TOS Blog: Daily Commentary from an Objectivist Perspective

If Republicans Want to Win, They Must Embrace Individual Rights

Although I am disappointed by Barack Obama’s reelection, I am not surprised by it. Despite the ailing economy and the deeply troubled foreign policy that epitomize Obama’s presidency, Mitt Romney always faced an uphill battle—largely because he and his party alienate many women, Hispanics, gays, and others.

Consider a report from ABC:

Independents are siding with Mitt Romney at the polls in nearly every battleground state—like Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin—but President Obama has been able to make up for it with gains among Hispanics and women, according to exit polls.

That more women tend to vote for today’s Democratic party is no surprise; after all, women have the most to lose if Republicans successfully criminalize abortion. Notably, Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan endorsed a “personhood” measure that would outlaw abortion from the moment of conception and even criminalize forms of birth control and in vitro fertility treatments. Campaign mailers reminded many Colorado voters that various down-ticket Republican candidates support “personhood” measures; such campaigning helped feed the Democrats’ assertions that the GOP wages a “war on women.” Meanwhile, voters around the nation were continually updated about the latest outrageous comment by a Republican candidate regarding abortion, such as the infamous comments about rape from Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock.

Nor is it any mystery why various other voting blocks tend to favor Democrats. Many Hispanics tire of the nationalistic, xenophobic, protectionist, anti-immigrant stance of much of the GOP. And, of course, given the Republican determination to legally discriminate against gays, the party loses the votes of many if not most homosexuals.

In these cases, Republicans lose votes and elections because and to the degree that they advocate the violation of individual rights. Regarding abortion, the Republican establishment seeks to violate the rights of women for the sake of the undeveloped embryo inside her. Regarding immigration, many Republicans seek to violate the rights of peaceable people to move to America, and the rights of U.S. business owners to hire employees of their choice. Regarding gays, many Republicans seek to legally deny the rights of gay couples to marry; some even seek to deny the rights of gay couples to engage in sex.

In these cases (and others) the Republican Party would improve its electoral success throughout much of the nation by supporting the principle of individual rights. More importantly, it would champion the principle at the foundation of America—the principle on which life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness depend—and thus help re-establish the Land of Liberty that America is supposed to be.

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Creative Commons Image: Gage Skidmore

Posted in: Abortion and Reproduction, Politicians and Candidates

Comments are welcome so long as they are civil.
  • Anonymous

    On target.

  • Anonymous

    On target.

  • Anonymous

    On target.

  • Anonymous

    On target.

  • Anonymous

    On target.

  • http://twitter.com/jonicox55 Joni Cox

    I have been saying that forever. We need to let our conservative leaders be human – Herman Cain stood a better chance against Obummer, but the judgmental conservatives basically threw him off the ticket. We should have stood by him – his wife did! So who are we to judge? Same on the issues of abortion, gay marriage – who gives a damn! We are not God to decide what is right or wrong. We just need to maintain a free society and country.

  • Ian Bennett

    Surely also the Democratic party would have a better chance -and a stronger moral mandate – if it refrained from infringing on the right of Americans to hang onto the wealth that they have produced and earned, and to spend it as they determine is to their best advantage. But then the same applies to the formerly non-Socialist GOP.

    As an outsider (I’m British), I was hoping there could be a way that neither of them won.

  • jayeldee

    The Republicans deserved every one of their losses; I’m glad they were incurred.

    The Democrats deserved none of their wins; I’m sorry they materialized.

    And the country?…. It was bound to lose: either way, and any way.

    (As a Wisconsin resident–and a militant pro-abortionist–I was also hoping to rid the state of Ryan, and voted accordingly. Too bad about that one…. But I abstained from any presidential vote.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.j.casper Daniel Casper

    How can they embrace individual rights when they cannot use reason, due to their Conservative ideology? If Republicans want to win, they need to give up Conservatism and move on to a real ideology.

  • Roark

    Americans have forgotten the values upon which she was created; reason and freedom. Hold on people, things are about to go from bad to worse. It’s likely that America will fracture.

  • Roark

    Americans have forgotten the values upon which she was created; reason and freedom. Hold on people, things are about to go from bad to worse. It’s likely that America will fracture.

  • Jeremy

    The irony of Objectivists in supporting individual rights (to quote the article, “…the principle on which life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness depend..” and yet continue to be largely Pro-choice is nearly overwhelming.

    It is disappointing to see a philosophical system that so values reason to be so inconsistent on this issue. And I’m not arguing this from any type of religious perspective.

  • jayeldee

    There is no “inconsistency” in “the system.” Objectivists–the bona-fide ones–must be militantly (not “largely”) pro-choice. Those who are not, are not Objectivists.

  • Jeremy

    It is inconsistent. You have two options: You think individual rights are important but just not for everyone. Or, the other option is you just don’t think an unborn fetus is a person. That is inconsistent with logic, reason and science.

    I know the vagina is important and magical but do you really believe that it has the power to turn someone into a “person” while existing? Or do you think 1 meter of geography is really that important to whether or not you’re a person or not.

    Or do you have some other really convincing reason (besides geography) as to why an unborn fetus is not a person and therefore, undeserving of the rights that should be afforded us all (including and most notably the right to life)?

    “Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself.”

    Abortion is the definition of another person sacrificing their rights on behalf of another.

  • jayeldee

    The fetus CAN be nearly tantamount to “a person,” quite true. But that’s immaterial. It–near-person, or otherwise–is INSIDE OF the body of another person, the mother–who has rights.

    Rather a messy business, isn’t it? But that’s the way pregnancy works. If you don’t like it, I would suggest you go design another species of your own–where, perhaps, the fetus can flourish independently of the mother. As it is, the reality is otherwise. Rights begin when the cord is cut–and not before.

  • Jeremy

    Well, I’m glad we agree that the mother is the determining factor in deciding if the unborn fetus is a person or not. I was scared you were going to go into some anti-intellectual rant about “human development”.

    But.. don’t you see that that is contrary to Objectivist values that is? Supporting abortion rights because of this is supporting some of the most unreasonable and illogical laws we have.

    To simplify things, I think the notion can be described as follows (which is even true in most of our laws, at the moment, consider manslaughter or homicide):

    “If the mother says it is a baby it is; if the mother says it isn’t a baby it isn’t”.

    THAT is inconsistent and Objectivists should be repulsed by that.

  • Jeremy

    As a side note, I think most Objectivists support abortion because Rand did, not because it is consistent with her epistemology / philosophy of human rights.

    Rand erred here; we’d best not follow her simply out of an appeal to her authority.

    I will not follow any man (or woman) regardless of how much I admire them simply because they are who they are. They must be right and then I will follow.

  • jayeldee

    You’re obfuscating. It’s very simple: when the cord is cut, the “new rights” begin–regardless of what “the mother says;” and not before. (And by the way, even if technologies exist to keep the fetus viable outside of the womb–which of course they do–you’d STILL need permission from the mother to extract the fetus. The mother, endowed with rights, rules. Sorry, that’s the way pregnancy works. A messy business, as I say…. Reality isn’t always what we might want it to be; but it is what it is.)

  • Jeremy

    So we’ve moved from the vagina being the arbiter of individuality to the “cord”?

    Pray tell, what is it about the umbilical cord that makes someone a person?

  • Jeremy

    I’d also like to hear how your ideology on this works with Lotus Births. Your argument is getting very messy.

  • jayeldee

    Never mind the “arbiter of individuality.” The umbilical cord makes the fetus–however close it is to being “a person”–integral to the body of a person who has rights. You must respect the rights of the latter. Easy. (But not what we might like, I suppose, as a “preferable reality.” But there it is.)

  • Jeremy

    You already said that. I’m asking you how and why?

    You do know, I assume, that the placenta (to which the cord is attached) is delivered from the body of the mother, yes?

  • Jeremy

    Also, would you be okay then with me killing a born baby as long as the cord wasn’t cut yet? Your argument seems to indicate so.

  • jayeldee

    No–I would not be “okay” with YOU killing a baby as long as the cord wasn’t cut. I WOULD be “okay” with the mother doing so; as long as the cord isn’t cut, it’s still her body we’re talking about. And her body isn’t yours–or ours–or anyone else’s, to tamper with. It’s hers. It’s very simple. (I don’t say I “like” such a prospect. I simply accept it–as dictated by the facts of reality. I can’t tamper with a mother’s body….. But if the cord is cut–the mother MIGHT become a threat to the newborn–and might be subject to restraint or prosecution, accordingly. But if the cord is intact, it remains her body–and her decision–and no one else’s.)

  • jayeldee

    It doesn’t matter if the placenta is “delievered”, or not; it’s still part of the mother’s body. A messy business, to be sure. But reality doesn’t always cooperate with our wishes; that is a cardinal principle of Objectivism. If you can’t stand it, you can always discard the philosophy.

  • Jeremy

    Just so I understand then…

    It is ok for a mother to kill a delivered baby as long as the umbilical cord was not cut first.

    It is not ok for the mother to kill a delivered baby if the umbilical cord was already cut.

    It is “okay” for the mother to kill a delivered baby if the umbilical cord was not yet cut even if the placenta was delivered.

    Does that sum it up fairly?

  • jayeldee

    That sums it up fairly.

  • Jeremy

    Good! I def. hope for clarity before disagreement.

    Since this argument started over individual rights I can than assume that the baby becomes an individual when the cord is cut?

    Is that fair to assume regarding your position?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jacob.zeise.5 Jacob Zeise

    Jayeldee, I’m on your side in the sense that I agree with the right to abort, even until the very late stages (not to be confused with the morality of any given abortion). But your assertion that the placenta is some sort of extra-physical part of the mother is untenable – killing such a “lotus baby” would be murder, not abortion.

  • jayeldee

    Yes: the fetus becomes a human being–and is endowed with all of the rights appertaining thereto. The government is entitled (and is indeed obligated) to unholster its arsenal, and say: “Hands off! This is a human being.” (And the command applies, then, as much to the mother as to anyone else.)

  • Jeremy

    So you believe then that a delivered baby becomes a human being when the cord is cut?

  • jayeldee

    A delivered baby definitely becomes a human being, subject to rights, when the cord is cut. That is nearly self-evident (I would hope).

  • Jeremy

    Ok. Thanks for engaging in this discussion.

    I think you’ve sufficiently demonstrated the intellectual bankruptcy of the pro-choice side of this debate. At this point I’ll leave it to the other readers to defend your position (or to see it as logically, biologically and utterly without reason).

  • jayeldee

    There is nothing “intellectually bankrupt” about it. You have simply run out of arguments–don’t wish to face unpleasant or inconvenient realities–and are having to resort to ad hominem attacks. In the interest of your own psychological survival (FWIW), I suggest you go find other philosophies that might be more to your liking. Objectivism is not for the “faint of heart,” after all! It is for those who can summon the courage to face reality.

  • jayeldee

    Ayn Rand was right; therefore–I follow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Kenny/1485457284 John Kenny

    I agree with Ari’s comments, but there is a more mundane factor in play, which is “coolness”. O is viewed ( falsely !) as being cool and that is the only thing millions of voters notice.The Republicans must not nominate another old white guy. I hate to say that as an Objectivist, but it’s true.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Don-Kiss/1539514861 Don Kiss

    Mr. Armstong, thank you for your ability to look ahead. Before I came across this article, it seemed to me as if the fight for liberty had just vanished right in front of my eyes and gone out of existence. After reading this, I realize it’s still there.

  • jayeldee

    And what, pray tell, are “Lotus Births”? I’ve never heard of them. So do let me know; seriously: I would be interested in making an “application.”

  • jayeldee

    Please explain. I’m not familiar with the concept of “lotus babies”. I can fathom, sort of, the notion of mothers nurturing babies still attached via the placenta, across some significant span of time. But I do have trouble conceiving of the reality of such…. Enlightenment is welcome. I plead ignorance. (“What will they think of, next?”)

  • Jeremy

    It is intellectually bankrupt because every biologist on the planet would laugh themselves silly at the affirmation that a fetus, delivered from the womb and fully developed as any other child miraculously becomes human being at the slice of a scalpel.

    That position is anti-science, anti-intellectual and contrary to everything we know about biology.

    What you are arguing is that to become human is a metaphysical event, not a biological event.

  • jayeldee

    The point is not that the fetus “becomes human”; of course, it IS already that. But if it is attached to the mother–then it is ATTACHED TO THE MOTHER. It is PART AND PARCEL OF HER BODY–and thus, it is not ours to tamper with. It is HER BODY. It is HERS…… Why is this so difficult to see? The fact is almost purely perceptual. Even the most concrete bound mentality ought to be capable of comprehending it. I can only conclude that you don’t WISH to comprehend it. But–”wishing won’t make it so.” Good lord!

  • Jeremy

    I see.

    So since the human baby is “attached” via the cord to the placenta (regardless of whether or not the placenta has been delivered) and the placenta part of the mother then it is not a separate human person but rather an extension of the mother and therefore, her privilege to do with as she sees fit?

  • jayeldee

    That is correct. I thank you for your comprehension. (Again–I am neither happy nor disenchanted by the fact; I can only accept it.) (If I were the fictional “creator”, I am quite sure that I could have thought up a more “esthetic” and “convenient” mode of reproduction. But I was not that “creator”. Perhaps you can make that your life’s work; it is probably too late for me. And so I must accept–and so must you, for the nonce–reality-as-it-is. A messy business, isn’t it? …. Indeed it is.)

  • Jeremy

    Interesting. I’m curious then how you determined that the placenta is the property (i.e. body) of the mother and not the property of the baby?

    Especially considering that:

    1) The origin of the placenta is embryonic (it’s development originates from the embryo), not the mother’s body.

    2) The placenta must be projected from rejection by the mother’s body (a process that occasionally fails).

    3) It is a shared organ consiting of two parts (later cell contributions from the mother and baby).

    4) It acts as a separator between the mother and child, prohibiting shared blood flow.

    Biologically, I don’t think you can say that “the placenta is the mother’s”.

  • jayeldee

    The placenta is part of the mother’s body–and that of the fetus; a “shared organ”, as you put it. For goodness sake, it is INSIDE OF the mother’s body. That is a fact, which can be verified perceptually. (I think you don’t even need x-rays or microscopes, for that determination…. I mean, look here: the fairer sex get these distended bellies, and such–you know? [You do, don't you?]…. C’mon, Jeremy–are you kidding me? … You are, aren’t you? [I rather hope so.] … And me: I’m growing bored….. Time to move on, I think…. Bottom line: RIGHTS BEGIN WHEN THE CORD IS CUT. Good mnemonic, that–for exam time….)

  • Jeremy

    So we’re back to the geography argument?

    You’ve agree that it is a human being stating

    “the point is not that the fetus “becomes human”; of course, it IS already that.”

    And yet have continued to argue that you support a mother’s decision to terminate the life of a human being since it is either 1) in her body or 2) attached externally to an organ that was once part of her body.

    The bottom line is this. Under no circumstances can I support the killing of another innocent human being. It isn’t just contrary to Objectivist values or civil rights.

    It is contrary to human rights.

  • jayeldee

    (I can’t believe I’m being this generous.) If the fetus is STILL attached to the mother, it is NOT “once” a part of her body–it is STILL a part of her body. And her body is off limits–to you, to me, or to Representative Paul Ryan, whatever our respective fantasies. See? Easy: HANDS OFF: Off of HER body, and that of her fetus. HANDS OFF! It’s not “our” body (whatever our fantasies)! Good lord!

  • Jeremy

    Well thank you for your graciousness.

    It is not that I’m trying to be difficult with you. I’m trying to understand your position and how you could believe it. In 15 years of debating this topic I have never encountered an argument quite like yours – after all, even another pro-choice participant called it “murder”.

    jayeldee, with all due respect you are completely wrong (on biological terms) with regards to it being “her body”.

    I’m sorry but I just can’t argue on metaphysical propositions, nor can I accept them. I have to deal within the realm of the sciences – in this case human biology.

    Virtually every aspect of the two are separate.

    They have separate nervous systems, respiratory systems, brains, spinal cords, fingers, hearts, cells and sexual organs. My god, that should be enough right there to tell you that the baby is not “the mother’s body”. They can have different blood types. The mother can reject the baby as a foreign object if things go wrong. They are biologically different people.

    They have separate sleeping habits and patterns. They think different thoughts, they feel pain separately. They are psychologically different people.

    These things are true in the womb or out of the womb.

    ***********************

    No matter how much you’d like to claim another person as part of your body every science studied by man objects to your argument that a baby delivered from a mother’s womb but still connected to the placenta via the umbilical cord, even if that placenta has also been delivered, is “the mother’s body”.

    You know that, science contends that that is true and frankly, more than anything most people reading this know that, but are probably too cowardice to stand up for the truth, even if that means disagreeing with another Objectivist.

    ***********************

  • jayeldee

    None of that matters. The fetus is connected, physically, to the mother. You need her permission to effect a separation. Absenting that permission, or nature taking its course, there is no recourse, without violating the rights of the mother. The fetus is hers. (I’m sorry. But it’s not my design. It’s reality’s.)

  • Jeremy

    And THERE we have it. You didn’t disagree with a single argument I made on the sciences.

    “None of that matters”

    “[Reality does not] matter”

    Good day.

  • jayeldee

    Well, it doesn’t seem like a “good day”–since you still seem to be stuck in your own misbegotten misconceptions. I agree with whatever “scientific arguments” you might summon (so long as they are legitimate). But the incontrovertible fact is–despite any allegedly “scientific” fact to the contrary that might be marshalled by you, or by anyone: A FETUS BELONGS TO ITS MOTHER–not to you, not to me–and most definitely not to Mr. Paul Ryan (who, I fervently hope, vanishes from the planet, before 2016).

  • LibertyPhysics

    Wow. You voted to enslave me from birth to death over abortion. Thanks.

  • Jeremy

    “A FETUS BELONGS TO ITS MOTHER”

    And that is where we simply disagree and will have to remain in disagreement.

    People are not bought, nor sold, nor owned. They are not the property of another person. Human rights are not “property rights”.

    They do not exist for the use (or misuse) of another. They exist for their own sake and cannot exist (or be caused to cease to exist) for the sake of another.

  • jayeldee

    No, a fetus is not a mother’s “property”, strictly (or legally) speaking. Nor is my arm, nor my foot, nor my brain. Those are “parts of” me; they are parts of my body: which IS my property. And so, with the fetus.

  • Anonymous

    Jeremy: The Pope stated that Human Life begins at conception – JP2, 1979. Ayn Rand stated that women should have the right to control the entirety of their bodies, even during pregnancy. You are stating that a fetus has rights equivalent to a fully-developed Human Being, and that logically these rights include the right to life – to thereby conclude that abortion is a violation of the fetus’ rights. Except that the fetus cannot live without its dependency upon its mother. The Objectivists’ view that abortion is and should remain legal is based on the idea that Human Life does not begin until birth, when an infant is completely separate from its mother. Any other view – any other time-point in the development of the fetus from fertilized egg up to the moment of birth – relegates the mother to a status somewhere less than that of a breed-mare, whose only purpose is to create and gestate the succeeding generations. My belief is independent of cutting cords or fertilizing eggs – a fetus becomes a full Human Being when it is breathing on its own, into its own lungs, and – hopefully – screeching its head off because it now must face the world and all the greatness and terror to be found there. So that if you were to kill a newborn baby whose umbilical had not yet been cut, I would hope, pray, and use every ounce of effort I could muster to ensure that you never saw the light of day again. However, a woman wishing to terminate her pregnancy ten weeks, ten days, ten hours, ten minutes, or ten seconds before the fetus is acting on its own should be given the right to do so, if she can find a doctor willing to perform such a procedure and facilities willing to allow the procedure to progress. If you have a more rational, logical, reason-based alternative – I’d like to hear it.

  • jayeldee

    Would you have preferred that I voted to enslave a multitude of women, from birth to death, “for your sake”, over abortion?…. I suppose you would have. And that is the alternative that your Republicans presented us with. Blame them, not me–LibertyP.

  • Jeremy

    The “dependency” argument is one that is weak, at best. You also alluded to the “development” argument.

    Before I offer up countless objections to either I would recommend you study human development. A simple timeline should do the trick; there are hundreds available online.

    Surely you don’t think that human development ends at birth? Every born child continues to develop into adulthood (provided they last that long). Biologically speaking human development continues into late teens. The process spans the birth event.

    There is no magic moment upon birth that the development process suddenly shifts or changes.

    Many of the developmental stages begin before birth and continue after birth, uninterrupted. To appeal to “birth” as the arbiter on this matter is to 1) completely ignore human development science and 2) set some arbritary moment in the middle of multiple developmental processes in which it suddenly becomes wrong to kill the child.

    Using your argument, “a fetus becomes a full Human Being when it is breathing on its own, into its own lungs” must I assume then that a child born without the ability to breath on his own is therefore, no human being at all?

    Or what about the child born without eyes? Or the one born with no legs? How about the child who is permanently depended on external medical / biological assistance to survive? Also not a human being?

    You’re traveling down a dangerous road.

  • jayeldee

    All good. Except–if the fetus is still physically connected, via the umbilical, it is still A PART OF the mother. And the mother (which being encompasses all parts thereof) has rights. And those rights have to be respected. It’s an easy principle to grasp–even if not a convenient, nor a pleasant, nor an inspiring, notion to contemplate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Don-Kiss/1539514861 Don Kiss

    At a certain point during pregnancy, the situation is essentially that of an unborn baby just being stored for a little while until it and the mother’s body are ready for it’s delivery. That is the point at which it might be possible to make a case (based on reality) for rights to become applicable to such an entity. Prior to that point, however, it’s just doesn’t coincide with reality.

  • Jeremy

    Don, thank you for being at least somewhat logical here.

    I respect your undogmatic approach here and willingness to consider other options – based on science.

  • Jeremy

    Your obsession with the umbilical cord is very hard to understand.

    “Easy principle to understand” simply because you have never taken the time to entertain the idea you may be wrong.

  • Jeremy

    jayeldee, your arguments are so insensible that I can only assume you’ve had an abortion and feel tremendous guilt over it. Self-justifcation is more often than not the cause for illogical arguments that defy reason, logic and science.

    If you haven’t, I’m mistaken and am sorry for presuposing so. If so, I’m sorry that happen and I’m sorry that you’ve shared in that guilt.

    I don’t blame you. I’m sorry for you and I feel badly for you. It’s not your fault.