TOS Blog: Daily Commentary from an Objectivist Perspective

Rand Supported Legal Abortion and Other Rights, Burns Notes

Although historian Jennifer Burns gets a lot wrong about Ayn Rand, she makes some good points in a recent op-ed for the New York Times. Burns discusses Rand’s ideas in relation to those of Paul Ryan, the GOP’s vice-presidential candidate who has credited Rand for inspiring him to enter politics.

To be sure, the op-ed contains some ridiculous assertions; for example, Burns claims that Rand would have “scoffed” at the prospect of someone entering politics (which Ryan described as “public service”), and she ludicrously claims that Tea Party members “believe they are the only ones who deserve government aid.” Burns is right, however, in recalling the following:

Years before Roe v. Wade, Rand called abortion “a moral right which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved.” She condemned the military draft and American involvement in Vietnam. She warned against recreational drugs but thought government had no right to ban them. These aspects of Rand do not fit with a political view that weds fiscal and social conservatism.

Burns unpersuasively claims that even in the context of Obama’s assaults on producers and economic liberty Rand would have considered Ryan’s position on the Republican ticket to be a “nightmare.” But Burns is certainly correct that Rand would have condemned many of Ryan’s beliefs and policies.

Rand would have condemned any and all policies that involve the violation of individual rights. Americans would do well adopt this policy as their own.

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Image: Jennifer Burns

Posted in: Abortion and Reproduction, Ayn Rand and Objectivism, Politicians and Candidates

Comments are welcome so long as they are civil.
  • Keith Sketchley

    IMJ from what I’ve seen (recent documentary) and read Burns is over-rated, not a high quality academic. Somehow gets publicity, perhaps just because of Ayn Rand’s name recognition leading media to jump on anything about here.

  • Brianna Aubin

    Burns was quite fair to Rand with respect to the facts in her biography, but when you read it, you can tell that she never entirely got the philosophy. Which is sad considering how much time she spent studying Rand, but there you go.

  • Byron Baker

    It’s the licensing of Physicians that creates the issue. If Religious money pays for College subsidy they get a say what you can do with it. The monopoly of licensing raises the cost of Healthcare