A Response To The Pro-Choice Thought Experiment


Joe Kwasniak, October 26, 2017

The official libertarian party platform maintains that the government has no right to make a medical decision on behalf of citizens and their chosen medical professionals. Generally, most libertarians will not argue against this. However the party is largely split between pro-life and pro-choice members.

The pro-choice members believe that life does not begin at conception, and that a pregnant woman’s right to make medical choices about her pregnancy are hers alone. She is the owner of her body and the only one who has any right to make decisions regarding the pregnancy.

The pro-life members believe that all lives (pre or post birth) are guaranteed the rights to life, liberty and property. Murder is illegal and ending the life of an unborn person is morally and legally reprehensible.

Most libertarians can understand the arguments for both sides. Although we arrive at different conclusions, we use reason and evidence as our means.

You may have noticed the thought experiment going around the internet that claims pro-lifers aren’t actually pro-life. The gist of this experiment is this: you are in a fertility clinic when the building catches on fire. You are in a room with a 5 year old child and an incubator that contains 1,000 fertilized embryos. Due to present circumstances you are only able to rescue either the child or the incubator.

The point of this experiment is to show that if someone is truly pro-life they would choose the incubator with 1,000 unborn lives rather than the life of the child. However, this is more a play on our emotions than an argument built on logic.

Below is a similar scenario to demonstrate that choosing to save the child does not mean you don’t care about the unborn lives in the incubator:

A murderer has broken into your family home during Thanksgiving. With a gun pointed at you and your relatives, he separates your mother and father to the other side of the room. He then looks at you and says, “I’m going to shoot one of your parents. You have to decide which one lives. Do you want me to shoot your mother, or your father? If you don’t make a choice I will shoot both of them.” So now you make your decision: are you going to murder your mother or father?

Seems like an unfair question and undeserved guilt huh? You don’t want to kill either of your parents. Yet if you pick one, you’ve murdered the other, right? Wrong. The real question being asked is who do you value more? Still a very difficult moral and emotional question, yet choosing to save one or the other means only that you have saved one of them. No one can put the blame of killing on you. Which is exactly the case with the “pro-choice thought experiment”. This is on the murderer, like the fire is responsible for the situation with the child or embryos.

Don’t be fooled by this one-sided guilt trip of an experiment. Choosing to save the life of a child that has already been born is absolutely not the same as choosing to abort an unborn child. It is logical to value the five year old’s life for many reasons. For instance the child will experience immense pain and suffering in the fire. There is no guarantee that those embryos would survive until birth. Choosing to rescue a child that has made it past birth, instead of 1000 unborn embryos, is in no way morally equivalent to being comfortable with abortion.

This thought experiment was specifically designed to make you feel guilty for not saving the 1,000 embryos- just like the situation described above. Saving one of your parents in a hostage situation is not the same as murdering the other parent. Tell people that you would choose to save the little boy/girl, and explain to them why their little logic trap is not in fact proof that one supports abortion. Maybe even share this article with them.

All issues should be decided based on what allows for the most freedom and justice. As noted above, this is precisely the way libertarians look at abortion, despite the division within our ranks. By examining the validity of this thought experiment, we are able to provide a prime example of how manipulation works, as opposed to sound logic. The intention here was not necessarily to take a side, but to point out that whatever your belief may be, it should be based on reason. As long as we allow ourselves to be emotionally duped, rather than grounded in philosophy, violating our rights is nothing but a matter of time.


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Thinking Beyond Pro-Choice & Pro-Life


Travis Hallman, June 6, 2017

First and foremost, thanks for opening this article. Your engagement proves your willingness to be open to new ideas.

Before diving right into the subject of abortion clinics, I want to preface by saying that these ideas represent my own view, and not necessarily those of every libertarian nor even all members of the Ask A Libertarian team. There are many pro-choice, pro-life, and pro-privatize libertarians running for offices on your voting ballot. However, I identify as the last option because my end goal is to have ZERO demand for abortion clinics. I believe privatizing abortion clinics and empowering moral agents will achieve this goal more effectively than other means. Here’s why:

Libertarian Party Platform,

1.5 Abortion
Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.


To me, one statement stands out among all other statements within that platform: “We believe that government should be kept out of the matter.”

Government should not be allowed to create, fund or even prohibit abortion clinics from operating. Giving them power to prevent abortion clinics from opening because you don’t like them will enable them to use that same power to block your ability to open your business (of any kind) tomorrow, because someone else doesn’t like it. The best way for me to protect MY freedom of choice is to protect YOUR freedom of choice.

QUESTION: Can you think of any examples when government uses one power to restrict another freedom?

In addition to being allowed to operate, abortion services must also stand independent of any government funding or involvement. Realizing government doesn’t (yet) own abortion clinics, offering government funds to them still creates incentives to earn more funds by doing more abortions.  And as long as abortion providers are receiving funding or any other special treatment from the government, it is against their own interests for the government to allow moral agents to easily impact potential clients. By allowing government involvement in this sector, they can now appeal to it to take action in many forms against those moral agents. This may include, but is not limited to, lobbying for laws requiring standards such as licenses for pro-family or anti-abortion groups to open, increasing their taxes, or denying the same bailouts and incentives to those moral or private agencies.

Additionally, the government has to use your tax dollars to pay the employees responsible for counting your money and rationing it to abortion clinics. This is irresponsible spending at best and absolutely evil at worst. Never will 100% of taxpayers be satisfied with how the taxes are being spent (that applies in all aspects for all government run agencies). Allowing abortion clinics to exist solely in the private sector, removing taxes (to remove incentive for crony partnership with politicians), and ending bailouts (to avoid the creation of a monopoly) will allow for each individual to choose a business that 100% satisfies their needs.

“But abortion is murder!”

Then let’s expose abortion clinics to the free market so that demand can dictate the survival of the murder clinic (not the force of the government keeping them open). Then let’s empower churches and other moral agents to empower individuals not to demand the murder clinics. This would, in part, require better sex education and other related services.

I realize there are already many churches and moral agents making strides in sex education. However, establishing complete privatization without licensing, taxation, and bailouts would greater empower these organizations and allow for more of them to open and run effectively.

I’m offering a moral solution instead of using force, coercion, extortion, or incarceration to END ABORTIONS.

QUESTION: Is there another way to stop abortions (without using force, coercion, extortion, or incarceration)?

“[The] Simplest way to stop abortions is to teach our children about celibacy & hold them to it.”
-Joy Waymire (candidate for president in 2016)


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Why I’m a Libertarian

Jennifer Andreas-  Jan 4, 2017

I’m a member of the Libertarian Party. A short articulation of why is “my body, my choice.” One might reasonably assume I’m referring to my right to choose regarding abortion or recreational drug use, and I do support both, but to claim that is the whole story would be a superficial reading of my commitment to liberty. “My body, my choice” as a maxim must extend to the choice to sell one’s own sexual services. Otherwise, it is a shallow refrain with little meaning and less impact.

It is perplexing when pro-choice advocates, with whom I largely agree, have boo to say regarding an individual’s natural right to sell their own body as a commodity. Or, even worse, when they reject that right.

Consider the positon of feminist scholar Andrea Dworkin. Regarding abortion, Dworkin claims the state has a duty to provide the legal option to terminate any pregnancy; she asserts abortion is, in fact, a civil right. This argument turns on two claims, one more controversial than the other.

The first claim is that because terminating a pregnancy is a medical procedure which only women can undergo, denying abortive services violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. The second, more provocative claim, is that the patriarchal culture in which we live and which is supported by the state, conditions toxic gender roles; men are trained and conditioned to be sexually dominant and women, against their own self-interest, to find pleasure in submission. Thus, Dworkin concludes sex is always a coercive act and becoming pregnant can never be interpreted as a free choice. Additionally, the state ought to be considered complicit in every unwanted pregnancy. Drawing again from the 14th amendment and a state’s obligation to promote gender equality, the state must provide legal means by which those pregnancies can be terminated.

Now, one can reasonably reject the premise that all sex is coercive and still recognize the fundamental right of individuals to bodily autonomy. Dworkin rightly points out the state is largely responsible for the systemic oppression and patriarchy in our society. However, when it comes to the question of whether a woman-or any individual-should be free from government reprisal for prostitution, she gives the state a pass.

Even though she argues the state must provide legal means of abortion, she contends prostitution ought to remain illegal and this puzzles me. Dworkin, a powerful communicator and writer of feminist ideas, seems to ignore the danger her theoretical arguments present to real sex workers, most of whom are women. Because the sexual marketplace remains illicit, prostitutes are left without the legal redress of monetary and physical damages incurred in their line of work. Not only are these individuals deprived of legal protections, their workplace itself is made exponentially more dangerous because it exists in the shadows.

Furthermore, those who argue for the continued prohibition of prostitution don’t seem to recognize that individuals with felony records are unlikely to break free from poverty and oppression. Having a felony diminishes the likelihood of obtaining employment and with no other means to support themselves or loved ones, individuals (again, mostly women) return to the sex trade, perpetually trapped.

Liberty is the solution to these problems, not institutionalized paternalism. The Libertarian Party recognizes, as Dworkin did, the state is culpable for perpetuating a cycle of oppression. But, by supporting an individual’s liberty to engage in the sex market with a legal safety net, the Libertarian Party stands taller than those who simply want the freedom to terminate pregnancies or use drugs. The Libertarian Party is working to liberate those women forced into sexual slavery and to encourage voluntary individual entrepreneurship. That’s why I am a Libertarian.

Further reading:

Women Hating by Andrea Dworkin

Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin

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