Is An Abortion A Victimless Crime or Does the Fetus Have a Right to Life?
When it comes to the issue of abortion there are a few views that people have. One view is that abortion is a victimless crime, that the fetus is not a human with human rights and therefore outlawing abortions is a violation of a woman’s right to control her body. Another view is that abortion has a victim and that victim is the fetus so outlawing abortions is simply protecting the fetus’s right to life. Another view (my view) is that the fetus has rights, abortion is not a victimless crime, people who are against abortion should speak out against it and fight to reduce it, but nevertheless should remain legal. I must confess that my view is one which some may consider cowardly, a viewpoint I cannot argue with, but from a pragmatic standpoint I cannot in good conscience support state efforts to outlaw abortion. In the following paragraphs I will both explain why abortion is a violent act and then explain why nevertheless it ought to remain legal.
“My freedom to swing my fist ends at your face,” is libertarian law in a nutshell. I have a right to control my body, with the exception that I cannot use my body to violate someone else’s body. It is for this reason that I have always found the defense of abortion as denying a woman’s right to control her womb as odd. It is currently illegal to choke a person with one’s hands or stomp on a person’s face with one’s feet, yet no sane person would declare outlawing such acts denies a person’s right to control one’s hands or feet. This type of intellectual dishonesty from the pro-abortion crowd ought to make one question the validity of such claims from the get go. Another accusation that the pro-abortion crowd makes is that, “unless you’re a woman you can’t have an opinion on abortion.” Such a statement is deceitful, for what the pro-abortion side is really saying is, “That men can have an opinion on abortion, so long as that opinion is pro-choice when it comes to abortion.” Such a sexiest statement can easily be proven false, since it assumes that only women are the victims when it comes to the abortion issue. Last time I checked it takes two people to create a child. Both a man’s sperm and a woman’s egg create the fetus, therefore it is untrue that a woman has 100% ownership of the fetus in anyway. Think of the woman as a delivery truck. She is delivering the package, but what is in the package she did not fully create. Since half of that fetus was created by men, to say that men should have no say when it comes to deciding the fate of their child is nonsense. Secondly, last time I checked women do not only birth women. Some women (a little under 50%) birth men. Since women also birth men, and abortion is the termination of a fetus, if that fetus happens to be male, then getting an abortion does affect men. Men should have some say when it comes to deciding if they want to be killed or not, no? I am a man. If my mother got an abortion I would be the victim. To say that abortion only affects women because the fetus happens to gestate in the womb simply ignores that a fetus is separate from the woman. A woman owns her body, but a fetus is not her body. It resides in her body, but it is not her body. A fetus has it’s own DNA, it’s own chromosomes and last time I checked, half of the women don’t have a penis for 6 months. The fetus resides in the woman, but is not the woman. I may live in your home. You may own your home, but to say because I live in your home therefore I am your home is nonsense.
Some (ironically those hypocrites on the Left who do believe in positive law, but will make any argument to support one’s position) claim that no one has an obligation to save someone’s life. If I need blood or an organ to live no one has an obligation to provide me blood or donate their kidney. This is true, but it is not analogous to abortion. Refusing to donate blood is a passive act, giving blood is an active one. There are only passive rights, not active rights. Not donating blood is not the same as actively stabbing someone. Abortion is not a passive act, but involves actively going in with knives and shears and destroying the fetus and sucking out its energy and brain. If one decided to be passive and let nature take its course the end result would be giving birth. The only way to prevent this is to actively use force against the fetus. Not donating blood is refusing to save someone’s life. Getting an abortion is killing someone. Not donating blood is being passive. Getting an abortion is active. It is a disanalogy to compare not saving a life to being synonymous with terminating one.
Is a fetus alive? This seems to be the fundamental question when it comes to the abortion debate. What determines if you are alive? I think the best way to answer that question is to first answer the question of what determines if you are dead? There is a debate, but some say that a person is dead when the brain stops functioning while others say death is when the heart stops beating. I say err on the side of caution and count death based on whichever one comes last. Likewise for life. When there are brain waves present or a heart pumping something is considered alive. I say err on the side of caution and do whichever comes first. Obviously, to any nonbiased individual, life is determined based on a beating heart or brain waves and not the location of the living creature.
I have shown (at least to my satisfaction) that performing an abortion is not a victimless crime. Nevertheless I will now make arguments why abortion should be legal (at least in a society with a government). Under a polycentric legal system where people choose the law they live under, different defense agencies or homeowner’s associations would have different rules and one would be able to pick the type of laws one lives under. It is likely that some defense agencies would allow abortion and some would not. I’m specifically talking about the law under a monopolistic legal system.
Consequentialist Reasons For Why Abortion Should Remain Legal
I must confess that my argument for making abortion legal is a consequentialist one and not one based on deontology. My arguments for allowing abortion to remain legal are as follows:
- I do not want to turn murderers into martyrs. Currently around 50% of the population believe a woman has a right to get an abortion. Until those who are against abortion are able to convince a significant number of those on the other side that abortion is murder, the pro-abortion advocates are going to believe that a woman has a right to get an abortion. They will believe that a woman who gets an abortion is simply asserting her rights and that anyone who stops her is the aggressor. Making abortion illegal would make it where those who perform abortions are heroes risking great injury standing up for what they believe in. I have no interest putting such people on a pedestal. For better for abortion to remain legal and stigmatize it then to sanctify those who get and perform abortions.
- Based on how government currently solves a problem, outlawing abortion would probably lead to more abortions, not fewer. It is a non-sequitur to say that because something is immoral it ought to be illegal. Anarchists understand that when someone says, “There ought to be a law,” there are a lot of unintended consequences that come from this. Anarchists should look at government solutions with extreme trepidation and understand that there are peaceful alternatives to solve a problem without using the violence of the state. I have no interest in creating a black market in abortions. I have no interest in creating an even bigger police state. The government does too much as it is. I’m interested in reducing the size of government, not giving it more jobs to do.
- Outlawing abortion violates Rothschild’s law. Rothschild’s law (which I name after me) is, “Anything which is currently legal ought to remain legal, no matter what it is.” The goal should be to make all victimless crimes legal, but even a crime with a victim, if currently legal ought to remain so. The state is evil incarnate. It is the most violent, oppressive institution on earth. I am interested in reducing the violence of the state. I have said it before and I’ll say it again: If murder were legal and the only way to stop murder was by making murder illegal, I would say that murder should remain legal. Governments have killed more people than anyone else on the planet by far. Government is less than 10% (much, much less) of the population, but government has committed over (way over) 90% of all murders. In the 20th century alone, government has murdered it’s own “citizens” (excluding war) more than anyone else has combined through all time. Government is the biggest murderous gang on earth. I’m interested in minimizing coercion. If the choices are between: Allowing murder and having no government, or outlawing murder by having a government, I know what I would choose in a heartbeat. Allow murder. Sure, having murder be legal may cause an increase in murder, but not anything close to the level that government commits. Most people would not commit murder if murder were legal since social ostracism and social pressure (not to mention ethics) influence people’s behavior far more effectively and nonviolently than the iron fist of the state does.
- There are nonviolent peaceful ways to reduce abortions that are currently illegal. Government should allow such peaceful solutions to be legal instead of making abortion illegal. If there is a peaceful way to solve a problem, that should be the way to solve it instead of using the easier, more violent way. It is currently illegal to sell one’s parental rights. One can give a baby up for adoption for free, but it is currently illegal to pay people to go through with the pregnancy. It is also illegal to discriminate and ostracize those who perform and get abortions. It is illegal to refuse service to someone just because they got an abortion. Relax such restrictions and the number of abortions will significantly decrease. Social pressure is a peaceful alternative to solve problems and these should be utilized. Unfortunately, it is considered discriminatory to do so and such discrimination is illegal. A free market in babies also gives those who get an abortion a strong economic incentive to come to term. Since most abortions are done for financial reasons, allowing a free market in babies will allow women to profit if they do not perform abortions. This is a peaceful way to deal with such problems.
In conclusion, I believe (with the science in my favor) that a fetus has a right to life, that getting an abortion is not a victimless crime and that people should do what they can to reduce them. But as principled anarchists understand, asking the government to deal with the problem has unintended and grave consequences that come with it. There are peaceful ways to significantly reduce abortions. Instead of making the conversation about a woman having a right to get an abortion, I recommend shifting the conversation towards, how can we influence people’s behavior without have to use the iron fist of the state?