Lot's of interesting responses here, pretty well thought out. I'm definitely pro-choice, it's none of my business so I have to be pro-choice. There are some guilty edges to this statement though. On one hand abortion helps control crime because of the lack of unwanted babies growing up psychologically "deformed" or the raised possibility of that. Nothing is for certain obviously but statistically at least this appears to be accurate.
But on the other hand, it's pretty barbaric. I'd hope that we could come up with a better plan for birth control and education since left to it's own development that bunch of cells will most likely become a life form. Even if a child is going to be born with a deficiency like down syndrome, we judge that to be a deficiency right? But really, aren't they the crown jewels of mankind? No judgement, no ill-will, free thinking, loving individuals. What if had aborted all of them to get the gene pool clean, isn't there some moral implication in that? I don't know the answers and am completely open to suggestions on how to process that but currently it's how I feel. I guess it has it's good points and bad.
Overall I'd always hope for birth control to be norm, but abortion must be a choice or decision for the person in that situation. And I'm fine with their decision either way.
Joli, in talking about whether abortion is OK or not (your terminology), you seem to be avoiding discussing whether it should be illegal in favor of whether it is right or wrong. The question really shouldn't be whether abortion is wrong, but whether IF it is wrong, should the state intercede and apply the whatever force is available to it to bring the child to term. If that means strapping the pregnant woman to a bed until she delivers, would you approve of that.
THAT is the real question. What happens when push comes to shove?
I haven't read all the responses, so excuse me if I repeat. I have my own ideas on the subject, but what's more important to me is that they are MY morals that I apply to myself. These discussions are valuable, but I think the more important question is--why should my morals apply to others?
Update...I see that I am most certainly not the first one to bring this up!
The very essence of morality is that it's society based, if it only applies to you, then it's just your personal values, it's not a 'moral'. For the past 2000 years, we've had superstitious patriarchal morons setting society's morals with the bible. Being an atheist means I decline morals based on superstition, and vow to fight the stupidity of those morals, and work towards a society who's value system, ethical system (morality if you want but I hate the word) is based on specific social objectives.
Abortion is a "morality" issue to people who believe in "morality", this is what I fight against. Abortion is also not a scientific issue, it does not matter when "life begins" I really don't give a shit. The essence of the abortion debate is the law. The rights of one end where the rights of the other begin, and the simple fact of the matter is that what's inside my body is mine, MY RIGHTS. Foetal rights are entirely limited by my rights, my rights are ALL of my body.
If women's rights to do as I please with my own body are not respected, I propose all women boycott any form of procreation until reason is brought back to society. I had my tubal ligation at age 30 after 3 abortions from conceptions which defied use of contraception and morning after pill.And I support all women, NO MATTER the reason, to manage their own body as they see fit.
Sadly morality is not sociey based, and i would venture to say that your definition of morality is slightly skewed. Morality by definition is right action based upon ethics. Ethics by definition is the good.
In our society today, ethics are very much individually relative, what you define as good and what i define as good may be differing, however when it comes to the topic of human life, i would say that every living human being in the world has the same ethical position and that is that human life is good. The morality pertaining to human life would be to protect it and to preserve it.
At this point, that is when the debate of when human life begins comes into play. If human life begins at the moment of conception, then it is by ethical definition immoral to commit an abortion because it is the destruction of human life. If human life does not begin at the moment of conception i would challenge you to determine when it does, is it at birth, at self awareness?
To me human life begins at the moment of conception.
If we were to say that it begins at the moment of birth, how is it then that premature infants survive even when almost a month premature? If we classify human life as an individual who is self aware then i guess we would allow for the lawful killing of mentally handicapped people or those in a vegitative state, heck we could even throw in the odd moron. I don't believe this is moral nor does it allign with our common ethic. Science is not yet at this point, but i would bet any money that someday it will be possible to conceive and nurture a foetus outside of a woman's body, should an infant created in this way be considered inhuman even in the earliest stages of human development?
As far as individual circumstances go, an individual's ethics do not change, subsequently neither does their morality. Therefore regardless of the situation, for every individual who believes life is good, it is immoral to destroy human life. The degree of morality can change depending on the circumstance making it difficult to determine what is a just cause for abortion and what is not, but the ethics remain constant. If an individual values human life, it is inethical to destroy it under any circumstance.
If pregnancy is a result of rape, i believe it would be in all respects immoral to abort the foetus because it would involve the willful destruction of human life. It is possible that the individual due to trauma from the rape may have opted for an abortion, therefor the degree of morality is lessened, but it is immoral and inethical nonetheless. I will not go into detail regarding other situations because there are so many, but the reasoning is similar and if you have any questions feel free to ask.
This response is not at all a pointing of the finger in the direction of anyone who has an abortion because each person has individual freedom, free will, and because of this all individuals are entitled to their own ethical positions. It is a matter of being honest with one's self. If an individual deems human life to be good (ethical), then it should consequently be considered immoral to destroy human life. If an individual sees the beginning of human life to be the moment of conception, then they should also consider abortion to be immoral according to their own individual definition of ethics, the good. It all really boils down to how honest an individual is with themselves and whether or not they care to be moral.
Legistlation on the issue of abortion should not be necessary if individuals did not contradict their own ethics. However legislation should not be necessary for the issue of murder either but people are not perfect and occassionally stray from their own ethics. Legislation should simply reflect the common ethics.
In our SOCIETY, murder is generally wrong, rape is often wrong, making lots of money is good,procreating is good. Ethics are relative, morality is society based. When people such as yourself state that morality is individual you're simply making up your own rules as you go, a very libertarian attitute, which is really really entertaining... "what 'I' think is good is 'good', what 'others' think is wrong or irrelevant". You can't run a society like that, in the past, the point of morality was to establish a list of social rules, based on what a majority+1 of individuals agreed with, or if the dictator and/or church leader says so. Some 20,000 years ago, before humans gathered into large groups, there was no need for the above stated morals. If the neighbouring tribe killed one of yours, you went out and killed one of theirs, or made war on them... back and forth, back and forth, this ensured that human populations remained low. All these morals we speak of was a intentional political strategy to allow very large numbers of humans to coexist, not kill each other, and especially not kill the bastards that were enslaving vast numbers of slave labourers. Large human populations go against the very grain of our ape nature, and morality allowed for the cancerous growth of humanity.
If I were to be leader of my ideal society I would declare all human procreation to be immoral for about 50 years, a moratorium of sorts, to allow other species to recover from our systematic destruction of our ecosystem. Obviously, most humans think only of themselves and this proposal would not pass and I certainly would not in present time get elected to office with such a platform. It's my personal opinion, until it becomes policy, then it reaches the morality status. If it's just me saying it, it has no morality bearing.
if ethics are relative then morality is also relative, the two are related and inseparable. Morality in definition has no direct link to society. Morality is individual though ethics and morality are elevated to the legislative level when the general population shares a common ethic.
Great then, we need no government and no legislation. I'll just "trust" that my neighbours values mesh with my own, lest I get murdered or something. A personal value, on it's own, is but anecdotal, and has no bearing in life unless you try to participate in your democracy, attempting to make your civilisation reflect the values you think are important. We as atheists are fighting faithers because we opine that society's morals would be better off serving our agenda than theirs. If you're content with your values being "just your own", then I'm afraid women would still not be voting and we'd still have a slave trade between Africa and the Americas.
Dictionaries are so handy! Now can we have the definitions of right & wrong, good & bad?
it's not so much about defining right and wrong as much as clarifying terminology and using this terminology to work out different situations. it's got nothing to do with the dictionary defining what is moral or immoral.
Ultimately, it'll come down to realpolitic. When the majority of the public wants women to be able to have an abortion, none of the moralistic arguments will mean a thing.
In the game of civilisation, politics is way more important than truth. It's ability to convince, diversifying the argument, reframing, which eventually leads to victory.