The Ethics of Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard
A few excerpts:
WE HAVE NOW ESTABLISHED each man’s property right in his own person and in the virgin land that he finds and transforms by his labor, and we have shown that from these two principles we can deduce the entire structure of property rights in all types of goods.
Another argument of the anti-abortionists is that the fetus is a living human being, and is therefore entitled to all of the rights of human beings. Very good; let us concede, for purposes of the discussion, that fetuses are human beings—or, more broadly, potential human beings—and are therefore entitled to full human rights. But what humans, we may ask, have the right to be coercive parasites within the body of an unwilling human host? Clearly no born humans have such a right, and therefore, a fortiori, the fetus can have no such right either.In short, it is impermissible to interpret the term “right to life,” to give one an enforceable claim to the action of someone else to sustain that life. In our terminology, such a claim would be an impermissible viola*tion of the other person’s right of self-ownership. Or, as Professor Thom*son cogently puts it, “having a right to life does not guarantee having either a right to be given the use of or a right to be allowed continued use of another person’s body—even if one needs it for life itself.”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. The law, therefore, may not properly compel the parent to feed a child or to keep it alive.
If accepted for legal purposes, this argument would have some interesting implications for the procedures of abortion. It would be legal to remove a fetus from the womb, but not to kill it directly (especially not when it is capable of breathing on its own). That could necessitate some strange practices, but it would, at least in my opinion, make the legalization of abortion philosophically consistent. The basic rule is that we are not allowed to kill children, but we are not required to nurture them, either. It gives us the simple freedom to keep to ourselves.