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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Atheist Debate on Abortion

I'm not sure when my schedule will first allow for this, but I wanted to throw it out there.

I frequently hear atheists -- and I want to stress frequently -- claim that you can't be a thinking atheist and also against abortion. The rationale is analogous to homophobia. You can't be both a thinking atheist and against homosexuality because homophobia is solely a consequence of religion. The same claim is made about abortion: the arguments against abortion are religious in nature. To put it more precisely, there is no secular, rational basis for opposition to abortion.

As an atheist who was opposed to abortion up until this year, I must reject this when I hear it. Even when I do, though, I'm told I'm wrong and that it's still something kept from religion.

I have had several readers ask me for a further account of my transition from anti-abortion to pro-abortion (both legally and morally). Rather than giving dry details about the arguments which I was once persuaded by and later arguments which dissuaded me from my former conclusion, I thought I'd try something more interesting.


Is there any atheist who would be interested in doing a debate via blog on abortion? I'm not sure if there is something already out there of this nature, but I thought it would be a good opportunity to show that there are secular arguments against abortion. Even though I no longer hold these views (and it has been a while since I have pondered the philosophy around it), I will take the side of an anti-abortionist in this debate.

So, if there's anyone interested, let me know. The only qualification is you must be an atheist. You can be either pro-abortion or anti-abortion (either legally or morally), but you must take the pro-abortion side.

6 comments:

Mudley said...

I don't really want to debate it, because I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I would still like to share mine.

I am a pro-choice atheist, and here's why.

I haven't yet met a single person that agrees that abortions are necessarily good, but it's not a black-and-white issue where you can make a blanket statement disallowing all abortions.

There are many circumstances which I find that abortions are acceptable, such as incest, rape, teen & young adult or anyone else who's not ready to have a child, conditions which the mother's health is at risk, etc.

But I also don't feel that abortions should be an alternative to birth control. I've seriously have met girls that have had 7 or 8 abortions. At that point it's ridiculous.

I think that abortions are not necessarily a problem in and of themselves, but a symptom of the problem of unwanted pregnancies due to substandard sexual education, whether that education failure was from the parents, or from the school system.

As far as legislation goes, I think that it is a state issue, and states can do what they want, but there should be no federal legislation either way.

Whateverman said...

DI, you probably know I'm not an atheist, so my opinion (on abortion) really doesn't apply here.

With that said, I don't find it illogical that an atheist would be "against abortion"; I think I could argue on purely secular reasoning as for why the laws should be changed.

This issue, like other emotionally-charged issues, is often portrayed in black and white terms. Yet if you actually spend time talking about the details, it quickly becomes apparent that abortion is more than just a battle between ideological paradigms.

To wit, at some point in the mother's womb it's a blob of flesh; at some later point still in the womb, it's a frikkin human baby. When the abortion is performed has grave implications, for both sides.

Reject the idealogues' notion that the disagreement is an issue of Good vs Evil. The intellectually handicapped portray it this way in order to avoid addressing the really difficult questions.

/rant

Tom Foss said...

Incidentally, a debate at least similar to this one has been happening on the Iron Chariots message board.

CodewordConduit said...

I am an atheist, and I believe in allowing the potential for life to become fully "actualized" life.

I personally regard this potential to begin with the healthy implantation of the fertillized egg within the uterus.

In my opinion there are numerous preventative contraception methods available to both men and women, unfortunately sex education is not up to scratch, and it needs to be.

In the case of rape, women should endeavour to take the morning after pill straight away. This makes it almost (99%) impossible for the fertillized egg to implant itself in the uterus wall. A temporary coil can be fitted for up to seven days after the event, and performs the same function with the same level of success. If for some reason this can't happen, and the woman in question desires to terminate, then all I can say is do it as quickly as possible.

I understand that in the case of rape, the coupling and its consequence is non-consensual.

If a pregnancy carries a high health risk to a woman, it should be terminated (after all if the woman dies, the baby would die too).

Consensual, unprotected sex comes with the understanding that a pregnancy can occur. Consensual, protected sex comes with the understanding that there is a 1-5% chance of a pregnancy occuring.

There has to be a higher level of sex education within schools however.

I speak as a 21 year old single mother who was pregnant at seventeen and had my daughter when I was eighteen.

I am an athiest to the core.

CodewordConduit said...

Such a hardcore atheist that I mis-spelled "atheist" in the previous posting. Oh the irony is not lost on me, but in my defence its nearly half past two in the morning here in the good old United Kingdom.

May I add on a completely personal note that my daughter has brought me nothing but happiness. I love her... so much, I can't describe it.

How sentimental of me. Doesn't happen too often.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the terrordome people because I am an atheist who is pro-abortion. Nice to meet you.

I base my position on the life-long suffering I have experienced growing up in the "wrong" family after being given up for adoption, or as I like to call it, "abandoned", by my birth mother.

Until I found Nancy Verrier's book, "The Primal Wound" which reveals the hidden truth that many, many adoptees are suffering from the trauma of being separated from their mothers as infants, from a premature separation that results in a loss of self-identity, and leads to a life of depression, confusion, and loneliness... until I found that book I thought the only explanation for my chronic depression and distress was that I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse.

When I found my birth mother and found her an empty shell of a person, desperately dependent on her husband, and years later found my birth father... some kind of petty criminal, I began to develop my theory that children are the inevitable products of their parents, whether an unloving parent does evil to them by abandoning them or keeps them and abuses them, there's no difference, and thus to me, a person who feels they have no chance at ever experiencing happiness, having only felt in in rare dreams, I think that abortion is a mercy killing, and would advise anyone who doesn't love their child, who is critical, controlling, angry, abusive, hateful, selfish, etc. to have that abortion and next time do better by using birth control.