Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How Can You be Libertarian and Pro-Life?

Tea partiers have gained prominence in part by arguing for a dramatically smaller federal government that exercises less influence over the lives of Americans. Government shouldn’t tell people they have to purchase healthcare or how much sugar and salt they can put on their food. It shouldn’t tell people what kind of car to drive. So how can people who in one breath advocate for more personal freedom be pro-life or ally with pro-lifers in another, who want to restrict a woman’s right to choose?

While it is easy to paint such a stance as a contradiction, I’m not sure it actually is. At their core, libertarians do believe in maximizing freedom and minimizing government influence. But that doesn’t not mean they never support government influence. For example, if one company had a monopoly over a resource, libertarians might support government intervention to break up the monopoly and restore competition. This is to allow both consumers and other businesses a basic amount of liberty.

Government would be perfectly within acceptable parameters to safeguard these liberties. This becomes even clearer if we accept the assumption on the part of some pro-lifers that abortion is tantamount to murder. No reasonable libertarian would oppose having a police force to stop murders from happening, or letting the state declare murder illegal. In this case, a pro-lifer with libertarian sentiments is acting consistently when he advocates making abortion illegal.

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