I find that if when we draw parallels to more traditional conceptions of property, then we can often find the proper way the law ought to deal with situations. Many people do not view abortion as a property issue because many people separate the concepts of life and property. Of course there is nothing logically wrong with making such a distinction. But if the law recognizes this distinction, then there will always be a conflict (I am simplifying this) between the life of the baby and the property rights of a mother. However, I think a libertarian should only support a law whose two functions are the enforcement of property rights, and the enforcement of contracts. Life should only be viewed through the prism of property rights. Under this view, the baby has property rights and the mother has property rights. So I will attempt to view the issue of abortion under this view.
Here is the abortion scenario:
Two people engage in intercourse knowing the chances of getting pregnant is 1%. If the people engaging in intercourse are not cognizant of the biological facts regarding sex, then this scenario would be different. The woman gets pregnant and decides to have an abortion.
Scenario tantamount to this:
The woman plays a fun game and she is aware this will result in a person appearing on her property. It’s irrelevant for what end this game accomplishes for her. Her action is assumed and given in this scenario. She is aware, before playing the game, that evicting this person will result in said person’s death. How could this game result in a person appearing on her property? Well, lets just say it was hooked up to some magical system where a it gave another person the unquenchable desire to enter the property of this woman. The point is that this person is in no way responsible for entering her property. However, her eviction will not result in the death of this person if she decided to wait for a period of time.
Let us analyze, the individual actions that take place.
Action 1: The mother plays the game.
Action 2: The mother evicts the person.
So therefore, the question becomes, which action, if any, is illegal under a strict property rights framework? Action 1 does not violate the property rights of anyone, and therefore can in no way be illegal. Action 2 is a bit more complicated.
In action 2, she may be violating the property rights of this person and this action may therefore be illegal, because she has the option of waiting and evicting at a point where the person will be harmed much less or a significant loss in the probability of dieing.
Walter Block’s theory of eviction (I am not sure if he created this theory or where he published this theory) is that the amount of possible harm must be minimized when exercising your right to evict another person from your property. So if someone walks on your land, you cannot just shoot a bazooka at them immediately! You must ask them to leave first, etc.
So now the question is, how much must a person sacrifice before engaging in their right of eviction?
If the woman needs to wait, she is sacrificing her time. Time has a market value, as people know, called interest. Is there a way to quantify exactly how much she is losing? Exactly how much of a loss is she suffering merely by the person being on her land? She could own a farm, and this person may be messing up her crops. Is there is a precise point at which her loss crosses his death probability that its okay for her to evict him? Now this is a thorny issue, and I concede I don’t know the answer. It may just be a simple matter of convention.
Now I could imagine a libertarian saying, any loss whatsoever is a violation of her property rights, and is therefore permissible for her to evict him. However, under this view, would it not follow that I may use my bazooka if that’s all I had on hand at the moment? Any possible inconvenience may be interpreted as a loss.
Anyway I have gone way over 20 minutes.