Written by Ian Tartt
As a staunch free market anarchist, you’d think I’d be pro-choice on abortion. You’d be wrong. Unlike many other radical libertarians, I see abortion as one of the greatest violations of self-ownership, the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP), and property rights. The unborn baby is certainly a human being because he is a distinct individual from the mother, was created by two human beings who partook in the reproductive process that creates other human beings (a process that has never and can never create anything other than another human being), and possesses unique human genetics, DNA, and in many cases a different blood type and set of genitalia than the mother. Thus, the unborn baby owns his body, which means the NAP applies to him.
Apart from the humanity of the unborn, the main point of contention in the liberty movement on this issue is whether or not the baby’s right to life is superior to the woman’s right to make decisions about her body. Those who support abortion say the woman’s right is superior, while those who oppose abortion say the baby’s right is superior. A common argument in favor of abortion is that we have the right to evict trespassers from our property, and if the woman doesn’t want to be pregnant, the baby is a trespasser and therefore she has the right to evict him. Walter Block has refined this in a view he terms evictionism. He contends that the woman may not kill the baby in the womb, but may evict him from her womb if she doesn’t want to be pregnant; he acknowledges up front that the baby will die if the point of post-birth viability has not yet been reached.
The problem I see with this view is that it mistakes the baby for a trespasser. If the woman has consented to sex, then the baby is an invited guest. If she was raped, then the rapist is the trespasser and he has forcibly brought the baby into the picture. In either case, the baby is not a trespasser or a criminal. Killing the baby won’t undo the crime of the rapist; it will merely create a second victim. And regardless of how the baby got there, evicting him before viability will kill him. Suppose I invite someone to come up with me in my airplane and once we’re thousands of feet off the ground, I decide I don’t want him on my property anymore and throw him out of the plane. Anybody would see that as murder, so how would it not be murder to intentionally evict an unborn baby from the womb knowing he’ll die?
Having said all this, I don’t see government intervention as the solution to the abortion issue. I think the proper thing for the government to do is get out of the way and let the markets work. End tax funding of abortion clinics, repeal legislation that prohibits abortion, allow birth control to be available over-the-counter, eliminate as many taxes as possible so people can use that money to support parents and kids in need, streamline the adoption process, and get the government out of healthcare so medical technology can progress to the point that artificial wombs become available. Walter Block includes that last point in his argument for evictionism, and within the example I gave with the airplane, I would see it as giving the person a parachute before I kick him out. It’s taken me a long time to get to this position, but I truly believe we can do more to peacefully reduce and possibly even someday eliminate abortion by adopting market-based methods, including the above methods. In any event, working together to help people in need is going to do far more to make a positive difference in the world than arguing about abortion online.