Quoteable

“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 body?”

— Ayn Rand

“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).”

— Ayn Rand

“One method of destroying a concept is by diluting its meaning. 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.”

— Ayn Rand, “A Last Survey — Part I”, The Ayn Rand Letter Vol. IV, No. 2, 1975

 

“A man who takes it upon himself to prescribe how others should dispose of their own lives – and who seeks to condemn them by law, i.e., by force, to the drudgery of an unchosen, lifelong servitude (which, more often than not, is beyond their economic means or capacity) – such a man has no right to pose as a defender of rights. A man with so little concern or respect for the rights of the individual, cannot and will not be a champion of freedom or of capitalism. (For a full discussion of the issue of birth control, see my article “Of Living Death.”)”

— Ayn Rand

“Responsible parenthood involves decades devoted to the child’s proper nurture. To sentence a woman to bear a child against her will is an unspeakable violation of her rights: her right to liberty (to the functions of her body), her right to the pursuit of happiness, and, sometimes, her right to life itself, even as a serf. Such a sentence represents the sacrifice of the actual to the potential, of a real human being to a piece of protoplasm, which has no life in the human sense of the term. It is sheer perversion of language for people who demand this sacrifice to call themselves ‘right-to-lifers.’ ”

— Leonard Peikoff (Objectivism, in the Chapter on Government)


“The fact of birth is an absolute — that is, up to that moment, the child is not an independent, living organism. It’s part of the body of it’s mother. But at birth, a child is an individual, and has the rights inherent in the nature of a human individual. […] It is debated that at some time before birth the child becomes conscious. I don’t know; this is for science to determine. But what is not debatable is this: a human embryo does not even have the beginnings of a nervous system until a number of months (around three, I believe) into the pregnancy. […B]before that point, there is no rational, moral, or semi-humane argument that could be made in favor of forbidding abortion. … A piece of tissue — an embryo — cannot have rights.”

— Ayn Rand, FHF Q&A following “The Wreckage of the Consensus”, 1967, Ayn Rand Answers 126-127

 

“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.”

— Ayn Rand, “Of Living Death”, 1968, The Virtue of Selfishness 58-59

“A human being is a living entity; life starts at birth. An embryo is a potential human being. You might argue that medically an embryo is alive at six to eight months. I don’t know. […] The right of a living human being comes above any potential human being. I never equate the potential with the actual. I’m in favor of abortion, of birth control, of sex as such, as an absolute right of the parties involved. The right of a living human being comes above any potential human being.”

— Ayn Rand, FHF Q&A following “The Moratorium on Brains”, 1971, Ayn Rand Answers 125

“I’d like to express my indignation at the idea of confusing a living human being with an embryo, which is only some undeveloped cells. (Abortion at the last minute — when a baby is formed — is a different issue.) The right to abortion is the right to get rid of some cells in your body, which you can’t afford to support if it grows into a child. […] The basic principles here are: never sacrifice the living to the nonliving, and never confuse an actuality with a potentiality. An “unborn child,” before it’s formed, is not a human, it’s not a living entity, it has no rights. The woman has rights.”

— Ayn Rand, FHF Q&A following “Egalitarianism and Inflation”, 1974, Ayn Rand Answers 17

“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 three months. To equate a potential with an actual, is vicious; to advocate the sacrifice of the latter to the former, is unspeakable”

— Ayn Rand, “A Last Survey”, 1975, The Ayn Rand Letter 383

“I am certainly in favor of abortion. … I am in favor of a woman’s perfect moral right to have one if she so decides. … I am in agreement with the Supreme Court decision on this subject.”

— Ayn Rand, FHF Q&A following “The Moral Factor”, 1976, Ayn Rand Answers 17

 

“Just as there are no rights of collections of individuals, so there are no rights of parts of individuals — no rights of arms or of tumors or of any piece of tissue growing within a woman, even if it has the capacity to become in time a human being. A potentiality is not an actuality, and a fertilized ovum, an embryo, or a fetus is not a human being. Rights belong only to man — and men are entities, organisms that are biologically formed and physically separate from one another. That which lives within the body of another can claim no prerogatives against its host.

—  Leonard Peikoff, OPAR 357

 

“When does the transition from the potential to the actual occur in regard to the fetus? In that form, I do not regard that as a philosophic question. That would have to be a biological question. What I can say is this: the moment that the entity is born and the cord is severed, and it’s biologically now a separate entity, that is obviously an actual human being. There is, however, a borderline area in there, where it’s to all intents and purposes formed — it wouldn’t even need to be in an incubator, let us say, and it’s still in the mother but simply hasn’t been born. Where you could argue that the thing has already been actualized and is just sort of resting between two dimensions. Now, how much structure has to be formed internally before you say it’s actualized? I don’t know enough biology to know. Certainly, it has to be viable — and beyond that it has to have its main growth done, so that it’s not like taking an egg out and sticking it in an incubator and then it grows for eight months. That does not make it actual. Not only does it have to be viable — that is, capable of living outside the mother — it has to be essentially formed.”

— Leonard Peikoff, Advanced Seminars on OPAR, Lecture 14