Libertarians for Life Leader Doris Gordon Dies

Per National Right to Life News:

Doris Gordon, founder and longtime coordinator of Libertarians for Life, died on July 7 at Holy Cross Hospital, Silver Spring, Md., after a struggle with meningitis and other health problems. She was 85.

Read the whole obituary here.

Gordon was an early member/activist in the Libertarian Party and other libertarian organizations, as detailed in a message to the LP circulated at the 1996 and 1998 Libertarian National Convention and available online here.

20 thoughts on “Libertarians for Life Leader Doris Gordon Dies

  1. Thomas L. Knapp Post author

    Most people who have joined the LP in the last 10 years or so probably never encountered Doris — at least I didn’t see much of her during that period. Through the 90s, however, she worked very hard to make the pro-life case both in the LP and in the broader movement.

    I always enjoyed debating with her, but she more or less disowned me, “more in sorrow than in anger,” at a time when I actually considered myself “pro-life.”

    Our disagreement was over RU-486. I felt that she rolled down the slippery slope on that subject:

    Her opinion was that it needed to be illegal since it’s an abortifacient (she denied that it had other uses, although in fact it does).

    My opinion was that it was the same issue as gun control — just because something CAN be used for X, that doesn’t mean that it WILL be used for X or that it can ONLY be used for X, and just because one believes that X should be illegal, it doesn’t necessarily follow that any instrument which can be used for X should be illegal. I think the breaking point was when I asked her if she wanted to outlaw coathangers, too.

  2. Nicholas Sarwark

    I knew Doris when I was active in Maryland. She was a lovely woman and tireless activist. We didn’t agree on her signature issue, but that never stopped us from working together to advance the Libertarian Party.

    May she rest in peace.

  3. Thomas L. Knapp Post author

    Nick,

    I agree. I always found her forceful in argument but friendly. And definitely tireless, especially on, as you put it, her “signature issue.”

  4. paulie

    RIP.

    I corresponded with Doris a bit back in the 90s, although I never knew her well. IIRC she considered herself a feminist and atheist, so not what most people think of pro-life people or even pro-life libertarians…

  5. Gene Berkman

    I met Doris Gordon in 1971 when I was working for Society for Individual Liberty in Silver Spring, Maryland. She would come to the local meetings, which is how I met her. This was apparently before she started her “Libertarians for Life” campaign, and the issue did not come up. Later I saw her classified ads in Reason and I probably saw her again at a Libertarian National Convention, but never discussed that particular issue with her.

  6. Andy

    I met Doris Gordon at a Libertarian Party of Maryland event back in 2001. She was a very passionate Libertarian activist and will be missed. I’ve long thought that there is room in the Libertarian Party for people who are on different sides in the abortion debate. Doris Gordon did an excellent job of articulating a pro-life Libertarian position.

  7. Nicholas Sarwark

    I hope some activist picks up the torch for the caucus she started. Vibrant and respectful internal debate is part of what makes the Libertarian Party great.

  8. paulie

    I haven’t seen much from the actual L4L organization other than the website in recent years, but there are certainly quite a few pro-life libertarians. It was the only plank that earned enough tokens for a deletion vote at this year’s convention, and that vote was close enough that the pro-deletion side could reasonably hope for diferent results in 2 or 4 years.

  9. Thomas L. Knapp Post author

    Paulie,

    Back in 2002 I took it upon myself to put some effort into agitating for deletion of the abortion plank. I think we came within about 1% of deleting it.

    I would no longer classify myself as “pro-life” per se — more “unconvinced by the mostly piss-poor arguments, generally based on self-serving re-definitions of important terms, offered by both sides” — but I’d still like to see the plank deleted if it can’t be replaced by something that makes sense.

  10. Robert Capozzi

    RIP, Doris.

    I met her at least once. IIRC, while she was pro-life, I do believe she was an atheist, or non-religious. That made her especially interesting to me. I didn’t and don’t agree with her position, but I found it thoughtful and respectful.

    Forgive me if my memory of her background is incorrect.

  11. Stuart Simms

    I came to the LP in 1993 and Doris was one of the first people that I met. I enjoyed the monthly Montgomery County (MD) LP meetings (my monthly evening of sanity!) that were frequently at her home as well as the annual party. Doris was as gracious and patient as she was determined about her pro-Life position.

    Having expressed some trepidation, Doris encouraged me to attend National Conventions and become a delegate from Maryland. Now I always look forward to the National Conventions and have attended all but two since 1996

    Doris had been absent from LP activities for some time now and I am grateful that I got to meet her. Those that didn’t get to meet and speak with her lost out on someone that always enjoyed a good debate (especially about abortion) and possessed a wealth of libertarian history.

    I too recall that she was non-religious but Jewish by birth and as is said in Judaism:
    “May her memory be a blessing.”

  12. Peter Gemma

    I worked with her on some political projects and campaigns in the 90s – very smart, dedicated, and although steadfast in her convictions, never overbearing. She had much to offer within libertarian circles and beyond – Doris should be missed by a lot of people

  13. ATBAFT

    Another giant from the early days of the Libertarian movement has fallen. I had many the argument with her on when humans acquire rights. She never took disagreements personally and that is something for us to remember whenever disagreement rears its head.
    RIP, Doris.

  14. Matt Cholko

    You’re absolutely right about the importance of not taking disagreements personally, ATBAFT. It is a lot easier said than done though. If Doris was able to do this (we never met, iirc) regarding her “signature issue”, that’s a credit to her, for sure.

  15. Robert

    Gordon was flagged early as a paid anti-Libertarian right-wing troublemaker who has done enormous damage to the LP with her loony views, push to put in her anti-abortion and extreme right-wing pals in LP positions, and phony ‘old-timer’ credentials.

    Pro-life=killing pre-borns and mothers with problem pregnancies, just another backfiring government program. I’ll never forget that when I pointed out that legalizing contraception and abortions actually reduces maternal deaths substantially and actual abortion by about 90%, she replied with her nasty cold eyes, “So what?”

  16. Andy

    “Robert
    July 16, 2014 at 1:59 am
    Gordon was flagged early as a paid anti-Libertarian right-wing troublemaker who has done enormous damage to the LP with her loony views, push to put in her anti-abortion and extreme right-wing pals in LP positions, and phony ‘old-timer’ credentials.”

    It looks like we have another troll/provocateur, or at least an old troll/provocateur posting under a new fake name.

  17. Colleen Barry

    Just learned of Doris’s passing.

    I found her web site about 8 years ago and called and spoke with Doris. Thank God for people like Doris being part of our world. Will share her great articles and points defending LIFE.

  18. paulie

    It looks like we have another troll/provocateur, or at least an old troll/provocateur posting under a new fake name.

    Yep. Although it is not from an IP that I recognize.

    Gordon was flagged early as a paid anti-Libertarian right-wing troublemaker who has done enormous damage to the LP with her loony views, push to put in her anti-abortion and extreme right-wing pals in LP positions, and phony ‘old-timer’ credentials.

    Evidence for these claims?

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