Before we begin it may be helpful if I define what I mean by “property rights”. The most obvious answer is in the term – the rights an individual has to their property. But what is property? Your house is your property, your cell phone is your property, your car is your property, but is your property limited to only your material possessions? No. One’s property also includes your own body, your life, and liberty.
Therefore, based on this definition we can conclude that each individual is granted, naturally, a certain right to their property: property rights. After all, I think that everyone can agree that in a civilized society your own personal right to yourself, your stuff, and your ability to make decisions is paramount. Who would want decisions about their own property, that they worked for, their own life, which is theirs, and their right to make decisions, made by someone else? I’m guessing no one. If you take away these basic rights you essentially become a prisoner on death row. Guards making your personal decisions for you. Deciding when you will eat, when you can exercise, what you can own, and even when you will forfeit your own life.
Since it is morally and socially unacceptable to live in such an environment why do we conclude, in many cases, it is justifiable to give up or ignore the guiding principals of property rights? Abortion is such an issue.
In the infamous case of Row v. Wade in 1973 the supreme court ruled and upheld the woman’s right to have an abortion upon the grounds of the 14th amendment. Basically, the court ruled that a woman has a right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and that right extends to a woman’s decision to have an abortion.
However, the supreme court ignored a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to property rights, the child. One may argue that the child’s rights are insignificant or that the woman’s rights supersede the rights of a fetus. Many justify this by arguing that the fetus cannot survive outside of the mother’s womb, thus the mother’s right to privacy and thus abortion must be upheld; however, I ask what is the difference between a 1 year old and a fetus? Can a child survive without the constant looking after by the parent any more than a fetus? No. Once a heart beats in a fetus it becomes a living person, although the needs may be different than a child or adult, it is none the less a person with property rights.
I ask: What is the real difference, except for the amount of guilt the parent feels or perhaps guilt one feels for performing the deed itself, between murdering a one year old and disposing of an unwanted fetus? Is there a true recognizable and logically arguable difference? The fact is that by day 22 after conception “[the baby’s] heart begins to beat with the child’s own blood, often a different type than the mothers’” and by only 6 weeks “brain waves are detectable; mouth and lips are present; fingernails are forming.” Should not the law uphold the property rights of such a person?
Others argue that it is unfair or unjust that a woman who becomes pregnant accidentally during recreational sex should be forced to undergo pregnancy. However, doesn’t everyone old enough to have sex understand the potential consequence is pregnancy? Even contraception and birth control pills are only 99% effective at best – if you have sex 100 times statistics tell you pregnancy will occur! So recognizing this fact is it fair that two individuals engaging in mutually agreed upon sex have the right to violate the property rights of another human life? A human’s life, though it may require a special kind of care, is no less human than anyone reading this now? What good is the law if not to protect those who cannot protect or speak for themselves?
Andre Koppleman argued in his book “Forced Labor: A Thirteen Amendment Defense of Abortion” that “when women are compelled to carry and bear children, they are subjected to ‘involuntary servitude’ in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment….[E]ven if the woman has stipulated to have consented to the risk of pregnancy, that does not permit the state to force her to remain pregnant.”
This argument, once again, only takes into consideration the property rights of the mother and does not in any way consider the property rights of the very life in question, the fetus. Does the woman’s supposed constitutional law of “involuntary servitude”, a.k.a. pregnancy, supersede the right to life of the child? If this is the case, one could logically argue that parenthood itself “even if the woman has stipulated to have consented to the risk of pregnancy” is involuntary servitude and the parents should thus have the right to dispose of their children at any point it becomes convenient. No one is arguing this though – the moral and lawful implications are somehow more obvious after a child has been born then while it remains in the womb. Andre’s argument is ridiculous.
Thus, if you conclude that any person has the natural property right to their own life – then an unborn child should not be excluded. The idea that an unborn child has less rights than the mother because it requires her for survival is a fallacy. The notion that consensual sex resulting in pregnancy is involuntary servitude is absurd. The excuses made by those to uphold the laws that allow for abortion only support those individuals who are to selfish or to ignorant to accept the consequences of their own actions.
Defenders of abortion act as if a child, especially the unborn, are somehow the private property of the parents. That the child has not rights of their own. However, as we have seen though out history that when one human being treats another human being as property the results can only be evil. For example, in the ridiculous supreme court ruling, Dred Scott v. Sanford the court ruled that blacks, “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it.” Almost 200 years later we can clearly see that this is a gross violation of property rights, the constitution and morality. Even the most devout proponent of abortion would agree! However, we somehow justify treating an unborn child as property; not depriving them of only there liberty, but also their life.
If the proponents of abortion are right then at what point do we as individuals of free thought and action have to accept responsibility for our own deeds – at what point do our actions and the consequences of those actions matter – at what point do we really stop punishing those who are merely the innocent bi-products of a consensual deed, when do we protect the innocent and uphold the rights of every individual who fall under the jurisdiction of the United States? It’s time to stop living a lie and admit that despite our desires to pass the buck or avoid inconvenience we are responsible for our actions and cannot morally or lawfully punish the innocent to exalt ourselves.