Unborn Children: Not Parasites, Not Trespassers

Introduction

“To hold individuals guilty of crimes they couldn’t have committed is a moral obscenity.”–Robert Gore

Within the abortion debate, unborn children are often called either parasites or trespassers, sometimes both. This is nothing more than an attempt to marginalize and dehumanize the unborn child in order to justify a position or ideology.

This article seeks to prove in a straight-forward manner that this is wrong. The terminology is incorrect. I use dictionary definitions to show that the common usage of both terms eliminates any possibility that they might be correctly applied to an unborn child. Furthermore, I draw on common sense and my own understanding of moral justice in order to reach a conclusion–that it is impossible for the unborn child to be either a parasite or a trespasser. To call them that, as Robert Gore has stated, is a moral obscenity.


“… given that the fetus is unwanted, it is in effect a trespasser or a parasite.”Walter Block/Roy Whitehead[i]

“What human has the right to remain, unbidden, as an unwanted parasite within some other human being’s body? This is the nub of the issue: the absolute right of every person and hence every woman, to the ownership of her own body. What the mother is doing in an abortion is causing an unwanted entity within her body to be ejected from it: If the fetus dies, this does not rebut the point that no being has a right to live, unbidden, as a parasite within or upon some person’s body.– Murray Rothbard [ii]

Unfortunately, these men have based their claims on “property rights”, i.e., the woman owns her own body (property) and can do with it whatever she wishes. (I have dealt with this issue elsewhere. See here.) The “right” of an unborn baby girl to own her body is discarded out of hand. They assert that property rights are all that matter. Morality (the sense of right and wrong) does not enter the picture. In the case of abortion on demand, legally defined rights have become more important than what is right.

To be fair, both Walter Block and Murray Rothbard have done an absolutely phenomenal amount of work for the cause of individual liberty which cannot be dismissed or denigrated. In this case, though, they are simply wrong.


Section I: Parasites: Biological and Social

The number of types of parasites can be numbered–there are two. Only two. Biological and social. See here[iii] for a typical definition of the term. Unborn children are neither.

Parasites (biological) are not a part of the host. They do not derive from it and are not related to it. In fact, they are a species which is completely different from the host. They draw nourishment and sustenance out of the host, debilitating and weakening it. They give nothing back. If they grow and/or reproduce unchecked, they can, and sometimes do, literally kill the host. A tapeworm is a parasite. Mistletoe is a parasite. Lice and bedbugs are parasites. An unborn baby is not.

Unborn fetuses DO draw nourishment and sustenance from the woman, via the umbilical cord, but they are not a threat to the woman under normal circumstances. They are not a different species. They are related to the host (mother). They derive half their DNA from her, but they are not [iv] a part of her. The only time that a woman is threatened by the fetus is due to an ectopic pregnancy or (perhaps) other complications brought on during the pregnancy.

Biologically speaking, a fetus cannot be a parasite.

Parasites (social) are another sort entirely. They are human beings who prey on other human beings. They may or may not be related. They may attach exclusively to one person or draw from more than one. They have a desire to be supported by others and have their wants and needs filled by them. They know their current (preferred) lifestyle would suffer if the parasite/host attachment were severed for any reason. One common characteristic of social parasites is the selfish belief that other human beings exist for their benefit. They are users of people and seek to control them for personal gain. Taken to an extreme, this becomes an “all for me, none for you” attitude and way of life. In an unrelated but not entirely irrelevant article, Brandon Smith describes it like this.

“This attitude can also be seen in the common actions of narcissistic sociopaths, who have no qualms about conning or exploiting people around them as resources, feeding off others like parasites.” [v]

To some degree, all of us are social parasites. Everyone, at one time or another in his life, uses someone else for personal gain or benefit. This type of action, for most of us, tends to be minimized as we grow older and wiser and it can be personally overcome to a large degree. Many people never outgrow it. Some never try.

It is commonly accepted that unborn children do not have any consciousness of their own until they have developed sufficiently [vi], probably not until very late in the pregnancy. How can a fetus (which is not aware of its situation and surroundings) use someone else selfishly? How can someone who has not attained the characteristics of self-consciousness and deliberate action be a parasite? Quite simply, she can’t. She does not knowingly use anyone else for her benefit. She knows nothing except what has always been, i.e., the womb and a state of total dependence. She will never know anything differently until and unless she is born and (gradually, progressively) taught to become independent.

In the timeline of the unborn baby/newborn baby/small child/teenager/adult, the individual progresses from complete dependence on her mother to a state of some degree of independence. If she is considered a parasite before birth, at what point does she cease to be one? What is the point in a person’s life where she does not need or depend on anyone else? When does a person stop “taking” and start “giving”? Everyone takes more at the beginning, but eventually we learn (hopefully) to give more than we take. It can be argued that we live on a sliding scale, one end being total dependence, the other total independence. The only choice we have is where we live on that scale and that is determined through a lifetime of personal change and our interactions with other people, either positive or negative, with varying degrees of success.


Section II: Trespassing: A Legal View of Trespass [vii]

Murray Rothbard [viii], a major contributor to modern libertarian thought, stresses the “legality” of abortion in the quote below. He appeals to law to validate his claim that a woman has an absolute right to have an abortion.

“What we are trying to establish here is not the morality of abortion (which may or may not be moral on other grounds), but its legality, i.e., the absolute right of the mother to have an abortion” [ix]

Well, all right, then. Let’s look at this from a legal perspective. I argue that a fetus is not a trespasser based on the legal aspect of what it means to be a trespasser. I state firmly and unequivocally that a fetus CANNOT be a trespasser because there is no legal justification for the attribute. Trespassing is a criminal act, punishable by law! A fetus cannot be tried and convicted, by law, for the crime of trespass, therefore, it follows that a fetus is not a trespasser.

I will go further. Saddling a fetus with the pejorative label of “trespasser” or “parasite” is intentionally dissembling. It is similar to calling the fetus “a clump of cells”, “fetal tissue”, “product of conception”, “blob of protoplasm”, or “uterine content” and seeks to obfuscate the real meaning of what an abortion is–the deliberate killing of an innocent, unborn human being. Block and Rothbard do so, in my opinion, not so much to promote abortion, but more properly to defend their own definition of “property rights”. In this respect, they have taken their stated philosophy and beliefs to the logical end–regardless of the damage caused.

Dictionary definitions of ‘trespasser’ can be seen here [x],

“One who has committed trespass; one who unlawfully enters or intrudes upon another’s land, or unlawfully and forcibly takes another’s personal property.”

and here [xi].

“In the law of tort, property, and criminal law a trespasser is a person who commits the act of trespassing on a property, that is, without the permission of the owner. Being present on land as a trespasser thereto creates liability in the trespasser, so long as the trespass is intentional.”

In these descriptions, the emphasis is on unlawful entry, forceful taking, and intentional action. This is about as far from a newly conceived zygote or a four-month old fetus as anything could get. Notice also that the trespasser is described as a “person”, but the Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade determined that unborn children are not persons until they are viable, at the very least. If fetuses are not persons, they can’t be trespassers according to the definition. They can’t both be right. Which is correct?

Let’s break this down. Trespassing is a criminal act, prohibited by law and punishable under law. It is embedded into the legal code. Trespassing may be done willfully or mistakenly, but it always involves the crossing of a previously established boundary. The trespasser intrudes on someone else’s space (property) from some other location or position. If there is no transgression of boundaries, there is no trespass.

To intrude on someone’s property by mistake should not be (and usually is not) considered criminal unless damage is done to the property. More likely than not, trespassers who are confronted will remove themselves promptly, with the knowledge that behavior of that sort will not be tolerated. Trespassers who offer a sincere apology will probably be allowed to vacate the property without any further trouble and that will be the end of it. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) An honest, contrite confession of a mistake will go a long way in defusing a potentially violent situation.

Let’s draw a picture.

A young woman from the city visits her uncle, who lives in a heavily forested part of the country. While there, she decides to venture out and explore the wilderness. Since there are no fences or signs, she has no idea that she has left her uncle’s property and is now walking through his neighbor’s forest. The neighbor sees her, confronts her, and warns her that she is trespassing and must remove herself from the property. In response to this, she confesses her mistake, asks for direction back to her uncle’s place, and leaves without further ado.

Under this scenario, the neighbor whose property boundary was violated would likely do nothing more, unless he called the uncle and asked him to inform the niece of the property lines. Legally, he probably would not be able to make a case for the arrest and trial of a young woman who had simply made a mistake.

Intentional trespass, on the other hand, requires deliberate action and knowledge. It is done with the understanding that a boundary has been placed around the property by the rightful owner. The trespasser would have to consciously violate that boundary without regard for the will of the owner. Such a violation could and might result in a penalty being assessed against the trespasser, if the property owner was inclined to push the issue.

Suppose that this same young woman, while walking through the forest, came to a place where there was a four strand, barbed wire fence, arrow-straight and fiddle-string tight. In addition, there was a “No Trespassing” sign fastened to a fence post at fifty-foot intervals. There could be no mistaking of the intent. This would be a clear indication that she was not allowed to go any further, under penalty of law. The choice then would be hers–to obey the injunction and turn back or to willfully climb over the fence in a deliberate act of trespass, which would be considered criminal if discovered and prosecuted.

Criminal trespass simply cannot happen in the case of pregnancy, because the alleged violator, the fetus, was conceived and has always existed in the womb [xii]. It originated from within the womb. It has never been anywhere else. It has never crossed any boundary. How can something, anything, be charged with trespassing if it began within the boundaries and never crossed them? The fetus may be unwanted, but it is not a trespasser. Call it a noxious weed if you wish, but don’t call it a trespasser. Assert your right to remove weeds from your “lawn”, but don’t base your claim on trespass law.

Criminal prosecution usually takes the form of arrest, charge, hearing/trial, verdict, and penalty/release, or some variation of this process. Every person who is arrested for a crime should be advised of the charge(s) against him. Not only that, but he should be expected to understand why he has been charged and what the penalty might be if he is found guilty. Moreover, he should have a right to counsel and the opportunity to defend himself. In addition, he should be able to appeal his case to a higher authority. Or at least this is the way it’s supposed to work.

Trespass is a matter of law. It cannot be otherwise. It must be handled in a legal manner. In order to prove a case of trespass fairly, these steps (at a minimum) must be followed:

1. Charge or accusation

2. Hearing or trial

3. Evidence presented

4. Verdict pronounced

5. Penalty imposed or case dismissed.

In a case of (supposed) fetal trespass against a woman, this will not be the course of action. Consider:

1. No charges or accusations have ever been (nor will ever be) brought against the “offender” [xiii]. If they were, it would not be able to hear nor understand them.

2. There is no trial or hearing in which the fetus is given the opportunity to defend itself nor is anyone else appointed to act on its behalf. In fact, if someone else did make an attempt to speak for it, he could be charged [xiv] with a crime himself.

3. The only evidence presented at all is that the woman is known to be pregnant. There is no evidence presented to prove that the fetus actually committed any “crime” worthy of punishment.

4. The verdict is not based on objective proof beyond a shadow of doubt, but solely on the subjective decision of the woman and anyone around her who might benefit from the abortion, either financially, socially, or emotionally.

5. The penalty is carried out–execution–without any possibility of appeal.

This sort of proceeding reminds me of the poem, A Mouse’s Tale [xv] in Lewis Carroll’s tale, Alice in Wonderland [xvi].

“…I’ll be judge, I’ll be jury, said cunning old Fury. I’ll try the whole cause and condemn you to death.”

Fetal trespass is a misnomer. There is no law directly forbidding a fetus to reside in a womb or compelling it to vacate the premises. There is no law which orders a fetus to act in a certain manner regarding the violation of property boundaries. None. Nada. Nyet. Nein. There never will be. It would be the absolute height of foolishness to forbid a fetus from trespassing, at least as much as it would be to forbid a dog from pooping on a neighbor’s front lawn.

Calling an unborn child a trespasser is preposterous. In today’s social and political environment, it would be equivalent to “fake news.” Calling something what it is not in order to justify a viewpoint is not only false and misleading, it is morally reprehensible. It is blatantlyt irresponsible at best, deadly at worst.

The counter-argument might be presented that, since the fetus is not a person [xvii], legally correct criminal proceedings really don’t apply. Even in cases of non-persons becoming trespassers, however, the law still operates in the same way. Trespassing is a criminal act and must be treated that way.

Domestic animals, dogs, for instance, can and do leave their owner’s property and trespass on someone else’s. Sometimes they poop on front lawns, which is a nuisance. Sometimes they are more aggressive, e.g., digging up flower beds or killing sheep. A tree can (and sometimes does) fall across a property boundary and cause damage, for example, if it crashes through a neighbor’s garage roof.

In the case of the tree falling, someone would cut it up, clean it up, and remove it from the site. If you wanted to imagine it this way, the tree would be “punished” for its trespass.

In the case of the sheep-killing dog, the dog might be shot by the shepherd, thus “paying” for its crime. It might be imprisoned (kenneled, chained) by its owner to keep it from running wild and causing more damage. Pre-crime [xviii], so to speak.

Dogs and trees can trespass on a person’s property, but they do not understand that they do so. To them, it is a completely natural act. They know nothing else. It is futile to legally charge them with trespass, so we take the more rational step of charging their owner, requiring that he make the situation right and compensating the victim for damages caused.

Someone might claim that I have blown my case. If dogs and trees can trespass unknowingly, then so too can a fetus. This assertion collapses, however, under the same point that I made earlier–trespass cannot occur without the violation of a boundary. While dogs and trees can and do violate property boundaries, the fetus never has. Dogs and trees came across the line from some other place. The fetus arrived from nowhere and, from the very beginning, has always existed on the property.

The whole process from sexual intercourse to the realization that a woman is pregnant can be roughly compared to the appearance of alien spaceships from (seemingly) nowhere into Earth’s space without warning.

  1. We broadcast and blast radio waves into the universe non-stop, sometimes with the express purpose of catching the attention of other-worldly entities—sexual intercourse.
  2. We know that “intercourse” of this nature might result in the appearance of a spaceship into Earth’s space and time—possibility of conception and pregnancy.
  3. We understand that this appearance might have repercussions and possibly even prove fatal—pregnancy which adversely affects the health and well-being of the woman.
  4. We also understand that the appearance might produce future benefits which we can only imagine at the time—interaction with the new-born baby as it grows into a mature adult.
  5. In the event that an alien spaceship does appear, we have to make a decision either to live with it, cooperate with it, and benefit from its presence, or to use violence to blast it out of the sky in an attempt to maintain the life we prefer and have become accustomed to, regardless of the death and damage that might ensue–to abort or not to abort.

The one discrepancy in this comparison is that alien spaceships, regardless of where they originate, come from another place within the universe, or for those who are really into it, from a parallel universe. Consequently, they can, according to our code of justice, legally be charged with criminal trespass, found guilty, and “punished”. After all, it is our space! How well that might work out remains to be seen. We might find out we’re punching well above our weight.

Unborn fetuses (and this is the pivot of my argument) do not and never have come from another location. They appear out of nowhere. They do not exist before they arrive. They are “created” within the womb by the simple joining of an egg cell and a sperm cell. Before this union, there is nothing but two individual human cells. After that, there is a new human being, who has committed no crime and is completely innocent of any charge or accusation against it.


Conclusion: The End of it All

If the unborn child is not a parasite nor a trespasser, then what is she? There is only one answer left–a unique, personal, human being who has been placed, through no action, will, or desire of her own, in a vulnerable, dangerous position. She deserves all the protection that we can give her, if we are so inclined. Unfortunately, quite often, we are so NOT inclined, consequently, she ends up dead.

Greg Koukl has written what I consider to be the perfect sentiment to end this article. I couldn’t have said it any better.

“A child is not an invader, though, a parasite living off his mother. A mother’s womb is the baby’s natural environment…One trespasses when he’s not in his rightful place, but a baby developing in the womb belongs there.” [xix]


[i] Block, Walter E. and Roy Whitehead. 2005. “Compromising the Uncompromisable: A Private Property Rights Approach to Resolving the Abortion Controversy,” Appalachian Law Review, 4 (2) 1-45

[ii] https://mises.org/sites/default/files/For%20a%20New%20Liberty%20The%20Libertarian%20Manifesto_3.pdf

[iii] https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/parasite. I do not agree with the dictionary’s example of a financial speculator as a parasite. My view is that financial speculators are necessary in the same sense as a wolf pack which culls out weak or sick animals, leaving the rest of the herd healthier as a result.

[iv] https://catholicvote.org/10-reasons-the-unborn-is-not-a-part-of-a-womans-body/

[v] https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-02-07/brandon-smith-secular-look-destructive-globalist-belief-system

[vi] https://thebrainbank.scienceblog.com/2012/12/04/what-can-science-add-to-the-abortion-debate/

[vii] I am not a legal scholar, judge, nor lawyer. I could be entirely wrong about this whole train of thought, however, I am willing to stick my neck out and stand according to what I do know and believe to be true. In this sense, I am relying on common sense and moral justice as my guides. I dare say I am right.

[viii] https://mises.org/profile/murray-n-rothbard

[ix] Murray N. Rothbard, The Ethics of Liberty (New York: New York University Press, ©1998), 98.

[x] https://thelawdictionary.org/trespasser/

[xi] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trespasser

[xii] I use the term “womb” to include the entire reproductive system of the female body.

[xiii] Martin Armstrong writes this which closely parallels what I have outlined above. “In law school, they teach you that the Due Process of Law comes from the Bible. God already knew what happened between Cain and Able. He still granted him the Due Process of Law to (1) summon him providing notice and (2) the right to be heard. We no longer allow Due Process of Law. We presume guilt and condemn people without trial.” See here.

[xiv] In the Roman Empire, families were allowed to abandon their newborn babies by leaving them in garbage dumps or dung heaps to die. The early Christians adopted the practice of picking them up and raising them if they were alive, but burying them if they had died. This became so prevalent that a law was passed making it illegal to do so.

[xv] I hadn’t read this poem in close to fifty years until I started researching this article, but I still remembered most of it. “Fury said to a mouse that he met in the house…” I wish I could have met Lewis Carroll.

[xvi] A favorite story of mine when I was growing up, as was Through the Looking Glass, also by Lewis Carroll. You can hear Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane pay homage in their song White Rabbit. Their best song, in my opinion.

[xvii] For my view on this, see here and here.

[xviii] See the movie, Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise.

[xix] https://www.str.org/articles/unstringing-the-violinist#.XEp7os1lBPZ

Humanizing Mice–with the Assistance of Aborted Children

My thanks go to Michael Rozeff [i] for the push needed to write this article.


“The Department of Health and Human Services says it has granted a second 90-day extension to a contract it has with the University of California at San Francisco that requires UCSF to make “humanized mice.”…These creatures are made by implanting mice with human tissues taken from late-term aborted babies.” [ii]

According to this article, the federal government is spending up to $95, 000, 000. 00 of taxpayer money to finance various research experiments which use human tissue from aborted babies.

Just to make it perfectly clear, let me rephrase this information.

The Department of Health and Human Services, through its arm, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding research at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF) which uses tissue from aborted babies to create “humanized mice”. So far, payments to the university equal $10,596,960 and if the contract is extended through the full term, will total almost $14, 000, 000. Not only that, but the contract requires the university to do this.

Did you get that? To create “humanized mice”. Humanized mice!

Not only does the federal government allow, condone, and endorse the killing of unborn babies, but it also pays to have those babies literally ground into a soup from which specific cells are extracted to be used in research on mice. Supposedly this is done to facilitate medical cures for diseases like HIV or Alzheimer’s.

And you are paying for it, as am I. Does this make you hopping mad, or what?

The real kicker in this whole thing, though, is not the news itself, but what is unseen behind the news. Rozeff pointed this out in a blog post [iii] on Lew Rockwell and basically challenged the pro-life community to do something about it.

One of the main arguments of the pro-abortion side has been that unborn fetuses are not really human beings, not actually persons. Truth be told, this faction has invested an incredible amount of time, energy, and resources in dehumanizing the unborn child, calling her a “blob of tissue”, a “product of conception”, “uterine contents”, “protoplasm”, et al, in the attempt to persuade people that she wasn’t worth getting all worked up about. After all, abortion is only a matter of evicting parasites and trespassers. Nothing to see here. Move on!

This line of thinking eventually reached the US Supreme Court. On January 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade Day, the unborn fetus was determined to be a non-person, somewhat less than human, and declared to be fair game for any woman who was willing to kill her child. This has been the official policy of the US government since and the various states have followed suit—some vigorously, some less so, but they have all gone along with the plot.

Due to this news report, however, it is now evident that the federal government, research universities, and the researchers themselves admit, implicitly at least, that unborn children are human much earlier than the Supreme Court determined.

“This tells us that the fetus is sufficiently human at 18 weeks to be able to lend human characteristics to the mice. This means that the U.S. and the scientists implicitly accept as fact that a fetus at 18 weeks is a human being…”—Michael Rozeff [iv]

More even than this, Rozeff writes that,

“Scientists at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill use fetal tissue from 14 to 19 week pregnancies to make humanized mice. Perhaps others will find that even earlier tissue is being used to transfer human properties. But 14 week tissue means that scientists are implicitly accepting as fact that a 14 week fetus is human, human enough to qualify for their tests and sometimes subsidies funded by taxes.” [v]

The gist of his argument is that the pro-life community needs to be made aware that the federal government recognizes, by its very behavior, that unborn children as young as 14 weeks from conception are human beings. Humanized mice could not be produced from fetal tissue if this were not true. This information needs to be shouted from the rooftops, spread widely, and used to bring pressure to bear on officials within the government who have the power to change the status quo.

Let’s get this straight, people. Our own government is admitting that innocent human children are being killed and used for purposes which may or may not benefit society at large. Certainly the research facility benefits as does the research team. The administrative team at the NIH benefits from this practice. I am sure Planned Parenthood benefits from it. Maybe the mice will learn someday to talk with us. The single most important person in this whole sorry affair, however, had to die violently for this to happen.

Shall we do evil so that good may come? I think not. The lives of people who have already been born are not more important than the lives of people who have not. In fact, if anything, we should be placing more importance on those who have yet to be born, because they represent mankind’s future. Without them, we will cease to exist.



[i] https://mises.org/profile/michael-s-rozeff

[ii] https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/terence-p-jeffrey/hhs-extends-contract-make-humanized-mice-aborted-baby-parts-another

[iii] https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/implication-of-humanized-mice-from-14-week-fetal-tissue/

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

Whose Body is it Anyway? A Property Question of Abortion Rights

One of the most widely used arguments to defend a woman’s “right” to kill her unborn child is that she owns her own body and can do what she wants with it. No one has any authority to impose restrictions on her behavior, so long as she is not harming any other person.

Yes, yes, I know. An unborn baby is a person and women who abort their unborn babies ARE harming other people, but it is not my intention to discuss the person-hood of an unborn child in this article. Rather, I want to explore the philosophical question of the ownership of the human body—irrespective of sex. Male or female is irrelevant. To whom do I belong? That is a question everyone must answer.

“…how can we defend the mother’s right to kill the fetus?

Simple. She owns her own body, and the unwanted fetus growing within it is in effect a trespasser or parasite. This may sound harsh, but when the property rights in question are thoroughly analyzed, it is the only possible conclusion that may be reached.”[i]–Walter Block and Roy Whitehead

If I was asked (I wasn’t) to paraphrase and rewrite the above quote, this is the way it would turn out.

“We can defend a woman’s (mothers don’t act that way) right to kill her unborn child because she owns her body and the unwanted fetus is a trespasser and a parasite. Dastardly things, anyway! Besides, property rights are sacrosanct [ii] so we can reach no other conclusion.”

All I can say about this manner of thinking is that it is abominable and despicable. When “property rights” are the only thing in question, then the end justifies the means and any moral rectitude simply flies out the window.

Who am I? Why am I here? What will happen to me when I die? These are questions which have vexed and perplexed philosophers since people started thinking about things other than how to get and keep their next meal. There are probably just about as many answers as there are philosophers. We ought to also be asking one other question: To whom or to what do I belong? This is a valid question and there are only two possible answers: we belong to ourselves OR we belong to someone/something outside of and beyond ourselves.

If we conclude that a woman belongs to herself, then she also owns herself, every part of herself, including her body and everything in it, over which she exercises full and complete control. No one and nothing can dictate to her what she may or may not do with her body. If a woman owns her body, then there should be no restraints placed on her, so long as she does not initiate aggression against other people who also own their bodies [iii]. If this is true, then the whole argument about abortion is moot, null, void, and utterly useless, deserving to be scrapped. It is a waste of time, energy, and resources–if this is true!

But, is it? Or is there another way of looking at the question? Michael Rozeff puts it this way.

” 3. Property is what belongs to you. It’s circular to say that a person belongs to himself or owns himself. You only seem to become property when you become a slave, partly or wholly, and belong to someone else. Even in that case, they have property in your body, in the product of your labor, but not in YOU. In other words, to resolve this problem of definition and starting point philosophically or religiously, we need to specify what a human being or person IS. What IS this “I”? What is the BEING that “I” am, and that you are? That BEING exists outside the domain of human notions of property. That’s my unprovable assumption or postulate about life and existence.” [iv]

I agree. I brought this up to make the point that no one owns themselves. No one owns their own body. No man, no woman, no exceptions. With nothing more than pure logic, I can make my case using a common libertarian argument.

You and your family live in a nice house on a piece of land which you own. You borrowed money to pay for it, scrimped and saved, did without, and worked side jobs to pay the mortgage, eventually receiving the deed free and clear. It is yours. At least that’s what you think.

One day, while in a discussion with your friend, he points out that you really don’t own the property, you only rent it. He explains that if you don’t pay the taxes which the county determines you should, you will find out within the space of a few years who the real owner is. You will be looking for another place to live and all the effort you have put into this property will accrue to someone else’s benefit.

You will lose your property if you don’t pay the declared property tax, but the fact of the matter is, you can live in the house and control the property, even profit from it, without (much) interference from the county–so long as you pay the tax! Libertarians everywhere understand this argument immediately.

In the case of a woman’s (or man’s) body, there will come a time when your “property” will be taken away from you. There will be no grace period, no time to pay the back taxes, plus costs, plus interest. There will be no extensions. Begging, refusing to consent, and getting angry will not help. Trying to make a deal is an exercise in futility. (Daniel Webster [v], help me!) As the rock band Kansas [vi] put it, “…all your money won’t another minute buy.” When the Grim Reaper crooks his finger, you will go, with or without warning. Willing or unwilling, it doesn’t matter. Off you go. You are going to die.

If we grasp the point that we don’t own our real estate because it CAN be taken away from us, then we should also understand that we don’t own our bodies because they WILL be taken away. In fact, ownership of real property is a far more feasible concept than ownership of body because the rules concerning taxation can always be changed for the better. At least it’s theoretically possible to change them. People may someday live in a society in which there are no property taxes. About the end of life, however, there is nothing to do except to understand that it is coming and to be ready for it.

We are conceived, we live, we die. Everything that we accumulate in this world will belong to someone else after our death. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life.” (Job 1:21) “We didn’t bring anything into this world, and we won’t take anything with us when we leave.” (1 Timothy 6:7)

If immortality becomes practicable in this world, I will have to eat my words. Until then, they stand. This side of Heaven (or whatever you believe lies on the other side of death), everyone will die. That is an absolute certainty. I am absolutely certain that I am going to die. And so are you.

Since you are going to die and your body is going to be taken away from you, then you do not own it. If you do not own the body you live in, then it belongs to someone or something else: God, a higher power, the Great Spirit, cosmic truth, weird space aliens who seeded our planet, et al, any one of which might actually have something to say about the way that we are abusing, destroying, and killing those “properties” entrusted, but not belonging, to us. [vii]

Let’s bring Michael Rozeff back into the conversation.

“I contend that libertarian theory is too narrow. I make the following statements of where I stand.
1. Property is too narrow a basis to build an entire law and society on. The moral principle of no physical aggression is too narrow a basis. They are good as far as they go, but taken too far, they run into problems by ignoring the non-physical. Libertarianism has an impoverished social theory by this restriction to property and physical aggression. It gains by definiteness, but it loses by restrictiveness. In some cases, as in defamation, it leads to conclusions that go against thousands of years of law and history. “
[viii]

Rozeff is correct. Libertarianism with a fixated view on property rights will not work. It has no soul. It needs to incorporate what he calls “the non-physical”, which I don’t mind referring to as spiritual and moral. When spirituality (the understanding that we are more than just body) enters the picture, it brings with it a sense of morality: what is right and what is wrong. When right and wrong come into play, it becomes evident that a monstrous crime has been perpetrated on the weakest, most vulnerable members of our society for a long, long time.

Women do NOT own their bodies and they certainly do not own the unborn children who are temporarily residing within their wombs. Any law which allows a woman to kill her unborn child, based on ownership claims, is flawed. Any society which relies solely on property rights to determine what is allowable is building a house on unstable soil. [ix] A civilization which elevates property rights over and above all things will be a civilization which is cold and heartless.

Where is the love?


[i] Block, Walter E. and Roy Whitehead. 2005. “Compromising the Uncompromisable: A Private Property Rights Approach to Resolving the Abortion Controversy,” Appalachian Law Review, 4 (2) 1-45

[ii] It seems to me that, in many quarters, rights have taken on the attributes of religion, complete with high priests, a “gospel” message, worship services, and dedicated followers who will die before they change their beliefs.

[iii] Excluding unborn children, of course.

[iv] https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/harm-to-the-person/

[v] Just one of the stories I read a long, long time ago and have never forgotten. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devil_and_Daniel_Webster

[vi] Not one of my favorite bands, but they made a hit out of this melancholy tune. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tH2w6Oxx0kQ

[vii] An example of this can be seen in the Holy Bible, Psalms, Chapter 2.

[viii] https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/harm-to-the-person/

[ix] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Wise_and_the_Foolish_Builders

Without Question: The Beginning of Human Life

Within the abortion debate, one of the most pervasive tactics of the pro-abortion side has been to paint the unborn child in a dehumanizing manner. Consequently, the unborn child became a fetus [i], the embryo became a clump of cells, protoplasm, uterine content, etc. In addition, groups such as Planned Parenthood use the technology of ultrasound, not to show women a true picture of their unborn baby, but to deceive [ii] them into proceeding with a planned abortion. Deception and dissembling have been hallmarks of the abortion lobby from the very beginning. In fact, their tactics resemble those of a State or society which seeks to “dehumanize” its enemies [iii], i.e., especially in the time prior to and amid a war, political conflict, or social reconstruction [iv].

This has led to a considerable amount of confusion regarding the humanity of the unborn embryo or fetus. When does human life start? Is the fetus a human being? If not, when does it become one? These questions are all separate from the ones concerning person-hood, which is not the thrust of this article. In fact, the question of the beginning of human life and the time that life attains person-hood are two separate questions and must be addressed by different methods. Person-hood is a matter of belief, opinion, persuasion, subjectivity, etc., and is susceptible to a wide variety of influences—religious, philosophical, social, financial, etc.

There is only one qualified discipline which can state emphatically (and has hard evidence to back it up) when a new human life begins—embryonic science. This is strictly a scientific matter and science has clearly stated what so many believe or feel to be true.

“…scientifically something very radical occurs between the processes of gametogenesis and fertilization, the change from a simple part of one human being (i.e., a sperm) and a simple part of another human being (i.e., an oocyte, usually referred to as an “ovum” or “egg”), which simply possess “human life”, to a new, genetically unique, newly existing, individual, whole living human being (a single-cell embryonic human zygote). That is, upon fertilization, parts of human beings have actually been transformed into something very different from what they were before; they have been changed into a single, whole human being. During the process of fertilization, the sperm and the oocyte cease to exist as such, and a new human being is produced.” –Dianne M. Irving, M.A., Ph.D [v]

In other words, what Dr. Irving has said is that when a sperm cell and an egg cell fuse (conception), a new, unique, individual human being has begun. The sperm and the egg were individual human cells before the fusion, after that, they were combined and changed into something completely different—a live human being which had never existed before. Of this, there can be no doubt. The life of every human begins at conception. This is unassailable, indisputable fact.

Dr. Irving goes on to explain (and goes into intense detail) why a human being comes into existence at conception. She lists and destroys several myths which have been promoted over the years and decades concerning this issue and never equivocates from the main premise–that a human being comes to life at the moment of conception.

“The issue is not when does human life begin, but rather when does the life of every human being begin.”—Dianne M. Irving [vi]

From the moment of conception, a human being exists within the womb–zygote, blastocyst, embryo, fetus—right up to the point of the delivery of a newborn baby. At every stage of development, this is a live human being. Whether he is a person or not doesn’t matter. Whether she has rights or not is irrelevant. He is a human being. She is a human being. As such, abortion is a procedure which literally kills a human being. Abortion has probably killed hundreds of millions of human beings in the 20th century alone.

Every person who is alive today, every person who has ever lived, started out in exactly the same way—as a newly conceived zygote with all the genetic material necessary to become the persons we are today. We should be grateful that our mothers didn’t simply decide to throw us away.


[i] The term “fetus” generates a lot of heat on both sides of the aisle. The pro-abortionists use it almost exclusively and refuse to use the terms unborn baby or child for obvious reasons. The pro-lifers prefer “baby” or “child” and generally avoid using the term fetus, again for obvious reasons. Fetus, though, is simply a Latin word which can have many meanings, however, all of them are related to reproduction and refer to very young, immature offspring. It is medically correct and refers to the stage of human development in the womb from embryo (about 8 weeks) until birth. I do not generally make distinctions between fetus, baby, and child, but use the terms interchangeably.

[ii] https://www.liveaction.org/news/planned-parenthood-abortion-deceptive-ultrasound/

[iii] https://www.npr.org/2011/03/29/134956180/criminals-see-their-victims-as-less-than-human

[iv] Nazi Germany, for instance, successfully used this tactic against the Jews. Today, political parties attempt to divide the electorate into what are basically enemy camps.

[v] https://www.princeton.edu/~prolife/articles/wdhbb.html  Dianne N. Irving, M.A., Ph.D (International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 1999, 19:3/4:22-36

[vi] Ibid. Section B, Fact 1.

The Violinist and other Perverse Views of Justice

“Don’t hesitate to rescue someone who is about to be executed unjustly.” — Proverbs 24:11 (Good News Translation)  

In 1971, in her defense of abortion rights, Judith Jarvis Thomson [i] published an essay [ii] which used the imagery of a violinist attached to an unknowing, unwilling person. It has become one of the most famous analogies ever created within the abortion debate and is still used today [iii].

“You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist’s circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own.” [iv]

———————————————

She begins her article by admitting that an unborn fetus is a human being, a person, and ends it by stating that she really didn’t mean that. It has all been a pretense, “for the sake of argument.”

“I am inclined to think also that we shall probably have to agree that the fetus has already become a human person well before birth. Indeed, it comes as a surprise when one first learns how early in its life it begins to acquire human characteristics. By the tenth week, for example, it already has a face, arms and less, fingers and toes; it has internal organs, and brain activity is detectable…I propose, then, that we grant that the fetus is a person from the moment of conception.” [v]

“…we have only been pretending throughout that the fetus is a human being from the moment of conception. A very early abortion is surely not the killing of a person…” [vi]

Well, which is it? This is inconsistent. She says that by the tenth week (2-1/2 months, 70 days), the fetus already has recognizable human characteristics, including detectable brain activity, but then follows up with the idea that an abortion before this (no definite time mentioned) really wouldn’t be killing a human person. It has already become a human person (her words), but it is still OK to abort it so long as it’s very early in the pregnancy.

The question that begs to be asked is this: if a fetus very early in the pregnancy is not a human person, then when does it become one? Thomson refuses to be drawn into that trap, evading it quite adroitly by making this comment, and I quote, “But I shall not discuss any of this.” I shouldn’t wonder, because there is simply no way to determine any point in the timeline from conception to birth when it is possible to distinguish between ‘person’ and ‘non-person’. It is easier to just avoid talking about it.

———————————————

” It is concluded that the fetus is. or anyway that we had better say it is, a person from the moment of conception. But this conclusion does not follow. Similar things might be said about the development of an acorn into an oak trees, and it does not follow that acorns are oak trees, or that we had better say they are.” [vii]

“Similar things” follows the same line of reasoning. We really can’t tell when an acorn becomes an oak tree, but we do know that it isn’t one right now. Everyone knows that acorns aren’t oak trees even if we say that they are and “we had better say they are.” Well, of course, an acorn is not an oak tree, which is the adult version of an acorn that has sprouted and grown over many years, probably decades, maybe centuries. By the same token, newly conceived zygotes or embryos are not yet adult human beings. You can’t get around the fact, though, that given enough time and the proper environment, both the acorn and the zygote WILL become what they were intended to be–fully-grown and mature.

To be honest, the comparison of an acorn to a fetus is wrong. If the analogy is to be used at all, it should be that an acorn is comparable to a zygote or an embryo before it has implanted into the uterus. Acorns are buried in the soil, grow, and eventually poke into open air above the soil line to assert themselves as individual oak trees. Embryos implant into the uterus, grow, and are eventually birthed into open air, where they assert themselves as individual human beings.

An acorn is created [viii] when the pollen (sperm) from a male flower is joined to the ova (egg) from the female flower, in the same sort of way as in human fertilization. Coincidentally, there are millions, perhaps billions, of pollen sperm available at mating time, but only one sperm is necessary to fertilize any female flower, again comparable to human fertilization.

Difference in species, difference in methodology, same principle.

Let’s move on to the “famous violinist” hypothetical situation quoted above. This is generally considered to be equivalent to a rape in which the woman or girl becomes pregnant. An extreme case, one of the “hard” ones. Also, very infrequent. In 2018, according to the State of Florida [ix], out of 70, 083 elective abortions, rape [x] was listed as the primary reason in only 101 cases. By extension, rapes which result in pregnancy are rare [xi]. In fact, according to these statistics, more than 95% of the abortions which occurred were done for the sake of personal convenience, i.e., social/financial reasons or choice. Some rapes do cause pregnancies, but this is not a valid reason to justify abortion on demand which is available to any woman who simply does not want to be pregnant.

———————————————

Thomson creates another hypothetical situation. Imagine that you are trapped in a house, a very tiny house, with a rapidly growing child. [Note: it is interesting how she uses the terms fetus, baby, and child interchangeably throughout the essay without ever attempting to de-humanize the unborn person. In this respect, she is at least more honest than so many others who have attempted to remove all traces of humanity and person-hood from the debate. See here [xii] and here [xiii].

“…you are already up against the wall of the house and in a few minutes you’ll be crushed to death. The child on the other hand won’t be crushed to death; if nothing is done to stop him from growing he’ll be hurt, but in the end he’ll simply burst open the house and walk out a free man.” [xiv]

Supposedly this refers to an ectopic pregnancy [xv], although Thomson never says so. She describes the situation as life-threatening for the woman unless someone comes to her rescue. If you are not relieved of this pregnancy, your son will destroy your house by bursting it open. You will be crushed to death, but he will walk away, without any onus of responsibility or obligation–a free man. Along with the one used in the violinist case, these are scare tactics, and Thomson doesn’t hesitate to use them. A large part of her article employs this tactic to justify her position and advance the cause of abortion on demand.

There are cases [xvi] in which the pregnancy must be terminated in order to save the life and/or physical health of the mother. Most people understand that when a woman’s life is threatened by a pregnancy, then it is her life which must be saved. Inevitably, this means the fetus must lose his. In a situation where either the fetus alone will die or the mother and the fetus will both die, the conclusion is unavoidable. It may be emotionally and morally excruciating, but the decision will be made. [xvii]

However, this is not the case in a normal pregnancy which ends in delivery. It is possible to imagine birth as the bursting open of the house, but the bursting is not fatally destructive to the woman and is more akin to the throwing open of a front door. In fact, within a few days at most, she will walk out of the birthing facility with her newborn son in tow–a free woman.

———————————————

“We surely must all grant that there may be cases in which it would be morally indecent to detach a person from your body at the cost of his life. Suppose you learn that what the violinist needs is not nine years of your life, but only one hour: all you need do to save his life is to spend one hour in that bed with him. Suppose also that letting him use your kidneys for that one hour would not affect your health in the slightest. Admittedly you were kidnapped. Admittedly you did not give anyone permission to plug him into you. Nevertheless it seems to me plain you ought to allow him to use your kidneys for that hour–it would be indecent to refuse.”
 
“Again, suppose pregnancy lasted only an hour, and constituted no threat to life or health. And suppose that a woman becomes pregnant as a result of rape. Admittedly she did not voluntarily do anything to bring about the existence of a child. Admittedly she did nothing at all which would give the unborn person a right to the use of her body. All the same it might well be said, as in the newly amended violinist story, that she ought to allow it to remain for that hour–that it would be indecent of her to refuse.” [xviii]

Ah, the milk of human kindness!

Thomson has argued that women ought to be able to abort her unborn child for any reason, but then comes out with the statement above. You can cut the violinist loose or abort your unborn baby as you choose, without recriminations from anyone, but if the time needed to cure him or to deliver the baby is shortened dramatically, then you really ought to just suck it up and do what is best for them. Yeah, really, it doesn’t matter how you feel, just do it! It would be indecent if you didn’t!

The question is, though, where do you draw the line? If it is “indecent” of you to refuse to support the violinist or your baby for one hour, then why would it also not be indecent to support them for two hours? How about 24 hours? A week? A month? We have seen that Thomson refused to discuss defining when a human being becomes a person, but here she has no compunction in saying that one hour of your time is decently obligatory.

How did she come up with this rationale? And why? It seems a little strange that she can vigorously promote a heinous, murderous lifestyle and then attempt to bring a sense of guilt into it. Kind of like baking your cake and then refusing to eat it. This is moral and philosophical hypocrisy.

Either abortion is wrong or it is not. The picture is black and white. There is no shading in it. If it is perfectly fine for a woman to kill her unborn child at any time, for any reason, then there is no shame in her refusal to countenance it for another hour. If abortion is legitimate in any and all circumstances, then women everywhere should be able to engage in the practice without shame or disapproval from anyone. [xix]

———————————————

“…while I do argue that abortion is not impermissible, I do not argue that it is always permissible.”[xx]

To be fair to Thomson, it does seem that she has a sense of going too far with this line of reasoning. The problem is that she started out with the idea that abortion should be allowable in cases like rape and the life/death of the mother. This morphed into the “right to life” vs. “women’s rights” and it is neither extraordinary nor surprising that the pro-abortion lobby took the ball and ran with it. If Thomson had spoken in plain English and said that abortion was allowable in life or death cases and rape cases only, but not in any other, she would have gotten nowhere near the hearing and publicity her essay generated. Unfortunately, since January 22, 1973, tens of millions of American babies have been brutally murdered legally and part of the responsibility for that slaughter lands in Thomson’s lap. She should have stopped while she was ahead.

———————————————

That brings us to Thomson’s retelling of the parable of the Good Samaritan, which she proceeded to mangle. I have quoted the entire parable. Thomson only used half of it, [xxii], which enabled her to twist it out of shape and more easily fold it into her narrative.


“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”


In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii [xxi] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’  

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)

A Good Samaritan has come to mean someone who does something kind for another person who needs assistance. There is nothing wrong with that definition and we should all be ready and willing to help whenever someone needs it, but this is not the whole story.

Some 2000 years ago, a lawyer asked Jesus to explain the process by which a person could gain eternal life. The answer he got was not what he was expecting. He knew the Law. He knew what he was supposed to do. He knew how he was supposed to live. He thought that eternal life could be gained by following a regimen of laws. Jesus, however, drove the lesson home that simply obeying the law was not good enough and that he had to consider another aspect of this–“love your neighbor as yourself.”

Of course, being human, he didn’t really want to go down that road, so trying to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”, and received the lesson in the form of the parable shown above.

To begin with, Jesus slammed the religious leaders (Pharisees, Levites) of the day by calling them hypocrites in no uncertain words. These were the same people who “strained at gnats, but swallowed camels.” [xxiii] They knew all the nit-picking details of the law and insisted that their constituents adhere to them, but refused to show any mercy or kindness toward the people overburdened by their rules. They focused strenuously on being “clean”, but wouldn’t dirty their hands to help a man in acute distress. Instead, they continually added more to the spiritual load calling it “righteousness.” Not a lot different than the bureaucracy we have today, just a different religion.

A priest and a Levite, both of whom were scholars and experts in the Law, passed by on the road without offering to lift a finger. If they had had cell phones, they probably wouldn’t have bothered to call 911. Yet, a Samaritan, whom the Jews of the day regarded as beneath them (unclean, pariah) stopped to help the man, took him to a hotel, gave the management a large sum of money in advance, and promised to return and settle any remaining balance. All the innkeeper had to do was to nurse the man back to health. It is interesting that one denarius at that time was equivalent in value to ten donkeys. This man fronted the value of twenty donkeys, two denarii, which, for most people of that time, would have been a very large sum.

At the end of the parable, Jesus asked the lawyer which one of the three would have been considered the victim’s neighbor, to which the lawyer replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Exactly! And this is what Jesus commanded him to do. “Go thou and do likewise.” In other words, have mercy on others when it is within your power to do so. Treat them in the same way that you would want to be treated if you were in that situation. As the Golden Rule [xxiv] puts it, “Do to others what you would like to have done to yourself.” Or to put it in a different light, don’t do to others what you would not want to have done to yourself. This timeless concept is not unique to Christianity, but is nearly universal across all religions, societies, and cultures. What a simple, yet beautiful way to live!

It is unfortunate, but Thomson twists this around and tries to make it an argument of law.

“…no person is morally required to make large sacrifices to sustain the life of another who has no right to demand them,…we are not morally required to be Good Samaritans…” [xxv]

No one is required to show mercy. No one can be forced to be kind. No one should be made to call the police when a murder is taking place in their neighborhood, let alone interfere [xxvi]. No woman should be required to show mercy to her unborn child, which is true, but she shouldn’t be able to kill it either because she doesn’t want it. In the same way, no woman should be forced to keep and rear an infant or a toddler if she really doesn’t want to, but it doesn’t follow that she ought to be able to throw it out into a snowbank in the middle of a blizzard.

Kindness, compassion, and mercy are heart attitudes and cannot be reduced to legality. Good Samaritanism is born out of love toward others, especially those weaker and needier than we are. It is not a behavior which can be legislated, regulated, and sanctioned by law. It is an understanding that we do what is right, regardless of the cost, simply because of the love in our hearts for our fellow man or woman, whomever and wherever they may be.  

Thomson argues that women ought to at least be Minimally Decent Samaritans [xxvii], but they shouldn’t have to bear the burden for an unreasonable time, certainly not more than an hour. In other words, show mercy to your unborn child so long as it doesn’t cause you undue hardship, but when you get tired of carrying the load, throw it into the ditch alongside the road. Or the garbage can at the abortion mill, whichever is closer. This is nothing more than guilt manipulation, which boils down to “moral requirement”—anathema to her own stated viewpoint.

Thomson’s argument could not be further from the truth. A Good Samaritan mother who really loved (had mercy on) her unborn baby (neighbor) would commit to any cost, any hardship, in order to give her child what it needed to live and prosper.

Abortion is real. It is close to home. It causes enormous damage to the human family. It is a monstrous act. It is comparable to the thieves who set upon the traveler, beat him, took everything he had, and left him for dead. It cannot and should not be compared to goodness which springs out of a loving heart.


[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Jarvis_Thomson

[ii] Judith Jarvis Thomson: A Defense of Abortion.  First published in Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 1, No. 1. (Autumn, 1971)

[iii] Block, Walter E. and Roy Whitehead. 2005. “Compromising the Uncompromisable: A Private Property Rights Approach to Resolving the Abortion Controversy,” Appalachian Law Review, 4 (2) 1-45

[iv] Thomson: A Defense of Abortion

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Ibid. Section 8

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/W126.pdf

[ix] https://ahca.myflorida.com/MCHQ/Central_Services/Training_Support/docs/TrimesterByReason_2018.pdf

[x] Sandra Mahkorn, “Pregnancy and Sexual Assault,” The Psychological Aspects of Abortion, eds. Mall & Watts, (Washington, D.C., University Publications of America, 1979) 55-69. Mahkorn found that 75-85% of raped, pregnant victims chose NOT to abort their unborn child, preferring instead to carry it to delivery.

[xi] Rape and incest, along with fetal abnormalities are commonly cited as reasons why abortion on demand needs to be allowed, but these three categories account for a very small percentage of total abortions—3% or less. According to the Florida statistic cited above, rape, incest, and fetal abnormality were listed as cause in just over 1% of abortions. Blending these numbers with Makhorn’s assertion, we can deduce that there were approximately 400 rape cases in Florida in 2018 which resulted in pregnancy, 300 of which were delivered naturally. This is hardly solid ground on which to base legal abortion.

[xii] https://humandefense.com/pro-abortion-speech-the-deception-of-dehumanizing-the-preborn/

[xiii] https://www.liveaction.org/news/planned-parenthood-abortion-deceptive-ultrasound/

[xiv] Thomson: A Defense of Abortion, Section 1

[xv] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1071024/

[xvi] In some ectopic pregnancies, the embryo will be absorbed by the woman’s body, eliminating it. Others may be discovered by a physician due to a complaint of physical pain by the woman. If an ectopic pregnancy is not terminated, it will develop to the point that the woman’s life is endangered. Therefore, it should rightfully be considered self-preservation on her part to terminate the pregnancy. It is not murder in any sense of the word.

[xvii] “If an unborn individual is a person, entitled to rights, he is entitled to the right to life (in the libertarian sense). This right implies a correlative duty on the part of all other persons not to take his life, except in two cases: first, if the child commits aggression against the life of another person; and second, if the continued lives of the child and another person are mutually incompatible because of existential circumstances beyond their control. The first case raises the privilege of self-defense, which permits a victim of aggression to protect his own life, even if that protection requires taking the aggressor’s life. The second raises the privilege of self-preservation, which permits an innocent individual to take the life of another innocent individual in an “emergency situation in which both cannot survive and the survival of one depends upon the denial to the other of the means of survival.”—Edwin Viera, Jr., from Libertarians for Life, 1978.

[xviii] Thomson: A Defense of Abortion, Section 5

[xix] Walter Block and Roy Whitehead tapped into the same vein of thought. Pregnant women cannot be stopped from committing suicide, but they can be prevented from doing so for a reasonable amount of time, at least, a few hours during which their unborn fetuses can be removed and saved. After that, the woman is free to go.

Block and Whitehead: A Private Property Rights Approach to Resolving the Abortion Controversy, cited above, footnote #3.

[xx] Ibid. Section 8

[xxi] https://www.thefreedictionary.com/denarii

[xxii] Verses 30-35

[xxiii] For a serious reading of the opinion Jesus had for the religious leaders of his day, see this passage of Scripture

[xxiv] This world would be a much better place if everyone was to follow this advice. Instead, we usually just point the finger at someone else. 

[xxv] Thomson: A Defense of Abortion, Section 6

[xxvi] Supposedly, according to the New York Times, 37 or 38 people watched this horrific rape and murder, yet no one did anything to help the victim directly nor did they call the police. This claim has since been debunked. Fake news isn’t anything new to the 21st Century. The Times has been practicing for decades.  https://www.history.com/topics/crime/kitty-genovese

[xxvii] Minimally Decent Samaritanism: Doing the least amount possible to alleviate someone else’s hurt and then persuading yourself that you did a good deed. A good example of this would be to witness a head-on collision on the highway directly in front of you, calling 911, and driving on without ever stopping to see if anyone is hurt or if you can help. Later you can exonerate yourself by saying, “Well, I did call 911.”

Abortion and the Non-Aggression Principle, Part II


Editor’s Note: This article originally was published on January 5, 2019, in another blog I write. See here. The only change between this post and the original is the cleanup of a few links. None of the subject matter or text was altered.


“…libertarianism is not at all a philosophy of life. Rather, it is a very, very, very limited philosophy. It pretty much asks only one question: “when is violence against another person justified?” and pretty much gives only one answer: “only in response to a prior use of violence, or threats.” That is, violence may properly be used only in defense, not offense. When the latter is engaged in, the perpetrator should be punished. That’s libertarianism in a nutshell,…”–Walter Block

Gasoline on the fire!

Although many people might think otherwise, the debate over abortion is centered on one question—is the unborn fetus a person with an inalienable right to life? Or not? Women’s rights are peripheral to this.

If it is true that a fetus is a person, then Walter Block has exposed a contradiction of the NAP on this issue. Any attempt to terminate a pregnancy through abortion would be an act of aggression against an unborn person.

Of course, the opposing view is that an unborn fetus is not a person and can be treated in any way desired by the woman, without interference from anyone else. If this is true, then there is no inconsistency within the NAP.

This is the question which must be answered. Either the fetus is a person or it is not. Either/or, but not both. There are no other choices. If it can be shown that a fetus is a person with the innate right to life, it will be impossible to defend the “right to choose.” On the other hand, if it can be proven to NOT be a person, the pro-life argument collapses into a quivering pile of nothingness.

If Zager and Evans were correct in their prediction, “…you’ll pick your sons, pick your daughters too, from the bottom of a long, glass tube…”, the personality of the child will be visible from the very beginning. As technology improves, viability will be pushed to an earlier and earlier date, which will erode any claim that the fetus does not become a person until an arbitrary point in time is reached. The use of ultrasound, imaging, and medical science will continue to support and bolster the pro-life position that a live, human, individual with a personality all its own exists. These are going to be extremely difficult hurdles for politics and rationalization to clear, regardless of judicial orders.

The burden of proof rests heavily on the pro-abortion side of this debate. It has the more difficult task of proving its point. Efforts to show that fetuses are not persons will prove, in the long run, to be futile and insurmountable.

The difference between these two positions cannot be reconciled. It will never be settled nor agreed upon. It is an “all or nothing” war of conflicting ideas. The NAP is skewed toward “women’s rights” and, as a consequence, does not allow the right to life to be extended to all unborn persons, only those who are “wanted”.

If libertarianism is a horse carrying its riders to freedom and the NAP is the saddle those riders rest on, then the abortion issue is a burr under that saddle. It will always be there, irritating and counter-productive, until it is removed and ceases to be a problem. When will that be? How will it happen? I don’t know. I can’t predict the future, but I believe it will have something to do with individuals gradually and peacefully changing their minds and then changing their ways. Repentence, in other words. Hopefully, libertarianism won’t end up as Bob Seger put it so brilliantly, “…caught like a wildfire out of control, til there was nothing left to burn and nothing left to prove…”

Where do we go from here? My answer, short and simple–keep moving. Don’t allow this single issue to tear us apart. A solution will appear, sooner or later, and it might be quite a lot later, maybe not until the year 6565. Doesn’t matter. Keep moving.

Abortion and the Non-Aggression Principle


Editor’s Note: This article originally was published on December 23, 2018, in another blog I write. See here. See also this immediate response. As far as I’m concerned, Michael Rozeff’s honor is above reproach. The only change between this post and the original is the cleanup of a few links. None of the subject matter or text was altered.


I have a lot of respect for Michael Rozeff. I read his articles and letters regularly and usually do not find anything with which to disagree. In a recent post on Lew Rockwell, however, he wrote something which just grated on me and, apparently others as well. See here and here.

Michael Rozeff is wrong. Something does not have to be capable of life outside the womb (with assistance, of course) in order to have being. (An unhatched bald eagle does not need to be capable of living outside the shell to be considered worthy of legal protection.) He says that “Fetuses that cannot survive outside the womb are not yet human beings…” (Which is like saying that a chick which cannot survive outside the shell is not yet an eagle.) My question to him is that if they are not human beings, then what are they?

Being means existence and it is scientifically undeniable that a human life exists. If there is no existence, there is no need of argument. The new human being (zygote, blastocyst, embryo, fetus, unborn child) IS, emphatically so, and therefore HAS being.

Even after 23 weeks of pregnancy when a fetus can conceivably survive outside the womb, it cannot live without care, nurture, and a protective environment, in other words, exactly what is needed to survive before 23 weeks. Furthermore, when a person becomes old or disabled and cannot survive without care, nurture, and a protective environment, does she, according to Rozeff’s argument, lose her so-called right of being and risk being “aborted”. Did Terri Schiavo become a non-being and were all the lengthy machinations over her life and death simply much ado about nothing? Or did they really matter?

Everyone needs assistance from other people to survive and live at some point in their lives. Everyone, without exception! There has never been nor ever will be anyone who simply springs into being who does not require care, nurture, and a protective environment at some time in his life. If one’s innate right to live is contingent on his ability to live independently of others, then we are all in trouble, since none of us are truly independent.

Rozeff uses the argument that if a woman wants an abortion, no one can deprive her of it. It is her “right”, if  you will.  What this line of reasoning does, however, is to give pregnant women the authority to violate the rights of their unborn offspring, at their own discretion, without repercussion, hindrance, sanction, or punishment. He then attempts to get around this dilemma by declaring that “viable, with assistance” is the determining factor in deciding when an unborn fetus actually becomes a “person”, which approximates the Roe v. Wade ruling of the Supreme Court. He never says what the unborn fetus is before it reaches that point. I repeat my question—if it is not a human being, then what is it?

The NAP is dead. Long live the NAP!

It appears to me that the NAP (non-aggression principle), so beloved by libertarians everywhere, has a fatal contradiction. On the one hand, no one can (should be able to) force a woman to carry her pregnancy to term. On the other hand, no one should be able to initiate aggression against an unborn human being by killing and aborting it. These two positions are diametrically opposed and cannot be reconciled. Either the NAP will allow women to act aggressively against their unborn children or it will accord protection to unborn children against that aggression until a point is reached when viable separation (eviction, birth) can occur. Either one or the other, but not both! The problem lies in deciding which of these positions is supported.

In an earlier blog post, Rozeff lays it out quite well.

“…to resolve this problem of definition and starting point philosophically or religiously, we need to specify what a human being or person IS. What IS this “I”? What is the BEING that “I” am, and that you are?”

Exactly! What is a human being? What is a person? This whole argument over abortion and women’s “right to choose” is going to forever hinge on these two questions. How do we determine the answer to them? What will be the TRUTH that we point to and anchor our decision in? Dogmatic religious beliefs? Scientific fact? Fluctuating social mores? Fickle political whims? Regardless of the method used, someone is going to be upset with the result. There will always be someone who feels that the decision is wrong and must be changed to better reflect their own opinion.

Human beings ARE. Being is real and is a gift from God or, if you prefer, a random chance of accident. Before pregnancy, a child can be hoped for or dreamed about.  After death, people are considered memories. While alive, however, he or she IS a person, no matter how young or old. The right to live is granted to persons everywhere simply because they are, by virtue of being, persons.

The political definition of “person-hood” is something else entirely, an abstract notion which is conferred and can mean anything at any time. (Dred Scott, Jews in Nazi Germany, e.g.). This so-called person-hood is a “right” given by certain powerful people to other less powerful people and can be taken away at any time, depending on the whim of the moment. Just because five members of a nine-member panel say that a human being does not become a “person” and have “rights” until he or she is viable does not necessarily make it so.

It is inevitable that aggression will be forced on someone—either the woman or the fetus. Someone will have to undergo suffering against her (or his) will. How do we determine which will be the one to suffer? The methodology used today, right now, is politics. If you make a loud enough noise, you will be given what you want. At someone else’s expense!  For a long, long time the loudest noise has been made by the pro-abortion crowd, which has attempted to justify its position by declaring that unborn human beings are not really “persons”. Since at least Jan. 22, 1973, this has been the deciding factor.

When viewed from a purely moral (right vs. wrong) standard, it is obvious that abortion, as it is practiced today, is a heinous crime against the most vulnerable persons among us. This morality does not have to incorporate any religious beliefs in order to be valid. The scientific facts are enough—an unborn fetus IS a live personal human being and, as such, requires that measures be taken to care for, nurture, and protect it until it becomes capable of independent living, with assistance, of course. The NAP must apply, despite protestations to the contrary! Sadly, the moral viewpoint is denigrated and dismissed in much of the discussion of this issue. Instead, it has taken a back seat to the idea that some people have more “rights” than others and interference with those “rights” is a blatant aggression. Rights have become more important than what is right.

I do agree with Rozeff that the government should not support or subsidize abortion, but I am emphatically opposed to the idea that it should not be outlawed. The common view of government is that it exists to protect those within its domain against outside aggression and to offer justice and redress in case such aggression occurs. Until and unless the day comes when every individual is a government in and of themselves (in other words, not until the end of time), certain people are going to be dominant and make the rules, while other people submit and do as they are told. No question! Because of this, I have no problem at all with government ordering a pregnant woman not to abort her unborn fetus, under pain of punishment.

In the post cited above, Rozeff makes this statement.

“…people need to understand their essential be-ing in order to understand how they should treat one another.”

Perhaps he should consider rephrasing this statement to read that “pregnant women need to understand…how they should treat their unborn children.” Perhaps abortion proponents should consider “doing unto others in the same manner that they would like to have done unto them.” Perhaps the Humanity Bureau will rise one day to determine who should live. And who shouldn’t.

Until everyone is protected from aggression, no one is safe.