Abortion is a controversial and emotional issue, and it has been for decades. When it comes to the Libertarian view on abortion, how we feel about abortion is incredibly unclear. I want to discuss my personal view on abortion and the Libertarian party’s stance on abortion — historically, and where we stand now.
I want to help my followers understand the Libertarian party’s view on abortion, the debate within our own party, and answer any questions you might have about my personal views on the issue.
As I set out to write this post, I did a lot of reading, research, and soul-searching. I have spent my life on the fence on the topic of abortion. At various points in my life I have considered myself pro-life and pro-choice.
I decided that rather than have no opinion or to continue to dodge the subject whenever asked, I would read through all of the Libertarian arguments for and against abortion and read through the Supreme Court rulings first. I wanted to understand the abortion debate from a historical and legal standpoint, and not just write this based on my “feelings” about abortion.
I am no longer on the fence on this issue, and hope you will read this entire post to understand both my own views on abortion as a Libertarian and the party’s official stance on abortion (as of 2022).
The Libertarian View on Abortion from 1972 to the Present
The Libertarian party has historically been pro-choice. When I set out to write this blog post, I didn’t know that. It was my understanding that the party has always been neutral and that pro-lifers just didn’t understand our platform. However, in the process of researching this I have realized that I was incorrect. Our “neutral” position was adopted in 1996 and there has been continuing debate on this issue as the party has grown.
Historically the party has clearly been pro-choice. You can see the list of platform changes on the issue of abortion here. The party originally took a strong and clear position on abortion. From 1972 until 1996 the party’s platform supported a women’s right to terminate a pregnancy.
In 1996, our platform was significantly changed to recognize that Libertarians have different views on abortion. And we left the matter of abortion open-ended for our members to decide for themselves.The wording of this has changed slightly since then, but essentially has said the same thing for 26years. Since I joined the Libertarian party in 2009, the platform has read:
Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.
My understanding of the Libertarian Party’s official stance on abortion was that you could be pro-life or pro-choice in the Libertarian party based on my interpretation of this plank. However, many in the pro-life community of Libertarians were not satisfied with the wording of this, as it can be construed as a pro-choice position, so the plank was removed altogether to satisfy the current body of delegates at our most recent National Convention in 2022.
The Libertarian party’s position on abortion has evolved as our party has grown to more accurately reflect the views of our members.
The Libertarian party’s position on abortion has changed over the years. Much like our country, our party is very divided on how our country and our party should handle the issue of abortion. You can watch Libertarians debate abortion . Both sides have compelling arguments for why the Libertarian Party should be pro-life or pro-choice. Do we protect a woman’s right to bodily autonomy or do we protect the unborn person’s right to life?
Because this divide is so great, and pro-life Libertarians and pro-choice Libertarians are at odds, in 2022 our party decided it was best to remove the abortion plank from the platform entirely.
As of writing this, there is no official position on abortion in our current platform. Our members can decide for themselves what the correct position on abortion is according to Libertarian principles and their own perspective. While some see this as one side trampling over the side of the other, I see it as an opportunity for party growth.
Currently, the Libertarian Party is the only party that welcomes both pro-life and pro-choice members to the party.
That’s a summary of the Libertarian Party’s position on abortion as of 2022. This could change at our 2024 convention, depending on what our delegates look like in 2024. Personally, I think this is the best solution to the dilemma within our party, and also allows us to grow our membership with people who are pro-life or pro-choice, without choosing a side
I believe within our own party we have the opportunity to demonstrate that two opposing views can work together in one cohesive party that supports liberty – liberty to decide for yourself if you are pro-life or pro-choice.
While this position may alienate some Libertarians who believe that we should have a plank on this issue, it opens up opportunities for our party to grow and recruit people into our party that have both pro-life and pro-choice views, and to engage moderate voters who are not extremists in the abortion debate. I believe the majority of our country wants – common sense, compromise, and to stop letting extremists on either side of the abortion debate call the shots for our entire country.
That is the Libertarian Party’s View on Abortion. Now for my own thoughts…
I consider myself a moderate Libertarian. I hope to see a smaller government with less control in our lives. I hope to see a country that works together instead of the current war between culture, morality, and ideology. What I have witnessed since I have been alive is the two-party system failing us and leading to a larger and larger government, and more extreme shifts in policy as one side over-corrects the other.
The last several presidential elections have resulted in progressively worse candidates and the most recent Supreme Court decision, in my opinion, is a result of that two-party fight to control the country. As both sides try to force their ideas on all of us, their decisions are becoming less and less Constitutional and more and more partisan. This is a bad for all of us, whether you are a pro-life or pro-choice.
These are my thoughts on the decision to overturn Roe vs Wade. They do not represent the Libertarian Party’s view on abortion.
Initially, when I read about the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs Wade, I thought handing this decision back to the states made sense. It seemed to appease both sides of the debate and was better than one group deciding what was best for another group. However, the more I read on the previous and current court’s decisions, the more clarity I have gotten on my own personal Libertarian view of abortion.
Roe vs Wade created an imperfect solution on abortion
Roe vs. Wade has been around since 1973, the year I was born. Abortion has been a protected right for as long as I have been alive. Although I have heard pro-life and pro-choice debates on abortion, I had never actually read the case or the Supreme Court’s ruling. I encourage you to do the same.
Every opinion I had on abortion came from my emotions – was abortion murder or is does a woman have the right to make decisions about her own body? While I have always believed that the best solution to reducing abortions was through education, compassion, and birth control, I have always been conflicted on whether or not abortion was wrong or right. And if it truly was “murder”, should that be protected?
After reading the Roe vs Wade decision for myself, I had a better understanding of why the Supreme Court made the decision they did – something that I really wasn’t clear on before. While Roe vs Wade wasn’t perfect, the decision was based on a logical (and I believe accurate) interpretation of the Constitution. Ultimately, the decision was based on their interpretation of the 9th and 14th Amendment. If a woman has a right to privacy under the Constitution, then a state cannot make a law to remove that right.
After reading the two rulings, I have come to agree that Roe vs Wade, while not perfect, was the more accurate interpretation of the Constitution. And, whether or not abortion was morally wrong or right, wasn’t the crux of the ruling. The decision was based on the right to privacy. Whether or not the Constitution clearly spells out this right to privacy is part of the debate.
While the Roe Vs Wade decision has some flaws, the overturning of it is even more flawed.
The Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe vs Wade was filled with interpretations of the Constitution that fit their own perspective. I am simply going to highlight their objections to the Roe vs Wade ruling and let you decide for yourself. For me the answer is no longer murky.
(1) First, the Court reviews the standard that the Court’s cases have used to determine whether the Fourteenth Amendment’s reference to “liberty” protects a particular right. Roe held that the abortion right is part of a right to privacy that springs from the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments.
(2) Next, the Court examines whether the right to obtain an abortion is rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition and whether it is an essential component of “ordered liberty.” The Court finds that the right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition.
(3) Finally, the Court considers whether a right to obtain an abortion is part of a broader entrenched right that is supported by other precedents.
The current court’s decision, in my opinion, was wrong on all three key points: There was a basis for deciding that the fourteenth amendment did protect the right to privacy (although it was not implicitly stated). The right to obtain an abortion is rooted in our Nation’s history and tradition. For my entire lifespan it has been a right. And the Roe vs Wade decision is part of a “broader entrenched right that is supported by other precedents.”
If you read their ruling from beginning to end, you can see that their decision was not based on our current time-frame’s history and tradition, and that Roe vs Wade was in fact supported by other precedents.
From my reading of their decision, I believe the Supreme Court made the decision to overturn Roe vs Wade simply because they had the votes to do it. You can read through this for yourself and decide, but I do not believe it was the best interpretation of the Constitution, previous precedents, or the correct decision.
As a Libertarian, I believe there are practical solutions for reducing abortions that don’t undermine a woman’s right to privacy and liberty.
This is not the only recent ruling the current Supreme Court has gone rogue on. I am trying to write on as many of these issues as I can. While I disagree on the Supreme Court’s ruling, I still strongly advocate for women to not choose abortion. I believe the solution to reducing abortion rates is in the hands of the people. You can’t achieve cultural change through force or misuse of our court system.
However, our Constitution is not the problem. We are electing leadership that doesn’t follow the Constitution, previous precedents, or the will of the people. The two-party system has created this dilemma and it’s up to us to fix it. Both parties are trying to decide what’s best for everyone instead of letting people decide for themselves.
I do not have the ideal Libertarian solution to this ongoing debate. What I am now certain of though – our Supreme Court did not make their decision based on the Constitution or the long-standing history in our nation, but rather whether or not they had the votes to flip Roe vs Wade.
Are you frustrated with the extreme divide on abortion?
If you are frustrated with the out of control decision making between the Republicans and Democrats, let’s talk. I love talking to people who can have civil, respectful, intelligent discussions on issues and what’s best for our country.
Whether you are an active Libertarian or someone who is just disgusted with the two party system creating more problems than they solve, come join me in my Facebook group Patty’s Liberty group. All are welcome whether you are a Libertarian who is pro-choice or pro-life or not a Libertarian at all.