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LP Chair: Not Pro-Life or Pro-Choice but Individual Choice

WASHINGTON - In response to the abortion restrictions signed into law in Arizona this month, Libertarian Party Chair, Mark Hinkle, issued the following statement:

“Like so many others, Libertarians wrestle with the moral issues associated with abortion.  While our party includes a significant number of people who describe themselves as pro-choice, nearly as many members describe themselves as pro-life.  In my own view, however, there is no conflict: the best way to respect life is to prevent government from interfering with individual rights.

“Most who refer to themselves as pro-life believe that the fetus becomes an individual endowed with full rights at the moment of conception.  Most of those who call themselves pro-choice believe that an individual entitled to rights does not exist at least until there is a functional brain, capable of consciousness, which most scientists place somewhere between 22 and 26 weeks.

“Regardless of one’s view on this matter, however, we should all be able to agree that a pregnant woman is an individual with rights.  And that includes the right to make often-difficult decisions concerning her own body.

“One provision of the recent modification to Arizona law prohibits the termination of a pregnancy once 20 weeks have passed from the start of the woman’s last menstrual period before fertilization.  After that, abortion is permitted only in medical emergencies threatening the mother’s health.

“This provision is more of an insult to women than a substantive restriction, since nearly 99% of all abortions already take place before the end of 20 weeks, while virtually all remaining abortions DO involve protecting the mother’s health.  Arizona might as well have passed a law prohibiting mothers from waterboarding their infant children for all its relevance to the actual behavior of these women.  There is no need to place any time restriction: pregnant women have historically shown they can be trusted not to engage in the apocryphal ninth-month abortion for convenience.  Politicians, on the other hand, have shown regularly that they CANNOT be trusted.

“The ugliest part of the Arizona law, however, is a provision requiring a woman to undergo a physically invasive transvaginal ultrasound before she is even allowed to choose.  The goal, of course, is to humiliate her into deciding not to proceed, as punishment for what Governor Jan Brewer and the majority of the Arizona legislature consider to be her great transgression.

“We all know that abortions still take place even when they’re prohibited.   The Guttmacher Institute has researched the rate of abortions in countries throughout the world.  Countries with severe restrictions on abortion actually have a HIGHER rate of abortions (once the illegal ones are included) than countries that have few restrictions.  The lowest rate of abortion in the world is in pro-choice Holland, widely considered to be a hotbed of promiscuous sexual activity.

“Ironically, while there are multiple causes for this, a primary reason Holland has a rock bottom rate of abortion is that their women have more choices.  Sexual information is widely available to women and girls, contraception is relatively easy to obtain, there is more social acceptance of unwed mothers, and adoption faces far fewer restrictions than in most of the world.  As a result, women and girls know how to reduce the risk of an unwanted pregnancy, can access the methods and, should they become pregnant, have more motivation to carry to term.

“As libertarians, we favor the removal of all obstacles to the free flow of information about contraception, including attempts to censor Internet sites.  We call for an end to the prescription requirement, which massively increases the inconvenience and cost of obtaining protection.  We also support the removal of restrictions on adoption including laws against cross-racial adoptions and adoptions by unmarried adults and same sex couples.  All of these changes will help reduce the number of abortions that take place.  Indeed, abortion rates have dropped steadily in recent decades as women, including teenage girls, have faced fewer obstacles to learning about sex.

"And we're REALLY pro-choice: we also defend the right of a woman (or man) to choose NOT to pay for some other woman's abortion or birth control.   Keep the government out of abortions. No regulations, no subsidies. Choice for all, including choice for those who are pro-life."

“At the same time, denying the humanity of a pregnant woman is never acceptable, and the decision as to whether or not she will carry a fetus inside her own body must not be surrendered to the sophistries of over-bearing politicians and bureaucrats.”

P.S. If you have not already done so, please join the Libertarian Party. We are the only political party with a mission to give voters a choice to downsize Big Government, to do so in the most humane way possible, to greatly reduce taxes, and to slash high government spending. You can also renew your membership. Or, you can simply make a contribution.