On the fence regarding the abortion issue...
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15-07-2013, 02:31 PM
RE: On the fence regarding the abortion issue...
(15-07-2013 02:03 PM)cjlr Wrote:  That is a little more problematic...
Big Grin

I'd try to find a big, thick, first year university text. Start with your Biology 101 (or equivalent), and in all likelihood there'll be an introductory section on embryology and development. That's not like to say much about humans specifically, so if you're still interested, follow it up with an anatomy or phsyiology or human development text.

It's not my field, so I don't have a recommended text or author at hand. You could always check university course webpages? That should have textbooks listed. Come the start of the fall term you could just wander into the bookstore on a nearby campus. They might not sell course textbooks to non-students, but you could make note of titles.

Consider Hmm... My local university is a Baptist university, and I'm in Texas. Is it awful that my first thought is whether or not the books are actually scientifically accurate?

But I'll find something to look into, for sure.

I am reading some science stuff. Just finished Brian Greene's Fabric of the Cosmos and I'm slowly trudging through Darwin's Origin of Species as I find it somehow more difficult than Greene's book. Maybe I need a companion guide or some kind of walk-through for it. Shrug.

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17-07-2013, 06:39 PM
RE: On the fence regarding the abortion issue...
The only people who object to pro choice are those who should mind their own business and not stick their nose in to someone else's business.
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20-07-2013, 11:10 PM (This post was last modified: 20-07-2013 11:19 PM by Reltzik.)
RE: On the fence regarding the abortion issue...
(15-07-2013 08:41 AM)Escape Artist Wrote:  (Wasn't sure if this was the right forum for this or not, but here goes...)

The fact is-

Okay, back up. It is my opinion that we (humans) don't have a good definition of life. And hell, maybe we don't have a good definition of death, either, but that's not the point.

The point is, is that in spite of my being an atheist for over a year now, I still cannot seem to get myself to enroll in the pro-choice camp, if you will. I still feel like, while on the surface I would never presume to tell another woman what she can and cannot do with her own body, in my heart I am still very much pro-life. In other words, I still feel that somehow, once the sperm meets the egg, there's no way I could convince myself that that little cluster of cells (if it would even be a cluster of cells at that point, 'cause I'm not sure on that) isn't already a human being. I feel like, after that point, it's just all development, and that everything that's needed for that little cluster to become a human being is already there.

As far as other issues are concerned, I pretty much line up with the majority of other atheists (at least if my understanding of the views of the majority of atheists is correct). I am pro gay-marriage (but then, I never agreed with the church's hard line against homosexuals, so my being pro gay-marriage as an atheist isn't such a stretch) now when I was raised to believe that homosexuality was most definitely wrong. I value the environment and our role in protecting it far more than I ever did before, since I believed like most Christians that the world was going to end soon anyway. I lean toward more liberal views, in other words, than I ever did as a Christian, but it's the abortion issue that's tripping me up.

Which is kind of weird, I think, given my views on life that isn't human. Animals, for instance. Where an average person would cry or at the very least tear up at those animal shelter commercials, I don't bat an eyelash. Same for if I see a dog or cat ran over on the road. Or any other furry animal for that matter (though I have gotten teary-eyed or concerned over, in no particular order: a lizard that got caught up in our riding lawnmower and had his tail and legs cut off but was still breathing, a turtle trying to cross the road, non-poisonous snakes in our yard that my husband wanted me to kill because "all snakes are bad" when I argued for the positive role they play in keeping pests down so I guess it's that I care about a different subset of animals, like lizards and snakes and turtles/tortoises, etc.). That is not to say that I am not disturbed when I hear about cases of animal abuse, but it's not exactly the harm to the animal that bothers me. It's that, often the next step up from someone torturing or hurting an animal is to do harm to another human being, and I think that is where my real concern lies. It's not that I don't care about animals or don't think they should be treated properly, because I do, but it's simply not one of my "pet" issues, if you catch my drift. I think humans have enough problems to sort out within our own species, much less worry about other species. I care, first and foremost, about the continuance of the human species. Everything else comes second.

So maybe that could explain my pro-life leanings? Don't know.

It's not that the concept of the soul is what's keeping me in the pro-life camp because I don't believe in souls anymore. Anything that I would identify now as even remotely soul-like would be the brain, as I believe the mind is a product of the brain. And even this type of "soul" certainly does not remain intact throughout life's various bumps and hiccups. Whether it be through injury or Alzheimer's or the like, people do change, do lose parts of what we would identify as "themselves", whenever things like that happen. So my hesitance on the whole abortion thing doesn't have anything to do with souls, far as I can see because if I don't believe I have a soul, why would I think an embryo would, either?

Anyway, when it comes down to it I suppose I'd have to define myself as pro-life with exceptions in that, if a mother's life were in danger due to her pregnancy, I believe that the mother's life takes precedence over that of the child's because the mother already has people who love her, who depend on her. Thus, the loss of her life would constitute a bigger loss to society than would the child's.

I don't know. Like I said, on the one hand I don't feel like I should be able to - or even want to - dictate what another woman can and cannot do with her body, but on the other, at what point does that little cluster of "stuff" become more than just a part of her body? Doesn't he or she attain his or her own rights to life at some point? I think so, but at what point these rights are attained is difficult to say.

Did any of you converts (or rather de-converts) from Christianity/religion struggle with this issue? Or did you immediately jump into the pro-choice camp? If you did struggle, have you come out of it and since settled into either a pro-life or pro-choice stance?


Just responding to the OP, not responding to the responses.

First of all, there is no necessary connection between atheism and any given stance on abortion. None. At all. You can be an atheist and be pro-life (common usage, I'm sure people will provide other names for it), or be an atheist and be pro-choice. Many of the justifications provided for a pro-life stance are religious in nature, but these aren't necessary. Being pro-life on abortion (or contraception or execution, but those are other matters) in no way endangers your status as a card-carrying atheist.

.... you did get your card, right?

.... in the mail?

.... shit, the central office has to get its act together.

Anyhoo, moving on.

The first thing to realize is that there is overlap between the two stances. Pro-life is entirely about being focused on a particular outcome in cases where abortion is being considered: That the abortion does not occur, or (in milder forms of pro-life) that it only occurs if doing so alleviates risks to the mother's health. Pro-choice is entirely about methodology: That the decision ultimately belongs to the pregnant woman, and must not be taken from her. There IS an overlap here, and that overlap is seen whenever a woman has a choice about whether to get an abortion, and chooses not to. Both camps should be nominally happy about this scenario. (But it seems like the pro-life camp is split on the subject, maybe thinking it was too close a miss or something.) It is quite possible to pursue a pro-life agenda inside a pro-choice framework with this in mind. You won't eliminate abortion entirely, but then, you won't do that with illegalization, closing clinics, or shooting abortion doctors. (Global thermonuclear war might do the trick, but you'd have a hard time calling yourself pro-life after that. No, really, the radiation poisoning would make your jaw fall off like THAT.)

Furthermore, it is within your power to influence that decision, and to do so in non-douchebag ways. (Example of a douchebag way that happens: Setting up a hotline that's billed as helping women through the decision, but is really all about getting them to procrastinate until the legal deadline is past.) How can you help with this? Many, many ways. It's called being pro-both.

Whenever you see a social stigma against out-of-wedlock births, stand up against it. If you have a daughter, make it totally clear to her that you won't punish her, shame her, disown her, or stop loving her if she ends up pregnant some day. Talk out that scenario in an honest way with her, before she gets all teenager in your face and tunes you out. Many abortions (though far, far from all) are shame-driven, an attempt to preserve a secret from people who would punish them for it. Remove that stigma and you remove a significant motivation (though far from the only one) for an abortion. Result? Fewer abortions. Pro-choice objections? None, so long as you aren't a douchebag. .... oddly, pro-lifers as an aggregate really object to not punishing the stupid teens and their stupid teen pregnancy, even when an increased abortion rate is an obvious consequence of this. I blame the fundie contingent for this monumental level of idiocy. Really, any time you find yourself in agreement with them, take that as a MAJOR warning sign.

Scan personal adds for pregnant women looking to foster the child out, and adopt. Having a foster family lined up might be what the woman needs to go through with the pregnancy. Again, reduces chances of abortion, and little objection from the pro-choice crowd. (Bear in mind she has a right to get cold feet, though.) .... yeah, okay, that's a big commitment, but no bigger commitment than you're asking the woman to take by having the baby and raising it herself. You can either armchair quarterback or you can get some skin in the game.

See if there are any charities that donate money so that the needy can get prenatal care. Being afraid of having to carry a baby to term and then deliver without a proper doctor that they can't afford might cause a lot of mothers to choose abortion instead, especially if it's cheaper than a maternity ward. As an added bonus, you should get warm pro-life fuzzies out of the way that prenatal care cuts down on the risks of defects and produces healthier babies and fewer miscarriages. No pro-choice objections there, either. (Oddly little pro-life support for this in American government, though.)

Or you can decide that the best way of dealing with abortions is to get da gooberment to fine people, throw people in jail, take away their licenses, or break out the electric chair. NOW we're getting into something that pro-choice objects to. But before you go down this route, try asking yourself if it's the way you'd prefer to go, rather than the hundreds of other options available.

EDIT: When we see the pro-life movement following up on these non-douchebag options, then maybe some of us pro-choicers will start believing said movement is actually interested in promoting its overt values. Maybe. Until then, the movement as a whole (even if there are some individual exceptions) just plain doesn't have a moral leg to stand on.

I am an antipistevist. That's like an antipastovist, only with epistemic responsibility instead of bruschetta.
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