On Liberty and Abortion

I am by nature a libertarian.  It’s as much a matter of personality as philosophy. I’ve never lost a minute’s sleep over a stranger’s private morality. I think people should be able to smoke cigarettes wherever the property owner allows -- the “dangers of second hand smoke” are largely a meddler’s lie.  I think drugs should be legal with the same basic restrictions as alcohol. If you were a pal, I’d tell you to stay off that poison, but in the end, adults have to choose for themselves.

As for people’s sex lives, I take my approach from Ebenezer Scrooge: “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business and not to interfere with other people’s.  Mine occupies me constantly.” I listen with seriousness to the arguments of my fellow conservatives and Christians when they tell me gay marriage will be the end of the world, but I'm personally expecting something more along the lines of a flaming meteor or maybe those octopus guys from Independence Day. As I say, it’s my personality: I just don’t care.

That’s why, for me, the issue of abortion has become a problem. I have always believed that Roe v Wade was an act of judicial tyranny -- a dishonest interpretation of the Constitution that pretends to recognize a right while in fact stripping us of a far more important right:  the right to make our own laws in our own localities. I seriously believe Roe is the origin of the deep political divisions that currently bedevil us. Take away our right to debate and decide and we are left with no emotional recourse but hatred for the opposition.

For all that, I was for many years in sympathy with Roe’s argument: people have a right to privacy and abortion is a private decision. I now find it impossible to continue in that belief. This is painful for me not only because it seems to violate my natural libertarianism but also because a lot of the women I know and love have had abortions and it simply isn’t in my heart to condemn them -- or indeed anyone -- for what I know was a painful, sometimes devastating, decision.