Sanctity of Human Life Sunday?
By: John Russell

January 22nd has been designated by many pro-life groups to raise awareness regarding the issue of abortion and the sanctity of human life.  An article on Lew Rockwell entitled Pro-Lifers for Mass Murder highlighted the hypocrisy many members within these groups have when it comes to their ardent opposition to abortions but their complete approval in the actions the State takes to slaughter people over seas.  Though comparing the murderous activities of war to that of abortion is ridiculous and intellectually dishonest,  I would like to extend and broaden the hypocrisy claim given in the article by describing members within these groups who feel that designating rights at the expense of other people is wrong, such as providing ‘free’ healthcare or welfare to some people at the expense of others, but find that doing so with an unborn child is completely justified.

The abortion debate can be summed up into the notion of private property rights. The uterus is just as much as someone’s private property as a house. If one were to leave their front door open, say by mistake or to merely let in some fresh air, and one comes downstairs to find a bum sitting on the couch, a home owner is fully within their right to kick ‘em out. Right? Even if by kicking him/her out of the house directly causes that bum to die, one cannot possibly be obligated or be responsible for him and be coerced into housing and feeding him until he is back on his feet. By forcing a woman to bear a child, pro-life proponents seeking government enforcement are positively and forcefully designating rights to the child at the expense of someone else, in this case the mother. This is the same reason why positively assigning healthcare rights or welfare rights through coercive means to some people at the expense of other people is equally wrong.

I’d like to hear some input from some of you regarding this argument, but if we are to believe that we own ourselves, our actions, and the things which we acquire when performing these actions, then why must this be foregone when a unwelcome guest implants itself in the body?

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View Comments Posted in Libertarianism, The State
  • Interestingarticle

    + If the bum in your story is to represent a baby, how does a baby sneak into the womb?
    + Does the baby sneak into the womb through some unlocked door?
    + Is the baby forced into the womb (either consensually or by rape)?
    + Is it the baby’s fault that he exists and is it his fault that his existence is at some cost to his mother?

    Therefore should violence be used against the fetus because he, against his will, were implanted into a womb and is now imposing a non violent on the mother?

  • Keeban3

    While you own your body, you may or may not own the fetus. As it always comes down to, its a matter of whether the fetus represents an individual with its own rights. If so, you have no right to kill it any more than you have a right to kill your own child of five.

    But you argued that its not killing the child/fetus/bum, its evicting them from your private property. If someone is riding in your airplane, should you be allowed to evict them at 15,000 feet? Should someone who throws their child out of their seventh story apartment window be arrested? I should think so.

    Furthermore, I think it can be reasonably argued that parents have an obligation to their progeny, and that starving a baby to death is tantamount to murder. In this way, if the fetus is considered a separate entity with similar rights to a child, then it should be murder, or at least criminal neglect to ‘evict’ the fetus from the privately owned womb.

  • Barry Belmont

    The response to the “airplane example” against the ‘evictionist’ postion is that in the airplane there is either an explicit or implicit contract involved. Explicit in that if you paid to be on the airplane you have agreed out loud/in writing/through payment to X, Y, and Z conditions such that you will be delivered from point A to point B without being evicted. Implicit in that even if such an agreement was now actually reached through a contractual obligation — say your friend just wanted to take you up on her new airplane — that there is an implicit contract understood between you and your friend that she wouldn’t evict you at 15,000 feet. This implicit contractual form is set through precedent as not once in a million flights is such a eviction made. The theoretical, economic, and legal bases of implicit contracts can be gleaned elsewhere: they are far from my intellectual realm of comfort.

    The argument continues with the addendum that since intrusive third parties have no bearing on the contract established between the original two parties, there is no reason why a fetus should be allowed to use its existence inside the womb as a justification for its residence. To call upon one of my many overthetop analogies: imagine that you have entered into a contract with your piloting friend. The contract is for her to fly your house from Here to There. Just before taking off, a bum hitches a ride. A bum/a dog/a caterpillar, whatever you feel comfortable with. Since its still your house, you have the right to kick anyone you want out of it, it doesn’t matter that you entered into a contract that puts an intrusive third party in danger. It’s much like when you have sex (perhaps with the piloting friend): you’ve entered into a contract with her, and she with you, but neither with the third party.

    Hence, according to the evictionist, since there is no contractual obligation of any kind made with the fetus in the act of sex, the airplane example falls by the wayside.

    At least that’s as far as I understand it. Look up Walter Block’s defense of the subject. It makes for interesting reading.

  • Keeban3

    I dislike the bum example simply because the bum is explicitly violating your private property. You can shoot trespassers legally. You cannot shoot your own child. I think the argument that a fetus is violating a womans womb is a weak one at best.

  • Barry Belmont

    And you may be right, but why is it weak? Saying that you “dislike” an argument does not invalidate its conclusions. For any argument to be “wrong” one of three things need to happen: the premise is wrong/ill-stated, the logic following from that premise is incorrect, or there is no empirical evidence to support the conclusion.

    Thus I ask, why is it weak? Are you responsible for what your gametes do? Are you responsible for each of the microorganisms within your body?

    You can answer now, or you can think on it and save it for our “Sanctity of Human Life” discussion coming at the end of March, where this topic will surely be argued about at considerable length.

  • Keeban3

    I gave reasons to why I “dislike” the argument. And those reasons invalidate the argument. Normally I let this pass, but it happens too often with you that you ignore what a person says, misinterpret the argument and then pretend that everything they said is simply opinion because they gave an opinion along with reasons that you are flat out wrong. Seriously.

    As I said, the premise is wrong. The fetus is not violating the mother.

    A) Violation involves choice. For the same reason that you do not have a contract with the fetus — because it did not exist or could not make decisions at the time — it did not violate your property. The only choice involved at all is the parent’s choice.

    B) It cannot exist any other way. It was created in the womb. If we are going to say that it is a sentient being, then it has as much right to the womb as the mother. Especially considering that the majority of the placenta is created from fetal tissue.

    C) The child example. A child is not violating a parents home, thus cannot be killed for being there. If we are going to grant individual rights to a fetus, they should mirror a child’s.

    Block’s defense seems to rest on the idea that in the future, evicting the fetus will not be the same as killing it. But we don’t live in the future. Right now, abortions (during the time they are legal) do kill the fetus. It is the same as throwing a child out the window of a tall building. Where eviction can only mean death.

    In answer to your questions, yes, you are responsible for your gametes. No, you are not responsible for the microorganisms in your body. The difference is genetics. Your gametes are a part of you just as much as your arm cells or brain cells. There are two major differences between microorganisms and a fetus: It was created by you and we were presupposing it had human rights.

  • Barry Belmont

    A) Violation does not involve choice. For instance, one does not need to know they are trespassing on someone’s land or be going over the speed limit (on a private road preferably) in order to be in “violation.” This first point is invalid.

    B) Just because the fetus cannot “exist” elsewhere is beside the point. As I previously pointed out, you can not use its existence in the womb as a justification for its presence. All you have to do is imagine a little midget who can only survive in the wombs of women, otherwise he becomes painfully sick and dies (because of the physiology nature gave him). And he’s also magical: he only appears in a woman’s womb after she’s had sex with a man, and stays there for let’s say nine weeks. If he leaves any earlier he has a huuuuge risk of dying. Should a woman be required to keep this little magical midget inside of her even though he could not “exist” anywhere else? No. Existence here/lack of existence elsewhere, this does not justify trespassing within a woman’s womb (if indeed she feels it is trespassing).

    C) A child (let’s make him male) who has been emancipated from parents is violating a biological parents home if he comes into their house without their permission. A child that has been put up for adoption is guilty of the same if they invade a parents home without their permission. If the fetus is “unwanted” by right can you compare it to a child, when the analogy is more appropriately a child given away?

    The rest of your response, as its immaterial to the present discussion (though interesting, don’t get me wrong) I will leave for our Sanctity of Human Life meeting where they will be discussed at length. I’m especially interested to hear how you connect genetics to responsibility. But I feel I have adequately shown that your three ‘reasons’ don’t hold their muster.

    And I feel I should note that the evictionist principle is not necessarily my position. This is simply what they say. I agree that their are problems with the position, but your critiques aren’t them.

  • Keeban3

    A) Knowledge is not required, but the ability of an alternative is. Since you bring up speeding, an accurate analogy would be to the movie Speed. It would have been an unjust ending for Sandra Bullock to be arrested for reckless driving at the end. Not because she wasn’t speeding, but because she had no choice.

    B) You didn’t address my point that the womb is more rightfully owned by the fetus rather than the mother. And to address your midget example, the fetus was created in the womb by decisions only of the parents. That makes all the difference.

    C) Since the alternative to being pregnant is death for the fetus, it is only apt we compare like with like for the child example. Not adoption, but death. Not given away, but murdered.

    Its good that the evictionist position is not necessarily your position, because, while I am pro-choice, I feel that evictionism is faulty. It seems that once you grant the fetus the rights of a human being the argument is already lost.

  • Nathan

    Arguing against B, although not sure if it’s a good argument.

    We’re all born on earth/property/in a state/city/hospital/house/etc. We have no choice to be born in this place. Can we be evicted from any particular private property upon birth even if it is known that we will surely face death upon that eviction?

  • Barry Belmont

    That’s my exact problem with the evicitionist position (and why I no longer subscribe to it). It’s basically the existential critique and I feel it isn’t properly addressed by any of the proponents of the theory.

    I’ve referred to it privately to myself as The Problem of Being Thrown Into the World, and it’s a big problem for many things in all political philosophies.

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