Such was the case when the Iowa Supreme Court made its ruling on a proposed law which would require women to wait 72 hours before having an abortion. The court blocked the proposal on the following basis:
"Autonomy and dominion over one's body go to the very heart of what it means to be free," the justices wrote. "At stake in this case is the right to shape, for oneself, without unwarranted governmental intrusion, one's own identity, destiny, and place in the world. Nothing could be more fundamental to the notion of liberty."
There you have it. The first principle of a liberal state is "liberty" but understood in a very particular way, namely as an individual autonomy by which we can "shape, for oneself...one's own identify, destiny and place in the world."
I have explained many times before why this is such a negative and "dissolving" concept of liberty. It means, logically, that only the things that we self-determine are legitimate. The predetermined aspects of life, which we do not shape for ourselves, come to be thought of as "prisons" from which the individual has to be liberated.
But there is much that we do not determine for ourselves. We do not determine, for instance, our race and ethnicity or our sex. And yet these are significant aspects of identity and community. In a liberal society, though, they must be made not to matter, because they conflict with the liberal definition of liberty as a state of individual autonomy, in which what matters is a freedom to self-define and self-create.
It's interesting, too, that the supreme court justices use the phrase "dominion over one's body". Patrick Deneen, in his excellent book Why Liberalism Failed, writes about the shift in the early modern period in the understanding of man's relation to nature. Instead of being embedded in nature, the point instead was to stand outside and against nature, seeking dominion over it. Classical liberals, according to Deneen, applied this to the natural world around us but still accepted an embedded human nature that we might live by (albeit a cut down and distorted one by which human nature was understood to be a self-seeking one aiming at individual profit); modern leftist progressive liberals extended it to having dominion over human nature itself (i.e. we might choose our own nature) with a logical end point in transhumanism.
Hat tip: The Four Marks