So You’re ‘Pro-Choice,’ eh?

Being “pro-choice” is seen by many as being an open minded and progressive stance, and is one of the most popular single-issue voting topics in the country. It is a common sight on college campuses to see individuals flaunting a dozen pieces of “pro-choice” flair on their backpack or bumper. But often this label is proudly worn by someone who interprets it in the narrowest way possible, refusing to apply the same basic dignity of choice to any individual outside the abortion clinic.

Let’s have a little thought experiment on what it really means to be “pro-choice”:

Would most self-described pro-choicers support abolishing the compulsory school system? Buy drugs not approved by the FDA? Would they support allowing individuals to choose to take jobs below the minimum wage? 

Doesn’t seem too likely. And yet this is one of the premiere talking points that American progressives love to hold over their opposition: they are the party of social freedom and choice. This right to choose, they often claim, arises from the concept of self-ownership — that a woman must be able to do as she pleases with her body — a vital pillar of liberty that must be protected at all costs.

But just how consistent are “pro-choicers” in fighting for this sacred principle of self-ownership? I don’t see them lobbying for<--break-> the right of private business owners to choose who they serve. I don’t see them campaigning for the right to choose to put whatever you want in your body — ranging from raw milk to heroin. And, of course, you can’t choose to peacefully opt out of the political system itself. Ironically, this radical but logically legitimate extension of choice would certainly be met with scoffs by most “pro-choicers.”

Even though Planned Parenthood dropped the label last year, the fact that many progressives still proudly masquerade under the “pro-choice” label is a reflection of the political process itself. Political figures love to remind us that this “choice” is the greatest triumph of democracy — the right of each and every person (over 18 and non-felon) to have an equal vote in choosing their leaders. Many regard this right to vote as one of our most sacred rights. But if this qualifies as choice, then next time you’re hungry, first try taking a poll of 300 million Americans to mandate whether you have to eat at Pizza Hut or Domino’s. And if you so happen to not like cheese pizza, then tough luck. Maybe in another eight years you can throw on a couple pepperonis.

Not only does this process naturally cater to the lowest common denominator of political appeal, but it completely stifles any sort of meaningful individual choice. And this is the system that supposedly represents the pinnacle of human freedom.

However, there is still a resilient beacon of freedom shining through the stifling smog of the state. Although the government may stifle any sort of meaningful choice, the market allows choice to flourish on an individual level. This means that you can choose to go to a healthy vegan restaurant for dinner, eat a mock-sandwich at Subway, or simply to fast for the night. Not only do you have the choice of what you want, but you can choose to not support certain establishments at all. This allows consumers to have ultimate control over everything that exists in the marketplace. It is no coincidence that it is so much easier to return something to Wal-Mart than to get your license renewed at the DMV. And, unlike the state, men with guns will not break down your door if you abstain from doing business with them.

You don’t need to look further than gay marriage as an example. If the state had not long ago hijacked the religious contract of marriage, it would be incredibly easy to find someone to conduct a gay marriage virtually anywhere. The market quickly adapts to niche markets without any bureaucracy or voting referendums. But when the state forces itself into anything, you can be sure that vital choices will be smothered.

Real choice implies that a decision is voluntarily made on an individual level. Like everything that becomes politicized, the canard of the “pro-choice” label is almost always a cherry-picked bastardization of the truth. Next time you see someone who calls themselves “pro-choice,” remember that forcing your choice on others is not choice at all.

Content published on the Young Americans for Liberty blog is only representative of the opinions and research of the individual authors. It does not necessarily reflect the views, goals, or membership of YAL.

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