A. Barton Hinkle on Anti-Choice Liberals


Credit: Elvert Barnes / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

The United States has just endured an angry debate over whether wedding photographers and similar businesses whose owners object to gay marriages on religious grounds should be forced to assist them anyway. Generally speaking, liberals said: Yes, because the principle of equal treatment trumps freedom of conscience. Generally speaking, conservatives and libertarians said the opposite.

But as A. Barton Hinkle explains, gay marriage is not the only area of the law where compelled behavior is currently being debated. In December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit struck down a North Carolina informed-consent law requiring doctors who perform abortions to display a sonogram of the fetus to the mother, describe it to her, and offer to let her hear the heartbeat. As Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson wrote for the court, "The requirement is quintessential compelled speech." Yet in that case, Hinkle notes, many of the same liberals who favor compelled speech regarding gay weddings now oppose compelled speech regarding abortion. So much for being consistently "pro-choice."