Down With Power Audiobook!

L. Neil Smith's

Number 837, September 6, 2015

Once again,
they're offering us the Three Stooges
and the Seventeen Dwarves for President

Previous Previous Table of Contents Contents Next Next

The Coat Hanger Lobby
by L. Neil Smith

Bookmark and Share

Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

It's hard to decide where to begin with this issue. Both sides in the matter are dead wrong, because they're both collectivistic. in their own peculiar way. The right answer is bright and clear, but difficult to convey amidst the twin blizzards of propaganda to the contrary.

The burning question of the day is this: if a woman becomes pregnant (that's the definition of "woman", after all; a 13-year-old girl who finds herself pregnant is a woman) and she decides, for one reason or another, she doesn't want to have a baby, does she have a right to terminate the unwanted pregnancy? Or does someone—Church, society, government, the sperm donor—possess some right to stop her?

Those who reflexively reply "yes" in the second instance (mostly men) often proclaim loudly that abortion is murder. With absolutely boring predictability they compare America's collective record with respect to abortion to the Nazi Holocaust when, in fact, it is a good measure of freedom and self-determination in society. But they're mistaken, willfully mistaken. "Murder" is properly defined as "the wrongful death of a human being". Pretend otherwise though you may, there is no way that abortion can be accurately described by that definition.

Try this simple experiment at home: define "human". The ancient Greeks said, "Man is the rational animal". Mark Twain said "Man is the only animal that blushes—or needs to". H. Beam Piper said that human intelligence is the ability to think about thinking. I've said (and Ivan Yfremov agreed) that sapience, the ultimate human characteristic, plays checkers, and tells dirty jokes. A human being says, "No, don't do that to me." Can a fetus do any one of those things?

On the other hand, some are fond of reciting the things a fetus can do, such as respond to stimuli and feel pain. But there is nothing about a fetal human that separates it from a fetal squirrel except perhaps its potential. And Ayn Rand said to sacrifice an actuality—a grown-up and educated woman—for a potential is obscene.

I'm perversely fond of the anti-abortion slogan "Abortion Stops A Beating Heart". So does a mousetrap. So does a deer rifle. So does a pot of boiling water,if you happen to be cooking a lobster. I was only eight years old when I realized that all life proceeds through the death of other life. That's what evolution is all about, after all. Even vegetables are alive in the begining. Equal rights for Brussels Sprouts!

By the way, have you ever noticed how extremely careful most anti-abortionists are to avoid accurately defining the word "human"? They want to talk about souls and gods, things that no one believes in any more. Or the way that they deliberately conflate the phenomenon of biological life (especially mammalian life) with human life? That's because in any arguments that begin with proper definitions, they lose.

Robert LeFevre was a great libertarian thinker of the mid-20th century. He stated flatly that there are only two kinds of entities in the universe, people and property. One difference between them is that one can be owned, and the other cannot. A fetus meets none of the criteria for being a human being; a fetus is property. A woman is not. She has put 99.99 percent of the effort into building the fetus and it is her property to do with, to keep, dispose of, or give away as she wishes.

Laws against abortion assume that either the fetus—governments see them as cannon fodder of the military future—or the woman—handy to get the cannon fodder started—is the property of the state. Conservatives who complain bitterly that the same assumption is made about them and their income and wealth are hypocrites. In a world bubbling over with BDSM and other pornography, forcing a woman to incubate an unwanted baby is a particularly perverted form of sexual slavery.

Anti-abortionists profess to believe, despite a complete lack of evidence and a mountain of evidence to the contrary, that human life begins at conception. Despite those who insist to me otherwise, I don't believe the basic motivation for nationalizing women's uteruses isn't religious, in violation of a deal we made in the 18th century not to make public policy based on religious grounds. We—unbelievers—do lots of things that started out as religious. Why don't we get mail on Sunday?

So, whose right is it to decide about the issue of abortion? Not the fetus's; it can't decide anything. Not society's; it has no standing in issues of private property. Not the church's; we got over that a long time ago. Not the government's; stealing nine months from a woman's life—at gunpoint—is an illegal taking. The right is the woman's and only the woman's. And it is up to her to find a willing doctor.

The father has nothing to say. A baby is her gift to him.

A decade ago, The Libertarian Enterprise ran a very unscientific poll that asked, essentially, "If abortion were to remain legal, but not a cent of public money, at any level of government, could be spent on it, would that satisfy you?" (Liberals want everyone to pay for abortions.) We ran it for three years, 85% of the respondents said "yes".

We only lost the "leaders" at both ends.

Amazing what you can do without "leaders".

No matter what you say or do, people will have sex, not to produce recruits for the Army, but to put a little warmth and joy in their lives. I lost my virginity in the Bible Belt. Sometimes it will produce unwanted results. When I was in junior high school, before abortion was made legal by the Supreme Court, something like 50,000 women each year lost their lives to back alley and self-inflicted abortions, victims of what I called then and what I call now the "coat hanger lobby". What kind of inhuman monster wants to go back to that?

Celebrated and award-winning author of over 30 books and countless shorter pieces, L. Neil Smith is available, at professional rates, to write articles and speeches for you or your organization, providing that our principles are compatible. Contact him at

[ Editor's Concluding Unscientific Postscript: The question I always have is "who are the women having all these unwanted pregnancies?" How, in this day and age, can anyone become pregnant accidentally? Are they just stupid? In which case we certainly don't want them reproducing!—Editor ]

Was that worth reading?
Then why not:

payment type

Just click the red box (it's a button!) to pay the author

This site may receive compensation if a product is purchased
through one of our partner or affiliate referral links. You
already know that, of course, but this is part of the FTC Disclosure
Policy found here. (Warning: this is a 2,359,896-byte 53-page PDF file!)

Big Head Press