Contrary to conservatives, Ayn Rand supported the right to abortion; contrary to liberals, she opposed environmentalism; and contrary to libertarians (and others), she upheld a firm, assertive foreign policy.What unites these seemingly disparate positions? And what explains the moral fire with which she expressed her views on these issues? In this talk, Ayn Rand Institute fellow, Keith Lockitch, will argue that the answer lies in Rand’s view of self-esteem, which is key to understanding her perspective on issues of policy. Recorded at OCON 2014.
Dr. Bayer highlights several issues in regards to Ayn Rand’s defense of abortion including:
- Rand claims that a child cannot acquire rights until it is born, which means that the fetus has no rights, not even in very late stages of pregnancy.
- Many conservatives oppose abortion in the name of “personal responsibility,” but this is a sham.
- Arguably, the law that only recently passed in New York legalizing all abortion after 24 weeks is the bill Rand would have supported.
- Rand’s views on abortion are not only fundamentally at odds with religious conservatives, but also radically different from what most Democrats and sundry “liberals” offer to this day.
Link: Ayn Rand’s Radical Case for Abortion Rights (New Ideal)
Ayn Rand makes three important points on abortion in her essay “The Age of Mediocrity”, published in The Objectivist Forum June 1981.
1. The cells of an embryo are human cells but not a human being:
If any among you are confused or taken in by the argument that the cells of an embryo are living human cells, remember that so are all the cells of your body, including the cells of your skin, your tonsils, or your ruptured appendix — and that cutting them is murder, according to the notions of that proposed law. Remember also that a potentiality is not the equivalent of an actuality — and that a human being’s life begins at birth.
2. Parenting is an enormous responsbility for the conscientous person:
The question of abortion involves much more than the termination of a pregnancy: it is a question of the entire life of the parents. As I have said before, parenthood is an enormous responsibility; it is an impossible responsibility for young people who are ambitious and struggling, but poor; particularly if they are intelligent and conscientious enough not to abandon their child on a doorstep nor to surrender it to adoption. For such young people, pregnancy is a death sentence: parenthood would force them to give up their future, and condemn them to a life of hopeless drudgery, of slavery to a child’s physical and financial needs. The situation of an unwed mother, abandoned by her lover, is even worse.
3. Those who crusade against abortion have no right to call themselves “pro-life”:
I cannot quite imagine the state of mind of a person who would wish to condemn a fellow human being to such a horror. I cannot project the degree of hatred required to make those women run around in crusades against abortion. Hatred is what they certainly project, not love for the embryos, which is a piece of nonsense no one could experience, but hatred, a virulent hatred for an unnamed object. Judging by the degree of those women’s intensity, I would say that it is an issue of self-esteem and that their fear is metaphysical. Their hatred is directed against human beings as such, against the mind, against reason, against ambition, against success, against love, against any value that brings happiness to human life. In compliance with the dishonesty that dominates today’s intellectual field, they call themselves “pro-life.”
By what right does anyone claim the power to dispose of the lives of others and to dictate their personal choices?
Danielle Campoamor on Why supporting abortion is a pro-life position (Opinion) – CNN:
Worldwide, an estimated 68,000 women die of unsafe abortions each year, according to an obstetrics and gynecology study, and 5 million will suffer long-term health complications if they survive. Yet if successfully implemented, the beliefs of people such as Williamson and Johnson and many other anti-abortion advocates would result in a nation of back alleys and contorted clothes hangers.
In El Salvador, a total ban on abortion has resulted in the automatic suspicion of any woman who doesn’t carry a pregnancy to term. Some women who endure miscarriages or stillbirths are sent to prison, such as Carmen Vásquez, who was sentenced to 30 years for aggravated murder after giving birth to a stillborn baby. Thankfully, her sentence was commuted in February, but there are many others like her still in jail. Instead of being a beacon of freedom that celebrates complete bodily autonomy, anti-abortion advocates would see the United States go the way of El Salvador: a total ban on abortion, and the demonization — even imprisonment — of any woman whose pregnancy doesn’t result in the birth of a healthy newborn.
Rick Bertrand isn’t pro-life. Kevin Williamson isn’t pro-life. Abby Johnson isn’t pro-life. Our vice president isn’t pro-life. The anti-abortion movement isn’t pro-life. Abortion is.
“In this lecture examining the 1968 papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life), Ayn Rand discusses the meaning of the Catholic Church’s admonition against the use of contraception and the view of sex that it implies. She contrasts this religious perspective on sex with the Objectivist view, drawing out the relationships between love, sex, self-esteem and happiness.”
“A version of this talk was originally delivered live at the Ford Hall Forum on December 8, 1968. An edited version of this talk is available in The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought, a collection of essays by Rand and others. This recording is 56 minutes long.”
Made available by The Ayn Rand Institute.
Philosopher Ben Bayer, argues over at New Ideal, that:
There is a new push by prominent opponents of abortion to cloak their position in the mantle of science, and claim that anyone who defends abortion rights is a “science denier.” 1 This push has been the impetus for an onslaught of legislation aimed at restricting abortions on both the state and federal level.
In response to this push, most abortion defenders have reacted by claiming that the anti-abortion partisans are the real “science deniers.”
This whole debate is a mistake. The science invoked by abortion opponents appears to support their case only through the lens of very particular philosophical assumptions. The fundamental philosophical question at the heart of the abortion debate is whether a being like the embryo or fetus has a right to life. Specialized scientific findings will not help us answer this question.
The entire article is worth a read.
Philosopher Ben Bayer provides “some observations about why I think even some of the best defenses have not been strong enough and have even conceded ground to their opponents.”
By Michael J. Hurd
Ohio lawmakers are considering a controversial bill that would ban abortions sought because the baby has Down syndrome, placing the swing state at the center of a new battle for anti-abortion advocates.
“What does that say of us as a society if we make decisions about who lives or who dies dependent on if they are going to be an inconvenience, or they are [costing] too much money for health care costs?” Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis told FoxNews.com. “Someday we are going to find a genetic marker for autism. Are we going to have a 90 percent abortion rate for people with autism? I hope not.” [foxnews.com 8/24/15]
Here’s my question: What does it say about us as a society if some people use the force of government to impose the life of raising a child with Down Syndrome on unwilling victims, i.e. parents?
I realize that some will say, “Life begins at conception. Therefore, you must respect all life, Down Syndrome, or not.”
I could not disagree more that life begins at conception. Life begins when life begins — at the moment of birth. Prior to birth, or at least prior to viability, a fetus is — by its very nature — an extension of the body of the pregnant woman. It’s a potential life, or a life in the making, but not a life in the actual, objective sense.
Anti-abortion laws are based on two assumptions.
One, the entirely faith-based belief that God inserts the divinity of life into a fetus at conception; this is entirely faith-based, and has no relevance to a secular Constitution based on separation of church and state.
Two, the biological claim that a non-viable fetus is just as much a biological life as a newborn infant. But there’s an essential difference between the two. The non-viable fetus cannot function yet — biologically — as a life, apart from or outside of the mother’s body. The infant obviously can. You cannot ignore such a crucial distinction; you cannot evade the difference between a potential life and an actual, self-sustaining (biologically speaking) life.
I am impervious to the arguments by threat, emotion, or intimidation. I am impervious to arguments with pictures or videos of out-of-context body parts or blood stains, because pictures and videos are not, in and of themselves, stand-alone substitutes for rational arguments. I am not writing this article right now to persuade anyone who feels abortion is murder to change their minds, because I know that nothing will do that.
It’s perfectly fine for people to believe whatever they wish to believe. For example, one is free to believe in life after death. But we do not pass laws involving the activities of people in that “life” after death. That would be absurd. Others believe in reincarnation. But we don’t pass laws referring to actions that you allegedly took against me, or I against you, when we each inhabited different bodies in different “lives.” That would be insanity. (Given how things are going, we might be closer to proposals for such laws than you think.)
There’s a reason why we celebrate our birthdays on the date of our births, and not the date of our conceptions. It’s because we all plainly know that our lives began on the date of our births — not nine months earlier.
People are free to believe what they wish about souls (i.e., one’s consciousness) detached from the body, not only before birth or after death, but at any other time. But in a free society, we don’t codify those exclusively faith-based beliefs into law. Not unless it’s a religious dictatorship, or some other kind of dictatorship.
If you discover only after birth that your child has Down Syndrome, or any other illness, you have no right to kill that child. However, if technology gets us to the point where you can know about this tragic development prior to birth, early on in the pregnancy no less, then no moral government would ever force its citizens to bring such pregnancies to term.
I consider this a new low.
We’re rapidly becoming a society of “brother’s keepers.” More and more, the government decides that everyone must be cared for, protected and nurtured at others’ expense. One price of such a society is that the government that makes the commitment to caring for everyone will eventually control the activities, behaviors and choices of everyone.
The legislation is unique [foxnews.com reports], though not unprecedented. North Dakota passed a similar measure in 2013 that banned abortions motivated by the sex of the baby; a diagnosis for a genetic abnormality such as Down syndrome; or the potential for a genetic abnormality.
Notice that governments (state level, for the moment) now feel empowered to decide the preferences of their child’s gender. So far, it’s only in the negative. “You have no right to terminate your pregnancy based on gender.” How long before government gets to decide how many children you have, when you have them, or in what order of gender you must have them? In principle, there’s nothing to stop this, once you start down the path North Dakota has already gone, and Ohio seems poised to go down now.
Whether religious or otherwise, “left wing” or “right wing,” authoritarian and totalitarian governments always rely on the same thing: the creed of self-sacrifice. Even more than most anti-abortion laws, these North Dakota and Ohio forms of legislation advocate the imposition of sacrifice as an end in itself — primarily because it’s a sacrifice, the laws imply, it should be imposed on people for that reason. It’s involuntary servitude, applied to parenthood.
Forcing people to be parents of a mentally or physically disabled child whether they wish to be, or not, is one of the most ruthless, sadistic and mind-numbing forms of totalitarianism possible. Stop saying, “It can’t happen in America.” It’s already starting.
— Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, life coach and author of “Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)” and “Grow Up America!” Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.
Writes Daniel Greenfield:
“Rape and incest is [sic] violence perpetuated against an innocent victim, which of course is also true for abortion since unborn children are innocent but have the ultimate act of violence perpetuated against them.”[Why Abortion in Case of Rape is a Non-Argument]
In response, Edward Cline easily disposes of Daniel Greenfield’s non-argument against abortion:
First, the term “unborn children” is an oxymoron. It is an invalid concept. There are fetuses, which in the first two trimesters, cannot be called “children” because they are not only unconscious, but cannot sustain their own lives once out of the womb. They are the equivalent of appendages in a woman’s body. As an arm or a hand cannot sustain itself without a body, neither can a fetus.
Secondly, abortions are justified in cases of rape and involuntary or forced incest (because not all instances of incest are involuntary) because the victim of a rape owns her own body and it has been expropriated by a rapist. She is left with the unwanted and unjust consequences of that initiation of force on her person. She has a right to dispose of it. Victims of rape do that fairly quickly, and don’t wait until the third trimester or at the 11th hour.
Thirdly, the term “innocent victim” is a redundant term. Being a victim implies innocence. I do get tired of that old sawhorse.
Lastly, being pro-abortion doesn’t necessarily mean one is a leftist trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. I get tired of that argument, too, because it’s so hackneyed and is the usual tactic of “rightists” searching for another crime committed by the left. The left is guilty of a Sears catalogue of crimes, and the last thing they would ever uphold or champion is the individual right of a woman to own her own body. They don’t, and this is a policy or idea shared by left and right.
[…] Democrat and Texas State Senator Eddie Lucio from Brownsville has filed a bill that would require the state’s Health and Human Services Commission to create a three-hour course “regarding a pregnant woman’s option to place her child for adoption.” Women would have to take the class at least 24 hours before getting an abortion […]
“It is my hope that, when presented with more information on adoption resources and services available, more pregnancies can be carried to term,” Lucio said in a statement.
Texas’ restrictive abortion regulations already requires women to receive an ultrasound, have the fetus described, and receive counseling before getting an abortion.
Last month, they added a ban to all abortions in the state after 20 weeks and now require abortion clinics be certified as ambulatory surgical centers (tough specifications that could lead to clinics closing). Lucio was the only Democrat in the Texas Senate to vote in favor of that bill.
Lucio represents Brownsville, a border town among the poorest metro areas in the entire country whose access to preventative women’s health care has been seriously imperiled by abortion legislation in the state. And the situation in the area is already grim: Many women are turning to buying abortion drugs at sketchy flea markets across the border.
Comments Ed Mazlish:
“The Right seeks to fatigue women out if exercising their right to have abortion in the same way that the Left seeks to fatigue people from exercising their right to self-defense. Both use the phony rationalization of “protecting innocent life” in order to justify big government nanny statism.”