At this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), I was invited to participate on a panel called "The Future of the Movement: Winning with Generation X/Y." I had a lot of ideas to discuss, including utilizing new messages to reach this new pro-life generation, recruiting more candidates with a willingness to stand up for what they believe in, developing new technology, and improving grassroots organizing, to name a few.
But, instead of focusing on the panel's extremely important topic, the moderator, Students for Liberty Co-Founder Alexander McCobin, decided to use his time to advance his libertarian ideal of legalizing gay marriage. He was especially inflammatory when he kept comparing traditional marriage supporters to segregationists. At one point, frustrated that we weren't talking about the real issues, I blurted out, "Is this the gay marriage panel?" I felt, as did much of the audience judging by their applause of my interruption, that McCobin was abusing his position as moderator to steer the conversation in only one direction.
CPAC has some serious explaining to do to its sponsors, the organizations that paid thousands to participate, for asking McCobin to moderate this panel. He has a history of being a pro-gay marriage, throw-conservatives-under-the-bus speaker and even led off his lengthy opening diatribe by announcing that he was not a conservative. This should not have been a surprise – a simple Google search shows that McCobin has publicly advocated against the role social conservatives have played on the right and has even accused those of us with different beliefs to be "intolerant."
Over and over and over again during the panel, McCobin tried to make the point that conservatives must "fall in line" with libertarians and drop social issues because they are losers with generations X and Y. Yes, this generation has some libertarian tendencies, but not on everything, and certainly not on abortion.
In fact, Gallup polls prove that this is the pro-life generation, polling more pro-life than our parents. Modern technology has a lot to do with this fact – we've seen our brothers and sisters in the womb during our moms' ultrasounds, we've Googled "abortion" and seen the ghastly results of the "procedure," and we've seen what abortion has done to our friends and families first-hand.
Abortion is an issue that libertarians seem to differ over, but I would argue that libertarians should be against abortion.
The heart of libertarianism is liberty of the individual, especially an individual's right to not be harmed by the actions of another. One's right to life is central to this-without it, there can be no liberty at all. The fact that the state is actually sanctioning abortion, the destruction of an innocent individual, should make it even more egregious to libertarians.
Human life begins at conception. That is an undeniable scientific fact. But in Roe v. Wade and its companion case Doe v. Bolton, which legalized abortion through all 9 months of pregnancy, the Supreme Court inserted itself as the final arbiter of what human life is and what it isn't. This government intrusion on the laws of nature and inherent inalienable rights is an injustice against the individual – and an injustice against one is an injustice against all.
With legal abortion, the state discriminates against citizens based on a policy that creates two tiers of human beings: a superior class with rights and an inferior class without rights, based upon physical location.
Consider this thought experiment: Say a child was delivered and taken home from the hospital but then developed a rare condition requiring him to be placed back inside his mother for a short time so he could survive life-saving surgery. His mother willingly agrees, eager to save the life of her son. Was the child a citizen for the government to protect while outside of the womb but as soon as he went back into his mother's womb for the surgery was not? Of course not, the government should protect the child's rights the entire time.
Now, you may ask, what about the rights of the mother? In a civil, libertarian-oriented society, all just laws are born out of the intersection of rights. When rights compete, a just law comes down in favor of the party that is the non-aggressor and is the most harmed. For example, I may have the right to punch my fist in the air, but when my knuckles connect with someone else's nose, that right gives way to the rights of the person who has just been assaulted. The law weighs especially heavy in favor of those least able to advocate for themselves.
Abortion pits a mother's rights against the rights of her preborn child. Even if one accepts that a pregnant woman experiences a temporary, partial loss of liberty, abortion permanently and totally deprives the human fetus of his or her right to life and, consequentially, liberty. Because the child stands to be killed by the mother's exercise of her rights, the preborn baby's right to life must trump all others. When the state steps in and favors the aggressor, as was done in Roe, it is a tyrannical injustice.
It's hard to defend life and liberty once you accept that the government is denying it to preborn humans. So, for abortion-supporting libertarians, the question becomes: If you lose the respect for the sovereignty of individuals in the womb, how can you claim to have respect for the sovereignty of those outside of the womb?
These are the types of arguments we can use to "win Generation X/Y," as the CPAC panel was supposed to address, before it was hijacked. Maybe next time CPAC can appoint a moderator who is actually a conservative, so we can have a more productive discussion about the future of our movement, without being told we are bigots who have to abandon our values.
Kristan Hawkins is the President of Students for Life of America, the nation's largest pro-life youth organization with over 700 groups nationwide. She is author of the new book, Courageous: Students Abolishing Abortion in this Lifetime.