Running for office allows one to get their ideas out there for people to be exposed to. From time to time something occurs that makes it so worth the effort. Below is a delightful email I received from someone considering voting for me who caught me in a hypocrisy, followed by my reply to them.
Good Afternoon Mr. Gammill,
I am a voter in district 2 and I am considering voting for you this election. While I do not consider myself a libertarian, I find that my views on some issues (such as war and the drug war) more closely overlap with your views than with the dominant parties. I am writing because I have a question regarding an opinion you expressed on your website regarding abortion for girls under the age of 18.
I read your website's page on the topic of abortion and agree with your conclusion that "government has no business in abortion" and "All abortion should be legal." However, I became confused when I read your "One special note" paragraphs at the end, which appear to be a contradiction. You state that a parent taking care of a child who is not emancipated has the right to "be involved with the girl's decision." I am wondering if you believe it is the government's role to enforce this opinion. Is it the government's business to write laws stating that women under 18, or a woman who is financially dependent on her parents, cannot obtain a legal abortion without "involving" her parents? What constitutes "involvement?" Should parents have the government's support in forcing their daughter to remain pregnant against her will? Should a parent be able to force their daughter to abort her fetus?
If so, at what point does a human gain self-ownership? If a woman can arrange transportation to an abortion clinic and find a way to pay for the procedure should the government intervene and stop her from participating in this business transaction because her parents don't know? You stated, "Government seems to think that when it comes to under aged girls choosing abortion, that they have some power to facilitate the abortion and keep the facts that a girl is choosing to get an abortion, or has had an abortion, from the girl's parents or guardians." I truly have no idea what you are referring to. Perhaps you could give a real-life example of this happening.
The exact opposite seems true in that you are suggesting the government has some power to force a person to tell their parents intimate information they may not want to reveal. When there are laws requiring parental consent, a woman under the age of 18 would need to arrange time in front of a judge to argue her case as to why she feels this choice about her body should not be made by her parents or with her parent's knowledge. A woman who can jump through such legal hoops seems capable of making decisions about her own body despite her age or living arrangement. By allowing her to proceed with the procedure without calling her guardians it does not seem like the government is "intervening" or "facilitating" but rather repealing their original intervention of requiring parental consent in the first place.
I feel that it is worth your time to re-address this topic because it leads to other important questions. If a woman is financially or physically dependent on someone other than her parents (a husband, a friend, an employer, government welfare, the criminal justice system) does that woman need their permission to have an abortion? Also does a parent have deciding power over a child's body when it comes to such things as abuse or genital mutilation? If a pregnancy is caused by sexual abuse by a parent or guardian should the government still enforce that the abusive parent be involved in the decision to terminate that pregnancy? What if the woman does not want to face her abuser or press charges against her dad, should the government force her to involve him or can she be free to make the decision about abortion on her own with the help of her doctor?
Speaking on a broad level, beyond the issue of abortion, obviously children of a young age do not have the ability to take complete ownership of their bodies or control of their lives which makes children vulnerable of becoming victims of abuse, often with parents as the abusers. Children do not have the privilege of voting. I believe that one of the few roles the government should have is protecting the rights of the powerless people of our society even if that means interfering in family business and interacting with a child behind the back of their parent/abuser. The government is made up of fallible human beings, which is why you and I oppose it having too much power. Parents too are fallible human beings.
I appreciate you reading my letter and hope you might be able to address my concerns regarding this contradiction.
Emily [Last name removed because I don't have permission to use it.]
You shame me. I consider myself as living by the libertarian principle, and you point out a glaring hypocrisy in my thinking. But being an old man I will take a moment to digress before answering your questions.
Unlike all the others, the Libertarian party is not about getting candidates elected. It is about being a candidate and using the election tools of the state to oppose the cult of the omnipotent state and in promoting libertarianism.
Unfortunately there are plenty of people in the Libertarian Party who act like every other campaign fund raiser, manager or candidate. As if our candidates could actually win. Or in winning "our" candidates would not turn out to be as traitorous as the Democrat and Republican candidates who seem to be able to vote in lockstep when needed. I am thoroughly convinced that it is illogical to believe one can ever vote one's way to freedom. To paraphrase Daniel Webster, 'They may promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters. They may promise to be good rulers, but they mean to be rulers.' And 250 years later the "representatives" you are allowed to vote for seem unchanged.
But you come along and slap me with my own words. How delightfully impolite. Thank you. You are quite correct of course, my parental exception violates the central tenet of libertarianism (the only tenet actually): That it is wrong to initiate force or fraud upon another.
Western civilization for millennia have recognized adulthood as reached when a girl turned 12 and a boy turned 13 as still reflected in the bat mitzvah and bar mitzvah ceremonies, respectively. The U.S. government changed that to 18 years of age during the Great Depression to deny (nonvoting) teenagers competition in an economy already lacking employment. Instead teens were compelled into tax funded, job creating holding pens called government high schools. While those earlier societies did not expect pre-teens to not make mistakes while maturing into the role of adults in this nation you are denied all adult rights and privileges until the magic 18th birthday. After that you are extremely penalized for breaking a rule from that point after. And of course should the government desire after you turn 18 you can be denied your adult rights on certain things even then. While under 18, if the government chooses you can be held responsible for your actions in a secret 'denied a jury trial' in front of a special judge and caged until you reach 21.
I think it a good idea for a child to consult the wisdom of her parents with regard to an abortion, or at least alert them that the procedure is or has been performed less they find her slumped over from blood loss or infection later having no clue to the cause. But you are so correct. I would oppose the government being involved in ANY aspect of this decision or the decision of abortion. Or to even conceive government has the power, authority or even "right" to interfere, monitor, participate in or regulate that girl's decisions.
What wonderful issues you raise. Even discounting the government, should a parent have the right or power to either compel their daughter to give birth to the child, or abort the fetus? "At what point does a human gain self ownership?" Are you sure you are not a libertarian? You see why I am ashamed to have not thought this through? You are absolutely correct. While the child does have dependence on their parent it is an artificial dependence created by government prohibiting a teen becoming an adult, and insisting a teen remain dependent and holding parents responsible for their children until they turn 18.
As for voting, did Albert Einstein not indicate that doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result was irrational? Yet, there is a huge push to vote in the schools (where often the students are not allowed to vote), the media and the mail. If the candidates and issues you are allowed to vote for or against really matter not as to the eventual outcome. If the manner in which you continue to be swindled and enslaved continues election after election. Then why voluntarily participate in a process that has been rigged to continue the status quo? Is it there to make you complicit, or to give you the illusion of having a choice?
I stopped voting before the 2000 election and have not been to a General election since. Nor will I ever again. It is one of the few peaceful means left to me of protesting the facade of "liberty" we live under where I am not yet threatened or robbed. Even my non-participation is up for vote by my "representatives." Politicians even protest that, "If you don't vote, you have no right to complain!" But it is the opposite. If you vote and then complain at the outcome you are a sore loser. If you refuse to participate in a foregone process that clearly, and over and over again demonstrably leads to loss of liberty and peace and happiness then not participating seems like a sane decision to me. And preserves my right to complain about the kleptocrats in power over me.
Thank you for pointing out the error (hypocrisy) of my thinking on the abortion issue. It was such a correct thing to do and forced me to alter my position.