Blog Posts

Secular views challenging abortion

All Our Lives is neither religious nor anti-religious. We welcome people of any faith as well as nonbelievers. In light of my Point of Inquiry appearance, I'd like to direct readers to some secular or atheist views that question abortion.

Kathryn Reed's Feminist, Prolife and Atheist is a great example of a humanist, feminist challenge to abortion.

Many people think that opposition to abortion is a religious stance, and for many people this is true. For me it is not. I decided when I was thirteen that I was both an atheist and prolife. I became an atheist because I had no belief in a spiritual reality. I became prolife because my biology class taught a section about the development of the human embryo and fetus. I saw a human life as beginning at conception and stretching in one continuum until the death of that being. I saw that the inclusion of a child into society after birth (but not before) was nothing but a human convention.

When I attended college and studied anthropology, I saw this convention as part of a larger phenomenon: the practice of defining who is and who is not human. This practice is found in all cultures and though the choice of outcast is variable, it seems inevitable that someone who is biologically human will be excluded from the social definition of humanity. It is commonly known that those who are excluded are treated in ways that would be considered unthinkable otherwise. I suspect that this tendency is a perpetual weed in the garden of human society. I am not saying that this weed cannot be removed, but people who care will probably have to spend their Saturdays well into eternity walking out in their overalls to hoe if they want to keep it from choking out everything else in the garden.

Richard Stith: Arguing with Pro-Choicers or what I think of as "the Polaroid post."  Mr. Stith is himself a believer, but the argument he makes here is based entirely upon reasoning that is accessible to nonbelievers. He compares two different ways of looking at early human development, and how one's perspective colors one's view of fetal personhood.  (He also notes how religions often erroneously argued that the developing embryo or fetus was a nonperson based on lack of information.)

Here's a taste:

I submit that pro-life arguments seem absurd to any listener who has in the back of the mind a sense that the embryo or fetus is being constructed in the womb. Here's an analogy: At what point in the automobile assembly-line process can a "car" be said to exist? I suppose most of us would point to some measure of minimum functionality (viability), like having wheels and/or a motor, but some might insist on the need for windshield wipers or say it's not fully a car until it rolls out onto the street (is born). We would all understand, however, that there's no clearly "right" answer as to when a car is there. And we would also agree that someone who claimed the car to be present from the insertion of the first screw at the very beginning of the assembly line would be taking an utterly absurd position. To someone who conceives of gestation as intrauterine construction, pro-life people sound just this ridiculous. For a thing being constructed is truly not there until it is nearly complete. was founded by a Christian who wants to work with other believers as well as nonbelievers to foreground secular arguments against abortion. They are pro-contraception and pro-sex education.

Finally, for those of you on Atheist Nexus, there is a group called Pro-Life Nonbelievers. The group welcomes discussion, but not proselytizing (either for religion or for abortion).