There is no libertarian case for state-enforced ‘pro-life’ laws

Opinion by Kyle A. Lohmeier

The dusty corner of the internet where I spend too much time has recently been abuzz over the topic of abortion, again. For some strange reason, people are still unclear as to how the Non-Aggression Principle relates to this matter. The most common mistake I see in the pro-life side’s argument is that since the act of an abortion procedure is “violent” it violates the NAP and therefore, theoretically, the state must step in and prevent women from having abortions and doctors from providing them.

There are, of course, many things wrong with this argument.

First, most surgical procedures are “violent” in the same way an abortion is. Of course, early-term, chemically-induced abortions aren’t “violent” in the same way. In any case, an abortion involves the termination of a pregnancy – an unborn human – and it is upon this fact well-meaning but misguided non-libertarians try to build their case.

The problem with that non-argument is that at the time the vast majority of abortions take place, the fetus is no more viable outside the womb than a tapeworm is outside the gut, or, not at all. In both cases, the host is the being with rights, not the other creature living inside of it and off of it. People are naturally uncomfortable regarding a fetus as a parasite and they like to romanticize its genome as the rationalization for this discomfort, but this changes nothing; the only way rights can be assigned to a fetus or tapeworm is to take them away from the person carrying it. Furthermore, neither a fetus nor a tapeworm is capable of recognizing or respecting the rights of another, making it hard to see where they have a claim to rights of their own.

Contrary to the pro-life side’s assertions, it is in enacting and enforcing restrictions or bans on abortion where violations of the NAP take place. What right does anyone have to tell a doctor they cannot practice a sort of medicine for which there is obviously great demand? Who has the right to tell a woman they have to carry a pregnancy to term if they don’t want to? And what rationalization could there be for doing so? As “punishment” for being so “reckless” and having sex, seemingly without giving any thought at all to the potential consequence? Who’s being punished in that scenario? The child, mostly, and the taxpayer, since “can’t afford a baby right now” is consistently among the top reasons cited by women for wanting an abortion, along with that it would interfere with their education, job or career. The collection of taxes to support the welfare state is itself a violation of the NAP; and the frequency and severity of that violation would only skyrocket if pro-lifers got their way and ended the practice of abortion in the USA.

Well, when I say “ended the practice of abortion in the USA” I am of course talking about the procedure as it is performed by trained professionals in sterile, clinical settings. If the pro-lifers got their way, the practice would go on, it would just be handled in a black market type fashion, thus putting women’s health at risk needlessly. It is annoying to me that this argument even continues among “libertarians” because even lousy “libertarians” ought know that banning things doesn’t work; you know, like drugs?

Yet, even as I type this the debate is raging on in threads started by people who call themselves “Libertarians” – some of whom are well known social media personalities – but are pro-life and therefore aren’t actually libertarians; sorry. Yes, the whole calling out of “fake libertarians” was already tiresome by the time Johnson and Weld were showing their true colors months ago, but sadly the movement and the party that bears its name is rife with people who simply don’t belong under its banner.

It’s perfectly simple, really, and I’m not sure how we go so far afield; a libertarian no more tells a Christian baker trying to refuse service to a gay couple to “bake the damn cake!” than they tell a frightened young woman who is contemplating terminating her pregnancy because she knows she’s not able to give a baby a good start in life right now to “have the damn kid!”

Libertarianism at its core is the realization and celebration of the primacy of the individual and his or her rights over all else. To believe the state has a right to tell a woman she must carry a pregnancy to term, or else, or a baker must serve a customer, or else, flies directly in the face of the individual liberty libertarians are supposed to prize above all else.

The term “libertarian” and the party bearing its name used to stand for something concrete. Now, the brand is horribly sullied, infiltrated by border-fascists and pro-lifers and let down by the party itself as it runs Republicans in libertarian clothing at the top of its tickets. Now, some even argue real libertarians (right-libertarians) ought welcome Bernouts (left-”libertarians”) and work together with them to disrupt the two-party duopoly by somehow putting aside our diametrically opposed differences, for now. Madness.

The fact is, there is already an organization for those who want government to be just big enough to enforce laws against things they don’t like while paying lip-service to the notions of smaller government and lower taxes; it’s called the Republican Party.

If you think you’re entitled to the labor of others much in the same way the slave-owners of old did and believe goods and services others have to labor to produce ought be provided to you as a “human right,” while theoretically being allowed by the state to engage in something like “freedom,” then there’s already an organization for you; it’s called the Democratic Party.

If you understand that taxation is theft and that the state is violence incarnate and therefore should be eliminated entirely, but also recognize the average American isn’t equipped for anarchy yet and therefore are willing to pragmatically tolerate the most minimal minarchy imaginable, there used to be a party for you.


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