Abortion, science and logic

Science tells us that life begins at conception, yet most atheists are vehemently pro-choice. They declare science and logic their reasons for being atheists, but science, as I pointed out, explains exactly where life begins, and logic would inevitably deem a woman selfish for considering her fetus not worth of life simply because she is not comfortable with being pregnant.

Taking into account the entire picture of unplanned pregnancies, sexually-transmitted diseases and abortions, it truly astounds me that many still think it’s better to provide contraceptives to young people instead of encouraging them to abstain. To me, it’s essentially telling teenagers, “No problems come from having casual sex whatsoever. Knock yourselves out, kids, and let billions of taxpayer dollars cover the mistakes you make.”

I know most of you are intelligent enough to realize the gravity of what I’m talking about. The solutions to problems like the ones I mentioned are very clear to me, yet most of you seem to be protecting teenage sex, sodomy and abortion while people like me are protecting the sanctity of marriage, life and the family structure.

Posted: June 30th 2011

bitbutter www

Science certainly does not tell us that life begins at conception. Instead life continues through conception (living egg and sperm cells form a living zygote).

Here’s a question that it sounds as though you’ve not yet given serious thought to: Is every sperm sacred? And if not, why not?

If 'Pro life’ means granting rights to a newly formed zygote. Why stop there? Why shouldn’t every sperm be sacred?

The 'Pro choice’ stance seems to align well, at least superficially, with the assumption that people are the owners of their bodies, and thus have the right to revoke permission for other life forms to exist inside them.

In this sense abortion looks like a specialised case of eviction. From this perspective, whether or not the evictee is able to survive once evicted, or even whether the process of eviction will result in the death of the evictee, are questions that are inconsequential as far as the right of the mother to evict the 'tenant’ is concerned. Although the language sounds harsh, it’s accurate to describe an unwanted unborn as parasitic on its host.

Murray Rothbard expressed this view as follows:

The proper groundwork for analysis of abortion is in every man’s absolute right of self-ownership. This implies immediately that every woman has the absolute right to her own body, that she has absolute dominion over her body and everything within it. This includes the fetus [...] Any laws restricting or prohibiting abortion are therefore invasions of the rights of mothers.

Although I can’t formulate one myself, it’s conceivable to me that some objection to this idea could be mounted based on the differences between evictions of adults and evictions of the unborn: for instance the latter have no choice in the matter of whether or not they exist in the mother’s womb in the first place, and are incapable of leaving.

Posted: July 23rd 2011

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Ophelia Benson www

No, “science” doesn’t tell us “life begins at conception.” That’s a meaningless slogan dreamed up by religious advocates. Sperm are alive, eggs are alive.

Logic, of course, has nothing to do with your value-laden opinion that women who get abortions are “selfish.” Dandelions are alive, bacteria are alive, viruses are alive, fleas are alive; does it follow that it’s “selfish” to kill them?

If you really want to cite logic you need to start with clearly stated premises and logical connections between them. “Life begins at conception therefore women are selfish to abort” doesn’t get you there.

Furthermore, few if any abortions have anything at all to do with not being “comfortable” being pregnant. That’s an absurdly trivializing way to put the matter.

Judging by the content of your question (if it is a question – it actually looks more like a statement) it appears that you take too much of your worldview from sloganeers. I urge you to seek out better sources of information.

Posted: July 14th 2011

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George Locke

Protections for teenage sex, sodomy, and abortion are all vital to the sanctity of marriage, life and the family structure. You seem to think they’re at odds, which tells me that you have the wrong idea of what marriage, life, family, and sex, especially, are about. It’s one thing to hold these wrong ideas, but it’s fascist for you to presume to legislate how I should manage my sex life.

Sex is a beautiful, pleasurable, and central part of being human. Refusing teenagers any involvement with it sends a terrible message to them, ensuring a lifetime of hang-ups and neurosis. Now, I’m not suggesting that we have an orgy period at high-school or anything. There is a difference between healthy and unhealthy sexual contact, and your level of maturity is key in drawing that distinction.

Part of the problem is that the word “sex” is ambiguous. Some people seem to think that there are three kinds of sex: light petting, vaginal intercourse, and sodomy. This is absurd and offensive, but even so, the idea that teenagers (let alone unmarried adults) ought go no further than light petting is, frankly, an outrage. Many teenagers are mature enough to make that kind of decision for themselves, and those who aren’t should have access to caring adults who can help them understand the gravity of the issues without shoving disinformation about contraception and the joy of sex down their throats.

Abstinence only education just doesn’t work. There’s so little evidence in its favor that it is dangerous to teach given the available, effective alternatives. Yes, comprehensive sex education does succeed in preventing the spread of STIs and unwanted pregnancy, and no, it doesn’t increase the frequency of sex or encourage younger kids to have it. These facts are backed up with evidence.

If preventing unwanted pregnancy, the spread of STIs, and abortion is your goal, let alone the tax-burden these issues create, you have every reason to support comprehensive sex education as it accomplishes your goals far better than abstinence only programs. Your antipathy toward birth control and sodomy is astounding for the same reason.

You know what works in preventing pregnancy? Keeping sperm out of vaginas. You want to know how to do that? By having non-penetrative sex (you would call it sodomy) and using birth control if you do have intercourse. Yes, not having sex also works, but asking a human not to screw around is like asking a left handed person to write with their right hand. Sometimes it takes, but it’s always unnatural, hurtful, and morally disgusting. (Again, sex is for those who can understand the risks, and teens need our help to know whether they understand the risks or not. Telling them how to feel will not work.)

As for abortion: you wouldn’t call a swab of cells from your cheek a person, so it’s unclear why you call a zygote a person: it’s just a bundle of dividing cells. A zygote may be genetically unique, but that is not a meaningful criterion for personhood. Are identical twins the same person? The answer is no, and the reason is that they have different memories, feelings, thoughts, plans, etc. A zygote has no feelings, thoughts, plans, or memories. It lacks anything resembling personality, so how is it a person? This remains true for fetuses well into pregnancy.

It goes without saying that a fetus has rights, but what about the rights of the mother? What about the right to choose whether to be incapacitated for several months, undergo the intense pain of delivery, and follow it up with the unparalleled responsibility of parenthood? Anti-abortion advocates systematically deride these rights in favor of the rights of a non-person.

Outside of rape, sex is a voluntary act, and there are precautions we can take to prevent pregnancy (precautions you seem to want to hide from young people), but even women who use multiple forms of birth control get pregnant. It’s the height of arrogance for you to choose for such women whether to carry every pregnancy to full term, but that’s exactly what you advocate. Some anti-abortion barbarians even want to to withhold access to abortion from rape victims. It makes me want to puke.

Everyone wants fewer abortions. Everyone wants strong families. Everyone wants the dignity of life upheld. Some people want sexually active teenagers to be ignorant of their options. Some people want to limit sex to married, heterosexual couples, with no foreplay, no female orgasms, in the missionary position, without birth control, and, apparently, without any tenderness, joy, or sense of play. Some people think it’s dignified to force a woman to become little more than a sperm receptor and baby factory. This noxious dogma foists pain and suffering on the world, and for what? For repugnant morals based on a centuries old blood sacrifice cult owned and operated by rich and powerful men. My wife can make informed decisions about what goes on in her uterus without your interference. Step. Off.

Posted: July 12th 2011

See all questions answered by George Locke

Tauriq Moosa www

I’m baffled that the (only?) reason you think women have abortion is because they’re “uncomfortable”. I don’t deny it might be one, but there are plenty of very powerful other justifications. Are you aware of the damage having a child can have physically and economically on a family? Especially poor families or individual people who are barely able to support themselves? It would in fact be better for these children not to be born at all, since they do not need to suffer an existence of neglect in poverty-stricken environments. Would you prefer more children, but many living in squalor, disease, neglect and poverty, or less children and a higher percentage of those children actually cared for? This is certainly the goal of promoting carefully thought out parenthood; one of those being the defense of abortion as a choice and option.

You’ve already received necessary answers to your very loaded question regarding life. I’d be very interested to know what you mean by science “telling” us that life begins at conception.

You also are tossing around (1) the prevention of STD’s and careful planning of parenthood (contraceptives is only one way to do so) with (2) the promotion of underage sex – this is confusing. How are they the same? For example, by putting warning labels on cigarettes and having seminars showing how smoking kills, are we promoting smoking for underage people? Perhaps you think that because we encourage condom use, this negates the baby-burden that usually means sex is taken more seriously; so by eliminating the consequence of having a child, more people, including underage people, will have sex. So what, as long as it’s safe? I’m not sure what “underage” is, but if two or more underage people have safe sex (sex with a condom for example), I don’t see how it’s my business.

You make a black-and-white fallacy by saying contraceptives and abstention are mutually exclusive: they are not. There are different ways to encourage planning parenthood and safe sex.

It’s also interesting when you say “let billions of taxpayer dollars cover the mistakes you make” – yes, like having dozens of children that you can’t afford to care for or feed! Hence, why you allow for contraceptives, abortion and abstention so these children aren’t born at all.

(By the way, you are aware condoms help prevent the spread of STD’s? Surely that is important?)

I am aware of the gravity. I’m in fact so aware I’m never having children myself, but promote adoption of existing children. I’m so aware I’m telling people to be careful and actually think before they start having children and even having sex. However, we need to promote a society where sex is made comfortably secure: in other words, there is no stigma in using condoms, having abortions and so on. In that way, sex isn’t a big deal (it really isn’t to me, but the consequences, especially the creation of children, are.) I however don’t think your solution, getting rid of abortion and condoms (I apologise if this is not what you’re saying) will help; it will in fact make it worse.

You are welcome to defend sanctity, of life, marriage, etc. Sanctity is in fact a terrible thing to defend, since life is not sacred nor is marriage. The various ways people are allowed to kill themselves, as in euthanasia for example, and the way marriage works, like gay marriage, indicate the uselessness of sanctification. You can keep saying you believe in the sanctity of marriage – I assume you mean man and wife – but it doesn’t make that version of marriage the only right one, nor do you have a right to say how others should view their marriage or life (if people want to end it, they have “the right” to do so. Who are we to say otherwise?)

Posted: July 10th 2011

See all questions answered by Tauriq Moosa

Mike the Infidel www

“Science tells us that life begins at conception”
Science tells us that life is a continuous chain stretching back to the first living organism. You need to be a little more specific about what you mean by “life.” If you mean “human life,” I’d argue that a being without a brain isn’t capable of experiencing the world as a person. An acorn is not an oak tree; a fetus is not a person.

If you think women get abortions “simply because [they are] not comfortable with being pregnant,” you’re out of your mind.

As for “many still think it’s better to provide contraceptives to young people instead of encouraging them to abstain,” most atheists I know promote both. It’s not an either/or situation. Telling kids how to be safe if they’re going to have sex is not going to encourage them to have sex, and if the statistics are right, telling them to abstain is actually a worse way of preventing pregnancy than telling them about contraceptives.

“To me, it’s essentially telling teenagers, 'No problems come from having casual sex whatsoever.’”
Then you’re out of your mind, again. If you teach kids about contraceptives and STD protection, then it’s QUITE BLOODY OBVIOUS that you’re telling them there are potential problems involved.

“most of you seem to be protecting teenage sex, sodomy and abortion while people like me are protecting the sanctity of marriage, life and the family structure.”

The sanctity of marriage? If you’re worried about that, perhaps you should promote banning divorce. Life? I certainly hope you’re anti-war and anti-death penalty. The family structure? Whose family structure? A one man, one woman, 2.5 kids family structure? Two men and a baby? Two women? Who the hell are you to say whose family is legitimate and whose isn’t?

You talk about being logically consistent, then you throw a bunch of inconsistent nonsense at us. Something tells me you only care about logical consistency in the positions you oppose.

Posted: July 10th 2011

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brian thomson www

“Science tells us that life begins at conception …”

Define “life”, please. This is not a trivial question. What a scientist would call “life” is vastly different from what a Christian would call life. For starters, the idea of any kind of “spark of life” (vitalism) is not supported by any kind of evidence. It leads to a false binary proposition – a choice between “life” or “not life”, when we have no scientific reason to believe it’s a black-and-white question. If you look at the vast variety of organisms on this planet, you’ll find some (e.g. viruses or prions) that you’d be hard-pressed to call “living”. Do you draw an arbitrary line, splitting everything into “animate” and “inanimate” or do you accept that “life” is a continuum, not a binary dichotomy?
It might be easier on our feelings if it were that simple, but we have to deal with the situation as it is, not as we might wish it were. The result is that we have laws that draw a line in time, between a stage of pregnancy when abortion is legal and when it’s not. The law doesn’t try to tell us that there’s some magical change that occurs exactly 20 weeks (for example) after conception. The law is the last resort, the thing you turn to when no other answers can be found.

I’m an atheist, and I don’t like abortion. The idea of killing an unborn child horrifies me. I have never done it, or encouraged a woman to have an abortion, or applauded when it’s been done, and I intend to ensure that I never do any of those things. However, I am still pro-choice, because I’m not a pregnant woman faced with bringing an unwanted child in to the world. What to do is her choice, not mine; I don’t get to tell her what to do, or impose my opinion on her. It’s that simple. You’re entitled to your opinion, but so is every woman, pregnant or not. Where do you get you idea that you know what’s “right”, and have the right to impose your beliefs on other people?

Posted: July 9th 2011

See all questions answered by brian thomson


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