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Ayn Rand on Abortion

 


1968: Abortion is a moral right; an embryo has no rights

Rand spoke plainly and forcefully against state governments' bans on abortion. 'Abortion is a moral right--which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved,' she told an audience of 1,500 people at the Ford Hall Forum, five years before the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973 and in Massachusetts, in which abortion was then illegal. 'An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being,' she declared."
Source: "Ayn Rand and the World She Made" by Anne Heller, p.320-321 , Oct 27, 2009

No one has right to dictate disposition of a woman's body

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?

Source: The Voice of Reason, "Of Living Death," p. 58-9, by Ayn Rand , Jun 30, 1990

A human potentiality is not the equivalent of an actuality

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. 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.

By what right does anyone claim the power to dispose of the lives of others and to dictate their personal choices?

Source: The Objectivist Forum, #3, "Age of Mediocrity," by Ayn Rand , Jun 1, 1981

A piece of protoplasm has no human rights

Never mind the vicious nonsense of claiming that an embryo has a "right to life." A piece of protoplasm has no rights--and no life in the human sense of the term. One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first 3 months. To equate a potential with an actual, is vicious; to advocate the sacrifice of the latter to the former, is unspeakable. Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living: the right of young people to set the course of their own lives. The task of raising a child is a tremendous, lifelong responsibility, which no one should undertake unwittingly or unwillingly. Procreation is not a duty: human beings are not stock-farm animals. For conscientious persons, an unwanted pregnancy is a disaster; to oppose its termination is to advocate sacrifice, not for the sake of anyone's benefit, but for the sake of forbidding fulfillment to living human beings.
Source: The Ayn Rand Letter, IV/2/3, by Ayn Rand , Jan 1, 1979

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Page last updated: Apr 26, 2015