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“Donating To An Atheist Would Be Like Helping The Devil”

“Donating To An Atheist Would Be Like Helping The Devil”

Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Being a Pro-Life Atheist | 16 comments


PRO-LIFE ATHEIST = Helping the devil?

PRO-LIFE ATHEISTS = “Helping the devil?”

In a way, donating to an atheist would be like helping the devil“. That’s what someone recently told me as I wondered out loud why so many pro-life Christians seem especially reluctant to fund my group’s pro-life educational projects.   I had no idea!  Pro-life Humanists (and all of you out there who are pro-life atheists and/or non-Christians) are helping the devil to save unborn babies – imagine that!  Such monsters we are!  And all this time, Christians have been arguing that abortion is the work of the devil – but somehow so is trying to stop abortion?  And whatever happened to Luke 9:40 “whoever is not against us is for us“?

I launched Pro-Life Humanists a few years ago after seeing that of the many pro-life groups out there who do person-to-person outreach to the general public, there were none specifically equipped to reach the ever-growing atheist and humanist communities.  Many secular young adults and recent defectors from religion want nothing to do with Christians, yet remain unsure about their views on abortion.  Pro-life atheists are uniquely poised to encourage those young people toward a pro-life position, and toward advocacy of non-violent solutions to unplanned pregnancy.

But more to the point, I launched Pro-Life Humanists because, like other pro-life atheists who have aspired to be career pro-life advocates, I’ve been repeatedly turned down from positions in the pro-life movement.   Back in 2001 I was impressed by pro-life leaders Scott Klusendorf and Gregg Cunningham’s  pleas for more full time pro-life advocates: there are more people working full time to kill preborn children than to save them.   Groups like theirs, (which largely only use secular arguments in their public work – a tactic I loved even when I was Christian) have lauded my informal debate skills whenever I’ve joined them as a volunteer.  In my early twenties I received glowing reference letters from both Klusendorf* and the former midwest director of Cunningham’s group.  But since I left faith behind, they have repeatedly rejected my offers to join them as full time staff and to raise my own salary under their organizations’ umbrellas.   They only want staff who are “under spiritual leadership” and who can “join with them in prayer”.

* (See clarification note at end)

Unfortunately, the drudgery and finance of having to start up my own organization just to be able to do pro-life work was further complicated by the challenge of drumming up financial partners to make this work happen.  It seems that not only do most pro-life Christian groups prefer to only hire pro-life Christians, but most pro-life Christians also tend to prefer donating to groups run by fellow Christians.  If you doubt this trend, watch the video of two identical groups fundraising for an identical charity with nothing but “Atheist” and “Methodist” differencing them.  (Incidentally, we get those looks when we attend the March for Life too).  That no other group but a pro-life atheist group can bring the pro-life cause to the inner world of the atheist community doesn’t impress most pro-life Christians enough to make them want to donate to an atheist group – not even one doing something they agree with.    

Last year, a substantial donor and her colleagues backed out on a contribution that could’ve helped us pay our cost of outreach to the American Atheist Convention and American Humanist convention (flights plus $400-$500 table fees, plus $300 conference fees per event).    She had been excited to help until she realized that we not only do pro-life outreach to atheists, but we also are atheists.

Email sent to my colleague Noah from a rescinding donor: "I did not research Kristine's website enough before I offered to make a donation. I did not realize that Kristine herself is an atheist. I thought she just spoke at atheist conventions with her message. I am Christian first and prolife second. I cannot support messages about unborn babies which do not attach the message of God's creation."

Email sent to my colleague Noah from a rescinding donor: “I did not research Kristine’s website enough before I offered to make a donation. I did not realize that Kristine herself is an atheist. I thought she just spoke at atheist conventions with her message. I am Christian first and prolife second. I cannot support messages about unborn babies which do not attach the message of God’s creation.”          [Emphasis added]

Rather than abandon my intended outreach effort, I put the bulk of the cost of both outreaches (about $3000 total) onto my personal credit card and went anyway.  I had high hopes that once pro-lifers saw the fruit of my labour and the atheist minds changed to pro-life, they would get excited about my work and the funds would follow.

I was wrong.  Not about my success – minds were changed at both events (and again at three other events I attended later that summer and fall).   It was exhausting work to stand at a table for 18+ hours on three or four consecutive days, defending the pro-life position to inquiring and sometimes hostile passersby (I even got stopped with questions when I withdrew to the bathroom!)   But despite verbal enthusiasm and Facebook “likes” from fellow pro-lifers in response to the news of pro-choice atheists becoming pro-life atheists, the funding still didn’t come. I got a few hundred very appreciated dollars from one very generous donor and a handful of smaller gifts from faithful friends, but the bulk of the outreach cost remained mine to carry.   I guess we’re still a group of evil atheists, after all.

So it is that while other pro-life peers of mine are bringing in enough funds under established pro-life groups to earn a salary from their pro-life work, I’m quite literally paying out of pocket and going into debt to do mine.  Friends have suggested I should quit and put my own needs first (I suffer from chronic health challenges and other problems that could well be receiving my financial attention) but I continue to resist quitting.  I’m doing this for those who have no voice and whose entire lives are on the line.  I don’t think I have the moral right to walk away from them!

Yes I am an atheist, but I so very desperately want to make a difference, and to help create a society where both unplanned and planned children are given the love and support they and their mothers deserve.   And with the pro-life movement pleading for more full-time career workers, why should I have to content myself with being just another part-time volunteer or at best an online blogger with a limited reach – when I have so much more to offer this movement?

If you’re a pro-life Christian or religious person who grasps the importance of a pro-life presence in the atheist community,  I plead with you to not allow our differences in beliefs to keep you from making our unique outreach possible.  There aren’t enough pro-life atheists to adequately fund our work, and without your help we’re unable to continue changing minds offline to turn pro-choice atheists into pro-lifers.

And of course, if you’re a non-religious prolifer I beg the same of you.  This group exists to bring your voice to our community, and while we’re willing to do the hard work at these events, we very much need your help to make that  work possible.   Unlike the fundraisers in the video I previously mentioned, we can’t count on most atheists (4/5 non-religious = pro-choice) to be enthused about our work either.  So if you don’t help fund us – who will?

Please make a contribution to our latest fundraiser through Gofundme today.   I assure you, we’re not helping the devil – but we’d really like to help save some preborn children, with your help!


(Clarification 28/05/16: The “they” in “they have repeatedly rejected” refers to the “groups like theirs.”  While I received a reference letter from Scott Klusendorf, he himself was not the one who rejected my offer, but rather a member of his staff who told me Scott wouldn’t hire an atheist.  “repeatedly rejected” refers to multiple conversions over a series of weeks and in person with a regional director of Cunningham’s organization with whom I have often volunteered, one conversation with the member of Scott’s team, and a few other conversations over the past few years with other pro-life organizations.  My apologies for the apparent implication that I had directly asked Scott Klusendorf if I could work for him and that he himself had repeatedly turned me down.  Scott has since stated that there is a distinction between “assisting atheist pro-lifers and employing them.” and that he will  “gladly do the former.”)
… I’m not sure the distinction matters all that much to a pro-life atheist who needs job and is trying to be gainfully employed in the pro-life movement.)

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Dear Pro-Choice Atheists: You don’t own Atheism!

Dear Pro-Choice Atheists:  You don’t own Atheism!

Posted by on Apr 17, 2015 in Being a Pro-Life Atheist | 28 comments

Berenstain Bears title page "No Girls Allowed" modified: No pro-life atheists allowed

Dear pro-choice atheists: Atheism is not your clubhouse.  You don’t get to decide who can or can’t be an atheist and who gets to partake of the atheist community, be it its conferences, its blogs, or its online forums. Yes, pro-life atheists are a minority (19% of the non-religious identify as pro-life) but that doesn’t mean those of you in the majority get to bully us into silence and absenteeism!

I recently attended my second American Atheist Convention and for the most part it was a positive experience.  Those who came by our table found reasoned and philosophical discussion about human rights and whether or not the right to the bodily autonomy of one can supercede the right to life of another.   They shared their arguments and I told them why I believe it’s inaccurate to compare pregnancy to forced organ donation.  Most of them left with a smile, hug or handshake, as well as with a “Thwart, Don’t Abort” condom, and I believe the exchanges overall were mutually civil and often quite pleasant.

Twitter screen grab: had a great dialog with pro-life humanists group

Unfortunately, not all pro-choice atheists at the convention responded to us with the same open-minded grace.  While some simply ignored our table or made sour-milk faces at us as they  hurried by, one young woman tried to rub her pro-choice majority in our face by putting up a Planned Parenthood donation box right next to our table.  It wasn’t an original gesture (as a reaction against our presence, someone had done it in 2012 when I’d tabled with Secular Pro-Life) but it’s still just as rude: Imagine being a meat eater and setting up a donation box to a slaughterhouse right next to a Vegan table just to spite them.*

We already know we’re in the minority here,” I told her gently as she set up her donation bag (on my new pro-choice friend’s table, no less) “Why do you feel the need to further mark the division between us, where we’ve mostly had a spirit of diversity and open discussion all day?”  Her response to my question was a diatribe so hot and angry that it prompted her organization’s leader to later make an apology on her behalf.   Like many I’d chatted with that weekend, I appreciated the leader’s affirmation of diversity among atheists.  Still, the intense animosity of the young woman had been nonetheless disappointing.

There are some among you, my dear atheist peers, who think being secular means making a world of people who think exactly like you.  Those like atheist blogger Greta Christina who a couple days ago wrote an open letter to American Atheists disparaging them for “courting atheist conservatives”.  For the record, I and most of Pro-Life Humanists’ members are quite left wing on most issues (most of us identify as anti-death-penalty, pro-GLBT rights, anti-war, pro-welfare & state-funded daycare, pro right-to-die so long as the dying person makes the choice, anti non-consensual genital alteration, and anti-violence overall – which is why we side against the violent choice of abortion) … but even if our pro-life views came from a larger Conservative philosophy, who gets to decide that we don’t belong in your events?  When did atheism become yours anyway?   Sorry, but I must’ve missed the conference where we elected the Atheist Pope and agreed on a Catechism of acceptable Atheist views and doctrines.

When Christians lose their faith and come to atheism, sociologists like Phil Zuckerman have demonstrated that most leave religion only after first falling out of step with their church’s conservative values.   This creates the illusion that atheist = liberal, but only because liberals are more likely to abandon the religion that doesn’t match their values.   On the other hand, a growing number of people are leaving religion not because their values conflict with their church, but rather because they take issue with the mythologies and so-called sacred writings themselves.  Values which hinged on those writings (standards of sexuality & hetero marriage, for example) usually get tossed or significantly modified, while values like human rights, which were already grounded in a larger philosophy of non-violence and in our understanding of human bodies’ biological beginnings, remain with us.  Becoming secular doesn’t mean we all start thinking alike and churning out cloned liberal conclusions.  It merely means that when we talk about the social issues that divide society, our discussions will no longer be clouded by religious gobbledygook.  Atheists have collectively eliminated the red herring, but that’s not the same thing as having correctly solved all of society’s moral mysteries.

It’s time to stop giving conservatives and pro-lifers the cold shoulder.   My irony metre nearly broke when I heard the same young woman who’d so vehemently opposed the presence of pro-life atheists in the exhibit room, later that day bemoan over a secular podcast just how badly it hurt to be ostracized by her ethnic community for being in a non-believing minority.   Pro-life atheists bleed the same hurts you do!  Many of us have likewise been cut off from very religious friends and family or are unable to spend time alone with our own nieces and nephews because our family fears we might try to dissuade them from their young faiths.  And so long as you’re concerned with not “alienating the millions of female atheists”, remember that most pro-life atheist leaders are females – and we don’t take kindly to being alienated by you either.  We come to the atheist community for the same sense of family and fellowship all atheists do – except unlike other minorities within atheism, pro-life atheists find ourselves being ostracized further and sometimes yelled at, simply because  we support rights for humanity’s pre-born.

Last I checked, American Atheists was not called “American Pro-Choice Atheists”.  Neither is there a group out there called “Center for Inquiry on Everything but Abortion” nor an online forum for “The Thinking Pro-Choice Atheists Who Won’t Think About Pro-Life Arguments” etc.    So please stop moaning that people who are different than you are being allowed into your club.  Atheism isn’t your clubhouse.  It’s our clubhouse – the atheist community belongs to all of us!


* In the spirit of inclusivity, I’m hoping that American Atheists will select a less divisive charity than Planned Parenthood for future charity events held officially by the conference. Women’s shelter, food bank, animal rescue, children’s hospital, low-income reading program… we have common ground to work with!

Liked our post? We are only able to do this with the financial support of readers like you. Help us to continue to speak out in the community for the pre-born!

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Meet the Pro-Life Atheists 3: Julie Thielen

Meet the Pro-Life Atheists 3: Julie Thielen

Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in Pro-Life Atheists - Meet our family | 0 comments

We’re back with another edition of “Meet the Pro-Life Atheists”.  The lovely gal I wish to introduce to you as our latest “celebrity pro-life atheist” is none other than the ever-sassy, brilliantly-artsy, cat-loving, Siouxsie Sioux-adoring, gothic chick Julie Thielen – aka Cannibal Rose!  Our dear Julie recently underwent major surgery and survived like champ to see another birthday (it’s today, hip-horray!) … so now seems like as good a time as any to let you know a bit about the lady we’ve all been rooting for!

I was only able to acquire a picture of her feline babies (a picture which I’ve prettied up for this grand occasion with some text and a nice Sioux frame to boot!), but when she’s all better and feeling glamorous again, I’m sure she’ll grace us with a “I’m an anti-theist and I’m pro-life” portrait – right Julie? 😉

Julie Thielen (Cannibal Rose)  pro-life atheist

Kristine, PLH:  So first things first: Julie, I’ve often heard you describe yourself as anti-theist as well as atheist. Why is that?

JULIE:  I would say I’m an atheist because of a sheer lack of any kind of evidence to prove that there is or ever was a god. In fact, science is good evidence AGAINST it. I’m an anti-theist because of the horrific and horrendous damage religion has unleashed upon this world – much of it continuing to this day: The subjugation of women, homophobia, genital mutilation — and I place male infant circumcision in that category too — and so much more.  It sickens me!  Religion is the enemy of peace and equality, and should be actively battled.

Kristine, PLH: How long have you been an atheist?

JULIE:  I was raised by an Evangelical Fundamentalist Christian, but started asking unpopular questions quite early in life.  By age 16 I was an agnostic.  I really didn’t believe in any higher power, but it was a scary transition to make, so I baby-stepped it.  At 19 I took the plunge and came out publicly as an atheist.  This was 21 years ago.

Kristine, PLH:  So as far as your views on abortion are concerned, were you ever in favour of abortion? If so, why?

JULIE:  Yeah, I once considered myself pro-choice. It was more of a default position. “Don’t you want to support women? Shouldn’t a woman control her own body?”  Those things sound simple, but they’re misleading and loaded questions to a young mind (and I do mean young — I was a pre-teen).  I lacked the ability to critically think about the issue.

Kristine, PLH:  Did you ever have a personal encounter with abortion that marked you or influenced your thinking in any way?

JULIE:  When I was 14 a friend thought she was pregnant. She was consumed with ending the pregnancy and I, thinking I was being a good friend, tried to help her.  She needed money for the abortion, she needed a ride to the clinic — I tried to help her arrange these things.  It turned out she wasn’t pregnant, which was a great relief to both of us!    But the experience really started me thinking.  By then I’d begun taking biology and learning about genetics.  I realized that a fetus is a human being, not a mere “product of conception”, and once gone, irreplaceable.  I realized my friend had never even though of the fetus.  That baby was the last thing on her mind — aside from her drive to expel it from her body and mind.  I thought, “wow, how utterly selfish.”  No one is disposable. I truly felt like I dodged a bullet when she found she was not pregnant, and I was ashamed at my part in trying to “help” her.

Kristine, PLH:  You say biology influenced you, can you elaborate on that?  Most atheists see the same biological and genetic facts you did, and yet they determine that a fetus isn’t fully human, and they come away supporting the so-called “woman’s right” to abortion.

JULIE:  I view abortion as a women’s and human rights issue.  We need to protect the vulnerable. When a sperm meets the egg you have a complete, unique human being. Not a nectarine, not an Allen wrench, not an armadillo. A human being.  At no point in gestation does this creation GAIN humanity — it already is human.  All it needs is time and nutrition to mature into an older human who will travel out of the uterus into the outside world.  This life is no less valuable than the woman carrying it.  And the sheer fact that statistically speaking, females are more frequently aborted simply because of their gender makes my blood boil!

Kristine, PLH:  Many atheists would argue that freedom is a hallmark of a secular culture and that abortion restrictions impede freedom and individual autonomy, how would you respond to that?

JULIE:  Life is the hallmark and benchmark of all culture. Without it all other rights are meaningless, including freedom.  I believe very strongly in individual autonomy — and children in utero are very much individuals.  It is not the pregnant woman’s body dismembered and thrown out as biological waste, it’s someone else’s.

Kristine, PLH: How has the atheist community responded to your views?

JULIE: Most atheists deride me for being pro-life.  Sadly it can get pretty nasty rather quickly.  Personal insults from pro-choice atheists aren’t just common, but the norm.  Thankfully I have found a good group of fellow atheist ‘lifers who are quick to come to my aid when I am attacked.  We all do it — we have to be there for each other.  And our numbers are slowly growing.

Kristine, PLH:  Have traditional Christian pro-lifers received you any more graciously?

JULIE:  Ha!  Traditional Christian ‘lifers can’t stand me!  I get more hate from them than I do from atheist ‘choicers!  Occasionally I get lip service to the tune of “Oh anyone who saves babies is okay with me!” but that quickly shrivels and dies when I rebuff their attempts to interject their religion into everything.  I choose to avoid traditional ‘lifer groups because frankly, they nauseate me with their religious heavy-handedness and opposition to birth control.

Kristine, PLH:  What do you think we as atheists have to offer the pro-life cause that others may not?

JULIE: Atheist ‘lifers have so much to offer!  ‘Choicers view ‘lifers as crazy religious zealots stuck in the 18th century.  We, atheist ‘lifers, can show them that an imaginary sky daddy has absolutely nothing to do with opposing abortion.  That science, compassion, and equality (not to mention basic human rights) back us up.  ‘Choicers are  generally more receptive to someone who isn’t religious than to someone who is religious.

Kristine, PLH:  What would you like to see Christian pro-lifers do differently in the future of the pro-life movement?

JULIE: I would like to see Christian ‘lifers leave their religion at the door, and focus more on biology and equality. They also need to lose their antiquated notions regarding birth control!  It’s no surprise to me that the states with the highest percentages of Christians are also the least sexually educated, and wind up with the highest rates of teen pregnancy.

Kristine, PLH:   What is your vision for a secular yet pro-life world? How do you feel we can best reduce the numbers of abortions and help women at the same time?

JULIE: Remove the perceived need for abortion.  Universal health care and social safety nets are a must!  Don’t just fight for the child to be born, ensure that the child (and mother) have the resources they need to be healthy and stable.  That is imperative!  A better, revamped adoption and foster care system is needed — these are not “throw away kids”, they’re OUR kids — give them a chance… Pregnant and parenting students need to be accommodated in their schools, not punished…  Raise the minimum wage to a living wage… Those are just a few things.

Kristine, PLH:  Anything else you’d like to tell the world while the PLH mic is in your hands, Julie?

JULIE:  Being pro-life is so much more than opposing abortion. It’s about embracing life in all forms. I stand against the death penalty, violence and war. I stand for animal rights, vegetarianism/veganism, birth control, social safety nets and universal health care.  I say: be a part of the solution or get out of the way!

Kristine, PLH:  Thanks and lots of love to you.  Speedy recovery and a happy birthday from all your friends here at Pro-Life Humanists.  I personally look forward to working with you on many future projects to come!   And as you so aptly say: Squeeeeee!  🙂

And to everyone else, if you loved this, be sure to check out our previous pro-life atheist celebrity interviews!
And if you’d like to see more from Cannibal Rose, she’s got an awesome Cafepress shop with clever stickers you may enjoy. 🙂

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March for Life Memories

March for Life Memories

Posted by on Jun 29, 2014 in Pro-Life Atheists in Media, Pro-Life Humanists - Updates | 3 comments

If you’re not following us on Facebook (and if you’re not, you totally should be!) you may have missed the link to this friendly news coverage and its mainstream media shout out to Pro-Life Humanists and to secular pro-lifers in general.  The video is well worth your time, I assure you! Watch as Sun News journalist Faith Goldy takes a humorous bite out of the pro-choice protesters who’d gathered to oppose the March, and hear her share her personal thoughts, as someone who used to be pro-choice:

Click to view video of Faith Goldy, Sun News Media coverage of March for Life 2014

Click to view video of Sun New Media coverage of March for Life Pro-choice Protesters; Faith Goldy Reporting

Notwithstanding the overt religiosity of the March for Life (which I’ve previously written about) Pro-Life Humanists had a great time at the 2014 March for Life, which took place in May. We met a surprising number of kids from Catholic schools who admitted they were secretly atheist, despite their Catholic school attendance – and that many of their peers were atheist as well. We were able to assure them that as they opt to come out as atheists in the future, they can still be pro-life, and that we’ll be there to welcome them as they leave the fold.

Overall, the theists at the March responded courteously to our atheist presence, with a few people even making generous donations toward our pro-life outreaches to the atheist community. Many others, on the other hand, were far more skeptical and made no secret of their disgust or disappointment with our atheism. Upon reading our fundraising handout, one woman protested: “But why do you have to bring your non-belief into this? Why can’t you just be pro-life without emphasizing that you don’t believe in God?” I explained to her that while it would be nice to just be able to talk about the preborn and the social issues that play into abortion, that we had to emphasize non-belief precisely because pro-life has been intermingled with religious belief for so long! By establishing ourselves as a pro-life group by atheists for atheists, we are allowing the debate to clearly be about abortion rather than about religion. We’re not at pro-life events to attack the faith of our religious pro-life allies, but neither do we wish to humour and entertain those beliefs when the emphasis ought to be on the preborn.

It’s unfortunate that many pro-lifers do not seem able to separate religion from pro-life action. “How about instead of bringing pro-life arguments to atheists, I talk to you about why you shouldn’t be an atheist?” one man offered. When I smiled and politely declined the offer, the man shrugged, crumpled up our flyer and tossed it into the trashcan – right before my eyes! I guess for some people there’s no real point in saving atheist babies from immediate abortion if they can’t save atheist parents’ souls from future hell. Forget about bringing pro-life arguments to atheists, I guess. Let atheists become theists and only then will they be welcome as pro-life activists. 😛

But we take hope. People are leaving religion and embracing atheism in droves – and as they start to ask questions, Pro-Life Humanists will be there to help our pro-life peers find hope and life outside the church. And once they’re out, we’ll still be there to ensure that they don’t leave behind the Religious Koolaid only to swallow the Pro-Choice Koolaid. Nearly 1 in 5 non religious individuals identifies as pro-life, and with our efforts, those numbers will only continue to grow!

Pro-Life Humanists and atheists march with nun in foreground

Pro-Life Humanists at March for Life 2014

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Yes There are Pro-Life Atheists (Part 1: David Silverman Controversy)

Yes There are Pro-Life Atheists (Part 1: David Silverman Controversy)

Posted by on Apr 30, 2014 in Pro-Life Atheists in Media | 2 comments

David Silverman

If the atheist community thought all atheists were pro-choice, they know better now.  The atheist blogosphere has been in a flurry over the past two months as secular writers, tweeters, and bloggers attempt to grapple with the existence of secular arguments against abortion.   On March 7th an article was published in which David Silverman, head of American Atheists acknowledged to a reporter  that secular arguments exist.  Although he’s made it clear that he doesn’t agree with the arguments and was merely trying to side-step a deviation from his main point, the mere nod toward the existence of non-religious arguments against abortion threw many into a very upset frenzy.

The wave of uproar had no time to recede before Hemant Mehta published on March 11th the guest-blog he’d asked me to write, which was entitled  Yes, There Are Pro-Life Atheists Out There. Here’s Why I’m One of Them.  The deluge of bloggers and commentators attempting to refute and rebut my arguments has been surprising, and at times nearly overwhelming  (especially since I’ve been traveling/speaking and coping with health challenges during the past couple months), but I’m in the process of crafting responses to the more pertinent comments and rebuttals.

If you follow Pro-Life Humanists on Facebook or on Twitter you’ve seen a number of the many responses to have come our way, and in the coming days I intend to showcase more of them. Some are worthy of rebuttals, others are worthy of a face-palm.  Among the responses was the oft-repeated idea that atheists ought not even entertain secular arguments against abortion.  Many argued that we should be shunned/ignored and given no voice in the atheist community because to question abortion rights is to question the “fundamental humanity of women”.  Others lamented “They’re infiltrating our conferences and our blogs and our forums and our magazines…”   Apparently pro-life atheists aren’t actually atheists and the “our” is theirs, not truly OURS inclusively.   (More on that in the next post.)

They're invading OUR events... sorry they're ours too

Below is a small sample of the varied blog “gems” that surfaced during the initial days of Silverman’s comment.   I’ll soon be posting the best of the comments from the rebuttals of my Friendly Atheist piece, followed by my own rebuttals to those – so be sure to check back in shortly.

And I apologize in advance to those of you with sore necks and headaches: the amount of head-shaking and face-palming you’re going to want to do in response to some of these, is probably going to hurt!


So David Silverman is getting a lot of grief over this statement at CPAC:

“I will admit there is a secular argument against abortion. You can’t deny that it’s there, and it’s maybe not as clean cut as school prayer, right to die, and gay marriage.”

He’s right, you can’t deny that there is. It’s a shitty argument based on poor facts, but it is nonetheless secular.

JT Eberhard (Dave Silverman is Not Anti-Choice)


Not all atheists are humanists, and not all atheists are skeptics. It is vastly unfortunate that a trait I thought would really help to separate the wheat from the chaff doesn’t quite do the job. There are immoral and bigoted atheists. There are atheists who believe, firmly, in the existence of Big Foot, atheists that don’t vaccinate their children, atheists that believe in homeopathy, and even atheist misogynists.
Enter Secular Prolife.
… they qualify as certifiably misogynistic. They hold that a fertilized egg is a person and worthy of certain rights, namely life. They dismiss the rights of the woman as secondary and claim a moral high ground in defending embryonic and fetal personhood. Being ignorant and/or misogynistic while being secular is very possible, if incredibly sad and infuriating.

~ Shannon Nebo, aka Secular Sunshine (What Did David Silverman Actually Say?)


If by ‘secular argument,’ you mean ‘a belief based on personal feelings,’ then, sure, there’s a secular argument against abortion. There could be a ‘secular’ argument against puppies, in that case. If you’re using ‘secular’ to mean ‘a logical, science-based, or rational’ belief, then no, there is no ‘secular argument’ against abortion. The supposed ‘secular arguments’ against abortion are rooted in misogyny, a lack of understanding of science, and religious overtones.

Sarah Mowgli  (Is There a Secular Argument Against Abortion?)


I like this next guy, even if we disagree.  He responds to Sarah’s assertion (above)

Sarah, not everything you (or I, for that matter) dislike or disagree with is based in misogyny, stupidity, or religious fundamentalism, and it’s high time people stop using the m-word as the ultimate trump card to which one cannot possibly dare to reply.

Of course there are logical, science-based, and rational arguments against abortion. They may turn out to be ultimately unconvincing, or countered by better arguments — as I believe they are — but they certainly exist.

Massimo Pigliucci (David Silverman and the Scope of Atheism)


I’m… upset that by hedging on this issue, [Silverman] gives cover to people who think he means there’s a valid, cogent argument against the right of a mother to choose whether to be pregnant… And since the only such argument that I’ve seen generally goes “science says life begins at conception because science”, “because nerves”, “because heartbeat”, et cetera, without much backing, it’s a pretty shaky argument…

… The religious arguments against abortion are all based on the idea of a soul, and even if you remove the belief in religions and souls, the rest of the arguments that remain against abortion are simply justifications, artificially created scaffolding to attempt to retain arguments that were previously held aloft on the skyhook that is God. So burn that scaffolding down. It’s made of cardboard tubes and bailing twine anyway — should be easy enough for anyone with the courage of their convictions, right?

~ Jason Thibeault (David Silverman’s “Darwin Was Wrong” Moment)


You really don’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface of all of these supposedly secular arguments to smell the stink of repressive Christian culture.  In fact, I just did a presentation in February for the Secular Humanists of Southern California on how thinly veiled secular anti-choice arguments are.

~ Lilandra (What really matters…The So-Called Secular Arguments Against Choice

Lilandra then posts a picture of Secular Pro-Life’s “For the embryology tells me so banner” and adds :

I don’t want to belabor the point but here is a photo from Secular Pro-life‘s website to just show you how they basically just spin religious arguments into secular ones.

SPL - for the embryology


My face hurts!  I’ve run out of appendages to face-palm with!  I think Lilandra’s desperate attempt at pegging pro-life atheists as “non believers that shed their religious beliefs but still harbour remnants of their former beliefs like a virus” has somehow gotten in the way of her sense of irony and humour.  Come on!  Anyone with even a cursory access to Christian culture has heard the old Sunday School song “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”  It’s clear to me, and I imagine to most people, that SPL is intentionally spoofing Christian culture.  But certainly anyone who who spoofs Christian culture is not a fully liberated atheist!  – Can I get a Ramen to that?   😛


Anyway, as I mentioned above, in the subsequent posts I’ll be sharing the comments and “rebuttals” that followed my post on Hemant Mehta’s Friendly Atheist Blog and responding to some of them.  Feel free to light your fires, and may the better arguments win.  I think the honest reader will be able to ascertain that we’ve got a lot more than leftover religion, cardboard tubes and bailing twine!

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A Pro-Life Atheist’s Video Shared With The Friendly Atheist’s Readers

A Pro-Life Atheist’s Video Shared With The Friendly Atheist’s Readers

Posted by on Feb 18, 2014 in Pro-Life Atheists in Media | 0 comments

Posters advertising pro-life atheist talk were destroyed

Posters advertising pro-life atheist talk were destroyed

Congratulations to Kelsey Hazzard from Secular Pro-Life who made a nice splash both prior to and  following her presentation “Pro-Life Without God” (see video below).

After the pro-life student club she was speaking to at the University of Georgia experienced vandalism of the posters announcing her upcoming talk, (a sadly all-too-common occurrence that I’ve seen repeatedly in my decade and a half of haunting the halls of various universities), the censorship was featured in a number of print and online publications. One of these publications was The Friendly Atheist’s Blog who made a point of emphasizing his displeasure regarding the censorship.

“Obviously, those actions are to be condemned by everybody. That’s the way you respond when you have no good arguments on your side. If you really think they’re wrong, let them advertise as they wish, then dissent in a productive, meaningful way.

(Yay for Hemant Mehta! I love that kind of intellectual honesty!)

He also added:

“I’m amazed that I haven’t seen a presentation like this at any of the atheist conferences I’ve ever been to. (At least I can’t remember seeing one like it.) If conference organizers are trying to reach out to a broader spectrum of people, Kelsey seems like a natural choice for a poised speaker who has a very different perspective to bring to the secular table. Even if you think she’s way off base, she represents not-an-insignificant portion of our community. It’d at least be interesting to see the two sides of this argument hash things out in front of a crowd.

So again, congratulations to our pro-life atheist comrade from our sister organization. Hopefully the speaking opportunities will indeed be offered to pro-life atheists at future conferences! I’m currently waiting to hear back from the American Humanist Convention since their former president has recommended me as a speaker. Good things ahead for pro-life atheists!

Kelsey’s presentation:

And do go read The post on The Friendly Atheist and join in the conversation. Not all pro-lifers interacting with The Friendly Atheist community are well-versed in pro-life reason or even atheist for that matter. Let’s make sure our voices are heard!

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Atheist Experience & Non Prophets Podcasts discussing abortion

Atheist Experience & Non Prophets Podcasts discussing abortion

Posted by on Jan 7, 2014 in Pro-Life Atheists in Media | 13 comments

Feeding our new “Pro-Life Atheists in Media” category are two recent podcast episodes that raise the issue of atheism and pro-life.

In the December 1st, 2013 episode of The Atheist Experience (episode #842) hosts Russell Glasser and Martin Wagner take a call from a man who asks “why are most atheists pro-choice?”  I think you’ll quite enjoy what they have to say about the intersection of religion and culture on social issues.


And in THIS episode of The Non-Prophets Podcast, around 21:20 abortion enters discussion. (Abortion – which is a religion issue, folks!) Don’t miss the golden statement from the female host Julie Larsen, shortly after 30:30. She declares: “Yeah there’s no secular reason to be against abortion”, and one of the hosts responds that “there are arguments you can make that *pose* as non-religious arguments, to try to make it seem…”

Feel free to write in to the Non Prophets to let them know you are a pro-life atheist and why (post your response here if you wish)

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Pro-Life Atheists in Media – Our New Category

Posted by on Dec 29, 2013 in Pro-Life Atheists in Media | 0 comments

In recent weeks I’ve shared atheist media and blog coverage indicating that Atheists are Asking About Abortion. And then that Atheists are Talking About Abortion Again. “Calling subsequent entries “Atheists are Talking About Abortion Again Again Again Again” might quickly get a mite repetitive, so behold our new blog category: Pro-Life Atheists in Media. Follow this link to keep abreast of new incidences of pro-life atheism being recognized and discussed.  Not every mention will be featured on the blog (some may only appear on the Pro-Life Humanists Facebook page as good reads), but ones by mainstream atheists and worthy of your response and partipation likely will.

And now for YOUR assignment:  Your mission as an individual interested in the voice of pro-life atheists is to be sure to keep the community informed of what is being said about us and when.  You can either contact me by email or you can post to the FB page if you become aware of a new article, video, blog, forum, or podcast on which pro-life atheists (or the counter claim that all pro-lifers are theists) are being discussed – whether in positive or negative light.  Sign yourself up for Mentions (Google alerts currently provides fewer hits) and watch what hits the internet and social media with with key words specific to secular/atheist/non-religious abortion/pro-life/prolife etc.  Every time someone mentions pro-life atheism is a great opportunity to say “we do exist and check out these web-sites”.    Listen to weekly atheist podcasts.  I can’t listen to them all and neither can you, so if you’re on board, let me know and we can tag-team to ensure we’re hitting them all together.  Podcasts are especially important to monitor, since not all topics raised in an episode will appear in searchable keywords.

Do you listen to any secular podcasts where the issue of abortion is occasionally raised?  Which ones?  Do you participate in any online atheist communities?   Let’s ensure we all network and connect across social media!  No pro-life atheists should ever feel alone out there!   The more we bridge forces the more closetted pro-life atheists will feel at ease about coming out, and the larger our community will become.  The holidays are (almost) over!  Hop to it, everyone!  🙂

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Atheists are Talking about Abortion (again)

Atheists are Talking about Abortion (again)

Posted by on Dec 5, 2013 in Pro-Life Atheists in Media | 3 comments

In case you missed it,
The Friendly Atheist, a well-read blog written by Hemant Mehta, author of I Sold My Soul on Ebay recently posted a video on his blog asking whether it makes sense to be a pro-life atheist. Great discussion has ensued, both on his blog post and in the youtube channel, and I’d encourage those of you who like to discuss and engage your fellow atheists to join in the discussion.

Do keep following The Friendly Atheist, since he is a friendly atheist indeed. Yours truly has just been invited to guest-blog the reasons why we believe it makes sense to be a pro-life atheist. I’ll keep everyone posted once it’s published, as this is a grand opportunity indeed. Even if it is, as Hermant so eloquently put it: “like asking you to step in front of a firing squad.” 🙂

– Kristine Kruszelnicki

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Meet the Pro-Life Atheists 2: Frank L. Ludwig

Meet the Pro-Life Atheists 2: Frank L. Ludwig

Posted by on Nov 29, 2013 in Pro-Life Atheists - Meet our family | 5 comments

There’s been some delay, but we’re back with another edition of Meet the Pro-Life Atheist!!! Today’s “celebrity pro-life atheist” is poet and writer Frank L. Ludwig. Frank is a true rarity: He’s an Atheist in Ireland!

Frank L. Ludwig, Pro-life Atheist

PLH: Frank, first of all, what’s it like being an Irish Atheist?

Frank: Well I’m originally from Germany, so I think that as a German in Ireland my atheistic position is more tolerated than that of the atheist natives, since I’m from a different culture. However, I’m sure they’d much prefer it if I kept my views to myself.

PLH: What are some of those views?

Frank: I’m not only atheist, I’m anti-theist. That means I openly oppose religion because of the damage it causes, both to society and to individuals.   It damages society with things like war, discrimination, violence etc. and it hurts individuals through such things as the indoctrination of children with the belief that they are worthless without a god and that they are sinners.

PLH: Have you been an atheist and anti-theist a long time?

Frank: Like all other babies I was born an atheist, but the second time I became one was when I was 13 or 14 and realized that religion and the concept of God didn’t make any sense to me. I told my parents at that time that I didn’t want to have my confirmation and they said that was fine, but that I would still have to keep attending church anyway. Since it didn’t seem to make any difference, I went ahead and had my confirmation. At the age of 16 I had a hallucination (which I think in retrospect was a coping mechanism to being forced to attend church), and it made me believe in God for a while. I became an atheist again at the age of 25.

PLH: Why do you feel it makes sense for an atheist to take a pro-life position on abortion?

Being pro-life is not about being Christian, being pro-life is about being human. I agree with the British Medical Association, and many others, who consider implantation as the beginning of a pregnancy, and therefore of a human life. I’m a Humanist, and in my opinion the right to life is the most basic human right. It is a conclusion everybody should be able to reach, regardless of their religion or absence of it.

PLH: Was there ever a time when you were pro-choice?

Frank: No, I’ve never supported abortion. In fact, when I first learned what abortion was, I associated it with conservatives – they were the ones waging wars, exploiting other countries and denying asylum to people who would be killed or who would starve in their own countries. I was shocked when I found out abortion’s advocacy came from the other side.
[PLH note: See interview with atheist pro-lifer Kristin Monohan who thought likewise about conservative vs liberal views on abortion]

PLH: Pro-lifers are certainly in the majority in Ireland, do you find it easy to be involved in pro-life activism as an atheist?

Frank: I have to admit that I don’t have a lot of contact with Irish pro-lifers, largely because of the religious rants that are most often involved. For a while I followed groups like Keep Ireland Pro-Life and Youth Defence, but most of their posts seem to pertain to Christian mythology in one way or another.   When I attended this year’s pro-life rally in Dublin I felt rather offended by their assumption that every pro-life protester there was a Christian. One of the speakers kept conjuring her deity with every sentence, saying such things as “We know that Christ died for us” or “We are here because God loves the unborn”.

PLH: Have you spoken with the leaders of these groups about how these assumptions make you feel excluded as a pro-life atheist?

Frank: Oh yes! I contacted the organizers afterwards and politely suggested they leave religion out of the discussion since it alienates non-religious pro-lifers. They replied they’d take it under advisement, but I’m not too optimistic. In general, and not only in Ireland, I get the impression that religious pro-life groups have a hard time believing atheists can be pro-life, simply because they have a hard time believing we can be at all moral. I even think that many of them want pro-life to remain an issue associated with Christianity, in order to claim moral superiority for their beliefs.

PLH: What about atheists? There are so few of you in Ireland. How do they feel about you breaking out of the typical mold by holding to a pro-life position?

Frank: Reactions to my position amongst atheists vary greatly. While some respect my views and others even understand them, I’ve also encountered militant abortion supporters who scream at me and tell me that as a male I don’t have the right to an opinion unless I agree with them.  I know one other atheist in Ireland who’s openly pro-life, and I met one atheist girl who is afraid to come out about being pro-life, and has only confided in me.

PLH: What do you believe to be the strongest of pro-life strategies?

Frank: Education. I think that most abortions are a case of ignorance. In my opinion, every mother considering an abortion should be confronted with abortion images like those produced by the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. I’ve heard that many mothers who see pictures of aborted unborn children after the fact, change their mind about abortion and say they wouldn’t have done it if they’d known.

PLH: If people want to learn more about you and your pro-life and atheist views, where should they go?

Frank: Fans of poetry might enjoy my collection of atheist poems and my collection of pro-life poems
I’ve also written extensively on the History of Atheism, including a variety of  creative works on the topic of atheism.  Even more writings and photography on many topics, including abortion, can be found on my personal web-site.

PLH: Thanks for taking the time to introduce yourself to us, Frank!   We’ll look forward to helping you bring pro-life atheism to Ireland its neighbouring lands!

In the near future we will have Frank share with us about the status of abortion and pro-life activism in Ireland.  Be sure to check in often.  Good things always to come – including more interviews with even more awesome pro-life atheists!

Pro-Life Anti-Theist(Frank takes on an intellectual professorial look with his pipe and glasses)

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Atheists are Asking about Abortion

Atheists are Asking about Abortion

Posted by on Nov 19, 2013 in Pro-Life Atheists in Media | 0 comments

question abortion

As I listen to podcasts from within the atheist community (especially ones with call-in shows), I’m reminded again and again of how CRUCIAL it is to have a visible and vocal pro-life voice among atheists.

The following are just two recent podcasts I’ve recently stumbled upon (there have been others, and i hope to offer commentary to some of the better ones), which feature atheists/free-thinkers who are calling in, unsure about the matter of abortion. Who’s going to be there in the future to give the pro-life answer to their questions? We will! (I hope! – We need to get this group funded first!)

The Thinking Atheist did a podcast on closeted atheist this week, see 17:45 – 22:41 and 25:00 where a woman called in who is still waffling as a conservative on the issue of abortion.  The host expressed an interest in doing a podcast on abortion in the new year – and yes I’ve already written to volunteer my help with that!  🙂

This one is a couple years older, though I just heard it this week. I can’t help hoping that “Jason in Denver” hasn’t already been swayed by the predominant pro-choice voice in our community and the flawed answers he received.  One thing is certain, Jason isn’t alone.   Pro-Life Humanists needs to exist – not only so that pro-life atheists have a group to belong to, but also because you and I as pro-life atheists have a unique opportunity to speak to these pro-choice and undecided men and women.  They are out there and we need to go out and find them!

Thanks for being a part of this team!

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The Dawn of the Full-time Pro-Life Atheist

The Dawn of the Full-time Pro-Life Atheist

Posted by on Nov 14, 2013 in Being a Pro-Life Atheist, Featured posts | 11 comments


Hire me sign
Twelve years ago, at an annual pro-life student symposium in Toronto, I had the privilege of sitting under the tutelage of pro-life apologist Scott Klusendorf. After leaving us rapt with awe over the simplicity of making a solid yet secular pro-life defense, Scott further impressed us with the importance of considering full-time pro-life work as a career choice. I’ll never forget his words*:

“There are more people working full-time to kill babies than there are working full-time to save them. That’s because killing babies is very profitable, while saving them is very costly – so costly that large numbers of people who say they are pro-life are not lifting a finger to stop the killing, and those that do lift a finger do just enough to salve the conscience, but not enough to actually stop the killing.”

I believe Mr Klusendorf is right about this. Most pro-life action is undertaken part-time, often by stay-at-home mothers and grandmothers, whereas abortion advocates have doctors and paid professionals, politicians, judges, lawyers, and university professors all working to propagate abortion ideology and ensure that it remains on demand. The rest of us (and by that I mean we who regularly engage the issue, say nothing of the hundreds of thousands who are pro-life in ideology but never speak or think of it unless explicitly asked) unite a few times a year for a March for Life or a Life Chain, or to attend a pro-life conference with like-minded friends. But how many of us pro-life faithfuls are involved in actual activism on a regular basis? Do we treat abortion like a hobby? Something we can devote a few hours to, here and there?

Those that do lift a finger do just enough to salve the conscience, but not enough to actually stop the killing. Could this be true? I know I feel so zealous after attending a pro-life event, but I often ask myself: am I really doing all I can do to change minds in the culture at large? How easy it is to fall into a habit of simply blogging and talking to one another! We reason that we’re making a difference because, after all, we do the occasional debating with abortion advocates on Facebook or Twitter, and perhaps we even have the occasional dialog with pro-choice friends or colleagues. But do our efforts match the intensity of the abortion death toll around us?

With approximately 44 million global abortions occurring annually, that means that every single day, more than 120,000 developing human beings beginning their lives in a position of utmost dependency just like you began yours, are being denied their opportunity at life. Every. Day. Are we acting like it? In North America alone, it’s about 4000 per day. Every. Day. Are we who got to live and who know this killing is wrong doing everything we can? I’ll wager we all could do more. And that’s why I’ve decided to make Mr Klusendorf’s challenge my own. And it’s why I’m passing it on to you.

I launched Pro-Life Humanists with the intention of ultimately building a fully-funded pro-life organization that atheists can work in. (Read this post to learn how too many pro-life organizations won’t hire atheists)
I’m asking you to consider doing one of two things:

1. Consider a full or part time career as a pro-life advocate. Join me in making it your job to become as thoroughly equipped and trained to defend the pro-life position as possible. Join me in taking the pro-life message back out into the atheist community where it’s not often heard.
2. “Hire” one of us. If you can’t make a career of pro-life work, you can become the collective employer of those who aspire to do so. A team of 100 people funding $30/mth, 60 people donating $50/mth or 200 people donating $15/mth can collectively hire (at a baseline survival level) one person to be their full-time voice for the voiceless. There are many funded pro-life organizations out there, let’s make sure there’s at least one where atheists can work!

We’re starting small and we’re part-time volunteers for now, and of course we’ll need to fund the organization too, since one of the main purposes of Pro-Life Humanists – flying to atheist conventions to dialog one-on-one with our peers – will require at least $2000 – $3000 per event, but I’m letting you know this is on the radar and you – especially if you’re a pro-life atheist who has wanted to be more active but didn’t know what you could do – are a part of this. Please be a part of this. There are so few of us and this work is vital!

I want to hear from you. Please click below or send me an email at emailicon
… and let’s chat about how you can be involved. No one is holding the door for pro-life atheists – not the majority of our atheist peers and not the majority of mainstream Christian pro-lifers. It’s up to me and it’s up to you.

* Gregg Cunningham, director of Center for Bioethical Reform first spoke those words to Scott himself, prompting Scott to leave his job as a pastor and pursue full-time pro-life work.

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Meet the Pro-Life Atheists 1: Kristin Monahan

Meet the Pro-Life Atheists 1: Kristin Monahan

Posted by on Sep 16, 2013 in Pro-Life Atheists - Meet our family | 9 comments

Pro-Life Humanists wants to introduce you to our family! In the coming weeks we will feature the stories of pro-lifers who hold their convictions apart from any religious beliefs. This week you’re meeting Kristin Monahan.  She is a pro-life atheist and the first in our Meet the PLH Family series.


PLH:  Kristin, you describe yourself as “a Liberal, Feminist, Atheist, Pro-Life rocker chick”.  Have you always been atheist?

Kristin: I would say that I’ve always been an atheist, even though I was never raised as an atheist.  My mom’s side of the family is entirely Mormon and we went to Mormon church when I was little, but luckily, we stopped going when I was 6 or 7. From then on, there wasn’t much religion in my life, other than hearing about it from my other family members, and what you see in the media, or friends talking about it here and there.  I started to realize I was an atheist when I was about 13 and first started hearing that there was such a thing; I realized it clicked with me.

PLH:  So you’ve sort of been a secret atheist since childhood.

Kristin:  Yes, though there were times while growing up when I was still trying to find myself and was dealing with coming out to myself as well as to my family and the world, where I may have “prayed”, in a sense, for “god” to help me find an item I’d lost in my room, or when I’d answer “Christian?” when asked what my religion was… but really, I honestly never believed any of it.  That is why I say I was always an atheist. It was just “monkey see monkey do” until I was ready to come out.

PLH:  Did you find it hard to come out as an atheist?

Kristin: It is hard because you feel like the whole world is against you.  As you know, atheism is still looked down upon and is not that common even today, so you can image that people saying things like  “I don’t care what religion you are, as long as you have one” or sitcoms that talk about god and act like it’s so horrible if someone doesn’t believe… those things can really stick with a kid and make it so much harder to be out with it –  to yourself as well as to everyone else.

I would say people are right though, at least in my experience, when they say it gets easier and easier to be out as an atheist. When I first started saying it, my mom tried to convince me that I was agnostic… I think she really just didn’t want me to be an atheist, so she figured if she could convince me I was just agnostic, that could be like some sort of compromise.  Now, I’m happy to say, my heart doesn’t beat really fast and I don’t get really nervous when I say I’m an atheist.

PLH:  Tell me about being pro-life.  How did that come about?

Kristin:  I was about 14 when I asked my mom what abortion was, because I had heard the word a few times. When she told me, I immediately knew I was against it and I couldn’t believe a thing like that existed!   I should also mention that I have always been a feminist and a liberal and I was 13 when I realized just how liberal I was.   Learning about abortion, I was certain that it could never be a liberal thing since it goes against everything that liberalism stands for: all the helping the poor, the innocent, the downtrodden, the underdogs, the helpless and voiceless, the weak, the vulnerable… Since I happen to fit in perfectly on the left, of course I was against this as well.  I assumed abortion was something conservative deadbeat dads created so that they wouldn’t have to take care of their responsibilities, and to keep women down.  As a female, I couldn’t imagine women ever going for this sort of thing, so I started off assuming bad men must have come up with it.

PLH:  You must have been in for quite a shock when you found out most feminist liberals actually advocate for abortion?

Kristin:  Somewhere along the way, my mother and brother told me it was a conservative thing to be pro-life, and a liberal and feminist thing to be pro-choice. I thought they were joking, of course!  Unfortunately, as time went on, I realized the stereotypes were true, but I never let that change my views – by then I’d already formed my liberal and feminist ideals against abortion.  To me, abortion really reinforces those old-fashioned gender stereotypes by saying that because the woman is the mother and is the one to get pregnant, she has to choose and it has to be all on her.

PLH:  How do your fellow atheist peers respond when they learn that you’re pro-life?

Kristin: It can be weird to have pro-life-bashing posts show up on your favorite atheist or liberal pages.  You try to correct them but their comments are full of stereotypes and they either won’t listen or they automatically think you are bad because you are pro-life.  I guess one thing though is that you get to laugh to yourself and say “Yeah, well I’m an atheist…” when they tell you to keep your religion out of it.

PLH:  How about pro-lifers?  How have traditional pro-lifers in your circles responded to having an atheist in their ranks?

Kristin:  It can be hard with the pro-lifers too.  But funny enough, it seems like they may be more accepting of me, even though we only agree on one thing, than are the liberals who are a lot more like me outside of this one thing.  There are still the ones who’ll always talk about god, those who say they should not be accepting non-religious pro-lifers, or those who say they should accept us just because then they can turn us to religion over time.  I find that offensive.  Please don’t do that, people!   What if we said we wanted to turn you atheist and “save” you?

PLH:  What would you say to your atheist peers and free-thinking friends who are pro-choice?

Kristin:  I always hear people say they are pro-choice or at least hate pro-lifers or have a bad view of the whole pro-life thing because of the crazy conservative religious ones or the ones who bomb abortion clinics… I really would like it if people weren’t influenced by things like that.  You shouldn’t let your view of something be defined by what other people who hold a particular position do or say or think.  We are all individuals, and there will be crazies and ignorant people on all sides of any issue. 

There are lives at stake here.  That’s why I still call myself pro-life while being an atheist, liberal, and feminist.  I definitely know what it is like to feel like an outcast, but things will always be better if you’re true to yourself.  Don’t let anyone tell you that people on your side are supposed to be like this or like that.

PLH:  If you could say one thing to your theistic pro-life peers what would it be?

Kristin:  There is the fact that people tend to brush off the pro-life side because of people using religious arguments.  Even religious people can use secular arguments against abortion.  We have science on our side –  you don’t need to bring in religion –  especially when it causes the non-religious to not take you seriously.   It shouldn’t be that hard to only argue with science and empathy toward the young… Imagine if people suddenly started using mainly religion to argue against murder in general, stereotyping people who hate murder as “religious people trying to make you abide by their religion”, and if religious people who hate murder were trying to kick non-religious people who hate murder out of their ranks, or only accepted them if they thought they might eventually convert to their religion.  Obviously atheists and non-religious people think standard murder is wrong, so why act like you have to be religious in order to think killing the unborn is wrong?

PLH:  And on that brilliant note, Kristin,  our “Liberal, Feminist, Atheist, Pro-Life rocker chick”, do you have any final words for us? 

Kristin:  Yeah, I actually just started a blog with that name in case anyone is interested:

PLH:  I’ve seen it and there’s some awesome stuff there!  We’ll look forward to having you guest blog with PLH in the future.  Thanks for being a part of the Pro-Life Humanists family, Kristin!

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May the Fetus we Save be Gay

May the Fetus we Save be Gay

Posted by on Aug 27, 2013 in Featured posts, GLBT | 1 comment
May the fetus you save be gay” The pro-choice slogan is oft used as a slight against pro-lifers, many of whom oppose both abortion and gay marriage on religious grounds. After all, the reasoning goes, it would serve you right if a fetus you save from abortion grows up to be gay. Would you wish he’d been aborted then? Would you still fight for his rights?

I can’t speak for all pro-lifers, but as an atheist and a Humanist, fighting for the rights and the lives of all humans is my default setting. A just society can only be called just if it truly respects and behaves fairly to all human beings. All human beings – regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity, size, appearance, physical and mental capacities, religious or political affiliation, marital or relational status, level of education, sexual orientation, or any other number of differences that may exist between human beings. Any human being is just as worthy of his or her life, freedom, and pursuit of happiness as any other human being. As a general principle, only when one’s actions threaten or harm another human being should one’s choices or freedoms be curbed.

And that’s why I’m both pro-life and pro-gay. That’s also why I marched in Ottawa’s Capital Pride parade yesterday holding the following banner:



While in no way intended to suggest that a straight fetus would be inferior to a gay fetus, I was pleased to perform a flipperoo on the pro-choice slogan by turning it into a positive pro-gay and pro-life statement. “May the fetus you save be gay”? Ok, sure! May the fetus we save be gay indeed! (Or straight, Down’s Syndrome, intersexed… – we’ll love them all!)

After standing for the length of the parade on the sideline (with my arms losing circulation) in order to make my sign visible to parade marchers and hand out PLAGAL pamphlets to anyone expressing enthusiasm for the sign, my PLH comrade and I hopped in behind the political banners near the end of the parade stream, and danced, shimmied, and cheered our way past a surprisingly receptive crowd. A small handful of boo’s and the angry fist-raised hollerings of one woman (who kept driving past me in her wheelchair at the post-parade celebration, screaming “PROOO-CHOOOIIIICCCEEE!!! PROOO-CHOOOIIIICCCEEE!!!“) were easily outnumbered by the endless paparazzi of photographers and cheers.  Our 75 pamphlets vanished within the first couple blocks (we want to come back next year with at least 1000!) but we happily had enough for the ladies who shouted “THANK YOU!  – THANK YOU SO MUCH!” as we passed by, and for the group who went nuts dancing and clapping “YEAH!! YEAH!! PRO-LIFE!!!“. Hopefully we’ll be hearing from them.

Pro-life GLBT aren’t the norm, but just as there are more pro-life atheists than one might expect to find (an American Gallup poll found 19% of non-religious adults identify as pro-life) so too do homosexuals span a wide berth of political views, including diverse views on abortion. Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians count 800 in their current membership.

So why should GLBT be pro-life? I’ll let PLAGAL speak to that in their own words. The following summary is a series of my favourite quotes that I’ve pulled from a handful of their brochures – all of which I recommend in their entirety.

“Of all Americans, those of us in the sexual minority community have the most reason to be concerned about protecting human life. After all, we know what it is to have our lives and rights trampled on, especially the basic human right just to keep on living.” ~ 3

“None of us is truly free until all of us are free, with all our rights intact and guaranteed, including the basic right to live without threat or harassment. And that’s why we’re Pro-Life. Just like homophobia, abortion tries to get rid of real human beings who are considered threatening or undesirable. Just like homophobia, abortion denies one’s place as a member of human society, and even one’s right to be alive in it.” ~ 1

“America’s abortion on demand policy… says that some lives can be exterminated at will; birth is a privilege reserved for those deemed eligible. While that policy exists, neither gays nor lesbians — nor, for that matter, the disabled, the elderly, the terminally ill, or any other class of human beings who may be considered ‘expendable’ — are safe.” ~ 2

“If, as recent scientific discoveries suggest, homosexuality has a genetic basis, the day is not far off when doctors will be able to determine if a child in the womb is predisposed to be gay. Once medical science achieves that ability, it will be possible to do by legal, surgical procedure what all the homophobes and gay-bashers throughout history have tried and failed to do — to eliminate lesbians and gays once and for all.” ~ 2

“Today, under the guise of choice, some children are aborted simply because they are the “wrong” sex. What chance would unborn children have of being spared from abortion if they’re deemed to have the wrong sexual orientation?” ~ 4

“…When sexual orientation becomes grounds for abortions, it is difficult to argue that a fetus is not human. If we exterminate a fetus because of his or her intrinsic nature, we are acknowledging that that fetus has the qualities of a unique human being.” ~ 2

“As gay men and lesbian women, we say that all human life deserves dignity and respect. No human life should be considered expendable and the basic right to live should be guaranteed without threat or harassment. That includes the unborn, a voiceless minority with no defense against the worst of all abuses: death.”  ~ 3

“The freedom for each of us to dispose of our bodies as we see fit does not give us the freedom to dispose of someone else’s body. No one has the right to decide for others whether they will live or die. Each human life is its own justification for being.” ~ 2

“A society which offers the deaths of their children as an acceptable choice doesn’t place much value on human life, period — women’s lives included. Pro-Life lesbians and gay men work for a society where human life is better valued than it is today. Everyone’s life. Where each person is guaranteed the human rights that belong to us all, whether we are female, male, gay, straight, white, people of color, post born or pre-born. We work for real choices for women so that they do not feel that abortion is their only alternative.” ~ 1

“PLAGAL is committed to the concept that people can live together in peace regardless of sexuality, without hate, without fear. We seek a world where a woman’s right to control her body is not pitted against her child’s right to exist. We support a compassionate society where both can live.” ~ 4

“Why must we speak for unborn people? Simply because they are people. To be pro-life and pro-gay is to affirm that human rights are not discretionary.”  ~ 3

1: Victims: Lesbians, Gays… and the Unborn
2: Abortion: Another Name for Gay Bashing?
3: Under the Rainbow Flag
4: Human Rights Start When Human Life Begins

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Atheists: No Room for Us in Pro-Life?

Posted by on Aug 7, 2013 in Dear Theists, Secular Voices (Guest blogs) | 21 comments



My new pro-life atheist friend Sarah Terzo, author and creator of the website, recently made a splash on Live Action’s Opinion page, by responding to an article written by a pro-life Christian.  I love what Sarah has to say, in part because her experience within the pro-life movement echoes my own.  I started Pro-Life Humanists in order to have a platform from which to eventually do full-time pro-life work. (I hope to begin fund-raising for project costs in the fall, and eventually for a salary as my workload and pro-life involvement at atheist functions increases).   After many years of being told by prominent pro-life groups that on account of my atheism I could only do public activism with them as a volunteer and not as an officially affiliated staff member, I was left with few other options.  These were groups whose public activism comprises only of the use of secular arguments, and yet despite how much they loved my work (to the point of frequently asking me to train their newcomers) I couldn’t be officially on staff simply because I don’t join in the prayer meetings at the end of the day or hold to “spiritual accountability”.

Sarah has graciously allowed Pro-Life Humanists the privilege of re-publishing her words.  We will hopefully be seeing more of Sarah’s in work on our site in the future.   PLH is almost entirely comprised of atheists, and we welcome Sarah Terzo, and other non-theist pro-lifers like her, with open arms.  Hopefully the rest of the movement will eventually follow suit.

To any theist readers of this blog, please read her words carefully.  If your faith motivates you to do pro-life work, please ensure that it does not thereby hinder your pro-life work!


On being a pro-life atheist

By Sarah Terzo

I  was very disappointed to read Live Action’s article “Shawn Carney on the pro-life movement’s greatest victory” in which he says:

“And it has to be a religious movement because we can’t face this on our own. It’s too overwhelming. And when it’s based on our faith in God it means it’s something that’s never going away. There are few things as clearly religious in our country than the pro-life movement. It is one built of people of faith. And that’s our biggest asset….But that’s a crucial point and it’s the most important point – that this is a religious movement and that it is one made up of sinners.”

In fact, there are many pro-lifers who are not Christian. And it’s attitudes like Carney’s that make it very, very difficult for us to stay in the pro-life movement.

I am an atheist pro-lifer. I am not the only one. Secular Pro-life is an organization that draws nonbelievers from many walks of life. I can honestly say, if that supportive group did not exist, I may have left the pro-life movement long ago. Why? Because it is so demoralizing to be in a movement where so many of your fellow workers simply don’t want you there.

A while back, I posted a poll in a pro-life forum, where I asked pro-lifers if they would march side by side or work with a pro-life atheist. Almost half of them said they would not. They told me that they would not want to be “unequally yoked” with a nonbeliever.

Even worse was the reaction I got when I tried to volunteer at the local crisis pregnancy center. They were open and friendly when I told them I wanted to work there. They listened when I told them I had had a great deal of experience discussing abortion on the internet, and had helped numerous women choose life. Then I told them I was an atheist. “Sorry, we are a Christian ministry” the woman said. “We don’t have atheists or nonchristians working here. But you are free to give a donation.”

I asked them if I could have a position where I wouldn’t be called upon to counsel women. Could I do paperwork or answer the phone? The answer was no. They wanted no help from me.

As an experiment, I took up the phone book and called nine crisis pregnancy centers. I did not find a single one that would allow an atheist to volunteer.

It is things like this that sap a person’s strength and bring down their morale. Being a pro-lifer is hard. I get a lot of ostracism from friends and family due to my work at Live Action. I have family members who won’t even speak to me. I have lost friends over the years because they didn’t accept my pro-life work. Getting so little support from pro-lifers is completely disheartening.

I often talk with women who are considering abortion. Yet I find myself reluctant to refer them to crisis pregnancy centers. These are places whose workers feel I am not even worthy to shuffle papers, who wanted nothing to do with me. I usually do refer them to the centers, but I never feel good about it.

As for 40 Days for Life, I tried to listen to one of their webcasts once. They started with a prayer- ok, I understand, they are a Christian group. Then we were treated to fifteen minute of rhetoric about Jesus. They made broad statements such as “We are a movement of Christians…” “As Christians we know…” By the time I was twenty minutes into the broadcast, I had to shut it off. I felt completely alienated and, quite frankly, rejected. It was the most demoralized and hopeless I have ever felt in the pro-life movement.

I actually began wondering- am I wrong? Maybe I shouldn’t be involved in pro-life activities. Maybe I just don’t have a place here. Maybe being pro-life is just for Christians, and I should stop doing so much and just let them go it alone. I have nothing in common with these people. These feelings of demoralization were so strong that I actually stopped working on my pro-life website and signed off my pro-life forums for a week or so. I needed a break to sort out my priorities. It was just too much.

I wrote to 40 Days for Life and gave some suggestions. What if, before the prayer, they said “We are happy to have pro-lifers of all religions listening, but now we want to talk to the Christians..” or “we especially want to talk to the Christians among us…” A simple change of words. It would make so much of a difference. But I never heard back, even though I wrote several times.

It is also tragic that the constant linking of the pro-life movement with religion has hurt the movement. There are many people who see pro-lifers as a bunch of religious fanatics. I have had many conversations with nonbelievers where I have discussed the pro-life issue from various angles. In some of these conversations, by the end, the person agreed with me that abortion was wrong. They thoughtfully told me they had never looked at the issue that way before. But then the conversation turned to getting involved with the pro-life movement- and everything changed. “They are just a bunch of Christian fanatics. I’m not a Christian. Why would I want to work with those holy rollers?” “It’s all about god. I’m just not a white/Republican/Christian/Straight person.”

In focusing on religious opposition to abortion, the pro-life movement has cemented into popular culture the generalization that being pro-life is the Christian thing to be. And being pro-choice is the nonreligious thing to be. So many atheists have never considered the pro-life position because they see it as a facet of Christian dogma. They wouldn’t consider going to a pro-life rally or reading a pro-life book in the way they wouldn’t consider going to church or giving their money to Pat Robertson. It simply isn’t for them.

Not to mention that many pregnant women, the very women we most want to reach, are turned off by religious rhetoric. When sidewalk counselors go up to women entering clinics and tell them “Jesus wants you to have your baby” or “the Bible says abortion is wrong” non-Christians who have no interest in religion are not likely to be moved. Roderick P, Murphy runs a crisis pregnancy center, one of the rare few that allows non-Christians to volunteer. He tells this story:

“A former director of Daybreak, a Boston-area CBC once used this true anecdote about educated women clients in an appeal letter:

Carol was afraid. How could this happen to me? She looked in the Yellow Pages and found Daybreak. Carol was a young professional woman and she was sure she wanted an abortion. She came in for a pregnancy test over lunch hour. She had questions about abortion procedures and their safety.

The counselor was able to connect with Carol closely enough to discuss risks, emotional scarring and the development of life inside her. Then she handed Carol a brochure full of great information that would further answer her questions. As Carol thumbed through the booklet, she seemed grateful for such accurate information… And then she turned to the last page. Across it was the name of the organization that printed the brochure. Among believers it was a reputable name. But because the word “Christian” stood out so clearly to Carol, she tossed the brochure into the garbage, and walked out. In that instant, our opportunity to reach her was gone.”(1)

How many Carols have there been? Some people can’t be reached with Christian arguments. They simply can’t.

Atheists get treated very badly by the pro-life movement. And pro-lifers who follow religions other than Christianity are also treated badly. There is a pro-life pagans group on Facebook, and they often attract trolls. The sad thing is that the majority of trolls they get are not pro-choicers, but pro-lifers. Pro-lifers who try to convert them to Christianity, accuse them of child sacrifice, or tell them they can’t be pro-life. It is a sad thing. I wonder how many of them will finally give up and leave the pro-life movement.

There is a reason why the pro-life movement is predominantly Christian. And it is not the reason that Carney thinks it is. The reason is that non-Christians don’t feel welcome. And while right now the pro-life movement is not exclusively Christian, if the majority of pro-lifers have the same approach to pro-life work as Carney, it soon will be – because all the non-Christians will be gone.

1. Roderick P Murphy. Stopping Abortions at Death’s Door (Southbridge, Massachusetts: Taig Publishing 2009) 57 to 58

Thanks again, Sarah Terzo for allowing us to share your words with our readers!  🙂

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A Secular Case Against Abortion

A Secular Case Against Abortion

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Featured posts, Reasoned Arguments | 153 comments

The following piece was originally submitted to The Humanist after their September/October edition of the Humanist featured an article by Marco Rosaire Rossi questioning the existence of pro-life atheists.   The piece, though as extensive as possible in answering standard pro-choice arguments, was ultimately rejected because it didn’t answer a number of other questions (including contraception and early vs late-term abortion) that a 2,500 word limit simply could not allow.    While I hope to work with the editor for a future re-write, here is the original piece for your reading:


By: Kristine Kruszelnicki

“Is there really such a thing as a pro-life atheist?” asked Marco Rosaire Rossi in the September/October edition of the The Humanist.  “What’s next, Intelligent Design Agnostics?  How about Secularists for Sharia Law?”

Atheists may not have a pope, but in the eyes of many there is still a proper dogma that all good atheists must adhere to.   To be an atheist is to support abortion.   Fail to do so and you will be denounced as “secretly religious.”   When I joined an agnostic and an atheist from Secular Pro-Life for an information table at the 2012 American Atheist Convention, a popular atheist blogger accused us outright of having “actually lied about being atheist.”  [Edit: She also seriously misheard and misconstrued the point of my green banana analogy!]

There is an obvious reluctance to accept that non-religious pro-lifers exist.   But we do exist.   While we differ somewhat in our approaches and philosophies, our numbers include atheist thinkers like Robert Price, author of “The Case Against the Case for Christ,” civil libertarian writer Nat Hentoff,  philosophers Arif Ahmed and Don Marquis, and liberal anti-war  activist Mary Meehan, to name a few.

The late atheist author Christopher Hitchens, when asked in a January 2008 debate with Jay Wesley Richards whether he was opposed to abortion and was a member of the pro-life movement, replied:
“I’ve had a lot of quarrels with some of my fellow materialists and secularists on this point, [but]  I think that if the concept ‘child’ means anything, the concept ‘unborn child’ can be said to mean something.  All the discoveries of embryology [and viability] – which have been very considerable in the last generation or so – appear to confirm that opinion, which I think should be innate in everybody.  It’s innate in the Hippocratic Oath, it’s instinct in anyone who’s ever watched a sonogram.   So ‘yes’ is my answer to that.”

Secular pro-lifers include seasoned atheists and agnostics, ex-Christians, conservatives, liberals, vegans, gays and lesbians, and even pro-lifers of faith, who understand the strength of secular arguments with secular audiences.   The following secular case against abortion  is one perspective, and does not represent any single organization.

Abortion, The Complex Issue?

Abortion is an emotionally complex issue, stacked with distressing circumstances that elicit our sympathy and compassion, but abortion is not morally complex:    If the preborn are not human beings equally worthy of our compassion and support, no justification for abortion is required.  Women should maintain full autonomy over their bodies and make their own decisions about their pregnancies.    However, if the preborn are human beings, no justification for abortion is morally adequate, if such a reason cannot justify ending the life of a toddler or any born human in similar circumstances.

Would we kill a two year-old whose father suddenly abandons his unemployed mother, in order to ease the mother’s budget or prevent the child from growing up in poverty?    Would we dismember a young preschooler if there were indications she might grow up in an abusive home?    If the preborn are indeed human beings,  we have a social duty to find compassionate ways to support women, that do not require the death of one in order to solve the problems of the other.

Science vs Pseudoscience

While some abortion advocates have accused pro-lifers of using “pseudoscience”,  in fact scientific evidence strongly backs the pro-life claim that the human embryo and fetus are biological members of the human species.    Dr. Keith L. Moore’s “The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology,” used in medical schools worldwide, is but one scientific resource confirming this knowledge.  It states:
“Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoo development) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”

Unlike other cells containing human DNA – sperm, ovum and skin cells, for instance – the newly fertilized embryo has complete inherent capacity to propel itself through all stages of human development, providing adequate nutrition and protection is maintained.   Conversely, sperm and ovum are differentiated parts of other human organisms, each having their own specified function.   Upon merging, both cease to exist in their current states, and the result is a new and whole entity with unique behavior toward human maturity.   Similarly, skin cells contain genetic information that can be inserted into an enucleated ovum and stimulated to create an embryo, but only the embryo possesses this self-directed inherent capacity for all human development.

Defining Personhood

The question of personhood leaves the realm of science for that of philosophy and moral ethics.   Science defines what the preborn is, it cannot define our obligations toward her.   After all, the preborn is a very different human entity than those we see around us.  Should a smaller, less developed, differently located and dependent being be entitled to rights of personhood and life?

Perhaps the more significant question is: are these differences morally relevant?   If the factor is irrelevant to other humans’ personhood, neither should it have bearing on that of the preborn.    Are small people less important than bigger or taller people?    Is a teenager who can reproduce more worthy of life than a toddler who can’t even walk yet?   Again, if these factors are not relevant in granting or increasing personhood for anyone past the goal post of birth, neither should they matter where the preborn human is concerned.

One might fairly argue that we do grant increasing rights with skill and age.   However, the right to live and to not be killed is unlike the social permissions granted on the basis of acquired skills and maturity, such as the right to drive or the right to vote.   We are denied the right to drive prior to turning 16; we are not killed and prevented from ever gaining that level of maturity.

Similarly, consciousness and self-awareness, often proposed as fair markers for personhood, merely identify stages in human development.   Consciousness doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  It  exists only as part of the greater whole of a living entity.   To say that an entity does not yet have consciousness is to nonetheless speak of that entity within which lies the inherent capacity for consciousness, and without which consciousness could never develop.

As atheist Nat Hentoff points out, “It misses a crucial point to say that the extermination can take place because the brain has not yet functioned or because that thing is not yet a ‘person’.   Whether the life is cut off in the fourth week or the fourteenth, the victim is one of our species, and has been from the start.”

The inherent capacity for all human function lies within the embryo because she is a whole human entity.   Just as one would not throw out green bananas along with rotten bananas though both lack current function as food, one cannot dismiss a fetus who has not yet gained a function, alongside a brain-dead person who has permanently lost that function.   To dismiss and terminate a fetus for having not yet achieved a specified level of development is to ignore that a human being at that stage of human development is functioning just as a human being of that age and stage is biologically programmed to function.

Location and Singular Dependency

Pointing to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in support of his position that “human beings as persons are born,”   Mr. Rossi declared: “The fact of the matter is birth transforms us.  It simultaneously makes us into individuals and members of a group, and thus embeds in us rights-bearing protections.”

This claim is grossly fallacious.   First, what is does not necessarily represent what should be.    The fact that social conventions of personhood disregard the preborn human is no surprise, and in fact the very matter in dispute.   Second, birth possesses no such magical powers of transformation.    At birth a developing human changes location, begins to take in oxygen and nutrients in a new manner, and begins to interact with a greater number of other humans.   But a simple journey through the birth canal does not change the essential nature of the entity in question.

In fact, bio-ethicist Peter Singer agrees with the pro-lifer on this point.   He argues:  “The pro-life groups were right about one thing, the location of the baby inside or outside the womb cannot make much of a moral difference.  We cannot coherently hold it is alright to kill a fetus a week before birth, but as soon as the baby is born everything must be done to keep it alive.”   (Singer then goes on to argue that since there is no significant difference between a late-term fetus and a newborn, infanticide is thereby justified.)     Birth is undoubtedly a significant moment in our lives, but it is not our first moment.

So what of dependency?    Assuredly, a fetus is significantly more dependent on his or her mother than at any other time in his or her life.   But are dependent humans not fully human?   Does a conjoined twin’s dependence on a sibling’s heart or lungs disqualify her from personhood?    May we kill severely dependent adults or an infant who cannot even raise his own head, let alone feed, shelter himself, or walk away?

If the issue is what Rossi calls “absolute dependence [on] our mothers,”  a further question must be asked:  Why does dependence on a single person mean one is not valuable or worthy of life and protection?     If a wayward child were to find his way onto a stranger’s yacht only to be discovered  a day later at sea, he would be temporarily dependent on that sailor’s resources alone.   Would the sailor be justified in tossing the child overboard into shark-infested waters?

Moreover, is it truly the mark of a civilized people that the more vulnerable and dependent a human is, the more we can justify his or her death?    Is “might-makes-right”  the best we can do as a modern and sophisticated people faced with a vulnerable being and a woman in crisis?

Rape and Bodily Autonomy

Nothing adds more emotion to the already emotional debate of abortion than the issue of rape.  It is, however, vital that one does not confuse abhorrence of rape and desire to comfort the victim, with the fundamental question of whether hardship justifies homicide.   If the preborn is a human being, the circumstances of one’s conception have no bearing on his or her right to not be exterminated.

Judith Jarvis Thompson’s “Unplugging the Violinist” (a fictional scenario in which one is kidnapped by  friends of a dying violinist in need of a kidney, and forced to remain plugged into him for nine months in order to save his life) illustrates the dilemma of bodily autonomy, while suggesting grounds for abortion in cases of rape.

However, Thomson fails to recognize that the relationship between a preborn and her mother is unlike an artificial union of one stranger to another.   The fetus is not an intruder.  She is in the rightful home of a human being at her age and stage of development.   Unlike the kidneys, which exist for the woman’s body, the uterus exists and each month prepares to welcome someone else’s body.   A woman has a right to her body, but so too a fetus has a right to the uterus that is her biologically-given home.

Furthermore, recognizing the biological responsibilities with which we have evolved as a species, we understand that while one is not always morally obligated to a stranger, one is obligated to provide basic sustenance and protection to one’s biological offspring.   A breast-feeding mother can’t claim ‘bodily autonomy’ and abandon her infant in the basement while she travels; neither can a pregnant mother abandon her responsibility to a dependent human child.    While the rape victim did not choose and is unfairly put into this position, her basic obligation to her dependent human offspring is no less real than that of the sailor with an unwanted stowaway.

Abortion does not merely “unplug a dying stranger,” abortion actively dismembers and kills an otherwise healthy human being who is in an age-appropriate, naturally dependent union with his or her mother.   Rebecca Kiessling, conceived in rape, says: “I may not look the same as I did when I was four years old or four days old yet unborn in my mother’s womb, but that was still undeniably me and I would have been killed [for my father’s crime].”

Abortion neither unrapes a woman nor helps her heal.  Let’s punish the rapist, not his child.

Personally pro-life – But don’t change the law?

Finally, some will respond to the burden of science and reason by admitting that they are “personally pro-life” but wish abortion to remain legal so that it may remain safe.   Without taking time to delve into the statistics on legal vs illegal abortions, the numbers that were performed illegally in doctor’s clinics or the role antibiotics played in making abortion safer even before Roe vs. Wade, the question is necessarily begged:  safe for whom?

If one is “personally opposed” because he believes abortion ends human lives, it makes no sense to say that the ending of human lives should remain legal in order to save lives.  Whether legal or illegal, all abortions kill.   Sometimes the mother, but always her son or daughter.


Feminist author Frederica Matthews-Green once pointed out that “No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.”    The challenge for our ever-evolving society  is this:    Are we going to hand the woman a hack-saw and help her amputate her leg?   Or are we wise and capable enough to come up with creative ways of removing the offending trap, without destroying the leg in the process  –  especially when that “leg” is a fellow human being?

Society can continue to pit women against their preborn offspring, or we can begin to talk about real choices, real solutions and real compassion – such as those suggested by groups like Feminists for Life.    The secular pro-life philosophy means including the smaller and weaker members of our species, and not excluding the dependent and vulnerable from rights of personhood and life.     We have evolved as a species into a complex and inter-dependent community that is gradually doing away with prejudices like racism,  sexism, and ableism.    Let us now dispense with the lethal discrimination of ageism.

In the words of the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians:  “None of us is truly free until all of us are free, with all our rights intact and guaranteed, including the basic right to live without threat or harassment.”

We can do better than abortion.

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