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Why Rothbardians Should Oppose Roe v. Wade

Like most of us who write for LewRockwell.com, I’m opposed to the Supreme Court’s pro-abortion Roe v.Wade decision. If the leak proves to be accurate and the decision is reversed, I’d be glad. As the great Dr. Ron Paul says, “All who support limited, constitutional government should support overturning Roe. The Constitution does not give any branch of the federal government authority to decide what does, and does not, constitute murder. Therefore, federal courts — including the Supreme Court — have no jurisdiction to decide what the penalty should be for performing an abortion.

Overturning Roe would not create a nationwide abortion ban. Instead, it would return to the individual states responsibility for deciding what, if any, restrictions to place on abortion.

If supporters of abortion ‘followed the science,’ they would have to admit that abortion is the taking of human life. A fetus with a heartbeat is developing, but is also still a human with a right to life.

The Biden Justice Department is supporting efforts to overturn the Texas heartbeat law in federal court. President Biden is also supporting the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of federal funds for abortions. If Biden and Congress are going to use tax dollars to support abortions, then they should allow anti-abortion taxpayers to withhold the percentage of their taxes that would be used to support abortion. The same should go for those with moral objections to America’s militaristic foreign policy that forces US taxpayers to subsidize the killing of innocent men, women, and even children. . . To ensure pro-life Americans are not forced to subsidize abortions — either directly or indirectly, it could be forbidden for organizations that promote or perform abortions to receive any federal funds. Denying federal funds to international organizations that promote or perform abortions might help reduce resentment of the US in other countries.

It is no coincidence that Roe v. Wade came at a time when respect for natural rights of life, liberty, and property was on the decline. Roe contributed to the decline in respect for rights and the rise in public and private immorality. These changes have led to violent crimes, people believing they have a moral claim — that must be enforced by the government — to the property of their neighbors, and acceptance of torture and ‘preemptive’ war. The way to reverse these developments is to restore respect for the inalienable right to life, liberty, and property of all human beings, both born and unborn. The cause of life is inseparable from the cause of liberty.”

Some pro-abortionists, especially so-called “left libertarians,” criticize us in this way. “You claim to be Rothbardians, but Murray Rothbard supported abortion. You are going against Rothbard!” As usual, these phonies have it all wrong. Murray supported reversal of Roe v. Wade. As you would expect, he gives a brilliant argument for reversal.

Rothbard says something few other people would think of. Even if you are “pro-choice,” you should still favor overturning Roe v. Wade. “But even apart from the funding issue, there are other arguments for a rapprochement with pro-lifers. There is a prudential consideration: a ban on something as murder is not going to be enforceable if only a minority considers it as murder. A national prohibition is simply not going to work, in addition to being politically impossible to get through in the first place. Pro-choice paleo-libertarians can tell the pro-lifers: ‘Look, a national prohibition is hopeless. Stop trying to pass a human life amendment to the Constitution. Instead, for this and many other reasons, we should radically decentralize political and judicial decisions in this country; we must end the despotism of the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary, and return political decisions to state and local levels.’ Pro-choice paleos should therefore hope that Roe v. Wade is someday overthrown, and abortion questions go back to the state and local levels—the more decentralized the better. Let Oklahoma and Missouri restrict or outlaw abortions, while California and New York retain abortion rights. Hopefully, some day we will have localities within each state making such decisions. Conflict will then be largely defused. Those who want to have, or to practice, abortions can move or travel to California (or Marin County) or New York (or the West Side of Manhattan.)” https://www.rothbard.it/articles/religious-right.pdf

Many “pro-choice” people oppose reversal because if abortion is left to the state or local community to regulate, then a poor woman who lives in an area where abortion isn’t allowed would have to travel to another area. She might not have the funds to do so, For that reason, they say, leaving abortion up for popular decision is an undue “hardship” on her. Rothbard skewers this so-called “argument:” “The standard rebuttal of the pro-abortionists that ‘poor women’ who haven’t got the money to travel would be deprived of abortions of course reverts back to a general egalitarian redistributionist argument. Aren’t the poor ‘deprived’ of vacation travel now? Again, it demonstrates the hidden agenda of the proabortionists in favor of socialized medicine and collectivism generally”

Murray also opposes forcing taxpayers to subsidize pro-abortionist physicians and counselors. “An unfortunate act of President-elect Clinton was to reverse the Bush policy of not funding physicians who counsel abortions. Leftists cleverly distorted this action as an ‘invasion of the free speech of physicians.’ But no ‘freedom of speech’ was involved. People should be free to speak, but this does not mean they must be shielded from the consequences of such speech. No person, and hence no physician, has a ‘right’ to receive taxpayer funding. Everyone may have the right to say whatever they like, but not the right to say whatever they like and still be funded by the taxpayers. And just as taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortions, neither should they be forced to fund people who counsel abortions.”

As always with Murray, he sees things in their broader context. It isn’t enough to reverse Roe v. Wade, Our target should be the whole system of federal judicial tyranny. “A commitment to radical decentralization means that pro-choicers should give up the Freedom of Choice Act, which would impose abortion rights by the federal government upon the entire country. It means that libertarians should cease putting all their judicial eggs in the basket of hoping to get good guys, like Richard Epstein or Alex Kozinski, on the Supreme Court. Far more important is getting rid of federal judicial tyranny altogether, and to decentralize our polity radically—to return to the forgotten Tenth Amendment.”

The so-called “left libertarians” don’t like Murray’s answer. They aren’t Rothbardians in any sense. We are the true Rothbardians, and we agree with Murray on this vital issue.