The topic of abortion often divides libertarians. Many libertarians believe laws regulating abortion are an act of government overreach that violate libertarian principles. Others, such as Austin Peterson, wear the “pro-life” label with pride.
Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court has many people talking about the future of Roe v. Wade. If Kavanaugh is confirmed to the bench, we could see Roe significantly compromised, or overturned entirely. This possibility has pro-life Republicans jumping for joy, and pro-choice Democrats shouting Armageddon. But what is a libertarian to make of this situation?
I understand that not all libertarians identify as “pro-life.” However, I do think all libertarians should support the repeal of Roe. Here’s why:
Roe has set a rather radical precedent for abortion restrictions. America is on a shortlist of seven countries including China, Vietnam, and North Korea that allow elective abortion after 20 weeks gestation age, which is the point of pain capability for unborn babies. Because of Roe, no state has been able to ban abortion earlier than 20 weeks, as all attempts to do so have been struck down by the courts.
Furthermore, some states have not even been able to ban abortion after the point of pain capability. In 2013, Arizona passed a “pain-capable bill” to ban abortion at exactly 20 weeks, and it was rejected by a federal court. In other words, Arizona tried to pass a common sense abortion reform bill that over 90 percent of Europe has already passed, and they were not allowed to because of the radical judicial precedent established by Roe. In past decades, other countries have changed their abortion laws to account for new scientific information on fetal development, but America has yet to follow suit.
As a pro-lifer, I would argue all abortion violates the non-aggression principle (NAP). However, even if you do not take matters that far, we should all agree that abortion past the point of pain capability clearly violates the NAP. These late term abortion procedures after 20 weeks involve either tearing the baby apart limb by limb or using toxin to send the baby into cardiac arrest.
Overturning Roe would not make abortion illegal entirely, it would just make abortion a states’ rights issue. This would lift the barriers preventing Arizona and other states from banning inhumane late term abortion procedures that clearly violate the NAP. Overturning Roe is not a pro-life move so much as a rational compromise from the radical precedent we currently have. If libertarians want reasonable abortion reform that doesn’t violate the NAP, they should support overturning Roe v. Wade.