Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Individual Rights and Abortion

The Colorado based Pagosa Daily Post published my letter to the editor today in response to a rebuttal by one Steve Van Horn to Diana Hsieh's op-ed piece defending a woman's right to an abortion. The letter was only slightly edited from the original ("Man" was changed to "human being"). Here it is as the Post published it (go to the letters for 10/29/2008 and scroll down):

Van Horn Opinion Misses the Point
Gideon Reich
Steve Van Horn's rebuttal in the Post to Diana Hsieh's excellent article on abortion shows a complete lack of understanding of the one crucial concept in the abortion debate: Individual Rights. Far from being mythical supernatural endowments implanted at conception, or social conventions subject to popular vote, rights derive from a human being's nature as a rational being. His existence requires the free exercise of his rational faculty to sustain his own life.

A "right," as Ayn Rand pointed out, "is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context." Thus, the freedom of action that ought to be guaranteed to an individual is the freedom to think and act without interference from others in society for the achievement of his goals, as long as he respects the right of others do the same.

The very first requirement for such a freedom to apply is that the "individual" in question actually be a separate individual in a social context — not a mere potential that is part of another actual individual. As Ms. Hsieh has eloquently shown, the unborn fetus, to say nothing of the embryo or zygote, has not met that requirement.

The pregnant woman, on the other hand, clearly has — and has every moral right to act accordingly.

2 comments:

kerrjac said...

Very eloquent argument. Even more admirable in an area that generally lacks eloquence.

Gideon said...

Thank you!