Presenting the pro-life case to libertarians, and the libertarian case to pro-lifers
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Being Pro-Life Is Necessary to Defend Liberty

Pro-life libertarians have a vital task to perform: to persuade the many abortion-supporting libertarians of the contradiction between abortion and individual liberty; and, to sever the mistaken connection in many minds between individual freedom and the “right” to extinguish individual life.

Libertarians have a moral vision of a society that is just, because individuals are free. This vision is the only reason for libertarianism to exist. It offers an alternative to the forms of political thought that uphold the power of the State, or of persons within a society, to violate the freedom of others. If it loses that vision, then libertarianism becomes merely another ideology whose policies are oppressive, rather than liberating.

We expect most people to be inconsistent, because their beliefs are founded on false principles or on principles that are not clearly stated and understood. They cannot apply their beliefs consistently without contradictions becoming glaringly apparent. Thus, there are both liberals and conservatives who support conscription of young people, the redistribution of wealth, and the power of the majority to impose its will on the individual.

A libertarian’s support for abortion is not merely a minor misapplication of principle, as if one held an incorrect belief about the Austrian theory of the business cycle. The issue of abortion is fundamental, and therefore an incorrect view of the issue strikes at the very foundations of all beliefs.

Libertarians believe, along with the Founding Fathers, that every individual has inalienable rights, among which are the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Neither the State, nor any other person, can violate those rights without committing an injustice. But, just as important as the power claimed by the State to decide what rights we have, is the power to decide which of us has rights.

Today, we are seeing a piecemeal destruction of individual freedom. And in abortion, the statists have found a most effective method of obliterating freedom: obliterating the individual. Abortion on demand is the ultimate State tyranny; the State simply declares that certain classes of human beings are not persons, and therefore not entitled to the protection of the law. The State protects the “right” of some people to kill others, just as the courts protected the “property rights” of slave masters in their slaves. Moreover, by this method the State achieves a goal common to all totalitarian regimes: it sets us against each other, so that our energies are spent in the struggle between State-created classes, rather than in freeing all individuals from the State. Unlike Nazi Germany, which forcibly sent millions to the gas chambers (as well as forcing abortion and sterilization upon many more), the new regime has enlisted the assistance of millions of people to act as its agents in carrying out a program of mass murder.

The more one strives for the consistent application of an incorrect principle, the more horrendous the results. Thus, a wrong-headed libertarian is potentially very dangerous. Libertarians who act on a wrong premise seem to be too often willing to accept the inhuman conclusions of an argument, rather than question their premises.

A case in point is a young libertarian leader I have heard about. He supports the “right” of a woman to remove an unwanted child from her body (i.e., her property) by killing and then expelling him or her. Therefore, he has consistently concluded, any property owner has the right to kill anyone on his property, for any reason.

Such conclusions should make libertarians question the premises from which they are drawn.

We must promote a consistent vision of liberty because freedom is whole and cannot be alienated, although it can be abridged by the unjust action of the State or those who are powerful enough to obtain their own demands. Our lives, also, are a whole from the beginning at fertilization until death. To deny any part of liberty, or to deny liberty to any particular class of individuals, diminishes the freedom of all. For libertarians to support such an abridgement of the right to live free is unconscionable.

I encourage all pro-life libertarians to become involved in debating the issues and educating the public; whether or not freedom is defended across the board, or is allowed to be further eroded without consistent defenders, may depend on them.

Originally published as a 1981 article in LFL Reports: #1.

Ron Paul, M.D., was born in 1935. He is a graduate of Gettysburg College and Duke University, and served as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force and the Air National Guard.

Congressman Paul (R-TX) and his wife Carol have five children. They make their home in Lake Jackson, Texas, where the Congressman practiced obstetrics and gynecology.

Convinced that the size, power, and cost of the Federal government had to be cut for our free society to survive, Dr. Paul ran for Congress and won a special election in April 1976. He was sworn in for his first full term in January 1979, representing the 22nd District until 1984. He was the 1988 Libertarian Party candidate for President. In 1996, he returned to the Republican Party and again won election to Congress. In 2008, he ran for the nomination for President of the United States, in the Republican Party.

Congressman Ron Paul