The Libertarian case for pro-life

Author: John Pickerill
Publication: Pueblo Chieftain
Date: 07/21/18

Abortion. It’s one of the most contentious issues in politics. Why? Because we have two fundamental rights colliding into each other. On the one side, you have the woman trying to exercise her right to liberty, in other words her right to live out her life how she sees best without interference from others or government. On the other side, you have the baby who has the fundamental right to his/her life, to not be harmed or killed. How do we resolve this dilemma?

As a Libertarian, I believe all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not interfere forcibly with the equal rights of others to live in whatever manner they choose.

But I also believe in the fundamental Libertarian principle of “do no harm,” that we are happiest as a society when we recognize that it’s never okay for one person to initiate violence or aggression against another person.

As a Libertarian, I believe that individuals should be free to make choices for themselves, but must accept responsibility for the consequences of those choices. For example, it’s no secret that when you decide to have sex, it might result in the creation of a new human being. Any time you make the choice to have sex, you must accept responsibility for the consequences of having sex. And no human being, no matter how small, should be forced to sacrifice his or her life for the benefit of others. Although the mother might not have intended to become pregnant, that new human being should not be forced to sacrifice his or her life for the benefit of the mother’s liberty. The mother’s right to her liberty stops at the point it encroaches on the baby’s right to his or her life.

As a Libertarian, I also believe that every human being has an inherent right to self-defense, that if someone initiates violence against you or someone else, you have a right to defend yourself and others against that violence. Government, when constrained to its proper role, is a form of collective self-defense that people have created to step in when one person attempts to initiate violence against another person. Or as Thomas Jefferson put it, governments are instituted by people to secure our inalienable rights, which include an individual’s right to his life, right to his liberty and right to his property, and that no person may be deprived of these rights without due process.

The mother has the right to her liberty, for sure. But more importantly, the baby has the right to his or her life. As such, it is appropriate to call on government to intercede in this case to stop the killing of an unborn child.

Of course there are secondary considerations to be resolved. What if the mother doesn’t have the resources or is incapable of caring for the baby? What if the pregnancy is the result of rape? What if the baby is found to have a birth defect? Whatever solution is chosen, it never should include the killing of the baby. But it should include the option of adoption once the baby is born, to respect the woman’s right to her liberty once the baby’s right to life is no longer threatened. That is the solution to the abortion dilemma.

John Pickerill is the Libertarian Party candidate for Colorado State Senate District 3. He advocates for individual liberty, free market economics, private property rights and constitutionally limited government. He can be contacted at

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