Saturday, January 07, 2006

Is “Pro Life” Against Private Ownership?

Today, while trying to catch up on any news related to Ariel Sharon’s health, I stopped by Fox News and happened upon one of their weekend business shows, Cashin’ In, which is hosted by Terry Keenan.

The format of the show is to discuss the US stock market in the context of current political and social developments. On today’s broadcast, the host and guests were discussing how the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the US Supreme Court would affect business in the United States.

When asked his thoughts on this topic, I was shocked to hear Jonathon Hoenig say that he thought Alito’s nomination would be terrible for the US economy because, “anyone who is pro-life is by default against private ownership.” (Note: this is not a direct quote, but certainly captures the essence of Hoenig’s reply.) This statement is so patently false (see why below), that I was almost beyond words, when the host asked Wayne Rogers, another regular guest, if he agreed with Mr. Hoenig and he replied in the affirmative.

We need to go no further than the ten commandments to see that Mr. Hoenig’s statement is wrong: Among the ten, we find “thou shalt not murder” and “thou shalt not steal.” The foundational premise of the pro-life movement is found in the following statement: “We are not allowed to murder, and abortion is, in fact, murdering an indefensible human being.” Additionally, the command not to steal presupposes private ownership: it is impossible to steal if nothing is owned. We could also offer the prohibition against coveting your neighbor’s stuff as evidence in our favor. If he didn’t own things, they wouldn’t be identified as his.

Therefore, we can easily say it is not only possible to be pro-life and pro-private ownership, but it is a biblically defensible position. In other words, it is the correct position. I would also add that within the framework of private ownership we are free to give our stuff away as was demonstrated by the early followers of Jesus in Acts 2:37-47.

It didn’t take long for me to track down Hoenig’s source for this type of belief. On his website,, we find the following:

“We advocate and practice Objectivism, the moral philosophy developed by Ayn Rand.”
Ayn Rand summarizes her Objectivism philosophy in this way:

"My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."
Some might be like me, a little fuzzy on what Objectivism posits, so I’ll add a clarifying statement from the “What is Objectivism” website:

“There is only one right from which all others are derived, and that is the right of self-ownership (protection of life) - the principle that each individual owns himself. This is the very definition of freedom. Laws against abortion, drug use and sexual freedom are predominently (sic) objections to this right.”
Okay, who protects those who can’t protect themselves? This goes beyond the infant in the womb. As you can see this philosophy is self-contradictory in that the right to kill the unborn, if carried out, would by default deny the victim any of the rights of “self-ownership.” I’m sure that proponents of Objectivism will step around this contradiction by suggesting that an unborn baby isn’t a human and, therefore, isn’t granted rights. Even if one accepts that argument (I don't!), it still doesn't address the issue of the weak.

By its very nature, freedom is limited. Your freedom can only extend outward until it interferes with my freedom, and vice versa. So that means that logically speaking, your sexual freedom can only extend outwards until it interferes with mine, which might be considerably less free than yours by personal/religious choice. Additionally, your freedom to drug yourself can logically only extend to the point that it interferes with my right to drug myself, which might be, by my personal/religious choice, considerably less free than yours .

God created people to live in community, and that necessitates limits on our behavior. Perhaps one can successfully argue that government restrictions are currently going beyond the bounds of reason, but that seems to me to be a different thing than saying any law against abortion, drug use and sexual freedom are objections to the right of self-ownership.”


Anonymous said...

Hoenig was right. Abortion is a property right.

Craig Dunning said...


If you believe abortion is a property right, then you must also agree that infanticide is a property right. If not, why not?

At what point, if any, does the right to kill a child move beyond the property rights of a parent?