The Free Market Case Against Abortion

Abortion is one of the most divisive issues in America and the world. Abortion is defined as: 'the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus.' There are three camps that most people fall into ' pro-abortion, usually called pro-choice, anti-abortion, usually called pro-life, and those who are undecided. Libertarians fall into these three general categories, with the pro-abortion and anti-abortion often engaging in vociferous emotional debate on what the correct libertarian position on abortion should be. Instead of using heated personal opinion, libertarians should view abortion in light of consistent application of libertarian principles, the principles of the free market, and scientific and medical fact.

The free market is the epitome of civilized human interaction, and is the exact opposite of the state, which always relies on force and coercion. It is the shining beacon of voluntary interaction and cooperation, and always seeks the consensual benefit of all participants, and never forces anyone to participate without their consent, unlike the state. The free market thrives on law and order; where there is lawlessness and chaos, free markets cannot operate effectively. Criminals, including the state and its minions, are people who value their rights over others, and will use any means to deny and defraud others of their rights, including using aggressive force. So for abortion to be a valid free market transaction, it must meet all these criteria ' voluntary, non-aggressive, with intent to provide consensual benefit to all participants.

As commonly practiced, there are three distinct parties or participants in abortion ' medical personnel, the pregnant mother, and the fetus (unborn child). Obviously this is not done voluntarily by the unborn baby, nor does it provide consensual benefit to the unborn child, as it robs the fetus of the one true property the child possesses ' human life. Abortion is physical aggression that results in the death of the fetus. Pro-abortionists argue that the fetus is not a human being, or a human being without rights, and that this naked aggression against the unborn child is justified, because if women are not allowed to kill their unborn infants, it violates a woman's rights. Is this truly what a consistent application of libertarian principles and the free market advocate?

Abortionists often hold the view that human life begins at birth. Yet this view is not supported by science or medical fact, and shows a complete misunderstanding of mammalian reproduction. It would seem obvious that human procreation creates human life. Just as any normal mammalian reproducing species (such as dogs, cats, etc.) produces life of their own species, humans reproduce human life. If the unborn child was not alive, there would be no need to cause the death of the baby. It is completely erroneous and without scientific or medical fact to claim that human life begins at birth. Human life is present both inside and outside the womb. Human birth is just that occurrence where human life in the womb ends, to be replaced by human life outside the womb. So the question is why does the plainly apparent human life in the womb have no rights, and is subject to the termination of the one unique characteristic the unborn possesses, human life, at the whim of others.

Rights and Responsibilities

The free market depends on people being responsible for their actions. Individual rights are predicated and contingent upon individuals exercising individual responsibility. Rights do not entitle one to violate another's rights, and people who do infringe other people's rights are acting irresponsibly at least and in many instances criminally. The following examples show this to be true: A person has a right to bear arms, but not to irresponsibly discharge a weapon so that it injures or kills an innocent bystander; a person has a right to drive a vehicle, but not to irresponsibly drive so that someone is injured or killed; a person has a right to drink or take drugs, but not to act irresponsibly while under the influence and injure or kill another person. People have a right to have sex. If they conceive a child, does this right allow them to act irresponsibly, declare this is an unwanted child, and terminate this human life? Some may argue that this is different because they created the human life, but that argument is also false. Just because one owns or creates something, such as a gun, car, or any other object, it does not give one a license to act irresponsibly and harm or kill another person. This is consistent with the principles of libertarianism and the free market, and would seem to fall into the category of a natural law. Abortion fails to meet this law.

Abortion today is similar to the issue of slavery that was wrongly institutionalized and legalized by the Constitution at the founding of the US . Slavery was presented as a rights issue, with the rights of the property owners overriding the rights of slaves to be treated as human beings. Slaves were denied their basic human rights, with slave owners allowed to act irresponsibly toward slaves and even harm or kill them as they saw fit. Slavery was a disgrace that made a mockery of the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal, are endowed with inalienable rights, and was a blow of tyranny against freedom. Today abortion continues this reprehensible tradition of the weak being victimized by the strong, with the rule of the jungle replacing the rule of law.

Men and women need to be responsible for their sexual activity. Men and women should realize that if they have sex, and conceive a child, that they are creating a family, with the long term responsibility to nurture and care for the child until the child is an independent adult, or finding someone who will willingly take on that task for them. If they do not want an unwanted pregnancy and the long term commitment of a family, they must take precautions before hand, when it only involves consensual participation, and not after a human life is created.

Libertarians should realize that there are no group rights. There are no men's or women's rights, no black or white rights or any other group rights. Abortion is based on the false collectivist assumption that there are group rights, specifically women's rights in this case. Collectivist rights are tools of the state, and have been used to justify the state's murder, theft, genocide, torture, and other atrocities down through the ages. Collectivist rights always emphasize the rights of the group over the individual, and absolve the group of individual responsibility--no wonder they are favorite tools of the state. There are only individuals and individual rights and responsibilities. Though all individuals are unique, there are no unique individual rights, especially ones that allow individuals to violate the rights of others. Again, abortion fails to meet these basic principles of libertarianism and the free market.

Historic Proponents for Legalized Abortion

Abortion has been practiced throughout history, but it is only in recent history (20th Century to today) that is has been widely legalized and viewed as a legitimate choice. That has been one of the rationales for legalizing abortion ' people are going to have abortions whether it is legal or not, so it should be legal so that it is safe. This argument makes as much sense as favoring legalizing assassination, murder, theft, and fraud because people are going to commit them whether they are legal or not, and we need to make it safe for assassins, murders, thieves, and swindlers. True liberty lovers recognize that legalized murder, theft, and extortion is how the state operates, and decriminalizing illegitimate and immoral behaviors only leads to loss of individual freedom and rights.

Legalized abortion has it roots in Marxism, socialism, and egalitarianism. Lenin and his communist Bolsheviks were the first ones to widely and openly legalize and advocate abortion as a woman's right. Communism viewed abortion as a vital part of implementing Marx's and Engel's Communist Manifesto and their desire for the 'Abolition of the family!' and liberation of women who were oppressed by capitalism, marriage, and the family. Modern day Marxists are proud of their pro-abortion heritage and are still leading proponents of abortion as seen by the short article Marxism and Abortion. This article offers us the following insights on how Marxists view abortion ' 'A Marxist believes that personality and human value are imparted by the external and economic environment, not by any inherent spiritual value, or even by biological processes . . . . The fetus, according to a Marxist, becomes a person when he is judged as such by 'someone of higher wisdom.' The humanity of the fetus depends upon how the mother perceives the 'social relationship' that exists between them. If the mother desires to keep the baby, then she 'fantasizes' it into becoming a human being. But, if she does not want the pregnancy, 'it is something else entirely.' Her opinion of the fetus thereby denies it of personhood . . . . 'Biological processes,' says Albury, 'do not carry automatic moral values as the Right to Life suggests . . . . Human economic, social and political relationships create moral values.' . . . According to Albury, 'Material conditions of life change, and so do moral values.' This means that, to a Marxist, the unborn baby may be a human being for a time, but may then become depersonified and rendered 'pre-human,' all because his or her mother began to think differently about him or her. She adds: 'Certainly, many women experience mixed feelings; the fantasy baby may even appear for a while. Women can tell it goodbye forever.'' The article concludes with this comment by Dr. John Whitehall: 'The inhumanity of communism resides in this arbitrary assessment of human life, which is based on the Marxist valuation of certain social relationships. On this basis, millions have been told 'goodbye'--from the purges of Russia , to the genocide in Cambodia , to the killings in the Philippines , and now to the unborn baby.' I can only agree with Dr. Whitehall's comment and add that it is amazing that anyone, especially libertarians, would cling to anything associated with Marx's thoroughly discredited theories. We have already had too many innocent lives needlessly sacrificed for the addle-brained utopian scheme of a classless worker's paradise; we don't need to add any more.

Abortion is also the socialist scheme to impose egalitarianism on human sexual relations. The socialists quarrel is that since men don't have to suffer being pregnant, women shouldn't have to suffer being pregnant. Since the vacuous socialists can't get nature to cooperate with any of their foolish plans, such as passing laws forbidding conception from happening during sexual intercourse, they demand abortion as the next best thing. They argue that if a woman can't terminate a pregnancy, it is proof of gender inequality, and creates a class distinction between men and women. This shows an outstanding ignorance of human sexuality and reproduction, and the unique roles nature has given to males and females in human reproduction. It wrongly treats pregnancy as only a female concern and responsibility, when in reality it is a male and female responsibility, and tries to pit the sexes against one another. Giving women the power to destroy human life by abortion only makes women barbaric equals to the bloodthirsty savagery men have exhibited in destroying human life throughout history. Free market libertarians usually dismiss anything to do with socialism and egalitarianism as being opposed to freedom and the free market; it is strange and sad that some have not done the same for abortion.

Libertarian Rationales for Abortion

Ayn Rand's acolyte Leonard Peikoff, in an article entitled Abortion Rights Are Pro-Life, gives this view of Rand 's position on abortion ' ''Rights,' in Ayn Rand's words, 'do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born.'' Though Rand states that a child has no rights until it is born as a fact, there is no scientific or medical evidence to back this up. The unborn child is not a mere potential; it exists, and is a human life, which is proven by science and medical fact. By Rand 's own words, the unborn child's existence should confer rights. She then contradicts herself by saying the unborn child can have no rights until it is born. Rand 's opinions are typical of pro-abortion arguments ' logical inconsistencies and contradictory statements, statements given as fact with no supporting scientific or medical evidence, a complete lack of understanding of human biology concerning human sexual reproduction and pregnancy, and with ideas that correlate to the Marxist views on abortion.

In the same article, Peikoff gives the following erroneous evaluation of fetal development. 'We must not confuse potentiality with actuality. An embryo is a potential human being. It can, granted the woman's choice, develop into an infant. But what it actually is during the first trimester is a mass of relatively undifferentiated cells that exist as a part of a woman's body. If we consider what it is rather than what it might become, we must acknowledge that the embryo under three months is something far more primitive than a frog or a fish. To compare it to an infant is ludicrous.' What is ludicrous is to think that a human embryo is just a growth of tissue, like a wart, as part of a woman's body. Science and medicine prove that by week three, the embryo begins development of the brain, spinal cord, heart, and gastrointestinal tract. By week eight, the embryo development is finished and the unborn child enters the fetal stage, and is far more advanced than a mere frog or fish. Peikoff, like most pro-abortionists, has confused actuality with potentiality, that an embryo is a human being by science and medical fact, and has no idea what he is talking about. Unfortunately, Peikoff is among thousands of others who are ignorant, and believe that the unborn child is just a growth of tissue of the mother's, instead of a unique living human entity that lives inside the womb, whose life and development is mostly autonomous from the mother's. This is part of nature's plan, that an unborn child be self-sufficient in the womb, and does not require direct human intervention. It is only after a child is born that the baby becomes completely dependent on direct human intervention and support.

Murray Rothbard, in For a New Liberty, writes: 'Most discussion of the issue bogs down in minutiae about when human life begins, when or if the fetus can be considered to be alive, etc. All this is really irrelevant to the issue of the legality (again, not necessarily the morality) of abortion.' In The Ethics of Liberty, Rothbard states: '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. Any laws restricting or prohibiting abortion are therefore invasions of the rights of mothers.' Mr. Rothbard argues that it is immaterial if the unborn is alive, as science and medicine teach, but that this is solely a property rights issue. Though he uses different words, it is basically a restatement of the Marxist position on abortion. Just as in the Marxist position, Rothbard argues that it is how the mother thinks of the unborn child, either as human or subhuman, that determines the unborn child's rights. Again this is a logical fallacy, and to claim that a fetus is a parasite and invader shows a complete lack of understanding of human reproduction, and is contradicted by scientific and medical fact. While it is true that humans have wrongly viewed their fellow humans as sub-humans, such as Jews, Palestinians, American Indians, and others, this has only led to genocide, a loss of freedom, and denying people their most precious possession ' human life. While Mr. Rothbard argues that every person has the absolute right to self-ownership to include their body and life, he contradicts himself by stating the mother's desires can override the unborn infant's rights to the unborn's body and life by wrongly thinking of the child as a parasitic invader. He then concludes that if mothers are not allowed to have their children killed, that this is an infringement on mother's rights. People who understand human sexual reproduction and pregnancy realize that the womb is the unborn child's home, that nature prepares and uses the woman's body for the benefit of the unborn infant, and that the unborn baby can never trespass. This is just a fact of life, confirmed by scientific and medical fact, and no amount of fantasizing, illogical rationalizing, or de facto statements to the contrary can change this.

In Libertarianism and 'Sex, Drugs, & Rock 'n' Roll', Walter Block proclaims: 'Libertarians do not favor abortion (pro choice). Nor are they opposed to it either (pro life). Rather, and I concede there is some debate on this issue within libertarian circles, they offer a third option, evictionism. Very briefly, the mother is the owner of her body. The unwanted fetus is a trespasser. What obligations does the owner have, when faced with someone sitting in on one's property? To remove him, but in the gentlest manner possible. One hundred years ago, with technology of that era, the only way to remove a fetus was to kill it. So, the libertarian position implies pro choice then. One hundred years from now, if technology marches on, it will be possible to evict the fetus from the womb without harming it in the least. Then, the libertarian will be a staunch pro lifer.' This is basically a defense of the erroneous Rothbardian pro-abortion property rights doctrine. Evictionism is just a euphemism for abortion, and is not a third option as claimed. This is similar to claiming there would be no more deaths by simply calling death a 'life-terminating experience,' or how the US military claims there are no civilian casualties, only 'collateral damage.' It is very debatable whether anyone would care if someone who tried to kill them did it in the gentlest manner possible, or grant them that right. (Does this mean that Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot were overly compassionate and merely misunderstood?) Mr. Block then asserts that technology can give value to human life, and that until technology can allow the removal of an unborn child without killing the child, libertarians should be pro-abortion and accept the forceful termination of human life. Do libertarian and free market principles really depend on technology and technological advancements, and does technology allow a complete reversal of these principles?

The whole pro-abortion property rights doctrine is actually quit frightening, and if taken to its logical conclusion, would allow all kinds of abhorrent behavior, and shows how rights can be confused with illegitimate acts. If applied consistently, and without exceptions, it would result in only real estate property owners having rights, and only when they were on their own real estate property. This would allow cannibalism, slavery, murder, and any other evil as a right, and would allow each person to be a law unto themselves on their property. While many will claim that this is absurd and false, consider this example. Someone invites you to their home, you are inside their property, and the property owner now, for whatever reason, views you as an unwelcome parasite that is trespassing, and terminates your life or enslaves you. Would you deny the property owner the right to terminate your life in his own property? Would you deny the property owner the right to eat you in his own property? Would you deny the property owner the right to make a slave of you in his own property? Wouldn't any laws restricting or prohibiting murder, cannibalism or slavery be invasions of the rights of property owners? Such a demented and distorted society would be completely dysfunctional and xenophobic, and would be worse than the state. Obviously such a society is contrary to all the principles of libertarianism and the free market, and true liberty lovers would do well to steer clear of any philosophy that carries its taint.

Why Libertarians Support Abortion

Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard both supported abortion. These two giants of the modern day libertarian movement have many admirers, and many of their followers attribute them with almost godlike attributes, and unquestioningly accept the philosophies these two have formed. While Rand and Rothbard do richly deserve accolades, they were only human and prone to human error, as we all are. Their supporters would do more to honor their memory by acknowledging their mistakes and correcting them, instead of perpetuating their errors.

Many libertarians, especially atheist libertarians, have a misconception of abortion as a religious issue. Atheist libertarian tolerance of religion varies from mild distrust and apprehension to rabid fear and hate, and many will reject anything they associate with religion. People should visit the Libertarians for Life and Atheist and Agnostic Pro-Life League sites to see how others have divorced religion from being anti-abortion. What libertarians should realize is that abortion is not a religious issue for libertarians, and like any other issue, needs only be evaluated by the principles of libertarianism and the free market.

Many libertarians have a misunderstanding of pro-abortion as a woman's rights issue, and have confused granting any type of rights with an increase in freedom. Pro-abortion is really a violation of the unborn child's life and liberty that has been wrongly promoted as a woman's right to have the unborn baby's life terminated. Libertarians should realize that a consistent application of libertarian and free market principles will never grant someone the right to violently aggress or kill another human being. Granting people the right to kill, a tool of the state, will only decrease freedom.


Libertarians should evaluate their stand on abortion founded on the unswerving application of libertarian and free market principles based on scientific and medical fact. If libertarians do this, they will find that abortion violates almost all the basic precepts of libertarianism and free markets, and abortion contains the seed of all those concepts that libertarians are trying to overcome. Libertarianism and the free market endorse liberty and the rule of law, where the weak cannot be victimized by the strong. Abortion promotes tyranny and the rule of the jungle, where the weak are victimized by the strong. Libertarianism and the free market support individualism, individual rights, individual responsibility, voluntary consensual acts, and mutual benefit. Abortion maintains collectivism, group rights, individual irresponsibility, involuntary forced acts, and transactions that benefit only certain parties. Libertarianism rejects force, violent aggression, and coercion as a method for humans to interact. Abortion sanctions force, violent aggression, and coercion as a means for humans to solve their problems.

Abortion is founded on philosophical mysticism based on myths and fantasies, not on scientific or medical fact. A pro-abortion stance requires one to see black as white, dark as light, and evil as good. It requires logical inconsistencies, contradictions, and acceptance of de facto statements that are not supported by facts. Instead of reality and facts determining how one thinks, abortion requires one to believe that reality is determined by how one thinks, irregardless of facts. This is not surprising, as abortion has its roots in socialism, and the socialist's desire to perform human engineering and obtain egalitarian results no matter the human cost. What is puzzling is that so many libertarians, who usually decry anything to do with socialism as being part of the loony left, have been hoodwinked into supporting this socialist agenda.

The biggest fallacy is that abortion is a right. No one can be granted an absolute right to kill another human being. Recognizing a right to kill innocents is a slippery slope to absolute tyranny, not freedom. There are already enough cults of death and destruction that justify the slaying of innocent lives as being in self-defense, as a protection of rights, and for the cause of freedom. Libertarians should avoid embracing the tactics of the state, and concentrate on living by the principles of libertarianism and the free market. Libertarianism and the free market are anti-abortion, pro-life by their very nature.

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Weebies's picture
Columns on STR: 19

weebies lives on earth, third planet from the sun. The inhabitants of Earth hold superstitious beliefs concerning the gods of state, and even offer them blood sacrifice. weebies is trying to help his fellow citizens see that the state is an obsolete unnecessary evil, that the free market and freedom are all they truly need.


hypermike14's picture

I'm an anarcho-Capitalist and atheist, and also agree entirely with this article. From my view, I have all the more reason to be against abortion, because I believe that this life is the only shot that we have. To take that only life from someone else is very horrible. There are multiple secular/scientific reasons to oppose abortion. Embryology is a key factor in how I look at this, and I think you would be surprised to look up Christopher Hitchens' (a famous atheist) position on the issue. He stated in no uncertain terms that he does not believe that "unborn child" is an invalid term, and that he disagrees with his fellow materialists on the issue. I am saddened to be alienated by Christians who have a problem with atheists, and the majority of atheists who support abortion. There are a few of us out there, but we are very isolated.