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Joshjrn
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Dec 2008
9473 posts

Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
Over the years, I have witnessed the volume of the abortion debate reach almost unthinkable levels, yet both sides seem to be shouting past one another instead of having anything resembling a conversation. Those carrying the pro-choice banner are baffled that anyone believes they can dictate what a woman does with her body, while those carrying the pro-life banner are baffled that anyone believes it should be legal to murder an innocent child.

The problem is that both sides are correct, which tells me that we're having the wrong debate.

Instead of fighting over whether a woman has the right to control her body (she does) or whether life begins at conception (it does), I believe a more useful debate revolves around when someone gains (should gain?) legal personhood and to what degree.

While the question sounds esoteric, the reality is that we deal with it every day. If we define a full "person" as someone with all legal rights and protections, then it is clear that there are many human beings who are not full persons. Prisoners have had their personhood restricted due to past behavior. The civilly committed/infirm are restricted due to concerns about future behavior. In times past, African slaves were sub-persons just because we said so.

But notwithstanding those examples, I find the subject of children most interesting when it comes to personhood. Some of the most interesting debates I've seen within the libertarian community are whether physical contact with your child violates the Non Aggression Principle, and if not, why not. The problem is easy to illustrate but more complicated to solve.

Let's say that I'm about to walk into a bar and someone (just a patron, not affiliated with the bar or law enforcement) standing outside walks up to me and tells me not to go in. I look at them like they are insane and go to walk in anyway. They grab me by the arm and yank me back outside. This person has not only violated the NAP, but they have committed a crime (battery). That's because they violated my rights as a full person.

Now let's look at children in detail. Same scenario as before, but now I see my 30 year old son walking into a bar, and I grab him by the arm because I believe I know what's best for him. Same scenario, but my son is now 16 and I don't want him to break the law.

Now instead of a bar, I grab my six year old's arm before they can walk out into a busy street because I fear for their safety. Now I grab my three year old by the arm and pop him on the leg because he took a second cookie when I told him he could only have one. The child wasn't in any danger, but I made physical contact simply because he disobeyed me. When he does it again, instead of popping him on the leg, I struck him in the face with my fist, knocking him unconscious.

Now, I intentionally didn't label any of these situations as good, bad, proper, or improper, because my opinion doesn't really matter. What I was trying to convey was that we as a society, for right or wrong, don't consider minors to be full persons. They don't have full bodily integrity, they can't enter contracts, they can't even reject their parents and move away without a full blown court proceeding that... conveys personhood.

So what does this all have to do with abortion?

In the same way that reasonable people can disagree on the rights of a child of a given age: does the child have the right against being subjected to corporal punishment; do they have the right to enter a contract and marry; I think reasonable people can disagree on the rights of a human in varying stages of development, from conception to when the human brain is fully formed around the age of 25.

In the historical record, we see examples of cultures that not only allowed a parent to kill their children for their behavior, they encouraged it. The modern state has outlawed that. The modern state has decreed that, once a child is born, the parents are required to feed and shelter it, but that wasn't always so. Anyone with a background in the classics is aware of the concept of exposure: an unwanted child wasn't killed outright, but brought out into the wilderness and allowed to die. The sooner we come to terms with the fact that we, fairly arbitrarily, decided that it was legal for a parent to allow an 18 year old to starve (with seven years of brain development left to go), but not a 17 year old, and legal to allow a zygote to starve (by flushing it out of the body), but not someone mere hours after birth, the sooner we can discuss why we have made these distinctions and which we should make going forward.

Now, I appreciate that this doesn't simplify the debate; in fact, I believe it complicates it. It's just as easy to argue by extension that because we aren't allowed to let a newborn die that we shouldn't be allowed to let a zygote die as it is to argue by extension that because we are allowed to let a zygote die we should be allowed to let a newborn die as well. But, at least we would be having a debate vastly more constructive than the one we're having now.

I also appreciate that this little Saturday morning soliloquy of mine likely won't have the least effect on debates even on this board, much less affect the larger political debate, but if you've made it this far, thank you
This post was edited on 12/30 at 11:06 am


Zach
LSU Fan
Member since May 2005
87904 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
Wow, that's pretty wordy for a post that's already been edited.
It's really simple from the Libertarian Perspective.
If the fetus is not a human being then stopping the mother from aborting it is a violation of her liberty.
If the fetus is a human being then aborting it is a violation of his/her liberty.

That's why Libertarians can take opposite sides and be totally consistent.
This post was edited on 12/30 at 11:56 am


Jcorye1
Detroit Mercy Fan
Tom Brady = GoAT
Member since Dec 2007
49156 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
I'm a libertarian, and I don't want to pay for kids the parents don't want, especially when the foster care system is the disaster it currently is.


biggsc
Alabama Fan
America
Member since Mar 2009
23336 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
Abortions are murder.

If you don’t want a kid then use rubbers and birth control.

Give up the kid to adoption, don’t kill them


HurricaneTiger
LSU Fan
Coral Gables, FL
Member since Jan 2014
1871 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
quote:

If the fetus is not a human being then stopping the mother from aborting it is a violation of her liberty.
If the fetus is a human being then aborting it is a violation of his/her liberty.


The problem is finding where humanity begins.


Joshjrn
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Dec 2008
9473 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
quote:

Wow, that't pretty wordy for a post that's already been edited.


Thought I had caught all the typos. Found two minor ones after posting, which would have annoyed the hell out of me


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50
Wolfhound45
USA Fan
Tampa
Member since Nov 2009
53164 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
quote:

Joshjrn
Well done


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42
FooManChoo
Georgia Fan
Member since Dec 2012
16661 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
In the examples you provided, the limitation was on the level of autonomy for a living person. You've framed the discussion around when a person becomes a person and is guaranteed the right to certain benefits of being a person. We can debate the finer points of what those benefits are, but I think everyone can or should agree that a benefit that should be universally guaranteed is the right to life; we cannot kill a 6, 16, or 30 year old without just cause and "cause I want to" isn't considered just cause.

The debate should be about when life begins and personhood (and its benefits) is bestowed on an individual. Once that has been determined, then we can discuss which benefits go along with that designation.


Skeezer
Member since Apr 2017
287 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
There are two camps and i side on personal responsibility holding the mother accountable for the life. And that’s the given that I believe it is a life.
I’m an anti abortion libertarian.


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51
Wolfhound45
USA Fan
Tampa
Member since Nov 2009
53164 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
quote:

The debate should be about when life begins and personhood (and its benefits) is bestowed on an individual.
This. So much this.


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ljhog
Arkansas Fan
Lake Jackson, Tx.
Member since Apr 2009
14649 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
quote:

The problem is that both sides are correct,

Wrong, sir. The pro-life position is not dictating what a woman can do with her body.
But, abortion isn't about "her" body. It is about the fetus / baby's body.
In fact, the pro-life position is not anti-choice. We just believe that in today's world with easy access to birth control, if a woman finds herself pregnant, she has made her choice.


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185
Bjorn Cyborg
Member since Sep 2016
5336 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
I am personally against abortions, but I am jaded about society to a point that I want government funded abortion clinics on every corner, operating 24/7.


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105
kingbob
LSU Fan
Sorrento, LA
Member since Nov 2010
39665 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
Unborn children are already considered juridical persons under the civil law. They have limited rights in inheritance and tort. If terminated by actions in criminal or tort, the perpetrator is held liable for the loss of that life.

In fact, literally the only scenario where the property rights of an unborn person are not protected are when its life is terminated by its own mother.

"My body, my choice" is wrong. It's not your body, it's the fetus's body that gets killed. "My Body, my choice" is a great slogan for legalized suicide, not for the legalized homicide of unborn persons.


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224
mahdragonz
LSU Fan
Member since Jun 2013
5219 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
So would personhood supersede murder laws?

So if a fetus is a person and there is an abortion, it is ending a personhood and should be punished.

Ok, some one breaks into your house and you kill them. Should you be punished because you ended their personhood?

Is personhood equivalent in all cases.


TBoy
Western Illinois Fan
Lafayette
Member since Dec 2007
6689 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
The honest perspective is really that it doesn’t matter. You either allow access to medical setting abortion or you don’t. If you don’t, then you accept the existence of non medical setting abortion. Abortion will occur regardless of the law. It always has. Limiting medical access to certain time limits promotes early decision.


kingbob
LSU Fan
Sorrento, LA
Member since Nov 2010
39665 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
quote:

So if a fetus is a person and there is an abortion, it is ending a personhood and should be punished.


Absolutely

quote:

Ok, some one breaks into your house and you kill them. Should you be punished because you ended their personhood?


That all depends. Were you in fear for your life? Were you acting in self-defense? Was the person fleeing? Depending on the circumstances surrounding killing the intruder, you may be punished or not.

We could apply the same logic to abortion. If the life of the mother is in jeopardy, abortion may be justified, same as in the issue of killing in self defense.


Joshjrn
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Dec 2008
9473 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
quote:

Ok, some one breaks into your house and you kill them. Should you be punished because you ended their personhood?


Depends on the perspective, but within the libertarian perspective, it would be considered self defense and therefore not a violation of their rights under the NAP. I imagine this would follow in the overwhelming majority of perspectives as well.

As for the rest of your questions, I'd rather not jump in and drive the discussion too early


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10
mahdragonz
LSU Fan
Member since Jun 2013
5219 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
quote:


That all depends. Were you in fear for your life? Were you acting in self-defense? Was the person fleeing? Depending on the circumstances surrounding killing the intruder, you may be punished or not. 


Why would that matter?

If personhood is a binary system - person / non-person - wouldn't stopping personhood in all scenarios be equal?


llfshoals
Alabama Fan
Member since Nov 2010
7405 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
quote:

The problem is finding where humanity begins.
That isn't a problem at all.

From the moment of conception that is a human being, genetically complete in that moment.

That is a very inconvenient truth to many.


kingbob
LSU Fan
Sorrento, LA
Member since Nov 2010
39665 posts

re: Abortion from the Libertarian Perspective: Personhood
quote:


If personhood is a binary system - person / non-person - wouldn't stopping personhood in all scenarios be equal?


Personhood is binary, but rights are not. Personhood conveys rights. Your rights end where another's begin. One of the rights of personhood is self-defense. Another right is property. Your body is considered a part of your patrimony (property and all inherit rights). You have the right to secure your property by reasonable means. Your body itself is considered the most important piece of property because it is necessary for sustaining your life (i.e. personhood). You have the right to protect that life by necessary means in a given situation.

That is why killing someone in self-defense is not a crime, but killing someone in an act of aggression or while committing a crime is.

That is why we have large legal regimes for determining what is self defense from what is manslaughter and murder.
This post was edited on 12/30 at 11:19 am


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