As a libertarian, I should already know what my position on this issue should be, but at least in this case it doesn’t seem that easy. Where “this case” refers to the Niketa Mehta case. Mostly because I see no good reason why this to-be child should be aborted -and at over 20 weeks it is a “to-be child”, not just a simple mass of tissue-, since clearly the money can be provided by some external agency and there is at least a reasonable chance of a productive life for the child. I can only bring to mind Voltaire’s maxim, paraphrased: “I do not agree with what you have to do with your body, but I’ll defend to the death your right to do it.”
And the “but it’s NOT her body!!!” argument is dealt with fascinatingly in the extract reproduced below, from Lekhni‘s(no, not someone I know:found after 2 blogroll hops.) equally fascinating blog.
2. If the foetus is an independent entity and an individual, can this individual live outside the mother? No, of course not. Foetuses born prematurely, i.e. before 37 weeks, may suffer complications even if treated in pre-natal intensive care. Absent pre-natal care, they cannot survive as their organs aren’t developed yet.
If we continue to take the position that the foetus is an independent legal entity (even though it cannot survive independent of its mother), then extending that argument, by requiring a mother to complete her pregnancy for a foetus she doesn’t want, we are forcing her to provide prenatal care (using her own body) which is not of her own choice, and for which she is obviously not being compensated either. The question is, is that a fair and just law?
Think about it, the only other persons whom the State forces to work without compensation are prisoners.
3. The issue of individual rights versus common good:
The other issue here is that the State is also, in essence, controlling a part of the woman’s body itself. It is claiming that it has overarching authority to decide on a part of the woman’s body. This is the scariest part. Where do an individual’s rights begin and the State’s rights end?
If the woman delivers the baby and immediately gives it up to the State for adoption, what she has done, in a way, is to rent her womb to the State.
If the State can force a woman to use her uterus to carry a baby she does not want, where can this slippery slope lead to? Can we, then, see any of the following scenarios happen in the future?
1. Can prisoners (especially those imprisoned for life) be forced to donate blood or body organs (one kidney, portion of liver) to save the life of a patient in a government hospital?
2. Can women prisoners be forced to rent their wombs to act as surrogate mothers? Or can the State attempt to harvest eggs from prisoners?
These arguments may seem far-fetched right now. But I can see arguments beginning with “common good” being made for each of them. Argument #2, for instance, can be made in countries with low fertility rates and declining populations, while Argument #1 can be made anywhere.
My conclusion: Women are rational creatures. No woman wants to abandon a foetus unless there is some compelling reason for her to do so.