When it comes to defending abortion, women's groups are great libertarians. They will point out that abortion is about the right to choose and about protecting the "fundamental civil and human right of women to make the most intimate decisions about their bodies and their lives". Its about not letting the government interfere with individual decision-making or a "woman's right to privacy". Its about assuming women are grown-up enough to make difficult choices about their fetus and their own health and safety. Opponents of such choice are "ultra-conservatives trying to deny women control over their own bodies". (all quotes from the NOW web site).
So, women's groups seem to be good libertarians concerned with the primacy of women's decision-making over their own body. Except when they're not. NOW has been feverishly campaigning to get the government to limit a women's right to choose breast augmentation, despite the fact that the science is overwhelmingly behind the safety of implants. Sure, as in any medical procedure, there are some risks, but I defy anyone to tell me that the risks associated with breast implants are greater than the risks associated with abortion. Abortion is a much weightier and more difficult decision, and, unlike breast implants, it is irreversible. If women are mature enough to make abortion decisions, they certainly are mature enough to weigh the risks of breast implants. Or take the birth control pill -- the impact to a woman's body of silicone sacks in their boobs is far less than that of trashing their entire hormone balance. Sure, the pill makes sense for a lot of people and its great that the option exists, but don't tell me that the the changes the pill engenders in the body are OK but bags of silicone are not.
The real issue, as pointed out early and often by Virginia Postrel, is that feminists consider breast implants as at best frivolous, and at worst a demeaning surrender to male objectification of the female's body. They don't think women who choose these implants are making the right choice, so they, in their elite holier-than-thou wisdom, want to take the decision away from women. Hmmm. Freedom for me but not for thee. More along the line of distrusting individual decision-making here.
Update: My main point of this post was on breast implants, and comparing feminist retoric on that issue vs. their retoric on abortion. I feel the need, though, to mention that I don't accept that abortion is necesarily a pure individual choice situation. Individual decision-making should be trusted when individuals make choices that affect only themselves, without coersion or fraud. The problem in the case of abortion is whether the fetus is a piece of tissue that is a part of a woman's body, or an independent life. In the former case, its removal is subject to individual decision making, but not in the latter. As I have written before, I think the fetus is protoplasm at 1 week and a baby at 8 months. At some point in between we draw an arbitrary line between part-of-the-mom and independent life.
Many abortion supporters, unwilling to risk that society might draw this line earlier in the pregnancy than they might want it, take the extra step of arguing that the very determination of whether the fetus is a life or not at 2 or 5 or 7 months should be up to individual taste, and that the government should have no say in that determination. That strikes even me as the hardcore libertarian as going too far. Certainly in its limited role of protecting individual rights, the government has a role in determining just who is an individual with rights subject to protection. Determining if a fetus is an individual with independent rights and at what point in the pregnancy it is treated as such are reasonable roles for government legislation.