The Libertarian Case for Being Pro-Life


I first heard several months ago from a friend who is a registered Libertarian about Libertarians for Life.

Here’s the Libertarian Case Against Abortion from their website:

One popular misconception is that libertarianism as a political principle supports choice on abortion. And major elements within the libertarian movement (the Libertarian Party, for example) take abortion-choice stands. 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.

We see our mission as presenting the pro-life case to libertarians and the libertarian case to pro-lifers. Among supporters of LFL, some of us are members of the Libertarian Party, some are not. Some are religious, some are not. (Doris Gordon, our Founder and Coordinator, is a Jewish atheist.) Our reasoning is expressly scientific and philosophical rather than either pragmatic or religious, or merely political or emotional.

Here are the points LFL uses to defend their case:

  1. Human offspring are human beings, persons from conception, whether that takes place as natural or artificial fertilization, by cloning, or by any other means.
  2. Abortion is homicide — the killing of one person by another.
  3. One’s right to control one’s own body does not allow violating the obligation not to aggress. There is never a right to kill an innocent person. Prenatally, we are all innocent persons.
  4. A prenatal child has the right to be in the mother’s body. Parents have no right to evict their children from the crib or from the womb and let them die. Instead both parents, the father as well as the mother, owe them support and protection from harm.
  5. No government, nor any individual, has a just power to legally “de-person” any one of us, born or preborn.
  6. The proper purpose of the law is to side with the innocent, not against them.

Kristen Walker Hatten, a libertarian, wrote a piece entitled, “Why Libertarians should be Pro-Life on Abortion.”

She wrote:

The s0-called “social issue” which is the glaring exception to this rule is abortion. It is not a “victimless crime,” as many argue prostitution, sodomy, and gambling are. All libertarians of all stripes – and in this I include Objectivists, though they might, well, object – should oppose abortion. Anyone who advocates any kind of government, no matter how minimal, should support making abortion a criminal act.

How do I justify this? It’s actually pretty simple.

If you advocate a small government, you must assign it limited goals. What are the most basic reasons for a government to exist? To keep people safe, from outside aggressors and from each other. Objectivism, for example, argues for a “night watchman” government: basically, the military, police, and courts. The military defends the people from outside aggressors, the police arrest and incarcerate criminals, and the courts decide guilt or innocence and hand down sentences, as well as settling civil legal disputes.

I mention the Objectivist ideal to illustrate that even the most bare-bones government would have laws against citizens killing other citizens. Libertarianism, unlike Objectivism, is based largely on the Non-Aggression Principle, which says – to put it very simply – it is morally wrong to initiate aggression. Force is justified only when combating force.

Libertarianism is also firmly based on a belief in personal responsibility. If every man is and should be free to make his own decisions, it follows that every man must own the results of those decisions. Which is to say: if a man and woman have sex, they both accept the risk that a pregnancy might be the result, and accept the obligation to care for the resulting child.

Another group espousing a similar philosophy to LFL is Secular Pro Life (SPL.)

Jeff Quinton

Jeff Quinton

Jeff Quinton is an award-winning blogger who has been aggregating and blogging since 1998. He has worked as a reporter, in government, and as a communications professional in Columbia, SC and Washington, DC.

Quinton is a native South Carolinian who has lived in Baltimore since 2006. He is a recent convert to the Catholic Church and is active in the Knights of Columbus. He has been involved in the pro-life movement nationally and locally since 2010.

Quinton is a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst in the Army National Guard. He is also an Eagle Scout.
Jeff Quinton