Nonreligious prolifers - what are your arguments?

Yeah, except my wife miscarried around the four-month point in her first pregnancy. We had heard (and seen) its heartbeat. We knew that it was a little thing that looked like a baby, with a brain developing in its little head. The fact that it couldn’t live unassisted by a placenta didn’t mean that we felt no loss. That’s why I’m uncomfortable with the viability threshold.

I guess you didn’t read my post, then.

I could ask for a rational reason why a fetus isn’t as human as you or I, but as others have pointed out, that’s not what we’re discussing here.

Forty-six human chromosomes in a unique arrangement. Sounds like an individual human being to me. That’s where I draw the line. Very biologically based.

Talking about viability or dependance on others for support raises all sorts of questions about the handicapped or those on life support. If we’re going to say that unique being, self-contained and temporarially located inside another being as a result of the human reproductive process isn’t worthy of protection as a person then what does that mean for the handicapped or otherwise dependent individuals? A one week old baby wouldn’t survive on its own any more than an 12 week foetus. Does that mean it is ok to withdraw support from the one week old if the caregiver decides to?

When I boil it all down, there is only one place I can draw the line which I can personally live with. Any other set of rules means I start splitting the group known as human beings(biological definition) into groups of those it is ok to kill because they aren’t “persons” and those that we shouldn’t kill because they are “persons.” I haven’t found a line for this distinction which doesn’t do injustice to some clearly human being somewhere on the scale. Viability? Doesn’t work for me, there goes Christopher Reeves and Stephen Hawking. Who am I to tell them that because they couldn’t survive without their caretakers that they should live or die at the convenience of those caretakers? Brain activity? Given how little we know about the mechanisms of consciousness, I’m simply not comfortable drawing the line on the shaky knowledge we currently have. Every other arguement for abortions of convenience that I’ve ever heard has faced similar difficulties. They find some way to make the foetus “not a person” and I just can’t see why that shouldn’t apply to the elderly, or handicapped, or developmentally challenged, crippled, etc.

I agree with Max_Castle on most points. I think our major difference is that as soon as it becomes medically viable to transplant unwanted pregnancies instead of terminating them I’d support a law to end terminations of convenience if a suitable transplant recipient(or vat, depending on how the technology works) is available. Then adoption or giving custody to the father. In the meantime I rank adoption over abortion, but I’m not willing to force unwilling mothers into a situation which will probably do both them and the child no good in the long run.


Being pro-life for me has nothing to do with religion or G-d. It has to do with my own unwanted pregnancy. It was inconvenient, financially devastating and meant the end of my dreams. Then he was born, I fell in love and got new dreams. Having a baby made me pro-life. I believe from a humanistic point of view that it’s wrong to deny an existing life it potential, whether it is 3 months in utero or a one year old. It’s the same thing to me. From a religious standpoint, knowing life is eternal or at least the baby’s soul is; it’s almost hypocritical to focus an agenda on the baby and deny compassion to the mom.

I’m sorry to hear about your loss.

But the truth is, the fetal heart begins beating long before the 3rd month.

First, an attempt on logic reasoning:

Premise 1: Killing a human being of any age I was, am or going to be is wrong (meaning don’t kill me [as long as I am alive]; That is a logical conclusion, but I don’t think we need to prove it here).
Premise 2: I was once of the age of a child. (Being fact)
Conclusion: Therefore killing a child is wrong (because I was once a child and it’s defined above that it’s wrong to kill me).

And this is a reason why I am against abortion:

Premise 1: Killing a human being of any age I was, am or going to be is wrong.
Premise 2: I was once an embryo. (Being also fact)
Conclusion: Therefore killing an embryo is wrong.

Still, there is a problem giving me a hard time: How to treat embryos made outside the body?:confused:
And why not going back even further and protect single atoms of carbon and oxygen etc.?:wink:

I have some other rational reasons to oppose abortion, but none is of an importance somewhere near the given one. (From the emotional POV, abortion just feels wrong. Hardly possible to argue about that, but a reason to me, too)

But I don’t think it should be made illegal, too. They should be told about what lies ahead of them and being required to talk to women who did it and give good reasons for doing it. And after all, they usually can also give away the child after birth without killing it.

An (at least here famous) argument for abortion I dislike especially is the claim of women that their body is their property. Of course, they own their body but the child is an individual of it’s own, not belonging to the mother. Even biologically this is demonstrated, at least because the baby is seperated from the mother’s blood system. It just gets nutrients from the system but we are dependant on feeding on plants and animals, too, without that someone says that we were their property.

Biology doesn’t (or shouldn’t) make philosophical distinctions.

Even if those chromosomes are not in a cell and not able to divide? What exactly gets you from chromosomes to thinking that something has moral interests? Chromosomes don’t have feelings. They don’t fear destruction. They can’t even grow into a baby unless they in the correct cell and are bombarded with the right chemicals from outside.

We obviously don’t consider uniqueness to have any real relevance, since twins are just as human as the rest of us. Given that it may someday be possible to cause ANY cell to start developing into a new human being (say, for instance, that we develop a treatment that will cause a skin cell from your to arm to start developing into a zygote), how is any cell in the body any fundamentally different from a fertilized egg? In both the case of the fertilized egg and the skin cell, more steps are necessary before they will develop into a human being, but both contain the “code” necessary to produce one in the same way. So how are they different?

Also, DNA is not like a complete blueprint for a new human being, or a tiny homunculus. It is a set of instructions for how to go about constructing a human being. Given that it’s basically just like a recipe, what makes it different from the same information sitting on a computer. If I create a unique DNA sequence on a computer, is it wrong for me to hit delete and erase it?

Do you mean: only human life?

What if it becomes possible, via a chemical treatment that promotes neuron growth, to make pigs as smart as human beings? Would it then be wrong to kill an as-yet untreated pig since it has just as much potential to become a fully sentient being as does a fertilized egg?

“Potential” is a pretty odd concept, because when you start thinking philosophically, anything has potential for almost anything.

Pigs are already smarter than some human beings. :wink: Yes I mean only human life. That’s the point, it is human life. Under normal circumstances, a human embryo can only die or become viable. In an abortion, you are removing the cells of a partially formed human life and preventing it from it’s future. I don’t think this should be made illegal, but I do think we should attempt to be more honest about it. It’s fine to argue about why you shouldn’t be required to carry a pregnancy to term. That’s the only valid argument there is when it comes to abortion.

But how IS that the point, exactly? That’s what I think I’d like to see clarified. I need to hear exactly why you think killing is wrong, so I can understand how you extend that account to zygotes, but not inteligent animals.

Would you really be okay with killing something simply because it is not genetically human, even if it had the same intelligence, feelings, and personality as a human?

Sure, but these terms like “partially formed human life” are all ambiguous. What is it about the thing ITSELF (talking about it via it’s actual key characteristics rather than using the shortcut of a name which may have many different meanings to different people) that makes it morally worrisome? Can you explain from the ground up without using special terminology?

Personally, I think that it’s a pretty invalid argument when it’s used as broadly as it is arguments like “it’s my body!” and so forth.

Puhleeze, enough with the absurdity of such arguments. When, and only when your precious little computer image can then progress to fully functioning human will I consider a pixelated construct to be life.

This just makes me want to…

*Is a Polaroid picture a person?

Is a lock of hair a person?

Is that cute crayon scrawl taped to my fridge a person?*
NO, no, a thousand times, NO!
As for the arguments as posted: Mtgman is spot on. A separate biological entity at conception, in half the cases the opposite gender from the mother, deserving of the legal protections of society. If that’s not good enough as a marker, then all we’re doing is defining humanity for our own convenience. A process I find thoroughly abhorrent.

Except for spontaneous abortion, the default status or predicted outcome for a zygote is a fully viable human. An animal doesn’t have that potential. I don’t think an animal’s life is unimportant or should be killed without cause either. I hope you’re not going to get into the whole animal comparison thing, but if you do; I seldom eat meat, I don’t have any leather shoes or purses and I’m not a big fan of animal testing, but can see the need. Let’s not go there. I said I don’t think that killing a 3 month fetus is different than killing a one year old. I did not say that they were the same as far as their intelligence, feelings and personality, but they will be, if uninterupted.

No. As soon as you show me a creature that has the same intelligence, feelings and personality as a human, I will extend the same beliefs to include them.

This, I believe is the lamest part of the pro-choice argument. I don’t think a “partially formed human life” is ambiguous at all. You can do all of the rationalizing gymnastics you want and it doesn’t change the fact that there is a baby growing to maturity unless someone decides they want to stop it. It is only in this area that something not yet completed takes on a contrived and self-interested meaning. If a famous artist almost had a painting complete and someone destroyed it, it would be an outrage, not the loss of a canvas and a some paint. If you kill a tree just as it starts to come up out of the ground, a seedling; did you kill a tree or would you rationalize that it wasn’t really a tree yet. My house is half built and someone burns it down. Did they burn down my house or should we call it a lumber yard or hardware store, since it’s not a completed house yet. Pleeese!!! At four weeks the embryo has a head and at six weeks there is the beginning of electrical activity in the developing brain. I can’t define when the level of brain and nervous system response becomes important enough to pass your standards of worthiness. From the beginning the zygote is dependent on the mother for viability. Somehow that only becomes a considered factor when the need for that care is no longer necessary. If you like to comfort yourself with an embryo not being aware it is being terminated, go ahead. Neither is a sleeping newborn. A pillow would do the trick without even waking it. If killing is only wrong when there is awareness, then that opens the door to a lot more options for disposal of human life.

I still believe this is the only valid argument. If someone doesn’t want to have a baby, doesn’t agree it’s really a baby or doesn’t care that it’s really a baby; I can’t stop her from doing what she believes is right for her. Laws don’t stop abortion. There’s no point in putting the woman at more risk, when it’s going to happen anyway. I don’t have to like it, to accept that the choice is theirs to make.

Yes we do, actually. I see the arguments here depending on two premises:

  1. Killing is wrong, regardless of the consequences.
  2. Humans are special in a way that makes it more important to keep them alive.

What are these two premises based on?

Japan is about as agnostic a country as it gets, but abortion is pretty much illegal (with exceptions for the life of the mother, I should suppose, etc.) after 3 months.

Sometimes things are made illegal not because they are morally wrong, but because they undermine certain values that support the survival and continuance of society. By any standard, I think unrestricted abortion is a danger to society, and I think even an atheist should agree.

For example, in China, you now have 40 milllion men who can’t get wives because abortion was used for sex selection. You can blab all you want about “it’s my body and my right,” but do women have the right to deep six social order in the process, as with abortion for sex selection? No.

A healthy woman destroying a healthy fetus is a crass, unnatural, artificial and ugly act–I don’t think you even need to believe in God to find it repulsive.

I’m not a religious person, but I consider myself spiritual. Abortion is bad karma, plain and simple. It is not an act of love; it is a selfish and destructful act.

I recognize that there are hard cases, where disease comes in to play. Fine. I also don’t get a kick out of telling people what to do, but I do think that society has needs that trump those of the individual. Abortion for sex selection should be illegal. Abortion should not occur after three months.

You have an interesting definition of default. Given a willing (or coerced) women with a functioning uterus, you can usually get to baby. Why assume that this is a given?

One can say the exact same thing about an egg cell. Heck, all it needs is a sperm cell in addition to the woman mentioned above. If you’re willing to posit a whole woman as the default state, what’s wrong with adding one extra cell?

I’m non-religious, pro-choice, anti-abortion.

Why I’m against abortion?

It’s gross!

What if the artist had only added one or two brushstrokes to the canvas? Not nearly so outrageous now, is it? A one or two month old fetus is nowhere near “almost complete” and it seems disingenuous to suggest otherwise.
Me–I’m pro-choice (in the first trimester) for others, but pro-life for myself. Put me in a world with free, readily available birth control, healthcare, and child-support systems for all women and then and only then would I feel justified in changing my tune.

I’m an atheist, believe that the fetus is human, and pro-choice. I think Mtgman summarized my beliefs brilliantly.

Absolutely, it’s killing a life form (I don’t even like to kill bugs). But in my mind, there are equally bad things.

  1. Not allowing abortion would mean enslaving a woman against her will. Presumably by the government, for up to nine months, with risks to her health, her career, her future. That is an unacceptable human rights violation to me. I believe in “Her body, her decision,” even the idea of letting the father become involved is a terrifying, because it means the woman does not have rights to her own personhood even when it involves her rights as a mother.

If you see jailtime and the trauma of childbirth as the punishment for having unprotected sex, then I make the argument that we should fix unprotected sex first (the 24-hour pills are a very good start), and remove the need for abortions.

  1. There are too many unwanted children in the world. Including unwanted children living with biological parents. The world is grossly overpopulated. Fix these problems first, and then abortion won’t be a problem.

I guess I think tactically, rather than morally. I don’t like abortion, but outlawing does not end the problem, it only makes it less safe, and contributes to 2.

I don’t believe its the government’s place to settle this argument one way or another. Much in the same way religion is, I believe this is something that must be settled within yourself and not imposed upon you by external forces.

So I personally believe that killing a fetus when its not a threat to your own health is wrong but I don’t expect my moral standard to be applied to everyone. I guess that makes me pro-choice, but not pro-abortion.

But why do you see this “predicted outcome” as having any moral relevance? It’s all just contingent causality: our idea of “natural” exists purely because of habit and convention, not any universal mandate. That seems to be a species of naturalistic fatalism, as if there is some inherent moral meaning in whatever you happen to expect to happen that shouldn’t, purely for its own sake, be disturbed. But why not? And doesn’t that ignore the fact that we have to have moral principles that apply not just to conventional cases, but all cases, even those that don’t follow the “natural” expectation?

Furthermore, the predicted outcome for a child is to be an adult, but that doesn’t mean we allow kids the right to vote. A predicted future doesn’t normally grant rights NOW just because they make sense in the future. So why do you think this situation is different?

The point of the animal thing is to ferret out exactly what it is you think is wrong about killing. Like I said: once we have a clear picture of why killing something could be wrong, only then can we really come to understand whether that applies to specific somethings and not others.

So I ask again: if there exists a chemical that makes pigs have the same emotional and intellectual capacities as human beings, doesn’t your argument then imply that we should not kill even the UNTREATED pigs, since they have the potential to become such beings? Dont’ sperm and eggs have just as much potential to become human beings? Sure, they are incomplete (well, the egg isn’t to the same degree as the sperm is), but then, so is a fertilized zygote (it won’t become an adult without a lot of intervening steps by external forces).

This isn’t really part of any argument per se. It’s very important that language not be a barrier to communication. If you and I mean something different by “human being” neither of us is WRONG about any substantive issue. We are just confusing each other. My suggestion to avoid special terminology is not an invitation to ignore what is being talked about. In fact it is PRECISELY the opposite: a practice that changes NOTHING of substantive meaning, but that ensures that neither of us plays tricks on the other with semantics.

Yes, that’s what I’m getting at. Whatever you call it, this is an accurate description of what we are actually talking about, rather than a term like “genetically human” which encompasses beings that may be radically different from each other in relevant ways. Why is it wrong to kill this particular being?