I'm an atheist. I believe in reproductive rights for women. I believe a woman should be able to abort a pregnancy no questions asked. Why should I have to also believe the nonsense that "life begins at birth"? It seems to me that a human being is created as soon as a sperm fertilizes an egg. The DNA of a human being exists from that point onward. Are we so under the thumbs of the religious right that we can't say, "Yeah, life begins at conception. So what? The woman still has control."?

Tags: abortion, conception, feminism

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Life surely doesn't begin at birth - that is utter nonsense. But at the same time, this is not a black or white choice between one extreme end and the other for when human life starts. Sure, when the sperm fertilizes with the egg there is life, but it is not human life as it has not formed into a viable human being whom has any consciousness and feels of pain. The question is, at what point in the pregnancy is it a baby? I am comfortable in having abortion legal in the first trimester but should the mother be irresponsible to have terminated the baby within the first trimester, I feel that she should not be able to get an abortion as this would be then murdering an actually baby whom has developed a brain and feels pain. Now of course, I believe that there should be exceptions for when there are risks to the life of the mother or in the cases where the baby may have ailing disorders such as parsimony 21; but I don't feel that the mother should be able to wait until the 2nd trimester and beyond and then all of a sudden decide to have an abortion out of her failing to be responsible when she had the opportunity at any time before the end of the first trimester.

Unseen..technically you are right, one cell can be considered "life"..but what makes a human being? Is a human being a one cell animal?  If not then we need to investigate this further.

A human being is a trillion celled organism.  But what are the factors that contribute to the granting of certain rights and priviliges that "personhood" enjoys?  And is mere "human-ness" an acceptable gauge?  Why should a human blastocyst enjoy full rights of personhood while an adult chimpanzee or bottle nosed dolphin is denied most, if not all, of these same rights? 

It's a case of incorrect terminology here. A foetus is alive, there is absolutely no question of that. Denying that a foetus is alive is like denying that the night is dark.
The question under discussion here is about at what point the foetus becomes viable. A foetus capable of survival, even with medical intervention, outside of the womb is viable and should never ever be aborted.
The most despicable practice I've ever seen is the partial birth abortion which takes advantage of a loophole in the law. The baby is delivered in breach to the point where the skull is still in the birth canal. It is then murdered by severing the spinal cord at the base of the neck...and delivered as a non-viable foetus.

Partial birth abortions are also illegal in the United States, though there are loopholes.  At any rate, late term abortions are an insignificant portion of all abortions performed.

 

Viability is a poor place holder, also.  With advances in neo-natal care, viability is being pushed back to younger and younger gestational ages.  How can we say that at point X, this fetus is not a person, but in 5 years when technology makes point X a viable point, it now is? 

I am a particularly liberal atheist and a feminist but I do have some concerns about the woman having all the control,mostly from personal experience. When we found out that we were expecting our daughter my husband and I both felt this love and commitment to her almost at once. We know that both mothers and fathers can feel terribly bereaved after a miscarriage. My husband's ex girlfriend aborted his baby after telling him she was pregnant and he still remembers the due date and how old his first child would be now - he was devastated and would have supported her through the pregnancy and then been a single parent and asked her for nothing if she had gone through with it. She may not have agreed to that but she didn't even think it concerned him.

 

If we hold men responsible for the financial support of a child conceived accidently, should he not have some say in an abortion? I do not mean that his wishes should exceed hers but could there not be some system of negotiation? Should the man not be given a chance to offer alternative solutions before the woman makes her decision? I know that my husband felt as much love for our just conceived child as i did and having had two miscarriages I know what it feels like to have that taken away against your will.

I disagree.  I think it is her choice and her choice alone, in the eyes of the law.  I think that the rules of a relationship would be that it would be the right thing to consult the father, but no man or person should ever hold legal or moral sway over a woman's reproductive rights.

 

That a man has no ultimate recourse in her decision and may be financially liable for a child is the male burden to carry.

 

I tend to agree with you.  I have known a couple of guys who have had girlfriends in the past have abortions, and it haunted them.  If it was me in that position, I would definitely talk to the father, unless he was a complete bastard, like abusive or something.  But I do think that men should at least have some rights in making the decision.

I think that it is admirable to discuss it with the other person, if the situation is amenable to that discussion.  I felt hurt and betrayed when I was not consulted about an abortion years ago.  I never felt I had the right to be consulted, however.  I much later discovered that it was very likely not even mine in the first place. I've been more haunted by the betrayal of trust on many levels than the actual abortion.

@Reggie Just because the point of viability is mutable does not make it a poor measure. Each case should be judged entirely on its own merits within limits set by law. There is no cookie cutter solution to this argument, it is a very subjective issue.

I'm not sure how it is a subjective matter outside of the realm of personal opinions.  It is a complex and oft debated matter, but not a subjective one.  One person's legal abortion can't be another person's murder in a legal construct. That the issue is to apply an objective point to the issue does make viability a poor marker because we know it to be variable.  Whatever limits are set by the law must, by necessity, have an objective nature about it. If viability is pushed back to conception, will we charge fertility services with mass murder? Perhaps retroactively if the technology advances faster than statute of limitations run out?

Limits set by law?  ummmm...christian lawmakers or secular or both?

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