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semm
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In all the Objectivist arguments I have yet read (about three)...

Then you haven't seen enough arguments, as RationalCop said :P The fundamental reason Objectivists I've heard are pro-abortion is that a person should not be legally forced to support another without the person's consent, whether or not a fetus should have rights, sexual acts were consentual, regardless of the trimester and economic costs/psychological status of the mother, etc.

What is it that defines us as human but our genes.
What's the basis for granting rights based on genetics?

How is a newborn different?

...has [a mother] the right to abandon [her infant] in any circumstance she chooses, even if that circumstance would almost certainly result in death?

A newborn's care can be transferred to any willing person, whereas a mother has the option to allow someone else to care for the child.

Isn't it also true that, given the fact that we did not have any role in choosing to create that child, that we as a society can have no legal requirement to care for that child in the mother's stead?

Assumes choosing to create a child obligates caring for a child.

...Are you resorting to choice arguments :(

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  • 2 weeks later...
A human, Homo sapiens, does not change species once born, any more than a caterpillar changes species when becoming a butterfly. It looks different, yes, but so do our largely hairless, fatty infants. A fetus begins to resemble a human by its seventh week.

Ah, but a caterpillar is not a butterfly! Similarly, a fetus is not a human being.

King Tut's mummified remains are also homo sapien. Does the long dead King Tut thus possess human rights?

Answer: no. Homo sapien-ness does not grant one the right to life. Being an independent and rational animal does.

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Okay, but newborn infants are not rational animals, so they should have no rights until something like 6 months old. Is that okay with you? (Or, to put it another way, that's just wrong).
I'm curious why you say this, David. If the faculty of reason, i.e. the capacity to be rational, is not present from birth, where does it come from?

Granted, that faculty may not be exercised immediately, but does that mean it is not present?

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If the faculty of reason, i.e. the capacity to be rational, is not present from birth, where does it come from?
That's sorta the point. Being rational (and independent) is not sufficient to give rise to rights, rather it is the faculty of reason, the potential. This is a case where I think explicitness matters a lot.
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Homo sapien-ness does not grant one the right to life. Being an independent and rational animal does.

Okay, but newborn infants are not rational animals, so they should have no rights until something like 6 months old. Is that okay with you? (Or, to put it another way, that's just wrong).

I might be wrong, but some confusion may have occured due to spinning off the children's rights parts of this topic.

MisterSwig, are you implying that the unborn don't have rights (my take of what you said) or that newborns don't have rights?

Like Inspector said, you two probably aren't disagreeing... or are in a semantic dispute. But if you really are disagreeing, by all means :)

On the "independence" argument and abortion, I believe I feel similarly to MisterSwig, though what is meant by "independent" really needs to be specified here.

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Okay, but newborn infants are not rational animals ...

By "rational" I mean possessing the faculty of reason. And by "independent" I mean physically separated from the mother's body. A newborn infant possesses the right to its own life, because it is an independent and rational animal, like you and me.

MisterSwig, are you implying that the unborn don't have rights (my take of what you said) or that newborns don't have rights?

My position is that a fetus has no rights, but a newborn child does. I have argued for this view across many previous posts.

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By "rational" I mean possessing the faculty of reason. And by "independent" I mean physically separated from the mother's body. A newborn infant possesses the right to its own life, because it is an independent and rational animal, like you and me.

*Ahem*

Told you guys that's what he meant. The fact that he's practically quoting major Objectivists probably had something to do with it.

http://abortionisprolife.com/faq.htm

Why does a child, or adult, have a right to life, and not a fetus?

A child, like an adult, exists as a physically independent entity.

(anyone know who runs that site?)

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Granted, that faculty [of reason] may not be exercised immediately [by infants], but does that mean it is not present?

Interesting question. I think that the rational faculty is present from the moment of birth. However, like perhaps any human faculty, it does not work at the highest levels right away. Just because we don't pop out of the womb and start ballroom dancing, that doesn't mean we lack motor faculties. Similarly, just because we don't begin by delivering a speech to the hospital staff, that doesn't mean we lack the faculty of reason. All it means is that, as infants, we haven't had adequate time to use, develop, and master our natural faculties.

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Yes, a conservative court might impose restrictions, but I think a lot of those restrictions -- even if you support the right to choose to have an abortion -- are reasonable. Most pro-choice Americans probably find those restrictions acceptable as well.

The only acceptable restrictions are those which prohibit us to impose force upon others.

There is no such thing as an "acceptable restriction" when it comes to individual rights. That includes abortion.

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The only acceptable restrictions are those which prohibit us to impose force upon others.

There is no such thing as an "acceptable restriction" when it comes to individual rights. That includes abortion.

Excuse me, but some people believe (rightly so) that the unborn child is a human being deserving of their right to life -- especially after a certain point. To argue for unrestricted abortion is to argue for the use of force upon others.

Edited by Captain Nate
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But your view creates a so-called "conflict of rights." A woman has a right to her body and whatever she's growing inside of it, whether a tumor, a bacterial infection, or a fetus. Your claim that an unborn child has rights such that the government can step in and tell a woman what to do with what is hers, is the use of force against her. So, either a woman has the right to her body and everything she grows in it, or she doesn't. Which is it?

I'm not trying to be annoying by connecting things to your stance on the Israel pull-out of Gaza (you were for the forceful evacuation of the Israelis in living there), but the root of this stance is also manifesting itself here, with your view that limiting what a woman can do with her body is a "reasonable restriction," just as it was "reasonable" for the IDF to violate the right to choose one's own destiny by forcing the Israelis out of their homes. Excuse me, but there is not such thing as "reasonable restrictions" to the upholding of the principle of individual rights--either they're upheld or they're not.

Edited by Felipe
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Right on, Filipe, particularly the first paragraph.

I brought up a similar point in the "children's rights" thread, but didn't make it that explicit:

A fetus can claim no rights; in order for it to live independently of the mother requires a physically damaging and painful situation to occur -- childbirth. Nobody can reserve the right to force a potential mother to go through that, even on a child's behalf. To paraphrase what you said, either human rights are inviolable, or their not.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Let me offer a fresh and valid Objectivist perspective on the subject of fetal rights. Most of you are familiar with Ayn Rand's 1963 essay, "Man's Rights" (and if you're not you should be). The real key to the abortion issue is found in the illuminating section where Ayn Rand identifies the "gimmick" which was (and still is) used to replace the concept of political rights (the right to action) with the pseudo-concept of economic rights (the right to be provided with necessary or basic goods and services at another's expense). Fetal rights are not political rights. The right to be provided with a host is an economic right, i.e., a welfare right.

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  • 1 month later...

I do recall from The Lexicon (though I haven't seen it in years) that Ayn Rand basically asserted that a fetus has no rights. But when is it a "baby" (i.e. a new human) and no longer a fetus?

It seems to me that the clearest defining line would be: after the umbilical cord is cut. But I'm not sure if that opinion of mine is consistent with rational philosophy and with the facts of science.

Is there another "appropriate" line, such as when the brain is fully formed? Or does it depend more on the context of the pregnancy?

I KNOW that there is already tons of discussion here on this topic. However, when I attempted to read through it, most of what I saw was too elaborate and contained many snide remarks and high tempers.

My current view on the issue is not set in stone--I'm really have little personal bias on the issue, and am curious to know where others draw the line (and where Ayn Rand drew it, if she ever mentioned it.)

Thanks.

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I understand it is tough reading through those threads; however, the only alternative is that this thread turns into another one just like those others. :worry: We'll be back to some who draw the line early in pregnancy, some who draw the line at the point when the kid can fend for itself, and eveyone in between.

How could the thread turn out different?

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Maybe I should re-cast this post in the form of a survey, such as "Do you believe that a potential person becomes an actual person with rights at point A, B, C, D, or E?"

(Perhaps A=conception, B=1st trimester, ..., E=able to talk.)

Hmm, so did Miss Rand ever state where she drew the line, or did she leave it to future generations to determine the difference between potential and actual?

Edited by Randrew
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However, when I attempted to read through it, most of what I saw was too elaborate and contained many snide remarks and high tempers.
I have to agree with softwareNerd; this topic would quickly be full of snide remarks and high tempers too!

I'd too suggest trudging through the old topics, but I will note that an important part of whatever answer you arrive at (it's not exactly been settled anyway) will/should/might involve the fact of independence.

A newborn is independent in the sense of not being dependent on any particular person; he can survive so long as someone feeds him. OTOH, a fetus is dependent in that same sense; he can survive only if one particular person takes care of him.

Should this fetus have rights and barring any mitigating circumstances, this fetus's rights might conflict with those of the mother.

One question to ask is should such dependent beings have rights, and what would they mean for the supporter of those dependents?

I don't think Rand drew a line in the exact-moment sense you speak of, though fetuses having no rights, and newborns having rights are her ideas.

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