Saturday, 26 January 2013

Pro-Life Atheism: You Don't Have To Be Religious To Be Against Abortion

I'm atheist. On Dawkin's religiosity scale of 1 to 7 (1 being extremely religious and 7 completely atheist) I'm 6.9 (just like Mr. Dawkins himself). God plays no role in my life and I find the idea of an intelligent creator of the universe who sits up in the heaven and concerns himself with what hand I wash my ass with or when (and with what gender) I have sex with quite laughable. At most, I might consider being an agnostic deist. That is, I believe there might some sort of intelligence that created (masterminded) the Universe, but one that does not care for the existence of the humans. However, I'm different from most atheists in one aspect, I do not think that abortion is right (although I'm fully opposed to it either). Unfortunately, this is not the position one wants to find themselves in, as most of pro-lifers also happen to be Christians and believe in pro-life because they think the bearded man sitting on the cloud told them to.
My story is a little bit different. Surrounded by liberals all around, I never gave that much thought to the abortion debate, as I thought it was a given that a woman has a right to choose as it is her body. That is what most liberals argue, and luckily enough for them they aren't met with much opposition as Christians and religious people as such usually fail to adhere to reason which in most cases automatically makes their arguments to a very large extent invalid.
My point of view on the other hand is more "philosophical" (for a lack of a better word). Most people argue that their life will be ruined if they have a child as they won't have time to do whatever it is they were planing to, so they resort to killing a fetus. You might agree with that, but what if the baby was born? Let's assume that the baby is a day old, how is it different from killing that child as opposed to killing it inside the mother? Some will say that this reasoning is unfair and wrong, but it's not. Let's look at the facts. Both the baby inside and the baby outside of the mother are still unconscious of their existence. Both will grow up to be conscious and aware of their existence, learn to love, feel etc. Sure, one can say that some babies are aborted before they are even 'alive', but that is the line of reasoning that is wrong. Whether or not the baby is alive at the time of its abortion is very irrelevant, what is relevant is that both are still unaware of their existence. How is it fair to claim that one baby should have the right to live while the other doesn't just because the first one was lucky enough to be given enough time to have it's nervous system grown (something it has no control over)?
When I was first realized  this, I was shocked. Why is it that so many liberals believe that abortion is right? In fact, assuming the absence of religion and following the line of reasoning I wrote above, it seems that the liberals would have been pro-life, and conservatives ( who are more individualistic)
So the question then remains, assuming there was no religion, why would one be pro-choice? And in my opinion, this is the most interesting part. That is because deep down inside we are individualistic, egoistic and cruel animals. But there are two reasons why we don't act in such a way, first one of which is the so-called social contract. "Social contract arguments typically posit that individuals have consented, either explicitly or tacitly, to surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority of the ruler or magistrate (or to the decision of a majority), in exchange for protection of their remaining rights". Killing newborn babies would most certainly be a violation of such contract.
The second reason is evolutionary psychology. That is, the involuntary decisions that we make. As I had previously mentioned in one of my earlier posts, one has all sorts of involuntary reactions when they look, smell, touch or even see a baby (and what's even more amazing is that the baby can be of a different species). Dopamine is released in the brain and one is overcome with a sudden urge to protect the baby, while some of us can't stop involuntarily smiling at them. That is because our brain has a special face-recognition "program" that can tell apart a baby, who has comically over-sized eyes and a disproportionate face just to aid the brain in recognition.

So when we hear of a baby being hurt, most of us will be angered and sad. When a parent kills their 2-month old baby we are outraged (think how much it disgusts you just reading that), but we don't give it a second a thought when a fetus is aborted. And that is because it is "only" a fetus. We haven't seen so we didn't bond emotionally with them yet. And if the fetus is in the earlier stages of development, then what's worse is that it hasn't yet had a chance to grow those characteristics on its face that we label as cute.

And that is pretty much my principal argument. Of course, there are instances when the situation becomes more confusing (what if the woman was raped?). These are the issues I will not discuss as it is not the point of this post. I'm merely adhering to the fact that the pro-lifers are fighting for the wrong reasons.


  1. I like your argument on individualism making us more prone to 'pro-choice'. Basically, identifying ourselves as individuals has been embedded into Western cultures. The best example would be as you mention- Liberals. They are the epitome of Western society, where universal human rights, freedom of expression, and the liberty you are supposedly born with to use your mind and body as you wish are constantly being promoted as the "right" way to move forward within society.

    It's important to take into consideration the socio-political aspects of their arguments to try and understand where they actually stand on a topic such as abortion. Of course, it all gets a bit more interesting when you bring religion into the picture. Religion is always a tool, and when we try to connect the individualistic behaviour of a typical Western liberal society with the love of god for all, it becomes quite difficult to choose whether you will be forgiven for abortion -when you die and are in the doors of heaven- or not.

    That is why, trying to analyse the debate from a somewhat rational point of view leads us to think you are still killing what will become a person just like you and me...just because it does not have that identity right now does not mean it is less than us. Imagine if someone would have taken away from us that opportunity to develop into a conscious person. However, the reason why I argue our opinion will never be entirely rational is because we are bound to our own subjectivity and as much as we try to achieve the objective view of things, such as, abortion being right or wrong; we will never be able to be outside of ourselves... in other words, I don't think we can control subjectivity. Therefore, the formula will always vary depending on the situation we see ourselves (as individuals) in.