The great libertarian economist Walter Block turned me on to the idea of “Evictionism” (a neo-logism of his own making) as the only sensible, rational solution to the abortion problem.
Typical Abortion Debate
- Pro-life people are worried only with the rights of the fetus
- Pro-choice people are worried only with the rights of the mother
- Neither side concedes that that there is a clear rights conflict, nor is willing to think about how to resolve it equitably for both sides
Block makes some stringent assumptions before launching his argument:
- Life begins at conception (medical advances are inching closer to when the fetus will be viable outside the womb right after conception – ergo life begins then)
- All human rights stem from property rights
- Our most basic property is our own body
- All (true) law is governed by the non-agression principle (the NAP), which states that no person is allowed to initiate violence against another
- All retribution to agression must be proportionate to the crime (e.g. no gunning down simple backyard tresspassers)
Block’s libertarian argument is this:
- A fetus owns her body
- A mother owns her body
- A fetus is a “guest” in her mother’s body
- If at any time, the mother decides her fetus is no longer welcome but is a trespasser she has the right to remove him
- She must take all care to remove the fetus so as not to hurt it (proportionality of retribution), including inducing early labor and submitting the viable baby for adoption
- If removing the fetus even in the gentlest manner results in her death, the mother is free from blame, legally speaking
Its really that simple. There is color and nuance that can be provided around all these points, but the cold hard syllogism I just listed is impossible to deny if you accept the assumptions.
What Pro-Lifers Get
Since medical science can now make a fetus viable outside the womb at 7 and even 6 months – all babies that are aborted after that time (millions?) would be immediately classified as homicide cases. This would give pro-lifers the recognition that they seek – that the fetus is a person with full rights of its own body.
What Pro-Choicers Get
A full acknowledgement and defense of the mother’s legal rights to her body is what pro-choicers want. Evictionism is the only philosophy that gives it to them. Medical science might eventually (in 200 years?) advance so far that a fetus will be viable outside the womb immediately after conception. Thus, in the future fewer and fewer abortions will be justifiable, until they eventually will be eliminated for the legal reasons listed above.
Maybe this isn’t what pro-choicers want – I believe some radicals in this camp are actually obsessed with enacting a collective, violent reversal of past abuses against women, and are simply exercising this ugly itch on unborn children. (Its like the old saying about people who are oppressed and bullied – they themselves become the worst oppressors and bullies, once freed). The child after all is a symbol of bondage and oppression to the extreme feminists who lead the pro-abortion vanguard. But the vast majority of pro-choicers are not pro-abortionists in this way, so I think the recognition of woman’s rights provided by evictionism would be attractive.
What Pro-Lifers Don’t Get
They don’t get a moral rule in law – i.e. a law requiring unwilling mothers to sacrifice their bodily rights for an unwelcome child.
This is very important. True law – as shown in our simple and basic approach of Private Property+Non-Agression Principle – is limited only to prohibiting transgressions – not creating positive obligations. Most modern law-codes are overrun with these types of illegitimate “good samaritan” laws, buy they are nonetheless illegitimate.
The law cannot make us moral people. Indeed, a law requiring people to make morally good choices renders morality itself impossible, since to live morally one must be free to…choose! A choice not to be moral must always be allowed by law, so long as it doesn’t violate our earlier principle against agression of others’ property.
It may be morally damnable for a promiscuous young woman who – for example – uses early-term abortion as a method of birth control. But it mustn’t be illegal if she has no other reasonable way to rid her body of the trespasser.
What Pro-Choicers Don’t Get
They don’t get carte blanche to treat the unborn child however they wish – as they do now in America. They get their “mother’s rights”, but must acknowledge that the fetus isn’t a mere blod clot that can be ripped out of the womb at any time, at whim. Evictionism would demand a new respect for life – once which pro-lifers have failed utterly in instilling.
Here’s Professor Block explaining it all in brief, in his own charming way: