You may wonder why I decided to write a lot about abortion. As a man the issue doesn't affect me in a directly personal way, though there are women I care about for whom it's important. But my interest is mostly intellectual fascination. 1/
You may wonder why I decided to write a lot about abortion. As a man the issue doesn’t affect me in a directly personal way, though there are women I care about for whom it’s important. But my interest is mostly intellectual fascination. 1/
Abortion is an issue on which Objectivism’s distinctive views in almost every single branch of philosophy converge to yield its distinctive position. 2/
Metaphysics: There is only natural reality, no supernatural God. Hence there is no God who ensouls the fetus and assigns it rights, or who demands women to sacrifice for his commandments. 3/
Epistemology: Reason is our only means of knowledge. Hence faith or emotions don’t tell us that the fetus has rights in case we feel disgusted about the idea of abortion, or in case we feel warm and fuzzy thinking about newborn babies. 4/
Ethics: Morality is about pursuing your happiness and living, not about sacrificing your happiness for others. Hence a woman is acting nobly by deciding against having children in favor of her career or whatever other positive value she chooses. 5/
Politics: Individuals need rights as conditions for the possibility of pursuing their happiness in a social context of other individuals doing the same. Hence rights apply only to actual individuals who coexist separately in society. They don’t apply to unindividuated fetuses. 6/
Those are at least the essentials. The abortion controversy is an excellent case study for exploring the implications of Objectivist philosophy. You can’t really understand its major positions without seeing the obvious implications for the abortion debate. 7/7
Andrew Bernstein demonstrates the problems with the “pro-life” arguments and elaborates on the proper way to view abortion. This includes a proper view of government, values, individual rights, and most importantly, the mother’s rights.
From the video description: “Abortion is an important issue consistently in the public discourse. What makes it so persistent? Should there be any legal limit on abortion? Much of the discussion about abortion revolves around differing views of when life begins. Is there something significantly different about an entity before and after it’s born?”
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.
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?