Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Libertarian inconsistency on Abortion

As many people know I consider myself a libertarian. I do not believe this conflicts with my Catholicism, although many have said it does. The bottom line of the philosophy is that individuals act and we cannot demand the state force people to do something to accomplish our goal. But enough about that for now. Let's talk about abortion and libertarian contradictions.

First off, many libertarians are pro-life including Ron and Rand Paul, Julie Borowski, a famous libertarian vlogger, and Libertarian Party Candidate Bill Barr. I believe the rates of pro-life people in libertarianism is close to the general public.

Many famous libertarian philosophers have put their support behind legal abortion, but on very shaky ground in my opinion. Let me explain.

Ayn Rand, someone whom many libertarians follow but whom I do not much like, said the idea of a fetus having rights is nonsense. Only at birth does the fetus acquire rights, according to her. But what changes in her opinion? It seems more of a subjective, opinion-based idea than one that is logically consistent. From where does a fetus magically receive his rights after leaving the mother's womb? I'm not sure if she explains this at any point.

Walter Block supports an idea called "evictionism". Basically he says you can evict a person from your body but you cannot kill them. Strangely he says the woman may legally abort if the fetus is not viable outside the womb. Given those two facts, he is basically saying a woman can only remove a fetus from her body if she's sure the baby will die.

The idea of evictionism is absurd in this context. It is derived from the idea that one can use force on a trespasser who refuses to leave your property. However, can you really consider an unborn baby a trespasser? First of all, the fetus developed directly from a woman's own act. This is an implied invitation for this possibility. It would be akin to inviting someone onto your property. Once you do this, can you legitimately forcibly remove the person? Not morally you cannot.

You could ask this person to leave and if they do not you could use force as a last resort. However, a fetus cannot be asked to leave. Especially if it is not viable. It has no choice but to stay. Removing the fetus would mean certain death. It would be like inviting someone onto your property into the middle of the dessert. Then after they arrive, you tell them to leave knowing they will certainly die without any water. In fact I would go further to say you didn't even invite them. They had no control over being there, then you demand they exit into certain death. This is more similar to a fetus. A fetus does not decide to enter a particular woman's womb on its own. It is formed in the womb of the mother and only others decision causes his or her existence. Therefore, the eviction is even worse morally speaking.

Other positions in support of abortion in the libertarian community rely on the idea that a woman, like anyone else, should not be forced to be a slave to someone else or to breed because someone else demands it. A couple of issues arise. According to this logic, a mother of a 1 year old baby living in a rural community can choose to simply abandon her child or expose it to the elements knowing he or she will probably die because "no one is a slave" and should not be forced to take care of someone if they do not want to.

Logically speaking libertarians in favor of abortion must also be in favor of child-abandonment even when this means death to the child. However, no libertarian I've heard has so far has dared suggest this. Libertarian pro-choice is not different than any other form of pro-choice philosophy. I hesitate to even call it a philosophy because it's based purely on emotion. As usual, the only argument exists in whether or not an unborn child is a person. If so, no justification for taking his or her life is sufficient. If not, no justification is necessary.