I recently saw an article on one of the atheist pages I follow. It was about how people atheists make donations to Planned Parenthood and do it in the name of a religious leader, who will then receive a thank you card from PP. This pastor has made videos flipping out about it and it is pretty funny. The page was urging folks to continue to support PP and one person commented that they would not donate money to an organization that murders babies.
Naturally people assumed this was a religious person coming to start something. The comments were pretty brutal towards the person, but it became clear to me that this guy was an atheist, but that he objected to abortion. Most of the people were dismissing his arguments (and accusing of him being a troll), but he was trying to explain himself and since it is not the easiest thing in the world to form a long, coherent argument via Facebook comment, I thought he was coming off alright. Yes, he was making spelling/grammatical errors, but so were the other folks.
His main reason for being against abortion was that he feels once an egg has been fertilized, that is the moment life begins. It is a difficult thing to define. When do you consider the thing growing inside a person as another person? He tried to point to the fact that if you murder a pregnant woman, you are charged with double homicide. He was also not advocating anything ridiculous like miscarriages being treated as murder or anything. He was just saying that in his mind, the moment the sperm fertilizes the egg, boom you have another person.
People then had to jump down his throat about all the good things PP does, which he acknowledged. He said that if they did not perform abortions, he would be okay with supporting them with tax money. Then people had to point out that tax money cannot be used for abortions. This is true. If you go in for an abortion, they charge you $350 (or something). You cannot be like “hey I am really poor, can I fill out a form to get some government assistance?” I think what he was trying to say was the tax money does help support PP in their other endeavors and that money allows them to be able to offer abortions (or something like that).
One of the disappointing things I saw from my fellow atheists was just how fast they were to dismiss this person, but also how they just regurgitated the same old abortion statistics that all pro-choice folks spew. They quickly mentioned the abortions for rape/incest victims, or in cases where the mother’s life is at risk. And yet they never mention the unwanted pregnancy. The mistakes. And this is where PP definitely comes in, they do a great job of reducing those unwanted pregnancies with education and contraception. So maybe this guy’s anger at PP is unfounded.
However, this brings me back to the point, can an atheist be pro-life? The argument against abortion usually stems from a religious perspective. The definition of life is very controversial to scientists. I am seriously not going too in-depth about it, but trust me when I say that the science is very confusing when it comes to the question of when human life begins. The more we learn about the process, the more complex it becomes. If an atheist decides to rely on science to help them make that decision, then it seems reasonable that an atheist could decide to be pro-life.
In fact, it reminds me that pro-choice people are not always big supporters of abortion. They are generally more into the rights of women to make decisions about their own bodies. I remember seeing Sarah Silverman on Bill Maher a few years ago and she was talking about the issue. Bill made some joke and Sarah was quick to mention that she would never have an abortion. She supports a woman’s right to choose, but she could never do it. I think that is something most pro-life religious folks forget: pro-choice folks are not rushing out and getting pregnant, just so they can have abortions. Abortion is one of the toughest decisions a woman can make. If you have ever been to a clinic, you know that the women there are not sitting there “oh yeah, gonna get this thing out, so I can go party it up tomorrow!” Instead, it is a somber place with most people there crying and struggling to make a decision.
Abortion is always a difficult discussion to have, people are either for or against. You will rarely meet someone who is in the middle. I would expect more from my fellow atheists though. They should be able to listen to the argument and not jump to insults and straw-man arguments.