Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Libertarians and Abortion

Ezra Klein muses on the appeal of Ron Paul amongst Libertarians:

"it's a bit hard to square the immense affection Ron Paul receives from putative civil libertarians with his intensely restrictive attitude towards such issues as whether a woman will be forced to use her body as a vessel for childbearing."

Klein is asserting that libertarianism and restrictions on abortion are at odds. I disagree. While libertarians view government as having a limited role, they do accept that it has a role, such as to provide for a legal system, policing, military, all of which at some level have the function of preventing one party from infringing upon the liberties of others. At some point that clump of cells in a woman's body is a life. Now, if one insists that it is not a life till it exits the womb, well, then sure, Mr. Klein's comments are correct, and I am guessing that that is his presumption. However, to the extent one describes a fetus as being more than a clump of cells and actually ascribing life or the qualities of a person to the fetus, it follows necessarily that it has negative liberties, which an abortion would infringe upon (or terminate). If you equate a fetus with life than preventing its termination would be a proper role for the state even in the eyes of a libertarian.

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