This is the generation that will abolish abortion

Confessions of a pro-life atheist – what gives me the passion to actively oppose abortion. By Patrick Ptomey

I recently ask my friend Patrick, a pro-life activist who is also an atheist to write a commentary about why he is pro-life. I think sometimes Christians might not understand that many non-religious people hold the pro-life position and hold it passionately. I thought this would be a great way for people who hold these views as part of their faith to understand why someone without a faith would hold the same views.

I have included a link to Patrick’s blog and I expect everyone who decides to comment or talk to him to do so with the upmost love and respect. The courage it takes for Patrick to be an active pro-lifer is way more than most Christians can understand.

Here is what Patrick wrote

Origins of Consensus

It can be said without argument that all who are against abortion have at least one thing in common. Be that as it may, the process in which we come to that conclusion is oftentimes a result of many different factors, thus our beliefs, while similar in principle, can be quite different in theory. 

Dozens of people have asked me why I am pro-life.

In the past it didn’t seem like such a hard question to answer. After all, if I have the ability to form a belief then surely my answer to such a question should come without forethought. However, I have never been asked by a pro-life Christian to clarify my position as a pro-life Atheist. Admittedly, the question has become a bit more difficult to answer because of the unnecessary adaptation. It was my presumption that this was not a confusing concept, but once I began to compile my thoughts I soon realized where confusion could emerge. The purpose of this article is to clear up some of the misconceptions about pro-life non-believers by providing a general comparison between Theism and Atheism in relation to the abortion issue and contributing a personal account of my own journey to the pro-life movement. An argument from morality has been purposely omitted.

To state the obvious, the only difference between my label as a pro-life Atheist and your label as a pro-life Christian is our outlook on the existence of a deity. Similarly, the difference between a pro-life Jew and a pro-life Muslim is once again rooted in religious differences. That being said, we can easily deduct that an anti-abortion position is not dependent upon adhering to a specific religion; thankfully. For example, one can be religious without ever taking a position on the abortion issue. Likewise, one can be pro-life without being religious. Because the two labels are independent from one another, it is not hard to imagine the diversity of  personal convictions within the pro-life community. This may become a confusing concept to those who base their pro-life position on the belief that they could not differentiate between right and wrong without guidance from their respective deity. This is where I believe some confusion and hesitation may occur.

The Christian religion, for the most part, has adopted a position on the abortion issue. Churches which have chosen to take a position on the issue have subsequently suggested that its followers do the same. To the contrary, Atheism asserts one thing and one thing only. That assertion makes no mention to the the issue of abortion or any other social issue for that matter and therefore does not require that Atheists accept any more or any less. An Atheist’s position on any other topic is simply a personal opinion.

Personally, my pro-life beliefs belong to the discoveries in science. While I am sympathetic to women’s rights and would even consider myself a Feminist as would any man who believes in gender equality, the right to life outweighs our personal discomforts. I will hesitantly concede that had I been born 10 years earlier I most likely would have considered myself pro-choice based upon the absence of scientific evidence within the pro-life movement at the time. More so, if science had proven that life began at birth I would have had no foundation for an anti-abortion belief. Thankfully for the pro-life movement, science has reemphasized the movement’s argument that abortion takes the life of an unborn child. Today, the movement has realized that science is much more likely to reach an audience which is increasingly looking for demonstrable evidence from which to base their position on social issues; not just the church’s suggestion.

It’s worth mentioning that the internet also had a substantial effect by allowing me to better research fetal development and share information and ideas with others.When I began exploring the issue as a seventeen year old back in 2006, the internet allowed me to see the larger picture, unlike the tri-fold pamphlet provided by my Catholic church. The pamphlet provided me with no context or arguments from the opposition. Heck, I didn’t even know there was an opposition.

I am not sure why the issue ever captured my attention, but it evolved beyond into a passion. After a couple years of researching the issue I decided that I would adopt an anti-abortion position based on the scientifically accepted conclusion that conception was the formation of a unique and living member of the human species. This was done absent of religious arguments and by 2008 I was beginning to question a different position – Theism. That year I wrote a pro-life blog which turned out to become the catalyst for my pro-life activism. The MySpace blog [insert joke here] titled The American Holocaust, was my first attempt at arguing against abortion from a secular perspective. The amateurishly written blog received hundreds of comments and at times was the third most active blog on MySpace. At that moment I was convinced  that the incorporation of religion was unnecessary to make a point against abortion and instead allowed readers to view the issue as a scientific and moral obligation rather than just a Catholic issue. The internet had allowed me to understand the various ways the issue affected people, something I would have never understood within the walls of the Catholic church.

I am currently concluding the final chapters of God is Not Great by the late Atheist, Christopher Hitchens; a post-abortive father himself. Hitchens, a hero to many non-believers, also noticed the reality of the unborn human life. I would imagine it took a great deal of courage to advocate the value of the unborn human despite the overwhelming number of supporters whom he knew would quickly voice their disapproval. For unfortunate yet obvious reasons, theists were just as reluctant to commend him. Undoubtedly, Hitchens has taught many non-believers and believers to rethink their position on the issue for purely scientific reasons. Like myself and the thousands of other pro-life secularists, Hitchens recognized that science had demonstrably proven that life does exist before viability and therefore deserved proper acknowledgement from the pro-choice side.

“As a materialist, I think it has been demonstrated that an embryo is a separate body and entity, and not merely (as some really did used to argue) a growth on or in the female body.  There used to be feminists who would say that it was more like an appendix or even-this was seriously maintained-a tumor. That nonsense seems to have stopped.  Of the considerations that have stopped it, one is the fascinating and moving view provided by the sonogram, and another is the survival of ‘premature’ babies of feather-like weight, who have achieved ‘viability’ outside the womb. … The words ‘unborn child,’ even when used in a politicized manner, describe a material reality.”
-Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great (pp. 220-21)

It seems to me that the confusion many people have when I tell them I am a pro-life Atheist happens to originate from their perception that Atheism and pro-life activism are incompatible. This is a half-century old product of religion’s disproportionate obsession with the issue and the subsequent and illogical ‘We want to be everything you’re not!’ attitude of Atheists. The middle ground, a pro-life Atheist (or a pro-choice theist), doesn’t seem to suit either side. I think it is fair to call us the step-child of the pro-life movement.Arguing against abortion goes beyond the policies or teachings of any religious text. It is not an issue restricted only to the religious but rather an issue concerning human rights and therefore defies the labels of religion, political affiliation, race, gender, sexual orientation, and so on. If we can agree that abortion wrongfully takes the life of a living human being, then all other labels which define our individuality should be irrelevant to the issue at hand.

– A pro-life[r] Atheist 
  Patrick Ptomey

http://frompatricksperspective.blogspot.com/

38 Comments

  1. ash
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing this, Bryan. This was fantastic. I didn’t know about Hitchens’ own story, and wow… that was powerful stuff.

  2. Posted February 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Very nice piece, Patrick. Thanks for stepping out there.

    I agree that we can (very) effectively argue for Life without religion even entering into the discussion.

    As an Atheist, how would you answer the question about *why* each life is valuable? I’ve always wondered about that. I understand from my happily Catholic viewpoint, but I’m always curious to see how others arrive at their own conclusions.

    Best to you,
    Jennifer

    • Lyle
      Posted February 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Question as to why each life is valuable.

      I don’t know what Patrick would say, Jennifer, but I’d like to take a crack at it as an agnostic.

      During a sizable chunk of my adult life I was pro-choice. It wasn’t a reasoned position. I thought of myself as a liberal, and so my position on abortion came, unquestioned, with the territory. I was even able to muster considerable passion for the issue. “By God it’s a woman’s RIGHT!” or “It’s nobody’s business but the woman!!”

      But the juxtaposition of a tragedy (900 plus suicides and murders in Jonestown) coupled with a growing discomfort that I felt with the feminist then oft-voiced pro-choice argument – that the fetus was essentially, and little more than, a tumor-like growth – began to move me in a different direction. At the same time, I had been searching for a moral principle that would help me form a reasoned opinion about capital punishment. I was also working to develop an active take-the-joy-in-life mindset.

      All of this coalesced in a sort of epiphany – a decision/realization that life is the good (THE good). I decided we, (I) should encourage behavior that values life and discourage behavior that devalues life.

      With that principle in hand, I turned first to capital punishment and decided to oppose it because it devalues life. It is the taking of a life that is helpless at the time of the execution. It sends the message that killing does not have to be limited to self-defense or war to be justified. I recognize that many, maybe most, good and moral people disagree with me on this issue.

      And finally to abortion. I’m not moved by the science of it, the when-is-it-a-human-being question. It is clear that there is life – a human life or a potentially human life or a human-like life or a human life form – at conception. That’s enough for me. To kill it devalues life. And 1,000,000 plus abortions per year in the U.S. catastrophically devalue life. Catastrophically.

      The life-of-the-mother arguments are almost always canards. That is, with rare exception they deal with the mother’s quality of life. And as monumental a disruption as it is to the parents to bring a baby into the world, quality-of-life vs not-life are simply not balanced interests.

      (I’m libertarian and don’t think the government belongs in this discussion, But that’s a separate issue from what’s the right thing to do.)

      So there it is: each life is valuable because life itself is so valuable and because every life taken jades us and coarsens us and reduces our commitment to life.

  3. cynthia gedick
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Great article, Patrick! Written with purpose and eloquence!

  4. Kevin Williams
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Hi Patrick,
    I have followed your comments on Bryan’s site for a while and was aware of your being an atheist. I must admit I feel like more of a brother to a pro life atheist than a pro abortion Christian. Much much more so.
    Being Pro life to me is much more than just being anti abortion. That is why I just put you on my prayer list my friend. You keep on hanging around US I have no doubt you will be like the proverbial “Fly that fell into the ointment!” 🙂

  5. Liz
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    I understand the disillusionment with the catholic church. When it comes to internet research I found the answers to a lot of things the older generation didn’t seem to be aware of. If you’re interested in something you’ve probably never heard before you can watch the videos http://www.creationtoday.org/category/type/video/creation-seminars/ or search articles on this site http://www.answersingenesis.org/
    I found them to be quite informative.

  6. thistoffeemama
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    Great article, Patrick. I will be sharing this on Facebook.

  7. Posted February 27, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    WoW… Now THIS is what I’m TALKING about!!! I was the product of what *I* like to call “High School Hormones”, to an unwed 17 year old high school Senior in 1978. Anyhow, long story short, my Liberal mother married my Conservative biological father before she started “showing”, divorced him shortly after I was born, took full custody of me, remarried and her equally Liberal second husband adopted me shortly before my third birthday. – And I never saw my biological father after that, he passed away before I got the chance. I didn’t even get to meet my biological father’s family until I was 17. Two years later, I went from being a “lifelong Liberal” (*snorts* “Lifelong”, at the age of 19, REALLY???) who voted for Clinton in the 1996 General Election just after my 18th birthday, to actually apologizing to my biological paternal grandmother for my belligerently prideful behavior concerning her politics, and becoming an actual Registered Republican myself. Of course, nothing could have prepared me for what happened next: In my mid 20’s, I was talking to my maternal grandmother on the phone when, out of the blue, she told me she just subscribed to the New York Times. I was *trying* to “change the subject”, when she told me of an article that made her angry, a South American country (can’t remember which one) had banned ALL abortions, EVEN for rape. I was like, “You DO know you’re talking to a Republican, AND a victim of rape, someone who was an unplanned birth herself, RIGHT??? Did mom have the “right” to abort ME???” Her answer??? YES!!! MY OWN GRANDMOTHER SAID MY MOTHER HAD THE “RIGHT” TO ABORT ME!!! I’m 33 now, and in all that time, NO Liberal family member has disagreed with her, either!!! Well, I’ve been bedridden for the past three years, and will be for the rest of my life, due to being in the advanced stages of the incurable disease, Multiple Sclerosis. So obviously, between Roe v. Wade and Obamacare, I personally don’t give a *bleep* WHAT religion a Pro-LIFE individual is, or ISN’T. *ahem* I mean, I attended a Catholic elementary school from first to sixth grade, a public school from seventh to twelfth grade and a Lutheran church on Sunday for the first 18 years of my life, and now I don’t believe in ANY denomination. I just believe in the One True Biblical God, of BOTH Testaments, PERIOD. Which is why it didn’t even occur to me to *be bothered* by Mr. Bryan Kemper’s conversion to Catholicism. — He’s still fighting for the Preborn, isn’t he??? Besides, when *I* post reasons an Unborn CHILD ISN’T a WOMAN’S “body”, the ONLY religious reason I give IS “Jeremiah 1:5”, the REST are scientific. You know, to prove having a religion, ANY religion, *isn’t* necessarily a Pro-LIFE “requirement”, so to speak… *ahem, raised eyebrow* Just sayin’…

    • Posted February 28, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      Michelle,
      So sorry to hear that you had to hear your own grandmother tell you that you could have been killed before birth & she would have supported that. Can’t imagine the pain. 🙁 I support your right to live. with MS without MS. keep believing in Jesus Christ! God is God! & you are loved.

  8. Posted February 28, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    wow. love having allies for the Pro Life movement.

  9. Posted February 28, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Operation Save America – AR.

  10. Jonathan Moore
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Patrick,

    Thanks for your heart-felt account!

    I can tell you are of a very intellectual bent, as I am myself. Christianity over the last 200 years has really lost most of its ability to address subjects from an intellectual and scientific perspective–though I think that in some small ways that is starting to change–although I don’t personally think that young earth creationism is a good example (no offense to those who are).

    Similar to your story of coming to a pro-life conclusion based on science, I also came to a Christian belief based on science and the hard evidence for the existence of a “Transcendent Causal Agent”. What we Christians call God’s testimony of “General Revelation”. (Romans 10:17-18, Psalm 19, Romans 1:19-20)

    I also found that I could not justify my belief in right and wrong (absolutes) without an absolute authoritative Source for the definition of right and wrong.

    Basically, an atheist doesn’t need God in order to recognize right and wrong. But he DOES need God in order to MAKE SENSE of what he recognizes.

    We all intuitively know that it’s wrong to murder a human being (at least until we practice a lot to think otherwise). But without a Giver of that intuition, the intuition makes no sense. Evolution, at first blush, might seem to offer a possible cause for it, but falls short with further scrutiny. In fact “survival of the fittest” often leads TO murder.

    So then we are still left looking for THE cause.

    Though this may seem to be leading to a “God of the Gaps” (“we don’t know, therefore it must be God”) conclusion, I assure you that it is not. It is an inference to the BEST possible explanation that the facts indicate.

    To fully explain all my reasons for my belief in God would take many pages and I doubt many would read it. So allow me to recommend the following articles (from http://str.org/ and http://reasons.org/ ), as they succinctly and logically state the case very powerfully:

    Did Morals Evolve?
    http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5458

    Euthyphro’s Dilemma:
    http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5236

    How to define right and wrong in respect to abortion:
    http://www.str.org/site/DocServer/5badways.pdf?docID=172

    The Moral Logic of Being Pro-Life:
    http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5455

    Legal vs. Moral:
    http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5427

    End of Life Ethics: A Primer
    http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5223

    Articles on evidence for God:
    http://www.reasons.org/Search?q=evidence+for+god

    God bless you in your search. Don’t stop searching. You can only not find if you stop looking.

    – Jonathan

  11. Life and Value
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    The question an atheist actually needs to answer–that a Christian does not–is, “What makes it wrong to kill someone or something?” The Christians have their Bible to tell them what right and wrong is. The atheist does not.

    As an atheist, I’m not moved by the “If it’s a living organism with human DNA, we can’t kill it, because human DNA is special” argument. Human DNA is no more special than any other living creature’s DNA. What actually makes people worth protecting is a complicated answer. My philosophy professor proposed it to us like this: If or when we encounter alien life, how will we know if it’s okay to kill–as we kill mosquitoes, as we kill and eat corn–or not okay to kill?

    The important characteristics of life that make it worth protecting, in my opinion, are the ability to feel pain (sentience), the ability to feel emotions, the ability to think, and self-awareness. Of course, these are present in non-humans, too, to some extent: cows feel pain, pigs feel emotion, dolphins show self-awareness, and so on. Grass does not. Fungus does not. Trees do not. Fetuses do not.

    So I don’t support the killing of animals with my money. I’m vegetarian. But I see no reason to protect a fetus or elevate its rights over that of the woman who is forced to carry it. We did away with forced labor when we did away with slavery. The fact that the fetus forces the woman while it is unaware does not diminish the woman’s right to defend herself against it.

    For an atheist, death is not hell. Death is painless nonexistence. Of course, for a being that can fear its death, the threat of death is still torture. But for a being that cannot imagine or fear its death–for a fetus–death is little different from the undeveloped existence it currently has.

    Thus it is: a fetus cannot think or feel. So how is it wrong to kill one?

    (Latest science on fetal pain, by the way: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/fetus-feels-pain-37-weeks-study/story?id=14472566)

    • Posted February 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      the real problem with your perspective is that it seems to be based on an opinion. Your opinion is that life does not count until the fetus feels pain. I doubt very much that 37 weeks is the earliest such a thing can happen. Think of all the children born at 30 weeks.

      still, even if you are right. Why does life not begin at detectable heartbeat, or like I believe, at conception. What makes your opinion better than mine?

      If as a society, we disagree on when life begins, don’t we owe it to ourselves to honor the opinion of those who believe it begins soonest?

      • Life and Value
        Posted February 29, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        Did you read my post? The question is not, “When does life begin?”, the question is, “When should life be valued and protected?” Mosquitoes are alive. Grass is alive. Cancer cells are alive. Fetuses are alive. Science has the evidence to back this up. But just because something is alive does not mean that it should never be killed.

        And no, it is not an “opinion” that fetuses do not feel pain before approx. 35 weeks. It is, to the best of scientific knowledge at this moment, a fact. The children born at 30 weeks do not feel pain. They continue to undergo neurological development until they do. Earlier than 35 weeks, fetuses and premature babies *do* recognize touch, but they can’t tell the difference between painful touch and gentle touch. They can cry or kick in reaction to being touched, but their brains simply cannot yet register if that touch was painful or not.

        If you truly believe it’s wrong to kill anything with a heartbeat, by the way, the first things we should shut down are our nation’s slaughterhouses that kill countless cows with heartbeats every day… In any case, you ask why we don’t default to what you see as the “safest” answer, which is (by your assertion) respecting the earliest possible interpretation of life’s beginning. The answer is, because there’s not just a fetus involved–there’s also a woman involved, who has rights concerning the use of her body. And pregnancy is not a walk in the park.

        In our country, unfortunately, you can be fired from your job for missing work due to pregnancy. You can be forced to drop out of school due to a lack of accommodations. You can experience all sorts of health complications. Not to mention the risks of childbirth, which can, in rare cases, include death. The “safest” answer to you is *not* the safest answer to all people. And even married women, dilligently using contraception, can unexpectedly (and devastatingly) find themselves pregnant.

        No one is trying to force anyone to have an abortion. If you think all life is precious from the moment it begins to live, you are free to not abort. But if you really want to respect all beliefs, you will allow women who disagree with you the choice to terminate their pregnancy without trying to force them to do otherwise.

        • Posted March 5, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

          On valuing and protecting life.

          You illustrate the complexity and drawbacks of the atheistic approach very well. Any atheist who values humanity in all its forms need only consider the science of life to be convinced, A: that a “fetus” is a human being, and B: that it is alive and deserving of all protection.

          If, on the other hand, as you appear to do, you place only a relative value on human life, it no longer matters when life begins. It only matters when we agree to begin caring that life has begun. By your logic, infanticide is perfectly acceptable. By this line of reasoning, we need only fill an adult person with nerve numbing drugs to be justified in ending their lives, since they won’t feel it anyway.

          Perhaps you will argue that once, they have felt pain once, their life should be valued. But then don’t you realize that you are the one oppressing your opinion on the rest of us as to when life should be valued. If anyone disagrees with you, as I do, what makes your opinion of value better than mine? Or perhaps you will argue that the majority opinion should rule? But from your line of argument, there is nothing to stop a person from numbing and then killing those who disagree with him until his opinion is held by the majority. The point is that unless you put ultimate value on human life, every human life, you will crumble down a slippery slope which protects no one.

          In regards to the woman pregnant despite her desires not to be. Know that my heart goes out to her, and I sympathize with the grave discomfort which she undergoes. Anything society can do to ease her burden, it has the responsibility to do. That being said, I value the human life within her just equally as I value hers. “All men and women are created equal.” Therefore, my efforts to ease her pain cannot, must not include an acceptance of the destruction of another human life within her.

          *sidenote: I think your science, that a premee does not feel pain, is patently absurd. That they can register a response as though they feel pain, without actually feeling it is as bizarre a case of conjecture as we will ever find anywhere. Regardless, I won’t harp on it, because I am far more interested in the philosophical question then the scientific one.

          *sidenote B, again this is irrelevant to the heart of the philosophical question, but I thought it worth noting that it is illegal to fire a woman because she has become pregnant, as it is illegal to kick her out of school, as it is illegal to deny her health insurance or healthcare.

  12. Elizabeth
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful story! With all our biological advances, you’d think we’d have an appreciation for life. I am Catholic and I am thankful that the Church provides religious, moral, ethical, and scientific arguments; I am glad to see Patrick found all the facts to argue against abortion from an atheist’s standpoint.

  13. Posted February 29, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Hi Patrick!

    Very insightful. I do have a concern to share with you that maybe you can help me with. Only very recently, it seems to be a common position that unborn human life is human life, but because it is dependent upon the mother, it ought to be denied the right to life at the mother’s discretion.

    As a Catholic, this is not a problem for me, as I passionately believe in the sanctity of all human life. As a secularist, how do you go about arguing against this ethic? Does the question make sense?

  14. thistoffeemama
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    Responding to Life and Value: You make some interesting statements. Based on your last paragraph, is it your belief then that not all human life is precious (not talking about animals in this post), or at least that it is acceptable for some people to think that?

    Is it possible that you value all life but maybe rate it on levels of value? For example, the comments about the pregnancy impacting a woman versus a fetus that is unaware of what is happening to it. If this is the case, this is a very slippery slope that can end up with all kinds of ramifications, some of what we’ve seen such as euthanasia for those in vegetative states, or simply allowing someone to die by starvation and dehydration as I witnessed to my horror as a nurse assistant in college. (Imagine caring for a woman who has had a stroke and is unresponsive, as she is denied nourishment, each day bathing her bedridden body, swabbing her cracked and caked dry mouth with a dampened sponge as she visibly responded to the water at her lips. At this nursing home her SISTER was in the bed next to her and had no understanding of what was happening as she herself suffered dimensia; finally the day came when her body could endure the deprivation no longer.) Why would her family do this to her? Was it about the money? Could they not afford to support her and her sister at the nursing home and maintain their current lifestyle? She was going to die eventually anyway. Maybe they thought they were putting her out of misery, for they thought her life had no meaning or value for anyone including herself. One can only wonder. I’m sure it was a difficult decision. But do you think it was right? Is something like that ever right?

    I cannot think it is. I think it all goes back to my faith in God and belief that He values each and every life, regardless of its state. I wonder if that is the difference between us.

    • Life and Value
      Posted February 29, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      thistoffeemama, that’s a question of subjective values. But yes, I think that not all human life is so precious that it must be preserved at all costs. Some people would hate to be allowed to live in a vegetative state, you know. Some don’t believe in souls, and thus believe that the death of the mind is the death of the really important part of them, and are horrified by the thought of someone having to care for their living body for years after their mind is dead. Some of them *do* believe and souls, and hate the thought of their soul trapped in a useless body long after they should have been allowed to die. Some believe it is “playing God” to force feeding tubes down the throats of people who would otherwise pass on very soon.

      Some people, when faced with terminal illness and great suffering, would like to be put out of their misery. Some would not. I, and many people I’m close to, would prefer death to a life without meaning. Laws that respect that belief would be a good thing, in my opinion.

      Even people who are “pro-life” often accept that human death is sometimes necessary. Is it morally acceptable to die for a good cause? Is it morally acceptable to kill for a good cause? Life, by itself, is not always the only consideration, or even the best consideration. It doesn’t mean not valuing life. It just means exploring why we value life, and to what extent, and in what circumstances.

      • thistoffeemama
        Posted March 1, 2012 at 12:48 am | Permalink

        It’s good for you and those close to you to know how much you value your own lives. I guess that helps you know that if the time came when you were in a position where you could no longer speak for yourself, they would know that you would not like to live any longer. And vice versa for them.

        However in the situation I described, I don’t know if her family had her blessing to end her life. Maybe they did. But let’s say they didn’t. And if they didn’t, they made a huge decision that killed her. The fact that she may not have known any difference is irrelevant to the point. Some people decided that a helpless, disabled, elderly woman no longer should live. I believe that is wrong. Just as I believe a man or woman deciding that a child in utero should not be born is wrong. A helpless, faultless, young life is killed by an abortion.

        Again, why would the woman’s family do this to her? In the end, the answer doesn’t matter so much. She is gone. Why would a mother kill her baby? If the baby is a threat to her in some way, and she values herself over the life of another, she will do it. She can rationalize it. And you can too. But in the end, the child is gone. That life that once lived within her.

        No one in their right mind enjoys thinking about ending another life. So we deny that life. We de-value it. We rationalize it with our big, educated minds and come up with all kinds of reasons why it’s okay. I don’t know if you have children, or if you are ever around any. But if you get the chance to talk to a young child about abortion, telling him or her that sometimes women get pregnant and then end their pregnancies, listen to the response. The truth is so simple, even a child knows it plainly.

        I hope you will reconsider your position on life, or think more about it by listening with an open mind to those who are pro-life. It’s really just about love, respect, and honor for all, especially for those other than yourself. And yes, it is good to die for a good cause, especially for others. Jesus did it and people all over the world have been doing it for years and will continue to do so. God bless those who value others more than themselves.

      • Life and Value
        Posted March 1, 2012 at 1:46 am | Permalink

        It makes sense to always err on the side of life if there is nothing else on the scale. But when you add in the risks and pains and consequences of pregnancy, there’s more than a little at stake. To chose a gut response, and wave away thoughtful and careful logic as “rationalizing,” is not always the best route to deep moral understanding. Not everything a child “knows” is true. And not everyone would thank you for erring on the side of life.

        Personally, I’m glad my mother was pro-choice. I love her and trust her to do what’s best, and I respect her right to control her body. If she had wanted to abort me, I would be appalled if someone else had forced her to do otherwise. I would gladly choose death rather than force that kind of bodily violation on her. My existence is not so vital to the planet that I would willingly commit that kind of crime against her. And I hope you consider that viewpoint with the same open-mindedness you want from me. With so much at stake on both sides, there is no such thing as erring on the side of caution. Both sides carry suffering. That’s why abortion is a difficult choice. That’s why it’s, to some extent, a gray area. And that’s why it should be a personal choice.

  15. Shasha Kleinsorge
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Thank you from the bottom of my
    pro-life -obsessed heart.

    😉

  16. DT
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    I liked your article very much, enough to post it on facebook, which I don’t do often. I hope both my atheist friends and my religious friends will notice it and comment on it. I’ve been especially trying lately to have conversations with people who disagree on the basics without just talking past each other.
    I’m a Catholic, but I think there is plenty of evidence based on science alone for the pro-life position–at least, for anyone who accepts the idea of human rights. The unborn child is clearly human (not some other species), clearly alive, and clearly (though of course this isn’t a scientific category) innocent. “Human rights” is originally a Christian-based concept (the idea being that human life has a particular dignity because human beings are made in God’s image, willed for their own sake, inviolable except in certain clearly delineated cases, like self-defense). So many decades ago, when the United Nations, obviously not a religious body, issued the Declaration on Human Rights, it seemed obvious then that the ideas were legitimate–they accorded with the generally accepted Christian presuppositions of society. Now those presuppositions are no longer commonly accepted–so I’m wondering why, as an atheist, you accept the idea that human rights. I’m glad you do, and I’m not accusing you of inconsistency, but am really curious.

  17. JocelynRae
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    I am a Catholic, but I am also very aware that to argue for life from the standpoint of one who believes in God and believes only God can dictate right and wrong immediately loses a huge chunk of the very people you are trying to convert to pro-life. When I argue for the rights of the unborn, I do my utmost to leave God out of my argument – not because I don’t believe in God (I very much do), nor do I think God is in any way detrimental to the argument. I try to leave God out of it because those who do not believe in God tend to (I find) dismiss you as soon as you attribute the meaning of life to a creator.

    I am extremely glad that there are atheists who recognize that abortion is not about theology. Being pro-life is about defending a human being’s right to life, and recognizing the inherent value of that human-being. All biology supports the humanity of the unborn, only arbitrary “value” judgments attempt to refute it.

  18. Kevin Williams
    Posted March 1, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Life and Value,
    You said “Personally Im glad my mother was pro choice. I love her and trust her to do whats best, and I respect her right to control her body. If she had wanted to abort me, I would have been appalled if someone else had forced her to do otherwise. I would gladly chose death rather than force that bodily violation on her…” Bla Bla Bla
    Tell me something honestly Life and Value. Were you laughing hysterically as you wrote all that nonsense or did you only have a big poop eating grin on your face that I have a visual of? And if you actually believe those absurdities or can spew them with a straight face you would make a good candidate for the Democratic nomination for President someday!
    I know many Pro lifers who I believe “Truthfully” would gladly lay down their lives so that others could live. You are the first person advocating the killing of beautiful, precious, innocent and defenseless little human beings that Ive heard say they would sacrifice their life for their cause. Personally I dont believe a word of it and I believe if any thing you are even MORE dishonest than the rest because of your tirade and that you are motivated by the same hedonistic and self serving worldview that drives the rest.

    • Life and Value
      Posted March 1, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      The fact that you find your life to be so precious that you would do anything to force your way into this world says to me selfish and spiteful. The fact that I would be willing to spare my mother a pregnancy–a violation akin to rape if she had not wanted it–even at the cost of my life, should not be so shocking.

      Pro-lifers think that life is more important than anything. So, I guess if you had to rape and torture to stay alive, oh well, that’s the cost of life.

      The fact that there is something more important to me than my own grubby life–and the fact that I’m not the only one who feels that way–should be enough to convince pro-lifers that they do not have some magical insight into the (potential/theoretical) values and desires of any particular fetus. Pro-life always claims to speak for the unborn child. Well, guess what? Not every potential person would’ve become someone who *wanted* to claw their way into life at all costs, their mother be d*mned.

      Your own life is so precious to you that you wouldn’t lay it down for anything? Well, I’m glad you’re not a soldier, at least!

      • Life and Value
        Posted March 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        Oh, I’m talking to a religious person.

        Well, in that case, sure. Believe whatever your holy book tells you to believe.

        My values are different from yours because I don’t start from the premise that everything your Bible-writers say is true. But you don’t get to legislate religious beliefs, FYI.

  19. Kevin Williams
    Posted March 1, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Life and value,
    You are wrong about me on so many counts in your post that I ran out of fingers to count them on.
    You are right about one thing though. Life is precious to me. Yet I would gladly lay it down if it were to give my God glory or further His eternal purpose. He has given me a plethora of GOOD reasons to lay it down for Him. The first of which is that He laid His life down for mine. He suffered unspeakably so that I might have life that is not only precious in its quality but duration.
    Almost daily I can reflect back on 2-3-4 Precious and Divine “occurences” and I KNOW that He is with me. At such times I often throw back my head and laugh from pure joy! At others I lay on my face and weep tears of joy that God would meddle in the life of an unworthy speck of dust like me.
    I embrace a world view that says that death is merely a threshold into a life where the grass, flowers, mountains streams, saints of old and holy angels will emanate beauty, love and well being with an eternity of delighting in God only knows what kind of activities and Divine purpose. The worldview that you embrace and advocate says that when you are dead you are dead. The whole Cosmos is but a tomb and the earth is your coffin. And Christians are the narrow minded ones?
    I once had a very grubby life also. God changed all that for me. He can change it for you too!

  20. thistoffeemama
    Posted March 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Hi Life and Value, I can’t reply directly to our thread for some reason…
    Anyway, thanks for the insight on your perspective. It’s clear that you care deeply about other people – your friends, family, even putting your mom before yourself if she had chosen to abort you. It shows that you trust her and her judgment in deciding what is the best thing in a given circumstance. Your points indicate that you feel that most people are able to make informed choices about what is best for themselves. There is nothing wrong with that way of thinking according to prevailing public opinion. In trying to understand where you are coming from in your opinions, I think that is what it comes down to for you: trusting individuals to know what is best for themselves. That sounds empowering to society and even “right” in our culture that holds the concept of freedom so dear. People should be free to choose, because only they know what is truly the best thing for themselves, in any situation. I hope I understand you correctly.

    I have been sincere and tried to respectfully make my points in my comments and I believe you’ve done the same. Thanks for that. 🙂

    I hope you also understand my perspective that I also think that people desire to do what is best, or at least have some understanding of pros and cons of various decisions. Choosing what is “best” becomes a relative topic in my opinion because the idea of what is best for one is clearly not the best for another. Therein lies the dilemma. In my opionion there must be a greater determinant other than “what is best.” I believe the question becomes, “what is right.” You may respond that what is right for one may not be right for the other, but I am talking about an absolute right, something above individual circumstances. Something along the lines of saying, “stealing is wrong.” Of course there are many reasons to justify it. Perhaps someone is starving and will die if they don’t take that food. But in the realm of absolutes, stealing remains wrong, regardless of the circumstances.

    One more thing just to clarify between us: you had mentioned in your last response how you disagree with “erring on the side of caution.” I think you confused me with another poster. I don’t think we should err on the side of caution either. At least we have that in common. 🙂

    • Life and Value
      Posted March 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      Hi, thistoffeemama. I’m glad to see you accept my viewpoints at face value, as I did yours. For so many people, a different set of values is so incomprehensible that they deny that anyone could even think that way. It’s impossible to have an honest discussion with someone who is in denial.

      I believe in very few absolute right and wrong actions. Even simple statements like “stealing is wrong” carry layers and layers of assumption about what makes something your property and what rights you have over your property. If someone gives you something, and they had stolen it, but you didn’t know, is it now rightfully yours? If you sell it and take that money and invest it, and the investment doubles your money, how much of that money is rightfully yours? Any of it? Can the original property owner, if they find you, confiscate the original value of the property plus the profit you made from it? Or is that stealing?

      I understand that having broad outlines of Right and Wrong are useful. But the legal system is a clumsy tool for handling all the shades of gray that, in all practicality, spring up around these “Rights” and “Wrongs.” So I firmly believe in minimizing the role of government in controlling the blurriest shades of gray–and abortion is one of the blurriest. If it’s wrong of someone to use someone else’s body without permission, the fetus is Wrong. If it’s wrong to kill a living human, the woman is Wrong. The government doesn’t have the means to clearly determine who’s in the right. The fetus surely can’t sue the woman, nor her sue it. And no one can pretend to know what the fetus would want. So the wisest thing is to let the woman handle it herself, and let her decide to allow the fetus the use of her body or not. When it comes down to it, the pro-life/pro-choice argument does not hinge on the morality itself: it hinges on who has a vested interest to make this decision. Is it a broad, clear issue of Right and Wrong that society can decide and enforce with the clumsy legal system? Or is it a delicate, personal issue, gray-shaded and debatable, that a woman should be allowed to decide for herself? Stealing, despite my example above, is a fairly simple, broad issue, when all’s said and done. Terminating a pregnancy is not.

      I appreciate the respectful discussion, by the way. It can be a heated topic.

      • thistoffeemama
        Posted March 1, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for your time and responses. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this. For what it’s worth, I’m glad your mom chose to keep you too. Even if it’s just because you made me think about some things. Keep thinking, seeking and questioning, and especially sharing – you are articulate, thoughtful and respectful. The world needs more people like you. There’s so much to learn in this life. Lucky us we get to experience it! Blessings and good wishes to you!

  21. Life and Value
    Posted March 2, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, thistoffeemama. Same to you. 🙂

  22. Posted March 3, 2012 at 1:29 am | Permalink

    Hello, this is Patrick, the author of the article. There are a lot of comments on here that I would like to address and I just don’t have the time to address each and every one of them as an architecture student. I will try to do my best to respond to the most common questions/arguments over the next week. I would like to mention one thing real fast. To the person going by the username of Life and Value, I want to thank you for your articulate and respectful comments here on Bryan’s website and my blog. In fact, I agree with the majority of what you have said. It’s not often that either side see’s a constructive and respectful discussion occurring on the internet. Of course this is two-fold and those who have been discussing the issue with you have remained amicable also, as far as I can tell. I will have to admit that reading everyone’s respectful responses and discussions have been the most beautiful and enjoyable thing I have seen come from my article thus far.
    Best,
    -Patrick

  23. Pedro. Spain
    Posted March 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Amazing.

  24. Pedro. Spain
    Posted March 3, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Probably people how believe in God (myself) think that Atheist are so relativist that there is no way they can find a single truth. I´m glad to recognize I was wrong. I totally agree in your point that pro choice arguments must be only scientific!

    • Kevin Williams
      Posted March 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      Pedro,
      Please dont limit yourself to any one method of arguing and speaking out for the speechless. There is too much at stake.
      If you are addressing someone who is antagonistic toward Christ and His word you will probably be better off using science and biology but never write off the use of Spiritual arguments. Depend on prayer no matter what methods you use. We have a powerful and capable Friend who I believe obligates Himself to come along side and help us when we lift him up.

  25. Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    Decrease Your Weight With the aid of Weight Loss Supplements As community carries on fat, a lot more people are taking an used check into their choices associated with weight loss. The traditional solutions of diet program and weight reduction are evidently appearing for being unfullfiling since the rate of obesity is maintaining growth whatever the man or women. Using the progress that are made in healthcare technology people is hunting for authentic answers offering effects rather than the out of date tips in history. With the last intent associated with lowering fat and energy to have a reduce physique, why might you not make use of all what you can do? These vitamin supplements are banned by the health care community for simple good reasons which will not have any health care value. Of course if the concept have been first made there are some major fears in connection with their effect on your body but medical research has verified a great number of supplements for being surprisingly helpful. http://capsiplexfaq.jigsy.com/ Other ads maintain you are able to feed on anything yet still slim down. Continue to additional advertisements declare, a couple of moments daily on a wonder product, you as well look similar to a celebrity. Several merchandise do remain the ages. The most beneficial goods depend on technologically demonstrated facts to eliminate unwanted fat.

One Trackback

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>