Bloody Evasions: Abortion & Objectivism


"Non-thinking is an act of annihilation, a wish to negate existence, an attempt to wipe out reality. But existence exists; reality is not to be wiped out, it will merely wipe out the wiper." - Ayn Rand

Rand's Bloody Evasion

With her scrupulous devotion to reason above all in every other issue, I remember being astounded when I discovered that Ayn Rand was pro-abortion -- and even more astounded when I discovered that this brilliant woman, and her stunning philosophy, justified abortion on the dubiously shaky premises to be recounted below. Ordinarily one would refer to the nonsense below as 'fallacies', but there are certain contexts in which such sterile speech would communicate a contemptible sort of distanced neutrality. Therefore, I do not merely refer to the arguments for abortion which are touted by Objectivists (and many others) as "fallacious", but as stupid - and evil. When you are dealing with such a weighty subject, with such grave consequences, and with such outright intellectual evasion, emotive language cannot but be used.

Below, you will find the stupid arguments set forth by Objectivists in support of abortion. In seeing the effort they exert in order to remain 'non-thinking' on this issue, you will see the damnable attempts to annihilate reality in general, and individuals in particular, with their bloody evasions. And though they may succeed (momentarily) at annihilating the latter, the former - as Ms. Rand put it - "is not to be wiped out, it will merely wipe out the wiper". Beware, evasive Objectivists, lest in your efforts to wipe out members of the human race, you end up being wiped out by the Ultimate Reality you so evasively fear.

Changing The Subject: A 'Women's Right to Choose'

"Of course a woman has the right to choose! She can choose to go to McDonald's or to go to Burger King... Oh! you're talking about killing a baby? Well that's a different topic. No one has the right to do that!"

-Matt Marino

Abortion has no more to do with 'a woman's right to choose' than robbery has to do with 'a thief's right to life'. In spite of what the media would have you believe, people who oppose abortion do not do so because of some desire to enslave women -- and the fact that so many believe otherwise is flat-out ridiculous. Anti-abortion advocates are not anti-women; they are anti-murder.  

Women have every right that men have; which is to say that they have every legitimate individual right. Just like men, women are free to do exactly as they please, so long as they do not violate the rights of another individual. What pro-abortion advocates need to realize is that, just as there is no such thing as a "right" to the service or property of another individual, so also there is no such thing as a "right" to end an innocent individual's life -- no matter how convenient such a "right" might seem.

To say that abortion is about "a woman's right to choose" is like saying that slavery was about "a white man's right to industry". No one would accept such a ridiculous changing of the subject in respect to slavery -- and for the same reasons, no one should abide such blatant duplicity in the modern debate about abortion. The essential issue in the abortion debate is not about "women's rights", but about the nature and rights of that which is being 'aborted'; i.e. the nature and rights of the unborn.

Definition By Non-Essentials

So what is the nature of that which is being aborted? If you ask an Objectivist, you will hear that it is "a parasite", a "lump of tissue", a "part of the mother's body", or "a potential - but not actual - human". In other words, you'll get a lot of varied answers depending on how deep of a hole - and in which direction - the Objectivist wishes to dig himself.

It can't be "a part of the mother's body" - it has it's own unique DNA. So, it is something other than the mother's body, living inside of the mother's body. "Aha! It's a parasite". A 'parasite' which (in most cases) she willingly received. But what species is this 'parasite'? Is it a tapeworm? A frog? A giraffe? What species is it? Oh, it's human! "Well, no. Not an actual human -- just a potential one".

Such is the line of "reasoning" one will typically experience in a conversation with an Objectivist. But now, what in the world does it mean to be "potentially human, but not actually human"!? Well, implicitly, it means that there are certain conditions to humanity which must be met in order for this thing to pass from potentially human to an actual human. And here we will see the definitions by non-essentials.

What are the differences between the supposed "potential human" in the womb and the actual human outside of the womb? Well, I suppose that gives you the first answer: Location. In the womb vs. out of the womb. What else, though? A perusal through Objectivist literature on the matter will show emphases on age, stage of development, abilities, and - brace yourself: "social context". Before examining the ironically ludicrous implications of that last qualifier, consider all the others (and any potential differences which could be listed) between the "potential human" in the womb and the actual human outside of the womb. Is location, or age, or stage of development, or any other difference which could be listed essential to humanity? Remember, that is the Objectivist's claim: that the difference - whatever it may be - is so essential to humanity that apart from having that attribute, one is not a human.

Is this not a classic case of what Ayn Rand would call a "definition by non-essentials"? Human DNA is essential to being a human. Location is not. Being a fully integrated organism (as opposed to being part of an organism) with it's own unique DNA structure is essential to being a human. Age is not. Stage of development is not. Ability is not. And "social context" most definitely is not -- but that has to do more with the "Objectivists" subjective theory of rights, to be discussed below.

The thing being "aborted" is of the human species - and is therefore human. It is an individual being with it's own unique DNA - and is therefore not a "part" of the mother's body like a toenail, hair follicle, or unfertilized egg; in other words, it is an individual human being. And, this human being which is being "aborted" is alive -- which means that it is not being "aborted". It is being killed. Abortion is therefore the act of killing a live human being -- and it should always be spoken of as such. To speak of it in any other fashion is cowardly and dishonest evasion, through and through.

The Objectivist's Subjective Theory of Rights

Once the Objectivist is pushed to admitting that it is a live human being (and many will honestly admit to that much), the question then becomes whether or not this live human being possesses the individual right to life. Before exploring their reasoning though, I want to stress that this is the only proper progression of debating them (or anyone else) on this issue. The "pro-abortion" advocate must be pressed to admit that they are advocating for the killing of a live human being. Make sure that they admit to that and own it -- and let them then do the squirming necessary to attempt to justify depriving this live human being of the right to life. And now, let the squirming begin:

"[Rights] apply only to human beings living and acting as individuals in a social context—not to embryos or fetuses in the womb. ....The fetus cannot know or interact with the world outside the womb in any meaningful way. It is not an individual member of society"  - TOS Abortion Article

So, "interacting with the world in a meaningful way" and being in a "social context" is essential for individual rights? Does this mean that a man who lives alone in the woods does not have the right to life; that a random sniper could morally (and legally) take him out for the fun of it, because he is not "interacting with the world in a meaningful way" or participating in a "social context"? Is the Objectivist implying here that individual rights are based in social interaction; that the social status of a human being can determine his individual status? If I didn't know any better, I'd think they were begging to be carted off back to Soviet Russia with that talk!

But this isn't just a lapse in speech or judgement on the part of a few intellectual Objectivists. This is the inevitable result of their desperate attempts to evade Realism in their theory of moral rights:

"Rights are not implanted by God in zygotes at conception, nor are they innate possessions or properties of human beings. Rights are factual requirements of human survival and flourishing in society." -TOS Abortion Article

The first sentence is the Objectivist's caricature of the doctrine of Realism as applied to individual rights. The second is their attempt to have objective (i.e. real) individual rights apart from Realism; i.e. it is their attempt to have their cake and eat it too. It is all too clear though, in the abortion issue, that those 'factual requirements' are only for some human survival and flourishing; but not all -- which means that the Objectivist has his wiggle room to assert that some humans (namely, those in the womb) do not have those rights. What the Objectivist fails to see though, is that if there is wiggle room in their theory of rights for their pet issue (abortion), then there is plenty of room for every other pet issue which can be imagined. 

A full critique of the Objectivist theory of rights must be saved for another day, but for now it is sufficient to see that their evasion on the metaphysical level with the doctrine of Realism leads directly to their bloody evasions with the issue of abortion. If individual rights come from "social context" or "meaningful interaction with others" or from any grounds other than an individual's humanity; then there is no such thing as individual rights. If rights are not "intrinsic" to the individual human, then they are added to him by society (and can just as easily be taken away). If individual rights are not a metaphysical reality (i.e. if they are not objectively the case - whether any subject or group of subjects recognizes them or not), then they are a complete and total subjective farce!

As we observe the spectacle of millions of innocent humans being slaughtered for convenience under the guise of "choice", and as we observe that slaughter being applauded by cowardly, evasive, psuedo-intellectuals who call themselves "Objective" while spewing forth some of the most hideously subjective nonsense on the intellectual field, beware of the potential blood on your hands, due to philosophical evasions you may be entertaining. Ideas matter - because reality matters. Do not claim love for humanity, or love for the unborn, if you do not love the truth in all of reality.

19 thoughts on “Bloody Evasions: Abortion & Objectivism

  1. You've dealt with the weakest formulations of arguments for abortion here, but not with the strongest ones.

    The presence of particular genetic material is relevant to biological classification as homo sapien, but has nothing to do with the philosophical definition of man, which is for Objectivism, "a rational animal". Survival by use of reason is the condition that has to be met for a living being to be considered human and to be said to have rights, in Objectivism. The position they take on abortion is consistent with this.

    Quotes come from (

    "The characteristic of life is necessary to possess rights, but it alone is insufficient"
    "The source of the right to life is one’s nature as a rational being"
    "Rights… apply to human beings because man survives by reason."
    "As a fetus does not use reason to survive; but, rather it survives on the sustenance provided by the body of its’ host, a fetus has no rights, and no need for rights."

    "A fetus’ so called right to life boils down to the “right to remain in the womb”—and such a “right” is only possible by the violation of the actual right of the pregnant woman to her body. In contrast, observe that a child’s right to life does not contradict the rights of anyone else. The principle here is that any alleged “right” that by nature entails the violation of the rights of another is not a right... Proper rights, i.e., rights that are objectively defined, are non-contradictory."

    "There is no such thing as the right to live inside (or outside) of another human being as a parasite, i.e., against the will of that person… What applies to a fetus, also applies to a physically dependent adult. If an adult must survive by being connected to someone else, they may only do so by the voluntary permission of the person they must be connected to."

  2. I disagree. A woman has surrendered (albeit temporarily) her right to be free of care for that particular bit of "tissue" when she engaged knowingly in the act of creation in the first place. This whole argument presupposes that the biological urge to engage in the sexual act leading to conception is uncontrollable and outside the bounds of reason. A rational, thinking and moral person would understand that and act accordingly.

    1. referring to sex as the "act of creation" takes procreation to be the purpose and only end of sex, as opposed to conception being simply a possible side-effect.

      a responsible person who does not want children will take measures to avoid pregnancy before it comes to abortion, so a moral case can be made there. but this line of argument doesn't touch on the child at all, which is the fundamental issue we're discussing.

      even if a woman actually is choosing to have an abortion in an attempt to wipe out her action by getting rid of the consequences, she has the right to do so if the nature of the thing she's destroying is such that it can have no legal protection. she would be guilty of evasion, not of murder, and her abortion would only be established as a reasonable choice but for bad motives.

  3. I don't buy it. You are saying location matters and the argument is that it doesn't matter. The fetal child is just as dependent and without the power of reason ( for a period of time) just outside the womb as inside. In the one case the fetal child is unconscious and in the other just conscious but unable to fend for itself and wholly dependent. I don't see the major philosophical difference. In addition in the womb the fetal child is dependent on life-giving nourishment through the umbilical and in the other breast milk ( in the natural order of things ). How is this not a distinction without a difference?

  4. James

    Well Jacob, you went and made yourself an "argument against non essentials" in your quest to rewrite reality into making square pegs fit into round holes!

    You glossed right over this essential issue with only a declaration:
    "The thing being “aborted” is of the human species – and is therefore human. It is an individual being with it’s own unique DNA – and is therefore not a “part” of the mother’s body like a toenail, hair follicle, or unfertilized egg; in other words, it is an individual human being."

    The argument for abortion lies not in what makes something human, but what makes something an INDIVIDUAL,human or otherwise. Now lets answer the question," what does it mean to be an individual?"..... An individual is an existent with a physical boundary where space separates it from other individuals. I don't have to state the obvious fact that a fetus is NOT separated physically from the Individual possessing it as an ATTRIBUTE. An umbilical cord is not merely "touching" the fetus to the host its is physically connected, i.e. it is NOT a part but an attribute.

    P.S. Rand didn't say rights derived from a social context anywhere I have ever read. It was Dr. Peikoff in OPAR that said that.

    Ayn Rand said:

    "It is not society, nor any social right, that forbids you to kill—but the inalienable individual right of another man to live. This is not a “compromise” between two rights—but a line of division that preserves both rights untouched. The division is not derived from an edict of society—but from your own inalienable individual right. The definition of this limit is not set arbitrarily by society—but is implicit in the definition of your own right........"Textbook of Americanism,”

    By the way, "individual rights" are not derived from society but from the fact that man IS a rational INDIVIDUAL, that is, man is a self contained entity separate from others and dependent on himself ! Groups don't have rights because groups are merely a collection of INDIVIDUALS. Fetus dont have rights because they are not rational INDIVIDUALS.......there is no physical "line of division" separating a fetus from the host.

    Try again? :)

    1. You're saying that the living thing with it's own unique DNA, which happens to be in the mother's womb for a very limited time (in respect to an average life-span), is an "attribute" of the woman?? An "attribute" which she acquired when she conceived and which she lost when this "attribute" was born -- or no -- when the umbilical cord was cut?

      Hair color is an attribute. Height and weight are attributes. A separate living being (which has it's OWN attributes) is not an "attribute".

  5. turbojesse

    James on October 14, 2013 at 9:22 pm said: ..."By the way, “individual rights” are not derived from society but from the fact that man IS a rational INDIVIDUAL, that is, man is a self contained entity separate from others and dependent on himself !"

    Using this argument, a newborn baby has no rights since it has not yet developed reason and is wholly dependent upon the parents - for everything. Would you also posit that a third trimester baby still in the womb but capable (with modern medicine) of living outside the womb if prematurely birthed is a candidate for abortion? Interested in hearing your thoughts on this because by your reasoning, a fetus is a fetus as long as it is still attached via umbilical. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

    1. James

      Turbo said:
      "Using this argument, a newborn baby has no rights since it has not yet developed reason and is wholly dependent upon the parents – for everything. Would you also posit that a third trimester baby still in the womb but capable (with modern medicine) of living outside the womb if prematurely birthed is a candidate for abortion? Interested in hearing your thoughts on this because by your reasoning, a fetus is a fetus as long as it is still attached via umbilical. You can’t have your cake and eat it too"

      Um, no.... Lets not play with strawmen. I clearly stressed separateness as the criteria for individuality. I did not say that a rational individual/animal who does not excercise his faculty of reason has no rights! Incidentally, the rejection of reason is the fundamental basis of the actions that cause individual criminals to forfeit their rights. This could not apply to a newborn individual because it has not developed it reason faculty. Ergo this is not the source of validation for abortion.
      if you produce an INDIVIDUAL you have a responsibility to it.

      Note that "dependent" is NOT a synonym of individual/entity.

  6. James

    Jacob said:

    . A separate living being (which has it’s OWN attributes) is not an “attribute"

    My man, you just begged the question with this re-assertion. In fact a fetus is demonstrably NOT a separate individual.

  7. If someone creates a dependent individual, it falls on them to provide for that individual until they are independently able to survive or another willing caretaker enters the scene.

    The key here is the source of the dependent individual human being. Agreed, in any other scenario, someone's inability to survive does not require anyone else to legally to provide for them or to be considered murderers if they don't.

    The difference here is that the dependent individual is not some random stranger, or even a child who wandered onto the scene. It is an individual that was created by the mother. She is the source, as well as the father, of the dependent individual. It is their responsibility, until that is passed on or becomes irrelevant.

    By creating a person, you have placed them in a state of actual dependency for a period of time. To create an individual with no means of self-sufficiency and walk away is in fact murder.

    If you placed a person, who has no say in the matter, in midair by pushing them out of an airplane, it would be murder.

    Any human being on this planet, in order to come into existence, is born in 'midair'. And therefore, as someone who has placed someone in midair, in order to avoid murdering them, you must give them a parachute to glide safely to the ground in order to stand on their own feet and learn to survive.

    Again, the mother and father are responsible for creating this individual in the first place. The individual did not place themselves in that position - that was because of the actions of the father and mother. Now, in the case where a woman is raped, it does not change this fact. What it does is require that the rapist be held accountable and made to provide the means by which the mother can 'provide the parachute'. And, after this is accomplished, of course, I would recommend a quick execution of the rapist.

    Regardless, this isn't some random person who put themselves in a state of dependency. And, unlike random victims who are placed in dependency by forces outside their control, this individual child is not the victim of uncontrollable circumstances - there is a directly responsible person who brought about the situation - the mother and father!

    Now, if you're trying to debate whether or not this person is an individual human being, we can go back to the DNA/rational thinking argument - but as far as dependency goes - you cannot claim that the burden of dependency was placed by the child onto the mother - the exact OPPOSITE is true: The MOTHER and FATHER are responsible for PLACING THE CHILD into existence in a state of DEPENDENCY. The CHILD is the victim of their parents' ACTIONS - and being born in 'midair', the only people who could possibly and morally be responsible for that falling child is those who put the child in 'midair' in the first place.


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