The Radical Center
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The Radical Center

Speaking Freely #29: Quotes for Today

Our Speaking Freely series contains quotes from prominent individuals of the past and present which speak to issues and promote equality of rights before the law. Each quote is part of mosaic which, when seen as a whole, presents the humane values of classical liberalism: individualism, depoliticized markets, equality of rights, rule of law and government whose prime function is the protection of rights, not their destruction.

We do not pretend that each person quoted agrees with all those principles. Nor do we necessarily say they identified with classical liberalism itself. Nor do we contend they may have done or said things quite contrary to the quote we use. All we contend is the quote we use presents one tile of the mosaic of which I spoke.

A woman has a right to an abortion. That’s a decision that’s up to the pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders or the Religious Right.
Barry Goldwater • 1909–1998

The law against abortion should be repealed, first, because it is a vicious, injurious law; and, second, because it is a futile, unworkable law. It has a good deal in common with our prohibition law. Prohibition has not stopped drinking, but it has increased the price of alcoholic beverages, vitiated their quality and put the trade into the hands of degenerates, grafters, racketeers and criminals. And so the law against abortion has not done away with abortions. … about two million of them are performed in the United States annually — but it has driven them into dark places, it has placed them largely in the hands of either professional abortionists or incompetent midwives, it has made them expensive, often beyond the means of those who need them most; and as many of the victims of undesired pregnancies can find nobody to help them out, it has been responsible for an incalculable amount of suffering and anguish, of infection and invalidism, of deaths and suicides.
William J. Robinson • 1867–1936

One method of destroying a concept is by diluting its meaning. Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e. the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living.
Ayn Rand • 1905–1982

If the right to privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwanted government intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision to bear or beget a child.
Justice William Brennan • 1906–1997

I have met thousands and thousands of pro-choice men and women. I have never met anyone who is pro-abortion. Being pro-choice is not being pro-abortion. Being pro-choice is trusting the individual to make the right decision for herself and her family, and not entrusting that decision to anyone wearing the authority of government in any regard.
Hillary Clinton • 1947–

The emphasis must be not on the right to abortion but on the right to privacy and reproductive control.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg • 1933–2020

I think it’s important that (Roe v. Wade) remain legal for medical reasons and other reasons.
Laura Bush • 1946–

Abolition of a woman’s right to abortion, when and if she wants it, amounts to compulsory maternity: a form of rape by the State.
Edward Abbey • 1927–1989

The decision to have an abortion is a deeply personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, her God; not her government, and not the public at large.
Margaret Hoover • 1977–

I’m against abortion. On the other hand, I believe in a woman’s choice.
Nancy Reagan • 1921–2016

It is unthinkable to allow complete strangers, whether individually or collectively as state legislators or others in government, to make such personal decisions for someone else.
Sarah Weddington • 1945–2020

The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor • 1930–2020

Each man has a property in his own person. This nobody has any right to but himself. The labor of his body and the work of his are properly his.
John Locke • 1632–1704

From a political point of view, there is but one principle, the sovereignty of man over himself. This sovereignty of myself over myself is called Liberty
Victor Hugo • 1802–1885

We are willing enough to praise freedom when it is safely tucked away in the past and cannot be a nuisance. In the present, amidst dangers whose outcome we cannot foresee, we get nervous about her, and admit censorship.
E.M. Forster • 1879–1970

We observe that nothing creates fascists like the threat of freedom.
Roger Ebert • 1942—2013

If individual liberty goes, then surely all is lost, for, if the individual ceases to count, what is left of society? Individual freedom alone can make a man voluntarily surrender himself completely to the service of society. If it is wrested from him, he becomes automaton and society is ruined. No society can possibly be built on a denial of individual freedom. It is contrary to the very nature of man.
Mahatma Gandhi • 1862–1948

In primitive society the group so dominates the individual that in almost every phase of life he is hedged about with restrictions and taboos which leave little room for the play of personality and the pursuit of individual desires. All social advancement has been in the direction of the individual’s escape from this group-tyranny.
Suzanne LaFollette • 1893–1983

Taste cannot be controlled by law. We must resist at all costs any attempt to regulate our individual freedoms and to legislate our personal moralities.
Thomas Jefferson • 1743–1826

Religious prophets and ethical philosophers have of course at all times been mostly reactionaries, defending the old against the new principles. Indeed, in most parts of the world the development of an open market economy has long been prevented by those very morals preached by prophets and philosophers, even before government measures did the same. We must admit that modern civilization has become largely possible by the disregard of the injunctions of those indignant moralists.
F.A. Hayek • 1889–1992

The really valuable thing in the pageant of human life seems to me not the political state, but the creative, sentient individual, the personality; it alone creates the noble and the sublime, while the herd as such remains dull in thought and dull in feeling.
Albert Einstein • 1879–1955

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James Peron

James Peron

James Peron is the president of the Moorfield Storey Institute, was the founding editor of Esteem a LGBT publication in South Africa under apartheid.