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The Fetus as Parasitic Invader: Murray Rothbard on Abortion

The proper groundwork for analysis of abortion is in every man’s absolute right of self-ownership. This implies immediately that every woman has the absolute right to her own body, that she has absolute dominion over her body and everything within it. This includes the fetus. Most fetuses are in the mother’s womb because the mother consents to this situation, but the fetus is there by the mother’s freely-granted consent. But should the mother decide that she does not want the fetus there any longer, then the fetus becomes a parasitic “invader” of her person, and the mother has the perfect right to expel this invader from her domain. Abortion should be looked upon, not as “murder” of a living person, but as the expulsion of an unwanted invader from the mother’s body.[2] Any laws restricting or prohibiting abortion are therefore invasions of the rights of mothers.

http://mises.org/resources.aspx?Id=e407b9ac-8791-4e1e-b23f-6...

From the Ethics of Liberty, by Murray Rothbard

Just sayin'




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I wish I could +1000 for this

I wish I could +1000 for this comment.

I do not care

Though I admire Rothbard, he is simply wrong on this issue. The decision was made when the woman opened her legs.

What about rape?

.

Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito

The fact

That the infant is not at fault should be the deciding factor.

I agree

But when does life begin? That is the deciding factor. I'm not trying to play devil's advocate here. I'm really trying to figure this out. Before life begins, it s not murder. After life begins, it is. When does life begin?

Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito

The moment of conception

There are unique genes. As such, I would regard conception as when life begins.

The question

is not really "when does life begin?" because sperm is alive, and so is the egg. The sperm that do not invade the egg die, and the egg that is not so invaded dies (to use some of Rothbard's over-the-top language).

So the real question is: when is a human being formed from these two already living cells? The clearest answer seems to be the moment the DNA from both is combined into the DNA of a new living cell, which immediately begins to divide and grow according to the DNA's instructions into all the specialized organs it will need to exist outside of the mother's body. (This process is tremendously more rapid than most people imagine.)

So a human being develops from life to life. The new being is alive and has human DNA (the DNA of a new human, NOT the DNA of the mother, as Rothbard rightly sees). It cannot rightly be called anything but HUMAN LIFE. (it isn't dog, or cat, or grass, or orchid ...)

So now where is your deciding factor, since life has been there all along? Perhaps you mean to ask -- when should I view this new living being as a human equal to me, in that it has a right to live?

But in all serious, when can you NOT view it as human? What makes you human? Are you human because you have perhaps 50 trillion cells (adult) rather than 100 (the average fetus at one week)? Is it the number of cells that counts? The number of organs? Having a fully developed brain? Plenty of humans are born lacking "normal" development. We do not say their human life has not begun for that reason.

Here's another pertinent question to ask: you, being a human who grew up from a single original cell yourself, have exactly what grounds to judge the "humanness" or right to life of another who is in the same condition you once were?

In other words, when did you become human?

When did you first acquire the right to life? When you first began to live? Was it yours from the beginning, or not?

Final question -- when is it morally correct for one human life to kill another human life? If we as humans are free to decide this question ourselves in relation to even one other human being, then we must concede that another human being has the right to make that decision about us.

And yet, most humans believe they have a right to life. This includes Rothbard. Humans will defend themselves against another person who attempts to end their life, because they believe their life is their most important property. They also understand that another's life is his or her most important property. If people didn't understand this, human life on earth would long ago have vanished.

Many humans are nevertheless fairly defenseless against attempts on their lives (the young, the sick, the old, the starving,...), but few would say such humans have no right to life, simply because they are relatively defenseless. Instead, we rightly view humans who want to kill the "unfit" as tyrants and murderers.

In the womb, the new human life is defenseless, just as a newborn, or one-year-old, or paralyzed human being. But they are all alive.

And who are you to decide they should die?

It begins...

...as soon as you are aware that it is there. AWARENESS

Debbie's picture

This is stretching libertarian philosophy around something

where it simply does not apply. As the poster below, Mr. Spock says, this is not a "property rights" issue. The fetus is not a "parasitic invader". This argument is ridiculous and that's why we have never heard Dr. Paul use this argument and never will.

Debbie

This is what happens when the

This is what happens when the topic of whether or not life is sacred becomes nothing more than a exercise in philosophy. It's stupid and dangerous. If we follow this insane argument to its logical conclusion, abortion (or rather eviction?) should be allowed until the very moment a baby is delivered. And what of private property? What if parents decide their children are unwelcome invaders in their homes after a certain period of time? Since private property rights are also absolute, can we then expel those unwanted invaders from our homes?

Lunacy is always lunacy no matter what you call it - and sometimes the the most well thought out intellectual argument can make you look really dumb..For real! :)

Ron Paul 2012 - It's Almost Here!

"What if parents decide their

"What if parents decide their children are unwelcome invaders in their homes after a certain period of time? Since private property rights are also absolute, can we then expel those unwanted invaders from our homes?"

Actually, that is their conclusion. Read up on it. On some points, it's not as wild as it sounds.

Check out LibertyHQ, where I aggregate the all best articles on libertarianism by topic! For now, the "Issues in Libertopia" section is the most developed. Find a link to it below:

LibertyHQ

I don't need to read up on

I don't need to read up on it. It's stupid. Some things are just right and wrong and do not need to be intellectualized by people who think they are more intellectual than the rest of us. I am all for logic and reason, however sometimes philosophy asks us to throw common sense out the window.

Ron Paul 2012 - It's Almost Here!

He isnt asking you to throw logic out the window

Just to apply the same logic to different situations.

Did you read the full article?

Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito

Read the article before commenting

It isn't as simple as you'd like it to be. Rothbard was no stranger to controversy, but I don't believe he pursued it intentionally. He is just following the logical path of the argument that most people are uncomfortable seeing. I don't know if it agree with him 100% either, but at least read the article.

Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito

Debbie's picture

It's not "logical".

*

Debbie

Care to elaborate?

.

Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito

Debbie's picture

Yes, it doesn't make sense!

Read all the rest of the posts on here, they explain it very well.

Debbie

Why can't you explain it?

If you believe Rothbard is wrong, you should be able to offer me some sort of rebuttal. please read the article.

Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito

It doesn't address the rights of the fetus - which is the point

Just sayin'

Murder

is NEVER justifiable.

“It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till." -J.R.R. Tolkien

True but not relevant

Not every homicide is a murder. Self-defense, for example...

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Definately Applies

to Rape & Incest. After consensual sex, not so much.

Rape and Incest are tough ones...

I am starting to change my opinion on the rape and incest...

When we (I) make the argument that the fetus is a living human - and therefor has rights, why should that change because of rape?

It seems like what we really think is:

"You took the chance of getting pregnant - you got pregnant, now take the responsibility." and "You were raped - you never asked for this child... you can abort it."

I'm starting to think that if we believe the fetus is a life - the fact that it is the product of a rape is irrelevant.

Use of force?

Are you against the use of force to impinge on someones rights?
The rapist has forced you to accept his dna and burden you for life, can you object and reject it or will you submit?

"I'm starting to think that

"I'm starting to think that if we believe the fetus is a life - the fact that it is the product of a rape is irrelevant."

That would be the only logical conclusion. But I'm "pro-choice", so it doesn't matter to me :P

Check out LibertyHQ, where I aggregate the all best articles on libertarianism by topic! For now, the "Issues in Libertopia" section is the most developed. Find a link to it below:

LibertyHQ

might seem reasonable

if the fetus just 'appeared'.

"The two weakest arguments for any issue on the House floor are moral and constitutional"
Ron Paul

Zactly

It's a person, not a parasite. Rothbard is just plain wrong on this one. Murder is murder, it IS a person and the parents have a responsibility to him or her. This is not a property rights issue, it's not a geography issue, it's not someone invading someone else's property issue, it's a being responsible for your actions issue.

No King but Jesus, no President but Ron Paul

Debbie's picture

Totally agree with you and rocketman.

*

Debbie