Let’s open up a can of worms. Besides the debate over whether or not to support Rand Paul there’s no more contentious issue for libertarians than abortion. Unlike the other two parties where it’s clear that the vast majority is either pro-choice or pro-life libertarians are independent. We don’t prescribe to an overbearing party doctrine that determines our beliefs. It’s part of the reason we’ve left the two parties to begin with. Some of us may have even been pro-choice Republicans or pro-life Democrats which lead to that departure.
The reality is libertarians come to libertarianism from all political philosophies. It’s hard to tell whether there are more former Democrats or former Republicans. The same goes for pro-life and pro-choice libertarians. The numbers are certainly not settled as to whether libertarians are pro-choice or pro-life on the whole.
For proof of that, look at the question we asked of our Facebook fans. Over 300 people commented on a simple status that read: “Informal Poll: Are you a pro-choice or pro-life libertarian?”. Even though it was designed just to be a poll libertarians started arguing about issue almost immediately. Although many of the comments are just that, arguments, we still tried to accurately tally up the numbers.
Unfortunately, the results of the poll have clearly been tampered with thanks to the Facebook pages Catholic Libertarians and Pro-Life Libertarians shamelessly sharing the status. Although they are very small pages with only 4,000 and 2,000 likes, respectively, even a handful of fans were enough to tip the scales. See the embedded posts below for proof of this corrupting influence.
Therefore, the results are even less reliable than they would have been otherwise. The answer as to whether libertarians are pro-choice or pro-life is indeterminable based on this poll thanks to those two unprincipled pages skewing the responses. Even with that obvious interference, however, the results were still relatively close.
123 people commented that they were pro-choice, and 168 people commented that they were pro-life. That breaks down to 42.23% pro-choice, and 57.73% pro-life. If you take away ten or twenty percent of the pro-life comments that demonstrably came from either of the two pro-life pages that shared the status it’s much closer to an even 50/50. Furthermore, many of the pro-life comments added that they still believed in exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the mother.
Complicating the results further were the libertarians that were trying to have it both ways. They’re personally against abortion and believe it’s murder but don’t believe the state has a right to prohibit it. It’s an inconsistent argument because then the state wouldn’t have the right to outlaw murder either.
Some libertarians used a variation of this argument which postulates that because the Federal government doesn’t have the authority to prohibit murder, the states do, therefore abortion law should be determined by the states. Although, this would still mean that some states would have legalized abortion, or in their minds, legalized murder. This attempt at a third way represented a small minority of responses though.
It appears that once again libertarians have proven themselves independent of simple classification. Libertarians are not pro-choice or pro-life as a block. There are pro-choice libertarians and pro-life libertarians and absent that issue they live in peace. That’s probably the way it will always be. Libertarians will most likely remain as divided on abortion as they are on immigration.