The following is copied from the "Are there any pro-life athiests out there?
" discussion. It's the first time I've staked out my position in writing and I'm pleased with it, so in the blog it goes!
I think we should recognize, from the get-go, that it's highly unlikely that anybody's stance on this controversial issue is going to change if they've already staked out a position (though it's been known to happen). The contentious and emotional aspects of this controversy are unavoidable when both sides of the argument have valid points. It's not surprising that so many proponents, both pro-life and pro-choice, become extremists with very little provocation at all.
Atheists, in general, tend to be progressive in their politics and social values: they want to be inclusive and nonjudgmental. Judging from what I've seen in the past, atheists are predominantly pro-choice. Theists, on the other hand, tend to be more influenced by religion and are more likely to side with pro-lifers.
All societies, in their laws, place high value on human life. The severest consequences are meted out for taking, or trying to take, human life. But, despite this, those same societies are not averse to taking life: war, capital punishment, even assassinations. I reflect society in that regard: I want to value human life as much as possible but recognize there are times when taking life is justified, even necessary. Cold-blooded murderers should be executed, Adolph Hitlers and Osama bin Ladens should be assassinated and wars should be fought to protect our way of life.
It all boils down to intent. To keep us honest, intent should align with results.
Unless you suffer some neurological disorder like autism or had a feral childhood (raised by jungle apes), you know what hurts you -- therefor, you know what hurts others. This knowledge is part of the human condition and comes with experience and empathy. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Golden Rule is an excellent foundation for morality, ethics and law. The bottom line is that we should not harm others unnecessarily. For most of our typical, usual, concerns, this simple rule is all we need as a moral guide.
But then there's those untypical, unusual, concerns. Like abortion.
Abortion is a complicated moral issue. One doesn't need to be religious to have strong feelings against abortion. There are even FEMALE atheists who are against abortion. I think that, realistically, NOBODY is FOR abortion . . . those who support abortion rights are really for CHOICE.
I understand all the worn-out arguments from both sides. My own position (where adult sex is concerned) is that, in this day and age, it is irresponsible for adults to have sex without contraception (condom, pill, whatever) if they don't want a baby. The kind of sex that leads to unwanted pregnancy takes 2 heterosexual partners, so contraception should be the concern of both partners. Abortion should also be the concern of both partners, although I understand that the woman makes the ultimate decision.
I said that abortion is a moral issue. And it is. But it's not a clear-cut moral issue. If capital punishment and war are not murder, can abortion be considered murder? Once the fetus is viable (20 to 24 weeks), I'd have to say yes.
But what about before viability? There are so many strong opinions about this, it's hard to be sure what to believe or who is right. But I think most people can agree that, unless the mother's life is at risk, it's too late to abort if the fetus is viable.
I believe it's important to uphold the value of human life as much as possible. Because abortions were once illegal, we know all the tragic stories that come with criminalizing abortion. If a woman really insists on an abortion, then it's a good thing it's legal. But it should only be legal for the first 19 weeks of gestation. With such a controversial matter, there's no way to please everybody. I, personally, draw the line at aborting a viable fetus. In this regard, my position agrees completely and wholeheartedly with abortion laws as they currently exist in the U.S.
Many question the route the Supreme Court took to its Roe vs. Wade decision. I don't know about that. But I do believe that their decision strikes the best and most reasonable balance between the pro-lfe and pro-choice camps. Fetal viability is the line they draw and I'm comfortable with that.
My moral sense tells me that, if I can't value human life absolutely, I need to value it as much as possible. Legal abortions before fetal viability gives ample time for a couple to decide what to do. But I can't, in good conscience, endorse abortion beyond the 19th week (viability) except to save the mother's life.
It's exceedingly difficult to write sound law that handles exceptional cases without diluting or negating the law itself. It's hard to understand how the decision to abort could reasonably be delayed beyond the 19th week. However, with millions of women in the U.S., such a scenario might arise. I'm all for individual consideration in such cases but I have no idea how it could be handled fairly and consistently.