I attended several of the annual conventions of the Libertarian Party of New York, back when I was engaged with the party. I can’t remember at which of them, but at one I heard a presentation by an upstate activist, Andrew Melechinsky. “Andy Mel,” as we called him, told some riveting stories about his days “in the trenches.” While I enjoyed his whole program, I was particularly struck by one very brief statement he made – about abortion.
“I’m a libertarian,” he said, “because it’s pro-life. Your life, my life, everybody’s life.” He didn’t over-press the matter; he just let the statement carry its own weight – which was considerable. It certainly hit home with me.
I glanced around the room. Dozens of frowns and surly expressions were visible. Apparently not everyone in the crowd was as positively impressed by Andy Mel’s pronouncement as was I.
A few of them have had abortions, or fathered kids that were aborted, I thought. I have no way to know whether that was so, but the atmosphere in the room did nothing to gainsay the conjecture. For my part, I left the gathering rather more thoughtful than I’d been previously.
I once supported the “woman’s right to choose” on a legalistic basis. The Navy has a doctrine that struck me as relevant. If one vessel completely encloses another, the smaller vessel is deemed legally part of the larger one. The analogy to pregnancy seemed irrefutable. Inasmuch as militant pro-choice feminism was in the ascendant in those years, I gave the matter no deeper thought.
But I was a libertarian, at least in domestic matters. I still am. And libertarianism is pro-life. Inherently and absolutely.
Not long after that, I started to read widely on philosophical subjects, especially the metaphysics of identity. There’s an essay in the Baseline collection, “The Good Ship NEWF,” that’s from that time. It presents an old conundrum about identity. If you haven’t read it, please do. It’s directly relevant to the subject of human identity…and to the subject of abortion.
If you are a libertarian, you are pro-life. Moreover, you know, in your heart of hearts, that an abortion terminates a human life. Perhaps you can’t see it happen. Perhaps there’s no blood to wash off the floor. But the essence of the thing is indisputable, for the embryo or fetus that was, had no untoward event intervened, would have become a human baby. The continuity between that baby’s two states testifies unimpeachably that who he was before his emergence, he is in the world outside his mother’s womb.
To any Gentle Readers who support “a woman’s right to choose:” Give it some thought. And choose life, always, whether for yourself or for others.