Ayn Rand bore no children. If she had, and if they had grown to an appropriate age, she presumably would have sat them down for “the talk.” On such an occasion, she might have explained the birds and the bees like this:
Sex is a physical capacity, but its exercise is determined by man’s mind—by his choice of values, held consciously or subconsciously. To a rational man, sex is an expression of self-esteem—a celebration of himself and of existence. To the man who lacks self-esteem, sex is an attempt to fake it, to acquire its momentary illusion.
Romantic love, in the full sense of the term, is an emotion possible only to the man (or woman) of unbreached self-esteem: it is his response to his own highest values in the person of another—an integrated response of mind and body, of love and sexual desire. Such a man (or woman) is incapable of experiencing a sexual desire divorced from spiritual values.
Upon taking in the lecture, Rand’s offspring might have been left with profound insight into romantic love, but wouldn’t necessarily know where babies come from. Take what you will from Rand’s unique views on sex, she appears to have divorced the act from its reproductive function.
So it seems with the culture at large. An act which epitomizes connection has become detached from its vital moorings, divorced from marriage, divorced from love, and – most consequentially – divorced from parenthood.
Nothing may demonstrate the disconnect between sex and childrearing better than the evergreen debate over abortion. Rand aggressively advocated the “right” of mothers to kill their unborn children:
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. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?
Thus Rand strangely deviated from her vaunted law of identity, the Aristotelian assertion that a thing is what it is. Through some mystical process which Rand – like all abortionists – takes for granted without ever actually demonstrating, a child emerges on the day of its birth having not existed as such mere moments before. Certainly, it can be objectively demonstrated that a being does not exist as such prior to its conception. But prior to its birth? How did it exist in the womb, as a loaf of bread?
A connection can be drawn from Rand’s belief that a child is not such until born, to her omission of children as a consideration when engaging in sex. From her perspective, which matches that of abortionists everywhere, the choice to procreate exists completely separate from the choice to have sex. If indeed “a child cannot acquire any rights until it is born,” the choice to have a child need not be made until birth, and has nothing whatsoever to do with sex.
Though atheistic, Rand condemned a few choices as sin, including the refusal to think and the rejection of reality. Detaching the sex act from its natural consequence commits both. Sex may result in children. Competent adults know that going in, and stand responsible for the lives of any children they may produce regardless.
There exists a certain irony in the fact that, while Rand’s overall philosophy remains on the fringes of popular culture, her views regarding sex, reproduction, and parenthood have been roughly and broadly adopted. Granted, most abortionists arrive at Rand’s view in parallel through a haphazard adoption of ideas, not a thoughtful consideration of her (or any) philosophy.
Despite a disproportional focus in public discourse on rape, incest, and the health of mothers, most abortions prove elective, committed for no other purpose than ignoring reality, shirking responsibility, and dismissing consequence. This desire to erase any trace of a child’s existence informs the irrational claim that the child wasn’t really a child anyway. The emotionalism surrounding that claim erupts mightily when challenged, because otherwise rational people know in both their hearts and minds that, if a child exists upon conception, its parents bear responsibility for it.
Even devout student’s of Rand’s philosophy acknowledge that a parent stands obligated to arrange for the care of their child. One comments:
A parent is not morally obligated to value their child more than themselves. However, they are morally obligated to ensuring that their child receives appropriate care until they are mature enough to care for themselves, through a responsible third party (foster care, etc) if necessary.
A worthy question is: why? Why is a parent morally obligated to ensure that their child receives appropriate care until they are mature enough to care for themselves?
The answer can be demonstrated through analogy. Rand’s philosophy holds that one man’s need places no moral claim upon the life of another. Thus, if we drive past someone injured on the side of the road, we have no duty to assist them. However, if we hit someone with our car while driving, a duty to assist emerges. That’s why states properly prohibit hit and runs.
The same principle applies to procreation. A neighbor in need has no moral claim to your assistance. However, a child which exists as a consequence of your own action does. As with the hit and run scenario, intention proves largely irrelevant. The consequences of your actions exist in reality and define your responsibility regardless of any wish to the contrary. Just as the duty to remain on the scene of a collision exists whether it was an accident or not, so too does the duty to care for one’s children. Pretending that an unborn child is not really a child proves fundamentally no different than pretending a struck pedestrian was really a dog.