The Object of This Exercise Is Evil
Bill Quick

Gosnell Nation | National Review Online

Democrats hold one thing — and one thing only — sacred, and that is abortion. Our diplomats may be murdered abroad, the rule of law may be grossly violated at home, the First Amendment may be written off as just another roadblock on the freeway to utopia, but abortion will always have for them a uniquely holy status — even if that means employing unholy methods to facilitate it. Thus Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut has introduced a bill, cosponsored by a majority of Senate Democrats, that would purport to strip states of their ability to impose even the most basic of health and safety regulations on the grisly procedure, a bill that David French has rightly suggested should be titled the Kermit Gosnell Enabling Act of 2014.

Well, luckily, if you’re a Randian Objectivist (I no longer consider myself to be such, and maybe I never was), that’s not a problem.  Rand did not consider unborn children to be alive or possessing any rights whatsoever, and of course any attempt to regulate the operators of abortion mills against their will would constitute the prohibited (by Randians) initiation of force against them.

So.  No evil there.  Keep right on walking, citizen.  And sleep well.

 

Bill Quick

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.

Comments

The Object of This Exercise Is Evil — 27 Comments

  1. As a former Objectivist you know that Rand’s definition of the unborn was confined to the early stages of pregnancy. Here is the quote from your link:

    One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months.

    • Tell you what: find a quote where she denounces abortion at any time after the first three months.

      Objectists seem to love the literal interpretation of their scriptures. So…no waffling bullshit about “essential issues.” It’s all black and white, okay? Find the scripture where she tells us that abortion in the ninth month is not okay, or than an unborn child is a “living human.”

      Or STFU.

      • You know that Rand didn’t elaborate on the statement I quoted, or you wouldn’t have asked for a quote. It is sufficient that she qualified her otherwise blanket advocacy of abortion, to allow me to assume that she was basing her opinion on the embryonic stage of development. Otherwise, why single out the first trimester?

        My opinion about the application of Rand’s philosophy to the abortion issue, as well as other areas, is summed up by Nicholas Provenzo in the article, “Ayn Rand or Objectivism?”:

        http://ruleofreason.blogspot.com/2008/09/ayn-rand-or-objectivism.htm

        Pertinent quote:

        Ayn Rand’s contribution to the cause of mankind was the development of a rational philosophy for thinking and acting, not a group of texts for her admirers to slavishly follow like it was the revealed gospel of some lord.

        • Oh, but wait: I can’t call myself a Randian Objectivist because I didn’t slavishly follow her text like it was the revealed gospel of some lord. Instead, I used my rational facilities to make an exception to one of her texts. She says it’s the most important text, so I guess I should just shut and and enslave myself to it, right?

          Are you choking yet on that cake you’re trying to have and eat at the same time?

  2. She may have tossed in a minor quibble here and there, but I think she made her real beliefs clear enough and consistently enough over the years:

    Abortion —Ayn Rand Lexicon

    An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an
    actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living
    take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).

    Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the
    woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be
    considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what
    disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?

    “Of Living Death”

    The Voice of Reason, 58–59

    “A Last Survey”

    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.

    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.

    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?

    The Objectivist Forum

    “The Age of Mediocrity”

    The Objectivist Forum, June 1981, 3

    A proper, philosophically valid definition of man as “a rational animal,” would
    not permit anyone to ascribe the status of “person” to a few human cells.

    The Objectivist Forum

    “The Age of Mediocrity”

    The Objectivist Forum, June 1981, 2

  3. “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.”

    Without taking an opinion at this time on abortion, this is self-evident idiocy. It’s not even wrong. Any random chunk cut free from a human body doesn’t have even the potential capacity to keep itself alive.

    • This has been discussed here from another approach: It might very well quite soon be possible to clone a new human from a single cell of an already existing human. In which case all human cells would have the potential to become human beings, which makes hash of the “human potential” anti-abortion argument.

      • Indeed it does. I’m afraid that the issue of abortion is one of the hard problems where any rational, logical argument, no matter how sound, for the right of a pregnant woman to abort her pregnancy, has effectively zero chance of being compelling to anyone that feels that abortion is wrong.

        In recognition of this evident fact of reality, I choose not to bang my head against this particular wall.

        • Alfred, I’ll see your “sound argument,” and your “feeling” and raise you this: Fetus, one minute before birth – human being, or not? One minute after birty – human, or not?

          Despite Chad’s wiggling, he can find nothing that cites a Randian statement that retracts her contention that the demarcation point for being a human with rights is birth. Right up to that point, feelings or not, Momma can kill the fetus. Because it’s not human, and so killing it is not an immoral initiation of force.

          More scripture, anyone?

            • Man and woman. Human beings, or not?

              Do the rights of one automatically supercede the other?

              I get your argument, Alfred. It’s purely Randian. The fetus is not human and has no rights, and therefore, the woman, being fully human in Rand’s calculus, has every right to dispose of the fetus however she sees fit, including terminating its life. Which, according to Rand, she is not doing, because the fetus isn’t even alive. Neat bit, that.

              Try this:

              Pregnant woman’s fetus, ten minutes before birth: Human being, or non-human cells with no rights?

              Something interesting is becoming more clear to me as I pose the devil’s arguments: Randians like their pure dogma as much as any other ideologues, whether that dogma is any more rational than a pack of rabid dogs in a popcorn popper or not. Chad can’t answer the question about Rand’s position on late term abortion, and you can’t seem to balance the notion of rights between a fetus in certain stages and the mother of that fetus.

              But I can’t be a Randian Objectivist because I say, “You don’t have to do business with anybody you don’t want to. Just don’t start a business. But if you do start a business serving the public, you must serve all the public. That’s your decision to make, of course, whether to start a business or not.”

              That is enough to send me into the outer darkness on your and Chad’s terms. And you’re right to do so. I’m not going to try to argue the judgment based on some half-assed irrelevance Rand muttered once upon a time, or an angels dancing on a pin question about the rights of a near-birth fetus (none, according to Rand) versus the obviously fully human rights granted to the mother.

              But I will be pointing out inconsistencies, internal contradictions, and flat-out irrationalities about Rand and Randians that have bothered me for a long time, whenever I see them come up.

              I used to shrug them off by consoling myself that Rand said for me to use my brain, and so I did, and just assumed I was still Randian. Apparently I’m not, and I do agree with that, so now I’ll be pointing out exactly what it is I’m not.

              • I do believe with conviction, WTQ, that your reason(s) for rejecting the right of a pregnant woman to terminate her pregnancy, at any time before birth, are unrelated to the logical consistency, or lack thereof, of the Randian argument for that right.

                Mere logic will not sway the heart. There are numerous logical arguments for and against that right outside of Objectivism.

                And yet, I conjecture, effectively no one arrived at their position on abortion due to a logical argument.

                • And yet, I conjecture, effectively no one arrived at their position on abortion due to a logical argument.

                  Yo. I’m in that “effectively none”. I’m not comfortable with abortion in theory or in practice, but I support it because the police state implications of a ban on abortions are worse. Lesser of two evils, with all the qualms that entails.

                • I do believe with conviction, WTQ, that your reason(s) for rejecting the right of a pregnant woman to terminate her pregnancy, at any time before birth, are unrelated to the logical consistency, or lack thereof, of the Randian argument for that right.

                  Believe whatever you want, Alfred. I’m making my points using Rand’s own words, not yours.

                  You guys wiggle like crazy. Let’s see if I can pin you down.

                  Does Ayn Rand – or Objectivism – believe it is moral for a woman to abort her child ten minutes before a natural, normal birth, for any reason whatsoever, based on her superior position vis “rights?”

                  Answer it, or drop the argument.

                  BTW, the argument is not about my support or lack of it for abortion. As I’ve noted, my position has not changed.

                  It is about Rand’s and Objectivism’s position on abortion, as it acts on the real world.

                  I mean, this is Objectivism we’re talking about here. Surely you must be entirely proud of it, and unashamed to wholly embrace its positions. After all, Rand herself said,

                  Contrary to the fanatical belief of its advocates, compromise [on basic principles] does not satisfy, but dissatisfies everybody; it does not lead to general fulfillment, but to general frustration; those who try to be all things to all men, end up by not being anything to anyone.

                  It’s your Bible, guys. Be proud. Own it.

                • (Reply depth exceeded so this reply may be up a level or two)

                  Answer it, or drop the argument.

                  I’ve not made an argument and I don’t intend to. As I wrote earlier, I choose not to bang my head against this particular wall and I mean it.

                  Take a look at the thread; I’ve made an observation or two and asked a question but I’ve made no argument.

                  But, I will answer your question.

                  First, to the best of my understanding, Objectivism holds that a pregnant woman has, in fact, the right to terminate her pregnancy any time before birth.

                  But that’s not what you asked. You asked

                  “[Does Objectivism hold that] it is moral for a woman to abort her child ten minutes before a natural, normal birth, for any reason whatsoever, …”

                  and that is, as you know, an entirely different question and, again, to the best of my understanding, the answer is no – it would only be moral if, in fact, it would be in the genuine, rational, self-interest of the woman to do so.

                  However, I do believe that it is, in fact, immoral.

      • When I talk about potential in this context, I mean that simply as a weasel word. Unless something untoward happens, an embryo will become a fetus will become a baby. You cannot currently say that about a random chunk of meat or anything else taken off a human. You can’t say that about a single cell either, in the same way, because it requires a technological effort.

        I understand why people want abortions. But this “a fetus isn’t alive” business is nothing more than an elaborate justification for killing something, because it’s inconvenient.

        • What irritates me about the “is it alive” argument is that it’s so dishonest. If it’s not self-evident that sperm and eggs are alive, and every stage after that is as well, then I don’t know how to even have a conversation with you.

          The real argument is when and whether it’s OK to terminate that life. People need to have that argument, not the other one. Because frankly, if you’re someone like Obama, who feels it’s OK to have an abortion right up to the penultimate moment of birth (and to allow a baby that survives an abortion to be allowed to die of neglect) then the actual moment of birth cannot be anything but an arbitrary line, and there’s no reason not to allow terminating babies post-birth, like the Spartans did.

          Then you get to the real interesting argument: if the moment of birth isn’t a good dividing line, when is? A day? A week? 3 months? Any age?

          Pro-lifers and people like that soi-disant bioethicist who says it should be acceptable to kill babies if they’re defective are the only ones arguing from a consistent position. Anyone else is, as the Churchill anecdote goes, is just arguing over the price.

  4. Abortion kills a human life–that is a given.
    A fetus is not a fully developed human, that too is a given.
    A pregnant female has the option in our society to terminate that pregnancy–and that is a reasonable choice, for me, with in limits.

    My great-niece was born without cerebral cortex. She died within an hour. We had all asked her mother to terminate the pregnancy, but the mother chose not too, as was her right. But why?–because of this fucking debate about the morality of abortion.

    Abortion is not a yes or no discussion, it is more complex than that.

    For me, I would advocate that a mother has the right to choose; but if she waits, at some point, she has sat on her rights too long, and as such lost them–just as is the case in most legal situations.

    I would suggest that any time in the first half of a pregnancy–abortion is the woman’s choice; after that it is only a choice to protect the health or life of the mother (and I mean physical health, not some corrupted definition of mental health).

    Neither party truly wants this situation resolved because the money flow to fight for the two extreme position. Fuck both extremes.

    • I haven’t changed my own position on abortion one whit. I’m merely pointing what appears rationally to me to be a gaping, nay, a yawning hole in Ayn Rand’s prohibition on the initiation of any force. And discomfiting the scripture shouters, of which she has more than a few. Turn off your brain, follow the text, spout the dogma, and be a good Randian Objectivist. Oh, wait. She says you’re not supposed to do that, either.

      That’s the point of the one minute question.

  5. “What irritates me about the “is it alive” argument is that it’s so dishonest. If it’s not self-evident that sperm and eggs are alive, and every stage after that is as well, then I don’t know how to even have a conversation with you.”

    Do you have training in medicine or knowledge of even basic biology? What Rand was talking about was pretty basic. Cell division and multiplication leading to final development of a human being, at birth, that is at the time the infant becomes capable of life outside the womb. Period. It could be as early as 5 months, hence the qualification about the first trimester, and the statement “One may argue about the later stages of pregnancy,…”

    What pro-lifers, and apparently people like you say, is that life begins at conception. You confuse the potential of a child with the actual child. If you’re a mystic you may ascribe a soul to the embryo, and then claim murder. Never mind the millions of naturally occurring abortions. We wouldn’t want to call God a murderer now, would we?

    As to deciding when and if an abortion should take place, there are only two choices: either the mother or the state. If you allow the state to deny a woman the right to terminate a pregnancy, you are saying that she does NOT own her own body. Fine. I can live with that. But at that point you are no better than the dumbass ragheads or the pedafiles of the Catholic Church, and FU.

    • “One may argue about the later stages of pregnancy…”

      Dodge, dodge, wiggle, wiggle.

      She also speaks about abortion when she doesn’t toss in this supposedly ass-saving caveat. And “arguing” doesn’t mean that she’s opposed to abortion right up to the moment of birth, either. She has never said that she – and Objectivism – are okay with forcing a woman not to have an abortion in the “later stages.” And she has never said that an unborn child is a human with rights under Objectivist philosophy.

      Go ahead, find where she does. Your bit of pathetic face-saving is meaningless.

    • “Do you have training in medicine or knowledge of even basic biology?”

      Yawn.

      “You confuse the potential of a child with the actual child.”

      You fail basic reading comprehension. Is a sperm alive? Is an unfertilized egg? Is a fertilized egg?

      I said ‘is it alive’ is the wrong argument. Now please STFU until you learn basic comprehension.

  6. And she has never said that an unborn child is a human with rights under Objectivist philosophy.

    That is true. She advocated for the right of the mother. But if you look at the body of her work it is very rare for her to qualify anything, to leave a subject open to debate. But what exactly is your point? Is it to call her out for advocating infanticide? To point out a moral blind spot? To show a logical conflict in her otherwise rational philosophy? Or all of the above?

    If you want perfection in the abortion debate you won’t find it. I come down on the side of the mother having a say, and against state interference. If you are really the libertarian you claim to be, how can you possibly advocate for state intrusion in this very private, personal area?

  7. Thank you for answering the questions. A final thought: I am bewildered by your attack on Rand on the issue of abortion, especially after pointing out what appears to be her second thought on the subject. As a person who constantly “checked her premises” she was not one to backtrack on anything. I would think you would cut her some slack based on that alone.

    I’ve enjoyed your posts for the passionate intensity and general outrage at current events. Having said that, there are times when I think I’m reading Michael Savage. Think about it.

    • Chad: Ooohhh, Mike Savage. I’m impressed with your line of argumentation. You didn’t answer my question, though. Of course. And all your lollygagging about “appears to be,” and so on, aside, and because I have been effectively drummed out of calling myself a Randian Objectivist because I did not wholly, mindlessly, and (in my opinion) to evil effect apply the ban on the initiation of force in one specific situation, no, I’m in no mood to cut either Rand, or Randians – you, for instance – any slack.

      Now get back to eating that cake you want to keep forever.

      Afred:

      First, to the best of my understanding, Objectivism holds that a pregnant woman has, in fact, the right to terminate her pregnancy any time before birth.

      But that’s not what you asked. You asked

      “[Does Objectivism hold that] it is moral for a woman to abort her child ten minutes before a natural, normal birth, for any reason whatsoever, …”

      and that is, as you know, an entirely different question and, again, to the best of my understanding, the answer is no – it would only be moral if, in fact, it would be in the genuine, rational, self-interest of the woman to do so.

      However, I do believe that it is, in fact, immoral.

      That’s good. Shows you aren’t batshit insane or evil.

      And thanks for the acknowledgment of the truth of my statement (I know this comment string is getting convoluted):

      The fetus is not human and has no rights, and therefore, the woman, being fully human in Rand’s calculus, has every right to dispose of the fetus however she sees fit, including terminating its life. Which, according to Rand, she is not doing, because the fetus isn’t even alive. Neat bit, that.

      You acknowledge that this statement is correct.

      I’ll admit I got sloppy there in rephrasing what I thought was the same statement, when, instead of asking, “Does Rand say the mother has the right,” I asked, “Does Rand say it is moral?”

      I think you launched another tap dance in response, though, when you veered onto the skating rink labeled “on if it is in her genuine, rational self-interest.”

      This is, I’m sorry to say, a bag of impenetrable whiffle. Who determines “genuine, rational, and self-interest?”

      Without that determination, if she wants to do it, it’s moral for her to do it. And from where I sit, I don’t thinkg it is even remotely possible to logically determine those three definitions in any specific situatuion.

      How about this: “After eight months and three weeks, I’ve determined that I don’t wish to be a parent. I don’t think I’d be good at it, and I’m quite certain I wouldn’t enjoy it, and so would be quite unhappy even trying to attempt it. Therefore, I wish to terminate my pregnancy with extreme prejudice.”

      Is that genuine, rational, and self-interested? If not, why not?

      Or maybe just forget it. My contention is that neither Rand nor Objectism are as bright-lined, black and white, and dogmatic as Obectivists would like to believe it is. Not in the real world.

      Rand understood that, which is why she eschewed compromise and took stands. Some of her stands lead, in my opinion, to the potential for absolute evil. Moreso than other ideologies? Probably not. But enough so that I cannot, and will not, swallow the whole package if that is what it takes to call myself a Randian Objectivist.

      I could say that I tend to follow Randian Objectivist approaches in much of my thinking and points of view, without ever claiming to be a Randian. But that’s weak tea. Let’s just say I’m not a Randian nor an Objectivist, and leave it at that.

      Frankly, after years of wrestling with certain aspects of Objectivism that I have long found either irrational, confused, or repulsive, it’s a relief to drop the label. I guess from now on I’ll call myself a Quickiantarian.

Leave a Reply