L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 182, July 15, 2002
WILL WE OBEY UNJUST LAWS?
A Free Market Solution to Abortion
Special to TLE
I usually don't get into the abortion debate for the same reason I usually don't get into the religion debate; everyone seems to have a set position and it won't be changing any time soon. But this is not an essay on the morality of abortion or when a fetus is a human, it's an essay on how abortions can be reduced significantly in a free market. I am prompted to write this because too many people who claim to be libertarians want to use the force of government to stop abortions. I say these people claim to be libertarians because I always thought that the basic idea of libertarianism is the desire to use persuasion instead of initiating force. And since government is funded with stolen money, any solution involving government action initiates force. This is why there needs to be a persuasive way to stop abortions, and that way is the buying and selling of babies.
Right now it is illegal in most areas to sell babies, and in the areas where it is technically legal (if there are any such areas left), the selling of a baby will probably find the seller charged with crimes anywhere from neglect to failure to do a proper background check on the adopter. However, it is completely legal to give a baby away through an adoption agency. Not surprisingly there are not nearly enough babies in adoption agencies to meet the demand for babies. Obviously, when the price of something is fixed below its market value, the supply will either dry up or go into the black market.
Although I love the black market, it has its limitations and it is definitely not the place for babies as the buyers have no idea if the baby has been kidnapped and the seller has no reason to at least ask a few questions and see if the parent or parents will not abuse the child. The seller, since this transaction is illegal, will obviously not have a set place of business, so there is no threat of losing his reputation and/or life (a free market will have solutions for everything...) for selling kidnapped babies. Also, since the seller again has little or no chance of losing his reputation and/or life, he will have no need to be careful in who he lets buy his babies. He has no reason to find out if a potential parent is a violent alcoholic, a former child molester, or a person who is mentally unfit for raising a child.
In a free market, the adoption agency has a reason to make sure their babies aren't kidnapped and potential parents won't be abusive. The reason is reputation. Who wants to sell babies to an adoption agency that sells to known child molesters and/or retarded people? Who wants to buy a baby from an adoption agency that knowingly buys and sells kidnapped babies? Probably not enough people to support a competitive business. Not only that, but freedom breeds vigilant citizens. In a completely free community, people can't just sit back and let the government worry about it, there is no government! Vigilantism has its place, and if it is proven that someone is selling kidnapped babies, well, lets just say I wouldn't want to be in his shoes. Such slime does not deserve to live, and just because he hasn't done anything that deserves a death sentence, it is my guess that enough people will be willing to pool together to hire a hitman, and everyone else will probably look the other way.
One may ask, however, won't women then get pregnant just to make money, and won't this take money away from women who are considering an abortion? Yes, but that is how the free market works. Some women will get pregnant just for the money of selling a baby, and that will drive down the price of all babies, but it is doubtful that too many women will get purposely pregnant just for the money because the risk is too great and the reward isn't guaranteed to be high. Numerous things can happen during a pregnancy: there could be a miscarriage, the baby could be born with defects, or the baby could be born premature and thus cost far more than expected. All these things could mean the mother would lose in the end, especially when it is put into consideration how much extra money the baby costs with food, bigger cloths, and much less recreation during the nine months of pregnancy (no drinking, smoking, roller coaster rides, et cetera). All these things conspire to keep women from purposely getting pregnant for the purpose of selling the baby. Besides, whose to say that the price for babies won't decrease significantly nine months from now? In the end, there are much easier ways to make money.
In a free market, the ability to sell babies will almost eliminate abortions. Offering money for a baby or using other forms of persuasion is far superior than trying to use the force of government to reduce or eliminate abortions. For those appalled at the idea of a baby for sale, think of it another way. Think of it as if the buyer is retroactively renting the womb of the mother who would have gotten an abortion. The mother wants the baby gone as soon as possible; the buyer wants to see the baby live and wants to adopt the baby, so they come to an understanding. There is nothing the force of government can accomplish that peaceful entrepreneurs in a free market can't accomplish, and that includes eliminating abortions.