Metaphysics of Abortion: A Critique of Evictionism

by Aug 9, 20180 comments

Self-ownership is not absolute.

Those who support abortion would have you think otherwise — the common pro-choice slogan being “my body, my choice”.

I recently came across a new spin on the self-ownership argument. This position on abortion, called Evictionism, is advocated for by Walter Block 1. This is a position that aims to be neutral in the abortion debate. Block holds that it is indeed a baby in the womb, so you can’t just kill it. He thinks this would be murder. But, since a person owns their own body absolutely, Block thinks they can take a baby out of their womb whenever they want. It is up to the baby to survive on its own if it is able and a mother is not culpable if the baby is not able to survive.

Walter Edward Block is an American Austrian School economist and anarcho-capitalist theorist.

Evictionism is wrong as is the pro-choice position. Self-ownership is not absolute. An expecting mother does have an obligation to help an unborn child enter into the world, regardless of how the child got there.

This post will present what I think is the strongest argument against abortion. I will aim to present the idea that convinced me that not only is abortion wrong, but we do, in fact, have obligations to each other that have far-reaching moral and political consequences.

2 Major Contentions

Quite often the abortion debate surrounds itself on whether or not a fetus is a person or just a clump of cells (and rightfully so!). If a fetus is just a clump of cells, then removing it from your body is no different from a procedure to remove any other clump of cells, such as a tumor. If it is a person, then the moral implications of the situation completely changes.

There is so much great literature out there on this topic, and quite frankly, most of the science all points to the idea that life begins at conception, that I will not spend a great deal of time here. (Maybe I will on another post as there are some interesting implications about the personhood of a fetus from a metaphysical stance that support the classical theistic view of essentialism.) Instead, I will focus more on the idea of self-ownership as the basis for all human rights. This is an area of the debate that I feel is not as often covered, especially from the pro-life side of the debate.

In order to tackle the self-ownership argument, I will first need to spell out in greater detail what this idea of Evictionism is. To do so, it is helpful to have the briefest idea of some of the libertarian ideas that Evictionism is based upon. I will then lay out the argument against absolute self-ownership. Finally, I will also contrast this idea of Evictionism against the ideas of natural law, which will give us the metaphysical means to show that self-ownership is not absolute and that abortion is always immoral.

The Libertarian Position?

Self-ownership is the foundation for the philosophical positions that underpins Evictionism. These ideas come out of many schools of thought but in particular the modern day political thought of Libertarianism.

For many libertarians, the thesis of self-ownership is the foundation of their political philosophy.1 Natural rights to life, liberty, and property—the protection of which is, according to the libertarian, government’s sole legitimate function—derive from self-ownership, in particular one’s ownership of his body and its parts, of his capacities and labor, and, by extension, of whatever he can acquire by his non-coercive exercise of them. One famous implication of this is that redistributive taxation of earnings from labor, of the sort advocated by socialist and liberal egalitarians for the purposes of equalizing the outcomes of free market competition and enforcing some allegedly more “fair” pattern of income distribution, is unjustifiable and, indeed, positively unjust. Another well-known implication of this view is that government cannot legitimately interfere with an individual’s use of his body, abilities, etc., where that use does not involve the infringement of the rights of others, even when that individual’s use is otherwise immoral. Even if, for example, one decides to use narcotics or to drink oneself into a stupor night after night, the state has no right to stop him from doing so. 2

–Edward Feser

All of the libertarian position is built upon the idea that we own legitimate property claims absolutely. This is to say that under no circumstances does someone have a right to infringe on your property without your consent. In the eyes of libertarians, there is nothing that we have a better claim to than our own bodies.

Now in the case of the body, it is clear what aggression is: invading the borders of someone’s body, commonly called battery, or, more generally, using the body of another without his or her consent.11 The very notion of interpersonal aggression presupposes property rights in bodies — more particularly, that each person is, at least prima facie, the owner of his own body.3

–Stephan Kinsella

I must admit that there is much that is attractive to the idea of self-ownership as the basis for all rights. I went through a period where a purely libertarian perspective just seemed to make sense. From the idea that we own ourselves we can quickly get to the principle that no one has a right to use aggression against another to infringe on their rights of self-ownership.

The libertarian creed rests upon one central axiom: that no man or group of men may aggress against the person or property of anyone else. This may be called the “nonaggression axiom.” “Aggression” is defined as the initiation of the use or threat of physical violence against the person or property of anyone else. Aggression is therefore synonymous with invasion.4

–Murray Rothbard

Murray Newton Rothbard was an American heterodox economist of the Austrian School, a historian and a political theorist whose writings and personal influence played a seminal role in the development of modern right-libertarianism.

The Non-Aggression Principle (NAP) is truly a great principle and works in almost all circumstances. If the entire world always followed it, the world would be a much better place. The problem is that the NAP is typically built on the premise that we all own ourselves and the things that we have a legitimate property claim to absolutely.

It took me a great while to see what was wrong with these arguments. They just seemed so logical. But, as my arguments below will show, they are built without a metaphysical foundation.


Walter Block is a well known Libertarian thinker. For years now, Block has been advocating for Evictionism, what he calls a neutral position in the abortion debate.

Evictionism is the position that a woman owns her body absolutely. If a woman doesn’t want a baby that is growing inside of her, it is intruding on her rights of self-ownership and she can evict it.

Block believes that not only is a woman not violating the NAP by evicting a fetus from the property of her womb, the fetus is the one that is aggressing against the woman in the first place.

Individuals only have a right not to be aggressed against. The fetus is not being aggressed against by eviction from a woman’s womb, which is her property; that is, this “facility” is owned by the woman not the fetus. On the contrary, the fetus aggressor, albeit not purposefully, is the initiator of violence. 5

–Walter Block

Interestingly, Block would actually consider himself pro-life. He thinks, in fact, that a fetus is a person. He just respects self-ownership so greatly that he thinks a baby doesn’t have a right to use a woman’s body if she doesn’t consent.

It is worth emphasizing here that Block doesn’t think a woman has a right to kill a baby outright. Block thinks a woman does have a right to remove the child (as safely as one can) and if the child is unable to survive on its own, it is no fault of the woman. In this way, Block feels he can take a neutral position by saying that a fetus is a baby, it has a right to live, but it doesn’t have a right to infringe on the mother’s absolute right to her body and use her womb against her will.

All fetuses have equal rights. They are all equally innocent. Consider those who are created as the result of rape. Clearly, here, there was no agreement or consent or invitation between the mother and the baby. But such a fetus is still a trespasser; it is in effect a parasite to the woman who does not want that fetus in her body. She has a right to evict it.

The private property rights position on this issue is thus a moderate one. Pro-abortion radical feminists and others who think they have a right to kill fetuses, even if it is possible to evict them without harm, represent one extreme in this debate. They hold the view that it is the pregnant woman’s right to determine whether or not that fetus will live. Nor does this apply only in the case of rape. This position defends a woman’s choice to abort when intercourse for the purpose of procreation occurs voluntarily, but later on she decides not to carry the baby to term. Women have a right to lull their unborn children, even if medical technology exists which would save it, in this view. 6

–Walter Block

Given our current technology, for some babies, this eviction procedure will certainly mean death. Block does think in the future we may have the technology to remove the unwanted baby and place it in a test tube to continue to develop and death will no longer be a necessary part of removing unwanted babies from wombs.

If this discussion is correct, we deduce that the pregnant woman may remove the fetus from her body in a manner that does the least harm to it possible. That is, she may evict but not kill it. True, one hundred years ago the only way to rid herself of the unborn human within her would have been to put it to death; one hundred years from now, it will presumably be possible to transfer it to a test tube or a host mother without disturbing it in the slightest.

At present, however, this policy prescription serves as a true compromise between the pro-choice and pro-life camps. The former gains half a victory: the woman may rid herself of the fetus, as is desired by the pro-choicers, but they will be disappointed in that she does not also have the right to kill it. Likewise, the latter also comes away with half a loaf; this side of the debate welcomes the fact that the baby will live, even if they cannot, under the compromise, force the biological mother to bear the child, as they would wish. 7

–Walter Block

This is the logical conclusion of the pure libertarian self-ownership position. It is wrong. If one can show that self-ownership is not absolute, the whole thing comes crashing down. To this task, we now turn.

We do Have Moral Obligations to Others: Mack’s Island

The following is a thought experiment based on Adam’s Island from Erick Mack 8. This thought experiment definitively shows that we don’t own ourselves absolutely and that we do have obligations to help others.

Imagine that you shipwreck on an island. You are the only one on the island and have discovered that it has enough resources for you to live on it. Sometime later, a person from another shipwreck washes up on the shores of your island. If we follow the ideas of self-ownership logically through, we should be able to say that you have the right to kick this person off your island, even if it means that they will certainly drown. Since you mixed your labor with this previously unclaimed land you now have a full property claim on it.

This can’t be right, though. There does seem to be some reason why we are obligated to help this person to live and must share our resources.

Teleological View of Human Rights

What is wrong is the assumption that we derive our rights from simply owning ourselves and the property we can legitimately claim ownership over (such as a previously deserted island that we have since mixed our labor with and no one else has a property claim to). Instead, our rights actually derive from the teleology inherent in all of existence.

Here, Edward Feser shows how a teleological view of human rights actually negates a claim to absolute self-ownership.

There are two main problems with the idea of self-ownership — the “self” part, and the “ownership” part.  Mack’s work got me on the road to seeing this, though that was hardly what he intended.  In his Social Philosophy and Policy article “The Self-Ownership Proviso: A New and Improved Lockean Proviso,” Mack had put forward what seemed (and still seems) to me powerful arguments to the effect that we cannot plausibly be said to own ourselves in a substantive way if the right to self-ownership protects us only “from the skin inward” and says nothing about whether we may bring our powers to bear on the world.  Suppose, for example, that you and I are castaways and wash up on some tiny island upon which no human beings have ever trod.  You immediately pass out on the beach, while I get to work constructing a bamboo fence whose perimeter happens entirely to enclose your body.  Upon waking, you accuse me of imprisoning you and thereby violating your self-ownership rights, and demand to be released.  Suppose I then respond as follows: “I have not imprisoned you at all!  I’ve simply homesteaded all the land around you — which you had no right to, since it was virgin territory — and I’ve built a fence around it, to make sure you don’t come onto my land and take any of the resources I’ve justly acquired.  True, you’ve got nothing in the way of resources in the seven-foot by four-foot plot of sand I’ve left you, but that’s not my fault.  That’s just your bad luck, sorry.  I suppose it would be nice of me to give you some of mine, but at most I’d be unkind rather than unjust if I decide not to do so.  And I was very careful not to touch you as I built my fence.  I do respect your right of self-ownership, after all!”

Now even though I would not have directly harmed you in any way — I haven’t so much as touched your body, nor (so the argument goes) taken anything that belonged to you, since it was virgin territory and “up for grabs” — there is still an obvious sense in which I have harmed you indirectly.  For part of what you own by virtue of being a self-owner are powers that are of their nature “world-interactive” (as Mack puts it) and I have effectively nullified your ability to bring those powers to bear on the world.  And precisely by doing so I have, you might say, respected the letter but not the spirit of the thesis of self-ownership.  To respect others’ rights of self-ownership in a substantive and not merely formal way, then, we have in Mack’s view to avoid using our property in a way that effectively nullifies others’ ability to bring their world-interactive powers to bear on the world. 9

–Edward Feser

Mack’s moral intuition is right – we don’t just own ourselves from the skin inward. We all have a right to be able to exercise our capacities to interact and live in the world. We all have a right to have an opportunity to flourish in the world. These types of rights have no foundation in a pure self-ownership view, but they do in a teleological view of human rights.

That is just a brief sketch of Mack’s point; I develop and defend it at length in my article “There is No Such Thing as an Unjust Initial Acquisition,” which I linked to above.  But it is a point that any Aristotelian-Thomistic natural law theorist has to take very seriously, for two reasons.  First of all, the A-T ethicist grounds morality in a teleological conception of human nature, and cannot fail to agree with Mack that many of our powers are inherently world-interactive.  In particular, no A-T natural law theorist can fail to agree that our realizing what is good for us, our flourishing as the kinds of beings we are, requires that we be able to bring those powers to bear on the world.  Secondly, for those A-T theorists who are open to the idea of natural rights, those rights have themselves a teleological foundation.   We have the natural rights we have precisely as a means of safeguarding our ability to flourish as the kinds of beings we are, to pursue what nature has determined is good for us and perfects us.  So, if an A-T approach to natural rights could ground the thesis of self-ownership, it would have to ground something like Mack’s self-ownership proviso as well.  So far so good, I concluded at the time I wrote the “There is No Such Thing” article.

But no sooner had I finished writing up that article than I could see that the implications of this conclusion were very far-reaching indeed.  For among our powers and capacities are various moral capacities.  And for the Aristotelian, our moral character is initially formed as a matter of acquiring the right habits, in childhood, and only later coming to understand the rationale behind those habits.  To cause a child to fall into bad moral habits is therefore to damage the distinctively moral powers he owns by virtue of being a self-owner, and thus (given Mack’s self-ownership proviso) arguably to fail to respect his right of self-ownership in a substantive rather than merely formal way.  But that in turn seemed to entail that at least in principle, certain governmental measures to protect children from moral corruption could be justified on self-ownership grounds!  There is also the fact that it doesn’t take a lot of effort to see how Mack’s self-ownership proviso might be deployed in an argument against abortion. 10

–Edward Feser

For me, like Feser, this island example was the cracks in what seemed like such a strong foundation for pure Libertarian philosophy based solely on self-ownership. We simply are obligated to help others, especially when to not help them would cause them great harm or even death. In a pure Libertarian philosophy, absolute self-ownership cannot produce any moral imperative to help other people 11.

What This Means For Abortion

Since we have established that we are obligated to help people who cannot help themselves, we can already see what this means for the issue of abortion. A fetus does have a right to remain in a woman’s womb until it is viable in the world.

The absurdity of the modern reasons for wanting an abortion really become apparent with the island example. 98.5% of abortions are done simply because a woman does not want a baby that arose from consensual sex. 12 Having unprotected consensual sex and wanting to abort the baby when it results from this action, then, is like shooting cannonballs at ships passing by your personal island and then refusing to share your island with someone when they wash up on your shore.

Imagine, forcing someone off of your private island even though they were there as a result of your actions. And, your forcing them off your island will mean they will certainly drown. This is what Evictionism is advocating for with abortion. Most people can hopefully see how immoral this would be.

The Hard Cases: Rape

Pro-choice proponents are usually quick to bring up the other 1.5% of times people get an abortion, such as for rape. Rape and incest are supposed to show that we cannot ban abortion absolutely. It is supposed to show that there are cases when abortion is morally acceptable.

Abortion is always immoral. This is true regardless of how the child got in the womb. As hard as this is for some to swallow, this is the case even in the situation of rape. Let’s return to our shipwreck example again.

The most important problem for our purposes, however, is that it seems that an abortion, though it might in principle respect the fetus’s the formal rights of self-ownership (as long as it did not involve direct killing, etc.), nevertheless clearly would violate its substantive rights —it would, that is, violate the SOP. Just as Fred’s removal of all the oxygen around Bob nullifies Bob’s self-owned powers, and indeed nullifies them to such an extent that his death results, so too does removing the fetus nullify its powers in exactly the same way. Like Fred, the fetus is put in a situation in which his use of those powers becomes impossible; thus, it is dealt an injustice just as surely as Fred is.

Notice that this is true not only in the case of pregnancy resulting from consensual intercourse, but even in cases resulting from rape. In those cases no less than the others, the fetus’s powers are nullified; how the fetus came into existence is irrelevant. Nor does the fact that the pregnancy came about involuntarily make a moral difference with respect to the rape victim’s obligations: in Mack’s Adam’s Island example, Adam obviously could not justify letting Zelda drown by saying I never consented to Zelda’s coming ashore, and it’s not my fault she happened to get shipwrecked near my island! This remains true even if Zelda’s coming ashore seriously inconveniences Adam. We can sympathize with him in his bad luck, but we cannot absolve him of his duty to abide by the SOP. If Zelda’s shipwreck resulted from the actions of a negligent ship’s captain, Adam might have a just complaint against (and could presumably demand compensation from) that captain, but that would not in the least affect his duty to help Zelda. But a woman pregnant as a result of rape is in a situation analogous to Adam’s: it isn’t her fault that the fetus is in her womb, but then, neither is it the fetus’s fault. It is the rapist who must, as far as is possible, be made to compensate for putting the woman (and the fetus) in the position he’s put them in. In the meantime, the fetus cannot justifiably have his self-owned powers nullified. 13

–Edward Feser

In the case of rape, this would be like someone violating your rights by purposefully placing you on a deserted island. When another person later shows up on your island (for the sake of the argument let’s also say they are dropped off against there will somehow) you are still under the same obligations to help them exercise their natural capacities to live in the world. That is to say, you cannot simply make them leave the island knowing this will result in their death, just because your rights were violated in how you and they first came to the island.

Likewise, just because a mother’s rights were violated in the creation of a baby, the mother is obligated to at least bring that child into the world. To not do so, would be like turning away a castaway on your island knowing it will result in their death.

As you can see, this island example also shows that Evictionism is not only wrong, it is not neutral. You do not own your body absolutely, just as you do not own an island absolutely in the above examples. There are circumstances when property must be shared 14.

Natural Law, Natural Rights

One may object, but all you have done in your island example is shown we have moral intuitions. You have not proven that these moral imperatives actually exist (ontologically speaking).

In reality, the self-ownership axiom of the Libertarian position is what is lacking a metaphysical grounding. It is just an assertion that we own ourselves absolutely without a reason why. On the other hand, in classical theism, there is a metaphysical grounding for morality. It is the order that is inherent in nature and is studied in the science of natural law.

Among the features that crucially distinguish the “old” natural law theory from the “new” is the former’s grounding of ethics in specifically Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysical foundations. In particular, natural law theory as Aquinas and the Neo-Scholastics understand it presupposes an essentialism according to which natural substances possess essences that are objectively real (rather than inventions of the human mind or mere artifacts of language) and immanent to the things themselves (rather than existing in a Platonic third realm); and a teleologism according to which the activities and processes characteristic of a natural substance are “directed toward” certain ends or outcomes, and inherently so, by virtue of the nature of the thing itself (rather than having a “directedness” that is purely extrinsic or entirely imposed from outside, the way artifacts do). 15

–Edward Feser

Natural law is derived from the study of essences (essentialism) and of the order that is inherent in all of nature (teleology). A thing is good in proportion to how much it is fully realizing its essence, or for living things, acting in accord with its nature.

The differences between classical and modern philosophers over metaphysics entail, at any rate, crucial differences over morality. For the classical tradition, the essence or nature of a thing determines an objective standard of goodness. To take a simple example, the fact that the essence of a Euclidean triangle is to be a closed plane figure with three straight sides entails that a triangle drawn slowly and carefully on art paper with a fine tip pen and a straight edge is a good triangle and one drawn hastily in crayon on the cracked plastic seat of a moving bus a bad one, because the former will at least closely approximate the essence while the latter (with its inevitable broken and wavy lines) will fall far short of doing so. Similarly, there is an obvious sense in which a whole and healthy squirrel which likes to scamper up trees and gather nuts for the winter is a good squirrel while a sickly squirrel missing a tail or a leg which prefers to stay in a cage eating toothpaste on Ritz crackers is a bad squirrel. For the former more closely approximates the normal anatomy and pattern of life that nature has set for squirrels, as defined in part by the ends, goals, or tendencies (such as scampering about and gathering nuts) that are typical of the species.

Obviously the examples given so far are not examples of moral goodness per se. (It would make no sense to accuse a badly drawn triangle or an injured squirrel of an ethical lapse!) But for the classical tradition in philosophy they illustrate a general concept of goodness of which the moral kind is a species. As the contemporary neo-Aristotelian ethicist Philippa Foot has emphasized (and as the squirrel example indicates), with living things especially, their “natural goodness” or lack thereof is to be defined in largely teleological terms. The lioness who nurtures her cubs is a good lioness because she fulfills (to that extent anyway) the ends set for her by nature, while the lioness who allows her cubs to starve is to that extent defective, just as a three-legged squirrel or badly drawn triangle is defective. Unlike the goodness or defectiveness of triangles and the like, that of a living thing has to do not only with the static realization of some archetypical shape or structure, but also with the development over time of certain paradigmatic behavioral patterns. In human beings, this standard of goodness or defectiveness takes on a moral character to the extent that our realization of, or failure to realize, the ends set for us by nature results from our freely chosen actions. Hence, to take a simple example, the human intellect is according to the classical tradition naturally oriented toward the pursuit of truth; that is its purpose, its final cause, even if it does not always realize that purpose (just as it is the natural end or purpose of the heart to pump blood, even if it sometimes fails to do so because of genetic defect or injury, or because Hannibal Lecter decides to make of it a meal instead). For us to fulfill this end or purpose is for us to flourish as the kind of beings we are, while to fail to do so is to that extent to atrophy as a human being. It follows that to pursue truth is good for us and to fail to do so is bad, and that those who pursue it are to that extent good or virtuous while those who do not are to that extent bad or vicious. 16

–Edward Feser

The connection between goodness and teleology is imperative. A “good triangle” or a “good squirrel” is determined by how well it is a realization of its essence/nature. Humans are unique creatures in creation, though, in that teleology also applies to our actions in a way it does not with objects or animals. Being that we are rational animals, where no other animals are, morality is concerned specifically with human behavior. In the moral sphere, goodness is determined in how well humans act in accord with their true nature — in accord with reason and truth.

Now practical reason, on this view, has as its own natural end the pursuit of what the intellect perceives to be good for us and the avoidance of what it takes to be bad. Hence Aquinas’s famous claim that the self-evident first principle of natural law is that good is to be done and pursued and evil is to be avoided. Aquinas was not suggesting that it is self-evident that we are bound by the moral law. What he means is that it is self-evident that whenever we choose to do something, we do so because we regard it as good in some way or other, and that when we avoid doing something we do so because we regard it as bad in some way or other. This is true even of someone who is convinced that what he is doing is morally wrong. The mugger who admits that robbery is evil nevertheless takes his victim’s wallet because he thinks it would be good to have some money to pay for his drugs; the drug addict who knows that his habit is wrong and degrading nevertheless thinks it would be bad to suffer the unpleasantness of withdrawal; and so forth. We are simply built to pursue good and avoid evil in this thin sense. But suppose that the intellect comes to perceive that what is in fact good for us is to realize the ends that nature has set for us and to avoid anything that frustrates the realization of those ends. Then to the extent that we are rational we will strive to realize those ends. In short, reason is built to pursue what it takes to be good; what is in fact good is the realization of the ends set for us by nature; and thus a rational person apprised of the facts will seek to realize those ends. In this sense to be moral is simply to act rationally and to be immoral is to be irrational. The obligatory force of morality thus follows from the natural end or final cause of reason, just as the content of morality follows from the natural ends or final causes of our various capacities more generally. Morality, for the classical philosophical tradition, is thus doubly dependent on an essentialist and teleological conception of nature. 17

–Edward Feser

Of course, it would take a great many pages (books even) to lay out the full case for the coherence of natural law, teleology, and essentialism. The point is that there is a complete and coherent system of philosophy that gives a metaphysical basis to the natural law view of morality. This is what someone who is pro-choice would ultimately have to show is wrong if they are going to disprove the natural law stance on abortion. I have yet to see anyone do so.

Furthermore, as shown above, the consequence of securing a metaphysical foundation to human rights is that we are obligated to help others. In certain situations, this can even mean we are obligated to give up some of our own rights in order to support others (e.g., Mack’s Island).


To many people, to reject self-ownership as absolute would be sacrilegious. We live in a time where the personal autonomy of the individual is worshiped almost above all else. Many think that we have a right to do whatever we want as long as we don’t infringe on anyone else’s absolute rights of self-ownership.

It’s not hard to see how a society that has, through technology, made so many of the hardships of living a thing of the past could end up worshiping the individual as much as we do. We just don’t rely on each other for our day to day survival as much as we needed to in the past. With extra time and security on our hands, we have turned our attention inwards, on ourselves, rather than to help those around us all to survive. This would be no surprise to Martin Luther who described man’s connection to sin as incurvatus in se – turned in on oneself 18.

As we have seen, we do have an obligation to the others around us. A pure libertarian perspective is ultimately just not tenable.

When it comes to abortion, mothers do have an obligation to help bring a child in their womb into the world. Even rape doesn’t give an exception against natural law duties towards a baby in the womb 19.

Since the fall, there has always been evil in the world. For the past few decades now, though, with abortion, we have been encouraging and legally sanctioning evil in the name of personal autonomy. I pray that someday the world will rediscover our moral roots that are found in classical theism. I pray that someday the truth will cut through the moral confusion of modernity to end this practice.

Psalm 100:3 “Know that the LORD Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

Psalm 127:3 “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; the fruit of the womb is a reward.” 


For anyone who may come across this that abortion has directly touched their life, remember no sin is too great for God to deal with. I pray that God’s truth may find purchase in your heart, and through faith in God’s infinite love and unending saving grace, you may find peace in Christ.

Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

Romans 3:28 “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”

  1. For a recent discussion with Walter Block on this topic, listen to his appearance on the Patterson in Pursuit podcast: ↩︎
  2. Feser, Edward. SELF-OWNERSHIP, ABORTION, AND THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN: TOWARD A MORE CONSERVATIVE LIBERTARIANISM. Journal of Libertarian Studies 18, no. 3 (Summer 2004). p. 91 ↩︎
  3. Stephan Kinsella. What Libertarianism Is. 08/21/2009. ↩︎
  4. Rothbard, For A New Liberty, p. 23 ↩︎
  6. ibid, 22. ↩︎
  7. ibid, p. 24 ↩︎
  8. Mack, Eric. (1995). The Self-Ownership Proviso: A New and Improved Lockean Proviso. Social Philosophy and Policy. 12. 186 – 218. 10.1017/S0265052500004611. ↩︎
  9. Feser, Edward. The road from libertarianism ↩︎
  10. ibid. ↩︎
  11. Of course, one can say that pragmatically we will survive better as a species when we help one another. And this is true, but it isn’t what we discussing here. We are talking about the ontological grounds for morality here. Self-ownership provides no reason that someone must help another. As I will explain, classical theism and natural law do provide this metaphysical grounding for morality. Out of it, will arise moral obligation to others. ↩︎
  12. ↩︎
  13. Feser, Edward. SELF-OWNERSHIP, ABORTION, AND THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN: TOWARD A MORE CONSERVATIVE LIBERTARIANISM* Journal of Libertarian Studies Volume 18, no. 3 (Summer 2004), p. 102 ↩︎
  14. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we are always obligated to share our resources. I certainly am not advocating for a type of political/economic socialism from natural law. Socialism is another grave error in its own right, but that is also a topic for another day. For the sake of clarity, my own political view would align with the principles of subsidiarity and natural law. Within that framework, I think that free market economics, representative democracy, and limited government are probably our best bet for creating a prosperous and just society. ↩︎
  15. Feser, E. (2015). Neo-scholastic essays. South Bend, IN: St. Augustines Press.P.379-380 ↩︎
  16. Feser, Edward. Natural Law, Natural Rights, and Private Property – Law & Liberty ↩︎
  17. ibid. ↩︎
  18. Our nature, by the corruption of the first sin being so deeply curved in on itself (incurvatus in se) that it not only bends the best gifts of God towards itself and enjoys them, as is plain in the works-righteous and hypocrites, or rather even uses God himself in order to attain these gifts, but it also fails to realize that it so wickedly, curvedly, and viciously seeks all things, even God, for its own sake. Martin Luther, Lectures on Romans, L515-516, quoted in Mark Johnston, Saving God: Religion After Idolatry (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009), p. 88. ↩︎
  19. The life of the mother in certain medical situations is often used as an argument for the necessity of abortion as well. The classical theistic doctrine of Double Effect shows how this situation can be navigated from a natural law standpoint as well. Another is sometimes the age of a young rape victim.  Here, again, the natural law obligations to the unborn baby do not disappear because of the age of the mother.  Put simply, two wrongs do not make a right.  None of these extreme cases are easy to reason through, let alone heaven forbid if one has to live through them. They do not, however, present any logical problem for the natural law view of abortion always being immoral. ↩︎

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