Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Non-religious arguments for being pro-choice?

A friend of mine who's in med school is looking for some good, credible resources on non-religious arguments for being pro-choice. Obviously the logical move was to ask a feminist atheist blogger, but I've failed him since I 1) Live in Blog Land, where good, credible resources are elusive creatures, and 2) Have a horrible memory and suck at recalling good things I have read.

But I know non-religious, humanist arguments for being pro-choice are out there. I could spend a couple hours writing a huge post myself on my own humanist arguments for being pro-choice. Oooooorrrrr I can be lazy since I know I have an intelligent well-read readership who likes to help me out (especially when I suck up to them by saying how intelligent and well-read they are). So what do you recommend? What are some good articles or books that address this subject? And I suppose blog posts are fine if they're from a more reputable individual.

And if you just want to throw in your own godless 2 cents on the abortion issue, consider this an open thread. I'll be hiding in the corner behind some bullet proof glass.


  1. I'm a little confused... did your friend want non-religious arguments for being pro-CHOICE?  Or pro-life?  Because finding a non-religious argument for being pro-choice is easy.  I'd respond but it just seems too easy, if that makes sense.

  2. My approach is to argue a spectrum of personhood. 

    The idea that a fetus is a "baby" gets pretty ridiculous when you imagine an invisible fertilized human egg cell being equated with a one-trillion-cell newborn.  It's not that the newborn is a trillion times more complex than the single cell.  It's that it's far more complex, with all the cells hooked up to make a working person.

    Another angle on this argument: PETA has a slogan, "A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy."  That is, they want to deny the value spectrum between vermin, livestock, pets, and people.  To most of us, it's a ridiculous argument.  And the same is true when pro-lifers equate a single cell with a newborn.

  3. The book "Abortion & Common Sense" by Ruth Dixon-Mueller, Ph.D and Paul K. B. Dagg, MD is reputedly good for med students in particular.

  4. yeah, i'm with Emily here, did you mean pro-life?  

  5. As usual, Jesus and Mo hit the nail on the head.

    Although the above is true in many cases, it is not true in all.  The argument between the so-called pro-life and pro-choice positions isn't about choice, it's about life.  For example, pro-choice folks don't support the right of parents to kill their (maturely born) children; here, they are happy to deny parents this choice.  So, at least in the cases where the pro-life people seem genuinely concerned about loss of life, one has to explain the difference between aborting a fetus at various times during the pregnancy.

    Some pro-life folks reject birth control as well.  At least this is a logical position.  If they don't, and if they aren't opposed to the IUD, ask them why the IUD (which works (partially) by preventing fertilized eggs from nesting in the womb) is OK and abortion is not.

    Also, ask them if they have funerals when a woman has her period a few days late.  In many cases, this is due to an early spontaneous death of the embryo.  It wasn't actively killed, but in general funerals are held for all people who die, not just those who are killed.

    I also think it would improve the credibility of the pro-choice movement if a distinction were made between early and late-term abortions.  The line might be blurry, but one has to draw it somewhere.  A late-term abortion, at a fetal age at which the fetus could survive a premature birth, is something completely different than an early abortion.  If you don't believe me, watch one.  Since any woman who wants to abort for non-medical reasons will not wait that long, nothing is lost by requiring larger hurdles for late-term than for early abortions.

  6. From Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan..

  7. I'm still divided with regards to abortion and pro-life. For me, it's unethical and immoral to abort if the baby's almost at the end phase of fetal development.