Walter Block has written his promised response to my challenges to his concept of “evictionism”; this being the term he uses for abortion. Despite his insistence to the contrary, it is a distinction without a difference – as Block himself admits. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Abortion Once Again: a response to Feser, Goodwin, Mosquito, Sadowsky, Vance and Watkins
Only a libertarian would think to base an analysis of the abortion controversy on private property rights. The present paper does just that. On that basis, it concludes that evictionism is the only policy compatible with libertarianism.
I agree on discussing this on the basis of property rights; I disagree, of course, that evictionism is compatible with libertarian property rights.
I will deal with Block’s criticism of the views of Goodwin and Mosquito…well, because the two are one. Block references three of my posts on this topic (here, here, and here), albeit only two (and the lessor two) made it onto the list of references; I believe this is because I sent him one of the posts as a document and neglected to also send the link. In any case, I find all of his cites to be accurate and represented sufficiently in context.
I will not go point by point; there are a few key points on which the disagreement lies. I will focus on these.
I must get a minor annoyance out of the way first: In rebutting the position of Goodwin / Mosquito, Block offers the difficult issue of rape eight times (if I count correctly) as an argument against my position. Guess how many times I made an argument in the case of rape in the essays cited: zero.
Now, one might call me a coward for not going there. Well enough. I left it out for a simple reason: if agreement cannot be reached in the relatively simple and overwhelmingly more common case of consensual intercourse (my quick and unscientific search reveals that less than 1% of abortions in the US are pregnancies due to rape or incest), there is absolutely no chance of reaching agreement with the added complication of rape. No one launched a rocket into space without first passing Algebra 1.
It was very distracting to read Block’s rebuttal while having to dodge rebuttals to points I never made.
The Distinction Without a Difference
However, even in this introduction of his, [Goodwin] writes: “Both have written in favor of abortion (Block via his concept of ‘evictionism’)…” The problem here is that this conflates eviction and abortion, two very, very different concepts. The first means, merely, that the woman can expel, detached from, separate herself from, the fetus, and leaves it as an entirely open question as to what will happen to her baby afterward. At present technology, the baby first becomes viable when treated in this manner in the third trimester. Abortion, in very sharp distinction, is entirely a separate matter. It combines two different acts: the first, eviction, and the second, outright murder.
Block does not like conflating “eviction and abortion, two very, very different concepts.” Let’s see if even Block “leaves it as an entirely open question as to what will happen to her baby afterward.”
Morally, Block describes abortion – specifically partial-birth abortion in the third trimester – as “outright despicable murder.” Murder, of course, being a violation of the non-aggression principle. But what of the first two trimesters, when the unborn child is not “viable”? What sayest thou, Sir Walter the Evictionist?
In saying this, I reveal where my own heart is at: strongly with the pro-life side of this debate. However, this perspective is incorrect, since it would not allow eviction in the first two semesters [sic], when the fetus cannot live outside of the womb, and this is justified under evictionism.
Take a look at the ream of paper in your printer. Don’t look at the ream: look at a specific space between two specific sheets of paper. If you need a magnifying glass or the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs $27 million electron microscope, feel free. The space between those two sheets is wider than the space between evictionism and abortion, certainly in the first two trimesters.
As Block accepts (as do I) that the unborn child is “human” from conception, that would make it…murder. Consider the first two trimesters as the context for his statement, with one slight modification:
In saying this, I reveal where my own heart is at: strongly with the pro-life side of this debate. However, this perspective is incorrect, since it would not allow eviction in the first two semesters[sic], when the fetus cannot live outside of the womb, and [murder] is justified under evictionism.
Murder, of course, being a violation of the non-aggression principle.
Let Me Tell You ‘Bout the Birds and the Bees and the Flowers and the Trees…
Block cites Goodwin: “However, the woman did take an action in the situation the act of becoming pregnant.” An incontrovertible point, I thought. Apparently not for those who find a Grand Canyon’s worth of space between those two sheets of paper. Block offers: