In this discussion I would like to talk about abortion. It is always something I have felt very strong about and would argue to the ends of the earth on. I have always been Pro-Life, always. Ever since I became an Atheist, this topic keeps popping up in my head. Since it is something I have not wanted to confront, I have been pushing it to the back burner. Now that I have given it some thought I would like to tell you where I used to stand and where I stand now. When I was a Christian my thought process was "Abortion is Never the right choice unless the mother and child will both die." So even if the child were to survive and the mother dies, abortion is still not the right choice. Some might even consider that murder, I guess. To answer this question I'm sure someone will ask, Yes I would have and still would give up my life for my child. Well, now I'm sort of seeing things a bit different. If a female gets raped and gets pregnant from it, abortion is ok, (sad all the way around - for everyone).  If a woman chooses to abort a baby due to the risk to the mothers life, Ok. If the baby will have a very very very difficult life and in turn make the parents have an equally difficult life, ok. To me abortion is a horrible thing, if someone wants to have an abortion just because oops I got preggo. That is horrible. If you don't want kids do everything in your power to NOT get pregnant. Simple as that. Life is a beautiful an precious thing, and yes I do believe it is special.  Any and All comments are welcome :)

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That was Harris actually (just as a minor pain in the ass correction 8^)
Well... Martin Luther did... some other idiots in the PRESENT day did too [I think] .... cant remember
First of all, I think that abortions should be: Safe. Legal. Rare. Also, as a male, I fully understand that the male's role in brining life into this world is far removed from burden. Given the medical (mother's life, etc.) and societal (rape, etc.) need for abortion, and that it is the female role to carry a fetus to term, it seems that the ultimate choice should be that of the woman. At the same time, I also value potential life and maintain high regard for the biological process of reproduction. In a sense, I am pro-choice and pro-life (how about that for a bumper sticker!).

Joli, you should listen to a recent discussion with Jen Roth on this topic. While I am not endorsing her views and am still thinking through many of the talking points, her take on abortion as an atheist is quite nuanced and interesting.
I was just about to maybe recommend that Point of Inquiry podcast episode with Jen Roth speaking about being an atheist who is against abortion. I'm glad you did. ;)
Thanks for sharing! I will have to suck it up and endure Chris Mooney, I suppose, if I want to hear this.
Not if I could endure Mooney for very long. The man irritates me.
We are of one mind.
Safe. Legal. Rare.

That's been my position for years. It boggles the daylights out of anti-abortion pollsters when they ask me my opinion on abortion. As I see it, if there aren't any unwanted pregnancies then, barring medical necessity, there wouldn't be any abortions, either.
Yeah of course. ;) They should be safe, legal, and rare, and there needs to be good sex education, and easy access to contraception.
And easy access to sterilisation.
I am pro-life as well... I also agree with abortion when there are no other choices (like when the mother is in danger or when some poor girl/woman is raped like that 11 year old girl raped and impregnated by her uncle a couple of years ago). But I don't agree with an abortion when you simply don't want the baby... My sister had a daughter in 2007. She thought about abortion, she even made the appointment but in the last moment she changed her mind. Now her daughter is almost 4 years old and she is a wonderful child. Even the thought that she could have never existed makes me angry. In the summer she (my sister) got pregnant again. This time she went all the way with the abortion. That's just wrong. I don't want to hear any arguments on this... it's just how I really feel about this. I think if we agree with such a thing we are one step away from flipping a coin when deciding to keep a baby or not. By the way, my sister is a little religious (even if a little religious, she's as hypocrite as a person can be), she goes to church from time to time, etc....

I said that I'm pro-life, but I'm more against irresponsibility. I'm pro life if the woman is already pregnant... if not, I don't want any more babies, we have a lot of them who are in need of parents and care.
Most atheists are naturalists. They reject the supernatural. Unfortunately, most atheists also come from religious backgrounds. They were taught absolute laws, from God, that cover situations that are not absolute. For instance: the value of human life becomes the sanctity of human: thou shalt not kill. Value is relative. Sanctity is absolute. I believe that remnants of religious values persist in many atheists and takes time to come to terms with.

So, as naturalists, how are atheists to approach this issue? A quick look around will reveal that the value of human life is NOT absolute. It is not sacrosanct. "Sacrosanct", "sanctity", "sacred" . . . these are religious words designed to elevate the value of human life.

Elevating the value of human life, on the face of it, sounds like a good idea. But it denies the actual value of human life as demonstrated in practice. In practice, human life is expendable. Human life is expendable in the name of war, capital punishment, thrill-seeking, commuting, calculated risk, and, yes, abortion.

So we are faced with the value of human life as it actually is and as religion says it should be. "Is" versus "should". This choice seems to give religion the high ground. After all, who would argue that we should be cavalier about human life?

But religion's own hypocrisy on this issue is enough to confirm that the value of human life is NOT absolute. The Catholic church, until a few weeks ago, has refused to endorse condoms as a means to save lives from AIDS. Well, the Church can't have it both ways. If the Church can't tolerate abortion, why did it advocate (by condemning condoms) unprotected sex in AIDS-ravaged countries? If life is sacrosanct, why didn't the Church endorse protecting lives through the use of condoms?

This hypocrisy of the Church is a failure to prop up the sanctity of life. Reality (what is) wins out over wishful thinking (what should be). Even an institution steeped in denial couldn't maintain the sanctity of human life.

Because the value of human life is, in fact, not absolute.

That's not a very comforting thought for us atheists. But if we admit the truth, we can then assert that, if the value of human life is not absolute, we need to ensure that it's valued as much as possible.

I believe the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as the legal systems of most of Europe, has settled on the correct dividing line between legal and illegal abortion -- fetal viability. If a fetus could survive outside the womb, then it is immoral to abort it. With this standard, couples have plenty of time to decide whether or not to abort. This dividing line is a victory for the pro-choice camp. Abortions are legal and unwanted pregnancies can be legally terminated.

For those pro-lifers who disagree with the legal decisions of most progressive democracies: it's too late. You lost. Get used to it.


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