How to Define 'Pro-Choice'?

Column by Douglas Young.

Exclusive to STR

The defining feature of a free society is every individual enjoying the freedom to make choices, good and bad, within the law. Enjoying the liberty to make your own choices is highly valued. So political groups market themselves as supporting Americans’ autonomy of choice.

Yet it is ironic that most leftists proudly proclaim themselves "pro-choice” when so many appear to be only "pro-choice" about "terminating" an unwanted pregnancy.

For example, many leftist "pro-choice"-ers oppose Americans having the right to choose to exercise their First Amendment free speech rights. This is evidenced by the proliferation of restrictive “hate speech” codes on so many state college, university, and now even K-12 campuses. There are almost daily news articles about children being suspended from public schools for merely drawing a soldier, playing with a toy gun, or throwing a fake “grenade.”

"Pro-choice" leftists are generally opposed to Americans exercising their Second Amendment right to choose what kind of gun they may think they need for protection. So many “pro-choice” leftists are now against their fellow citizens having the right to choose how much ammunition they believe they need. In fact, many oppose anyone having the right to choose to own any gun.

Perhaps because they generally do not like the 10th Amendment’s guarantee of states’ rights, most leftist "pro-choice"-ers oppose voters retaining the right to choose whether or not they want to allow same-sex marriage in their state. Instead, such "pro-choice" leftists want the unelected U.S. Supreme Court to impose same-sex marriage rights on all 50 states.

"Pro-choice" leftists usually oppose parental-choice vouchers empowering poor, disproportionally minority parents to choose their children’s school. Such choice vouchers offer so many impoverished inner-city children the only realistic hope of escape from too-often failing public schools where they have been assigned by the government. Yet leftists can generally be counted on to work against the poor enjoying the same financial freedom to choose where to send their children to school as enjoyed by the upper-middle and upper classes. This is all the more sad considering how studies show poor children do much better in voucher schools.

"Pro-choice" leftists tend to oppose employers having the choice to hire whoever they think is best qualified to be an employee. Instead, they want government to impose "affirmative action" plans on employers mandating that race and sex be significant factors in hiring and promotions.

Since most “pro-choice” leftists back “closed shop” laws making all factory workers join a union, they oppose workers getting to choose whether they really want to be a union member.

Is there a “pro-choice” leftist disturbed that unionized workers generally cannot choose which political candidates and causes get their union dues that are automatically deducted from their wages? Usually only the (liberal Democratic) union bosses get that choice.

"Pro-choice" leftists tend to oppose Americans retaining the right to choose to not buy health insurance and avoid being fined for making such a choice. Hello, Obamacare.

Leftists lobbied for Obamacare to deny private employers a choice about insurance coverage for their employees’ birth control. Many leftists actually wanted Obamacare to not even permit private employers a choice over whether their insurance would pay for employees’ abortions. Instead, they wanted to force employers to pay for workers’ contraception and abortions.

So many “pro-choice” leftists also want taxpayers to have no choice but to pay for poor women’s abortions. This is an official plank in the 2012 Democratic Party platform.

Most leftists are so uncompromising on abortion that they want federal courts to strip states of the choice to pass reasonable abortion regulations, such as having abortion clinics tell women about alternatives to abortion (like adoption) or the different stages of fetal development. “Pro-choice” leftists also want the feds to deny states the right to choose to have 24-hour wait laws requiring women who check into an abortion clinic to think about their choice at least one more day. Most even oppose states choosing to have a juvenile notify a parent of an abortion.

But the bulk of leftists are reliably and often fanatically “pro-choice” about every woman, including young girls, having the choice to get rid of a pregnancy all nine months, regardless of the circumstances. And this somehow makes them the truly “pro-choice” Americans who are oh so “tolerant” of everyone else.

Thoughtful observers may choose to be skeptical.

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Douglas Young's picture
Columns on STR: 8


Mark Davis's picture

You lost me at "within the law" as a qualifier for freedom of choice in a free society.  Once you accept the dictates of politicians as "the law" to be obeyed, then quibling over the individual laws they dictate is nothing more than an academic exercise in futility.  That's closing the barn door after the horses have run out.

Samarami's picture

Astute of you to point that out, Mark. But as a retired educator, I can tell you that if you are going to teach "political science and history" under the auspices of Georgia Board of Regents you are not going to even save a niche in a corner of your brain for the possibility of anarchy. It ain't in the cards, even though anarchy is all about us.

Larken Rose says it far more eloquently than I: few can even imagine not falling to some degree under the "authority" of a ruling class. Yet there can be no legitimate ruling class. Douglas does a good job lambasting the "lefties", stays relatively clear of denigrating the "righties", but never addresses the choice or the ramifications of 100% self ownership -- anarchy.

I'm pro-life. I'm also pro-choice. The immediate reaction of most to the former self-proclamation is to group me with the "religious right". And to the latter I'll fall under the category of "progressive left" (whatever "progressive" is supposed to mean). I'm neither. I like the way our old and late friend, Harry Browne put it:

    Conservatives vs Liberals

    Conservatives say government cannot end poverty by force, but they believe government can use force and threats of violence to make people moral.

    Liberals say government cannot make people moral, but they believe government can use force and threats of violence to end poverty (redistribute wealth).

    Neither group attempts to explain why government is so clumsy and destructive in one area but a paragon of efficiency and benevolence in the other.

~Harry Browne
Liberty A-Z p 35

I've said forever (almost) that the family is the only legitimate governing unit. All others are coercive interlopers. The human newborn -- unlike newborns in the "animal kingdom", who come into life with a factor we call "instinct" -- comes into life totally helpless, completely under the "jurisdiction" (again, whatever you think "jurisdiction" means) of adult caregivers; ideally a loving and dedicated Mom and Dad. Mom and/or Dad may one day in their dotage come under the "jurisdiction" of the now-grownup kids.

I genuinely salute Douglas Young, however, for writing this nice essay. STR definitely needs more articles that can give rise to comment from all sides of the spectrum. Sam

Samarami's picture

One additional reflection on Douglas Young's essay that I just noticed is in connection with the "quote for the day" on the STR main page:

    "It is strangely absurd to suppose that a million of human beings, collected together, are not under the same moral laws which bind each of them separately." ~ Thomas Jefferson

I've ceased use of the term "moral laws", and generally refer to good or bad choices instead. I don't see myself as having jurisdiction to define "good" or "bad" for you or others, except as it might relate to my being personally aggressed upon. Not that I think it's "moral", or "good" to aggress upon others who are not related in any way to me. On the other hand, as I inferred in my comment above, loving parents will naturally work to instill into the behaviors of their children what we might think of as "morality". For openers, nobody wants a pregnant teenage daughter.

The only thing that differentiated the Jeffersons and Washingtons from the Obamas, Bushes and Clintons was time, modern-day travel, and technology. Jefferson could not have conceived of the NSA, but slavery appeared to serve him well in his time. So Jefferson's utterance appears to those intuitively longing for central political authority (as long as it is tame and non-coercive [ha!]) -- as being wise, contributive to liberty and freedom.

I tend to reflect on that whenever I see "libertarians" quote what appear to be wise and freedom-loving old tyrants.

Because Jefferson's statement amounted to an eery prophesy for all central political authority everywhere at each period of history. Jefferson understood the futility of passing laws and enacting rules to govern bad behaviors (and bad thoughts) of the unnamed and unconscripted pioneers in the unexplored "west". Not a problem for the Obamas of the 21st century.

I could go on, but this makes the point. Sam