“Is your body your property?” “Do you own your body?” These questions are usually met with an “of course” coupled with eye rolling. However, what does property ownership imply? If you fully own property then you are able to do whatever you please with said property as long as you do not infringe on another’s property. If you were not allowed to do so, it would mean that another party has a higher claim to that property and you were in fact not the owner of said property. What does this have to do with your body? Simply put, self ownership implies that you may do whatever you please with your body. Sadly, this is not the case in the United States of America.
The United States has a plethora of laws that limit what you can do regarding your own body. This includes laws that limit your ability to prostitute, use drugs, set up lemonade stands, buy raw milk, gamble, etc. What does this mean for the rights of individuals to own property? Simply, it means that you do not own your body. If you are not free to do as you please with your body, you are in fact not the owner of your body. You cannot claim to have full property rights of an item if you are not able to do as you see fit with it. This leaves a simple question: Who is the owner of your body?
The owner of your body is the entity that exercises sovereignty over how you use your body. However, concluding “government owns the property rights to your body” is too general of a statement. This is because government is not a separate creature that exists of its own accord. Instead, it is an elaborate system made up of varying humans on varying levels for varying purposes. It is important to note that only individuals act and that therefore, the U.S. government is comprised of individuals acting in a governmental pattern (See Murray Rothbard’s Anatomy of the State). It is precisely these individuals, who are in charge of legislating or enforcing restrictive laws, which claim sovereignty over your body. Therefore, as long as you are restricted from doing as you see fit with your body, you cannot claim self ownership. Lastly, how do you regain ownership of your body?
To answer this question simply, you take back your individual sovereignty. Everyday there are millions of Americans engaging in miniscule acts of revolution. Everyone, from the hooker to the nine year old lemonade vendor, is engaging in liberation. You have most likely committed acts of revolution without even realizing it. Have you ever driven five miles over the speed limit? Perhaps you have consumed something that the government forbids, whether it is raw milk, drugs, or caffeinated 4loko. Take back your rights. Your body is rightfully your property. Don’t let anyone else, regardless of governmental status, tell you differently.
- Will Shanahan, Contributor, the Humane Condition
(The author can be followed @Will_Shanahan and contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)