Property Propriety

May 26, 2005 § 2 Comments

Andrew Sullivan (HT: Open Book) says some sensible things about embryonic stem cell research. He then goes on to justify his reluctant support for legal abortion this way:

Simply because the fetus is inside another human being’s body; her own liberty begins in her right to control her own physical being. Violating that freedom is another kind of slippery slope toward the erosion of liberty and property rights on which this country’s constitution is based. If your own body is not your property, what is?

I think this peculiar libertarian conception of property rights in particular and liberty in general is, to use the technical term, poppycock. If an innocent child became trapped on your property, and had to be fed for nine months before carefully being extracted, that would not confer upon you the right to shoot her as a trespasser. “Owner” does not mean, and never has meant, “I am the demi-God of this patch of dirt and whatever I say is law within these fences”. It doesn’t mean that about your house. And it doesn’t mean that about your body.


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