The Committee to Organize a Libertarian Party, which was the precursor to the LP, convened in December 1971. It issued a "Temporary Platform of the Libertarian Party," which was silent on abortion. Its "Over-population" plank said,
The 1972 platform was adopted in Denver, Colorado, at the first official convention, held on June 17-18, 1972. It included for the first time the LP's "Statement of Principles," which notes "that the sole function of government is the protection of the rights of each individual: namely (1) the right to life -- and accordingly we support laws prohibiting the initiationof physical force against others...".
In this edition, the hyphen was deleted from the title, "Overpopulation," and a position on abortion was added:
Notice the 100-day limit. Abortion, later legalized by Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973, in effect permitted abortion unconditionally until birth.
The 1974 Platform was adopted during the June 12-16, 1974, convention in Dallas, Texas. The plank's name was again changed, this time to "Population." Another change was that the first-hundred-day time limit was dropped, thus now permitting abortion until birth, unconditionally. It said,
The 1976 Platform was adopted in New York, New York at the August 28-31, 1975, convention. When it was printed, the abortion plank and one other were inadvertently omitted. However, the wording remained as in 1974.
The platform was not on the agenda of the 1976 convention, held in Washington, D.C., September 24-26. However, abortion choice was discussed approvingly at a panel of the Association of Libertarian Feminists on Saturday, September 25. (Libertarians for Life was born immediately after the conclusion of the panel at about 1:00 p.m., due to remarks by one of the panelists and two other libertarians at the convention.)
The 1978 Platform adopted in convention at San Francisco, California, July 14-17, 1977, retained the 1974 abortion plank. The "Health Care" plank, however, had an addition that said,
Entirely new to the platform was a "Children's Rights" plank. It said,
In the 1982 Platform, the "Population" plank continued to discuss abortion. But the main statement on abortion was moved to a new plank, "Women's Rights." Among the additional points in this new plank was an indirect acknowledgment that many libertarians object to the LP's support for abortion. The convention at which this plank was passed marked the 10th anniversary of the LP. It was held in Denver, Colorado, on August 27-30, 1981.
The revised "Population" plank now read,
"We oppose government actions which either compel or prohibit abortion, sterilization, or any other forms of birth control. Specifically, we condemn the vicious practice of forced sterilization of welfare recipients or of mentally retarded or 'genetically defective' individuals.
"We regard the tragedies caused by unplanned, unwanted pregnancies to be aggravated, if not created, by government policies of censorship, restriction, regulation and prohibition. Therefore, we call for the repeal of all laws which restrict anyone, including children, from engaging in voluntary exchanges of goods, services or information regarding human sexuality, reproduction, birth control, or related medical or biological technologies.
"We equally oppose government laws and policies that restrict the opportunity to choose alternatives to abortion, including but not restricted to the centralizing and hamstringing of adoption services and the prohibition of decentralized market oriented adoption services.
"We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children. We urge the elimination of special tax burdens on single people and couples with few or no children."
The new plank on abortion, "Women's Rights," said,
"Recognizing that each person must be the sole and absolute owner of his or her own body, we support the right of women to make a personal choice regarding the termination of pregnancy. We oppose the undermining of that right via laws requiring consent of the pregnant woman's parents, consent of the prospective father, waiting periods, or compulsory provision of indoctrination on medical risks or fetal development. However, we also oppose all tax funding for abortions. It is particularly harsh to force someone who believes that abortion is murder to pay for another's abortion. We also condemn state-mandated abortion.
Notice, also, the 1980 "Population" plank had said "personal moral choice." In 1982, "moral" was deleted from "Women's Rights."
In the 1984 platform, no change was made to the "Women's Rights" plank that was adopted in convention at New York, New York, September 1-4. However, the "Children's Rights" plank was expanded. One addition relevant to abortion in principle was,
But what if they don't want to bother seeking them, or what if they seek but can't find any volunteers? May the guardians abandon their children and let them die? The plank doesn't say.
Here is the full text of the amended "Children's Rights" plank:
"We oppose all laws that empower government officials to seize children and make them 'wards of the state' or, by means of child labor laws and compulsory education, to infringe on their freedom to work or learn as they choose. We oppose all legally created or sanctioned discrimination against (or in favor of) children, just as we oppose government discrimination directed at any other artificially defined sub-category of human beings. Specifically we oppose ordinances that outlaw adults only apartments.
"We also support the repeal of all laws establishing any category of crimes applicable to children for which adults would not be similarly answerable, such as curfew, smoking, and alcoholic beverage laws, and other status offenses. Similarly, we favor the repeal of 'stubborn child' laws and laws establishing the category of 'persons in need of supervision.' We call for an end to the practice of all 'children's codes' of[or] statutes which abridge due process protections for young people. We further favor the abolition of the juvenile court system, so that juveniles will be held fully responsible for their crimes.
"Whenever parents or other guardians are unwilling or unable to care for their children, thoseguardians have the right to seek other persons who are willing to assume guardianship, and children have the right to seek other guardians who place a higher value on their lives. Accordingly, we oppose all laws that impede these processes, notably those restricting private adoption services or those forcing children to remain in the custody of their parents against their will.
"Children should always have the right to establish their maturity by assuming the administration and protection of their own rights, ending dependency upon their parents or other guardians and assuming all the responsibility of adulthood.
The 1986 platform was passed in 1985 at Phoenix, Arizona. I can't find my copy, but going by the 1988 platform, no changes were made in "Women's Rights" and "Children's Rights."
The 1988 platform was adopted at the LP's September 1987 convention held in Seattle, Washington.
The 1990 platform changed the name of "Women's Rights" to "Women's Rights and Abortion." It was adopted in September at the 1989 convention that met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The 1992 platform, adopted August 1991 in Chicago, Illinois, inserted a new "Family Life" plank between "Women's Rights and Abortion" and "Children's Rights." Its point about contract does not address the problem that children are not, originally at least, contractual parties. It said,
A new paragraph was also inserted in the "Children's Rights" plank, making it the second one. This addition said,
The September 1993 convention adopted the 1994 platform in Salt Lake City, Utah. This is the current plank. It reads:
"Recognizing that each person must be the sole and absolute owner of his or her own body, we support the right of women to make a personal choice regarding the termination of pregnancy or regarding voluntary surrogacy arrangements. We oppose the undermining of the right via laws requiring consent of the pregnant woman's parents, consent of the prospective father, waiting periods, or compulsory provision of indoctrination on medical risks or fetal development. In addition, we oppose all restrictions on the sale of menstruation-inducing contragestive pills, such as RU 486, which block fertilized eggs from attaching themselves to the womb. However, we also oppose all tax funding for abortions. It is particularly harsh to force someone who believes that abortion is murder to pay for another's abortion. We also condemn state-mandated abortions.