Saturday, January 08, 2011

"I think it is pretty silly to consider a fetus to be an "invader". Sheesh, people! If some people want to be able to kill their unborn, they should live in places where that is considered acceptable. If others don't like that, they should live where it is unacceptable. In either case, they should have some control over their own behavior. Problem solved!"

~Paul, Strike-the-Root, January 6, 2011

As someone with strong pro-life sympathies, this seems an eminently reasonable position to me, and it probably lies at the heart of the societal order that would spontaneously arise under an anarcho-capitalist society--this being the kind of society the ostensibly pro-choice Rothbard (whom I admire) recommended. There's a market for safety, liberty and order. Under anarcho-capitalism, people--or, more likely, their insurance companies--would hire private security agencies (PSAs) and dispute resolution organizations (DROs) to meet the demand for safety, liberty and order.

PSAs would defend rights to life and property. DROs would resolve conflicts revolving around those rights. There will be conflicts. After all, even if we're all anarcho-capitalists, we don't all agree on what constitutes a right. Even if we agree on what constitutes a right, we don't know how to act when confronted with a situation in which fundamental rights conflict. That's what makes abortion such an excruciating issue.

The fetus bears a striking resemblance to a miniature human being. Does it have a right to life? Without regard to its mother's rights? Does the fetus' right to life trump the mother's right to privacy and personal sovereignty? Does the mother's privacy rights trump the fetus' right to life? Is there a timeline where one party's right outweighs the other's? Who decides? Using what criteria?

Under anarcho-capitalism, some of us will fund PSAs whose mission includes the forcible protection of fetus' lives. We won't be entirely happy with the forcible part, but we'll condone it as reasonable defense of an innocent life. Conversely, others of us will fund competing PSAs whose mission includes protecting the rights of pregnant women to do whatever they want with their own bodies. These PSAs will be charged with forcibly repelling those who would abridge a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy. Again, we won't be happy with the forcible part, but we'll condone it as reasonable defense of an adult's privacy and personal sovereignty. Still others of us will find ourselves torn on the issue, or crassly interested only in paying lower insurance premiums, and thus fund PSAs that take a completely hands-off position on the issue--neither protecting fetuses from "pro-choice" PSAs nor protecting pregnant women from "pro-life" PSAs.

What will the DROs do when confronted with PSAs with conflicting consumer interests? As Paul suggests, the DROs' resolution will probably involve geography. If you want to have an abortion, you'll have to live in Ruritania. If you want to live where you and your neighbors can't have an abortion, you'll have to live in Outer Ruritania.

Granted, the stalwarts on either side won't be happy with this resolution. The fact remains the most diehard American right-to-lifer today is interested only in banning abortion in the U.S. He doesn't want to wage war against pro-choice nations to make them right-to-life. By the same token, the most diehard pro-choicer doesn't want to enforce reproductive rights in right-to-life nations. Maybe pro-choice and pro-life by geography is the best we can do.



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