Jen Roth - Atheist Against Abortion

September 17, 2010

Host: Robert M. Price

In this episode of Point of Inquiry, Robert Price interviews Jen Roth, co-founder of All Our Lives, a secular organization committed to advocating for women's right to exercise freedom of conscience in making voluntary, nonviolent, sexual and reproductive decisions.

Jen is an atheist who seeks no grounds for human rights in God or religion, but also one who happens to oppose abortion. Not an advocate for outlawing abortion, though, she believes there is much to be done by way of clarifying and defending the sexual autonomy of women.

Jen Roth has written for the Secular Web and the online political magazine Shared Sacrifice. She was formerly on the board of Consistent Life, an organization which opposes war, abortion, and the death penalty. In spring 2010, she co-founded All Our Lives.

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

All Our Lives

Related Episodes

Peter Singer - The Life You Can Save
June 19, 2009

Comments from the CFI Forums

If you would like to leave a comment about this episode of Point of Inquiry please visit the related thread on the CFI discussion forums

Even though we are on opposite sides of this issue, Jen is articulate and consistent in her approach to the issue of abortion. I have two comments about her arguments:

1. From an ethical point of view, she told Bob Price that the one argument for abortion rights that she had the hardest time refuting was the one in which a woman should have control of her own body, and so long as the fetus was dependent upon her body, a woman could withdraw permission for it to dwell within her at any point. She likened this to an organ donor who chooses not to donate an organ (e.g., a kidney) and cannot ethically be forced into doing so. The topic in the episode quickly changed directions, and she never really addressed this with any counter arguments. On my own, I find none that are a compelling refutation of the woman’s right to control her own body. I wonder how she would justify denying women the right to make this choice.

2. I wonder if Jen has considered, in the present-day context, the unintended consequences of her alliances with those who seek to end abortions. Many (if not most) of these groups are vehemently opposed not only to abortion, but also to birth control, sexual choices, LGBT rights, and women’s reproductive health (e.g., HPV vaccination). Even if abortion made me ethically uneasy, affiliating with and lending legitimacy to such organizations appears to run in such opposition to her other positions that I fear she hasn’t fully thought through the ramifications of work with them in this endeavor.

Posted on Sep 18, 2010 at 2:29pm by NH Baritone Comment #1

I’m atheist but conservative. I’m not pro-life, I’m anti-abortion. The unborn babies are killed because they are inconvenient and powerless and that’s morally wrong. End of story.
  There is no right to privacy, at least not in the Constitution, and if there was, we should honor it first by getting rid of zoning, not prohibitions on abortion. What’s private about an abortion anyhow unless you do it yourself?
  Most of the blabber about logical consistency, etc. etc. is liberalism as religion substitute lite. The problem is liberalism does not recognize tradition and hasn’t the slightest clue about morality. This is the liberal conceit I keep talking about. You can never work all the contradictions and unintended consequences and injustices out from your inflated impression of your own wisdom. That’s why we have tradition, a cobble that has been tested and works or close enough to it so it isn’t worth the risk to change it especially for a load of half baked baby boomer self exculpation.
  Same reason I’m dead against all the sexual freedom blabber and homosexual excuses. Sex should be extremely tightly linked to responsibility and held extremely private. Same flaw for the opposition. Anything else really messes up people, enough to eventually bring down the whole.

Posted on Sep 18, 2010 at 5:35pm by rg21 Comment #2

That must be the first time I’ve heard an atheist defend the idea of “tradition”. The first thing that came to mind was the Family Guy parody of the Pepperidge Farm commerical: “Remember when women couldn’t vote, and certain folk weren’t allowed on golf courses? Pepperidge Farm remembers.” The mere act of being an atheist is to be against tradition in a big way, and the defense of science and secular philosphy necessitates Socratic questioning of received wisdom (even if we find no fault with it and end up keeping it anyway).

Posted on Sep 18, 2010 at 8:24pm by Logan Comment #3

rg21, and I’ll bet you are a man. In the past month, we have had one woman die after delivering and two ended up in the ICU lucky to be alive right after delivery. Looking at my own family, I can see the tragic results of lack of access to birth control causing my mother to give birth to an additional five children she did not want. My parents were married, but my mother became extremely depressed and suicidal, looking for solace in alcohol for 20 years, depriving my younger siblings of the vibrant intelligent mother the oldest children had. Am I pro-choice? Hell yes! There is a HUGE difference in the success and lives of the last children who had no mother and the oldest who did—and the difficulties continue onto the second and third generations. If my mother had access to birth control or abortion, I would not have had my ‘mother’ taken from me as a teen and young adults. Perhaps she would have chosen to have one more, but she would have been able to be a mother to that child if she’d had the choice.

Women have had abortions throughout history and prehistory. The difference now is that they do not have to desperately risk their lives an fertility. You need to talk to women my age who have lost a mother to a botched abortion. Whether or not abortion is legal, will never affect the rich and well to do, it affects the poor and middle class workers. Those who can afford them, will ALWAYS find a place to get one. It is effectively, a tax on those who can least afford it. :mad:

Posted on Sep 18, 2010 at 9:41pm by asanta Comment #4

Its interesting that she points to inconsistencies among “pro-choicers.”  There are some obvious inconsistencies in her perspective.  If she thinks that fetus are all human, then how could she not be interested in making it illegal?  Is the right to privacy more important than the life of a fellow human being (since this appears to be her view)?  I certainly would not put a person’s right to privacy over a murder. (this is not my view, but is a logical extension of her view… unless she views abortion as a special case and not murder)

Also I would be intersted in her response to the following (simplified) thought experierment:  There is a fire and she only has time to save either one 4 year old child or two fertilized embryos ready for implantation.  Which would she choose?  If she views them all as “humans” you see the conundrum.  It appears to me that being anti-abortion poses more consistency challenges.

Posted on Sep 18, 2010 at 10:12pm by ccbowers Comment #5

Don’t get me wrong though… I think that the approach that Jen Roth is taking to reduce abortions is largely the right approach.  I think abortions should be legal… I don’t know that there is a reasonable alternative to this, but reducing the number of abortions is an important thing to strive for.  I just felt that her comment on logical inconsistencies went unchallenged when there are obvious logical inconsistencies (or odd conclusions that could be further challenged) that result from viewing embryos as full human beings.

Posted on Sep 18, 2010 at 10:23pm by ccbowers Comment #6

Being an atheist simply means you don’t think there is a god. It doesn’t mean you have to think you and your friends are wiser than the accumulated wisdom of civilization, not just in general, but in each and every case. Logan obviously knows only liberals. He needs a better class of friends. Asanta is guilty of the most classic sin skepticism attacks, selective vision. I’m not saying the old ways were perfect, not even good, just better than the new. Asanta is blind to the evils - intended and unintended - that sear my nostrils daily since the late 60’s, not to mention the broken, wasted, and diminished lives.

Posted on Sep 19, 2010 at 4:27am by rg21 Comment #7

And I’m fine with the Socratic method. But it doesn’t mean that you and your friends always come up with the right answer, much less that you have a god given (pardon me) obligation to impose it on the rest of us.

Posted on Sep 19, 2010 at 4:43am by rg21 Comment #8

@rg21-

I think you have an overly romantic view of the past.  I see this in many people who are conservative with a populist slant.  I do not really identify with the term ‘liberal’ that you throw around in derogatory ways, but it appears to me that the world is place that is improving for humans as time goes on from many perspectives, particularly the moral and social perspectives that you reference.  There are many measures that you could look to to validate this, but ultimately it is a matter of perspective.

Posted on Sep 19, 2010 at 5:41am by ccbowers Comment #9

Being an atheist simply means you don’t think there is a god. It doesn’t mean you have to think you and your friends are wiser than the accumulated wisdom of civilization, not just in general, but in each and every case. Logan obviously knows only liberals. He needs a better class of friends. Asanta is guilty of the most classic sin skepticism attacks, selective vision. I’m not saying the old ways were perfect, not even good, just better than the new. Asanta is blind to the evils - intended and unintended - that sear my nostrils daily since the late 60’s, not to mention the broken, wasted, and diminished lives.

What about the broken lives of the WOMEN? do THEY count for anything. What about the families forced to have far more children than they could care for. What about the people so desperate as to risk an illegal abortion by a probably unqualified practitioner and risk their lives? What do YOU know about the ‘old’ days when men were allowed to beat their wives, and the women who tried to get a divorce were seen as ‘fallen women’ little better than prostitutes AND were usually left destitute as well. What do YOU know about the days when a woman could be fired for becoming pregnant, or put in a mental institution for daring to ask for the right to vote? What do YOU know about the OLD days?? Take OFF your ROSE colored glasses! :angry:

Until you can tell me that you would save two embryos before you save a little girl/boy from sure death in a burning building, you are a hypocrite. If you WOULD save the embryos before the children, you are immoral. :-/ Smileys

Posted on Sep 19, 2010 at 8:50am by asanta Comment #10

It seems to me that no matter what position one takes on the issue, there will be accusations in inconsistency left right and centre.  Human sympathy often extends to the sufferer of the unwanted pregnancy or child.  Doh I just made a very ambiguous statement, unwittingly in fact.  When a woman frames the problem of whether to allow a baby to mature as affecting her own survival severely, she must then kill the life within her, or even worse, submit to the pressure of others.  Who sides with the innocent in such a case will seem a monster to some eyes.

That all said, I wholeheartedly agree with the previous poster on the immorality of eliminating an inconvenient human being when contraception fails or should have but was not undertaken.  TG I’m not a woman, these are very very painful choices either way.

I made no claim for logical consistency in expressing these thoughts.

Posted on Sep 19, 2010 at 3:42pm by B9K9 Comment #11

If you think these decisions are easy, obviously you are not a woman. The woman who uses abortion as birthcontrol is a myth, if not a very rare person indeed. It reminds me of the 1980s non-existent ‘caddy owning welfare queen’ paraded by the GOP, which under scrutiny, could not be produced. I have no doubt that somewhere, there is a woman who uses abortion as birth control, but there are far more who risk their infants by abusing drugs and alcohol during and after their pregnancies.

Posted on Sep 19, 2010 at 4:29pm by asanta Comment #12

Also I would be intersted in her response to the following (simplified) thought experierment:  There is a fire and she only has time to save either one 4 year old child or two fertilized embryos ready for implantation.  Which would she choose?  If she views them all as “humans” you see the conundrum.  It appears to me that being anti-abortion poses more consistency challenges.

I’d go even further.
If I’d have to choose between fertilized embryo and a dog, I’d go for a dog.
They are certainly more intelligent and self aware then embryos.

Any thoughts?

Posted on Sep 19, 2010 at 4:36pm by hamax Comment #13

If I’d have to choose between fertilized embryo and a dog, I’d go for a dog.
They are certainly more intelligent and self aware then embryos.

Any thoughts?

Ditto. I’m a pro-choice vegan.

rg21: I don’t have any friends (that I am aware of) who are socially conservative. Not that your comments mean anything, since you’re so unfriendly to “liberals” anyway. I imagine being the Uncle Ruckus of atheists is not conducive to liberal friends.

Posted on Sep 19, 2010 at 6:26pm by Logan Comment #14

Was Jen Roth ultimately arguing that personhood is something that a human organism has for its entire lifecycle?  At what starting point?  Conception, implantation, or something else?

I find it completely implausible that an organism at a life stage with no capacity for perception, let alone reason, counts as a person.  Nor that a particular genetic code is either necessary or sufficient for personhood.

I think every point that she made was brought up in a debate I had with a Christian blogger on the topic of abortion, who similarly argued for an equation between personhood and human organism.  I wonder if she has any better rejoinders.  Does she think that IVF and therapeutic cloning are immoral?  IUDs?

http://lippard.blogspot.com/2009/12/vocab-malone-on-abortion-and-personhood.html

Posted on Sep 22, 2010 at 6:01pm by Jim Lippard Comment #15

I think every point that she made was brought up in a debate I had with a Christian blogger on the topic of abortion, who similarly argued for an equation between personhood and human organism.  I wonder if she has any better rejoinders.  Does she think that IVF and therapeutic cloning are immoral?  IUDs?

http://lippard.blogspot.com/2009/12/vocab-malone-on-abortion-and-personhood.html

What about forcing a 9 year old rape victim to bear her stepfather’s twins? :angry:

Posted on Sep 22, 2010 at 6:22pm by asanta Comment #16

While this does not change my personal position, the discussion did point out that I had not critically examined some of the pro-choice arguments (specifically, when is a fetus human).  However, until all people have control of their reproduction, the right to a legal and safe abortion should remain legal.  Reducing the “need” to have abortions (the child impregnated by rape, etc.) will reduce the number of abortions.  The right to terminate a pregnancy still needs to be there.

The anti-abortion movement still terrifies me though, as many of those who speak for the movement are more against women’s rights than anything else.

Posted on Sep 22, 2010 at 7:24pm by joannebb Comment #17

The anti-abortion movement still terrifies me though, as many of those who speak for the movement are more against women’s rights than anything else.

That’s what I see. Control the uterus, control the females. Many of the GOP against abortions (for any reason at all) are also against birth control…of any kind. It is like they want to take us back into the 19th century. What is next..taking away the ability to vote?

Posted on Sep 22, 2010 at 8:34pm by asanta Comment #18

With euthanasia, she honestly tried to compare a depressed suicidal person with someone going through physical torment and certain death?

REALLY?

Posted on Sep 22, 2010 at 10:16pm by kennykjc Comment #19

That’s what I see. Control the uterus, control the females. Many of the GOP against abortions (for any reason at all) are also against birth control…of any kind. It is like they want to take us back into the 19th century. What is next..taking away the ability to vote?

asanta
your attitude comes across to me sounding just as strident as the worst of the prolife attitudes.  That’s the worst slippery slope rant I ever heard! Tell me you are trying to be more reasonable than passionate.  I appreciate its a gut level debate for many.  If there ever will be an accommodation with opposing views it is unlikely to arise from the attitude you seem to be displaying.  Have you thought of changing your tone if not your opinions?

Posted on Sep 23, 2010 at 5:05am by B9K9 Comment #20

I’m atheist but conservative. I’m not pro-life, I’m anti-abortion. The unborn babies are killed because they are inconvenient and powerless and that’s morally wrong. End of story.
  There is no right to privacy, at least not in the Constitution, and if there was, we should honor it first by getting rid of zoning, not prohibitions on abortion. What’s private about an abortion anyhow unless you do it yourself?
  Most of the blabber about logical consistency, etc. etc. is liberalism as religion substitute lite. The problem is liberalism does not recognize tradition and hasn’t the slightest clue about morality. This is the liberal conceit I keep talking about. You can never work all the contradictions and unintended consequences and injustices out from your inflated impression of your own wisdom. That’s why we have tradition, a cobble that has been tested and works or close enough to it so it isn’t worth the risk to change it especially for a load of half baked baby boomer self exculpation.
  Same reason I’m dead against all the sexual freedom blabber and homosexual excuses. Sex should be extremely tightly linked to responsibility and held extremely private. Same flaw for the opposition. Anything else really messes up people, enough to eventually bring down the whole.

I’m against abortion only because I think life should be given a chance. I wouldn’t want to decide that an potential individual life is inconvenient. People want freedom to act and freedom of being responsible for their actions.

However it is also against my belief to force a choice onto someone else. I would encourage them to support life but you can’t force responsibility on someone who doesn’t want it. I think you have to allow a person to make their choice and they are the one who has to live with it.

Posted on Sep 23, 2010 at 8:54am by Gnostikosis Comment #21

That’s what I see. Control the uterus, control the females. Many of the GOP against abortions (for any reason at all) are also against birth control…of any kind. It is like they want to take us back into the 19th century. What is next..taking away the ability to vote?

asanta
your attitude comes across to me sounding just as strident as the worst of the prolife attitudes.  That’s the worst slippery slope rant I ever heard! Tell me you are trying to be more reasonable than passionate.  I appreciate its a gut level debate for many.  If there ever will be an accommodation with opposing views it is unlikely to arise from the attitude you seem to be displaying.  Have you thought of changing your tone if not your opinions?

I was an adult woman when Roe v Wade became law. I remember what went on before its passage. I remember the difference access to birth control made, even though husbands routinely threw away their wives birth control. I remember when a woman had to get her husband’s permission to be sterilized. I saw the stigma attached to woman coming to the hospital where I worked to get a medically necessary abortion (to allow treatment for cancer for goodness sake!). I hear various far right GOP members wanting to outlaw birth control pills, IUD, and ‘the morning after’ pill—even in the case of rape or incest. Sharon Angle, Christine O’Donnel and many others around them don’t believe in abortion for ANY reason.

People should shift their concerns for the children who are already on this earth, to make sure they have the means to grow up healthy and well balanced. How many people yelling ‘inconvenient’ take that time? How many people look the other way when children are abused because it is ‘None of my business’, yet if the woman wants an abortion—suddenly they feel it is a great deal of their business?

Yes, I am strident. I think we should expend our energy to care for the, impoverished, unwanted, neglected, abused children who are living on the earth, and recognize that if someone doesn’t want to have a child, maybe it is to prevent bringing onto the earth more neglected, abused children, and perhaps to prevent themselves from wallowing further into poverty.

Posted on Sep 23, 2010 at 3:04pm by asanta Comment #22

This podcast is a new low for POI since it is so full of inconsistency, irrational back-patting, and emotional pleading as to be disgraceful to the CFI’s mission.

Did Jen Roth really argue that the opinion wherein fetuses are not considered “fully human” (what does fully human even mean?) is unscientific and emotional?  Say WHAT? Because it seems to me that is exactly what a purely scientific opinion would hold.  A clump of cells has no thoughts, no perception, no awareness (things we generally associate with being human) or even any functioning organs and tissues, yet she still wants to accord it full rights as if it was a member of some persecuted minority!  She may not believe in gods, but how are her views functionally different from those that claim life begins at conception when the soul is created?  By her logic (and that of some on this thread), we should outlaw menstruation and masturbation to prevent eggs and sperm from being cruelly denied their right to person-hood. (I’m looking at you, Gnostikosis.  “I’m against abortion only because I think life should be given a chance.”)

She hold extremely naive views about the issue considering this is supposedly her chosen cause.  Of course we’d all prefer a world where women are equal, can choose their sexual partners, and use contraception if they want, but this is totally irrespective of the world we currently live in.  In reality, she is just offering opinion and little else.  This is, at best, wishful thinking.  Her efforts offer nothing practical toward helping her ideal world come to fruition, but they do muddy the waters in the fight against religious ideologues who would deny women these things.  All they do is make those of us in favor of women’s equality divide our attention unnecessarily.

Opponents of abortion that I’ve encountered (whether theist or now “atheist”) all seem singularly focused on the gestation of the child without any thought as to its welfare post-birth.  Can the family feed and clothe another child?  Will the child be loved?  Will they be subject to neglect or abuse?  If the pregnancy occurred due to the failure of contraception, how are the parents going to feel towards a child that was essentially forced on them?  Pregnancy should always be a choice, never a punishment.

Roth is also either pitifully ignorant of the stark difference between capitol punishment and euthanasia, or willfully dishonest.  To equate someone suffering in a hospital bed with a criminal sentenced to death is simply ridiculous!

@ccbowers #9  Don’t mind, rg21.  (S)he may be an atheist, but if so it’s only through the most basic definition of not believe in gods.  I’ve dealt with him/her before and (s)he is not skeptical, rational, or even very secular.  My best assessment of rg21 is “shit disturber”

@B9K9 #20  Your comment belies both a lack of originality (apologists use “strident” ad nauseum;  in fact I’m surprised “shrill” was omitted) and an inability to counter Asanta’s arguments.  Even the word, “strident”, is merely a comment on HOW an argument is PRESENTED, not the VALIDITY of said argument.  You’re all focused on the “passion” and “tone” of her argument yet provide no counter-arguments.  A common tactic when one’s arguments are poor.

Posted on Sep 24, 2010 at 2:15pm by Hardcore Comment #23

reducing the number of abortions is an important thing to strive for.

A common point of agreement made across both sides of the abortion debate is that we all agree that reducing the abortion rate is a good thing.


I’d actually go with the opposite.  If anything, there are too many unloved, unwanted, under-cared-for children in the world as it is.  I’m a hopeless utilitarian, but I can’t help that, if purely looking at the production of suffering, increased abortions would likely reduce suffering overall.  The world will have been a better place if many people were simply not born to begin with.

I understand that the reaction to this idea will strike many as cold or cruel.  But think of it this way.  Imagine a car is filled to capacity, and an extra passenger would face severe risk.  Should the passenger be asked to wait for the next car?

I’m probably sounding like I believe in reincarnation.  If only.

I just don’t understand why a fetus must be made sacred.  Beyond its ability to feel pain (and we’re talking about, if anything, a very brief period of discomfort - certainly no worse than the agony I surely felt when I was circumcised), what is there?  The parent’s feelings would be next in line.  Then I suppose there is the squishy idea of social normative behavior.  Do we want people going around aborting fetuses?  I don’t have a problem with it.

The last concern is largely designed to deal with the inevitable question of when it is OK to kill a developing human.  Many draw the line at viability.  But that’s a slippery term.  When is a fetus viable.  Medicine had been advancing considerably, leading to earlier and earlier viability.  But what would be the argument anyway?  It seems an arbitrary point, designed generally for winning an argument, if not merely for public health and legal reasons - like the driving or drinking age.

No, I think the question that needs to be answered is whether it would be OK to kill a newborn.  Or what about a three month old, etc.?  If done without suffering, there is no cost to the individual.  And what if the mother and father don’t mind? Grandparents?  We must draw the line somewhere in concentric rings of possible indirect suffering.  And yet this point could be made about any individual, really?  A thought experiment:

  If you were stranded on a desert island with a stranger, with no hope of ever being rescued, would it be morally OK to kill him in his sleep?


He wouldn’t suffer.  No one would mourn his loss.  In fact, the same could be said for many fellow citizens with no apparent social ties.  It appears the only recourse to which we are left is an appeal to moral decency.  Well, Jesus Christ, what the Hell is that?!!!!


It’s an excellent question.  But I think we can put one foot in the right direction with this proposition: we ought to do what we think everyone ought to do.  It’s not unsimilar from the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  The trick is in the details, of course.  Not everyone is like me.  I might find it perfectly reasonable to kill my newborn child.  A horrible thought, indeed!  But, maybe in some circumstances, after terribly wrenching moral anguish, I determine that the child would be better off dead, then off we go.  But to simply allow for such behavior by law, willy-nilly, seems very untoward.


Why this is might hold the key insight.  Moral anguish.  My wife had a miscarriage.  Zero moral anguish.  Couldn’t care less, really.  What was it but a plop of barely activated DNA sequences floating about in a loose organization of cellular membranes?  But fast forward to the moment of birth and a father’s heart melts.  This is highly intuitive, mammalian shit right here.  We don’t kill babies.  Those of us who do are monsters.  Well, to be accurate, they are deeply dysfunctional individuals whose lack mental faculties make them unfit for civilized society. 

That’s not quite how I’d describe myself.  And yet I still can’t get worked up over a blastocyst.  I’m sure that when my chromosomes combined with those of my wife, it had made quite an interesting string of DNA.  But just as I wouldn’t mourn the lost of a recipe I just printed off the internet in the same way I’d mourn the loss of a triple-decker cake I just spent hours lovingly crafting before it crashed to the floor, a fetus is only slowly moving toward my heart.  It exists as much in the eyes of my wife as I watch her belly grow, or the joy we share as the little feller begins to kick.


Oh, and by the way I wouldn’t kill a stranger on a desert island.  But I’m not sure I’d mind if you did.  Although I’m sure I wouldn’t think it wrong if you did.  And if we’re ever stranded on an island together, just make sure it’s quick and painless.

Posted on Sep 25, 2010 at 8:51pm by vidoqo Comment #24

  Same reason I’m dead against all the sexual freedom blabber and homosexual excuses.


`
Could you explain what you specifically mean by “homosexual excuses”?

thanks.

`

Posted on Sep 25, 2010 at 9:35pm by Axegrrl Comment #25

Also I would be intersted in her response to the following (simplified) thought experierment:  There is a fire and she only has time to save either one 4 year old child or two fertilized embryos ready for implantation.  Which would she choose?  If she views them all as “humans” you see the conundrum.  It appears to me that being anti-abortion poses more consistency challenges.

I’d go even further.
If I’d have to choose between fertilized embryo and a dog, I’d go for a dog.
They are certainly more intelligent and self aware then embryos.

Any thoughts?

`
I’ll add another ‘ditto’ to this :)


`

Posted on Sep 25, 2010 at 9:38pm by Axegrrl Comment #26

  Same reason I’m dead against all the sexual freedom blabber and homosexual excuses.


`
Could you explain what you specifically mean by “homosexual excuses”?

thanks.

`

I missed THAT! Being that the fact that homosexual couples can’t procreate ‘naturally’ is s major fundie argument against them, I’m not sure why he threw them in. If he knew how many children were conceived via IVF, he’d probably try to outlaw that too!

Posted on Sep 25, 2010 at 11:49pm by asanta Comment #27

Being that the fact that homosexual couples can’t procreate ‘naturally’ is s major fundie argument against them, I’m not sure why he threw them in. If he knew how many children were conceived via IVF, he’d probably try to outlaw that too!


`
Oh good grief, the procreation red herring yet again *rolling eyes* Either declare that the ability-to-procreate is essential to/for marriage or get off the pot.  If it is, then they need to start focussing their rabid disapproval on every couple that can’t reproduce but expects to be eligible to marry ~ including all of the young, healthy, heterosexual couples who are biologically ‘barren’......and every senior citizen that wants to marry.

They should ALL watch this (it’s brilliant I tell you!):

It’s all about children (or at least the anatomical possibility thereof)

Then either give their anti-same-sex-marriage vitriol a rest, or go to town condemning a bunch of other people as well ~ if intellectual honesty/consistency means anything to them, that is.

(my favourite bit of the video was the graphic of someone holding a picket sign saying “it’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and some old lady!!”)

*teehee*

Yeah!  why don’t we see people aggressively attacking the elderly marrying?  I mean, after all, how DARE they!


`

Posted on Sep 26, 2010 at 12:15am by Axegrrl Comment #28

I don’t understand the (ir)rationality about polygamy. If marriage is all about children, you would think they would be proponents of polygamy, after all, that would produce even more children, or polyandry which would make it more likely for a woman to become pregnant, if she were fertile.  :coolgrin:  They are very inconsistent with their logic!

Posted on Sep 26, 2010 at 3:37am by asanta Comment #29

@vidoqo

Well said!  I guess that makes me a cold, cruel, utilitarian too.

@Asanta, Axegrrl

You bring up some very interesting points I hadn’t previously considered regarding the whole “marriage being all about children” thing.  Unfortunately, I think logical consistency is asking a bit much from most of these people.

Posted on Sep 26, 2010 at 12:33pm by Hardcore Comment #30

How it can be morally OK to do away with surplus or handicapped newborn babies is beyond ordinary human decency, and, likewise with a third trimester pregnancy.  If you do approve of such behaviour then you don’t have good morals; you may of course have a good rational judgement of utilitarianism and expediency.  Then moral nihilism is a more consistent stance.

I was just following Hitchens and AC Grayling on the morality or otherwise of the various bombing campaigns in WW2, on youtube.  The longer the war went on , the crueller it was waged.  It makes these questions seem very small.  Vidoqo’s thought experiment hints at lifeboat ethics, wherein it becomes expedient to kill and eat the weakest in the lifeboat to maximize the chances of the remaining people on board.

The reason we may have so much hard debate and worse around this subject could be due to there being no actually consistent theory of law, ethics and morality.  We wing it and occasionally have a crash as a result.  My best answer would be that the instinct for survival trumps all other considerations when its down to the wire, regardless of one’s initial beliefs, religious or otherwise.  There are some people one should be afraid to share a lifeboat with.

I dislike argumentative attitudes surrounding this subject.  My intuition is that it is insoluble even if all discussion is calm and civil.  Although a firm disbeliever in religion and a rationalist and skeptic, I don’t yet call myself a secular humanist.  But I find elements of ordinary human decency on both sides of the abortion debate.  I have impression from various posters that its heretical to challenge humanistic/ atheistic views that abortion is morally OK.  Away with all dogmas! (except for this one).  Nobody herds me, nor I them.  B9K9 is feline.

Posted on Sep 27, 2010 at 9:21am by B9K9 Comment #31

Can’t say I quite catch your drift, but I think there are situations when it may be wise, if not morally commendable, to carry out abortion. For example in cases of unwanted pregnancies, where doing otherwise would be to introduce more evil into the world. But besides that, I think it is above all important that abortion be considered as an option in tackling one of the world’s greatest present problems—the over-population problem, which is proving intractable.

Posted on Sep 27, 2010 at 11:33am by Pambania Comment #32

How it can be morally OK to do away with surplus or handicapped newborn babies is beyond ordinary human decency, and, likewise with a third trimester pregnancy.  If you do approve of such behaviour then you don’t have good morals; you may of course have a good rational judgement of utilitarianism and expediency.  Then moral nihilism is a more consistent stance.

I have a greater interest in the condition of the human AFTER it is born. I would like each child born into an environment capable of nurturing it into a socially competent, contributing adult.

Posted on Sep 27, 2010 at 2:50pm by asanta Comment #33

@B9K9
“I dislike argumentative attitudes surrounding this subject. “

That’s for sure - you never even made an argument! 

You said that particular behaviors were “beyond ordinary human decency”, or an “expression of not having good morals”.  But you never say why.  You give an example of escalating cruelty in war, yet never argued why 3rd trimester abortion, or the murder of a newborn was cruel.  But why is it?  That is the interesting, and significant question.

It may be that we have no clear answer.  Ethics is like that sometimes (see the trolley experiment).  I’m OK with that.  But it also means accepting that we *have no clear answer*.  I think this is why many simply say that abortion is a personal decision and are fine with leaving it to others to determine.

As for infanticide, I thought I made a somewhat compelling case for why it should be a crime (although I still find it quite squishy).  But maybe you missed that.

Posted on Sep 27, 2010 at 4:29pm by vidoqo Comment #34

Claiming morality is not an argument. There is no standard for morality except what a person individually feels what is right and wrong.

You can’t claim my actions as immoral nor question my morality as, well you can but I don’t care what your concept of morality says, thinks or claims I should do.

You are free to be guided by your personal moral values, just keep them to yourself. Individual morality has little value in a rational argument.

My morality is mine and yours is yours. Just don’t bother trying to tell me what mine should be unless you like wasting your time.

Posted on Sep 27, 2010 at 4:55pm by Gnostikosis Comment #35

@B9K9
“I dislike argumentative attitudes surrounding this subject. “

That’s for sure - you never even made an argument! 

You said that particular behaviors were “beyond ordinary human decency”, or an “expression of not having good morals”.  But you never say why.  You give an example of escalating cruelty in war, yet never argued why 3rd trimester abortion, or the murder of a newborn was cruel.  But why is it?  That is the interesting, and significant question.

It may be that we have no clear answer.  Ethics is like that sometimes (see the trolley experiment).  I’m OK with that.  But it also means accepting that we *have no clear answer*.  I think this is why many simply say that abortion is a personal decision and are fine with leaving it to others to determine.

As for infanticide, I thought I made a somewhat compelling case for why it should be a crime (although I still find it quite squishy).  But maybe you missed that.

Thing is we all have moral intuition and its very variable between peoples and cultures.  If you have different intuitions then we could explore why they are different.  For example William Lane Craig in his defence of OT genocide manages to twist logic and biblical exegesis to proclaim evil as a good when ordered by Yahweh.  That’s why I think he is out of his mind.  My “ordinary human decency” manages to convince me that sometimes what seems immoral wrong and evil is in fact just that.  I don’t find it a very interesting question because it seems so blinkin obvious.  A waste of words if you like.  If you examine various statements on the pro life choice debates (I’m far too kind) you can find humanity and decency on both sides.  That’s my proposition, my “argument”.

Posted on Sep 28, 2010 at 4:14am by B9K9 Comment #36

I have a greater interest in the condition of the human AFTER it is born. I would like each child born into an environment capable of nurturing it into a socially competent, contributing adult.

As we all should!

Posted on Sep 28, 2010 at 4:17am by B9K9 Comment #37

May I recommend an essay written by Rachel Richardson Smith.

click  Abortion, Right and Wrong

Posted on Sep 28, 2010 at 12:01pm by citizenschallenge.pm Comment #38

@B9K9
“I dislike argumentative attitudes surrounding this subject. “

That’s for sure - you never even made an argument! 

You said that particular behaviors were “beyond ordinary human decency”, or an “expression of not having good morals”.  But you never say why.  You give an example of escalating cruelty in war, yet never argued why 3rd trimester abortion, or the murder of a newborn was cruel.  But why is it?  That is the interesting, and significant question.

It may be that we have no clear answer.  Ethics is like that sometimes (see the trolley experiment).  I’m OK with that.  But it also means accepting that we *have no clear answer*.  I think this is why many simply say that abortion is a personal decision and are fine with leaving it to others to determine.

As for infanticide, I thought I made a somewhat compelling case for why it should be a crime (although I still find it quite squishy).  But maybe you missed that.

Thing is we all have moral intuition and its very variable between peoples and cultures.  If you have different intuitions then we could explore why they are different.  For example William Lane Craig in his defence of OT genocide manages to twist logic and biblical exegesis to proclaim evil as a good when ordered by Yahweh.  That’s why I think he is out of his mind.  My “ordinary human decency” manages to convince me that sometimes what seems immoral wrong and evil is in fact just that.  I don’t find it a very interesting question because it seems so blinkin obvious.  A waste of words if you like.  If you examine various statements on the pro life choice debates (I’m far too kind) you can find humanity and decency on both sides.  That’s my proposition, my “argument”.

So, it all seems obvious to you, even though you can’t come up with a reason why.  And you still haven’t made a single argument.  You’ve simply explained an emotion you feel.  Isn’t that the very definition of unreasonable.  Do you think you’re the first one in history to take such an incurious position?  The first to stomp your foot and say, I’m mad because I know I’m mad?

Actually, I wonder why you bothered saying anything at all if you consider it a waste of words!

Posted on Sep 28, 2010 at 4:20pm by vidoqo Comment #39

For me, and I suppose many others, some gut instincts about good and evil are so obvious there’s no need to explain them.  And you say that’s unreasonable? Do rational people really rationalise that level?  Some things are axiomatic.  Like do evil if you must, just call it that and don’t call it good.

Posted on Sep 28, 2010 at 11:47pm by B9K9 Comment #40

For me, and I suppose many others, some gut instincts about good and evil are so obvious there’s no need to explain them.  And you say that’s unreasonable? Do rational people really rationalise that level?  Some things are axiomatic.  Like do evil if you must, just call it that and don’t call it good.

Well, remember how this began.  I tried to understand what reasons there might be for not having an abortion, and they seemed to have direct consequences for how we view infanticide.  I then made a direct argument against infanticide by appealing to what I called “moral anguish” - not so different from your “gut instincts”.  Yet you somehow missed that and wanted to apply the “moral anguish” argument to abortion as well.  Unless I’m mistaken, you never clarified a separation between the two.

Look, this is a Center for Inquiry forum.  One would hope that we are all interested in examining why we believe/ feel the things we do.  Simply saying something is “evil” is an intellectually vapid statement.  It says nothing.  Why is a 3rd trimester baby any different than a 2nd, or 1st?  You’ve added nothing.  Philosophers and ethicists tackle tricky moral conundrums as a matter of course.  If you aren’t interested in that, you’re contributing nothing to the dialogue.

Posted on Sep 29, 2010 at 6:46am by vidoqo Comment #41

For me, and I suppose many others, some gut instincts about good and evil are so obvious there’s no need to explain them.  And you say that’s unreasonable? Do rational people really rationalise that level?  Some things are axiomatic.  Like do evil if you must, just call it that and don’t call it good.

There is IMO no universal good and evil. People just assume such from their culture, upbringing etc. I think very few if any’s intent is to do evil. Most everyone justifies the good in their actions somehow.

You can clam something evil but someone is going to find someway to justify that action as good. Usually an action is good for someone and bad for someone else. Good and evil boils down to a personal POV, not a rational argument.

Too often in the past people have accept something declared as evil by some authority without question. It is time to question ideas about good and evil to determine if there is any rational behind them.

Actually I don’t know if I have any rational behind some of my morals. I accept that sometimes I do what I feel is right. I just don’t expect to justify an argument base on what I feel is right.

Posted on Sep 29, 2010 at 10:31am by Gnostikosis Comment #42

Simply saying something is “evil” is an intellectually vapid statement.  It says nothing.  Why is a 3rd trimester baby any different than a 2nd, or 1st?  You’ve added nothing.  Philosophers and ethicists tackle tricky moral conundrums as a matter of course.  If you aren’t interested in that, you’re contributing nothing to the dialogue.

Hey, intellectually vapid? I think not!  Some respected philosophical traditions hold certain moral intuitions to be self evident.  My bold:  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  Unfortunately philosophers have a habit of disagreeing as do theologians and religions.  I have limited hope of convincing everyone of the validity and truth of these things but sometimes it seems worth stating.

Its can be quite reasonable to hold things disputed by others as an axiom.  Among which, the unalienable right to life, whether endowed by God as in the Declaration of Independence, or agreed by society.  What do you think, does unalienable also mean absolute?  I invite you to acknowledge that a moral axiom (=something one asserts objectively and obviously true, or even “self-evident”) is something to contribute.  Much disagreement can be peeled back to different premises, and I wonder if we have any overlap at that level.  Do you have any moral intuitions or do you reason them all out in the abstract?  Are we starting from anything like the same place?  If we are at cross purposes, lets see if we can identify what they are, before the substantive issues.

Posted on Oct 01, 2010 at 9:08am by B9K9 Comment #43

For me, and I suppose many others, some gut instincts about good and evil are so obvious there’s no need to explain them.  And you say that’s unreasonable? Do rational people really rationalise that level?  Some things are axiomatic.  Like do evil if you must, just call it that and don’t call it good.

There is IMO no universal good and evil. People just assume such from their culture, upbringing etc. I think very few if any’s intent is to do evil. Most everyone justifies the good in their actions somehow.

You can clam something evil but someone is going to find someway to justify that action as good. Usually an action is good for someone and bad for someone else. Good and evil boils down to a personal POV, not a rational argument.

Too often in the past people have accept something declared as evil by some authority without question. It is time to question ideas about good and evil to determine if there is any rational behind them.

Actually I don’t know if I have any rational behind some of my morals. I accept that sometimes I do what I feel is right. I just don’t expect to justify an argument base on what I feel is right.

Hi Gnostikosis(is it painful? :cheese: )
You argue universal good and evil do not exist.  Do you mean objective or absolute?
Try this, is there any action which is never justified?  How about abusing the young?  If one is the type of person who feels such a thing is OK once they can get away with it, and pleasureable as in good to eat, well I think we can safely agree that such a monster should be locked up.  If babies taste good that does not mean that eating one is a right thing to do!

Of maybe my opinion is only as good as the next guy’s because so much of it is a feeling that its all wrong, bad, immoral, evil, whatever.  Could it be that when we talk about feelings we are referring to two totally different classes of emotion?

Posted on Oct 01, 2010 at 9:31am by B9K9 Comment #44

Simply saying something is “evil” is an intellectually vapid statement.  It says nothing.  Why is a 3rd trimester baby any different than a 2nd, or 1st?  You’ve added nothing.  Philosophers and ethicists tackle tricky moral conundrums as a matter of course.  If you aren’t interested in that, you’re contributing nothing to the dialogue.

Hey, intellectually vapid? I think not!  Some respected philosophical traditions hold certain moral intuitions to be self evident.  My bold:  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  Unfortunately philosophers have a habit of disagreeing as do theologians and religions.  I have limited hope of convincing everyone of the validity and truth of these things but sometimes it seems worth stating.

Its can be quite reasonable to hold things disputed by others as an axiom.  Among which, the unalienable right to life, whether endowed by God as in the Declaration of Independence, or agreed by society.  What do you think, does unalienable also mean absolute?  I invite you to acknowledge that a moral axiom (=something one asserts objectively and obviously true, or even “self-evident”) is something to contribute.  Much disagreement can be peeled back to different premises, and I wonder if we have any overlap at that level.  Do you have any moral intuitions or do you reason them all out in the abstract?  Are we starting from anything like the same place?  If we are at cross purposes, lets see if we can identify what they are, before the substantive issues.

Let me start by saying thank you - that’s at least an argument I can respond to.

But I disagree that moral intuition can be axiomatic.  While many of us can respect the idea that “all men are created equal”, etc., I’m not sure there is anything self-evident about it.  God certainly isn’t self-evident, nor are the wishes of a particular society.  It might be a good idea.  But good ideas aren’t axiomatic.  I could just as easily say that all women have the right to abort their fetuses.  But what have I said, other than that you are wrong, I am right, end of story.

I certainly agree that moral intuition is important.  In fact I already said as much more than once.  I’m not sure why you keep ignoring that.  So, no, I don’t reason everything out in the abstract before I accept it.  But I do think I ought to be skeptical of my intuitions.  Moral intuitions are certainly not always correct.  It could be argued that most evil in history has been done by people who were simply trusting their intuitions.  So I think that’s a dangerous way to approach life.

So, back to abortion.  The only thing we have disagreed on has been 3rd trimester abortion.  Why do your moral intuitions get to be axiomatic while mine do not?  You have essentially told me that “it feels wrong to you”.  Yet it does not to me.  The only interesting question to ask next is why?  Maybe we don’t have the answers.  But you can’t simply assert your view as correct because you “feel it”.  That’s ridiculous, right?  I suggest what you consider a moral intuition is less organic than you might wish to believe - that there are historical, cultural and philosophical traditions of which you are a part.  The founders’ statement was simple, to be sure.  But it was backed up by lengthy debate and critical analysis.

Posted on Oct 01, 2010 at 6:25pm by vidoqo Comment #45

Let me start by saying thank you - that’s at least an argument I can respond to.

But I disagree that moral intuition can be axiomatic. 

Thinking a bit about concepts of self-evidence and axiom prior to next posting.  One thing worth clarifying - Do you mean:

a) all moral intuition
b) just some moral intuition
c) more particularly, only those we are presently concerned with here?

Posted on Oct 02, 2010 at 7:52am by B9K9 Comment #46

Let me start by saying thank you - that’s at least an argument I can respond to.

But I disagree that moral intuition can be axiomatic. 

Thinking a bit about concepts of self-evidence and axiom prior to next posting.  One thing worth clarifying - Do you mean:

a) all moral intuition
b) just some moral intuition
c) more particularly, only those we are presently concerned with here?

I think I’d go with a, until shown otherwise.  This wikipedia page on self-evidence frames the question in an interesting way.  Basically, that we can agree that certain things “ought” to be done, but that isn’t quite self-evidence.

As we don’t have a very clear understanding of the mind, what we mean by morality is difficult to gauge precisely.  But I think it’s fair to say that we, as humans, essentially have some universal desires.  Pain, for instance, is something we don’t enjoy.  Thus, stabbing someone is considered immoral - we wouldn’t like it done to ourselves, and we imagine other humans as having similar desires.  But stabbing someone is sometimes OK.  Maybe in self-defense.  Maybe as an operating surgeon.  Maybe as part of some weird twisted S & M ritual, rite of passage, etc. 

I guess I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that some moral intuition could be self-evident, but I’m not sure what that would look like.  If you could give an example, and then describe how it is axiomatic, I’d be interested in hearing.

Posted on Oct 02, 2010 at 12:56pm by vidoqo Comment #47

Firstly I endorse option b) namely, just some moral intuition.  While it seems somewhat likely that one might get good, not perfect, agreement regarding some MIs, it seems unlikely that everyone (who thinks reasonably rationally) will agree all propositions of MI.  I suppose this might be due to different prior cultural influences?

Can we in unison say that intuitively cannibalism is generally immoral, unless you are up an icy mountain in the wreckage of a crashed plane and face the choice of eating the dead or dying yourself.

To elaborate just a little, survival can and occasionally has trumped convention, but killing (and eating?) for pleasure is always immoral.

I had looked at the wikipedia articles on self-evidence and axiom, also at this excellent podcast:

http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2009/12/podcast-teaser-why-rationality.html

and also:
http://www.miskatonic.org/godel.html

Though this last link is about mathematical theory, it seems to suggest that any moral theory with axioms may need another external moral axiom to justify it, so on and so on. Or, that everyone’s value systems have something doubtful, circular at their foundation. 

Therefore I don’t see a lot of benefit in arguing specific details of the rights and wrongs of abortion (to take but one example) when people may have even more fundamental differences in how they view reality.  At least these differences go a long way toward explaining why disagreements arise later on in the chain.  When you consider the nature of the debate thus far, it seems worthwhile to backtrack in this way.

Posted on Oct 10, 2010 at 4:30pm by B9K9 Comment #48

But I disagree that moral intuition can be axiomatic.  While many of us can respect the idea that “all men are created equal”, etc., I’m not sure there is anything self-evident about it.  God certainly isn’t self-evident, nor are the wishes of a particular society.  It might be a good idea.  But good ideas aren’t axiomatic.  I could just as easily say that all women have the right to abort their fetuses.  But what have I said, other than that you are wrong, I am right, end of story.

I certainly agree that moral intuition is important.  In fact I already said as much more than once.  I’m not sure why you keep ignoring that.  was I? didnt think soSo, no, I don’t reason everything out in the abstract before I accept it.  But I do think I ought to be skeptical of my intuitions.  Moral intuitions are certainly not always correct.  Agreed. It could be argued that most evil in history has been done by people who were simply trusting their intuitions.  And not self justification? So I think that’s a dangerous way to approach life. Agreed - I do not suggest that intuition remain uncriticised

So, back to abortion.  The only thing we have disagreed on has been 3rd trimester abortion.  Why do your moral intuitions get to be axiomatic while mine do not?  You have essentially told me that “it feels wrong to you”.  Yet it does not to me.  The only interesting question to ask next is why?  Maybe we don’t have the answers.  But you can’t simply assert your view as correct because you “feel it”.  That’s ridiculous, right?  I suggest what you consider a moral intuition is less organic than you might wish to believe - that there are historical, cultural and philosophical traditions of which you are a part.  The founders’ statement was simple, to be sure.  But it was backed up by lengthy debate and critical analysis.

with the preamble concluded, your stated first disagreement may not be a disagreement at all.  that’s because you opted for interpretation a) and I incline to b).  One could argue that any MI is either intuition of an axiom, or an intuition of a process of reasoning.  An axiom can be said to only apply to mathematics, whereas self-evidence is a more proper name for some basic prohibitions don’t kill or steal or lie to harm someone else.  And it seems self-evident (again!) that there will be exceptions and limitations to these general rules.  A suggestion would be to assert that “killing the innocent is wrong” is a good principle, except that there is serious disagreement when it comes to war.  Countries justify unavoidable killing of innocents in war,  and many individuals assert its inexcusable, and still others say all is fair in war.  Are mothers in any credible sense at war with their unborn (third trimester) children?  Or do other exceptions to killing innocents exist?  While there may exist a distinction in law, I see no other distinction, and so conclude these killings morally equivalent.  Have you an argument that they are morally separate cases?

Posted on Oct 10, 2010 at 5:21pm by B9K9 Comment #49

Ah abortion.  One of the four horsemen of internet discussion groups.

Posted on Oct 11, 2010 at 12:30pm by Dead Monky Comment #50

I am indebted to Ms. Roth for at least framing her opposition to abortion in a nonreligious way.  She must occupy a very lonely corner of the “pro-life” party, being both an atheist and philosophically against abortion, and I want to thank her for at least giving me a chance to consider an argument against abortion not based on religious nonsense.

That being said, however, I have to say that the antiabortion mindset is no less free from self-contradictions than she accuses the pro-choice mindset of being.  I have to quote George Carlin here: “If a fetus is a person, why doesn’t the census count them?  If a fetus is a person, why does a pregnant woman say, ‘We have two children and one on the way,’ instead of saying ‘We have three children?’”  Lastly, and perhaps most damningly, “If a fetus is a person, why is it that when there’s a miscarriage, there’s no funeral?”

I do not believe that a fetus is a person.  I do not believe that an acorn is an oak tree.  To suggest otherwise is the grossest example of biological reductionism., as PZ Myers points out. 

This is a point absolutely and solidly established in biology. The embryo is not the adult. It does not contain the full information present in the newborn—that will be generated progressively, by interactions with the environment and by complex internal negotiations within an increasingly complex embryo.

Neither is there a sharp, magical point at which the fetus does become a person.  I do not know enough about neonatal or embryonic development to be able to offer anything other than a barely-informed opinion about where it is that personhood is acquired.  But I do know enough to be able to describe it, I think, as a series of tiny, even insignificant changes from point A to point Z.  But saying that because these changes are tiny and insignificant, point A is no different from point Z is to commit the slippery slope fallacy.

It does not follow from the fact that there is no sharp, non-arbitrary line between “fetus” and “person” that there really is no difference between the two. A difference in degree is still a difference, and a big enough difference in degree can amount to a difference in kind.

Posted on Nov 22, 2010 at 5:29am by BenjCano Comment #51

I’m pro-choice - the choice of not having sex unless you can support and will support the child - there is nothing more noble than defending the weak and nothing weaker than a fetus - life is tough - unwanted babies are a burden - so are the disabled, elderly, the stupid, the sick, the lazy… put them up for adoption and suck up nine months of crap as a lesson learned -
As a believer I’m glad to see so many non-believers defending the unborn

Posted on Dec 05, 2010 at 10:02pm by sobpatrick Comment #52

I’m pro-choice - the choice of not having sex unless you can support and will support the child - there is nothing more noble than defending the weak and nothing weaker than a fetus - life is tough - unwanted babies are a burden - so are the disabled, elderly, the stupid, the sick, the lazy… put them up for adoption and suck up nine months of crap as a lesson learned -
As a believer I’m glad to see so many non-believers defending the unborn

While I agree with these sentiments as a general moral principle, I disagree vehemently with the concept of outlawing abortion.  We went through the disaster of legislating morality with the alcohol prohibition era.  We are living through it and wasting vast resources on the failed war on drugs.  Women are dying and being tortured daily because of laws prohibiting prostitution… the list goes on.

One of the facts of human nature is that people will do all sorts of immoral things for various reasons.  We need to craft laws to minimize the total harm caused by this fact.  Instead of focusing on punishing the guilty, we need to focus on protecting the innocent.

Lack of access to legal abortions kills more fetuses and women than do legal abortions by a huge margin.  Few things protect the unborn like allowing mothers free choice in all phases of their lives—especially in regards to birth control and matters of when and with whom to have sex.

When people are free to make life choices, they are more likely to make good ones.  When they are slaves of religious doctrine or constrained by bad laws, they make bad choices.  When the legal system restricts choices, often only bad choices remain.

To paraphrase the quote:  I’m pro-life.  Pro every life, not just the lives of fetuses. 

I’m also against the death penalty, not because murderers deserve to live, but because I don’t see anyone wise enough to make correct life-or-death decisions for every case—and the injustice of turning a single murder into a double murder by wrongly executing someone is a much worse thing than allowing a murderer to live a restricted, hopefully miserable :) continued life.  That way, when the exculpating DNA evidence is finally analyzed, the wrongfully convicted can be freed and compensated for their time.

Posted on May 25, 2011 at 6:29am by ullrich Comment #53

I’m pro-choice - the choice of not having sex unless you can support and will support the child - there is nothing more noble than defending the weak and nothing weaker than a fetus - life is tough - unwanted babies are a burden - so are the disabled, elderly, the stupid, the sick, the lazy… put them up for adoption and suck up nine months of crap as a lesson learned -
As a believer I’m glad to see so many non-believers defending the unborn

While I agree with these sentiments as a general moral principle, I disagree vehemently with the concept of outlawing abortion.  We went through the disaster of legislating morality with the alcohol prohibition era.  We are living through it and wasting vast resources on the failed war on drugs.  Women are dying and being tortured daily because of laws prohibiting prostitution… the list goes on.

One of the facts of human nature is that people will do all sorts of immoral things for various reasons.  We need to craft laws to minimize the total harm caused by this fact.  Instead of focusing on punishing the guilty, we need to focus on protecting the innocent.

Lack of access to legal abortions kills more fetuses and women than do legal abortions by a huge margin.  Few things protect the unborn like allowing mothers free choice in all phases of their lives—especially in regards to birth control and matters of when and with whom to have sex.

When people are free to make life choices, they are more likely to make good ones.  When they are slaves of religious doctrine or constrained by bad laws, they make bad choices.  When the legal system restricts choices, often only bad choices remain.

To paraphrase the quote:  I’m pro-life.  Pro every life, not just the lives of fetuses. 

I’m also against the death penalty, not because murderers deserve to live, but because I don’t see anyone wise enough to make correct life-or-death decisions for every case—and the injustice of turning a single murder into a double murder by wrongly executing someone is a much worse thing than allowing a murderer to live a restricted, hopefully miserable :) continued life.  That way, when the exculpating DNA evidence is finally analyzed, the wrongfully convicted can be freed and compensated for their time.

*clap,clap clap—stomp, whistle*  :-)

Posted on May 25, 2011 at 2:23pm by asanta Comment #54

Was Jen Roth ultimately arguing that personhood is something that a human organism has for its entire lifecycle?  At what starting point?  Conception, implantation, or something else?

I find it completely implausible that an organism at a life stage with no capacity for perception, let alone reason, counts as a person.  Nor that a particular genetic code is either necessary or sufficient for personhood.

I think every point that she made was brought up in a debate I had with a Christian blogger on the topic of abortion, who similarly argued for an equation between personhood and human organism.  I wonder if she has any better rejoinders.  Does she think that IVF and therapeutic cloning are immoral?  IUDs?

http://lippard.blogspot.com/2009/12/vocab-malone-on-abortion-and-personhood.html

Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great
If a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate.  :)

Posted on Jun 04, 2011 at 9:15am by ullrich Comment #55

Was Jen Roth ultimately arguing that personhood is something that a human organism has for its entire lifecycle?  At what starting point?  Conception, implantation, or something else?

I find it completely implausible that an organism at a life stage with no capacity for perception, let alone reason, counts as a person.  Nor that a particular genetic code is either necessary or sufficient for personhood.

I think every point that she made was brought up in a debate I had with a Christian blogger on the topic of abortion, who similarly argued for an equation between personhood and human organism.  I wonder if she has any better rejoinders.  Does she think that IVF and therapeutic cloning are immoral?  IUDs?

http://lippard.blogspot.com/2009/12/vocab-malone-on-abortion-and-personhood.html

Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great
If a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate.  :)

yea, ‘argument from incredulity’ and ‘argument from ignorance’ make great bedfellows!

Posted on Jun 04, 2011 at 4:30pm by asanta Comment #56

What about spontaneous abortions (AKA miscarriages), which I’ve read occur to about 50% of pregnancies.  Does a pro-every-human-lifer think we ought to save all those unborn humans?
Do they also oppose policies like China’s one-child policy?  And how would they respond to arguments like Shook’s (http://humanistcanada2011.ca/talks/planetary-humanism-must-evolve-enlightenment-humanism):

A deliberate plan to overpopulate the earth could not do better than apply selected ethical principles from Enlightenment and 20th century humanism: human values are supreme; every human life is a life worth saving; having offspring is an exclusively parental matter; and the like.

And the natural results? The utilitarian application of improved technology so that “Above all, nobody dies” is yielding an ever-bigger crop of people depleting even more natural resources. Although this path is unsustainable, at least this utilitarianism’s universalizability avoids hypocrisy. First-world humanists now calculating how poorer countries should limit their family sizes and energy consumption are not very different from global financiers dictating how those countries should control their economies.

Is there anything salvageable in the humanist tradition to construct a planetary ethics that prioritizes global sustainability in a just manner?

Posted on Sep 07, 2011 at 3:15pm by Nala Comment #57

I am against abortion as a method of birth control.  I will tell a life experience story that will hopefully illustrate my position:

I worked at Whole Foods Market in the 1980s after college.  A young woman who worked in the Deli was quite promiscuous, not that I mind that all too much.  But I know of 3 instances where she “forgot” to use birth control and terminated her pregnancy all 3 times.  I find that appalling.

Posted on Oct 03, 2011 at 7:23am by adamrsweet Comment #58

I am against abortion as a method of birth control.  I will tell a life experience story that will hopefully illustrate my position:

I worked at Whole Foods Market in the 1980s after college.  A young woman who worked in the Deli was quite promiscuous, not that I mind that all too much.  But I know of 3 instances where she “forgot” to use birth control and terminated her pregnancy all 3 times.  I find that appalling.

I find it appalling that people are promiscuous.  I am an atheist against promiscuity—and men refusing to wear condoms.  So what?  Does that mean we should legislate against promiscuity?  Do you want to criminalize abortion?  Would you have forced the woman to give birth?  What about allowing her to end her pregnancies by taking the embryos or fetuses out and keeping them alive?  Would you fund research for allowing such abortion-without-death?

Jen Roth doesn’t support legislating against individual sexual or reproductive behavior.  Her opposition to abortion takes the form of arguing against it and supporting methods for pregnancy prevention—the latter of which I’ve been doing.  (Note: Roth and other pro-lifers have not supported abortion-without-death, which I find hypocritical to their arguments against elective abortion-with-death.)

One of the main problems with birth control today is lack of access to hormonal contraceptives, which have the highest typical-use effectiveness rates.  First, it requires a prescription, which requires (on top of the usual costs of visiting a doctor) an annual pap smear and woman’s health examination.  Then, you have to go to a pharmacy, unless you go to a place like Planned Parenthood where the doctors and contraceptives are all under one roof.  The costs and logistics of all this is more than most humans can afford—and this is all BEFORE using the contraceptive correctly. 
Possible changes: don’t require a Pap smear for a hormonal contraceptive prescription; don’t require a prescription (consultation with a pharmacist may be required).  So, instead of just saying you’re against abortion, how about encouraging your doctor to stop requiring Pap smears for contraceptive prescriptions and encouraging your government to stop requiring prescriptions for hormonal contraceptives?  Meanwhile, you can also shame people for promiscuity and not using inexpensive contraceptives, like abstinence and condoms.

Posted on Oct 03, 2011 at 3:47pm by Nala Comment #59

1 Does that mean we should legislate against promiscuity? 
2 Do you want to criminalize abortion? 
3 Would you have forced the woman to give birth? 
4 What about allowing her to end her pregnancies by taking the embryos or fetuses out and keeping them alive? 
5 Would you fund research for allowing such abortion-without-death?

1.  No but we should educate against it
2.  No I do not want that
3.  No I would not
4.  I don’t think that’s a good idea.
5.  I have to think about that

Honestly the key is education.  Most abortions/unwanted pregnancies appear in areas where there is abstinence-only sex education.  This woman was a devout Christian and taught that the only way to not have a baby is not have sex.  Of course she learned about condoms and the pill later in her adult life, but as a child she was brainwashed into believing in the immaculate conception and later that babies come from God.  I spoke with her casually about it at one point and she said basically that if God had wanted her to have the babies, he would not have allowed her to abort them.

Education is the key

Posted on Oct 04, 2011 at 5:56am by adamrsweet Comment #60

Education is the key

How on earth are you going to educate against promiscuity?

Posted on Oct 04, 2011 at 6:57am by George Comment #61

I do not believe that a fetus is a person.  I do not believe that an acorn is an oak tree.  To suggest otherwise is the grossest example of biological reductionism.,

In my view the problem is the gray area.  No one would suggest that killing a baby after it has been born is anything but murder and no-one is really claiming ‘every sperm is sacred’.  It is easy to distinguish between a sperm and a new born, easy to say one should be protected and one should not.  But where the line is to be drawn is far more difficult.  It is possible to look at an week or month old embryo and not see it as a person but a late term fetus is becoming indistinguishable from a regular baby.  A late term fetus is almost as independently viable as a regular new-born, and their viability is increasing with improved technology.  When does abortion become murder?

For such reasons I have no problem with early abortion, a considerable problem with late abortion.  But I would hate to have to draw the line.  Obviously the end-points (a sperm or egg on one end, a new born baby at the other) are not problematic.  But in the middle?  That is where my dilemma lies.

Posted on Oct 04, 2011 at 7:35am by keithprosser2 Comment #62