Reproductive Rights and Libertarianism
~by Sam Wilkinson
For reasons that I cannot understand, the threat posed by various conservative candidates to women’s reproductive rights rarely seem to warrant mention or concern amongst those who profess themselves to be most concerned with liberty.
Perhaps I travel in the wrong circles – with a two kids and a mortgage and a car payment and a career, it might be safer to say that I don’t travel in any circles – but when candidates are aggressively embracing governmental intervention into a woman’s personal medical decision making, I imagine based upon my understanding of libertarian thought that the that hackles everywhere would be raised to unimaginable degrees.
And yet, nothing.
I write off conservatives and tea-partiers, perhaps unfairly, because I understand that their idea of liberty most often involves individuals having the freedom to agree with conservatives and tea-partiers. Disagreeing, although theoretically allowed, isn’t encouraged. But what of the libertarians who stand strong against Obama? What is it
that makes this issue (one which Obama is stronger than any of the current crop of Mainstream Republican Candidates [MRC]) not only not a disqualifier, but a notstarter?
I worked at a newspaper when I was younger. One of the steadfast rules in selecting Letters to the Editor was that three issues were never to be touched: religion, homosexuality, and abortion. No matter the author’s intent, the institution would inevitably be deluged by the other side’s objections to whatever point was made. I understand the desire to stay away from topics that produce nightmarish and seemingly endless conversations that never actually get anywhere. Neither side ever gets closer to agreeing with the other; nobody is ever willing to speak peacefully and reasonably.
A shorter version of that is this: those conversations go to hell almost immediately. Yet, what libertarians are doing when they endorse any of the MRCs is saying that they’re willing to accept a president who will openly and aggressively roll back liberty extended to more than half of the American population. And not only are they endorsing (some of) these candidates, they’re simply paying no mind to the obvious and egregious assault on liberty that these candidates are promising. Even Ron Paul, a man whose entire career is based upon his alleged loyalty to the concept of liberty, has no problem endorsing governmental intrusion into a woman’s medical decisions. He, like all of the other MRCs, simply rejects the notion that liberty for an American includes the right to make particular healthcare decisions.
Candidates are candidates, mad(wo)men whose political desires boggle my mind. But what of the sort of libertarians who gather here and elsewhere? How is it that any of the MRCs remain acceptable candidates given their willingness to expand government so as to allow it to intrude into such decision-making?
I recognize that there are numerous critiques to be made of these questions. I acknowledge that ahead of time. But if it all possible, please keep in mind that I’m asking out of a legitimate desire to understand why the issue doesn’t seem to warrant more attention when it comes to grading and endorsing candidates.
(A depressing question to consider on the side: would this issue be a bigger one for libertarians if all of the Republican candidates were proposing to aggressively use the government’s strength against a health decision made exclusively by men?)