The rights to self-ownership and private property that libertarians espouse quite clearly and undeniably apply to typical adult human beings. Conceivably they are, however, much more difficult to apply to children, who may not have developed full-fledged adult characteristics, and to foetuses which possibly do not even possess any consciousness, let alone a rational one. How, therefore, do libertarians approach the rights of these beings? Do they have more or fewer rights than adult human beings? Indeed, is it possible say that they have any rights whatsoever

At the outset, readers should not expect some grand, new libertarian theory to emerge from the words that follow. The difficulty that libertarians face when attempting to apply any libertarian rights to children and to foetuses is that, on the one hand, the non-aggression principle applies only to rational beings that consciously, rather than instinctively, choose means to devote towards ends. If it did not, then all sorts of creatures and, indeed, dead objects would acquire the status of rights holder and this would clearly be absurd. Thus applying the concept of self-ownership to foetuses and, at least, very young children, becomes immensely difficult without ascribing such ownership to non-human animals and objects. On the other hand, however, there is the need to demonstrate that a libertarian world would not be one in which wanton abortion and child slaughter were commonplace as if nobody cared about these issues. The resulting torturous reasoning produces a mishmash of different and often novel approaches to the question, which would probably be more than sufficient to fuel a cottage industry of scholars churning out PhDs on the matter. Space precludes us from examining these approaches here in any detail. Rather, what we shall attempt is a simple, straightforward and uncomplicated application of libertarian principles to children and to foetuses. While the results of these deliberations may at times appear to be unfavourable and, indeed, shocking, let us embrace the implications of this approach and further attempt to find possible solutions to the problem not within the application of legal rights to children and foetuses but, rather, within extra-legal measures.

The Nature of the Problem of Children’s Rights

To begin, we must espouse a definitive characterisation of the problem before us in order to understand its real nature. Hypothethical problems, although they may be very interesting to the pure theorist, do not concern the real application of rights and obligations, which arise only when there is an acknowledged conflict resulting from scarcity. There is, therefore, strictly speaking no legal problem at all unless such a conflict arises in real life. Nobody invokes legal rights over particles of air because particles of air are not scarce goods and because there is a sufficient quantity of them for everyone to meet their needs. We could also conjure up all kinds of hypothetical situations such as whether a person who possesses a miracle cure for cancer can be forcibly dispossessed of that property, or whether a person with knowledge of an imminent and otherwise unstoppable terrorist atrocity can be tortured. The specific facts of such situations can be twisted and distorted by their proponents in order to provoke a particular answer. Real rights, however, are only defined where people actually need them to be so, and where the protection of a legitimate, physical defence is required. With children and foetuses, the specific, potential problem is that of physical incursions into their bodily space. This could be to inflict either injury or death, or for purposes of sexual gratification, for example. The initial requirement for a breach of the non-aggression principle is therefore satisfied – there is a physical invasion into the person or property of another being. Such acts are, to most people, a moral abomination, characterised as evil and/or perverted behaviour that should not be tolerated in any society. Yet it is precisely because of this fact that we must acknowledge that there is no widespread problem of physical affronts against children and foetuses, at least to the extent that it is not the most pertinent question that libertarians have to face. Taxation, regulation, the welfare-warfare state and all of the looting, plunder and murder that take place under the aegis of government are all contrary to libertarian ethics; yet these issues, which represent the greatest and most widespread incursions to liberty do not receive the widespread condemnation that they deserve – hence it is why libertarian scholars concentrate on these egregious issues. Libertarianism does not, therefore, necessarily stand or fall on its ability to define, neatly, the rights of children and foetuses. For even the most oppressive governments, which would seldom think twice about imposing a burdensome and oppressive tax, are highly unlikely, for example, to legislate to permit bureaucrats to molest children. Indeed, those from within their ranks who do so are quickly condemned and ejected from their positions of privilege, and will most likely end up in a prison cell. Even the number of abortions is dwarfed by the number of successful births, and has been declining in the United States since a peak in the early nineties.  Nothing about libertarianism’s ability to handle the relatively small number of cases involving incursions into the physical space of children and foetuses has any bearing upon its ability to handle the very real and very widespread incursions into the liberty of adults that take place every second of every minute of every day. By adopting this stance, we can therefore take a more open-minded attitude towards the issue of children and foetuses without feeling the need to cram ourselves into an awkward corner by compromising our libertarian principles in order to provide a solution.

Rights and Obligations

Rights and obligations, then, arise between rational beings – that is, those beings who make conscious and rational choices to devote means towards ends. This is because the advocacy of one’s rights is itself a rational choice to devote means towards ends. For all we know rocks, through some as yet undiscovered ability, may possess thoughts in the manner of a person to whom we might ascribe rights. Yet the absence of any rational action on the part of rocks prevents any advocacy of these rights on their behalf. Humans cannot exist without acting in relation to the matter around them, and a cardinal rule of moral philosophy is that a moral action requires a moral choice – in other words a person must be able to do that which is moral. Requiring the refusal of action in relation to all of the matter around oneself simply because it might possess as yet undiscovered qualities which would accord it rights would simply be a moral travesty. Similarly, in the natural world, antelopes do not invoke any rights against cheetahs when the latter attempt to slaughter them for food because antelopes are not rational beings that consciously choose means to devote towards ends. The “High Court of the Democratic Republic of Antelopes” does not convene to pass resolutions against the “Empire of the Cheetahs” for its atrocities against antelope civilisation because these animals do not possess the capacity for forming any of these concepts.

The problem faced with the rights of children is that children too lack this rational capacity to make choices to devote ends towards means. Consequently, they have no one to advocate any rights they might have. As they grow up, of course, they will, in all but a handful of cases, develop that capacity but at the particular moment in time under consideration they are not in possession of it. It is difficult, therefore, to ascribe any kind of rights whatsoever to children and, a fortiori, to foetuses. One could suggest that a child’s parents possess these rights on the child’s behalf. However, the majority of abuse cases against children occur within the family or by people or institutions that have legal care or custody of the child such as orphanages or, notoriously, the church. And, of course, an abortion, the deliberate killing of the foetus, nearly always results as the direct choice of the woman carrying.

Are we, therefore, stuck in a complete quandary? Will children in a libertarian world have no rights whatsoever and be fair game for murderers, paedophiles and other sadists? The response to this possibility is that simply because it is impossible to ascribe to children the formal, legal rights enjoyed by adults, we have to remember that legal solutions – that is, the legitimate imposition of force to invoke an end – are not necessarily the only or the most appropriate method of accomplishing an objective. Indeed, as libertarians, we should retain a great reluctance to ascribe legal rights too readily as the use of force is, of course, the mantra of the state.

The case of animals – which, in spite of some legislation against animal cruelty, do not possess any rights in our world today – actually provides us with a basis on which to construct a theory of how children will be treated in a libertarian society. Humans wantonly exterminate only those animals that are either harmful or pestering to them such as rats, mosquitoes, wasps and snakes – although some people even prefer to keep and breed the latter. A far greater number of animals are simply do not cared about by humans; they furnish neither a benefit nor a burden to human existence and so it does not really matter whether these creatures continue to exist or not. To the extent they do not interfere with humans’ accomplishments they will simply be left alone to live as they please. Above this level there are animals whose existence provides a great benefit to humans such as cows, chickens, pigs, and sheep. Some of these animals will be slaughtered to provide food, and sometimes “inhumanely” because humans believe that the resulting meat product is better than it otherwise would be. Many of them also will be cultivated to provide non-food products such as wool. At the top of the tree are those animals to whom humans form an emotional bond and whose happiness may be a cause of our own happiness, such as cats and dogs, in addition to animals used for sporting interests such as thoroughbred race horses. These animals will not, in the main, be killed, harmed or otherwise mistreated as they are more valuable when they are happy and well cared for. Indeed, there are a great many people who value the happiness of not only their own animals but also those who belong to, or are in the ward of, other people. Such outfits as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are a testament to the fact that the health and wellbeing of certain animals has a widespread concern. There is a keen interest to prevent those few people who do inflict a life of misery and distress on animals from continuing to do so. Indeed, this might extend beyond pets and to all those animals that are used for any human purpose whatsoever. Hence one could, in a libertarian society, prefer to eat a vegetarian diet; or to refuse to purchase cosmetics or medicinal products that have been tested on animals.

If humans take such a strong attitude towards relatively innocuous yet friendly animals, then how much more so will they take this attitude towards children? Indeed, the overwhelming instinct in the typical human is to love and adore his/her offspring, and many of us can testify from anecdotal experience that even the most child-unfriendly of people have their maternal or paternal instincts kicked into gear as soon as they happen to procreate. No doubt there is some important evolutionary reason for this – a species that destroyed or consumed its own offspring would quickly be relegated to extinction. But regardless of the reason, we can be sure that a great many people will have these feelings not only for their own children but also for the children of others – and will be keenly desirous to prevent any cruelty or mistreatment to the children of others, viewing the perpetrators as monsters. How this will serve to prevent and punish the mistreatment of children, or to reduce and control abortion, we will now explore below.


At the outset of the discussion of abortion, whatever the legal rights and obligations that ensue, we must admit one, incontestable fact – that abortion, even if it is an abominable, moral outrage will never be eradicated entirely. We can imagine a world where the murder and rape of adults will, one day, be utterly banished from a libertarian society, even if such an aim is a little utopian. This is because these aims would be accomplished by existing adults attempting to enforce their rights. Attempting to quash abortion, on the other hand, could only be achieved by breaching the rights of an existing adult, much akin to the attempt to prohibit drugs, alcohol and prostitution. You would quite literally need to spy on a woman in order to ensure that she was not carrying out an abortion. Indeed, at its most crude, desperate abortions can be carried out in a bath tub with pain killers, alcohol and a wire coat hanger. Nothing short of setting up cameras in a woman’s bedroom to see if she is having sexual intercourse and then following her around everywhere to see if she aborts any resulting pregnancy would serve to totally banish abortion from society – and even that is assuming such methods could not be evaded. One need only imagine the entire bureaucracy and government machinery that devastates our liberty through its devotion to the war on terror being redirected to carry out a war on abortion. This impossibility of eradicating abortion, however noble we may believe the cause to be, must be borne in mind when we are discussing any possible response to the issue.

Having established this, we can now state that at the moment of conception, the matter which then constitutes a growing foetus has no legal rights whatsoever. In the first instance, the woman is entitled to regard the foetus as either a part of her body or an invasion of it. In either case she retains every legal right to expel the foetus from her body, regardless of consequences to the foetus. In other words, she may abort the pregnancy. Even such apparently brutal procedures as partial-birth abortion would be legally permitted in a libertarian society. Further, given our approach to children that we will explore below, the question of the viability of the foetus outside the womb would also be irrelevant as even a viable child would not possess any legal rights. How then, might abortion be reduced or controlled by those who deem it a moral affront in a libertarian society?

First, in a straightforward case of abortion in a marriage, the woman could have consented to the variance of her right to an abortion through the marriage contract, to the extent that it has any force in law. Such contracts may require the woman to agree that no foetus resulting from intercourse in the marriage will be aborted. Or, at the very least, they may specify that alternatives to abortion are exhausted first. Second, anyone who objects to abortion has no obligation to support or work for any person, institution or entity that either has had an abortion or participates in the act of abortions. Doctors and medical services are quite free to practice whichever particular medical ethics appeal to their customers. If surgeries and hospitals believe that a refusal to participate in abortions and the exclusion of such services from offer will attract a greater number of anti-abortion customers then they are free to do so. Indeed, if abortion is such a strongly felt issue then even property covenants in certain regions could require house buyers to promise that they never would seek, nor never have sought, an abortion. This would allow anti-abortionists to live in whole communities where abortion is non-existent. Third, anyone who objects to abortion is quite able to set up a charitable or even a profitable entity that will seek to support women in exhausting every other option before an abortion is sought. Indeed, in a free society, entities that provide a marketplace for adopted children would seek to find an alternative home for the child instead of aborting its life during pregnancy. As we stated above, as humans are conditioned to care for not only their children but also the children of other people it is likely that there will be a great many people who wish to adopt children. We will explore the implications of adoption and exchanging children between parents below. Fourth, excluding cases of rape, a plethora of unwanted pregnancies are the result of a wanton sexual liberalisation and a destruction of the family that has been wrought by the welfare state. As we have argued elsewhere, the removal of the government and the welfare state would likely to lead to a fairly conservative (with a small “c”) society where children were desired as a product of the marriage bed rather than as an accident of a brief fling, or in response to false financial incentives furnished by the government. All of these are, in sum, aspects that would serve to contract the number of abortions in a free society.

One possible objection to this line of thinking, particularly by those who ascribe rights to foetuses, is that it leaves the fate of the latter to the whim of the population at large – in other words, to whether or not people deem foetuses worthy of protection or whether they simply don’t care. However, this is also the case of the control of abortion under the government. Governments are elected by their adult voters and they will only seek to control abortion, probably through a one size fits all measure, if they happen to believe that a significant number of the population wish abortion to be so controlled. Indeed, abortion is only a political issue in the United States precisely because it is seen as a vote winner. Ultimately, the fate of foetuses is no better off under government than it would in a free society, and indeed it may be far worse off if the government permits unrestricted abortions even in the face of much popular resistance.


Having discussed abortion we are now in a position to turn to the question of the rights of children. These too, we must conclude, possess no rights whatsoever as they currently lack the quality of rational action which is the essential requirement for any being that benefits from rights. Being dispossessed of the right of self-ownership, it follows from this that the baby is, quite literally, the property of its parents as the homesteaders of the child, specifically the mother. The parents may, to all intents and purposes, presently treat the child as their property and enjoy full legal rights of ownership over it that any property holder would over some other good. It is also follows that the parents are responsible for all actions of the child that may physically invade the person or property of other adults, just as they would be if an inanimate piece of their property did the same. Without discussing this further for the moment, the important question raised is precisely when the child should be regarded as a self-owning being and therefore a beneficiary of all the rights of being a self-owner and the right to own private property, together with, of equal importance, the burden of the obligation to adhere to the non-aggression principle and become responsible for its own actions. Governments currently answer this issue in an arbitrary manner, usually having a series of one-size-fits-all milestones in which a child is legally permitted to be regarded as an adult. Hence, one may be able to drive a vehicle at sixteen; to consent to sexual intercourse sex at eighteen; to vote also at eighteen; to drink alcohol at twenty-one. The fact that these precise ages differ between jurisdictions demonstrates that they are nothing short of arbitrary. The age of sexual consent varies between twelve and eighteen, an enormous difference when expressed as a percentage of the latter. No doubt some of these ages will be influenced by culture or religion but it seems absurd to suggest that a Brazilian child can decide sexual matters for itself at fourteen whereas a Californian child must wait until the age of eighteen. Indeed, the entire approach of specific cut offs is entirely question begging. A person cannot carry out adult actions because he is a child – but what is a child? Simply, a person who cannot carry out adult actions. A person is classified as a child because he does not possess the capacity to make decisions rationally, as opposed to instinctively, to devote means towards end. It follows, therefore, that when a child does attempt to carry out such an action, it represents at least an aspiration towards adulthood and indicates that he is crossing over from the realm of childhood. To simply ban these actions because a person is a “child” is therefore nonsensical and indeed, simply produces in and of itself the very effect of a perpetuated childhood. In a free society, different children will reach different milestones at different ages, when they themselves see fit to accomplish them. Hence, one child may decide to get a job at thirteen, another at fifteen and a third at eighteen. One may decide he is mature enough to give sexual consent at fourteen, another at sixteen and another not until he is twenty. The choice to leave home may be made at a similar array of ages. In the event of a dispute between an adult and a child a libertarian court will have to decide on a case by case basis whether the action of the child that is the subject of the litigation represented a rational action to devote means towards ends or was simply an instinctive action. If it was the former then the child may be considered as an adult and all of the rights and obligations pertaining to adulthood will be on the shoulders of that child.

In response to the objection that such an approach may expose children to all manner of wanton temptations and attractions that may lead him/her down false or dangerous paths we should remember that it is government’s attempts to “protect” children that has served to artificially extend childhood for too long. Children are, these days, incarcerated in schools for what may amount to a quarter of their lives, and must endure the mind numbing boredom of tedious lessons in subjects in which they have little interest, dictated by the state’s approved benefactors of “learning”. Indeed, by making it excruciatingly difficult for children to find jobs or to move away from their parents in order to manage their own lives – in other words, to behave like an adult – merely encourages rebelliousness and the profound urge to express some kind of individual identity. One may suggest that the advent of the teenager as an distinct social, cultural and economic force appeared as a consequence of this repression, but it is also of little surprise that many such teenagers, as a result of this enforced prolongation of childhood, turn to delinquency and drug taking in order to provide at least some kind of interest in the lives they have to live. Would it not be far better to at least allow them the choice to take responsibility for their own lives at a time when they feel it is right? To have to earn their own income? To have to manage their own expenses? To have to find their own place to live? To have to wash their own clothes and cook their own food? Surely this would encourage more of the qualities of responsibility and hard work that we wish to see in our children rather than forcing them to sit through endless school. It should also be remembered, of course, that children once had to labour from even a very young age simply because if it were otherwise they would have starved. Today, we have the wealth available to ensure that this is not so. But there is no reason to prevent a child from working, earning a wage and looking after its own life should it wish to do so.

Returning now to the assertion that parents own their children, does this mean that parents could legally kill, beat, or sexually abuse their children? Most such cases are, as we mentioned above, perpetrated by a family member or a person who is close to the child. If the act is carried out by a non-owner of the child, then this is simply regarded as an affront against the property of the parent and the parent will retain all rights to sue the perpetrator in court – and, indeed, is likely to do so on the understanding that parents generally love their children more than any other people in their lives. When the act is carried out by a parent-owner, however, matters are a little different. After all, a cardinal rule of private property is that the owner has power of disposal over his property – in short, he can do what he likes with it. Let us explore the implications of this possibility and suggest ways in which the ownership of children by their parents would prevent the latter from abusing their children. In doing so, we must recall the fact that child abuse is a rare occurrence and that the vast majority of people love their children and wish to raise them well – even more so in a free society where there are no government induced financial incentives to breed. Further, as we suggested earlier, people also care about the welfare of children other than their own and would regard child abusers and killers as heinously immoral. In short, the key to controlling any abuse possible takes place not within the sanction of the law but within the general morality as to what people should and should not do with their property. Children, being a specific type of property, will be held in this general morality to require different treatment from mere objects that people may decide to do whatever they like with. It is this powerful force that will serve to diminish child abuse to all but the rarest of cases.

In elaborating this, we have to consider the likelihood that the lack of formal, legal rights of a child may not make much of a difference of outcome for the perpetrator. A libertarian society will not be one that is populated with government prisons funded by the taxpayer to permit inmates to enjoy a relatively comfortable, if restricted, lifestyle. Traditionally, punishments for breach of legal rights consisted of restitution – the forced removal of stolen property from the perpetrator – but also ostracism of the perpetrator from society. Ostracism was once a very powerful disincentive to commit crime, and would be even more so in a society marked by the division of labour where we all depend upon everyone else for the goods and services we desire. Having all or even most of the services provided to us by everyone else cut off would utterly devastating to anybody’s life. Imagine no bank wanting to take your money; no employer wanting to hire you; no landlord prepared to rent you a flat; no shop prepared to let you in to buy what you need. The effectiveness of ostracism can be underestimated in a society such as ours today in which moral relativism and degradation has pervaded to the extent that not only are such heinous abuses perpetrated more widely in the first place but the perpetrators would find sympathisers and active encouragers who would provide a nullification of ostracism. This is not likely to be so in the context of the stronger moral backbone that permeates a libertarian society and even for the family and friends of a perpetrator it may be a great shame to be seen to be supporting and aiding the latter. Normal crimes against adults will be countered by the sanction of courts that have determined the formal legal rights of the parties and would justify the use of force in extracting restitution. But there is no force whatsoever required in the imposition of ostracism and there need to be no legal blessing in order to ostracise someone. Therefore, simply because a strictly legal sanction is unavailable does not mean, in a case where abuse is sufficiently evidenced, that any person or institution that it is set up to prevent child abuse cannot actively publish this information, informing both the perpetrator’s friends, relatives, employers and suppliers of its occurrence and nature. Indeed, the most likely outcome is that such institutions will pay courts to adjudicate cases of child abuse as if the child possessed legal rights. The judgment would have no strictly legal standing but it would lend the prestige of impartial judgment by a reputable party to the facts and evidence of a particular case of abuse.

It is not necessary, for the purposes of this essay, to examine the details of precisely how ostracism would work, such a matter being more appropriate for an espousal of libertarian punishment theory. All we need to bear in mind here is that the de facto outcome to a perpetrator of physical abuse against a child is likely to be pretty much the same as a formal, legal judgment against a person who invaded the person or property of an adult. However, it is also likely that such a range of conditions may be demanded of the abusive parent before he/she is excluded entirely from mainstream society, such as either a regular monitoring of his/her behaviour with the child, or offering the child for adoption. In addition, where the case consists of one of abuse as opposed to murder the perpetrator bears the risk of the child himself revealing the abuse publically when he/she is older and a self-owner. Again, no strictly legal redress would be possible but ostracism may still result if the case was sufficiently evidenced. In any case, the abusive parent must always confront the possibility that the child will begin to assert his rights as a self-owner, and will leave the realm of being owned by his parents and will begin to own himself. In this instance, the adult would be liable for any invasive acts beyond the point where the child begins to assert his identity as a self-owner. Demonstration of self-ownership is likely to be encouraged by charitable and profitable institutions that are set up to actively detect cases of abuse, perhaps in partnership with schools and clubs where children frequent in order to create an awareness of the possibility of abuse and the fact that the child should not have to put up with it. Courts may rule that even evidence of acts of self-defence by the child are sufficient to qualify as self-ownership and thus render the perpetrating adult guilty of a physical invasion. Nevertheless this is likely to be a minor route compared to the power of ostracism encouraged by those charitable and profitable institutions that are set up to promote the strongly felt morality of preventing the abuse of children.

It should be clear from all of this that disciplinary acts such as spanking and other mild physical chastisements will be perfectly legal in a libertarian society. Opinion differs on whether such methods are appropriate for child rearing and some hard liners may choose to ostracise those who discipline their children in such ways, and that is their legitimate choice. Ultimately, each individual must decide for himself which levels of physical discipline constitute acceptable punishment for a child and which constitute abuse that is worthy of ostracism. What we can certainly see, however, is that a libertarian society will not be one in which children are ascribed full legal rights – which would result in an adult not being able to give a child a slap on the wrist for naughty behaviour – but neither is it one where, lacking such rights, there will be wantonly permitted child abuse. Rather it is the uniquely cherished morality of caring for and loving children that will ensure such perpetrators risk detection at every corner.

Finally, given that children are not the legal owners of themselves then there is no reason why they should not be exchanged for money between the birth parents and adoptive parents, with an adoption agency taking a small commission for its services. Two possible concerns surrounding the “trade” of children for money is that children may be bred specifically for exchange by cash-strapped parents, and may be “bought” by those who simply wish to abuse them. In response to the first concern, we must remember that outlawing monetary exchange of a given good, whether it be children, donor organs, sexual services, or whatever, does not make the underlying demands of each party vanish. It simply makes it more difficult for them to be fulfilled. If exchanging children for money is outlawed there will still be hordes of eager, childless couples who wish to adopt a child, sometimes desperately so. But the lack of monetary payment simply means that there is no willing supply. People will be less happy and less fulfilled because the government has banned them from pursuing a perfectly peaceful course of action. In any case, would it be so bad if parents conceived a child simply to offer it for sale to adoptive parents? A new life would be born into the world and would immediately find a warm and loving upbringing with people who wish to nurture and care for it. Surely that is an exceedingly good thing? Indeed, this is precisely what is achieved already with surrogacy arrangements on behalf of couples who cannot otherwise conceive a child on their own. In answer to the second concern, adoption agencies themselves would be keen to place children in the care of loving, not abusive, adoptive parents. It would suffer losses and drive away customers if it was to gain a reputation for carelessly placing children in the care of bad parents. Furthermore, it is in fact prevention of the monetary exchange the children that concentrates them in abusive homes, or homes where they cannot be cared for sufficiently. If the birth parents are abusive or negligent, or even just struggling to make ends meet with the number of children they have, prospective adoptive parents can bid to purchase those children and take them away to a better upbringing. No such solution exists if trade in children is outlawed and the children would be stuck in their situations. Moreover, as we mentioned earlier, the ability to offer a child for sale may result in the a decline in the number of abortions.


We must end this survey by reiterating that the problem of the rights of children and foetuses is not likely to be a pressing issue in a free society, nor, it is submitted, is the question the most important for libertarian theory. The very real problem for libertarians is the widespread and accepted incursion into the rights of adults and children alike the across the world by their governments and it is this that represents the gravest threat to liberty and prosperity. Libertarian theory is not, therefore, dependent upon its ability to ascribe legal rights to children and foetuses. Hopefully we have demonstrated here that powerful moral forces exist to protect children from harm and to promote their safe, warm and loving upbringing. There is, therefore, a strong case to be made for the assertion that libertarians should not spend intellectual labour on developing legal rights for children and risk compromising sound theory in order to do so. Rather, we should perhaps concentrate on bringing about a world in which these powerful moral forces have the freedom to protect children and foetuses without interference.

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