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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rothbard on Passive Infanticide

Less, I don't traffic in uncharitable readings, because I don't like getting corrected.  Ever. :-)
Here's Rothbard in "Children and Rights" at
Applying our theory to parents and children, this means that a parent does not have the right to aggress against his children, but also that the parent should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights. The parent therefore may not murder or mutilate his child, and the law properly outlaws a parent from doing so. But the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die.[2] The law, therefore, may not properly compel the parent to feed a child or to keep it alive.[3] (Again, whether or not a parent has a moral rather than a legally enforceable obligation to keep his child alive is a completely separate question.) This rule allows us to solve such vexing questions as: should a parent have the right to allow a deformed baby to die (e.g., by not feeding it)?[4] The answer is of course yes, following a fortiori from the larger right to allow any baby, whether deformed or not, to die.
[None of the three footnotes distance Rothbard from these statements by one iota; they're just references to the supporting or contrasting views of others.]