Hunt: An Atheist Argues Against Abortion
By David Hunt
Yes, I am indeed an atheist. Raised as a Jew, I became an atheist in my late teens over two decades ago. Iím happy with it, and am stating it because of the perception that all atheists are pro-abortion. To my astonishment, however, Iím pro-life.
It started with a bumper sticker several years ago. That bumper sticker read, ďIf itís not a child, youíre not pregnant.Ē The more I thought about it, the more I agreed with it in my gut. I started to do some thought experiments. The one that convinced me was this one:
A woman wakes up to another day of morning nausea. She buys a pregnancy test, and it comes up positive. From there, two scenarios unfold, admittedly at extreme ends of the spectrum. (N.B.: I do not discount that many women who seek abortions do so reluctantly, nor do I doubt that even the most enthusiastic mothers-to-be occasionally have twinges of doubt; I am using extremes for a reason.)
Scenario One: She is suffused with warmth, knowing that she is about to be a mother. Names flash through her mind. Visions of baby clothes, cribs, and everything else dance before her eyes as she starts making plans for one of Ė if not the Ė biggest events in her life.
Scenario Two: She curses, throwing the test into the trash. Upon leaving the bathroom, she reaches for the yellow pages for the phone number of an abortion clinic.
Whatís different about these two women? They could be the same woman. Is one physically different from the other? No. Is the embryo inside her different? No. The sole difference is her perception of the nascent life inside her.
Therein lies the crux of the issue. In the first scenario, the growing clump of cells is a baby, less than a year away from entering the world squalling. In the other, itís a fetus, an unwanted clump of cells to be excised. The same physical entity perceived wildly differently.
Where else have we seen such a difference of the value of human life based solely on perception? Genocide. Throughout history groups have slain other groups, and the core of this appalling crime comes from the same source: The perception that some human life is, in fact, not human and may be exterminated. Just like a fetus is not human, and can be eliminated for convenienceís sake.
A human life is something of immeasurable worth. At times human life can ethically be ended, such as when defending your own in self-defense, or during war when engaging the enemy. But this presumes that the enemy, whether one-on-one against a rapist or on a battlefield with an enemy equally determined, is potentially capable to do the same to you. In contrast a fetus has no intent, no opportunity, no ability to intentionally injure. It is a total innocent, like the innocents herded from their homes, lined up beside trenches, and killed in countless tragedies throughout the world.
The dichotomy is stark. Aside from a few fringe elements, every human being recoils in horror from genocides; the piles of Tutsi bodies in Africa or the ovens at Auschwitz. Itís almost impossible to comprehend such evil. We abhor this awful crime whose root cause is the dehumanization of a person. But pro-choicers celebrate the legal ability to destroy a fetus based on that same dehumanized perception.
Legal or not, abortions will still happen so long as people see abortion as just another method of birth control. After all, abortion is not the root problem Ė unwanted pregnancies are. Through encouragement of abstinence, through birth control training, through monogamy, through planning, and especially through adoption and financial assistance to encourage it, through all these multiple attacks on the real problem, we have the power to essentially eliminate the need for abortions as a method of birth control. Only when people see abortion as the snuffing out of a human life, not a method of convenience, will abortion end.
Abortion is based on the idea that a human lifeís value is subject to perception; that it can be redefined to have none. By dehumanizing it in the tradition of every genocidal authority, by shifting our perception of lifeís value, we slowly sacrifice our own humanity on the altar of convenience. Even without deity-derived rules from which to pull judgment, itís a poor trade. And thatís why this atheist is pro-life.
November 13, 2003
David Hunt is a politically-conservative atheist, and a Mechanical Engineer.
Source: Opinion Editorials
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