Abortion and Locke’s Theory of Property
According to John Locke, humans have the natural right to property; and by property he means the ownership of our own body. Also, as children of God, Locke says, we must not do harm to our body, but use reason to make the most of our life. However, this begs the question, “Does ownership of our body start at conception or birth, and who gets to decide?” I, personally, am Pro-Choice based on the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, but according to Locke we must be Pro-Life. When a baby is forming inside the womb of its mother, that baby is a separate being. Although that baby cannot speak, eat, or drink, he or she is alive and well. So, if a mother were to decide to abort her baby, would that go against Locke’s theory of property? Even though a baby cannot fend for itself, it still should have rights, shouldn’t it? Since the Roe v. Wade decision, nearly 50 million abortions have taken place in the United States. That’s 50 million people who never got the chance to use their reason to make the best of their life. Rather, their parent(s) made a decision that they had no say in. What’s more, according to Locke, it is the job of the parents to PROTECT their children because they are not of reason to protect themselves; and what’s less protective than aborting a baby?
…Adam and Eve, and after them all parents were, by the law of nature, under an obigation to preserve, nourish, and educate the children, they had begotten; not as their own workmanship, but by the workmanship of their own maker, the Almighty, to whom they were to be accountable for them.
So, based off Locke’s theory of property, we must be Pro-Life, or should we? At the beginning of Chapter 5 of Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, Locke says:
Whether we consider natural reason, which tells us, that men, being ONCE BORN, have a right to their preservation…
So, now we are left to reexamine Locke’s theory of property in relation to abortion. Although Locke argues that at once born people have a right to the preservation of their property, he also argues that parents must make the best decisions for their children since they are not of the age of reason. This now brings us back to square one. “Does ownership of our body start at conception or birth, and who gets to decide?” The question is a tough one, that even Locke doesn’t have a clear answer for. So, for now we must accept the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling and move onward from there.