Abortion Rights are Logically Required by Libertarianism

July 30th, 2012   Submitted by Wendy McElroy

Denying the right of a woman to abort involves denying the basis of libertarianism itself. Libertarianism is often expressed as “the non-initiation of force” but the question is why – why is it wrong to initiate force? The answer lies in a more fundamental principle. The Levellers in seventeenth-century England called it ‘self-proprietorship’; the first American anarchist Josiah Warren referred to ‘the sovereignty of the individual.” 19th century American abolitionists defined the concept of ‘self-ownership’ as the jurisdiction that every human being has over his or her own body simply by virtue of being human. The answer to why it is wrong to initiate force is because force violates that person’s self- ownership. The jurisdiction of each peaceful person over his or her body is what constitutes individual rights.

To express this in less theoretical terms: everything beneath my skin is me. It is mine in the most basic and existential sense possible. If my body is not mine, then nothing else on earth can belong to me. If I cannot claim the blood coursing through my arteries, then I can have no property rights in a chair I fashion or a tomato I grow with my own labor. Why would I? Why would the extended products of my labor belong to me when the breath in my own lungs does not?

As a self-owner,  I am the only one with jurisdiction over my own body. If a fetus is sustained by the food I eat and the pulsing of my blood, then I have a right to deny it sustenance and shelter. I have a right to abort that fetus. To give the fetus a ‘right’ to consume another person’s bodily functions is to establish two rights claims over one body. The word that describes a system in which one man has property rights in another is slavery, and it is the antithesis of libertarianism.

The denial of abortion rights destroys another key concept of libertarianism. Individual rights rest upon the concept of ‘a natural harmony of interests’. This does not mean that all men feel benevolence toward each other or that their desires never come into conflict. It means that the exercise of my self-ownership or individual rights does not violate the similar exercise of your equal rights. My right to believe in God does not conflict with your right to be an atheist. My freedom of speech does not cancel out yours. If such rights did conflict, then they could not be universal; that is, they could not be possessed equally by all. To presume the fetus is an individual with rights puts it in direct conflict with the pregnant woman’s exercise of rights over her own body. The presumption becomes a logical fallacy by eliminating the natural harmony of interests upon which individual rights depend for their meaning.

The assumption of a fetus with individual rights also takes for granted exactly what is in contention: does the fetus have such rights. This devolves to the question, “is the fetus an individual” because only by being an individual can the fetus claim human rights. It is undeniable that the fetus is in some sense alive and that it is a potential human being. A potential is not an actual, however; it is a hypothetical possibility. An essential characteristic of being an individual is being a discrete entity. Until the point of birth, however, the fetus is not a separate entity. As long as the fetus is physically within the woman’s body and dependent upon her circulatory and respiratory system, it cannot claim individual rights because it is not an individual. At birth, the fetus is biologically autonomous and becomes a self-owner with full individual rights. Although it cannot survive without assistance, this does not affect those rights. The baby simply experiences the dependence of any helpless human being.

The woman is sometimes said to have a responsibility to the fetus because she caused its dependency. But there are two senses in which you can use the word responsibility. The first is as an acknowledgment of a legal obligation to another person. This is the sense in which those who would ban abortion use the word. And, again, the argument begs the question. It takes as a given the very point in contention; namely, is the fetus an individual toward whom obligations can be incurred? Certainly the fetus cannot contract with the pregnant woman and, so, acquire a claim in that manner.

The other sense of “responsibility” refers to the acknowledgment that a certain situation results from your own actions and, so, you accept the burden of money, time and moral accountability in handling the situation. When a woman uses her own money to pay for an abortion, she has assumed full responsibility for the pregnancy. Note an odd inconsistency about how many anti-abortionists use of the word “responsibility.” It is revealed in how they handle rape pregnancies. The woman cannot be responsible in any sense for a situation in which she had no choice. Nevertheless, the consistent position is that the fetus is still a human being and abortion is still murder. But if it is of no real consequence, why is the issue of responsibility being raised at all?

There is one sense that responsibility is of consequence: moral responsibility. To the extent you value human life, you must also value the potential for human life. As a pregnancy progresses and the potential moves toward the actual, then the moral value of preserving the fetus increases. I share this moral stance and would argue vigorously with anyone who sought to end a late-term pregnancy. But I would not use force or the law to prevent any woman from controlling her body through abortion.

The disastrous consequences of the antiabortionist position are also incompatible with libertarianism. Antiabortionists dislike dealing with these consequences but, as long as the basic thrust of their position is “there ought to be a law,” it is entirely reasonable to ask what this law would look like.

If the fetus is a human being, then abortion is clearly first-degree, premeditated murder and should be subject to whatever penalties exist for that category of crime. Aborting women and doctors would be liable to punishment up to and, perhaps, including, the death penalty. Anti-abortionists sometimes backpedal on this issue by stating that abortion has not been historically subject to such penalties so there is no reason to suppose they would occur in the future. This is evasion. The debate is not about history but legal and moral theory. If abortion is premeditated murder, then they should decry slap-on-the-wrist penalties rather than using them to reassure us.

The anti-abortion position is weak, riddled with internal contradictions, and dangerously wrong. It uses the word “rights” in a self-contradictory manner that denies the framework from which the concept derives meaning. Self-ownership begins with your skin. If you cannot clearly state, “Everything beneath my skin is me; this is the line past that no one crosses without my permission,” then there is no foundation for individual rights or for libertarianism.

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146 Responses to “Abortion Rights are Logically Required by Libertarianism”

  1. CharlotteNo Gravatar says:

    My husband and I have debated this one for quite a while (I, unsurprisingly, am in favor of a woman’s right to have an abortion, while he is very squeamish about the idea).

    We finally came to the conclusion that a woman has the right to abort the fetus for all the reasons Wendy mentions until such time as the fetus becomes viable outside the womb. At that time, she may either carry it to term or induce labor and birth the baby right away, and then assign the baby to someone (adoptive parents, for example) who will be able to execute the terms of the contract she’s unwilling to undertake with the child.

    This is, perhaps, like having your cake and eating it too. It makes some sense to me because if the fetus is viable outside the womb, then its personhood can begin immediately (via induction of labor) and the parental contract one undertakes upon the birth of a child — to feed it, educate it, and otherwise take care of it until it is able to take up the rights and responsibilities of majority — is able to be assigned to another party.

    I’d welcome any comments as to why this is not a viable solution — but I for my part agree 100% with Wendy that a woman owns her body and therefore determines whether or not she’s willing to host a fetus.

    • AuNeroNo Gravatar says:

      The woman invited the fetus/human into her body with full knowledge that once invited, the fetus/human will be dependent on her.

      Therefore she cannot cry “tresspass!” once she has made this decision. She has to fulfill her obligation that she voluntarily entered into.

      • Caryn GoddardNo Gravatar says:

        Yes, it is trespassing the instant the woman doesn’t want it just as you would be trespassing if I invited you in my house but then decided that you had to leave.
        Having sex is not a contract with anyone. The fetus is only viable when it is outside the womb.
        Apparently the anti-aborts don’t understand the distinction of birth. The obtuseness in the comments by mostly males is unbelievable !
        No, it only becomes a human BEING at birth, it is always human life but that’s not the same.

        • Actually, it becomes a “human being” (a distinct iteration of species homo sapiens) at conception.

          The question — or rather one of the questions — is when it becomes a “person” with “rights” (related questions would include how such rights interact with the rights of others).

          The “distinction of birth” is that it is a change in location. While that actually may be important, it isn’t exactly drawing to a straight flush in terms of argument.

          And while sex may not (or may) constitute a contract, it may (or may not) constitute a tort.

          Finally, it’s worth considering the possibility that the people offering opinions may not be “anti-aborts,” but rather instead may be undecided and interested in trying to find actual answers instead of just hurling irrelevant talking points at each other.

        • AuNeroNo Gravatar says:

          Having sex is a contract with the human you just invited. You knew full well in advance that this person who you voluntarily invited would be dependent on you, so there is an implicit contract.

          If you evict the human, you are breaching your contract and therefore are initiating force, aka committing murder.

          You are violating the NAP and you are not a libertarian.

          • PrimeNo Gravatar says:

            Please tell how one goes about entering into a valid contract with a zygote? With an embryo? With a fetus lacking self-awareness?

            • AuNeroNo Gravatar says:

              Please prove that the fetus/human lacks self awareness. Then demonstrate how violating the NAP on a person who lacks self awareness is libertarian.

              • PrimeNo Gravatar says:

                Children do not demonstrate self-awareness until between 1-2 years of age. Unless there is cause to believe they have it in the womb and then lose it at birth, then it’s reasonable to assume a fetus does not have self-awareness.

                You wrote, “Having sex is a contract with the human you just invited. ”
                Entering into a valid contract requires that all parties to the contract be capable of understanding the terms of the contract. This means you cannot enter into a contract with a person who is severely brain damaged or mentally retarded, or temporarily unconscious due to sleep or injury. And it certainly means you cannot enter into a contract with a creature that is not even aware of the fact that it exists.

                Arguendo, if there were some magic fetus that were self-aware, a valid contract also requires that all parties to the contract entered into it voluntarily. Even this magical self-aware fetus would have to be free to negotiate and refuse the contract before it took effect – that is, before it had developed into a self-aware fetus, if not before conception (depending on when one thinks the non-born acquires rights or personhood).

                Whatever argument there is against abortion, arguing against it on the grounds of a CONTRACT is clearly absurd.

                • AuNeroNo Gravatar says:

                  An argument can be made using the doctrine of estoppel. If you invited someone in and in advance you knew the person would die if you evicted them, then you are estopped from causing harm via eviction.

                  • PrimeNo Gravatar says:

                    (Just realized I initially submitted this reply in the wrong place)

                    I’m afraid I have to ask you to explain how one is “estopped” in such a situation. I’m only familiar with the estoppel principle being used in the case of a person guilty of aggression trying to claim their victim has no right to do likewise to them. It sounds to me as if you’ve simply substituted the word “estopped” for the word “contracted.”

              • PrimeNo Gravatar says:

                Oh, and a couple other things:

                In The Ethics of Liberty, Rothbard pointed out:
                “[A] mere promise is not an enforceable contract: contracts are only properly enforceable if their violation involves implicit theft, and clearly no such consideration can apply here.” What is being stolen from the fetus? What claim of ownership does it have to the space within the mother’s womb, to the nutrients in her blood?

                “Then demonstrate how violating the NAP on a person who lacks self awareness is libertarian.”

                You are assuming that it is a violation of the NAP, which is precisely the point in contention.

                • I agree that the anti-abortion argument from contract is quite weak.

                  There may be some value, however, in an anti-abortion argument from tort.

                  Suppose that I am driving down the street, not looking where I am going. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but because of my negligence, I run up onto the sidewalk and hit you with my car. You are disabled — indeed, comatose — for nine months, after which you require 18 years of physical therapy, etc. to return to full function as a human being.

                  Sex which culminates in pregnancy resembles that scenario quite a bit, the main difference being that rather than hitting you with a car and taking away things you had (the ability to think, speak, walk, etc.), two people are bringing you into existence, after which you will require nine months of hosting and (per the social norm now existing) 18 years of care before you can do those things.

                  In the first instance, the driver of the car is clearly responsible for your situation, and if he backs the car up and takes another run at you to kill you so as to avoid having to pay for your nine months of hospitalization, 18 years of follow-up care, etc., he’s going to be held to answer for a crime.

                  In the second instance, either one person (in the case of rape) or two (in the case of consensual sex) people are clearly responsible for your situation. Under current law, it is entirely acceptable for one of those maximum two people to pay to have you killed so as to avoid having to pay for your nine months of hosting, 18 years of follow-up care, etc. (or for any other reason).

                  The relevant question is “how equivalent is the ‘created in a disabled state’ fetus to the ‘put into a disabled state’ adult in terms of personhood and rights?” If the fetus is a person with rights, you don’t get to kill it to avoid whatever liability you may have arguably incurred. If the fetus is not a person with rights, the matter is of no more moral significance than cutting your fingernails or having a mole removed, however difficult or emotionally disturbing as it might otherwise be.

                  • PrimeNo Gravatar says:

                    In tort, damages are going to be assessed by comparing before and after, right? Do what it will take to make the person you ran over whole again. This is why you would be obligated to cover the hospitalization of the person you ran over. How would this translate to the fetus? How do you make the fetus “whole again?” What damages are there to rectify? If we equate “put into disability” with “created in a state of disability,” then restitution to the fetus whole again would mean… un-conceiving it…? This doesn’t quite add up, I think.

                    I think another way to look at it, without resorting to absurd ideas of contract or this idea of tort…
                    Arguendo, let’s say the fetus has self-ownership. I think this can be logically separated from the idea that the fetus has a right to being carried and cared for by the mother. Think of it the same way there is not a “right to health care,” with health care being something that must be provided by others (e.g. doctors & taxpayers) . If we accept that the fetus as a right to bodily integrity, this can be seen as not necessarily implying a right to remain in the womb or a right to being provided nutrients by the mother… That is, under this assumption of self-ownership, there is no conflict with the woman’s right to expel the fetus. Just as you may invite a person into your house and then expel them. But just as you may not expel an invited guest with more force than necessary, the mother must not expel the fetus with more force than necessary. You don’t invite someone into your home for drinks, then suddenly hack them to pieces in order to get them out. You first ask nicely, then attempt to carry or pull drag them out, and only resort to doing damage to them when necessary. Under this assumption, perhaps the woman must extract the fetus intact, as carefully as possible, and let others attempt to rescue it. Just an idea. I’m not quite convinced the fetus has self-ownership or rights, but this could, in principle, solve the issue either way.

                    • Prime,

                      I’m pretty sure I admitted up front that the analogy I used for the tort line of argument is imperfect.

                      However, I don’t think it’s as imperfect as you think it is.

                      Instead of hitting you with a car, let’s assume that my tort versus you is something that deprives you of something you have a reasonable future expectation of having. For the sake of argument, let’s say you’ve won a sweepstakes under which you will receive $5,000 per week for life, so long as you return a signed form by a certain date. I intercept the form in the mail, throw it in the trash, and you don’t get the money. I’d arguably be liable for that $5k for life by way of restitution, even though you didn’t have it at the time I caused you to lose it.

                    • PrimeNo Gravatar says:

                      I’m afraid I have to ask you to explain how one is “estopped” in such a situation. I’m only familiar with the estoppel principle being used in the case of a person guilty of aggression trying to claim their victim has no right to do likewise to them. It sounds to me as if you’ve simply substituted the word “estopped” for the word “contracted.”

                    • PrimeNo Gravatar says:

                      (I just realized my above comment was posted in the wrong location.)

                      I think it would make sense to consider the sweepstakes winnings as one’s property, even though it’s not in one’s immediate possession. That’s the only way you can be considered to owe restitution to someone – you have wrongfully taken something that belongs to them. You would have taken that money, or their all-but certain opportunity to gain that money. What has been taken from the unborn that belonged to it?

        • DaveNo Gravatar says:

          That’s like if you owned a private jet and invited me to go for a ride on it, and then once we were in mid air decided that I needed to get the hell off of it and I didn’t have a parachute. I got in your plane with the rational assumption that you wouldn’t be insane and kick me out mid-flight.

      • Martin BrockNo Gravatar says:

        I have to go along with AuNero here. Changing your mind after inviting me into your house doesn’t entitle you to shoot me for trespassing, and if I suffer a stroke while in your house, you can’t then decide to shoot me, or even allow me to die when you could intervene to assist me, because I’m no longer an interesting companion. I’m obliged to leave if you don’t want me there, but inviting me in implies an obligation to host me civilly until I am able to leave.

        • PrimeNo Gravatar says:

          “if I suffer a stroke while in your house, you can’t … allow me to die when you could intervene to assist me”

          Sure could, so long as I didn’t cause the stroke.

          “inviting me in implies an obligation to host me civilly until I am able to leave.”

          It doesn’t imply a duty to support your life, but to simply not inflict more harm on you.

          • ShawnNo Gravatar says:

            I have an issue with this line of reasoning from the start, namely from the standpoint of having sex not being equivalent to inviting a fetus into ones body. Women can and do have sex without any intent whatsoever of getting pregnant, and indeed, can take steps to prevent that occurrence and still have it happen anyway. (No birth control is 100%, other than abstinence.) So, the “invite into ones home” analogy would seem to fail here. If there IS any correlation, it would be something along the lines of you open the door for an invited guest, and some stranger takes that opportunity to run into your house. I’m sure you’d say you have the right to expel that person, so if anything, the “invited guest” argument would support abortion, not go against it. Such an argument could be applied, of course, against a woman who intentionally becomes pregnant and then changes her mind, but I imagine that’s an extremely small number of abortions.

            • Martin BrockNo Gravatar says:

              A woman who has sex with no intention of pregnancy is like a skydiver with no intention of injury. A woman may have sex with only a little intention of pregnancy, but a woman having sex with no intention of pregnancy is out of touch with reality. [I have been injured twice while skydiving, and I also have three children.]

              Pregnancy is a risk of sex in reality. If you want no risk at all of pregnancy, you’re free not to have sex, but you should not be free to impose the cost of a consequence of your choice on another person, just because the consequence was not 100% certain. If you want life without uncertainty, find another universe.

              Needless to say, the same goes for a man having sex. I was involved in the father’s rights movement for years, but I never had any interest in “male choice”. The whole idea of “male choice” is antithetical to father’s rights. Rights necessarily involve corresponding obligations. Advocating rights without obligations is childish and naive.

              Men and women should have every right to choose their sexual partners and any method they like of controlling their reproduction, but after reproducing, a person has already exercised these rights, and another person with rights is a direct consequence of the reproductive choice. Abortion is not a reproductive right. It is a destructive right.

              The persons choosing to reproduce have obligations toward the person who is a direct consequence of their choice, and choosing to engage in an act of which reproduction is a direct consequence, regardless of the probabilities involved, is choosing to reproduce.

              Criminalizing abortion early in pregnancy is impractical and too much empowers the state, and I accept the notion that a blastula is not the moral equivalent of an infant; however, I can’t agree in principle that a woman’s liberty is the principal issue in the abortion debate, any more than a man’s liberty is the principal issue in the child support debate.

              I support a woman’s exclusive right to choose to abort (or not to abort) early in pregnancy, regardless of the consent of the father, and I also support a father’s obligation to support his child along with paternal rights comparable to the mother’s parental rights and obligations.

              • PrimeNo Gravatar says:

                “Rights necessarily involve corresponding obligations.”

                I would be interested in hearing this explained.

                “The persons choosing to reproduce have obligations toward the person who is a direct consequence of their choice”

                And where does this obligation come from?

                • Martin BrockNo Gravatar says:

                  Your right to the exclusive use of a parcel of land necessarily implies my obligation to use this land only with your consent. More generally, any individual’s right implies the obligation of other individuals to respect the right.

                  Classically liberal rights include rights to life, liberty and property (sovereignty over the fruits of one’s labor), in that order. The order is not accidental, because a right to liberty necessarily requires a right to life, and acquiring property necessarily requires classical liberty.

                  A person must exist to have liberty or property. A dead man has no meaningful liberty or property. The transfer of title to property after a proprietor’s death is a separate issue. My property ceases to be my property after my death regardless of hereditary title or other rules governing transfer of title.

                  Human rights and corresponding obligations exist where human life exists. They come from the creator of human life. You need not imagine a theological Creator to accept this formulation. My children’s mother and I created our children when we chose to procreate. When we created our children, we also created their rights to life, liberty and property, and we are therefore obliged to respect these rights ourselves. First and foremost, we are obliged to respect their right to life.

                  Furthermore, our willful act of procreation also obliges you to respect our children’s life, liberty and property, even though you had no part in our creative act. This imposition upon you may seem unjust, but your own parents’ procreative act also obliges me to respect your rights, even though I had no part in their act.

                  A minor child is definitively dependent on its parents and other guardians. All human life begins in this dependent stage, and the dependency persists long after birth. Human beings have a very long dependent stage, compared with other animals. This long period of dependency is one of our definitive characteristics, and it grows ever longer with advancing social development.

                  Because their mother and I created our children, we are principally responsible for them in their dependent state. They are properly our responsibility and not yours, i.e. they are our property and not yours.

                  This classical sense of “property” is widely misunderstood these days, because it primarily involves the obligations of a proprietor rather than his rights, at least during a child’s dependency.

                  My property in my children differs fundamentally from my property in other fruits of my labor. Other fruits of my labor are not human beings with rights distinct from mine. My children are literally fruits of my labor and their mother’s labor, but our children’s own human rights necessarily limit our sovereignty over them. We certainly may not end their lives by neglecting their needs for example. On this point, I strongly disagree with Rothbard’s formulation of “property”.

                  • PrimeNo Gravatar says:

                    “Obligation” and “duty” infer some sort of positive action, not simply refraining from doing certain things.

                    “Human rights and corresponding obligations exist where human life exists. ”

                    On the contrary, rights only exist as rules for interactions with other people. Robinson Crusoe, alone on the island, has no rights. He has no interaction with others, and so no need of rules for interacting with others.

                    “When we created our children, we also created their rights to life, liberty and property,”

                    How did you do this? I understand the biological process of creating offspring. By what process did YOU create their rights?

                    • Martin BrockNo Gravatar says:

                      Respecting your right to govern a particular parcel of land is a positive act. If I may naturally govern the land instead, respecting your right is costly to me, and paying this price is a positive act. In nature, a lion governs whatever he can govern my his own force. Civil human rights are a positive departure from this natural order.

                      The usual distinction between “positive rights” and “negative rights” is arbitrary and capricious. It has more to do with politics than with logic. -(-1) = 1

                      My children’s rights did not exist before they existed, so their mother and I created the rights when we created the children.

                      We didn’t create your respect for the rights. You create this respect by accepting classical liberalism. If you don’t respect their rights, you must deal with me as my children’s guardian of course, but rights generally exist only because people will respect them and sometimes enforce them, though enforcing rights is rarely effective.

                      I don’t imagine any rights either appearing miraculously on stone tablets or being derived from axiomatic principles. Rights are choices we make, not divine mandates or mathematical theorems.

        • DaveNo Gravatar says:

          The proper analogy isn’t a house it’s a plane or a boat.

    • DelNo Gravatar says:

      I don’t believe my body belongs to me alone. For one- I believe that my body was given to me by my Creator, as a house for my soul. I also believe, once I am married my body also belongs to husband…and his body also belongs to me…that’s part of the covenant we enter into as husband and wife. Then when I decide to have a sexual relationship with my husband, knowing full-well that intercourse can lead to another life, I will no longer belong just to myself. I will share my body with another individual. This is the real choice here. It’s a real love…a giving, sharing, sacrificing love…and in the end you love yourself far better than you ever could, keeping it just to yourself.
      The inconsistencies in our laws over when a human has rights drives me crazy, and is always quite ironic in nature. The pro-choice viewpoint is not logical at all. A child is dependent on you yes, and will continue to need you, in order to live until they are at least 7 yrs of age in our culture…so we really should change the law to “pro-choice” until the age when a child can actually survive on their very own. The Greeks chose this path and left their children to the elements up the age 3. Makes me want to vomit just thinking of it.
      Another thing that drives me crazy are comments about how outlawing abortion takes away a woman’s choice. I’m not taking away her choice in the slightest. She can choose to still have an abortion, though it may be in an alley, or she may get sick, and die. That’s her choice. Our laws should not condone or assist a woman in killing her child. That’s the issue we pro-life people have with it being legal. I’m not supporting murder, and neither should our laws. You choose to kill another human being, and get caught, then there should be a consequence…justice should be upheld and served rightly.

      • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

        OK. I can respect your beliefs, but in a free society you have no “right” to push your belief onto anyone else. I personally think that abortion is like taking a toddler and smashing his head on the wall. But a lot of smart people disagree and see abortion as like shedding extra menstral blood. If I wish to be free myself it is pragmatic to respect these other folks’ freedom to abort or not as they wish.
        As an aside, if God exists why do so many religious folks seem to think that He can’t enforce his own laws without their help? If abortion is immoral, God will judge. You don’t have to. I think a free minded person will stop trying to make thousands of laws supposedly enforcing God’s laws for Him.

  2. Sean SmithNo Gravatar says:

    Wendy, I respect you immensely and agree with you most of the time, but you’re way off the mark here in several particulars. Let’s begin at the beginning: “If a fetus is sustained by the food I eat and the pulsing of my blood, then I have a right to deny it sustenance and shelter.” What about the newborn who can only be sustained by your breast milk? Is the existence of that milk not just as dependent upon the food you eat and the pulsing of your blood as nourishment that had heretofore been delivered umbilically? Or if you should go the baby formula route (and risk getting sideways with His Mayorship, Lord Mike Bloomberg Bonaparte), is the money you had to spend to obtain that baby formula not just as dependent upon the food you ate and the coursing of your blood? Dead people, in my experience, aren’t particularly industrious or adept at earning money to buy things like baby formula.

    “As long as the fetus is physically within the woman’s body and dependent upon her circulatory and respiratory system, it cannot claim individual rights because it is not an individual. At birth, the fetus is biologically autonomous and becomes a self-owner with full individual rights. Although it cannot survive without assistance, this does not affect those rights. The baby simply experiences the dependence of any helpless human being.” Given that a newborn is no less dependent on constant care and nourishment than a fetus, the only defining or triggering event that you seem to identify that suddenly gives an infant the status and rights of personhood is physical separation from its mother’s body. How is this not completely arbitrary? What if the baby is out, but the umbilical cord hasn’t been cut yet? And is there not a difference between, on the one hand, a “potential” human that, if life simply proceeds along its natural course with no unusual intervening events, will definitely, positively, inevitably become a fully-fledged, separate human being and, on the other, a gamete (sperm or egg) that is truly only a “potential” human inasmuch as a complex cascade of events must happen in a very particular order for the gamete to become a human? It would seem that the “separateness” factor that you hang your hat on is a distinction without a difference, whereas the difference in “potentialities” I’ve just identified is not.

    “When a woman uses her own money to pay for an abortion, she has assumed full responsibility for the pregnancy.” So if a woman hires a hit man to whack her child, has she “assumed full responsibility” for the child?

    “Note an odd inconsistency about how many anti-abortionists use of the word ‘responsibility.’ It is revealed in how they handle rape pregnancies. The woman cannot be responsible in any sense for a situation in which she had no choice. Nevertheless, the consistent position is that the fetus is still a human being and abortion is still murder. But if it is of no real consequence, why is the issue of responsibility being raised at all?” Here you’ve set up a straw man, pure and simple, since “many” anti-abortionists don’t advocate treating rape the same as an unplanned pregnancy that has occurred purely as the result of irresponsible behavior. Only a tiny minority do, and for that very reason–there can be no moral responsibility on the part of a woman for the creation of a totally dependent being in cases involving rape.

    Sorry, Wendy, but you’re out to lunch here. In turning your gaze to the phrase “individual human rights,” you have focused entirely on the word “individual” and not at all on the word “human.” A fetus is human–it’s not gerbil or ring-tailed lemur. And it’s a being, since it exists and is alive. In making its individuality depend entirely on physical separateness, you’re on the thinnest ice imaginable. Let me ask you this: If you encounter a pair of conjoined twins, which do you adjudge the “individual”? Does either have human rights, or does neither?

    • JustSayNoToStatismNo Gravatar says:

      Sean: At what point did the fetus become a human?

      • AuNeroNo Gravatar says:

        This is known as the continuum problem. Such as the question: At what age can a person give consent?

    • cb750No Gravatar says:

      Agreed with JustSayNoToStatism. When did the fetus become a person or even a moral agent vs a lump of cells?

    • PrimeNo Gravatar says:

      What responsibility (or duty) does a woman have to sustain the life of anyone, whether it is inside or outside her body? What claim does anyone, including a fetus and a small child, have to the life and labor of the woman?

      I really think this is the biggest, if not the only, question that needs answered in the abortion debate.

      • GilNo Gravatar says:

        Murray Rothbsard answered that and saw abortion as pre-birth child abandonment. Which is to say, parent have no duty to raise children and they can abandon their children at any time for any reason regardless if they will soon die. Forcing parents to take care of their children breaks the sacred N.A.P.

        • RickNo Gravatar says:

          Unbelievable! The psychological and social costs of this Rothbardian position are staggering, but we are probably bound to conclude that when a complete rejection of the state is advocated.

          I would suggest there are better alternatives, even though they may involve breaking the NAP, and more importantly, making the male more accountable and liable for pregnancies, such as “preglimony:” http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1788440

          • RickNo Gravatar says:

            But to be honest, I have a far more radical suggestion (though it’s far less radical than Rothbard’s killing/neglecting babies), which is simply to make parents and caregivers fully liable for the premature prenancies of their minor children. This measure may eventually lead to parents/caregivers recommending procedures like vascetomies for their sons and tubal ligations for their daughters upon reaching puberty, but so long as the procedure is reversible, I think this causes much less psychological damage to our young and our society in general.

          • PrimeNo Gravatar says:

            “The psychological and social costs of this Rothbardian position are staggering”

            There are no such costs. There is no requirement that mothers abort their pregnancies or abandon their children. It is a woman’s right to choose not to support the child, just as it is her right to choose not to give to charity.

            • RickNo Gravatar says:

              Prime, many psychotherapists will confirm that unwanted or neglected children are some of the most difficult people to help, and most infant psychologists will confirm that, from the perspective of an infant’s brain, neglect is psychologically equivalent to death.

              It is much better in my view to do everything medically possible to prevent unwanted or unplanned pregnancies, than to resent, neglect, or end a life that has begun its trajectory.

              • PrimeNo Gravatar says:

                That would stem from the choice to refuse nurturing, not from the recognition that there is no obligation to nurture.

                • RickNo Gravatar says:

                  There is no real choice after one has contributed to put another’s life at peril. To use my prior example, I have a choice as to whether I will attempt to rescue a life that someone else has placed at risk, but no real choice as to whether I must help or compensate someone that I have placed in harm’s way.

                  • PrimeNo Gravatar says:

                    Is refusing to support someone the same as putting them in harm’s way? Not unless that someone has a right to force one to provide such support… which is what is being disputed.

                    • RickNo Gravatar says:

                      Ironically, fetuses in the U.S. today are in the same position that women have been in throughout the ages, they both have the right to have trespassing prevented and punished, but haven’t had the political/legal power to enforce the right (because of a prevailing excessively patriarchal bully mentality, i.e., “might is right”).

                      But to more directly answer your question, yes, refusing to support or compensate someone to whom a duty of care is owed is making that someone vulnerable and putting them in harm’s way. That person to whom a duty of care is owned has a right to be made whole again, or to be put back into the circumstances s/he was in before the trespass occured, not to be left vulnerable in a disadvantaged position.

                    • PrimeNo Gravatar says:

                      Made whole again to what? Non-existence? If conception is the point at which the woman has done something to incur a debt to the unborn, then putting the unborn back to the way it was before conception would resolve the issue. Nourishing the unborn would be perpetuating the condition the woman (and man) created to put it “in harm’s way.” The unborn cannot be considered to have been harmed or put in harm’s way by the act of being created, because that would imply that it was in a better condition beforehand… which is obviously not possible – there was no “it” before the point of conception.

        • DaveNo Gravatar says:

          Which is all bullshit because the parents are the reason why the child is there to begin with. *You* are the one who brings a child into the world, it doesn’t bring itself in. And you bring it in knowing that it’s going to be dependent. Therefore if you abandon it or fail to take care of it properly you’re initiating force against that child.

    • Sean…you raise several points and, for reasons of time, I must confine myself to only one. And, so, I will just pick the first point you make re: equating a fetus that is hooked up to and dependent upon a woman’s bodily functions with a newborn who is autonomous but dependent upon another person for sustenance. First, the fetus is not an autonomous person capable of drawing independent breath and so is not an individual with individual rights; the baby is. Second, there can be no right for a fetus or other entity to “own” the functions of a woman’s body so that she cannot use her own blood flow and breath as she pleases; including to sustain herself alone and no one/nothing else. Third, when you are talking about a mother refusing to feed a newborn, you are talking about parental rights and responsibilities, which is a fascinating topic but an entirely separate one.

      You cannot start discussion at the point where you assume a fetus is the legal and moral equivalent of a baby because this is the exact point under debate. It is like starting the debate on God with the premise “We all know God exists…so should we all worship him/her or not?”

      • Martin BrockNo Gravatar says:

        Rothbard argues that a parent may starve an infant to death. Do your libertarian assumptions lead you to the same conclusion? If not, why not?

        I favor limited abortion rights, but I’m not sure what it means for abortion to be logically required by libertarianism. I don’t know what is ethical by making a few, axiomatic assumptions and deducing logical consequences from these assumptions. When assumptions lead to conclusions that I can’t stomach, I reexamine the assumptions.

      • Sean SmithNo Gravatar says:

        You’re right–I am beginning with an assumption of an answer to the very point being debated, because I know not what else to conclude, so I err on the side of the fetus having the same status as an infant or any other human person. This is admittedly arbitrary, but arbitrary in a manner that avoids all sorts of moral pitfalls. Thing is, you also assume an answer–that physical separation is the defining attribute marking the distinction between fetus and person. This is equally arbitrary. I think the points in favor of my conclusion are more compelling, and I’ll do my best to explain why.

        The main thing underlying all of your assumptions seems to be the sharing of bodily functions. That is, when a fetus is gestating, it’s using your oxygenated blood, waste elimination systems, and so forth, whereas this is not the case once it’s out and breathing on its own. Fair enough. But then you go on to specifically likening pregnancy (when unwanted/unplanned and a woman is forced to endure it by being denied abortion rights) to SLAVERY, which is a fundamentally flawed analogy. Slaves, last time I checked, were separate beings from their masters. So the slavery analogy would only work if you were referring to a baby that’s been born, not to one still in gestation. In fact, slavery is a much more apt metaphor for an infant than it is for a fetus, since when pregnant (except when driving the porcelain bus from morning sickness), a woman is still the master of her own time. You don’t need to do anything extra to care for a fetus other than perhaps abstain from smoking and heavy drinking. You just get on with life until the Big Day arrives. On the other hand, anyone who has cared for a child from birth until they mercifully start school can probably give you a fairly accurate description of what “slavery” is like.

        Hence the anti-slavery label would be more a justification for infanticide than for abortion. I don’t believe for a second that’s the trail you were seeking to go down, but there you are.

        Secondly, slaves (unless indentured) do not bear any moral responsibility for their enslavement–they were either captured or born into servitude. Not so the woman who has experienced a recreational accident (and again, leaving aside cases of rape). Sorry, but there’s just no cavalier way to brush aside the moral responsibility component, your breezy attempt notwithstanding. It’s simply too relevant to the discussion.

  3. “… Self-ownership begins with your skin. …” is true. So abortion is the unlimited right of every women. Or shell be the society the owner of the uterus of a women? Emotions or religious aspects cannot play a role in legal questions. It can only play a role in a free individual decision of a women.

    • Agreed. I have moral objections to abortion and those objections grow stronger as the fetus grows closer to being an actualized individual…but morality is not a legal matter. The law properly addresses rights and restitution. Period.

      • DaveNo Gravatar says:

        Of course morality is a legal matter. Violation of people’s rights or not is what constitutes morality.

  4. cb750No Gravatar says:

    The mother has a right to disconnect herself from the fetus and not have to support it. Does she have a right to call for its death?

    Sounds odd but what if technology could remove the fetus, raise it in a jar and not have the mother involved. Can she then call for its death? Or does she ONLY have the right to disconnect herself from the fetus?

    Can she also then be obligated to care for the fetus if it is disconnected? We do this with men who are not part of the biological process yet the state has no problem sticking them with the bill. A man can even be stuck with a child that isn’t his. So why does this also not apply to females?

    It seems to me the female can ONLY call for the removal of the fetus and not its death. Like removing someone unwanted from your home you don’t get the choice how you do this. You can’t just cut them up with a chainsaw and stuff the body parts out a window. If the fetus can be removed without terminating it (say a 6 month) can the female call for its death to remove it OR must she practice proportionality.

  5. HReardenNo Gravatar says:

    Why bring up this topic? People just argue their side and nobody seems to ever change their position. It seems like a waste of time to debate it. Perhaps there will come a day when technology will exist that will enable a festus to develope outside of the womb to fully developed baby and then the issue will be moot because aborted festus will be able to become born via that technology.


    • Hi H.R.: Again, thanks for the correction you made on the YouTube address on the wendymcelroy BB. .

      Abortion does not go away because it is a key, core issue that deals with what is arguably the most important social process — reproduction and the continuation of the species. It does not go away because religion and politics have traditionally attempted to control this most important of all social issues and to do so through the control of women’s bodies (and men’s as well).

      I bring up abortion for three basic reasons. 1) I am not merely taking a position when I say that banning abortion violates/negates the fundamental principles of libertarianism. Personally, I don’t like discussing the issue because (to some degree) it pits my moral sense against my commitment to individual rights in a manner that does occur in discussions of prostitution, for example. But I am unwilling to abandon those fundamental principles and abortion is one the front line fights. 2) Re: people’s mind do not change….the same might be said of many issues — e.g. war. That does not mean the issues are not worth fighting against or for. 3) I *have* changed people’s minds. And I’ve had people change my mind on various aspects of abortion. There are reasonable people out there who can be reached.

  6. AlejandroNo Gravatar says:

    I think just beyond the many biological, theological, and philosophical questions and arguments that arise on this issue on abortion, is to also consider the practicality of installing such policy (pro-life ) in what should be a “free” society. Since I take more of a consequentialist position and I ask pro-life Libertarians to thus consider how would a women who gets an abortion and/or the person who performs the abortion or witnesses one be punished in a Libertarian society? Should they both be given a first degree murder sentence which can constitute 20 years to life or even death penalty? Considering we are equating abortion to murder of a baby, surely the sentence would be harsher in a court of law and since one the reasons that we claim to put people in jail is because we consider them a “danger” to society, are we to say women who have abortions and or the people who perform them are a danger to society and should be locked up? Should they receive the same sentence as someone who kills a two-year old by decapitation or drowning (referring to actual incidents).

    These are the questions you should be asking ourselves if you take a pro-life policy position. Even if as a Libertarian you are consistent with your stance on the issue of “life” (being pro-life, anti-war, and anti-death penalty), certainly most pro-life conservatives and Republicans are not. Even if abortion is left to the states(the Ron Paul position), most states would indeed enact a pro-life policy (from conception) and enact a punishment of life in prison or the death penalty and not see the hypocrisy to such actions. I think if you’re pro-life and a Libertarian it is more important to seek other ways of reducing the “demand” abortions by privatizing or mutualizing adoptive services, health clinics, healthcare itself, defund PP, privatize pregnancy shelters, and to privatize or better yet promote alternative to incarceration. Whether you like to admit it or not, pro-life policy is a form of prohibition, and prohibition never causes a reduction on anything, in fact it creates more a demand while increasing both the police state and prison system.

    Pro-life policy is a step backwards, not forward. Even when we had pro-life policies women were still having abortions by the hundredth thousands, and this was during times were family values and religion were at the height of popularity. Are we willing to grow both the police state and prison system (arms of the state) just so we can essentially “feel better” about ourselves? Such institutions would only increase in size and control if such a policy would exist. How do we enforce such a law? Will we now have billboards saying “If you see something, say something” as part of an illegal abortion awareness campaign? In the end, Im just not comfortable with putting innocent women and some men behind bars that pose no threat to society and have zero psychological problems just so we can feel happy and contempt about the world we live in.

  7. HReardenNo Gravatar says:

    Consider this: Suppose someone is knocked unconscience and is placed aboard a non-commercial plane without the owners’ knowledge. The unconscience man is hidden somewhere on the plane. The owner of the plane board the plane with the piolot and co-pilot and the plane takes off. At some point during the flight the unconscience man wakes up and doesn’t know what is going on. As he is walking about the plane the owner of the plane spots him and accuses him of trespassing on his property – the plane. Does the owner have the right to force the man who dooes not have a parachute to leave the plane immediately? If the man were forced out of the plane that he was placed on without his knowledge or consent without a parachute is that murder? Wouldn’t the morally right thinhg to do is let the man off after the plane lands?


    • CharlotteNo Gravatar says:

      You’re doing what Wendy mentioned in the article — equating a fetus, which has not been born and thus is not a fully actualized human being, with a fully-formed and already-born human being. The two situations are not analogous, so please feel free to burn your strawman somewhere else.

      • DWMNo Gravatar says:

        And you are not equating a fetus with a “fully actualized human being”. So tell me, at what point does the leap from being partially actualized to fully actualized occur? Oh wait, there is no such magical point, we just change moment to moment. A two year old is “not fully actualized”, nor is a twelve year old- if you take peak physiological and mental development as “fully actualized”. At 46YO, I am not quite fully actualized anymore, past my peak. SOmewhere in the 86 to 96 range I will become as physically and mentally capable as I was at 3YO. Truth is that human development does not take place is two big steps, conception and full actualization (whatever that means???). Who has the real strawman here Charlotte? (note that I have not actually stated a position on abortion, but have pointed out the difficulty in arriving at a position)

      • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

        Is a fetus life? Sure a fetus us not a fully developd human. But is a fetus life? A dog is not human but it is a living creature.


      • AuNeroNo Gravatar says:

        Just because it hasn’t been born doesn’t mean it is not a human being. Watch your assumptions there.

        • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

          How do you define human being?


          • AuNeroNo Gravatar says:

            This is a continuum problem. Same as when you ask at what age does a child become and adult and is able to give consent.

            • Sean SmithNo Gravatar says:

              There is no “continuum problem.” A child has the exact same right to live as an adult, so a discussion of when someone has the right to give consent, or enter into contracts, is about as relevant to the right to LIVE as a discussion of what tax bracket unicorns should be in. There are reasons, e.g., meaningful distinctions, between children and adults when it comes to the capacity to give consent or enter into contracts. There are none between children and adults when it comes to the right to live. If anything, I think it’s safe to say that our society has determined that children have a GREATER right to live than adults, inasmuch as they cannot be drafted into the armed forces and murder of a child is an aggravating factor leading to a harsher sentence in most states.

              The only issue I’ve been able to identify throughout the article and the comments that follow is whether being born–the physical separation of mother and child–is somehow the triggering event that bestows rights upon the child that it didn’t have in utero. I have yet to see a clear explanation of what, in particular, it is about the event of birth that makes it so pivotal to the child obtaining rights that it lacked a half-second before it drew it first breath. Since there is effectively no way to avoid some degree of arbitrariness in making this determination, my point is simply this: When the question is one of such profound importance as whether or not you’re DELIBERATELY TAKING A HUMAN LIFE – an act which, in every other context except combat or self-defense, is unambiguously (and correctly) defined as either murder or manslaughter, should we not err on the side of an unborn child being a human endowed with inalienable human rights? It’s not a question of whether or not reasonable minds can differ on this. Certainly they can, as they can on all vexing, intractable issues of morality and public policy. I’ve been firmly on both sides of this one myself, and most thoughtful people can see plenty of gray. The question is, since we can’t know with absolute certainty which side is right, which side is it safest to err on? Seems like a no-brainer to me!

              • RickNo Gravatar says:

                “I have yet to see a clear explanation of what, in particular, it is about the event of birth that makes it so pivotal to the child obtaining rights that it lacked a half-second before it drew it first breath.”

                Sean, my understanding of the reasoning contained in Roe v. Wade is that it relates almost entirely on a flukey interpretation of the 14th Amendment, which only extends federal rights to citizens “born” in the United States.

                The first sentence of the 14th reads: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States . . . ”

                In other words, as bizarre as it sounds, killing a child right before it is officially “born” is not murder because s/he is not yet considered to be a person or citizen entitled to protection (i.e., not yet considered to have a Lockean property right in its life) under the 14th Amendment.

              • PrimeNo Gravatar says:

                There is no “right to live” anymore than there is a “right to health care.”
                For example, if your life depends on a heart transplant, you have no right to force another person to give their heart to you. There is a right to self-ownership, which means one has the right to labor to perpetuate one’s life. It does not mean one has the right to force others to labor for their benefit.

  8. MAMNo Gravatar says:

    So a newly born is dependent on the parents (or someone) after birth for a long time. If the mother decides to dump the kid off into a trash can is that okay?

    Is refusing to help the kid the same as killing it? If positive rights exist for a human child, do they exist to our pets? Do they extend to cows? Is it wrong to eat hamburger then? What about plants?

    • cb750No Gravatar says:

      Its sad but the mother does not have to support a child. We could ask this question of the father, can a father be compelled to pay for a child they did not want? More than likely it would be better if we got rid of adoption red tape and made it far easier for families to adopt kids. How many parents go to other countries to adopt a child? In fact why does the state have to be involved at all.

      As for the other questions, not doing something is not a moral wrong since you performed no action. You cannot commit a moral wrong without committing some action.

      • RickNo Gravatar says:

        “Its sad but the mother does not have to support a child. We could ask this question of the father, can a father be compelled to pay for a child they did not want?”

        A mother most definitely has a duty to support a child she caused to come into being, and so does the father, despite what Murray Rothbard taught on the issue.

        There is generally no duty for a passerby to rescue someone from a burning building caused by others, but if the passerby caused the fire, or caused the victim (or helpless child) to be in a dangerous circumstance, a duty of care absolutely arises.

  9. RickNo Gravatar says:

    A new legal concept called “preglimony” seems to be developing: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1788440

    Just wondering if anyone (on either side of the argument) had an opinion as to how the enforcement of this legal concept might ultimately affect the tension between rights of the woman vs. those of the fetus.

  10. Seth KingNo Gravatar says:

    For me, I like to think about the ramifications of assuming abortion to be a crime. So, let’s do a thought experiment and assume it is a crime to abort a fetus.

    From the anarchist’s point of view, we know that the state is illegitimate because it forces taxpayers to pay for everything it does. Therefore, the state does not have the moral authority to give candy to a baby, let alone go after criminals. So, we can say that even if abortion is a crime, the state is not the entity by which to punish.

    Now, assuming that abortion is a crime, and also assuming that there is no state, but only private defense agencies who raise their funds through voluntary means, such as membership, we can say that there could feasibly be defense agencies that go after women for the crime of abortion, and those that do not. Individuals that do not view abortion as a crime, or simply do not wish to crusade against those who abort, would not fund a defense agency that went after abortion criminals. They would only join defense agencies that left abortionists alone.

    Then on the other side, there would be those who were willing to fund a defense agency that crusaded against abortion criminals. Those who commit abortion would either be vulnerable to attack if not a member of a defense agency, or they would be defended by an agency that did not view abortion as a crime.

    I’m willing to assume that only a very small percentage of the population would be willing to fund such a crusade and would likely bankrupt themselves in the process for doing so.

    Therefore, I think it’s safe to say, that in absence of the state, abortion would happen without molestation. If I were to speculate, however, that without the state, so many of society’s problems would be solved and abortion would likely become a thing of the past.

    • JustSayNoToStatismNo Gravatar says:

      “I’m willing to assume that only a very small percentage of the population would be willing to fund such a crusade and would likely bankrupt themselves in the process for doing so.”
      ^ That’s a good assumption. It’s the same argument for drug laws. If the moralizers have all the costs concentrated on themselves, they’ll give up really fast. Saying “I oppose X” is very different from having the willingness to put your wealth, safety (life?), and reputation on the line to physically prevent X.

      • Seth KingNo Gravatar says:

        This is why I think it’s so important for people to use Bitcoin and defund the monster. Once it loses it’s funding, the rest will fall into place… freedom!

        • Seth…you amaze me. I didn’t think there were any aspects of abortion that I had not yet considered but I have never thought about the role of private defense agencies in the matter. Well done.

    • RickNo Gravatar says:

      ” . . . assuming that there is no state, but only private defense agencies who raise their funds through voluntary means, such as membership, we can say that there could feasibly be defense agencies that go after women for the crime of abortion, and those that do not. Individuals that do not view abortion as a crime, or simply do not wish to crusade against those who abort, would not fund a defense agency that went after abortion criminals. They would only join defense agencies that left abortionists alone.”

      Seth, do we really want multiple competing idiosyncratic mafia-like “private defense agencies” enforcing the rights of women and/or fetuses?

      • cb750No Gravatar says:

        As opposed to one monopoly that has unlimited license to use force with no liability?

        I agree with Seth. Its in the states interest to pursue banning abortion because it makes the state more powerful and abortion could not be banned if left in the private sector because the special interest against it is way to small to effect a real change. Government is always a mechanism for special interest. It only lies about being “for the people”.

        I still don’t see how a private “attack” firm could have any authority to act… without a shotgun to the face. A defense firm is another matter.

  11. ErvNo Gravatar says:

    It amazes me how many of the commenters are not capable of differentiating state interference in the abortion decision and one’s personal position. Wendy’s point is that the ultimate decision belongs to the woman in question, as her body belongs to her and no one else. That position does not preclude having a rational discussion with her about factors to consider when making her choice.
    The only logically consistent anarchist position here is that the woman is allowed to make her choice to do what she feels is necessary for her own well being and those around her are allowed to attempt to convince her one way or the other. Initiation of force is not allowed! If a woman aborts a fetus and you vehemently disagree with that decision, the only decision left to you is to dissociate yourself from her. You do not get to lock her up nor do you get to force anyone else to dissociate. Likewise, you do not get to eliminate her “option” because you disagree with it.
    If you are going to be an anarchist, you must stay logically consistent or the statists will suck you into the matrix.

    • ShawnNo Gravatar says:

      Frankly, Erv, I think that’s a gross oversimplification. This isn’t one of the multitude of topics people can say they disagree on, but then at the end of the day say, “Well, to remain logically consistent as an anarchist, I have to agree you have the right to do X because it doesn’t harm anyone else.” This issue revolves around a very core and fundamental thought: WHEN does a conceived life-form become “human”? And is “human” different from “person”? If one truly believes that a conceived life-form is “human” from the moment of conception – because said life-form was conceived from two other humans – then they may have one way of thinking of when the conceived human becomes a “person.” Hence, at some point that will always seem arbitrary to others, they will believe that terminating the fetus constitutes murder, which clearly violates libertarian beliefs. There’s way more gray here than you like to admit.

      • ErvNo Gravatar says:

        Shawn, I think Wendy touched on your concern in the most honest way possible by differentiating using the ability to breathe and ingest nutrients. Due to advances in medicine, it is not impossible for a baby born 8 weeks early to survive.
        To be clear, I am not taking a position on abortion qua abortion, I am stating that the decision belongs solely to the woman involved. You are completely within your liberty to attempt to provide that particular woman with advice, but you cannot force the decision that she makes. You can offer to pay her to be a surrogate mother with the agreement that you will assume complete responsibility for the child the moment that it is born, but you cannot force her to carry the baby to term. My point here is that there are multiple options that do not involve the force of the state, which is what anarchy is about at its root.

  12. dLNo Gravatar says:

    “Pro-life”, “sanctity of life” certainly can be morally consistent with libertarianism in the sense that pacifism can be morally consistent with it. Of course, pacifism is not enforceable. Pro-life is not an enforceable obligation.

    Frankly, most who ascribe to pro-life, sanctity of life of life are not actually pacifist. So I view those terms as misnomers. If you suscribe to the right of self-defense, then you cannot claim that label. At best the label would be “ad-hoc pro-life.”

    There are two strains of argument that support the liberty to abort. One is the horrific consequences of enforcing abortion constraints. It’s not just considering the act as first degree murder. There is also the consideration that spontaneous abortions occur roughly at the same magnitude as “surgical abortions.” Since age can be a predictor of the likelihood of spontaneous abortion, you would have to prohibit female pregnancy after a certain age(35 or so). You would have to ban all assisted reproductive medical technologies.

    The ad-hoc pro-lifers will not go this far. So the ad-hoc pro-life position is an ad-hoc, targeted position against the sexual freedom of young females and the expression of some moral outrage that young sexually females are escaping the consequences of their actions.

    The second argument is that the liberty to abort is perhaps a necessary condition, from a moral contractarian position, for parental obligation post-birth. I often hear abortion on demand equated with infanticide, but I would argue that AoD is the thing that would obligate parental care post-birth(against neglect and infanticide.)

    More here:

    http://rulingclass.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/abortion-on-demand-is -the-only-defensible-libertarian-position/

    • dL…you raise one of the most important ‘spin off’ issues of abortion. Namely, the connection between abortion and subsequent parental rights and duties. The men’s movement and the father’s rights movement have been doing pioneer work regarding the rights and duties of fathers who (against the wishes of the woman) prefer either to abort or to have a fetus brought to term. If they prefer to abort and the woman does not, then why should she be able to control the man’s relationship to the ensuing child through child support, etc. I don’t always agree with the conclusions of the people in those movements — e.g. I reject that the father has a right to force the woman to bring the fetus to term because he wishes to have a child. But I applaud the fact that the movements are even discussing this almost utterly neglected aspect of abortion.

      • dLNo Gravatar says:

        Wendy, I am actually thinking of Benjamin Tucker’s position on the matter. While I do think abortion is a matter left to individual conscience, I do not think that infanticide should be similarly so treated.

        • dL: Tucker’s position on the acceptability of infanticide was horrendous and a direct result of his abandonment of natural rights theory to adopt Stirnerite egoism. Tucker’s position appalled so many of his radical colleagues that many simply left his periodical Liberty and distanced themselves from him. Actually, I would have done the same.

          For those unfamiliar with Tucker’s position… After abandoning individual rights, he wrestled with the status of children in a society based on egoism. He concluded that children belonged as property to their parents — most especially to the mother — up until the point at which the children could contract for themselves. He meant “belonged” in the literal sense. The children could be disposed of with no legal consequence. It was a low point in the history of individualist anarchism.

          • PrimeNo Gravatar says:

            “The children could be disposed of with no legal consequence. It was a low point in the history of individualist anarchism.”

            Was it a low point because it was a remarkably unsound argument, or because so many of us find it to be appalling on an emotional level?

          • John KindleyNo Gravatar says:

            I am going to have to read me some Stirner. In having occasion to point out recently that the essence of Anarchy is not the NAP but rulerlessness, I cited Stirner as an example of an influential anarchist who did not subscribe to the NAP. I liked what Stirner wrote about Jesus and revolution (which I admittedly gleaned only from Wikipedia). Regarding Tucker’s infamous assertion on Stirnerite grounds that no one would have the “right” to stop a woman from throwing her infant in a fire: Seems that based on the same Stirnerite grounds one would have the “egoist” “right” to not only stop her but to beat the hell out of her. Stirner after all was no respecter of so-called property rights, including the claim of others to own themselves.

  13. Any consideration of abortion as an issue must begin with a determination of whether or not the fetus is a person with rights. While it’s true, per McElroy, that many anti-abortion arguments beg the question on that, it does not follow that the pro-abortion argument is automatically correct.

    This is an extremely weak piece and unworthy of Wendy McElroy, whose careful reasoning I usually admire. Especially embarrassing is the concluding paragraph, which asserts that the basis of libertarianism is that if I swallow your Rolex, it magically becomes mine.

    • Hello Thomas: First, I must correct you.. I am not pro-abortion; I am pro-choice on the issue. This may seem like a subtle distinction but it is truly not. Nor am I claiming that weakness in anti-abortion arguments means pro-choice ones are correct by default. If I did believe that, then I would not present arguments *for* my position (as I did) but merely critiquing those of my opponents on this issue.

      I honestly don’t get the parallel to swallowing a Rolex and to hosting a fetus. Presumably the Rolex was someone else’s property to which the woman had no claim and, so, swallowing it was an act of theft that should be restituted. How to do so is another question. Perhaps she could pay for the cost of a new, identical watch? But, unless you are saying the fetus belonged to someone else and its being in a woman’s body sometimes constitutes an act of theft…then I don’t get the parallel.

      • Wendy,

        I don’t get the parallel between swallowing a Rolex and hosting a fetus, either. That’s why I find the final sentence of your piece …

        “If you cannot clearly state, ‘Everything beneath my skin is me; this is the line past that no one crosses without my permission,’ then there is no foundation for individual rights or for libertarianism.”

        … so defective as to be completely unworthy of consideration. It draws EXACTLY that parallel. It asserts that the foundation for individual rights and libertarianism is “anything beneath your skin is you, regardless of what it is, where it came from or how it got there. Fetus, Rolex, 1967 Ford Mustang, Jimmy Hoffa …”

        • Thomas…I was obviously speaking of biological integrity when I spoke of blood circulation, inhalation, digestion. I also think the context and parallel to slavery made my meaning clear. I was not speaking of stolen objects injected, which are not fed by my inhalation or the circulation of my blood. But if you think self-ownership means the toleration of theft (of a swallowed rolex) rather than a respect for the biological jurisdiction of each person over themselves…well, then this is a fundamental disagreement between us and that’s that. I have very few dogmatic principles but being anti-slavery is one of them.

          BTW, in a piece of approximately 1300 words that covers a lotta ground, it is not reasonable to expect every point sketched in fine detail.

          • Wendy,

            You write:

            “if you think self-ownership means the toleration of theft (of a swallowed rolex) rather than a respect for the biological jurisdiction of each person over themselves”

            That’s not what I think. That’s what you wrote.

            I am not “neutral” on the subject of abortion, but I’m also not decided on the subject of abortion. Facile talking points which fall apart under even cursory examination bug the hell out of me, regardless of which side of the argument they come from.

            • Thomas…I will stop posting in response to you after this message and allow you to have the final word because I do not wish to take personal offense as I am beginning to. The self-ownership argument is not facile even if (by necessity) I stated it briefly. Your swallowed watch example — if viewed as a rebuttal of the right to control your own bodily functions — would invalidate most of the 19th century abolitionist arguments against slavery, the Lockean view of self-proprietorship, the individual anarchist view of self-soveriegnty, etc. etc. it is akin to stating that — because a dinner guest left a purse in your house, you have no property rights in your house because it contains property that is not yours. But enough. As I said, you may have the last word on this matter — including insults — and I will not read your response because I value our continuing relationship in the movement.

  14. The word rights, as it is used in such debates as the question of abortion, is a word without meaning, a ‘floating abstraction’ as Ayn Rand defined it.

    There can never be a right to anything that must be provided by someone else. There cannot be a, ‘right to abortion,’ as a medical procedure, because no one has a claim on any procedure that must be performed by a medical professional. There can no more be a right to an abortion than there can be a right to a root canal.

    If a woman would like to have an abortion and can find a doctor willing to perform the procedure and she can pay for it, it would be wrong for anyone to interfere in the freely chosen act of those two individuals. That would be right, but it’s not ‘a right.’

    Once you see there can be no right that is a claim on anyone else’s life, most of the argument about abortion disappears. “Does the unborn child have a right to life?” it is seriously intoned. The truth is, no one has a ‘right to life’ in the sense it is used in the abortion debate. No one who cannot feed himself has a right to force someone else to feed him; no one who cannot provide his own clothing has a right to force someone else to provide his clothing; no one who needs anything to live has a right to force anyone else to provide the necessities of his life. There is no such right.

    The rest of the debate about abortion ignores the most essential principle of all. Other’s lives are not my business. My only relationship with others is to deal with them reasonably. It is not my business to make anyone else behave morally, and it is no one else’s business either. It is this one principle that most individuals never grasp, or perhaps evade, that the moment they meddle in anyone else’s life, they have diminished there own life by surrendering some part of it to the life of another.

    • Welcome aboard Reginald. I should clarify what I mean by a ‘right to abort’. I am not speaking of an entitlement by which someone — a taxpayer or a medical practitioner — is obliged to provide me with the procedure any more than when I use the term ‘right to free speech” am I referring to someone’s obligation to provide me with a podium. What I do mean is this… No one has the right to prevent me from self-aborting or from purchasing the procedure with my own money from someone willing to provide it.

      And I couldn’t agree more. The primary responsibility of every person is to treat others with reason and respect for their rights.

      • Thanks Wendy. Just FYI, if anyone else is bothered by the wide screen, it because of the link to Victor Koman’s book; the long URL will not wrap. Not sure you can edit it. Now I’ll mind my own business.

  15. RomanNo Gravatar says:

    Hoppian voluntary segregation is the best solution to difficult moral questions. It is the natural consequence of private ownership of roads.

    There is room in the world for a variety of norms on issues like immigration and abortion.

  16. John ThackerNo Gravatar says:

    “To give the fetus a ‘right’ to consume another person’s bodily functions is to establish two rights claims over one body. The word that describes a system in which one man has property rights in another is slavery, and it is the antithesis of libertarianism.”

    This seems true, but I don’t see how the right to an abortion follows from this. A woman definitely has the right to evict the fetus and deny it the ability to consume her bodily functions. It’s not clear how this logically extends to the right to kill the parasite instead of inducing early birth and giving it up, when viability outside the uterus is possible.

    Indeed, by later discussing how a newborn (or especially a premature birth) is dependent on others and will die unassisted, it only demonstrates the weakness of this argument.

    Killing is justified to prevent or terminate trespass where it is necessary, but at viable ages it is not necessary.

    • cb750No Gravatar says:

      This was a question I’ve had above and relates to proportionality. If someone enters my home and I want them to leave I can’t just choose any means I like to evict them.

      But maybe the real issue, as Wendy pointed out above is DON’T get to that position to begin with. Don’t get to 7 months. And don’t assume some wack job is going to wait till 8.9 months then say “I want an abortion”.

      Instead make it easier to get an abortion up front before the fetus is anything but a zygote and be done with it.

      Think about it this way. Would you want to force a child to have a mother who blatantly said she wanted an abortion at 8.9 months for some flippant, stupid reason? She’s not going to make a prime parent.

      I think getting an abortion IS responsibility.

  17. cb750No Gravatar says:

    One aspect of the whole abortion debate which is ironic to me is that a lot of the very same people who cry about “my body, my choice” through that out in almost every other circumstance outside of abortion. I would say the title of this article should be reversed. All abortion rights advocates should adopt libertarian in all other areas. Its hypocritical to be zealous about abortion rights then throw away the same concept and club the same woman over the head with contract with society or some collectivist garbage or dictating what she can eat, how much she can weigh, what she can do with her body, if she can smoke.

    So I would say if one is for abortion rights then it makes no sense NOT to be libertarian in all other areas. Why expand liberty ONLY in one specific area? Is this really about liberty for these advocates or is it about utilitarian collectivism. Abortion serves the interests of the collective. If one has this view then its dishonest to promote a “my body, my choice” view when clearly they do no believe this and really support abortion as some utilitarian/eugenics solution to population control/poverty/social management.

    There is no such thing as a part time libertarian. You can’t be progressive/conservative in one area then be socially libertarian in a few, select areas. It makes no sense. You’re christian except for the times you’re Jewish??

    • CB…Je suis d’accord. I am especially annoyed by the sort of feminist who argues for abortion on the grounds of “my body, my choice” and then demands that taxpayers finance her choice. Once you fully accept the principle of self-ownership, you are a libertarian. In their wording of the principle, the 19th century abolitionists included the statement that a person’s jurisdiction over himself could not become secondary to any other moral or practical consideration. Whenever I find apparent libertarians willing to violate individual rights, it is usually because they raise another consideration above self-ownership. For example, they agree that people should be free to consume whatever they wish but heroin should remain illegal in order “to protect the children.” So it is not merely the acceptance of the principle of self-ownership, it is also the priority you give that principle in your hierarchy of beliefs.

  18. Jeff BerwickNo Gravatar says:

    We recently did an Anarchast episode with Wendy on just this very topic! http://youtu.be/iA-a_RrKKgE

    • The interview was great fun and I finally got to meet Jeff Berwick of the Dollar Vigilante. I hope people here check out the Anarchast that addresses topics ranging from abortion to Murray Rothbard. Let me know what you think of it!

  19. LilyNo Gravatar says:

    Steeeerike … and you’re out, Wendy – at least on this issue. *SIGH*

    Saddens me to see your flawed take on this issue of our very humanity, actually. I’m sorry you wrote this, and that others have read it. This is precisely why your version of libertarianism is unworkable, some of you still believe in force and/or aggression, which, upon its face is antithetical to liberty. Until and unless one gets on board with its base principles, libertarianism will ‘show’ as no better than the status quo.

    Are you forgetting that abortions were actually begun merely as a supportive vehicle for eugenics (see early beginnings)? So, in essence, you are supporting a eugenics progenitor, Malthusianism. Hmmm, aggression and violence against another. Who’da thunk it?

    A human infant in utero only ‘became’ a fetus shortly after the dastardly 1973 decision – until then, it had always been a ‘baby’, nothing else. Terminology was gradually altered (by those in power with an agenda) to dehumanize the infant and hopefully smooth things over for those that abhorred that fateful decision. The ruse worked, you now think a baby is nothing more than a blob of tissue, or a fetus – a non-person, ineligible for protection. Shades of ‘newspeak’!

    Further, viability is a moot issue, it is still a baby, no matter how eugenicists such as yourself choose to spin it. Sorry for the ad hominem attack, but, in this instance, it is apparently spot on.

    Finally, for the stance of a truly thoughtful libertarian human being, please see this article, it will benefit all that read it:
    Libertarianism and Abortion by Laurence M. Vance: http://lewrockwell.com/vance/vance297.html

    • cb750No Gravatar says:

      “Are you forgetting that abortions were actually begun merely as a supportive vehicle for eugenics (see early beginnings)? So, in essence, you are supporting a eugenics progenitor, Malthusianism. Hmmm, aggression and violence against another. Who’da thunk it?”

      That’s a fallacy. Guns have been used to murder people, that does not mean when one uses a gun they are always committing murder.

      Just because some advocate the use of abortion for eugenics does NOT mean that is the only use for abortion nor the reason someone is having an abortion.

      You are flat out dishonest in the rest of your post associating Wendy with eugenics because she believes a woman has a right to her body. I’m not going to say a right to abortion because a right to your body covers all. No need to single out abortion. I can choose to cut my fingers off if I like. Its none of your business. You don’t have to like me for it but that’s about all you can do.

      Abortion is not eugenics. Abortion maybe used in eugenics just like a gun maybe used in a massacre but that does not mean all gun ownership is supporting massacres.

      The article is dishonest for two reasons. First it assumes a fetus is a child which its not. Second it assumes no one can use force to evict someone from their property. I’d bet Mr. Vance probably believes he can force an unwanted visitor from their home or call the police to have them removed even IF the visitor is doing no harm.

      If the “no harm while trespassing” claim were true then anyone entering any property without permission but not being violent could never be removed. In fact trespassing IS aggression. The fetus is aggressing. It is consuming resources, deforming the female’s body, presenting a life threatening risk. Its NOT harmless and it IS effecting directly the female who caries it.

      Given your rational, a fetus who is a life threatening risk to the mother cannot be removed cause its just a widdle cute baby that’s harming no one.

      • LilyNo Gravatar says:

        Before anyone goes calling fallacy on things, why not first look up the writings of eugenicist and planned parenthood founder Margaret Sanger (and her ilk). It really helps if you know what you’re talking about. Then see this film and how people have been duped into thinking abortion is ‘only’ a question of women’s rights. Abortion on demand is far more than just a money making scheme, it’s a legalized racket, and a whole lot more!

        Any dishonesty is on those that think widdle babies are going around doing nothing but harming mothers worldwide and that above all else, one should be able to snuff it out like a rabid animal. How would one plan to procreate if babies were literally sucking the very life from women, those pesky little varmints? Admittedly there are risks in many activities, pregnancy notwithstanding. How about stepping out of the shower, taking a drive in your car – and going to the movies? Given your rationale, one should ban showers, cars and movies. And probably popcorn.

        Oh, and I see god too. Because something is mentioned in an article doesn’t mean one must accept all, hook line and sinker. Take things with a grain, people! Reject those parts that are not applicable. I did not use any god in my remarks, so, forget all about the religions for this issue, it is moot.

        Willful killing of little humans in utero is still murderous, no matter how you ppl spin it. There are times when a choice is available, one should choose to take the high road whenever possible, and do no harm. Nuff said.

        • Lily,

          I hate to put it this way, but better to just get directly to the point:

          1) Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood didn’t invent intentionally induced abortion;

          2) The fact that “eugenics” considerations might be a motivating factor in some decisions to abort or not abort says very little about whether or not the procedure is moral/immoral per se.

          • LilyNo Gravatar says:

            Thomas, you’re right, short and sweet. You said: “I hate to put it this way, but better to just get directly to the point:

            1) Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood didn’t invent intentionally induced abortion;

            2) The fact that “eugenics” considerations might be a motivating factor in some decisions to abort or not abort says very little about whether or not the procedure is moral/immoral per se.”

            Granted, they did not invent abortions (first account of induced abortion in about 1550), but they do champion willful destruction of innocent human beings at any stage of life (even up to toddler age), and they’ve been sterilizing ‘undesirables’ (translate humans) for many years until they got the state to do it for them in 1973, and they get a great big fat paycheck to boot! It’s called ‘getting away with murder’. Any way you look at it, it was legislation from the bench, and unconstitutional, as are so many SCOTUS decisions.

            If you don’t think eugenics is immoral for any number of reasons, let alone deft killing of one’s own offspring, then, we are definitely not on the same page. Thanks anyway. If you don’t think hacking up, burning or stabbing babies is more than just a simple procedure, then you haven’t seen the taking of life in this manner. Look into these so called ‘procedures’ and if you don’t think of barbarism afterwards, then I don’t know what more to say.

            FYI: http://www.offthegridnews.com/2011/12/13/abortion-in-america-a-br ief-history/

            I’m not hanging my fierce defense of life on any single issue. Violence against innocent humanity for convenience sake, personal gain or one’s set of rights over another is my major beef. There’s enough killing going on, why do it to our own progeny, too?

            • cb750No Gravatar says:

              Now you’re arguing a strawman. Nobody, especially Wendy, is arguing eugenics. As has been pointed out to you and you even accepted, eugenics is NOT the only reason to abort and abortion came before Sanger and eugenics.

              You’re simply trying to make a connection that is not there. Advocating the right to abortion is not advocating eugenics anymore than advocating the right to carry a gun is not advocating murder.

            • “(first account of induced abortion in about 1550)”

              Try 2700 BC.

    • cb750No Gravatar says:

      Also the article you posted is using God as part of its proof.

      “Second, although it is true that “often a fertilized egg fails to implant in the lining of the uterus and is expelled during menstruation,” this doesn’t necessarily make God the “biggest performer of abortions.” Just because God allows something to happen doesn’t mean he’s the cause of it. Otherwise he would be responsible for all abortions. God “giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25) and “in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). As the author of life, God can take life anytime he chooses in any manner he chooses. ”

      Not exactly dealing from a whole deck.

    • Lily…you are 100% wrong about abortion springing from eugenics. The intentional interruption of a viable pregnancy dates back to medieval times when the abortions were induced by herbal means. Procedures that more closely resemble the modern day one were popular in colonial America and entirely legal at least until the point of “quickening.”

      You are also 100% wrong about my supporting eugenics and the notion that anyone who has an abortion is also supporting eugenics. I think you may have taken Margaret Sanger’s self-aggrandizing campaigns a bit too seriously. Although she often portrayed herself as such, Sanger wasn’t the fountainhead of abortion or birth control in America or elsewhere.

      • LilyNo Gravatar says:

        Belief is not fact, and cannot be validated. Often beliefs are irrational, such as excuses used in this argument supporting someone’s ‘rights’ over immature human life. “be·lief (b-l f) n. 1. The mental act, condition, or habit of placing trust or confidence in another. 2. Mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something.” More – “The state of believing; conviction or acceptance that certain things are true or real; faith, esp. religious faith; trust or confidence.” Still more: “Belief is assent to a proposition. Belief in the psychological sense, is a representational mental state that takes the form of a propositional attitude.” Finally: “A belief is an idea one accepts as being true or real. As a child, you probably had a strong belief that Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny really did exist.” Nowhere is there evidence that any so-called ‘belief’ is reality.

        Wendy, because one thinks/says/believes something or someone is 100% wrong doesn’t make it so, which obviously applies to me, too, as this is what I believe, but, based on known fact. The difference is, I have done my homework. Before one spouts off malformed opinions (beliefs) on issues, it might pay to read up! Granted, Sanger and her despicable lot (organization) may not be the fountainhead of eugenics, but proudly carry it forward (then and now) and eventually spurred legalized slaughter of innocents in amerika, basically calling the callous act of abortion a woman’s ‘prerogative’. Read up! Learn history everyone, read the actual writings of the woman and her ilk. It has been hidden from history and education in amerika, and with good reason. One can find all of these writings via your favorite search engine.

        I don’t blame anyone for not knowing their history, many here were ‘schooled’ in amerika, correct? Me too, but, the difference is, I have since learned, despite my taxpayer ‘rote’ schooling (additionally, one should learn the distinct difference between schooling and education). People have been duped, gamed, so to speak into thinking snow is black. Read up on that too, regarding the amerikan education system. It’s a plan that has come to fruition, judging by all the support for the deliberate execution of little human beings witnessed here.

        Further, Wendy, because one does not think they are party to a particularly barbaric population reduction scam/scheme, does not mean they don’t have the wool completely pulled over their eyes. Those in defense of abortion ‘rights’ are likely outwardly unsupportive of eugenics and/or genocide, don’t yet realize it, or are simply in denial, calling it a woman’s prerogative to be legally (but not lawfully) murderous of her own offspring, which serves to disguise said willful murder as ‘liberation’, ‘rights’ and ‘freedom’. Once again, one must determine the difference between the two distinct definitions of ‘legal’ and ‘lawful’. The twain do not meet on the matter.

        Comparing a recent mass murder to abortion – when 12 people are killed at a Colorado theater, it is called a ‘massacre’, but when 12 people are killed inside the planned parenthood (population reduction) clinic, it is called ‘choice’. So, deal with it. I realize you are going to call this a red herring. Predictable. However, ask yourself honestly – when does the ‘venue’ of one human being versus that of another make it alright to slay one, yet not the other? This argument aptly shows the hypocrisy of a nation that defends, protects and even voluntarily funds the murder of her own citizens in the name of ‘choice’. If you’ve read Orwell’s 1984, this is described as ‘newspeak’, that so many have fallen for.

        Abortion is an aggressive, deadly assault, a violation upon those that cannot speak for or protect themselves. Because an infant is packaged in a juvenile, immature form does not make it any less human (no matter the nonsensical dehumanizing judicial ‘lingo’ stating otherwise), nor does this stage of life absolve the infant’s inherent right to live and enjoy his guaranteed necessary protections. Abortion is a willful act of homicide, plain and simple. Essentially it is an ‘execution’, not unlike any other mob style murder. While one may have the right to evict another from his/her property, they have no right to willful and deliberate first degree murder of the most defenseless, those individuals needing loving protection the most. Occupation of a womb is not a killing offense. If the baby is in the wrong for said occupation, then let the punishment suit the ‘crime’. Let him live until he can get the heck outta there.

        That this is such a volatile issue for either ‘side’ should speak volumes. Can anyone ‘hear’ all the reasons why? Wrong is wrong, no matter the century, and no matter what one has been ‘schooled’ to think. If one can do one’s own thinking, instead of following a ‘herd’, we may be a step closer to regaining liberty. Think about it. Please?

        P.S.: Quoting Matt Barber in his brilliant review (which I found just this moment: http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2904569/posts) of “Bonhoeffer” by Eric Metaxas: “Whereas the Nazis were responsible for the wholesale murder of more than 6 million Jews, those today who support the practice of abortion homicide are no less complicit in the systematic slaughter of 55-million-and-counting equally precious human beings post Roe v. Wade. The parallels are undeniable and the science unequivocal. Murder is murder whatever stage of development the human victim.”

        How synchronistic is THAT? Hmmm? Please excuse/ignore any citations/references to biblical quotes or religion in the review, as they have no part in this argument. All the best to all of you.

  20. AlejandroNo Gravatar says:

    Reading some of the comments, I’m a bit surprised at the negative backlash. This is not the first time McElroy has written and spoken about abortion. She has wirtten about it before, plenty of times in the last decade, and has maintained the same position for the most part, in print and publically on the John Stossel show. I think this issue is not improtant but also very relevant to bring up since many states in the last few months have started enacting some very dangerous and restrictive anti-choice laws that are making abortion a criminal offense by the 20th week. Some are even going earlier, and others are requiring mandatory exams just to have one. One pro-choice organization recently listed 235 bills in legislatures that would restrict abortion. This is a problem, and I dont for see it going away.

    It’s strange because I’ve met many Libertarians/Voluntaryist/Anarchist who are willing to defend without hesitation other tough issues like voluntary slave contracts, access to child pornography on the Internet, age restriction laws on sex, privatizing homless and/or domestic violence shelters, allow end of life services, defend third world sweatshops conditions, remove child labor laws,and defund food stamps or welfare. However, talk abour abortion…and forget it! Now you have opened up a can of worms and we must look at all areas of biology,theology, ethics, and philosophy to come up with a solution. Why does abortion recieve this intellectual hiearchy above the other issues? I just don’t get it.

    • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

      Abortion is not a favorite topic of mine to discuss. The discussion go on and on. Argument, counter-argument,
      .more argument. It seems like a waste of time debating it.


      • H.R. There has been a sea-change from the 1970s to now in how the American public views abortion. This would seem to be clear evidence that opinions on abortion *do* change, albeit slowly.

    • Alejandro…abortion is a perfect storm of an issue, involving sexuality, feminism, religion, political control… And people do not like discussing it for several reasons: whichever side you take, it elicits incredibly strong negative responses; if you are an institute or periodical, then you don’t want to risk losing the *large* amount of conservative funds and subscribers currently in the movement; it is a difficult theoretical issue that evolves with time due to medical info being inserted into what is essentially a rights issue. I could go on and on….

      I 100% agree with you that it is an essential issue to address straight-on, however, because of the tremendously invasive laws being passed by various states. The clear intention of many states is to criminalize the activity of pregnant women who engage in behavior considered to be ‘high risk’ to the fetus, including imprisoning such women. Banning abortion is a slippery slope that leads to the state controlling the bodies of pregnant women.

  21. “Now you have opened up a can of worms and we must look at all areas of biology,theology, ethics, and philosophy to come up with a solution”

    Actually, I think the opposite is true: There isn’t a solution.

    Or, rather, one cannot deduce ***!!! THE LIBERTARIAN POSITION ON ABORTION !!!*** from self-ownership or from the non-aggression principle because attempting to do so invariably leads to begging insoluble (or at least as-yet-unsolved) questions of fact, talking across irreconcilable conflicting definitional claims, etc.

    To be honest, the only reason I bothered to read this whole piece is because it’s by Wendy McElroy. If anyone could “solve the problem” by making a sound argument that doesn’t run into those pitfalls, she’d be on my short list of persons likely to do so, i.e. very strong/clear/reasoning thinkers. Which may be part of why I come off as a little bitter above. I really hoped I’d discover that she had done so.

  22. Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

    I am of two minds on the subject of abortion. I am totally oppossed to its being illegal. I personally would not promote abortion any more than infanticide. That being said, many years ago I paid half for an abortion a girlfriend had after accidentally impregnating her. I first begged her to have the baby and I would adopt it if necessary, but she was adamant. To this day I feel pain at the loss and wonder what the baby would have been like.
    Wendy, your thesis rests upon the concept that natural individual rights exist. I have yet to see a convincing proof of that in a non-trivial sense. I am fond of saying, “Give a pound of rights to one person and an ounce of power to the other and see who wins”. Childishly stated perhaps, but I can proove the existence of power. The concept of rights is nebulous at best. I happen to like the idea of personal liberty and think that it is almost impossible to be truly happy without it. But I can’t agree in a philosophical sense that rights exist at all. It seems to me that if “rights” existed naturally that they would be self enforcing much like the various laws of physics. I will support libertarianism as the closest approximation to anarchism available right now, but I do so for the emotional and also pragmatic thought that life is best when you live free, not because I think natural rights to freedom exist. Jack London discussed this basic idea in his great book The Sea Wolf in the early 1900s. I do not see that anyone has made any real progress from his ideas in the 100 plus years since then.
    This whole discussion kind of reminds me of Rothbard’s writings. He too got hung up in convoluted logic chains trying to promote individual rights when the emotionally charged concept of abortion was involved. One nice thing about realizing that “rights” don’t exist in nature is that you can be either for or against a subject for personal reasons without regard for rights. In a pragmatic sense, abortions save individuals lots of money but sociologically are helping reduce the general IQ of the population since the vast majority of abortions occur in families with money and status. It may also be one reason for white Europeans being near zpg.

    • cb750No Gravatar says:

      There are really no first order proofs of anything which is actually a benefit to liberty minded people. If I have no rights, the states have no rights so the ultimate stalemate is no one can do anything.

      Also I think you’re confused on what rights are. If I do X and X does not use force against another then I have a right to do X. Rights are not invisible force fields that prevent any behavior. They are the moral basis for justifying force in the name of self defense. They help us discuss why one use of force is wrong while one use of force is right.

      • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

        Lets assume that you are right that I do not really understand what rights are. So far you have not helped me understand any better. When one starts talking about “right and wrong” it seems to me that one has assumed the existence of rights and are arguing circularly. I do not see that “rights” exist in any real world sense but only in the ivory tower and as such have no practical meaning. For example, if a soldier shoots and kills you, you are equally dead whether he was “morally correct” or not. The important fact is that he had the POWER to do what he wanted despite your belief as to the “morality” of the action. If “i have no rights then the state has no rights” does not end up in a stalemate where no one can do anything. It ends up that the state can do as it pleases because it has most of the power. The real question is how to maximize the individual’s power while minimizing the power of the state. I have tried to do this by such things as living off the grid in the backwoods. I am certainly interested in any ideas people have to promote personal liberty. I do not think moralistic arguements help much.

    • Fritz…if you have read Rothbard, as I know you have, then you’ve been exposed to a very decent presentation of natural law and natural rights. I take a somewhat different approach, however, and I would be pleased to email to you the first two chapters of my new book “The Art of Being Free” in which I lay out my arguments for individual rights. My email is wendy@wendymcelroy.com. Just send me yours.

      One thing I do not address at all in my article is the human cost of abortion in terms of regret, guilt, etc. Frankly, I think that is something that varies profoundly within every human being and, so, everyone must weigh the cost for themselves. I am sorry to hear that you live with this sort of regret.

  23. John KindleyNo Gravatar says:

    My position on this issue is ultimately pragmatic, which the answer to any question of punishing something as a crime has to be. As Wendy points out, it is indeed telling that most “pro-lifers” are unwilling to treat a woman who has an abortion the same way we would a person who commits premeditated murder. For me my retreat from a “pro-life” position came about by reflecting on the fact that even in my “pro-life” days I would support an exception for rape, a position shared by most people who call themselves “pro-life.” I would support this exception even though I recognize the fundamental logic of the pro-life position, i.e., that there is no point in a 7 year old child’s life back to her conception in the womb at which we can say today she’s a person but yesterday she wasn’t. (Birth is indeed an arbitrary marker.) In other words, even though I would recognize that a fetus conceived by rape was innocent of her father’s crime, I would recognize that a woman would have the right to abort such a pregnancy. The fetus might be innocent, but it would still be an aggressor, albeit an innocent and unwitting one, for all relevant purposes.

    But once we recognize this exception, as we should, it becomes enormously problematic for the law to effectively distinguish between pregnancies caused by rape and pregnancies that weren’t. Would such an exception lead to an increase in spurious rape charges? Furthermore, if you recognize this exception, you should recognize that there are cases in which “consent” to the sex that led to the pregnancy is not clear cut, e.g., if alcohol was involved, etc. Furthermore, while I think both parties who willingly consent to sex that leads to pregnancy are morally responsible for the life that results even if they carefully practiced contraception and the contraception failed, and the possibility of this happening should give pause to those who are dismissive of traditional sexual morality, I recognize this situation also lies somewhere on the continuum between rape and full informed consent other than full informed consent. These are not things the law is equipped to sort out, and trying to do so would likely lead to intolerable invasions of privacy. Not every rape can be proved, and therefore a woman shouldn’t be required to prove a rape occurred or to press charges against the rapist in order for the rape exception to apply. That is, as a matter of pragmatics the rape exception should be allowed to swallow any rule outlawing abortion.

    There is also the presumption the law should have across the board against criminalizing conduct, limiting punishment to the truly necessary, and given the ambiguities in the abortion context the presumption should operate against criminalization.

    Nevertheless, I would not see anything wrong with a community outlawing abortion after the first trimester, since in my view the rape scenario is what makes outlawing abortion unjust, and I think it would be legitimate to require a woman, if she’s going to abort, to do so within 12 weeks after the event which caused the pregnancy. Furthermore, as I understand it, there is evidence that a fetus can begin to feel pain after that point.

    • Hello John: It is quite possible to argue against banning abortion on purely pragmatic grounds. I don’t like being confrontational in arguing but all that is necessary to invalidate the ‘humanitarian’ non-local of the anti-abortionist position is to force it to its logical conclusion. Ceausescu’s approach to abortion in Romania captures the ‘end-game.’ I quote from Wikipedia “Abortion in Romania” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_in_Romania

      “To enforce the decree [the banning of abortion], society was strictly controlled….Contraceptives disappeared from the shelves and were soon only available to educated urban women with access to the black market, many of them with Hungarian roots. In 1986, any woman working for or attending a state institution was forced to undergo at least annual gynecological exams to ensure a satisfying level of reproductive health as well as detect pregnancy, which were followed until birth. Women with histories of abortion were watched particularly carefully.” The Wiki is an interesting read.

    • GenevaNo Gravatar says:

      Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to your blog before but after browsing through a few of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely happy I came across it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!

  24. ShawnNo Gravatar says:

    This is quite obviously a difficult issue. Even outside of religious beliefs, there are (IMO) solid reasons for considering a zygote/fetus to be a human being, and thus an individual in possession of inalienable rights. I can’t agree with Wendy that the ONLY logical libertarian position is to accept that women have a right to abort.

    But and however, years of thinking about the issue have led to one inescapable conclusion: whether it’s “legal” or not, women will have abortions. If it’s a criminal act, they will do it in secret, at home with a coat hanger or in some back alley abortion clinic. And it’s hard for me to say that’s a positive outcome.

    I personally do not agree with abortion being used as a form of retroactive birth control. I, like Fritz above, had a situation arise when I was young in which I impregnated my then girlfriend. When she start talking abortion, I told her in no uncertain terms that I would in no way fund the procedure, and that if she went through with it, we were through. I told her if she truly didn’t want the child, please just deliver him and he would be my responsibility, no strings attached for her. She (fortunately, IMO) decided to have him, and I now have a wonderful 24 year old son, for whom she was actually the “custodial parent.” This meant 19 years of child support on my part when I could have paid $250 and been done with it, but I feel like it was the right choice. And now, at the age of 43, I feel the same: if I were to “accidentally” impregnate someone, I will not pay for an abortion, unless it was medically necessary. (I also would not rape anyone, so that doesn’t need be a part of my personal view on whether I would pay to abort my own child.)

    There are those who argue that I am wrong for not helping to pay for an abortion in this circumstance, and I say they can kiss my ass. I was more than willing to raise the child myself, or if not, then pay tens of thousands in child support. But clearly, this is a question of personal belief about what I would do in my own situation, and it’s impossible to extend ones personal views to other on this subject.

    So, to make a long story short, I really don’t know if there’s any right answer here. Maybe technology and changing viewpoints will one day make all this moot, but for now, all I know is abortion happens whether we like it or not (just like drug use, for instance) and all we can really do is control our own lives when it comes to it.

    • Shawn…I deeply respect your decision and your attitude. Abortion is not an option I celebrate or encourage but, like hard drug use, it is a decision I am unwilling to take out of the hands of the individual. This said,I believe abortion rates would fall dramatically if the procedures were not tax-funded, if adoption was an easy process, and if it were possible to allow viability outside the womb at an early stage. Attitudes and stories like yours are powerful. They have an emotional impact and, frankly, they have resulted in a softening of my own position on abortion. Not a softening of the arguments but of the aggressiveness with which I am willing to pursue disagreements about abortion. I will argue but I do so respectfully because the person on the other end is very often a decent human being.

      • ShawnNo Gravatar says:

        Thanks, Wendy. One thing I’ve always appreciated about you is you can disagree respectfully. That seems a rare trait these days – especially on this topic! Most people on either side seem to want to come at it frothing at the mouth and screaming at the top of their lungs.

  25. Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

    Wendy, I agree that emotional response to things like abortion do vary a lot. Still, in our culture, love of children is nearly universal and as such I would expect many to have similar feelings, though perhaps not so strong, as I do when my friend aborted my baby. By the way, I am still friends, though not lovers, with this woman 20 plus years later. So it is possible to have extreme differences and continue friendship.

  26. AnthonyNo Gravatar says:

    After reading through the entire list of replies, I am surprise by the small number of commentors (such as Thomas L. Knapp) who have picked up on the one key question regarding this issue: When does a human become and individual?

    No matter what side you take, you must first answer that question before concluding your position on abortion.

    I make the distinction here between human and individual, as it is very important. The question of when a human begins has already been answered by science – a genetically unique living human being begins at fertilization. There is no argument there. The organism retains all the genetic requirements to be dubbed human. Nothing genetically changes about the organism throughout its entire life that would indicate a transformation from ‘non-human’ to ‘human’. It is, by it’s own existence, human.

    But is it an individual? If yes – abortion is immoral, as all human beings have a right to their life; a right not to be murdered. If no – abortion is moral. However, this raises the obvious question – when does that human become and individual (with its right to its life).

    Before answering that question, you first must answer this one: What is an individual?

    If an individual is not simply a human organism – why not? Why make the distinction? Better yet – who gets to make that distinction? If it is not the human begin affected by the decision, that seems quite unfair to me.

    To attempt to separate ‘human’ from ‘individual’ seems to me to be nothing more than an imposed arbitrary distinction based solely upon one’s own philosophical beliefs. It is nothing more than a personal opinion.

    And when it comes to the matter of a human’s right to its life, I err on the side of using a scientific basis rather than simply personal opinions.

    • Rick DiMareNo Gravatar says:

      According to my understanding that the 14th Amendment only affords legal personhood or citizenship to “born” persons, I’m afraid that recognizing the personhood of the unborn will take a Constitutional amendment.

      American slaves faced a similar Constitutional dilemma because certain language in the Constitution appeared to condone slavery, so it took the 13th Amendment (1865) to nullify any Constitutional language that appeared to sanction slavery.

      (Then, it took the 14th Amendment to force states to grant certain federal rights to former slaves, the 15th Amendment to give former slaves the right to vote, and finally, the 16th Amendment to separate the slave’s labor from the slaveholder’s profits and the value of the slaveholder’s plantation.)

      • AnthonyNo Gravatar says:

        Well, the title of this article and, I’m assuming, the discussion about it, is “Abortion Rights are Logically Required by Libertariansim” – not – “Abortion Rights are Logically Required by the Constitution”.

        But in response to your comment, are you saying that there were no means of legal personhood in the US before the 14th Amendment? 😉

        The basis of all this is, of course, the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP). As we all know, the belief that you should not initiate force/violence against another unless it is in self defense. And if you do use force to defend yourself, it must be proportional to the force used against you. (ex. Shooting someone in the face because they stole your lollipop is not proportional. Forcefully taking the lollipop back is.)

        If we are to accept that all humans are individuals, then killing a pre-born individual for “trespassing” is no different than shooting a toddler (post-born individual) for “trespassing”. Obviously, using force to kill in either case is not proportional. This is more apparent when one recognizes the fact that the pre-born has no say in where it “trespasses”.

        If there existed the technology for a woman to peacefully remove a fetus without killing it, and placing it into another woman’s or an artificial womb, that would be fine. But death for unwillingly trespassing is not.

        As I said originally, the abortion issue comes down to one question: When does a human become and individual?

        If a human is not by default an individual, why not? Who gets to make that decision?

        • Rick DiMareNo Gravatar says:

          Anthony, I basically agree with you, but I’m just saying, based on my research and understanding of how Roe v. Wade was decided (and I’m not an expert in this area of law), if the word “born” were not contained in the 14th Amendment, abortion may very well be unconstitutional today (because even though a fetus is not yet “born,” it still may have been considered to be a “person” entitled to legal protection when Roe was decided). In other words, as weird and nit-picky as it may seem to non-lawyers, 14th Amendment protections are only available to “persons” or “citizens” who are “born” (and a fetus is none of these).

          Section 1 of the 14th Amendment states: “All persons born . . . in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

          • AnthonyNo Gravatar says:

            I understand what you’re saying. You may or may not be right on a legal basis. I personally don’t know as I don’t believe that I’m an authority enough on the Constitution or law to formulate the correct opinion. Even if I were, it’s not like lawyers always agree anyhow.

            However, I would add that from my non-lawyer perspective, I do not think it is necessary to amend the 14th Amendment in order to regard a pre-born human as an individual with a right to its life. After all, as far as I understand, a person who, through a violent crime, causes the death of a fetus can be charged with murder in all 50 states; and, in 2004, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act was signed establishing the same ability at a federal level.

            Of course, this may or may not be a definitive answer to the Constitutionality question. However, it does say something.

            Also, I really would like to get a response from Ms. McElroy about my perspective on the issue. I understand she is busy, so I do not intend on delving into a long and redundant debate; but it would be nice to establish an understanding between to two of us on our positions. 🙂

            • AnthonyNo Gravatar says:

              Ms. McElroy, what are your thoughts about my perspective on this abortion issue? I understand that you’re busy, so I do not intend on delving into a long and redundant debate; but it would be nice to establish an understanding between you and I on our positions.

  27. Karen TagstromNo Gravatar says:

    I do not believe abortion should be a political talking point nor should there be a law for it or against it. It is a personal decision that every woman who becomes pregnant and did not want to has to make. For some, there is no decision, there will be no abortion based on what that woman believes and where she is in her life. For others, it is a difficult decision and is by no means come to lightly. Each choice will impact you and change who you are. I am pro choice. I had an abortion because I was in no way ready to have a child, but going through that choice and the consequences of that choice, I would NEVER do it again.. That is how it changed me, but I am still pro choice because who am I to force my beliefs on someone else.

    My blog is at http://www.wendymcelroy.com
    My twitter is Wendy McElroy@WendyMcElroy1
    My individualist feminist site is at http://www.ifeminists.net
    My new book is “The Art of Being Free” PLEASE VISIT AT

  29. John KindleyNo Gravatar says:

    I should add to my comment above that the right to be informed prior to having an abortion that breast cancer risk is significantly increased by having an abortion is logically required by libertarianism too. See the Wisconsin Law Review article I wrote, and the legal briefs I wrote for a false advertising case, here: http://www.kindleylaw.com/?page_id=14

  30. Tom JNo Gravatar says:

    As I see it, the use force against a pregnant woman to prevent her from terminating a pregnancy clearly violates libertarian principle (or the NAP). However, sanctions or force against doctors who terminate pregnancies are not aggression against a pregnant woman, and when/whether such sanctions or force are aggression against those doctors, involves when/if the unborn have rights. I believe they can acquire rights at some point during the pregnancy; however, a non kicking brainless embryo is a very different entity than a 7 month old unborn baby. An apple seed is not an apple tree.

  31. RobNo Gravatar says:

    “If a fetus is sustained by the food I eat and the pulsing of my blood, then I have a right to deny it sustenance and shelter. I have a right to abort that fetus. To give the fetus a ‘right’ to consume another person’s bodily functions is to establish two rights claims over one body.”


    Aren’t you missing the fact that – in the vast majority of cases – a woman can prevent a pregnancy from occurring?

    1: Abstinence will always prevent pregnancy;

    2: Properly used birth control is 99% effective.

    Thus, with the exception of rape and other issues at the extreme end of sexual behavior, the responsible woman can prevent the pregnancy from occurring. (This discussion does NOT include rape, incest, etc… most unwanted pregnancies are not as a result of those things and those things are horrific. I’m talking about cases in which the woman is informed, consenting to the sex act and able to take action).

    Both men and women know going in that the sex act has a significant possibility of leading to a pregnancy. Failure to acknowledge that biological fact and take steps to prevent the pregnancy from occurring is a terribly irresponsible (and, whether abortion or birth, expensive) thing to do.

    You skipped a choice. The choice is to have sex in a manner that is likely to lead to pregnancy – or not to do so. 99% can realistically be prevented if the science is to be believed.

    Since the woman is the one to have to either have the abortion or carry the baby to term, one would think the woman would take it upon herself to do whatever is necessary to prevent the pregnancy.

    Consider drunk driving. Most people who drive drunk do not case a car accident. But we make drunk driving illegal because drunk driving significantly increases the likelihood that the driver will cause an accident. We hold the person responsible for making the choice that COULD lead to an accident – and we certainly hold them responsible if they do cause an accident.

    Likewise, in the vast majority of cases, the woman knows that sex can lead to pregnancy and that there are means to almost completely prevent a pregnancy. What you seem to want to do is remove responsibility for not only the irresponsibility of getting into the car and driving drunk (i.e. irresponsible sex) but also remove responsibility for the car accident that you caused (i.e. your participation in the irresponsible sex caused a pregnancy).

    I’m sure that the drunk driver who kills someone would like to not have to go to prison… after all, he didn’t mean to cause the accident. Likewise, the woman who gets pregnant because of irresponsibility wants to be free of responsibility… so she comes up with the justification that the fetus is stealing from her or an interloper or whatever. Thus, she can kill it – after all, its her body and the fetus is stealing from her.

    However, the baby did NOT suddenly appear out of nowhere without the woman’s knowledge and consent. She consented to and chose the act that she KNEW had a significant likelihood of resulting in a pregnancy.

    I’d likely agree with your position if fetuses appeared randomly inside women’s bodies without explanation. In that case, the fetus would be an alien life form and the woman would bear no responsibility for it being there. However, that is not the case in the vast majority of abortions. Babies result from sex and everyone knows that. Don’t have sex unless you want a baby – or make darn sure he’s got a condom on or you’re taking the pill effectively – or both. But don’t come crying to me if you fail to do so.

  32. PatrickNo Gravatar says:

    Let’s say you own a diamond ring. If I swallow it, thus placing it well within the barrier of my skin, I do not acquire any rights over it. Not everything inside my body is therefore my property.

  33. SharonNo Gravatar says:

    Wow! What a bunch of “intellectual BS”! I love that all you Libertarian men know so much and espouse all your opinions so eloquently – ha! it sounds as if you really just want to argue/debate. I was a Libertarian way before it became popular -(Neal Boortz drove me to leave when he became more obsessed with Hillary Clinton’s sex life than any normal person should). I find it totally hypocritical, nonsensical and outright ridiculous that anyone believing “Liberty” is important would not understand that NO person, political party, church or govt has any right to tell a person what they have to do with their body. Talk about control…

    • DaveNo Gravatar says:

      Of course we have the right to tell a person what they can do with their body, provided what you’re doing with your body is an act against someone else. For example just because your hand is your hand doesn’t give you the right to hit someone in the face. It’s the same thing with abortion. Just because it’s your body doesn’t necessarily give you the right to kill a child that YOU brought into existence. After all it didn’t put itself there, you did. Yes, if you seek a political philosophy that absolves people from responsibility for their actions then libertarianism probably isn’t for you.

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