Recently, while browsing through the groups, I came across a Pro-life group. It has only one member-it's founder, and that got me to thinking...Are there any pro-life atheists out there? And being that most, if not all arguments I've heard against abortions are usually religious in nature, what would be the atheists argument(s) against abortion?

Personally, I am pro-choice. I fully support every womans right to choose.

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Hi, I haven't read all the posts here and I am an atheist and I oppose abortion on demand.
I don't like to be put in a box and labelled say pro-life or pro-choice. they cannot describe everyone's position and certainly not mine. These are other peoples labels and I reject them as being descriptive.
Let's face it, we humans make mistakes, do stupid things, are sometimes plain unlucky,and being human try to minimise any adverse results of our actions, -it's only human.
We also like to have sex, that's also only human.
When we have sex, there is always the potential [risk] (in heterosexual sex) of a resultant pregnancy.
If we actually think about this issue, I think we will agree that no-one has sex with the view, lets go ahead because if I'm unlucky I can have (or facilitate) an abortion. With the exception of some very extreme cases, this is the rule.
The question I'd like to have answered is, "should abortion become just another means of contraception?"
Personally I don't think so.
You see, I respect the right to life and feel that I have no right to stop a life without good reason.
Now, when life begins is another question, and one I cannot answer.
I think we would all agree that there is something of a "sliding scale" here, where we all know where life exists, and where it does not.
If it is largely agreed that life exists, then it is wrong to extinguish it. If it may exist, we should be sure we do not extinguish it without very good reason.
Before anyone asks, I am also very much opposed to the death penalty, the free availability of firearms and most of the "pro-life" theist based doctrines.
Being honest, I don't know how much of a Catholic, Irish up bringing has influenced my views (not to declare this, would, to my mind seem discreditable).
I just think that abortion is generally wrong, but situations influence outcomes. Sometimes one may be in the situation where they must pick the lesser of two wrongs.
I think that one of my main reasons for opposition to (unrestricted) abortion is the fact that I am an atheist. This life is all we have! What kind of a persion would I be if I denied (or assisted in denying) that
right to another human being?
Lets not make the mistake of assuming that all religious doctrines are wrong precisely because they have a religious origin (how many religious doctrines have their origins in the secular)
In closing this, I am more than willng to state that I do not claim to have all the answers, I do not claim to be an expert here or even to say that this is a very clear outline of my position. The only thing I am sure of is that I believe that abortion is wrong because that is the conclusion I have come to having weighed up all the points that have been made to me by the various differing views.
I reiterate that I am not a religious pro-lifer and would resent either of the wings taking this post as suggesting that I in any way support their campaigns
Be fore anyone asks

I'm cool with that. It's more conservative than my examined position, but then I wasn't brought up Catholic.
The only anti-abortion arguments not coming from a religitarded view I can think of are idealistic visions of a far-off wonderland future where children and the dangerous practice of pregnancy are seen only as often as they are needed to replace the dying workers of twenty years hence. In such a fantasy land, all pregnancies not initiated for official purposes will be terminated. Yep; a totalitarian world. (The idea being ... oh screw it, it's a bad idea anyway)
Only one thing I've to say about this:

I've noticed this post has received much attention, and I'm overjoyed by this. It dispels the misconception religious pro-lifers have that atheists/secularists don't think about and even struggle over the issue; that it is very complicated and deeply troubling to ANYONE, religious or not.

That's all. Carry on.

I'm an ardent atheist. My motto on the issue is "Every child wanted, every child loved. Whatever it takes -- sex education, condoms, contraceptives, adoption, abortion. Whatever it takes."

Regarding abortion itself, my feeling is that it's a greater crime to create an unwanted baby than it is to have an abortion -- being born into an unloving family is the gift that keeps on hurting ... for a lifetime.

The best way to lower the number of abortions is to provide young women (and men) with the education and tools to prevent pregnancy. Hell, if I had my way, condoms would be provided free to every young person. A woman (or man) who isn't absolutely certain she wants a child should have every possible option on the table for prevention.

I do have to say I hate the deceptive term "pro-life." It's one of those vile inside-out conservative terms that means pretty much the opposite of what it seems to mean. I have NEVER spoken to a pro-lifer who was willing to discuss condoms or sex education for youth. They actually seem to oppose all modern methods of pregnancy prevention.

And just FYI: There exist plenty of people who enjoy hurting or controlling others, but who look for some sort of socially-acceptable camouflage to hide behind so they can hurt people and yet pretend they’re GOOD at the same time.

Pro-lifers appear to me to be this type of people. They pretend to love babies, but what they actually feel is hatred for women, and for other people’s freedom of choice.
The problem with pharmacists refusing to fill legitimate scripts is that they are imposing their moral (and medical) views on others. It amounts to practicing medicine without a license and without access to the patient's medical record. This is not only arrogant, but extremely dangerous. It always harms the patient. At its worst, it causes the death of the patient, usually by suicide.
Um, you do know that "late term abortions" are performed when the mother's life is in danger, or for horrific fetal abnormalities? You can't just waltz into a clinic and demand an abortion at seven months pregnant.
Oh, also, love the "loose women" comment. The Christian Right has brainwashed you well. So it's only the WOMAN who is responsible for having sex, right? A woman who has sex is a slut who must be punished, right? Even if her birth control fails? Or if she is date raped? But the men, oh they get off scot-free, with a pat on the back from their buddies.

Who the heck goes to an abortion clinic five times a year?!?! Do you honestly think that women cavalierly have abortions, like they are ordering a cheeseburger?
I think we should recognize, from the get-go, that it's highly unlikely that anybody's stance on this controversial issue is going to change if they've already staked out a position. The contentious, emotional and insulting tone from some of you, thus far, is not promoting understanding of any kind.

It appears to me that BOTH pro-life and pro-choice proponents become extremists with very little provocation at all.

Atheists here and in general tend to be progressive in their politics and social values. Judging from what I've seen here and elsewhere, atheists are predominantly pro-choice.

To me, the core of this issue is a moral one, so I'd like to establish my personal criteria for moral decisions before I launch into an explanation of my position on abortion.

All societies, in their laws, place high value on human life. The severest consequences are meted out for taking, or trying to take, human life. But those same societies are not averse to taking life: war, capital punishment, even assassinations. I am a microcosm of society in that regard: I want to value human life as much as possible but recognize there are times when taking life is justified, even necessary. Cold-blooded murderers should be executed, Adolph Hitlers and Osama bin Ladens should be assassinated and wars should be fought to protect our way of life.

It all boils down to intent. To keep us honest, intent should align with results.

Unless you suffer some neurological disorder like autism or had a feral childhood (raised by jungle apes), you know what hurts you -- therefor, you know what hurts others. This knowledge is part of the human condition and comes with experience and empathy. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Golden Rule is an excellent foundation for morality, ethics and law. The bottom line is that we should not harm others unnecessarily. For most of our typical, usual, concerns, this simple rule is all we need as a moral guide.

But then there's those untypical, unusual, concerns. Like abortion.

Abortion is a complicated moral issue. One doesn't need to be religious to have strong feelings against abortion. There have been some atheists -- even female -- in this discussion who are against abortion. I think that, realistically, NOBODY is FOR abortion . . . those who support abortion rights are really for CHOICE.

I understand all the worn-out arguments from both sides. My own position (where adult sex is concerned) is that, in this day and age, it is irresponsible for adults to have sex without contraception (condom, pill, whatever) if they don't want a baby. The kind of sex that leads to unwanted pregnancy takes 2 heterosexual partners, so contraception should be the concern of both partners. Abortion should also be the concern of both partners, although I understand that the woman makes the ultimate decision.

I said that abortion is a moral issue. And it is. But it's not a clear-cut moral issue. If capital punishment and war are not murder, can abortion be considered murder? Once the fetus is viable (20 to 24 weeks), I'd have to say yes.

But what about before viability? There are so many strong opinions about this, it's hard to be sure what to believe or who is right. But I think most people can agree that, unless the mother's life is at risk, it's too late to abort if the fetus is viable.

I believe it's important to uphold the value of human life as much as possible. Because abortions were once illegal, we know all the tragic stories that come with criminalizing abortion. If a woman really insists on an abortion, then it's a good thing it's legal. But it should only be legal for the first 19 weeks of gestation. With such a controversial matter, there's no way to please everybody. I, personally, draw the line at aborting a viable fetus. If I had my way, that would be the law.

My moral sense tells me that, if I can't value human life absolutely, I need to value it as much as possible. Legal abortions before fetal viability gives ample time for a couple to decide what to do. But I can't, in good conscience, endorse abortion beyond the 19th week except to save the mother's life.
Hi Ralph,

Yes, the position you've staked out, is clearly delineated. I see where you're coming from. Your socio-political commentaries may or may not have merit but they're not central to the issue. Abortion, as a topic, is complex and controversial enough without invoking tangential arguments that lead focus astray. Having read other posts here, I'm determined to avoid such traps. I tend to discount one-sided, broad-brush, characterizations of the opposing camp (pro-life OR pro-choice): bias on either side is counterproductive. Call that a lecture if you like but I'm sticking to my guns.

I may not toe the liberal line to your satisfaction but I am pro-choice. More accurately, I'm pro-decency. Is 19 full weeks not long enough, in developed nations, to get an abortion? Do we really need to wait until the fetus is viable before getting an abortion? Is this really an unreasonable burden on women or couples? What is objectionable about requiring abortions BEFORE fetal viability? Does the fetus deserve no consideration at all?

I've already acknowledged that BOTH pro-life and pro-choice camps have their excesses. But I'm not defending their positions . . . I'm defending mine. I was already an Obama supporter before I heard him state his position on abortion. Once I heard his position, I was even prouder to support him. He has the right approach: do our best to minimize the number of abortions and promote responsible sex. Given the controversial nature of the abortion issue, his is really a very reasonable and realistic approach to the problem and is proactive without demonizing the women who choose abortion. But I'm not a politician, so I would take it a little further and make abortions, after fetal viability, illegal. Not what you would do, perhaps, but I'm not asserting your position; I'm asserting mine.

A few more points . . .

I didn't make it clear, but I was addressing abortion in Western (developed) societies. While we may have easy access to a variety of effective forms of contraception, Third World couples may not be so fortunate. Male-dominated gender selection is, as you claim, a real problem in some parts of the world but I'm not addressing abortion in those regions.

As for the "magical" 19th week, you need to read my words more carefully. I said AFTER the 19th week (i.e. 20th week or more). It's the Internet age: Google it for yourself. Many fetuses are viable at 20 weeks and most are at 24 weeks. This threshold is likely to decrease with future medical advances. If you want to argue about that, go to a medical website and debate the doctors.

Having read the many entries in this discussion, I was fully aware that I was jumping into the fire (not escaping it). That's why I tried my best to present a reasoned and unemotional argument. It was my hope that, in contrast to more extreme stances, readers will see that fetal viability (20 weeks) is a reasonable and humane place to draw the line. Would it be better with no line drawn? Not to me. Simple human decency should recognize that aborting a viable fetus is wrong. It's too late at that point. If a law can be drafted that prohibits abortion AFTER fetal viability (20th week) I would be all for it. I might even accept exceptions beyond the endangerment of the mother's life (i.e. rape, incest, diminished capacity, etc.).

Plenty of men support abortion. Plenty of women are opposed to abortion. The issue is about morality, not gender.

There are remnants of male domination left in the U.S., no doubt. But your harangue against men is not an argument for or against abortion -- it's an argument against men. I'm sorry you feel that way about men but where I come from, most men are pretty enlightened. It's pretty unfair to generalize about ANY group but surely you don't believe half the population is conspiring to subjugate women . . . do you?

I, for one, prefer women liberated. I'm not a big fan of Stepford Wives.
Hi Jacqueline,

For the sake of rational discussion, I think it's fair to point out exaggeration and discount it as unrealistic. You started your reply by stating:
The problem with granting the fetus consideration is that it sacrifices the life of the already living woman.
In my post, I clearly allowed for abortion if the mother's life is at stake. But your assertion goes further than merely ignoring this allowance: your wording suggests that "already living" women will die if not allowed their abortion. Both abortion and childbirth involve serious risks to the mother, including death. But such complications are exceptions to the rule. Agreed?

As for the Angela Carder case, it was 22 years ago! Not only that, higher courts later (April 26, 1990) issued a ruling which vacated the previous decisions and ruled (posthumously) that Angela Carder had the right to make health-care decisions for herself and her fetus. Citing such an old, overturned, ruling makes me wonder if you have nothing better to argue. That case was a BAD mistake and the country has moved on since then.

The story has much emotional appeal but the facts show that the courts recognize Angela Carder was wronged and revoked the precedence her case set. Because of the higher court's ruling, there hasn't been a similar case since. Basing your argument on this case is misleading unless you reveal all the facts -- whether or not they support your argument.



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