Lawrence O’Donnell has called Ron Paul, the most famous Libertarian in America (with the possible exclusion of Clint Eastwood), a false Libertarian because Ron Paul does not believe in abortion. Last time I checked, Ron Paul’s stance is that abortion laws should be left up to the states to determine. However, let me dissect O’Donnell’s arguement.
The first thing I would like to discuss is that it would appear as though, to be a Libertarian, one must live an chaotic (or anarchist if you prefer) existence devoid of any right or wrong. A Libertarian doesn’t think the government should be making decisions on morality. This is the sphere of the populace and churches, not of government. Instead, Libertarians believe that governments should be concerned with protecting the rights and liberties of citizens against internal and external threats. This is the form of government that the Founding Fathers envisioned. Most of the Federal powers were intended to cover dealings with foreign nations and matters which concerned more than one state. The states themselves were meant to go about making their own laws. In fact, this almost makes a market place for states in which they must compete. If people want gay marriage, they will move to Massachusetts. If they want no income taxes, they will move to Texas. It also would prevent the nation from being dragged under by debt. A poorly managed state can go bankrupt without destroying the country…but the same cannot be said if the country itself goes broke.
A common misconception is that Libertarians are against any government and any laws. As I pointed out in the previous paragraph, this is not true. Libertarians believe that the government is set into place to safeguard individuals rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How then does the Libertarian, Ron Paul, reconcile his beliefs about abortion with his political ideology? This is so easy it shouldn’t even have to be discussed. This is done by defining when life begins. To Ron Paul, life begins at conception. If this is the view he has, he has to be concerned about the rights of the baby to its life. I believe that the abortion debate depends largely on this definition. If one believes life starts at conception, then abortion is murder. It can have no other definition. Therefore, most pro-choice people depend on the definition that life begins at birth.
People behave as though abortion is an abomination of the modern era. It is not. The Hippocratic Oath stated that a physician will not give a woman an abortion. Of course, doctors have chosen to cherry pick which of the oaths they want to follow, but that is beside the point. This means that the practice of abortion has been around since before Christ. In nomadic hunter/gatherer societies, infanticide was a common practice. A mother could only carry one child. If she had two children and both could not walk, she would kill one if they had to move. Sparta also killed infants which were deformed. My question then becomes: “Is the definition of when life begins cultural?” If a pro-choice person was dropped into such a culture and saw a mother smother a three month old to death, would they view it as a matter of choice or a matter of murder? A three month old is just as dependent on its mother (or another adult) to live as a fetus in the womb. Is it moral for someone to kill the three month old but not a third trimester baby? What about premature births? I assume that the difference must be argued that a baby in the womb only has one means of support, that of the mother. A three month old could, technically, be passed on to someone else. Of course, this means that it is only murder if a suitable caregiver could be located for the child.
Some believe that Ron Paul is a sexist because he doesn’t support abortion. Why on Earth are these viewed as mutually exclusive? I am sure that Ron Paul believes that women should have equal opportunities and equal protection under the law and equal pay for equal work. However, as I mentioned before, if he believes that a baby is alive pre-birth, he must also be against abortion. Only Democrats and members of NOW believe that being pro-woman necessitates being pro-choice. Isn’t it interesting that no one is calling for greater personal responsibility? Oh, they will always throw the “What if they were raped?” scenario out there, but how often is that the case? I find it hard to believe that most abortions are rape related. Equating the right of contraception (and I don’t know of anybody that thinks that only men should have access to contraception) and abortion to equality is silly. This format means that men want to prevent women from having an abortion as a means of control, i.e. that they can knock a girl up and force her to marry him and stay at home and raise the kids. This is the single most moronic thing I’ve ever heard of. No one believes this, or is it anybody’s reason for being pro-life. Pro-lifers are pro-lifers for one reason only: They believe that the fetus in the womb is a live human being and is granted all the rights of any other living being. It has nothing to do with women’s rights. Also, the sexual revolution (the pill, etc) has led to a culture in which casual sex is the norm. I should image that most sexual encounters in the past were between people who knew and cared for one another. An unplanned pregnancy could result in a successful marriage. This is not the case of unplanned pregnancies which result from purely casual sex or recreational sex. So we have traded the right to have meaningless sex, a mere moment’s pleasure here and there, for a lifetime of hardship. This seems like a bad bargain. It would be far better if both men and women refrained from having sex unless it is with someone with whom they would not mind having a baby, if a pregnancy were to occur despite precautions.
Let us next consider the whole concept of “choice.” If a woman chooses to terminate a pregnancy, it is a matter of choice. If the father slips something into her drink to cause a miscarriage, it is treated as a murder (in most states), and I believe that Democrats and members of NOW would demand that these cases be treated as murder and not as a civil case for loss of property. So, that means that it is only a matter of choice when the woman decides (“My body, my choice”). Fair enough, would Democrats and NOW be for allowing men to sue for an abortion then? That is to say, if a man does not want to be inconvenienced with raising a child or making child support payments, can he sue to force a woman to have an abortion? I bet the vast majority of Democrats and NOW members would find the concept abhorrent. Why then cannot the man make the argument that “It is her body and her choice. I told her that she should have an abortion. As such, if she has the baby, it is her choice to do so, and I should not have to pay a cost for her choosing to have a baby when she could have just as easily chosen not to have a baby?” I don’t think that Democrats and NOW would be up for that either.
I am not arguing the morality or immorality of abortion. I am merely pointing out that Ron Paul’s stance is much more consistent than that of a pro-choice person. The Libertarian does not withhold moral judgement of a person’s action. They merely seek laws that protect one person’s rights against that of another. A Libertarian can believe that prostitution should not be illegal for a variety of reasons but still say that going to prostitutes is wrong. In America, you can burn Bibles, and it is free speech. Virtually no one will hurt you, even though most people (including non-Christians) would say that doing so is distasteful and would frown upon such activities. Try doing that in a Muslim country with the Koran, and see what happens. In both countries, it is believed that you shouldn’t burn these books. However, in one you are punished for doing this and the other you are not. In no way does Ron Paul’s stance of abortion makes him a false Libertarian.
Long Live the Constitution!