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Hello everyone, I had some questions regarding the Objectivist positions on abortion and the rights of the fetus/child that I was hoping someone could clarify. At what point, from conception to adulthood, does a person attain their rights (or, at least the most basic right to life)? I do see how a fetus is not afforded rights within the first trimester, since it is at that point little more than matter and, therefore, afforded no more rights than an animal; however, at some point during prenatal development, is it not afforded the right to life? (I don't mean to diminish the woman's right, and could certainly see how, if her life were in jeopardy from pregnancy, an abortion would be entirely morally permissable.) I have read all the Objectivist non-fiction and agree with it, but have not heard any convincing argument by Rand that the rights of the mother supercede that of the unborn. Thanks for your replies.
There are many ways to kill yourself and many reasons to do so. When I lived in Livingston County, Michigan, there was this old couple, married a hundred years more or less and she passed away first and a few days after the funeral, he died. No one asked any questions or needed to. His death was ruled "natural causes" and it was close enough. Even a nominally young person could face unremediable prospects of disease, paralysis, overall loss of life quality. Why delay the inevitable as it just gets worse? (Clearly, someone 20 has more likelihood of better outcomes over time than someone 60. "Nominally young" could mean early to late middle age.) The point is that as your life is your own, what you do with it is your business. But "business" implies calculation. Businesses are economic entities of profit. And yes, they fail and are liquidated. But not because everyone's favorite accountant quit. And when they go, the board of directors does not call in professional dynamiters to bring the building down. In fact, arson is one of the common crimes of business - a failing business is destroyed - and it is considered a crime. In other words, the decision to close a business is calculated ... and suicide often is not. Objectivists recognize that children have fewer rights than adults. It is easy to say that if a policeman sees an adult poised to jump off a bridge, the moral imperative to act is different than if the jumper were a child. If the two were only walking the bridge for fun, the same standard would apply: the adult has a right to risk his life; the child does not. I submit that anyone who attempts a dramatic death is not rational. Therefore, they do not enjoy thte rights of an adult. With the legal status of a child, that person can and should be restrained for their own good, as a moral imperative of the state which has a compelling interest in the well-being of all under its protection. Another way to approach this is to ask if you have the right to sell yourself into slavery. When I brought this up on RoR, one reply was that the voluntary choice to involuntary servitude is a contradiction and therefore does not need to be discussed. However, that ignored the reality of the Roman latifundists: thousands of farmers became slaves through debt. Here and now debt is real. By the standards of Objective moral philosophy, can you agree to sell yourself for the rest of your life to pay off your debts? Can that include your children? At what age or by what other standard could they agree, if they wanted to? (In America, at first, the children of slaves were considered freeborn, but that became inconvenient.)