Pro-Choice Versus Pro-Life

Now abortion law is up to states. Some will ban it, while most blue states will allow it in some form.

Because libertarians want government out of our lives, people assume we are pro-choice. Some of us are. But like the rest of America, there are principled libertarians on both sides.

We freedom-lovers believe women (and men) own their bodies and should have control over what happens to them.

But we also believe that one of the few legitimate roles for government is stopping murder. If a fetus is a life, abortion is legally murder.

“Life begins from the moment conception is complete,” says Kerry Baldwin, host of the “Dare to Think” Podcast. “Abortion is murder.”

“The termination of a pregnancy is the right of any woman,” counters pro-choice Avens O’Brien of Feminists for Liberty.

say to O’Brien, “That is a form of life in the womb. You’re not bothered terminating that?”

“I’m not sure I agree that it’s a person with rights,” she responds.

“At what point does the baby have a right to be protected by the state?” I continue. “You’re saying that one minute before birth, the baby does not, and one minute after, it does?”

“Individuals have rights,” she responds. “Individuals don’t exist inside other people.”

Baldwin counters, “Passing through the birth canal doesn’t change the humanity of the fetus.”

“As long as a fetus is inside a person, the person gets to determine whatever’s happening to it,” answers O’Brien.

Baldwin says the only time abortion should be legal is if a woman’s life is in danger. Rape is not justification. Rape, she says, is “a crime against women. They need restitution for that crime,” but the woman must carry the baby to term.

Baldwin is libertarian, so she usually opposes government force. I point out that abortion bans are government force.

“It is the role of civil governance to criminalize acts of violence,” she replies.

I wonder how such criminalization would work.

“If abortion is illegal,” I point out, “the state either has to punish the woman or doctor or both.”

“This is a woman who’s in crisis,” says Baldwin. “It doesn’t make sense to … throw her in prison.”

Before Roe v. Wade, prosecuting women was rare. Sometimes doctors were prosecuted.

“The way you enforce is not through a police state,” says Baldwin. “The way to get women to stop choosing abortion is to provide other options.” One such option, she says, is to make adoption easier.

Easier adoption would be good, but it certainly won’t persuade all women to carry babies to term.

Watching this week’s abortion protests, one thing puzzles me: Why do activists always turn to politics?

Celebrities like Lady Gaga and Rihanna attacked Alabama’s abortion bill. “Governor … SHAME ON YOU,” said Rihanna.

Instead of shouting at politicians, activists could put their money where their mouths are.

I say to Baldwin and O’Brien, “Lady Gaga and Rihanna by themselves have enough money to fly every woman … to a state where it’s legal. Why is this a government issue?”

“It would be great if celebrities spent their money on mutual aid and direct action instead of lobbying politicians,” says O’Brien.

“Currently there is a meme going around,” she adds. “People write, ‘If anyone needs to go camping because their state does not allow camping … come camping with me. We’ll never talk about your camping.'”

Why “camping” instead of “abortion”?

Because in “certain states, that would create a legal problem,” explains O’Brien.

The two sides will never agree about abortion.

Personally, I think it’s reasonable when states ban late-term abortion. An 8-month-old fetus sure seems like life to me.

But I’m mostly pro-choice. People should own their own bodies. If someone lives inside you, you have a right to control that life.

Photo by Derek French

9 thoughts on “Pro-Choice Versus Pro-Life

  1. Hi John,

    I think there’s a flaw in the reasoning of “owning something because it’s inside your body”. If I were to take something that didn’t belong to me and put it inside my body, that doesn’t mean I suddenly own it. The root of the argument for or against abortion comes down to the definition of what is ‘personhood’. The ‘choice’ of the mother has no bearing on that. If the fetus inside is a person, it has rights. It’s as simple as that.

  2. If a person assaulted a pregnant woman and she looses that baby, it’s a murder charge. If the fetus is not a legal human, then how can it be murder? Assault yes, but not a murder. Maybe theft of a possession? How can one person decide to kill a baby, seconds before birth or I have heard even after birth? Seams very arbitrary to me.

    1. Abortion is mostly a matter of convenience for the mother. A human life in any form shouldn’t be ended for convenience.

  3. I agree with John Stossel on this one, that abortions should be legal at least up to some point. It seems medieval to me to force someone to give birth when they don’t want to. But I also think that someone can have a legitimate pro-life opinion if they are really concerned about the sanctity of life.
    However it seems to me that on every other topic I can think of, the “pro-life” right wing is pro-death. The United States has by far the most guns per capita and the most shooting deaths per capita than any other first world country, but the “pro-life” right wing wants more guns. The United States has the highest infant mortality rate and the lowest life expectancy of any first world country, but the “pro-life” right wing doesn’t want universal health insurance. They don’t want poor pregnant women to have access to health care. The “pro-life” right wing is opposed to environmental regulations even though pollution kills people. “Pro-life” conservatives are opposed to masks or vaccines that would save lives during a pandemic, and want to cut funding for the NIH and CDC. Worst of all, the “pro-life” right wing downplays fossil fuel caused climate change that will probably kill billions of people.
    Since the “pro-life” right wing is also opposed to contraception, it becomes clear that their opposition to abortion is not so much concern for life as the desire to inflict their religious beliefs on others.
    If someone wants to be pro-life, then really be pro-life instead of being hypocrites.

  4. My definition of abortion is the assasination of an unborn human. Life and death come from a higher authority and the unborn have a right to that life or to death when it endangers the life of its creator. No life should be terminated unless it jeopardizes another.

  5. Every woman who wants an abortion should be able to have one. No one has the right to make that decision for her.

    1. No has the right to take the life of another human being. And yes, living unborn babies are indeed human beings…

  6. Here’s my take on the subject. Life begins at conception; however, you are not human until you take your first breath. Biologically, most fetuses must have the embryonic fluid to survive, therefore it’s the ideas of potentiality versus actuality situation, therefore abortion should be legal. Plus we don’t arrest women if they having miscarriages, which is technically a spontaneous abortion.
    In my view, abortion is not the true problem. We men are. Women can have one child within a year. While we men can impregnate hundreds of women. We are the irresponsible ones, not women. The way I look at it, women should have a right to go to court and sue men who act irresponsibly to get a court ordered vasectomy.

    1. “Life begins at conception, you are not human until you take your first breath?”; where did you get that analysis from? Surely one’s DNA makes a person human; and if so, we can return to conception. If breathing was the ‘rule of thumb’ for being human, then would a person cease to be human if they are attached to a heart-lung machine? These machines do the pumping and oxygenating of a person’s blood during a cardio-pulmonary operation so therefore no breathing occurs — just like in the womb.

      Women aren’t arrested for miscarriages true, just as anyone who dies “spontaneously” through natural causes doesn’t result in another being arrested. Men are not the problem, to lay this debate at the feet of men is truly bizarre. It’s women who decide — seldom are any men consulted. In fact the Feminists believe men should be silent on this issue, as it is only (according to them) a woman’s choice. The number of babies either sex can conceive over time is irrelevant. Both parties can make choices as to who they have sex with and what (if any) precautions they can take to prevent conception — with the exception of some rape.

      Court ordered vasectomy? That sounds like tyranny (or a return to the Dark Ages), and why stop at court ordered ‘anything’ that relates to irresponsibility? Why not have court ordered ‘organ cutting’ (because that is what vasectomy is) for being an irresponsible; driver, parent, trades person, party goer, teenager (including females that get pregnant through their own choice, regret it, and now what the convenience to abort their unborn) — where does it end? It doesn’t.

      You can make good arguments on either side of this debate — but these aren’t good arguments?

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