In another discussion within this group, the question was raised, "What does 'prolife' mean?"  There was a point of dispute about this.  Since (presumably) we all self-identify as prolifers, it might be helpful if we could come up with some sort of a consensus view. 

The dispute concerned the information for this group which says, "For atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, etc. who believe in expanding the definition of "person" to embrace human beings before birth as well as after."

One individual stated, "I am indeed an atheist who believes in expanding the definition of 'person' to embrace human beings before birth. How far before birth is up for debate, of course, but I think the idea that 1 minute, 1 hour, and even 3 months before birth are fairly cut and dry in that there is no distinction between a fetus and a baby in that time period. Before that is where I think it becomes complex, and other factors need to be weighed in."  Another individual stated that the first person (because he didn't support a right to life earlier than the third trimester) was not prolife.

I'm accustomed to defining things using sufficient and necessary conditions.  

A necessary condition is one which must be present if something is to meet a definition, but which by itself doesn't guarantee that the definition is met.  For example, 'being a two wheeled vehicle' would be a necessary condition for meeting the definition of 'motorcycle'.  (Bicycles also have this necessary condition, so it's not a sufficient condition to meet either definition.)   

A sufficient condition is one which guarantees that a definition is met, but which may not be necessary for meeting the definition.  For example, 'being an Indian Chief Model 340' is a sufficient condition for meeting the definition of 'motorcycle'.  (That isn't a necessary condition since Ducatis, Harley-Davidson's, etc. are also motorcycles.)

A proper definition is the union of all (and only) necessary conditions, which together are the set of sufficient conditions. For example, the definition of motorcycle could be, 'a motorized two wheeled vehicle with one wheel directly in front of the other'.  (This would include all motorcycles, but exclude bicycles and things like the Segway.)

Extending the right to life to at least some humans prior to birth, in my opinion is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for being prolife.  There are quite a few prochoice people who feel that abortion should generally be prohibited after the point of viability.

I'm  interested in what we, as a group of secular-minded prolifers, think about this


PS: My first stab at a definition is...

If you agree:

That every living human organism which under ordinary conditions will develop into a conscious and aware human being has a right to life (which may or may not be given up as a result of his or her personal choices) which is in ordinary cases strong enough to prohibit the taking of that life (although it may or may not be stronger than a mother's right to bodily autonomy in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother's life is threatened).


You meet the definition of "prolife".

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Replies to This Discussion

I think this would be a useful discussion to have, since differing definitions of "pro-life" have caused tension around here lately.

A lot of pro-lifers (and pro-choicers, actually) believe that the term is exclusively about whether or not you want to legally ban abortion. I don't take that view myself and certainly don't want to enforce it here.

For me, being pro-life means recognizing the unborn child as part of the human family, believing that abortion is usually unjust violence against a human being, and desiring to end that unjust violence. It does not dictate a particular method of ending it, although I personally don't support any method that I consider likely to be ineffective or counterproductive, or which proceeds from unjust principles (for instance, a denial of a right to privacy).

Now, I'm going to be away from the internet for a couple of days, so play nice!

To me Pro-Life means protecting the unborn.

I believe that means from conception, before that is another matter. I have no problem with birth control.




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