The abortion question is complex because it involves the inseparable intersection of the property of two people, namely the mother and child. This article will reference the principles of libertarianism as laid out in Libertarianism: Manual to Humanity (LMH).

As pointed out in LMH, people have an entitlement to their property, the most basic unit of which is their body, or more technically, the self. This entitlement is the foundation of objective morality. The issue with pregnancy and, consequently, abortion, is that pregnancy can introduce a natural and unavoidable property conflict between a mother and her child. A mother has a right to her body and may consent or withhold consent to the use of her body by others. The same is true with anyone at any time, including an unborn human.

Part of the question is whether, in fact, an unborn human is a human at all. If it is, then it is entitled to its property. If it is not, property does not exist for that entity. It is true that a fetus (human, of course) is genetically human. If a fetus were subjected to genetic testing, the results would be indistinguishable from an adult human in terms of its species. One may argue that a tumor would also test as human. The difference between a tumor and a fetus is that a tumor, though containing human DNA, will never develop as a human being does, because it lacks the genetic material associated with what we recognize as a human being. A fetus will. So a fetus is a human being in the early stages of development which will continue until its death. A fetus is a human being.1

If a woman has sex, the potential outcome of that act is the spontaneous creation of a human being. In the case of pregnancy, the creation of this person necessarily places the person on the property of another (the woman’s body). If sex is a voluntary act, it represents the mother’s consent to the use of her property by the created person. Because the created person is subject to the actions of the mother without the opportunity to negotiate terms (the created person doesn’t exist before the execution of the actions, and, therefore cannot agree or disagree), the mother consents to the use of her property without terms. In other words, there is no limit on how the created person may use the mother’s property.

Because there are no terms, the mother waives her right to evict the created person. Acting on the property of the created person without its consent, is immoral (reference objective morality in LMH). To illustrate, assume Bob has a hot air balloon. Bob gets in his balloon one day to go for a ride. While 5000 feet in the air, Bob remembers a magic trick he heard about that allows the user to conjure a person out of thin air. Bob performs the trick and Tom appears in the balloon with Bob. By putting Tom in his balloon, Bob consents to Tom using his balloon. Because Tom could not agree to the terms beforehand, there are no terms and Tom may use the balloon as he chooses. Therefore, Bob may not push Tom out of the balloon, even if he changes his mind about Tom’s presence.

Making unilateral, conditionless arrangements involving others that, if broken, result in the damage of the counterparty’s property effectively binds the property of the two parties. In a common arrangement with terms and conditions, either party may break the agreement, if desired, along the lines of the terms, because, in that arrangement, property is not violated. However, in a unilateral, conditionless arrangement in which the property of others depends on the continuation of the arrangement, breaking such an arrangement is a violation of the property of the counterparty, unless the counterparty consents to ending the arrangement.

Under normal circumstances, creating a unilateral, conditionless arrangement involving the property of others is, itself, a violation of the property of others because they cannot consent in such a situation, pregnancy is the only known instance where it is not. Before a person exists, he has no property to violate. His property can only be violated after he comes into existence.

So far, this is clean and logical, but there is a situation in which abortion is not immoral and that is in the case of rape. In rape, the woman has not consented to the use of her property by the created person. She is within her right to her property to evict. Eviction may result in the death of the created person and, if so, the rapist is liable because he took actions that resulted in the damage of another’s property (in fact, two people; the created person and the affected woman).

Again, all of this is based on the libertarian principles laid out in LMH, previously mentioned. Abortion is morally wrong, except in the case of rape.

1 One may be tempted to argue that sperm or eggs may equally be recognized as human, but they do not fit the criteria above. They would not test as a genetic human being as they contain only half of human DNA and, they will not develop into a human. One may also argue that fire is alive, since it consumes, grows and reproduces, but as pointed out in the footnotes of LMH, inter-species rights do not exist even if we were to grant, for the sake of argument, that fire was a living thing.

Conceptual logician, libertarian philosopher, musician, economist, almost-ran businessman and other stuff.
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