I'll comprimise. I don't like the term entirely, but it'll do. Just like there are pro-gun-rights and pro-gambling-rights (and there used to be pro-slavery-rights).

Is it just for the sake of disagreeing with the religious? Is it because they see being anti-abortion-rights as being a strictly religious viewpoint? Are anti-abortion-rights atheists worried about fitting in? Is it just a coincidence?

Tags: abortion

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Referring again to your statement of 2 February 2009 that "there is a widespread moral belief that fetal value grows in parallel to gestation", it would be reasonable to suppose that persons who have this belief would be against a law that permits unrestricted access to late term abortions, and would be unhappy with such a law. I assume that, for the purpose of your utilitarian analysis, such unhappiness would be regarded as an objective fact. So from your utilitarian standpoint, the issue of whether it is right or wrong to permit unrestricted access to late term abortions will depend on how widespread is the moral belief that fetal value grows in parallel to gestation. Is this a correct statement of your view?
On the flip side: denying women with uterii the ability to deny the use of that uterii also "cheapens human life" - in this case it is the woman's life that is cheapened.

I place more value on the woman than I do the fetus.
Deborah wrote on February 3 Referring again to your statement of 2 February 2009 that "there is a widespread moral belief that fetal value grows in parallel to gestation", it would be reasonable to suppose that persons who have this belief would be against a law that permits unrestricted access to late term abortions, and would be unhappy with such a law. I assume that, for the purpose of your utilitarian analysis, such unhappiness would be regarded as an objective fact. So from your utilitarian standpoint, the issue of whether it is right or wrong to permit unrestricted access to late term abortions will depend on how widespread is the moral belief that fetal value grows in parallel to gestation. Is this a correct statement of your view?

Of course not. It made me very unhappy that Pittsburgh won the Superbowl, but that has no moral significance whatsoever. By your argument, we should dispense with the separation of church and state because so many people are upset that the state will not reassure them that they will spend eternity flying around clouds playing harp. I do not consider one's mood to be an attributable harm.
In that case, I imagine that, in addition having a problem with legislation limiting late term abortions, you will also have a problem with a number of other types of legislation. The examples which spring to my mind are laws regulating the treatment of animals and laws aimed at protecting or improving the appearance of an environment.

A law providing that an owner of an animal should not allowed it to starve would, according to you, be unethical because it would be an unjustifiable imposition on the resources of the owner, even if the owner happens to be well-heeled. Similarly, you would say that a law prohibiting pit bull fights is unethical because it would result in an unjustifiable deprivation of a source of income to a person who wishes to hold a fight. A law regulating the number of billboards visible from a freeway would, according to you, be unethical because limiting the number of billboards that can be erected on properties adjacent a freeway would detrimentally affect the financial interests of advertisers and would deprive the owners of properties adjacent the freeway of income derived from the use of their properties to erect the billboards. This, you would say, would be unjustifiable, even if it were established that the vast majority of persons would prefer that the number of billboards be limited, since their preferences would, according to you, amount to purely personal and subjective tastes which should not be protected by law to the detriment of the objective, financial interests of others.

I think that the difficulty in justifying the regulation of late term abortions in terms of your utilitarian ethical system is just one manifestation of a general weakness of your system, which is its discounting of communal aspirations relating to widely held sentiments and tastes in favour of other kinds of interests, such as financial interests.
These are good questions, Deborah.

I’ve always had a hard time accounting for animal rights with a utilitarian analysis. Other utilitarians, like Peter Singer and Sam Harris, don’t consider it a problem, but I haven’t been convinced by what I’ve seen of there analysis. They consider pain to be an objective evil, regardless of what organism experiences it. I find the argument confusing when we move from talking about the painless slaughter of food animals to the extinction of disease-bearing insects. In the latter case, I don’t think the pain felt by the insects is a consideration at all. But I do not think that even the dearest pets can be counted among “the greatest number” in a utilitarian analysis.

I have always heard that children taking pleasure in harming animals is a strong predictor of later sociopathic behavior. So if a child sets the household cat on fire, we would expect the parents to get him psychological help, not be happy because he enjoyed himself. If an adult enjoys staging pit-bull fights, that is not made moral because of the pleasure that he derives, but neither is it bad because animal lovers deplore it. Rather, cruelty to animals is deplored because of its connection to sociopathic behavior.

I realize that your point is that abortion is bad for the same reason, what you called “the brutalization of society.” But I think this is a false comparison. As far as I know, animal cruelty really does correlate with cruelty to other humans. I have never heard, however, that the abortion decision correlates with any objectionable treatment of people. In fact, it is the opponents of abortion who have maintained the monopoly of violence in this dispute, bombing Planned Parenthood clinics and assassinating surgeons.

I have never before encountered your argument that the restricting billboards because of aesthetic offense is a parallel justification to restrictions on abortion. If it is not morally significant that legal abortions makes anti-abortionists cranky, why should it be morally significant that billboards also make people cranky? Can it be justified to restrict the billboard owner’s economic rights, causing him manifest harm, to satisfy the subjective aesthetic tastes of others?

I’ll admit that I do think that highway beautification is a significant quality-of-life issue, even though it’s effect is ultimately on people’s moods. A utilitarian analysis is always one of proportion, balancing benefit in peoples’ lives against harm to find how to maximize the surplus of benefit. My willingness to restrict billboards is because I consider the improvement in the quality of life to be enormously widespread, while the economic significance of the billboards is small and the limited to a few small companies.

In the abortion decision, I consider the effect on the quality of life of the woman, her partner and support group, and the child are enormous. Even if we consider only the effect on society as a whole, I consider the cost and danger of children being reared in dysfunctional homes as greater than the benefit of satisfying people that the government confirms their values.

I’ve written many times in Atheist Nexus discussions that I think that leaving the abortion decision to the pregnant woman leads to the best results in the United States in the 21st Century, but this is not a universal judgment. In a small nomadic society, where lifespans are short, every law to maximize the birth rate may be necessary for the survival of the tribe. In China, where sharply curtailing population growth is an essential component of the plan for economic growth, it makes sense to put the abortion decision in the hands of the state.

You asked good questions, Deborah. My baseline position is that moral and public policy right are determined by maximizing the surplus of benefit over harm in peoples’ lives. I hope that this shows that my judgments on these diverse issues are consistent in this regard.
No, i find pro-choice just the better thing to do as each individual has a choice and aren't bogged down because the majority chooses no. We are freethinkers us atheists and pretty much 99% of the time promote the liberal side.
I'm pro choice because I've known people that all things considered, the more humane thing would have been to have an abortion than to have had them as kids and then treat them as so unwanted.
My question, and I apologise if due to my slow, slow computer I've missed the post that addresses this, is simply: is there any non-religious, non-spiritual, non-dogmatic reasons to be against abortion. Seriously, is there a secular objection?
this is exactly how i feel. Quality not Quantity.

Reply by BADWOLF on December 22, 2008 at 4:16pm
"i be anti abortion if 4/5ths of the human race gets wiped out but until then there are too many fuckers on this planet"
Reply by felch grogan on December 22, 2008 at 4:54pm
From a cynics perspective this issue is -

a) nobodies business but the immediate party's involved

b) (from our main page) "All authority deserves contempt. Rules are dispensable, as are customs, conventions, public opinion, reputation, honour and dishonour"

Its not my conscience, its not your conscience, its the conscience of those immediately involved. They are already in a difficult situation without a bunch of do-goodnicks poking their noses into what is, and should always be, a private matter.

No, its not for the sake of just disagreeing with the religious. That kind of statement lowers the godless to the status of the class troublemaker in school.


Ditto to this.
I was actually pro-choice (for a woman's right to have an abortion if she should need or want one) long before I considered myself atheist. Abortion is a medical procedure, and as with all medical procedures should be discussed only between the patient and her doctor. My view really has nothing at all to do with my lack of belief in a god or gods.

The thing that really bothers me about the anti-abortion side are all the people claiming that their crusade is about "the Children." If they are really so concerned about the children, why are these people not adopting abandoned children? Why are they not foster parents for their state, where they can play a positive role in the life of a troubled child? THOSE children need help. THOSE children need love. What about kids from other countries, other cultures, whose parents basically throw them away because they can't afford to feed them. Those children need homes, food, shelter, and most of all loving care.

There are so many people out there who could do those types of things and more with their spare time, energy and money--but they're not going to. They're far too busy marching up the streets holding signs with pictures of dead babies (what kind of sick...), too busy putting up websites that list America's abortion doctors?! Too busy standing on the sidewalk outside a women's health clinic screaming "whore!", "baby killer!", "murderer!" to an already emotionally distraught woman whose personal situation they do not know or care to know about; or, most horrifyingly hypocritical, murdering an abortion doctor.

No, abortion is not about caring for or saving children. Once they're born, those same people wouldn't have anything more to do with them, they don't give a shit. At the heart of abortion is one simple thing: control over a woman's reproductive system.

I always knew that churches considered abortion to be murder, but boy was I shocked to one day find a church-assembled "information" pamphlet about abortion on the table in my place of employment's lunch area. At first, I wondered where it came from because I knew our county health dept. is prohibited from supplying information on abortions. Then I saw the name of a local church at the bottom. I wondered...

When I opened it I was shocked to see a photo of what looked like charred pieces of a baby pulled from a bombing. The caption stated it was found in a dumpster outside of an abortion clinic in some other state. There was another photo of just a baby's head--charred looking, and with the entire lower jaw missing, dried blood spattered on its face. The caption said it was pulled from a dumpster behind another clinic in another state. Then there was a series of illustrations depicting the manner in which an abortion is performed at 7 months gestation. Needless to say, it was brutally exaggerated (with expressions of horror/pain on baby's face). Then there were a list of "facts." These facts stated that in America, it was perfectly legal for any woman to have an abortion up until within days of her due date; that 3 of 4 women in America has had an abortion; that abortion is the most commonly and frequently performed outpatient medical procedure in the United States, and that the average abortion clinic performs about 90 abortions in a single day. I was FURIOUS, and marched straight to the nearest manager and opened the pamphlet, shoved it in his face and demanded he do some serious talking to the person who had left it on our lunch table (she had written her name and phone number on the back of it, and even a cute little smiley face!). I never saw it again, but I did see her every day. I wasn't angry with her, though.... just felt sorry for her, being spoon-fed bullshit like that, never even questioning it, and wanting to share it with everyone else. How sad it is, I feel, that churches deliberately LIE to their faithful patrons to manipulate them to support their own agendas. How very, very sad!!!

And for the record, the most commonly performed outpatient medical procedure in the US today is EYE SURGERY. The rest is common sense... to a thinking person, anyway.
It's a choice issue. It's that simple for me. I, personally, have no qualms with abortion but even if I did it would be none of my business.

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