I have been engaged in a discussion elsewhere regarding my position on abortion. I wanted to run this by the atheistnexus community as the perspectives here are particularly rational and helpful most of the time. Before I start, just know my mind is not made up. That is reason I am starting this discussion. Here are my arguments for my positions, which I openly admit may not be completely sound.

I support the practice of a death penalty. Yet I am resistant to some of the arguments of the pro-choice movement.

Regarding the death penalty, I am aware of the problem of wrongful convictions. This is a problem for the legal system. But in principle, I have no problem putting criminals to death that lack any hope for rehabilitation (mass murderers, genocidal war criminals, etc) if we can know for sure they are indeed guilty. The amount of evidence required needs to be extremely high to justify the death penalty. But if overwhelming evidence exists, then why keep these animals alive?

But abortion to me is the killing of innocent infant humans. It is a matter of location. If the child was only one minute 'old', having exited the womb, then killing the child would be murder. But because it is still inside a woman, we give it a different term 'abortion' and make it a choice. Isn't abortion just a nice way of saying unborn-infant-murder?

A common argument is that of choice. It is a matter of a woman's right to make decisions that affect her body. The pro-choice movement treats the opposition as weirdos that want to pass laws restricting what she can and cannot do with her own body. I feel they miss the point completely. There are TWO bodies in question, and the laws restricting abortions address the OTHER body - that of another human - living inside the woman. 

I understand there is a huge grey area here. When does the fetus become a human with the intrinsic right to life? Is it only when the brain has developed? But at what point in the brain development? I get it. It is not an easy question. That is why I do not actively oppose the pro-choice movement. I am still collecting information on the subject to refine my position. I certainly don't support the pro-life movement either. I am currently unable to form a completely justified position either way. 

I can see abortion as necessary or preferable in the cases of rape or to protect the mother's life. That makes sense. In other cases, where it is just promiscuity that resulted in an unwanted pregnancy, I feel a vacuous moral subjectivity seeping into society. 

I also do understand that for the vast majority of mothers, the decision to have an abortion is not an easy one and continues to affect them emotionally well after the event. But that is how it should be. We should not be just OK with the idea of killing infants. It should be taboo. Abortion should be thought of as terrible, whether you support the practice or not. Would this perspective of taboo discourage irresponsible sexual encounters? Would this would discourage inception when not in stable healthy relationships? For some who have abortions for selfish reasons, it certainly does not seem that the taboo nature of the act has any affect on their habits. It is not unheard of for some women to get multiple abortions in their life time. How the heck does that happen? 

And of course, 99% of the time, this only applies to people willing to engage in unprotected sex. Why on Earth would you engage in irresponsible unprotected sex? Accidentally? Broken condoms?

I have no problem with recreational sex. But we have several highly effective birth control methods. If a woman is on the pill and the male uses a condom, the chances for an unwanted pregnancy approach zero. If for some reason a birth control method fails, adoption is an option preferable to the death of a human. 

Abortion is not a birth control method. It is a life control method - the act following a decision to kill an innocent human. It is a decision we give no other person in society. It is illegal in ALL other cases to kill an innocent human. But since it is a woman, and the human in question is inside her, we grant the woman this unique ability, even in cases where the pregnancy was just due to irresponsibility. 

So please be kind and help me out here. I am not going to bash anyone's personal position on the matter as I want my own position to be as sound and fair as possible. I just want to hear the opinions, specifically from people with superior understanding and life experience. I might challenge a bad argument, but it only be to seek clarification, not as an attack on any individuals beliefs.

Specifically, my questions are as follows:

1. In the case of irresponsible conception, why do we permit women to kill another human?

2. If it can even be answered, when does a human fetus get the intrinsic right to life? This is an unalienable right of all Americans (and all humans, I would argue. When does this right kick in?

3. Why are many atheists opposed to the death penalty but absolutely (in all cases/situations) pro-abortion? How is that at all morally consistent?

4. Is the practice of abortion detrimental to the social health of our society? Is the religious right to blame for a lack of sex education?

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Death Penalty vs Abortion and Social Taboos

I did not authorize you to copy and post my written content in audio form on your soundcloud page. Nor have I authorized you to copy and use the artwork. But you did at least leave my name in the playback and the item is being received well by your listeners. 

In the future, just ask someone first before copying their content. 

As an author, in serious need of recognition, it would be counterproductive for me to demand that you take the track off your page. Being that it gets my name out there, I guess I am ok with it. 

My views have changed over the course of the discussion, so the point of view of the original post does not reflect my current views. That is also an issue here, but as my initial view was not that intolerant or irrational, I guess I am ok with you posting the content. 

I always use a reader for long blogs because reading off the screen makes my eyes sore.

I copy it for the benefit of other people with similar difficulties.

I can do it quickly now and it's not a problem. I can file them privately instead of publicly on SoundCloud,

Well, that is an excellent idea. Good use of technology. You can leave my posts as public. Its all good. 

If you can mix separate audio tracks, you might even find it appealing to blend in some background music. For my posts that you convert to audio, you can use any track from my soundcloud page (I am a music composer). Just mix it in at a relatively low level. Might be cool. I am on soundcloud under my name minus my middle name (Gregory Dearth). It is all instrumental electronica, so there won't be conflicting vocals or anything. 


Now you have me thinking I should just do this myself too. Ha ha. 

I will look into creating a separate soundcloud page for my atheism-related stuff. I have a book I could even turn into this weird Hawking-voice format... That would be interesting to try. Maybe I could add a touch of reverb or use a female voice...

If you do keep the tracks public, please just note in the comments on soundcloud where you got it from. No biggie. 

I'm a creative video maker and work with musicians such as Viking Trance, Tonetta and a few French punk rock bands to make music videos.

I started with punk art and have only just got a bit serious about it.

Here is an example on Vimeo http://www.atheistnexus.org/group/noproblematheists/forum/topics/th...

I had an interesting thought about the abortion issue. It comes down to the following argument.

Premise: You do not have the right to use someone else's body to sustain your own. You cannot force someone to filter blood for you to sustain your life. You cannot force someone to give you an organ if one of your's is failing you. 

Premise: The opposite end of that deal is also true. You cannot be forced to donate an organ or be hooked up in a blood transfusion. Even if one of your children are dying, and could use one of your kidneys to save their life, you cannot be forced to give up your kidney. 

Conclusion: Giving the fetus the right to use the mother's body is unfounded. This would give a fetus special rights not afforded to the rest of us. A child lacks these rights as soon as they are born, but somehow pro-life people think the child has the rights to persist at the expense of another person just because they are still inside the mother. 

So I get that part of the argument. In indeed comes down to individual rights. They need to be consistent across the board. If we give a child inside the womb special rights to use someone else's body to survive regardless of the desire of the other individual, then we would be forced by consistency to give those same rights to humans outside of the womb. But I think there may be grounds to state a fetus should be afforded special rights, not because it is a person or any other sloppy reason, but because the mother voluntarily started the pregnancy and should continue it unless there is sound reason to have an abortion. 

I am not saying a mother should be forced to continue the pregnancy since she voluntarily started the pregnancy. It is a matter of morality: Is it immoral to discontinue a pregnancy when it was voluntarily started? Allow me to illustrate my point a bit here...

If I start any act, is it not justified that I should have to live with the consequences? It is hard to think of a good analogy to back this up, and I will certainly not troll pro-life sites looking for their sloppy apologetics on the issue as I would much rather come to conclusions on my own.

I would just like to know how to make a sound logical argument that relies on the rights issue of the individual without invoking a morality issue regarding acts and consequences, especially when the consequence of the act in question is another human's continued existence. To me it is like first starting the process to let someone use your body in a blood transfusion and then backing out after having just started the procedure even though by stopping, the individual you were helping will die. Sure, they do not have a right to just use you in a blood transfusion against your will. But if you start a blood transfusion, should you simply be able to stop  20 minutes in, even though by doing so you haven't provided the necessary amount of blood to keep the other individual alive?

For me, pregnancy seems to be an act one voluntarily started (excluding rape) and to simply decide to stop being pregnant seems immoral at some level. Wouldn't I be morally obligated to complete  the blood transfusion if I voluntarily started the process? Sure, I might have the right to just stand up and walk out of the hospital. But considering I started the process voluntarily, and someone will die if I interrupt that process, wouldn't it be immoral to stop even if I have the right to do so? I feel the prochoice movement has the legal argument down pat. The legal argument is sound. But they lack any moral ground to stand upon for exercising that right in cases where the individual voluntarily had sex (knowing that is how babies are made), knew they might get pregnant, got pregnant, and then just decided to end the pregnancy.

If someone robs a bank, they assume that they might get caught. That is the potential consequence. Then if they do indeed get caught, do they somehow have the right to not go to jail? Can someone just opt out of the responsibility of the consequences of an act? Especially when another life is at stake?

As I was raised in fundamental Christianity, I have a lot of programming to undo. But I am certainly not going to tow the company line without knowing I have sound reasoning to back up views opposite of what I was taught. Regarding atheism, I have that pretty strongly covered. Regarding abortion, I am still struggling with the dodge of responsibility that some reasons for abortion seems to involve.

Can someone just opt out of the responsibility of the consequences of an act?

Yes, people do that all the time; men impregnate women and walk out, people get married and divorce, they abandon their children or their parents, show not a shred of responsibility for the animals they bought - yes, people are like that. There's one comfort; you can choose your own way to behave.

That is my point, though. It is immoral to opt out of the responsibility, to avoid the consequences of the voluntary act of sexual intercourse. It may be an woman's right to opt out of letting an infant live. But it is certainly not a moral choice to make in certain circumstances. 

If an individual engages in sexual intercourse, it should be obvious that there is a risk of pregnancy. If that individual then gets pregnant, and there are no major health reasons to not go full term and deliver the baby, what rational justification could there be for abortion? Rather, what moral ground would they have for deciding to kill the unborn child? 

I feel that atheists largely dodge the morality question of abortion and just focus on the pragmatic or rights-based arguments. The movement is called "pro choice" for a reason - it dodges the issue of "life" by focusing on the freedom of choice aspect of the issue. 

That is what I need addressed to be comfortable with "pro choice" in the typical situation where the woman who got herself pregnant voluntarily has no health-related issue that requires an abortion. If the abortion is not required, what moral reason is there to make that dreadful choice to kill an unborn human?

My choices on how I behave have little to do with the issue at hand. I want to know how to reconcile morality with the pro-choice position. If people are doing something immoral, regardless of if they should have the right to do so, I cannot be supportive of those choices. I desire to live in a society that is free from religion. But I also desire to live in a society that is not morally bankrupt, sacrificing our humanity on the altar of pragmatism. 

I share your desire. I am pro choice and against abortion - that means to me that a woman must be the one to decide about herself and unborn child, and at the same time she must do the utmost never to need an abortion. I've lived by this rule and I'm very happy that I never needed to choose.

But people are often unable to order their lives. Someone I knew (multiple addictions, bipolar) left her baby of not yet a year old with ´friends´. I hate to think how that baby must be; motherless, learnt addiction in the womb and probably inherited a bad disorder. She has a bleak future and I think she had better not been born.

This illustrates my point: I can be moral about myself, but with regard to other people we just try to limit the suffering. That is my way to be human: I won't sacrifice my humanity.

That is a good point. I can be pro choice regarding the legality and rights issue and against abortion on moral grounds. Makes sense. 

Regarding the case you brought up, adversity often breeds excellence. Though it is possible this child may indeed fail in numerous aspects and inherit the flaws of the mother, the possibility also exists that this child might grow up very independent, overcome its limitations and flaws, and become a profound member of society. 

I overcame a diagnosed bipolar disorder, alcohol addiction, and marijuana addiction eventually. I am fighting with tobacco currently, and winning. I came from a crazy family with a bipolar mother and severely emotionally abusive circumstances (Church of the Nazarene). I am now a published author, a loving father, and an agnostic atheist. If my parents had been more pleasant and part of a less insane church, I might still be an irrational theist, might still turn to drugs and alcohol for release (due to an indoctrinated distrust of head-shrinkers), and might have never pulled out of that spiral. It was the severity of my upbringing that made me independent and rebellious which initially expressed itself in harmful destructive ways, but ultimately lead me to truth and freedom.


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