THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 169, April 15, 2002
Freedom to Abort? YES! (Closing)
by William Westmiller
Exclusive to TLE
It's suitably ironic that those who defend the unborn are obliged to minimize the importance of being born as a "convenient separation from the mother", as though it were some incidental event in human reproduction. It isn't the least bit ironic that their defense of fetal rights should require their willing abrogation of the individual right of every woman to her own body.
Birth is the glorious event that defines a human being; not merely in the physical sense, but in the most critical sense of distinguishing a homo sapien from every other animal: the capacity to reason.
Until birth, a fetus is necessarily a physical part of the mother. It cannot breathe, eat, move freely -- or even defecate -- "on it's own." After birth, it does all those things and, in an instant, becomes an individual, distinct, and separate being from its progenitors. For the first time, it has the capacity to integrate complex sensory stimulation into concepts and apply reason. A newborn baby promptly recognizes external beings and things that are valuable and important to its happiness. It is immediately sagacious: capable of learning from its environment.
What more "fundamental change in the nature of the physical organism," or the mental capacity, could possibly occur? Everything that precedes it, including conception, pales in comparison. What was once only a bare potential has been fully realized in a complete, independent, sentient, shitting, reasoning human being!
The physical and mental glory of the human birth is obvious to every parent.
The joy of sexual intercourse is also evident to every pubescent person.
But, to imagine that this delightful engagement is some kind of implied legal contract with a fertilized egg is utter nonsense. It destroys the concept of willful contract by imposing obligations to which none of the parties has consented. To suggest that birth must be an enforced consequence of every act of intercourse is to demand that the "natural" consequences of every act be imposed on the actor. If you trip and fall, you cannot mitigate the consequences, you must land smack on your head and die!
It is the ability to make wise and considered responses to adverse consequences that distinguishes the capacity for human reason. The ability to recognize the future effects of our actions and to make wise and beneficial decisions to correct oversights and foolish errors is what makes human beings human. To deny that to a woman is to deny her humanity.
We would all prefer that every pregnancy be a cause for celebration and delightful anticipation. In those rare cases where the pregnancy is not wanted, or wise, or beneficent, it is the ethical obligation of the woman to consider alternatives and to make a choice. No other person has the right to make that choice, much less to coercively impose it on any woman. Down that road is the ultimate nanny state and womb slavery. Choosing individual liberty is the only ethical option for every female -- and male -- person.