Pro-life is anti-freedom

Abortion is one of the big controversial issues in politics today – the main reason seems to be because of the Religious Right. According to the christian position, women should not have control of their bodies enough to be able to remove a foetus from it.

And yet this is an absurd position, on the face of it. No one complains when people have organs removed (although their trade is still illegal, once again because of religious precepts). Foetuses in themselves are merely bags of cells. We don’t call to murder against hunters or plastic surgery, therefore the idea that abortion is murder has no value.

The usual way to respond is by saying that it is a *human* bag of cells, and that therefore this makes it completely different. However, this is merely a confusion of potentiality and actuality. Yes, the foetus will probably become a human being. Given that we are removing a bag of cells and not a human being, this proposition is true but irrelevant. To reduce it to absurdity, you could say that one might as well outlaw masturbation. Potentiality is not actuality.

At this point, no more argument can be given for a consistent pro-life position. We may argue on the period of gestation when the foetus becomes capable of sustaining itself – be it at birth or earlier – but that is a simple question on the right of life, and where it must begin. That much is pretty obvious.

However, does a pro-life position necessarily preclude love for freedom ? After all, many people take that dual position. But there is a problem. If one believes in the non-initiation of force or in natural rights, one cannot hold pro-life positions.

The reason for this is because the question of abortion is part of the right of self-ownership – it is a fundamental issue. Controlling and owning another person’s body is the most direct form of slavery there is. Granted that we refuse the woman the right to control her own body, the whole notion of natural rights becomes meaningless. This entails that non-initiation of force is also meaningless, since the government thereby gains the power to use force against women in order to enforce its dominion.

The fundamental nature of the issue is also a strong blow against the notion that the pro-life position can be reconciled with freedom in general. If the state is powerful enough to control women’s bodies, then it can hardly be a weak state. It is possible to imagine scenarios where this is not the case, but such scenarios are hardly realistic.