Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Libertarian Case Against Abortion (Part II)




Part I




The second issue is women's rights. While Libertarians would naturally hold members of the modern left in general in contempt for their lack of principles, they would have particularly ire for the women's movement for their betrayal of the very notion of rights. Rights mean human rights to be applied to all human beings or they mean nothing at all and we might as well simply go back to feudal class privileges. I believe in the right of all human beings capable of engaging in rational thought to use their bodies as they please and engage in all consensual activities with other rational human beings with the exception of causing direct physical harm to others. Besides for the recreational use of drugs and the selling of organs discussed earlier, this also would also allow me to undergo any medical procedures and have it performed by anyone I choose regardless of whether they possess a medical license. So one has the right to undergo chemotherapy, castration, sex changes and frontal lobotomies; we would say that incidentally one of the things on the list would be abortion. In practice abortion only applies to women, but surgery for testicular cancer in practice only applies to men. Now modern feminism has come along and claimed the existence of this manifest absurdity of "women's rights" and a "woman's right to choose." There is no such thing; there are only human rights and, as women make up fifty percent of the human race, these rights incidentally apply to women.

This is not just a matter of word games. The entire narrative of the abortion rights movement is built around the tribalism of men versus women and women as the oppressed victims of men. Libertarians recognize that for liberty to mean anything it must apply only to individuals. In order to gain rights as individuals we must agree to surrender all extra ontological claims of group identity leaving just the individual identity.

Libertarians understand that the flip side of all rights is responsibility; I am allowed to do whatever I want to myself because I carry all the consequences. It is my right to eat all the fatty foods I like and smoke tobacco and marijuana, because it is I who will have to pay for my own healthcare costs and am unable to force society to pay through any government subsidized healthcare. Feminists have no interest in paying for the consequences of their right to choose. If women have the right to choose whether to carry a fetus to term, without the interference of the biological father or the government, then they and only they are to bear the consequences, mainly child support. This would have potentially disastrous consequences for all women as men would become categorically exempt from ever paying child support. Every man would be able to claim that he never wanted the child in question to be born and that it was only the woman's choice. This would apply to one night stands as well as ten year marriages. Every woman, before she brings a child to term, would need to get the father of the child to sign a legal document obligating himself to pay child support. As the law stands now, my theoretical girlfriend can lie to me about using birth control, get pregnant and force me to pay eighteen years of child support, hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is unjust and the Libertarian knows that the blame for this injustice lies at the feet of the morally self satisfied feminist.

To finally get to the act of abortion itself, it is not obvious that abortion would be always legal even under libertarian law. The moment we acknowledge that fetuses are something above animals (Libertarianism would allow Michael Vick to run his dog fighting ring) and at the level of humans or near so then the right to choose goes out the window. Libertarians, despite their love of liberty, do not believe in a right to commit murder. On the contrary, our commitment to making sure that everyone can engage in all activities that do not cause direct physical harm to others is matched by our willingness to go after those who do cause direct physical harm. Furthermore it might be theoretically plausible to assume some sort of direct state interest in the bearing of children, which might open the door to some sort of government interference. May I suggest that, considering that bodily rights are extensions of property rights, the government is allowed to interfere with the decisions of pregnant women to the same extent that they are allowed to interfere in the acquirement of oil and other natural resources found on private property?

Libertarians believe in the right to control one's own body. This would preclude a Libertarian becoming a conventional conservative pro-lifer. We have no interest in pushing our values on other people. Any attempt to force women to carry a child to term would mean that the government must also provide social services to support that child. We are trying to get rid of government welfare and will seek to find every excuse to avoid expanding it. That being said, a Libertarian is not likely to look favorably at the modern left and the pro-choice movement as it exists today as we would reject their premises as nearly as inimical to liberty as that of the right. If conservatives are heathens who do not understand the concept of rights then the modern left are apostate traitors who have sold out on human rights for petty tribalist gain. I would even go so far as to suggest that there may be grounds to reject the left's conclusions about abortion as well.

4 comments:

Clarissa said...

"If women have the right to choose whether to carry a fetus to term, without the interference of the biological father or the government, then they and only they are to bear the consequences, mainly child support."

-This is not entirely correct. If a man took a decision not to get sterilized, he has to be responsible for any consequences of that decision. One of the consequences is an unwanted pregnancy. As a result, he owes child support. Don't want the burden of child support, take the responsibility for your sex life and tie the tubes.

I do agree, however, that we should discuss human rights in general and not indulge in this "good-nice-women-are-perennial-victims-of-bad-horrible-men."

It is a mistake to believe that ALL feminists maintain this approach. My feminism, for example, consists in believing that the patriarchy is detrimental to both men and women.

Izgad said...

Interesting argument; the problem, though, is that the decision to have or not have an abortion comes after the decision to have or not have a vasectomy and therefore trumps it. Clearly it is the woman who has full decision power and must therefore bear full cost. Your sterilization argument would come into play in terms of allowing women to carry fetuses to term. No man should be able to force a woman to have an abortion on the grounds that he does not want her to bear his child. His power of choice ended the moment he engaged in sexual activity.

Clarissa said...

The need to make the decision to have or not an abortion would never even arise if the decision to be sterilized is taken. So it is actually the man who has the full decision power. If you are in control of whether the situation is even going to arise, then you can't ask for control after you have abdicated your right to avoid the situation by not getting sterilized.

Vox Populi said...

>There is no such thing; there are only human rights and, as women make up fifty percent of the human race, these rights incidentally apply to women.

Seems kind of like word games. Women and minorities, traditionally oppressed or marginalized segments of society, desire equal rights. Some segments of society feel the absence of some rights more acutely than others. Thus, they tend to make the advancement of these rights a central plank of their agenda. This does not mean that there is a separate social contract of "women's rights".

>(Libertarianism would allow Michael Vick to run his dog fighting ring)

Really? That seems kind of wrong. Is Libertarianism not concerned at all with the rights of other living creatures?

>May I suggest that, considering that bodily rights are extensions of property rights, the government is allowed to interfere with the decisions of pregnant women to the same extent that they are allowed to interfere in the acquirement of oil and other natural resources found on private property?

Actually, I think it's the reverse. Property rights are an extension of bodily rights, at least according to Locke. It would actually be a big chiddush to go from regulating oil to regulating ovaries.

>As the law stands now, my theoretical girlfriend can lie to me about using birth control, get pregnant and force me to pay eighteen years of child support, hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Are you sure this is the law?

Secondly, the ultimate choice and responsibility lies with the guy here. If you're afraid of having babies foisted on you, then don't have sex unless you've ensured that pregnancies cannot result. I'm pretty sure libertarians don't recognize a right to a life without consequences.

Does the system we have now lean more heavily in the woman's favor? Maybe, though I'm not sure. In any case, I'm not sure what alternative system would be better.