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Today is the 45th Anniversary of the landmark court decision known as Roe vs Wade. It allowed abortion to become a legal practice in the United States. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good day to answer the question, “What is the Evangelical Libertarian’s position on abortion?”
Abortion is a clear case of aggression. It is a violent act against the most defenseless of persons. The hallmark of libertarian thought is the Non-Aggression Principle. Children, within the womb or without, have all the natural rights of life and liberty afforded to other moral persons. “You shall not murder” is the bedrock of human society, and any society that abandons it will soon devolve into violence. If in-utero children can be dispensed with because of inconvenience or financial strain, then the next persons to be placed on the list will be those born with special needs and the infirm among us. Iceland has already nearly eradicated Down Syndrome through abortion, believing that it would be better if those children were spared existence. This type God complex has no real limits, only temporary social taboos that eventually fall to corrupt and inconsistent reasoning. We often think of Jewish persons being gassed to death in Nazi Germany, but so were those with special needs, and the infirm. The difference between aborting unwanted children for reasons determined by the mother, and murdering unwanted people for reasons determined by society, is a difference only in degree, not in principle. Humans have many liberties, this however, is not one of them.
The Libertarian thinker Murray Rothbard, who had many good things to say in regards to property rights and economic principles, was incredibly wrong on this point. He treated the child, who made no moral choice, as the aggressor, and the mother’s womb as her private property. The child in his understanding was an invader. This is why we need a biblical filter for Libertarianism, and human freedom in general. His view of abortion is monstrous and should not be looked to as a standard for Libertarians.
A child in-utero makes no moral choice. She is not an aggressor, but a neutral party that was brought into being through the procreative sexual act. Now the government has no right to tell the mother how to use her sexuality, this is the Church’s role. She is to be convinced through truth and encouraged to surrender her sexuality for the good of others voluntarily. The government does have a right to see that human contracts and covenants, like marriage for instance, are enforced. They can place civil fines and punishments for violations and should expect full cooperation from the community to aid in enforcement of those rulings. But once the truth (guarding sexuality for marriage and family) is ignored by the mother and procreation has occurred, a new and separate life has been created, altogether distinct from the life of the mother. Women possess no special “right” to murder for convenience, or any other reason that maybe put forward. It is her body, but the violent act is being committed against another person, her unborn child. They are separate persons, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Which brings us to the difficult question. What about conception by sexual assault? All previous principles apply. Whether the life came into being voluntarily or involuntarily, it still exists separately from the life of the mother. The child feels pain, responds to stimulus, has a beating heart and brain function within days of conception. She is a miracle of miracles. Adoption should be the choice of just societies. We should recognize the innocence and goodness of the life, separate from both its sources, as it is truly separate from them. Difficult as that may be to apply in principle for women who have undergone terrible and traumatic experiences. Obviously to cherish and nourish these unfortunate mothers is paramount as well. Providing comfort and aid, giving to them the space and resources for healing are equally important. But murdering an innocent life will not heal their soul, but will most likely only deepen the moral wound. Often abortion alone causes a psychological crisis in the mother. When combined with rape or incest, it becomes part of a complex and compound moral wounding that can bring a woman to the edge of her sanity, and affect her mental state for the rest of her life. Abortion is the murder of a child. It is not good for the mother, leaves a trail of mental illness in its wake, and is therefore bad for society as a whole.
Abortion runs contrary to the virtues of generosity and self-sacrifice that are the hallmarks of free peoples that intend on remaining free. Without the protecting and cherishing of life, the most basic of protections necessary for human civilization, nothing lasting, or in fact even worth building, can be built. Murder is not a liberty, but an act of aggression, and therefore abortion should fall outside of the bounds of an authentic expression of libertarianism.