’s doing nothing but stepping away from the problem (and the question) and pretending not to have anything to do with it one way or the other.

ButterflyDragon on June 15, 2011 at 4:16 PM

Those who see the “unborn” as a person at conception will usually see them as possessing a right to life. Those who see the “unborn” as a person only when the fetus reaches a development milestone would see it differently.

MJBrutus on June 15, 2011 at 4:09 PM

Exactly. The former is how I’ve (generally speaking) squared my slightly more libertarian politics with my pro life beliefs.

Bee on June 15, 2011 at 4:17 PM

I’d like to know why Matt doesn’t oppose abortion. That might have helped. His answer reminds me of the alien Kang’s abortion platform in The Simpsons: “Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!”

Dongemaharu on June 15, 2011 at 4:18 PM

I’m a pro-life libertarian and to me there’s no valid argument for being a pro-choice one. It’s a gutless politically correct stance rather than standing by the libertarian belief in protecting the rights of individuals. The unborn are individuals who have no means to protect themselves and thus are the most in need of protection by us.

The mothers that wish to abort their children almost always made the decision to have sex when they weren’t ready for the possible repercussions for that decision. You know what? That’s not the baby’s fault. It’s time we started teaching people that they are responsible for their poor decisions. They can’t kill a baby merely because he/she is an inconvenience brought on by a bad decision. Don’t like it? Don’t have premarital sex. Have some self control.

The only time this should even be considered an option is if the female in question wasn’t in control of the decision to have sex (rape). If her individual rights were violated and a pregnancy was the result then I can definitely agree with it being her choice at that point whether she would keep the baby.

Benaiah on June 15, 2011 at 4:19 PM

To logically decide such an issue one needs a legal definition of at what point in a pregnancy does the fetus deserve to be defined as a human being and thus enjoy the constitutional rights of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Annar on June 15, 2011 at 4:13 PM

Agreed, and what Nick said is that the legal answer to that question should be a social consensus. While I lean towards being pro-choice, I find the Roe decision atrocious because it takes the debate out of the public square. It cloisters these decision in the offices of the SCOTUS. Others should have the right to convince me and others who think like I do that we’re wrong and effect change at the ballot box if successful. What’s more, such voting should occur at the state level since our Constitution grants no authority to Congress to rule on the matter.

MJBrutus on June 15, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Just a little reminder…

Perhaps we’re converging on agreement here. We gain those votes not by choosing pro-choice or pro-life, but by choosing Federalism. That’s where I’m trying to go with this.
MJBrutus on July 7, 2010 at 8:48 PM

Spot-changing?

kingsjester on June 15, 2011 at 4:20 PM

kingsjester on June 15, 2011 at 4:20 PM

No, that is precisely what I said here:

What’s more, such voting should occur at the state level since our Constitution grants no authority to Congress to rule on the matter.

MJBrutus on June 15, 2011 at 4:22 PM

In my opinion, abortion is legalized murder. Period.
ButterflyDragon on June 15, 2011 at 4:16 PM

So lets say you get your way and it’s outlawed. In your opinion, what would be an appropriate punishment for a teenage mother who gets one?

apollyonbob on June 15, 2011 at 4:23 PM

Good question. I asked a poly sci prof of mine years ago how libertarians approach abortion, and he couldn’t tell me (we were studying libertarianism in our political theory class at the time).

changer1701 on June 15, 2011 at 4:23 PM

This question is more difficult than life-begins-at-conception conservatives want to believe. If such is the case, why do conservatives allow for exceptions, always including preference for the life of the mother over the life of the conceived, up to allowances for rape and incest, crimes which are not the fault of the conceived by any measurement? Further, if life-begins-at-conception is the line, do conservative wish to begin charging women who have miscarriages with manslaughter or negligent homicide if they didn’t take their vitamins before and after conception, flew on an airplane, continued jogging, etc.?

I accept the argument regarding the innocence of the conceived, but there is a difference between murder and abortion, at least at some point within the term of pregnancy. Should we regulate the difference with government or conscience?

Jens on June 15, 2011 at 4:25 PM

I’m a pro-life libertarian and to me there’s no valid argument for being a pro-choice one. It’s a gutless politically correct stance rather than standing by the libertarian belief in protecting the rights of individuals. The unborn are individuals who have no means to protect themselves and thus are the most in need of protection by us.

The person who is carrying the pregnancy is also an individual with rights less you forget. That is a big portion of the pro-choice libertarian position.

Pablo Honey on June 15, 2011 at 4:25 PM

They are over-thinking it.

To be libertarian is to adhere to the underlying meaning of the constitution that an individual can fundamentally govern themselves and that each individual has certain, unalienable rights endowed by their creator.

The first impression is, “Oh ok, so I’m an individual and I want an abortion, so I can decide this for myself.”

But here’s the problem. Each individual has rights. A conceived child is an individual and should in every way have the right to life. If this was indeed the correct interpretation, as it should be, then the unborn have the right to live and people, women and men, would have to take responsibility, not look for a quick way out of their “mistake”.

Therefore, though I often agree with Libertarian points, if the right to live is respected, casual, convenient abortions should not be legal. Matters of rape, incest, or birth defect are another matter, IMHO.

Respecting human life and the right to live it = pro-life.

thedude on June 15, 2011 at 4:26 PM

In my opinion, abortion is legalized murder. Period.
ButterflyDragon on June 15, 2011 at 4:16 PM

So lets say you get your way and it’s outlawed. In your opinion, what would be an appropriate punishment for a teenage mother who gets one?

apollyonbob on June 15, 2011 at 4:23 PM

First degree murder, life in prison.

Murder is murder right?

Pablo Honey on June 15, 2011 at 4:27 PM

There is either life or death

There is no in between

Kini on June 15, 2011 at 4:02 PM

I agree, and that is a self-evident fact, but those with a life-destroying agenda cannot admit it.

I also want to point out that “death” is not a thing — death doesn’t exist, just like darkness and cold and evil don’t exist. Death is our name for the absence of life, as darkness is the absence of light, cold the absence of heat, and evil the absence of God.

Splashman on June 15, 2011 at 4:27 PM

So lets say you get your way and it’s outlawed. In your opinion, what would be an appropriate punishment for a teenage mother who gets one?

apollyonbob on June 15, 2011 at 4:23 PM

No, the better question is what happens to the person who performed it without a medical reason justifying it?

And in my opinion that person should be tried for murder.

ButterflyDragon on June 15, 2011 at 4:27 PM

Always an intense issue. I think we should deal with this by drawing a bright line with respect to the legality of abortion. My reasoning is that there is no way to prevent birth control, morning after pills, or to know of an early term abortion performed in secret. So why try to limit what is impossible to fully stop. Instead why not limit the obvious and gruesome later term abortions. That way there will still be a choice for those who think that a women’s right trumps her baby’s. And there will be a limit for those who believe in the sanctity of life. If we don’t have a reasonable compromise, this issue will continue to create massive political waves that block out many other critical concerns of governance.

JeffB. on June 15, 2011 at 4:27 PM

there are no litmus test questions

Nice to see you losers have no real standards other than, “if it feels good do it.” You must be the Big Tent People I keep hearing about. Hey congratulations on helping to get Obama elected.

Tommy_G on June 15, 2011 at 4:30 PM

My ultimate difficulties with abortion lie in the presumption that abortion is, in fact, murder. If this is so, this opens up the door to all kinds of legal machinations. How many miscarriages should be treated as manslaughter, or criminal negligence, or even felony assault? It seems to me that with the horrifically manipulated, corrupted, and twisted legal system we have, the ramifications of such a premise would be staggering.

Overall…keep it legal, but do your best personally to try to ensure that as few(or none) of them occur as possible. Make the legality moot.

MadisonConservative on June 15, 2011 at 4:31 PM

but there is a difference between murder and abortion, at least at some point within the term of pregnancy. Should we regulate the difference with government or conscience?

Jens on June 15, 2011 at 4:25 PM

So the method of death is what makes it right or wrong?

You do realize people are being tried for murder due to the death of a fetus, right?

So, a person kills a fetus by assaulting the mother, it’s murder. But if a doctor collapses the fetus’s skull, it’s not murder?

So, it all comes down to the consent of the mother?

What about the expectant mother that purposely throws herself down a flight of stairs in an attempt to kill the fetus?

ButterflyDragon on June 15, 2011 at 4:32 PM

I’m a pro-life libertarian and to me there’s no valid argument for being a pro-choice one.

Benaiah on June 15, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Then why bother even entering the discussion?

MadisonConservative on June 15, 2011 at 4:33 PM

For me Libertarians should be champion Life-Liberty-Property and so should be pro-life. Where the waters become muddy is in the rare rare case of life of the mother and and the unfortunately not so rare case of rape and incest. In the case of where the life of the mother comes into play, the principle of self defense comes to play. In the case of rape and incest, I think it should be done as soon as possible, vs months into the pregnancy…under the principle that someone was violated and so are making an attempt to restore their person to where it was before their violation of their rights took place. Getting cleaned up soon after the incident doesn’t bother me, but the longer the baby is in the womb, the more I think the window of opportunity to rectify their violation passed.

Conservative Voice on June 15, 2011 at 4:33 PM

MadisonConservative on June 15, 2011 at 4:31 PM

There is a difference between a miscarriage and an abortion

Conservative Voice on June 15, 2011 at 4:35 PM

Nick’s convoluted explanation reveals the insanity of attempting to craft law without immutable truth at its foundation. If “social consensus” can determine the “sliding scale of humanity”, there is no rational basis for any law.

If you don’t believe in the existence of immutable truth, and yet expect people to abide by any law or social more, you are irrational.

Splashman on June 15, 2011 at 4:36 PM

The “legal framework for abortion” is crap. Roe v. Wade was not a sound decision from a Constitutional perspective and it robbed the states of deciding the matter which is where it ultimately belongs. Circumventing the democratic process has caused all sorts of rancor and dissension among the populace. Those were weak answers IMO. We know Libertarians are socially liberal for the most part, they should just come out and admit it.

echosyst on June 15, 2011 at 4:37 PM

Seems to me that there is no reason for there to be a libertarian position on abortion (or a Christian position on progressive taxation, for that matter). I am a pro-life libertarian and find no logical conflicts arising from that position.

One problem libertarians have is in trying to apply it to every decision with social consequences. Sometimes it simply doesn’t apply.

jl on June 15, 2011 at 4:37 PM

I find the Roe decision atrocious because it takes the debate out of the public square. It cloisters these decision in the offices of the SCOTUS.</I believe the responses in favor of status quo would go like this… The debate has still not been removed from the public sphere because there are still constitutional remedies. Nothing done since Roe has barred the pro-life community from seeing and passing a constitutional amendment that would restrict or even forbid all abortions.

Others should have the right to convince me and others who think like I do that we’re wrong and effect change at the ballot box if successful.

Again – nothing has been said or done which restricts people from doing exactly that. There is a slightly higher bar set in that it would be a constitutional matter but this is appropriate given the seriousness of the issue. If a society does not have a solid supermajority in favor of the pro-life position it’s questionable how sustainable it would be to have them prosecuting people for murder for it.

What’s more, such voting should occur at the state level since our Constitution grants no authority to Congress to rule on the matter.

MJBrutus on June 15, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Libertarianism assumes a state monopoly on violence except in self-defense. This would seem to very clearly fall into exactly such an area that Federal oversight and regulation would be the only sensible response.

dieudonne on June 15, 2011 at 4:39 PM

There is a difference between a miscarriage and an abortion

Conservative Voice on June 15, 2011 at 4:35 PM

But if abortion is comparable to murder, shouldn’t miscarriage be comparable to other types of death?

MadisonConservative on June 15, 2011 at 4:40 PM

One problem libertarians have is in trying to apply it to every decision with social consequences. Sometimes it simply doesn’t apply.

jl on June 15, 2011 at 4:37 PM

Yep. Some libertarians believe our border and sovereignty are sacred. Other libertarians believe that people should be able to freely come here and that the border shouldn’t even be policed. Definitely not a cut-and-dried ideology, but then, what is?

MadisonConservative on June 15, 2011 at 4:41 PM

jl on June 15, 2011 at 4:37 PM

The problem is Nick professes that libertarians base their decisions in Reason….and yet his rational was rules and mores that define right and wrong is based on the majority feeling…hardly a position of reason

Conservative Voice on June 15, 2011 at 4:41 PM

But if abortion is comparable to murder, shouldn’t miscarriage be comparable to other types of death?

MadisonConservative on June 15, 2011 at 4:40 PM

No…miscarriages happen by Natural Causes…not every death is warranted a felony offense.

Conservative Voice on June 15, 2011 at 4:42 PM

Blah, blah, blah. That’s all I heard.

Their answer begs the very question. …If Libertarians “hold individual freedoms paramount”, then do not those freedoms apply to both mother and child? How can you hold that abortion ought to be legal, if abortion by definition is the destruction of nascent human life?

Is not nascent human life fully human? (If not, then please tell me what it is.) And are not human beings intrinsically valuable? And ought not all human beings have “inalienable rights”?

Abortion involves TWO human beings, folks.

A poorly thought out, logically inconsistent response.

Daddy-O on June 15, 2011 at 4:43 PM

There is a difference between a miscarriage and an abortion

Conservative Voice on June 15, 2011 at 4:35 PM

Shouldn’t believers take a miscarriage be a divinely approved termination of life indicating that their god has no problem with abortion before birth?

Annar on June 15, 2011 at 4:44 PM

Actually, I find the answer entirely safe to the point of pragmatic evasion: “We don’t want to fracture the remarkable coalition that’s formed in the past few years, so let’s give a non-answer that makes everyone and no one happy.”

This demonstrates to me — a libertarian/social conservative — that mainstream libertarians and social conservatives remain cobelligerents at best. Absent the threat of Western immolation posed by the Left and Islam, we’d be at each others’ throats on issues which, presently, aren’t on the front burner.

Libertarianism is certainly consistent with both pro-life and pro-choice views. There’s no denying it. It’s even consistent with Delmar’s “I’m with you fellers!” in O Brother Where Art Thou. ;-)

It’s interesting that the libertarian impetus ITSELF could be responsible for a polemical triad locked in mortal combat over the issue.

Self-disclosure: I come by my libertarian tendencies as a consequence of having been raised in South Dakota but being stuck, for many years now, in Illinois. It’s also interesting to see the sheep around here who’ve never known anything better. Those of us who know and love freedom must seem odd characters to the voluntary wards of the corrupt nanny state (“You mean there are alternatives? C’mon, how dumb do you think we are…”) :-\

rasqual on June 15, 2011 at 4:44 PM

I’m staunchly libertarian and also staunchly pro-life. I believe the only job of government is to uphold laws and contracts that protect our natural right to life, liberty, and property. I also believe life starts at conception. Therefore being pro-life is the obvious position for me. The same reasoning leads me to being anti-interventionist. Protecting life from needless harm, from conception to natural death, is strongly important to me.

Other libertarians may disagree with me but this is my position. I do lean much more socially conservative than many libertarians.

Nelsen on June 15, 2011 at 4:44 PM

So, basically, the libertarian perspective on abortion is that everyone has various opinions on the topic, none of which should exclude them from being libertarian? Otherwise, he just said our concept of humanity and the relevance of abortion changes over time.

Bee on June 15, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Yeah. They didn’t answer the question.

Well, actually they did.

The question was what is the Libertarian position on abortion. I think that if what they stated in the video is representative of that position or is a straight-forward stance then its as convoluted as where most who are pro-abortion stand.

They’re going to make statements about sliding scales and other such nonsense, use the term ‘unborn’ – how true an advocate of liberty are you if you must make such qualified, ‘measured’ statements about the first, foremost and most fundamental aspect of things – life?

“Truth, Justice and all that other stuff.”

“All that other stuff, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

That dog don’t hunt.

catmman on June 15, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Daddy-O on June 15, 2011 at 4:43 PM

at minimum three human beings

Conservative Voice on June 15, 2011 at 4:45 PM

dieudonne on June 15, 2011 at 4:39 PM

Not correct. Your argument fails because the bar to changing the Constitution is much higher than other laws. Requiring 3/4ths of the states to agree is effectively placing the matter beyond reach of democratic remedy.

Also, the Constitution is the supreme law of our land, so therefore states may not decide on their own. That is the purpose of the 10th Amendment. The court overstepped their bounds in deciding a matter that is not within the jurisdiction of the Federal government.

MJBrutus on June 15, 2011 at 4:45 PM

There is no difference in the individuality or humanity of the child in the womb, which starts at fertilization with a complete and unique DNA set, and whose growth scientifically demonstrates its individual (although dependent) life. The only difference along that sliding scale is the utility of the being.

The difference is that prior to about 20 weeks, a human being has yet to develop normal brain waves and is biologically dependent on another human being. So there is no need to go near “utility” to recognize a distinction between an early term fetus and late term fetus or a child.

elfman on June 15, 2011 at 4:45 PM

ButterflyDragon on June 15, 2011 at 4:27 PM

See, that’s inconsistent.

Pablo Honey on June 15, 2011 at 4:27 PM

This guy is at least consistent. He’d send single teenage mothers to prison for life. (Apparently he’s not a proponent of the death penalty.)

I’m not saying that’s wrong, but it’s certainly the only thing you can believe if you truly believe abortion is murder.

As for the doctors – that’s just murder for hire. If the doctor rolls on the patient, they’d get off with 5-10 years probably, maybe less with good behavior.

apollyonbob on June 15, 2011 at 4:46 PM

Abortion is to miscarriage as murder is to accidental death.

And it’s taking everything I’ve got not to tack a “duh” on the end of that.

(p.s. I’m a libertarian who generally opposes abortion).

S. Weasel on June 15, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Shouldn’t believers take a miscarriage be a divinely approved termination of life indicating that their god has no problem with abortion before birth?

Annar on June 15, 2011 at 4:44 PM

People die of old age…that is part of nature and isn’t against the law or immoral. Some people die 6 weeks old, its part of nature and isn’t against the law or immoral. But me killing an old man is right? Slide that old man scale down, why is it that breathing air qualifies a person to be a person…will a fetus turn into anything but human?

Conservative Voice on June 15, 2011 at 4:48 PM

apollyonbob on June 15, 2011 at 4:46 PM

Murder is the unlawful taking of a human life. Therefore a legal abortion is not murder, by definition. You can say it should be murder, if you feel that way. You can call it baby-killing or a crying shame or whatever. But to call it murder is just not correct.

MJBrutus on June 15, 2011 at 4:49 PM

If the fetus isn’t developed enough to exist without mom, mom takes precedence. A woman cannot be forced to bear a child if she choses not to. I would think the word “force” would make this pretty straightforward for a libertarian.

Personally, I never would have had an abortion. Nor would my daughters. That’s our belief system. But that doesn’t mean we have the right to force our beliefs on other women who think otherwise or face different circumstances.

On a practical level, if a woman is determined not to see a pregnancy through, she’ll slice-and-dice herself if necessary to get the job done. How do you balance the value of one life against another?

If you really want to legally prohibit all abortion in an attempt to stop it, you are going to have to start making criminals out of the women who seek them. I’m sure that would be just fine with the anti-abortion wingnuts, but I can’t imagine libertarians signing on to that.

Meredith on June 15, 2011 at 4:50 PM

BTW Ron Paul is strongly anti-abortion.

aengus on June 15, 2011 at 4:51 PM

If the only moral frameworks that Libertarians have to offer regarding basic human rights, such as the right to life, are either: utility or individuality, then libertarianism is useless.
.
One may recall that John Locke, the Father of Libertarianism, was a major investor in the English slave-trade through the Royal African Company, and author of the Fundamental Constitution of the Carolinas which chartered slavery in English Colonial America. One my also recall that the average life span of an enslaved African working on John Locke’s Carolinas plantation was three years … three years … yes,the utility and individuality of the powerful can be quite fatal to the powerless…

Mike OMalley on June 15, 2011 at 4:51 PM

No…miscarriages happen by Natural Causes…not every death is warranted a felony offense.

Conservative Voice on June 15, 2011 at 4:42 PM

And if that natural cause is a natural result of say … The disturbance of the fetish through the mothers continued jogging or biking? (This does happen.) What if the miscarriage was preventable through some basic nutritional caution – would manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter laws apply? If abortion is always murder why wouldn’t manslaughter laws apply to pregnant mothers? Why shouldn’t we also completely ban all smoking and drinking by the mother while also regulating her nutritional intake to protect the life of the child?

dieudonne on June 15, 2011 at 4:53 PM

If the only moral frameworks that Libertarians have to offer regarding basic human rights, such as the right to life, are either: utility or individuality, then libertarianism is useless.

Mike OMalley on June 15, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Generally speaking, Libertarians believe that moral frameworks are for individuals to choose for themselves. It is you authoritarian types on the right and on the left who want to impose your notions of morality on others that are the natural enemies of Libertarians.

MJBrutus on June 15, 2011 at 4:54 PM

The definition of “life” hasn’t changed. Our ability to detect it has, but the biological definition has not.

I think this was a case of two men trying to circle off a square. (or whatever the phrase is)

AbaddonsReign on June 15, 2011 at 4:55 PM

If the only frameworks that Libertarians have to offer regarding basic human rights, such as the right to life, are either: utility or individuality, then Libertarianism is useless.
.
One may recall that John Locke, the Father of Libertarianism, was a major investor in the English slave-trade through the Royal African Company, and author of the Fundamental Constitution of the Carolinas which chartered slavery in English Colonial America. One may also recall that the average life span of an enslaved African working on John Locke’s Carolinas rice plantations was three years … three years … just three years … yes, the utility and individuality of the powerful can be quite fatal to the powerless…

Mike OMalley on June 15, 2011 at 4:56 PM

The difference is that prior to about 20 weeks, a human being has yet to develop normal brain waves and is biologically dependent on another human being.

elfman on June 15, 2011 at 4:45 PM

A full grown liberal has yet to develop normal brain waves and is economically dependent on other human beings.

They are entitled to the same human rights as unborn children, although they certainly are less deserving.

Roy Rogers on June 15, 2011 at 4:56 PM

Finally, all of the Tea Party sorts can realize that they’re only “small l” Libertarians.

Actual Libertarian philosophy is really NOT where most of you guys are on social issues like abortion or gay marriage.

Vyce on June 15, 2011 at 4:56 PM

MJBrutus on June 15, 2011 at 4:49 PM

You’re not reading everything I wrote, as I haven’t actually expressed any opinions on the subject of the legality of abortion. My point is about out the cognitive dissonance that many who want to make abortion illegal have.(Although I should note that there are many, such as PabloHoney, that do not have such a dissonance.)

apollyonbob on June 15, 2011 at 4:56 PM

Banaiah,

Good answer, and thanks for the well-presented concepts. I’d like to disagree with your allowance for cases of rape. Certainly it is the most distasteful situation to consider, but if the helpless life you are adamant in protecting is created because of a crime, is that helpless life suddenly less deserving of protection? In truth, the same arguments you used in most of your post get inexplicably discarded for this “special case”. As previously said, there is life and there is death, and no in-between. There is no sliding scale. Innocent life must be protected as the highest responsibility of government.

Freelancer on June 15, 2011 at 4:57 PM

No…miscarriages happen by Natural Causes…not every death is warranted a felony offense.

Conservative Voice on June 15, 2011 at 4:42 PM

Some do. Some women drink or smoke while pregnant, or do other activities that could cause the miscarriage. Lots of accidents due to neglectful behavior. Why shouldn’t those cases be treated as crimes? Culpability in a world where life legally starts at conception could have a tremendous impact on the courts.

MadisonConservative on June 15, 2011 at 4:59 PM

apollyonbob on June 15, 2011 at 4:56 PM

I’m sorry. I meant to reference this post, not yours.

ButterflyDragon on June 15, 2011 at 4:16 PM

MJBrutus on June 15, 2011 at 5:00 PM

Not correct. Your argument fails because the bar to changing the Constitution is much higher than other laws. Requiring 3/4ths of the states to agree is effectively placing the matter beyond reach of democratic remedy.

isn’t a constitutional amendment the very definition of a democratic remedy? The state or courts overstep their bounds and the people rise up and change course en masse? That sounds a lot like a democratic remedy to me.

Also, the Constitution is the supreme law of our land, so therefore states may not decide on their own. That is the purpose of the 10th Amendment. The court overstepped their bounds in deciding a matter that is not within the jurisdiction of the Federal government.

MJBrutus on June 15, 2011 at 4:45 PM

this seems to simply flatly ignore a fundamental libertarian principle that the state has a monopoly on any violence that is committed in self-defense. If you take that as a given (my understanding is that most Libertarians do) It would clearly seem to place regulation and oversight of such matters within federal jurisdiction.

dieudonne on June 15, 2011 at 5:00 PM

BTW Ron Paul is strongly anti-abortion.

aengus on June 15, 2011 at 4:51 PM

That’s because he’s not a libertarian, but a paleoconservative.

MadisonConservative on June 15, 2011 at 5:00 PM

The definition of “life” hasn’t changed. Our ability to detect it has, but the biological definition has not.

AbaddonsReign on June 15, 2011 at 4:55 PM

Really? Please share. What is the biological definition of Life? (Prescriptive, please, not descriptive.)

Splashman on June 15, 2011 at 5:02 PM

So MJ Brutus according to you:
.
Mike O’Malley is a human rights advocate
Therefore
Mike O’Malley is an authoritarian?
.
Ghee Mr. MJ Brutus, from the vantage of an enslaved African on John Locke’s Carolinas rice plantation (or any rational person) which of of us would appear to be the authoritarian?
.
Mike O’Malley, the human rights advocate?
or
John Locke, the Father of Libertarianism?

Mike OMalley on June 15, 2011 at 5:03 PM

that is committed in self-defense

Ugh. That should be “NOT committed in self-defense.

dieudonne on June 15, 2011 at 5:04 PM

Abortion is not a right. It is not protected by the Constitution. That doesn’t make it illegal though. A little like fishing. Not Constitutionally protected, but not illegal. What should be a concern of Libertarians is the taking of peoples assets for things that are not protected.
No funding of abortion. Fishing either. Period.

wb-33777 on June 15, 2011 at 5:05 PM

isn’t a constitutional amendment the very definition of a democratic remedy? The state or courts overstep their bounds and the people rise up and change course en masse? That sounds a lot like a democratic remedy to me.

No, and I answered that. It is a much higher burden than a simple majority which is the standard for most Democratic action. Secondly, the Constitution does not empower Congress or the SCOTUS to make such laws. If enough Americans chose to pass an Constitutional amendment making abortion (il)legal, then that would be legit.

this seems to simply flatly ignore a fundamental libertarian principle that the state has a monopoly on any violence that is committed in self-defense. If you take that as a given (my understanding is that most Libertarians do) It would clearly seem to place regulation and oversight of such matters within federal jurisdiction.

dieudonne on June 15, 2011 at 5:00 PM

Your argument here is incoherent at best. States have recourse to violence just as the Feds do. In fact, within our national borders, Federal powers of law enforcement are extremely limited. And Federal military power is prohibited by posse comitatus.

MJBrutus on June 15, 2011 at 5:05 PM

…will a fetus turn into anything but human?

Conservative Voice on June 15, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Where would one stop? With modern cloning techniques virtually any cell of the human body has the potential to become a human being. Would this lead to a form on neo Jainism with legal protection for cells?

Annar on June 15, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Mike OMalley on June 15, 2011 at 5:03 PM

Flawed premises make for flawed syllogisms.

MJBrutus on June 15, 2011 at 5:06 PM

That’s because he’s not a libertarian, but a paleoconservative.

MadisonConservative on June 15, 2011 at 5:00 PM

He’s a paleolibertarian, not a paleoconservative.

aengus on June 15, 2011 at 5:06 PM

A full grown liberal has yet to develop normal brain waves…

Roy Rogers on June 15, 2011 at 4:56 PM

Too bad there’s not an easy explanation like that.

elfman on June 15, 2011 at 5:08 PM

John Locke, the Father of Libertarianism?

Wellllllll… Kinda. He certainly staked out some latter day positions that might suggest that but his views changed and grew wildly over his life. He also wrote those constitutions in a legal framework that was not Libertarian. He may have had some personal views that became a foundation for Libertarianism but he certainly never let Lbertarian principles trump the system currently in place.

dieudonne on June 15, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Some do. Some women drink or smoke while pregnant, or do other activities that could cause the miscarriage. Lots of accidents due to neglectful behavior. Why shouldn’t those cases be treated as crimes? Culpability in a world where life legally starts at conception could have a tremendous impact on the courts.

MadisonConservative on June 15, 2011 at 4:59 PM

I would much rather have the argument of negligence than the willful act of having an abortion. And just like a person’s life is sacred enough to take into consideration negligence what does it matter if that person is still on the cord? And being tried among your peers allows some common sense to take place…

Conservative Voice on June 15, 2011 at 5:10 PM

ButterflyDragon on June 15, 2011 at 4:32 PM

What are your exceptions? I’m certain you would agree to a preference for the life of the mother over the life of the conceived. What about rape and incest? Regardless of whether or not you accept the latter exceptions, you accept the life-of-the-mother exception. So, ask yourself your question. However the difference I meant in the section you quoted wasn’t in the method of death as you seem to assume, but in the status of the conceived to a person who is born. If there wasn’t a difference, exceptions wouldn’t be acceptable by consensus; even the exception which prefers the life of the mother over the life of the conceived would have less acceptance if there wasn’t an accepted difference between the born and the unborn.

… and if you say you accept no exceptions, then you are nearly alone. Even Catholics, such as Ed, the author of this blog post and thread, accepts an exception to their position on abortion in cases where the life of the mother is threatened by continuing the pregnancy through its term.

Jens on June 15, 2011 at 5:12 PM

There is no firm answer because you can use libertarian arguments to be pro choice or pro life.

lexhamfox on June 15, 2011 at 5:12 PM

The state assuming the power to deprive the innocent of their right to life is the greatest of all usurpations.

Fallen Sparrow on June 15, 2011 at 5:14 PM

MJBrutus on June 15, 2011 at 5:06
Flawed premises make for flawed syllogisms. PM

.
Indeed. You should have thought before you reacted…
.
John Locke was, in fact, “one of just half a dozen men who created and supervised both the colonies and their iniquitous systems of servitude”
.
So the question of abortion in America shines a harsh light on Libertarianism and we find not much has changed in four centuries. Libertarianism continues to license the powerful to practice amorality to the disadvantage of the powerless.
.
… the average life span of an enslaved African working on John Locke’s Carolinas rice plantations was three years … three years … just three years …

Mike OMalley on June 15, 2011 at 5:16 PM

He’s a paleolibertarian, not a paleoconservative.

aengus on June 15, 2011 at 5:06 PM

Interesting.

MadisonConservative on June 15, 2011 at 5:16 PM

The state assuming the power to deprive the innocent of their right to life is the greatest of all usurpations.

Fallen Sparrow on June 15, 2011 at 5:14 PM

Too true, too tragic.

Deciding the death of the most vulnerable.

Roy Rogers on June 15, 2011 at 5:17 PM

The only difference along that sliding scale is the utility of the being.

That’s not really true. Pregnancy ties a life to another. The only other situation like this in the world involves conjoined twins. But, that said, I don’t believe it’s legal to remove one conjoined twin just so that the other can live a better life, if removing the other twin would kill her/him.

Esthier on June 15, 2011 at 5:17 PM

No, and I answered that. It is a much higher burden than a simple majority which is the standard for most Democratic action. Secondly, the Constitution does not empower Congress or the SCOTUS to make such laws. If enough Americans chose to pass an Constitutional amendment making abortion (il)legal, then that would be legit.

You state that simple majorities are the standard for “most” democratic action. That seems to concede that it is not the standard for all. If a supermajority can be required for some democratic remedies why wouldn’t this clearly be an arena of such fundamental importance as to require one?

As well, congress has not legislated – nor has SCOTUS – if they are recognizing what is believed to be a fundamental right within the constitution itself. Rather they are restricted from legislating or ruling about just such things. In that sense Roe would clearly be limiting the power of the state and the courts.

Your argument here is incoherent at best. States have recourse to violence just as the Feds do. In fact, within our national borders, Federal powers of law enforcement are extremely limited. And Federal military power is prohibited by posse comitatus.

MJBrutus on June 15, 2011 at 5:05 PM

it’s not entirely clear that individual states within the union would have such recourse under all the positions staked out within Libertarianism. Certainly an argument can and has been made by others for it to be a unitary matter. As well – posse comitatus is neither here nor there as far as state monopolies on violence are concerned. The military is simply and flatly not the only means for committing state violence and clearly has nothing to do with state violence when it comes to death row executions.

dieudonne on June 15, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Even Catholics, such as Ed, the author of this blog post and thread, accepts an exception to their position on abortion in cases where the life of the mother is threatened by continuing the pregnancy through its term.

Jens on June 15, 2011 at 5:12 PM

With all due respect to Mr. Morrissey and the Catholic church (i.e., some respect to Morrissey, zero to the Catholic church), that position is blatantly immoral. “Greater love hath no one, than he who lays down his life for another.” Since time began, It has been a truth, universally accepted, that sacrificing oneself for another is a virtue. For a mother to choose her own life over her child’s is so patently selfish I can’t believe I have to explain it.

The Catholic church panders to its parishioners, all for the sake of The Almighty Dollar. Too bad Ed can’t/won’t admit it.

Splashman on June 15, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Since time began, It has been a truth, universally accepted, that sacrificing oneself for another is a virtue. For a mother to choose her own life over her child’s is so patently selfish I can’t believe I have to explain it.

The Catholic church panders to its parishioners, all for the sake of The Almighty Dollar. Too bad Ed can’t/won’t admit it.

Splashman on June 15, 2011 at 5:21 PM

This is a revolting and despicable statement, in my opinion.

MadisonConservative on June 15, 2011 at 5:24 PM

The state assuming the power to deprive the innocent of their right to life is the greatest of all usurpations.

Fallen Sparrow on June 15, 2011 at 5:14 PM

Too true, too tragic.

Deciding the death of the most vulnerable.

Roy Rogers on June 15, 2011 at 5:17 PM

However, it’s clearly not the state assuming that power in cases of abortion. It’s the state not interfering with the actions of the mother.

dieudonne on June 15, 2011 at 5:25 PM

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