Politics & Policy

Gary Johnson Is Not the Answer for Pro-Life Voters

(Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
The Libertarian presidential nominee would hurt the cause of those hoping to end abortion.

Conservatives giving the Libertarian ticket of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld a second look should focus upon their actual position on abortion, rather than on far reaching speculations about their alignment with the pro-life position. The assertion by some — most notably Andrea Ruth, writing here last week — that Gary Johnson is the best candidate for the pro-life movement is absurd.

Ruth cites the libertarian focus on smaller government and reduced spending as reasons why a Johnson administration would, in theory, defund abortion businesses such as Planned Parenthood and leave state pro-life laws alone. 

Yet Gary Johnson does not even purport to agree with the pro-life position. He supports abortion up until viability, and opposes national-level pro-life legislation. His statements, promises, and decisions throughout the campaign, including his choice of Weld as a running mate, have been decidedly pro-choice. Weld supports unlimited abortion on-demand up until the moment of birth, and has bragged that Johnson would nominate Supreme Court justices in the mold of Stephen Breyer or Merrick Garland. Does anyone really believe a high court populated by such men would not interfere with states’ efforts to place limits on abortion?

Quite the contrary: At a Libertarian town hall event hosted in June by CNN, Weld referred to the recent Supreme Court decision striking down health and safety standards for abortion facilities as “good government.”

Weld and Johnson stand inert on the wrong side of history when it comes to issues of life. They seem to have no problem with the fact that the United States is currently one of only seven nations to allow abortion on-demand after five months — more than halfway through pregnancy and a point at which research shows the unborn child feels pain. Seventeen states have passed legislation to prohibit this horror within their borders, but only federal legislation will get America off the list of seven countries that allow it, which includes China and North Korea.

A majority of the U.S. House and Senate have already voted in support of this compassionate, popular legislation, but we are going to need to protect our pro-life majority in the Senate and elect a pro-life president in order to move the ball down the court. There is no evidence the Libertarian ticket will do anything for pro-life voters hoping to advance this legislation.

There is similarly no evidence that a President Johnson would sign any legislation like the reconciliation bill passed last year which included a provision defunding Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion business.

There is a pro-life libertarian viewpoint. As Ron Paul says, “If you’re going to protect liberty, you have to protect the life of the unborn just as well.” Neither Johnson nor Weld has embraced this viewpoint. In fact, all claims of their neutrality aside, the evidence suggests they will act against us.

— Marjorie Dannenfelser is the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life organization dedicated to electing leaders and advancing legislation to reduce and ultimately end abortion.


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