During the euro election campaign, as a candidate I have received over 400 identical emails asking whether I would support EU spending or other influences to persuade either EU member states or other countries to legalise abortion. I sent out a response saying that as a libertarian I am pro-choice but that does not mean I would support any EU spending or policies to interfere with the internal democracies of such countries.
Interestingly I did not receive any emails on any other subject. Perhaps others realised that at number seven on the London list there was no hope of me becoming an MEP! However I did get around a dozen responses to mine which to my surprise represented a wide range of views, and certainly not all of them based on religious beliefs. One of the latest read as follows:
Thanks for your response which I appreciate. Whilst I suspect you have thought this through, your response seems to indicate you think pro-choice is the only position consistent with libertarianism? I would also consider myself such, but think the exact opposite. If you do have the time, I would be interested to know why you think this.
so I thought I would share my response to him with you which was as follows:
Thanks so much for your reply. I have received over 400 identical emails on this, but it is only when someone replies to one of my admittedly identical responses that it comes alive and we can have an interesting discussion.
The first point I would make, as I am sure you will have realised but just to be sure, pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion. Abortion must be a horrible experience for any woman and I would not wish it on anyone. I have been told that some children survive abortion with horrible consequences, that the foetus can experience pain at earlier than 24 weeks, and that many women, especially children, are hounded into a decision without the benefit of full and independent advice, though whether these things happen at professional clinics was not made clear. Clearly the law needs to be tightened up if they do, but that is surely more easily done if abortion is legal.
No, my first question is to ask if there is any over-riding national interest in establishing uniformity across the land. I do not see one, and therefore believe a free society should allow the matter to be left to individual discretion either way. After all, the individual facing such a decision can have a far better understanding of the circumstances and consequences involved than a general and remote law can possibly do. What do you say to the woman who is both well informed and clear that she does want an abortion? Why should others have any right to impose views on her she does not share if they are not themselves involved?
Which brings us to religion. Many of my correspondents have had strong religious views which I fully respect but do not share. That of course puts me at a disadvantage, but I do still want to address the question of rights of the unborn child. It seems clear to me that rights are a man-made legal construct, determined for all of us by Parliament, and therefore cannot pre-exist. Of course we can choose the give the foetus rights, but that is a decision for the majority who then face a question of priorities over maintaining a free society. I would ask how far back do you go? What about the unfertilized egg? It all gets very subjective and impractical. I am therefore happy to stick to the current practical and , I think, reasonably balanced arrangements. Ultimately it is a matter for a free vote in Parliament.
With best wishes,