I'm obsessed with being human.
Michael Rozeff has written a follow-up post to his previous post on abortion. My comments on his earlier post can be found here. I think it is safe to say that Rozeff has come a long way in a few short days.
Rozeff begins by describing the foundation of his previous view as resulting in a wrong theory:
The result is a confused theory, a wrong theory, that I hereby reject. …A fetus has being (life) even if it’s not capable of living outside the womb by present technology. That fact undermines my theory.
For the purpose of his current blog post, he assumes “that life (being) begins at conception, as soon as the sperm fertilizes the egg. I think everyone has to admit that fact.” While “being” begins at conception, however, Rozeff suggests that the status of “human” might not:
However, we can define a category called nascent-human (embryonic human, budding human) as a being that will become 100% human (fully-developed) under a normal pregnancy but that currently lacks certain properties, such as brain activity (appears 6 weeks in utero) or a heartbeat (8 weeks in utero) or controlled movement (13-25 weeks) or hearing voices outside (16 weeks) or consciousness (20 weeks).
During these periods (at whatever point you might choose), is the unborn child human, or a nascent human? Rozeff offers: “Libertarian theory has no generally-accepted answer.” But why would we expect libertarian theory to have any answer at all on this? It is not a question for libertarian theory; it is a question for philosophy, religion, or science. Libertarian theorists can then work through the application of the non-aggression principle to this answer.
The problem is that none of these (philosophy, religion, or science) can offer an objective answer to the question. Every answer requires an objective definition of the term “human.” Philosophy or religion can offer a definition, but it will always be debated because it is always subjective. Science can objectively measure events such as identified by Rozeff, but is not capable of answering the subjective question of humanness.
As it stands, it is an issue that science is admittedly unable to answer, or where it has answered it has concluded that human life begins at conception. Either answer, at least if one is to ground an answer to this question in science, is problematic for utilizing Rozeff’s new category of nascent-human as a means by which to bring clarity to this issue.
We know one thing with certainty: when the child is born, it is human. We know more: it is human a day, week, month, and several months prior to its birth. We know even more: we know (when looking backwards in time) that we do not know when this human became “human.” We don’t know it because we can’t. I don’t know, therefore, from a non-aggression principle perspective how to treat the unborn child as anything other than human.
The only question remaining is: which human – mother or unborn child – has the right to the womb. Rozeff does ask the relevant questions from a libertarian perspective:
We can speak in terms of ownership. The mother owns her womb; that is, it belongs to her. Does the life inside the womb own itself; does that life-form (fetus) belong to itself?
A second way is to say that a mother has the right to her womb, it being her property. Does the life on her property have a right to live there until born?
The third way is to use Non-Aggression Principle language. Is the fetus (or life-form) in the womb aggressing against the womb’s owner? Does the womb’s owner aggress against the fetus by expelling it by abortion?
Using libertarian principles, I know of no way to decide the rights-bearing status of a fetus as compared with the status of the woman bearing that fetus.
But I do. I have answered all of these questions here, all from a libertarian perspective, utilizing contract theory as applied to property and landlord / tenant relationships. I am afraid to summarize my answers, as any shortcuts only open up the risk to increasing misunderstanding. But to make a long story short: using libertarian principles, the unborn child has the right to occupy the womb until natural birth. (If you want to argue with me about this, please demonstrate that you have actually read the subject post.)
Rozeff returns to his new concept, the nascent-human:
If the fetus is human and not nascent-human, then its right to life is unimpaired by being in the womb. Under consensual methods of conception, the mother has no right to abort. Her ownership of her womb doesn’t give her a right to abort. The fetus is innocent. It is not a trespasser.
As the question of being human remains unanswered I think there is only one possible choice from a libertarian perspective: the mother has no right to abort at any point after conception.
Rozeff offers a very confusing – even troubling – comment:
The demand for abortion from women takes into account many factors not contemplated in an analysis of rights, as women pursue what’s best for them according to their own value-scales.
Can one not say the same thing about anyone who chooses aggression of any form?
Rozeff raises the point of rape:
Under non-consensual origins like rape, then the mother’s right to abort takes precedence.
I have, for the most part, stayed away from dealing with this specific aspect when it comes to abortion. If libertarians cannot generally agree to the issue of responsibility and aggression when it comes to consensual intercourse, there is no point to try to attack this much more complicated issue.
Of course the mother is innocent in such a case; it is also true that the unborn child is innocent. The issues raised by this reality are far too complex and perhaps almost impossible to address in any manner that I can express.