Newsflash to liberal writers: Libertarians can be pro-life

Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY

Ben Adler just lost his respect for Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY.

Paul is a Tea Party favorite who wants to drastically reduce the size of the government to only those functions explicitly detailed in the Constitution. Sen. Paul is the son of Rep. Ron Paul and both are known for being libertarians.

Adler noted that Sen. Rand Paul introduced the Life at Conception Act, which would declare that children in the womb would also have rights under the 14th Amendment. Unlike a Constitutional Amendment which requires a 2/3rds vote of both Houses and 3/4ths of states to approve, this bill would only need a majority vote in both Houses plus the President’s signature of course.

Paul also has co-authored a Constitutional Amendment that would eliminate automatic citizenship for anyone born on U.S. soil. (Given our impending demographic downturn, I would not support this legislation now.)

Adler can’t help but be snarky on these two proposals:

“So Paul wants to expand the 14th Amendment to cover the fertilized embryos of American citizens while restricting it to exclude the babies of illegal immigrants. It’s not clear where the fetus in an illegal immigrant’s uterus would fit into this equation.”

Oh, how cute when writers think the wrote a funny.

But the last time I checked, Congress is tasked with determining who is a citizen and how. It’s not up to the states to determine this, right? Whether or not you support birthright citizenship or expanding legal protection to unborn children, both of these are worthy for Congress to consider.

But Adler referred to this as “hypocrisy.”

You see, Adler is getting a different Rand Paul than he was expecting. He thought Paul would focus, like his father, on “small-government conservatism” in the tradition of Barry Goldwater. Goldwater opposed LBJ’s government expansion of Medicare and the War on Poverty. In later years, Goldwater also supported legal abortion.

Adler said:

“While Paul might be expected to take after his father in this regard, the causes he has taken up have been surprising. Whereas Ron Paul has focused his career on fiscal conservatism and foreign-policy isolationism, Paul is promoting socially conservative positions.”

Notice how Adler thinks socially conservative positions are incompatible with an agenda of expanding liberty. And yet Adler would continue to deny expanding the right to life of millions of children in the womb.

There’s nothing wrong with liberals saying “I wish all Republicans were like ____.” After all, I recently wrote how I wished that all liberal Catholics were less like Ted Kennedy and more like Sargent Shriver (who was pro-life).

But it is worth noting that any time a liberal complains about conservatives and wishes that they were different, it is almost always about abortion. Despite repeated calls for increased taxation and government expansion into every industry imaginable, liberals like to fashion themselves as advocates of personal liberty.

That’s why liberals “respect” libertarians, who are often much stronger free-market advocates than standard Republicans, but who also (unfortunately) believe that pornography and marijuana should be legal.

To Adler, it is a contradiction for a libertarian like Rand Paul to be pro-life. It is sadly true that most libertarians believe that unborn children don’t deserve to be protected from the violence of abortion. Indeed, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who plans on running for the GOP nomination in 2012, is a pro-choice libertarian.

But both Rand Paul and his father Ron Paul are pro-life libertarians. Both are doctors, too. In fact, Ron Paul is an obstetrician who has delivered thousands of babies. Both of these legislators believe that all persons have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Sorry to break your heart, Mr. Adler.

UPDATE: Catholic blogger Lisa Graas suggests that Sen. Rand Paul’s introduction of this bill is just cover and that he is not truly pro-life. We’ll be watching his votes, that’s for sure. Nonetheless, the point still holds: You can be a libertarian and pro-life.



  • John

    Certainly libertarians can be pro-life. In fact, they SHOULD be pro-life, since the right to property can only be guaranteed if your right to exist is the foundation. If your very existence cannot be protected, why should you expect your property to be protected? It doesn’t make much sense to say “Hey, you have the right to your speech, but you don’t have the right to your life”. Right to life is the first right.

  • Joe Jones

    I hope that, when I die, the Lord will consider me a faithful Catholic who worked hard his life to end legalized abortion in this country. And I support the efforts of Legislatures to extend protection to the unborn.

    But any congressional legislation that tries to change the plain language of the 14th Amendment to cover the unborn is a waste of time. As luminary Robert Bork wrote in the first edition of the Ave Marie Law Review, the 14th Amendment, by its terms, only applies to persons born in the United States. And a hallmark of an originalist interpretation of the Constitution is that no branch of Government, either Congress, or the Judiciary, or the Executive, can change the constitution without an amendment.

    Pray to end abortion.

    • jose

      there’s more than one way to prevent abortion, one is to support Obamacare so the ladies could afford decent healthcare cheap, the other is to allow contraceptives . but the main thing is to educate in early school days to make the right choice on having sex and the last thing would be to neuter the males like we do to control animal overpopulation. it takes 2 to produce a equal punishment if any should also go equally to the sex partners.. remember no american can impose his /her religious beliefs on any american…that’s the constitution ..even non catholics have a voice and the majority rules in this democracy..

      • tz1

        Obamacare just throws people in jail if they don’t give money to the big insurance companies. I’ve noted that for emergencies, or chronic conditions, there is no “free market” – you don’t call different ERs for competitive bids, nor do you decide if you really need dialysis this week.

        Contraceptives are objectively evil from a rational point of view and nearly all have serious side-effects. If we are going to ban other drugs (or don’t I have a right to my body) contraceptives can be among them. Even now we are slowly banning smoking. You cannot assert federal authority only half way. If they can regulate anything similar they can regulate this.

        I now wonder why we ever gave women the right to vote. Either they are incapable of knowing where babies come from, or they are incapable of acting using their reason even if they have such knowledge and in either case can’t even prevent themselves from getting pregnant no more than any animal in heat. Unless you are saying they should take responsibility BECAUSE they have both the intellect and free will and when it occurs it is an exceptional failure (I would note we are all fallen so fail at times). If abortion is illegal and women are fully human, they ought to be able to act according to that dignity.

        It is not imposing a “religious belief” any more than “thou shall not kill”, “thou shall not steal”, and “though shall not bear false witness”. I can’t plead religious freedom to kill, steal, and perjure.

        Even worse is the utter stupidity of “the majority rules in this democracy”. 1. we are a republic (less and less limited). 2. If 90% of a locality are racist bigot, do they – as the majority – get their way?

        The place to start is “the rule of law”. That is the first non-negotiable and is above all others. That is dissolving away when the president can torture, imprison without judicial review, and even assassinate. If Bush had those powers, why didn’t he use them to save Terri Schiavo? Why isn’t Tiller’s assassin a hero since – to paraphrase Cheney “We had to violate to law to save innocent lives”?

        To be a mercenary or someone who is just bent on revenge or some similar evil motive is a reason to reject someone even if he will abuse his power in a pro-life cause. What is missed is such a person can turn on you “with all the laws being down” to quote “A man for all seasons”.



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