Libertarian Ramblings

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Abortion: A libertarian perspective

Posted by gravisman on June 17, 2008

To expand upon¬†my previous post with a practical example, I’d like to cover an oft-discussed topic with a somewhat less common argument.

Many people say that it’s inherently wrong to end an innocent life, so the abortion discussion often revolves around the definition of life and when it begins. Other arguments can mix in ideas of ownership rights, both over the mother’s and the child’s body. In this case, pro-lifers sometimes argue that child rights are shared between mother and father, while pro-choice arguments center on the woman’s exclusive rights to her body and related decisions.

Let us imagine a situation where a pregnant woman does not wish to carry her fetus to term – she wishes to abort the pregnancy, for whatever reason. If this is the case, the only way any other person can prevent this outcome is by imposing their will on the woman by force. In other words, they must claim greater ownership of the woman’s body and life than herself. This, of course, violates the fundamental principle of liberty.¬†

So far, I have not varied too far from the basic pro-choice argument. That is, nobody is more qualified to make the decision for the woman’s body than the woman herself. The typical pro-life argument, however, focuses on the ignored rights of the fetus if the woman chooses to abort. Let us, then, go at that argument more directly and focus on the rights relationship between pregnant mother and child.

The fetus has a very important tie to the mother – it needs the mother to live. Without the mother’s active support, the fetus will die. This dependence relationship means that in order for the fetus to claim a right to life, it also must claim a greater right to the mother’s life and body than the mother herself. To claim the right to life, it must force the mother to carry it through pregnancy to birth (or some agent acting on the behalf of the fetus). This assertion of a positive right cuts down the mother’s liberties (as is always the case with positive rights) and makes a slave out of her. Let me be very clear about this – forcing a mother to carry a child against her will is putting that woman in slavery.

The mother, on the other hand, has a negative right to life without a child inside her, and all to take away this liberty is no more justified than taking away her very life. Imposing will by force on someone’s life is taking a part of their life, and theft of life is murder, whether it’s the whole life or merely a part. Therefore, any attempt to save the life of an unborn child by imposing mob rule on the pregnant mother is simply exchanging one supposed murder for another.

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Why am I here?

Posted by gravisman on May 26, 2008

I’m starting this blog in the hopes that it can serve as both a forum for, and starter of, conversations geared toward the fundamental idea of personal freedom.

Human liberty is a topic near and dear to my heart. My intention is to two things, one to accomplish each of the goals. First, I will put ideas on the table of relevance to topics as they come up in current events, or simply as I feel like addressing them. That will, hopefully, accomplish the goal of getting people started thinking and talking about the ideas.

Secondly, I hope that people out in the blogosphere will drop me questions to answer to with blog posts. Questions can be as specific as broad as you like. In my former life as a college newspaper columnist, I had people simply write in ask simply to hear my opinion on a particular topic, such as banning smoking. Out there questions are very welcome as well. I have yet to find a topic I wouldn’t cover for fear of offending people. I figure something I’ve put in print prior to this day has probably offended just about everybody who can be offended, so there’s no reason to stop now.

Please leave comments, questions, and topics you’d like to see discussed!

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