I am evolving towards a pro life stance as an atheist, because it seems to align more with reason, and if one is to be completely unemotional and pragmatic, abortion should be considered a last resort just like any form of violence against any life form.

Arguments I've heard from pro-choice folks are mainly from the "freedom over controlling one's own body" perspective.

Well, we all have the right to control our bodies but only to the extent it doesnt harm someone or in some cases some thing else.

As our knowledge of science expands, we see less and less distinction between humans and other life forms, and we've come to learn that all life forms have a common ancestor.  This, to my way of thinking, makes anyone or anything capable of empathy accountable to the rest of the living things to be conscious of their fellow beings, and understand the gravity of responsibility when it comes to doing violence to another life form.

I dont know if this means either the extremes of no "morning after pill " or "abortions up to 1 second before birth", I dont like either extreme of the argument, as a rational, caring, loving human being.

I think the issue is more complex than pro life or pro choice as defined in our society, but I think as thinking, rational atheists, we need to acknowledge the complexity of the issue and , as we do in all scientific pursuits, constantly refine and re-evaluate our positions in light of new discoveries and be ready to put aside cherished beliefs in favor of doing the right thing.

For now, Id err on the side of caution.  I cant imagine how incredibly horrible it would be to experience an abortion from a fetus's perspective.  Thats something the pro-choice side is alarmingly quick to dismiss, stating that they feel no pain etc when we truly have no idea, and are pretty sure there is little to distinguish a third trimester fetus from a newborn baby.

My two cents.

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You are very unreasonable. Groups in Atheist Nexus exist for different acceptable reasons. If you read the purpose of this group you will find that it is: For atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, etc. who believe in expanding the definition of "person" to embrace human beings before birth as well as after. Very respectfully, with the beliefs that you hold you do not qualify to be a member of this group. You could easily start a group very much suited to the type of discussions you wish to engage in regarding Pro-Life/Pro-Choice matters. You could even set up a debate type group regarding them. Instead, you like the Christians insist on going, on an uninvited basis, where you do not belong and imposing your beliefs on others whom you will scapegoat as vileness if they do not receive you.
First of all, with all due respect, you have no idea who I am or what I think. You have clearly misunderstood or perhaps not even read my blog posts. I have stated that I am indeed an atheist who believes in expanding the definition of "person" to embrace human beings before birth. How far before birth is up for debate, of course, but I think the idea that 1 minute, 1 hour, and even 3 months before birth are fairly cut and dry in that there is no distinction between a fetus and a baby in that time period. Before that is where I think it becomes complex, and other factors need to be weighed in.

On top of that, I do not see, in the definition of this group, what it is proposed we do about folks who decide to have abortions. Should they be treated as criminals, and if so, would that actually prevent more abortions? Personally I dont think so. Keeping them legal and safe is much like the needle exchange program, which I also support. I dont support drug use, but there are certain realities in society that our legal system has proven ineffective in addressing so until we come up with an actual preventative program, we need to consider the practical reality.

You clearly have personal issues with me, or you've decided to attack me personally instead of responding to my statements. I have no idea what your problem is, but unless you are an authority over this site or group, you have no right to tell me what group I can or cannot join.
I am evolving towards a pro life stance as an atheist

You have already said that you are not yet Pro-Life.

I don't have any problem discussing the Pro-Life/Pro-Choice issues with you so long as it is done in a group where it belongs. What I don't like is that you have inappropriately crashed into a group and expect to command attention. This is insulting.

Start a group designed for Pro-Life/Pro-Choice discussions and I will be happy to join it and exchange ideas with you.
Re: Prior to Birth

There is a point which may need clarification. The information for this group says, "For atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, etc. who believe in expanding the definition of "person" to embrace human beings before birth as well as after."

Now, you've said that,

"I have stated that I am indeed an atheist who believes in expanding the definition of "person" to embrace human beings before birth. How far before birth is up for debate, of course, but I think the idea that 1 minute, 1 hour, and even 3 months before birth are fairly cut and dry in that there is no distinction between a fetus and a baby in that time period. Before that is where I think it becomes complex, and other factors need to be weighed in."

To me, that sounds like the position that in the last trimester there is a baby (which should not be killed), but in the first two trimesters that isn't the case. I don't know what you have in mind for the first six months (remember that most abortions happen in the first 10 weeks), but unless you're thinking along the lines of 'hard case' or Hyde Amendment exceptions, you're parting ways with prolifers. Many (perhaps most) prochoicers, after all, concede that life should be protected after viability.

Merely "expanding the definition of 'person' to embrace some human beings before birth" doesn't count.

Re: Abortion and the Law

"I do not see, in the definition of this group, what it is proposed we do about folks who decide to have abortions. Should they be treated as criminals, and if so, would that actually prevent more abortions?"

Well, I tried to start a discussion earlier about why I disagree about whether criminalization would be a deterrent for those whose motivations cannot be addressed with social/financial support - but you didn't reply.

I will say, however, that I object to the needle exchange analogy because the harm of drug use is self inflicted. From a prolife point of view, abortion is morally equivalent to infanticide, and therefore the harm is not inflicted on oneself, but on an innocent victim.
fair enough. If then, the group is only open to people who believe personhood extends all the way back to conception, then I will leave, as I think that is irrational.

Between conception and the second trimester is clearly grey, particularly in the second trimester, and I would think the rational approach would be to increase the gravity of personhood from zero at conception to something close at the end of the second, and the third being a full person. Thats how i see it, but I am always open to refinement with new evidence and information.

If this is at odds with the stated purpose of this group, then I'll leave.
Hang around I'll give you something worthwhile to chew on :)
What complicates matters is that there is a serious flaw in the personal identity account when used to identity your Ontological/basic nature.
Also from what I've seen philosophers still haven't worked out whether having the capacity, using it for the first time or developing it constitutes being that entity ontologically.
Instead they look at the brain swap and think tha basically answers the question when it doesn't.

You really have to read up on Personal identity to get an understanding of this.
Well, I've tried to make clear that no one will say that fetuses have personhood in a philosophical sense, because even infants don't meet that definition (see below).

The questions are:
'What moral status do they have?'
-
I'd argue the same as infant humans who are not yet persons
- and
'What legal status should they have?'

In the US a corporation is a legal person, and in many states in Mexico legal personhood begins at conception.



personhood


The condition or property of being a person, especially when this is considered to entail moral and/or metaphysical importance. Personhood has been thought to involve various traits, including (moral) agency; reason or rationality; language, or the cognitive skills language may support (such as intentionality and self-consciousness); and ability to enter into suitable relations with other persons (viewed as members of a self-defining group)... Questions about when personhood begins and when it ends have been central to debates about abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia, since personhood has often been viewed as the mark, if not the basis, of a being’s possession of special moral status.


The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, Cambridge University Press 1999


person

One of the central problems of metaphysics is what it is to be a person. The answer ought to account for central phenomena of personhood; rationality, command of language, self-consciousness, control or agency, and moral worth or title to respect, are amongst the salient characteristics that have been thought to distinguish persons from other forms of life.


The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. Simon Blackburn. Oxford University Press, 2008.
You wrote: If then, the group is only open to people who believe personhood extends all the way back to conception, then I will leave, as I think that is irrational.

I'm curious about what your definition of "irrational" is. Certainly you're not accusing people who believe that the moral status of persons can go back to conception of being illogical. There would need to be something in our position that you could point to as being invalid. (I think the opposing side has more trouble with consistency.)

We look at the same science that you do.

The difference is over normative principles. What makes this an issue of rationality rather than another dispute about ethics?
Fred no, technically/traditionally a human isn't a person until about 18 months when they pass the mirror test and show they have self awaress.

& unless you have read up on personal identity it gets a bit complicated.

I'm a bit different my philosophy work says we aren't even persons as adults LOL
To Fred-

Again - we need to be precise if we are making statements about what a 'person' is. Here (in my opinion) are the different categories which are of significance - you might wish to add more.

1. personhood from a philosophical perspective -
this is the definition in ethics, moral philosophy, social philosophy, political philosophy, etc. The above definition from Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy is a good one. By this standard, personhood varies but I've never seen any account that is generally credited which puts it prior to 18 months after birth. (I welcome anyone to let me know of one. It's a topic of interest to me.)

2. legal personhood- this is a status granted by law and varies from one place to another and changes over time. In my country legal personhood is acquired by humans at birth, but corporations are also persons. In other countries legal personhood begins at conception.

3. not personhood per se, but the moral status accorded to all persons- all persons (from the philosophical perspective) have a moral status which includes a right to life. That means that personhood is a sufficient condition for such moral status. That does not imply that personhood is a necessary condition for moral status.

_ - _ - _ - _

Prochoicers often use 1, 2 & 3 without specifying their meaning and produce logically questionable conclusions as a result. Also, the sufficient condition versus necessary condition contrast is often ignored.
Its my personal opinion that person hood is based on consciousness or capacity for it. Once a brain is sufficiently developed to form an independent thought we are in the territory. This means a sperm/egg zygote is no closer to consciousness than a banana.

Its not an either /or black white issue though, before you rush off looking to hang me on a semantic. I am also of the opinion that the issue is complex, what defines life is complex, and what defines person hood is ambiguous at best. I wont, therefore, accept an extreme "pro life" position that life begins at conception, nor will I accept an extremist pro choice position that a child is not a child until the moment they are born.

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