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Presenting the pro-life case to libertarians, and the libertarian case to pro-lifers

To the Libertarian Alliance: Addressing the concerns of the Left and the Right

May 27, 1996

Chris R. Tame, Director
Brian Micklethwait, Editorial Director
Stacey Lee

Libertarian Alliance
25 Chapter Chambers
Esterbrooke Street
London SW1P 4NN, England

Dear Chris, Brian, and Stacey,

Thanks for the latest articles published by LA. The titles of Stacey’s twin articles caught my eye, “Why the Political Left Should Consider Libertarianism,” and “Why the Political Right Should Consider Libertarianism.” Writing so as to speak to the concerns of various groups is a sound idea, but her remarks on abortion weakened her articles. I’m disappointed, but I hope that she will take my response as constructive criticism for next time.

It is false that “the political Left and Libertarianism are in agreement” on abortion. Many libertarians are pro-life, most prominently, Ron Paul, an obstetrician and the LP’s candidate for President in 1988. Even among the abortion choicers, there is a wide spectrum of opinion, not agreement. For some indication of this, please see LFL’s new pamphlet, “An Exchange Between David F. Nolan and Doris Gordon on Abortion and the Libertarian Party Platform,” which I’ve enclosed. Regarding organizations on the political left, some are very pro-life (Feminists for Life, the Seamless Garment Network, etc.). Many individual leftists are in the middle, and others, such as Nat Hentoff and Sidney Callahan, see abortion choice as incompatible with the left’s vision of themselves as assisting the weak and defenseless.

If one wishes to appeal to the political right, it is counterproductive to do as Stacey did, pigeonhole abortion with victimless activities between consenting adults: “drug use, pornography, and prostitution.” Abortion is generally believed by the right to be homicide, the killing of one human being by another. Killing innocent children is worse than “distasteful”; it treats them unjustly and violates libertarianism’s non-aggression principle. Stacey may not think abortions kill little boys and girls, but she should not expect pro-lifers to take her seriously if she does not recognize what it is that {we} think. If any of us wants others to listen carefully to what we have to say, we shouldn’t talk to them as if we have tuned them out.

What’s more, pro-life has the libertarian high ground, not abortion choice. I think I’ve already sent LA a copy of my article, “Abortion and Rights: Applying Libertarian Principles Correctly.” But here is another copy, in case Stacey would like to know why I claim abortion is anti-libertarian.

I hope Stacey will also read the enclosed articles about two abortion survivors, Gianna Jessen and Ana Rosa Rodriguez. They are suffering from serious, life-long injuries, which they received when others attempted to kill them. I think my article gives them good reason to consider libertarianism. Can we draw the victims of abortion to libertarianism while defending abortion choice in the same breath? If anyone sees a way, I’d like to know about it.

Best wishes,

Doris Gordon
Libertarians for Life

Doris Gordon (1929-2014)
Doris Gordon, founder and longtime coordinator of Libertarians for Life, died on July 7 at Holy Cross Hospital, Silver Spring, Md., after a struggle with meningitis and other health problems. She was 85. Surviving her are daughter Julie Gordon, son Monte Gordon, and five grandchildren. She lost her husband, Nathan Gordon, in 1987. A Bronx native, Mrs. Gordon graduated from Hunter College and taught elementary-school students in New York City before moving to Maryland. She became active in the libertarian movement, and eventually quite active against abortion. She stressed the concept of parental obligation. “By causing children to be,” she wrote, “parents also cause them to need support; it’s a package deal.”