An Atheist against AbortionSubmitted by I Love Username... on Thu, 07/25/2013 - 14:15
Hey everyone, I have just recently decided to delve into a subject I have been purposely avoiding since the day I became attracted to the Libertarian movement, which is abortion. This will be rather long, I included an introduction to my reasoning but the post became far too long to include.
Okay, lets get down to why I am against abortion, I will begin my argument with a question:
What is the difference between an embryo and an 80 year old man?
A lot of things, you might say. They look nothing alike, the spinal cord and muscles have formed, the respiratory system has been fully realised in the developed man, the man is conscious, he has the ability to think about his life etc. But the strange thing is that, they are the same life form. Exactly the same. At no point has this embryo in its development became another life form; it has simply grew to another stage in its existence. They may look nothing alike, inside or out, but they are the same.
I would like to bring forth an analogy here to show this point clearer; the fossil record.
Let us take the evolutionary timeline of one species alive today. It doesn't matter what it is, because every species alive to day has ancient ancestors dating back hundreds of thousands of years at least (if you believe the earth is only 6-10,000 years old, take this as a hypothetical, and then do some science). Lets say we put each individual species in the monolithic timeline, from one point hundreds of thousands of years ago to present day, side by side.
When we move up the line from the beginning one by one, we hardly notice a difference. There's a slight change here and there, but there's hardly a difference to see. Now if you were to look at the beginning species and then run to the middle of the line, you would hardly recognise them both as being part of the same ancestry, but they undoubtedly are. They may look nothing alike, but they are attached to the same development timeline.
Now lets go back to the human timeline. What is the difference here between the evolutionary timeline of a modern species and the timeline of a human? The evolutionary timeline deals with multiple species, and the human timeline deals with one. Just one. That's it, and that's all there is. Foetus to child to young adult to elderly man. It's the exact same life form the entire timeline.
A common (sarcastic) counter I've heard when this sort of argument is brought up is "Well if you're gonna go as far back as that and still call it human, why stop there and simply begin at sperm?".
I'm sure you've heard this, you may have even used this argument yourself at some point. And my rebuttal is the fundamental concept to my entire argument. If someone can defeat this part of my argument, it collapses in its entirety.
I have concocted a phrase that I believe perfectly describes this piece of my argument, as well as defeats both the "Life begins at sperm" argument and the "Women's right" argument, and also the "Life begins at conception" argument of which the religious right is accustomed to. The nature of the phrase is of when I believe the life form growing in the mother becomes human. Here it is:
"Once a life form in its existing condition can grow into a fully developed human, should nature take its inevitable course, it is human.".
Life form - the being created through the fusion of the sperm and the egg
Existing condition - The being's present state
"Can grow" - The stage in development at which the being begins to grow into a human (the most important part of the phrase, I will go into detail soon)
"Should nature take its inevitable course" - Should everything happen the way it is supposed to.
Once I created this phrase, I went and familiarised myself the timeline of pregnancy. Fortunately for me, there is a stage in the development of human beings in the womb that clearly and unequivocally details the point at which the life form begins to grow into a human; Implantation.
For those who don't know, Implantation begins within the first 6-12 days of pregnancy. It is the stage in which the blastocyst (the zygote after compaction occurs) attaches itself to the uterus wall and begins to receive nutrients and food from its mother.
Now this is the most fundamental part of this entire argument: If the blastocyst does NOT attach to the uterus wall, it will NOT receive the nutrients and food it needs to grow; It will not grow into a human being. This renders the "Life begins at sperm/conception" arguments dead, as these are both points before implantation; these are both stages that precede the point in which the life form can grow into a human.
This renders the "Women's right" argument dead as at this exact moment, the embryo will begin it's inevitable journey into being born. At this moment, only two things will ever happen should nature take its course: The embryo will die at some point in its development, or it will be born.
The inevitability of the fate of this life form at this moment is what has lead me to become anti-abortion. At that moment, it will either die or become human. Aborting this life form is denying it its inevitable path to become exactly like us. It can't become like us before it is attached to the uterus wall (so far is my understanding), it needs implantation to occur before nature takes its course and it eventually and inevitably is birthed.
And there you have it. This is how an Atheist reasons his way into the stance of anti-abortion. I cannot reason myself out of this position (like how I reasoned myself out of my women's body; women's right position), so I think I've done as much as my breadth of knowledge and reasoning ability is capable of.
As a bit extra, I've decided to include an argument I heard in debate with someone who came at if from a legal context. If you understand the law, it seems to me to be a very silly argument, so naive I feel like I'm not understanding it correctly. So if anyone shares this view and would like to enlighten me, go ahead. Here it is:
"The baby has no rights until it is born, as it is not protected by its government until it is born. Therefore, it's moral and legal to abort it.".
Well this seems to be immediately conflicted with the declaration of independence, no?
There is also the problem of abortion survivors. If one can be unnaturally removed from the womb, before nature intended (labour-induced birth), then that means a baby in the womb is capable of exiting the womb and growing up to be a normal human being before natural birth. So I believe this argument is now technically saying you have no rights simply because of your position in the womb, even though you share all the same characteristics of a baby outwith the womb.
So is that it? You have no rights until you exit the womb naturally or unnaturally?
Well lets look at The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, created by the United Nations.
Article 1 (first sentence only) "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights". Well, it seems actually to suggest that only once you are born, are you free and equal in dignity and rights. But where this is contradicted, is Article 3 of the same declaration.
Article 3 "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person."
Who is everyone? Human beings. When do you become a human being? It can't be when you exit the womb, because you can be in the womb and still share all the same characteristics of a birthed baby. Is it really the case that all it takes to make you human is to be outside of your mother and not attached by an umbilical cord? That does not sound like a reasonable position.
So I would suggest the point in which you become human is the point in the development timeline of a human where you begin your inevitable growth to all other stages of human life (foetus to child to teen to young adult to adult to middle-aged to elderly); Implantation.
And if this is the point in time you become human, this logically follows onto abortion being the absolute murder of a human being.
Let me be clear, the position I have developed is technically not against abortion, just against current methods. If abortion clinics can develop the technology to not only identify pregnancy within the first 6-12 days before implantation officially occurs, but also abort it THAT early, then I would be perfectly fine with aborting the life form, as at that stage it cannot grow into a human being until it attaches to the wall of the uterus.
Any point before then, and it is impossible. Any point after, and it is inevitable.
So there you have it. I apologise I could not condense this post but you must understand this is an incredibly controversial issue, and it is already a controversial view to hold to be against abortion, let alone being a (Libertarian) Atheist against it, so I wanted to make sure that my points and arguments came across as clearly as possible.
I do welcome debate on this subject. I have no fear in being proven wrong, and to be honest I relish the opportunity to further my knowledge at every possible moment, and so should you. I really hope I have contributed something worthwhile to this debate, and perhaps something new.
This is the first time I've given my view to others on this subject (I did only realise it a few days ago, but I am only 20 and therefore have very few friends who are interested in this stuff. The life of a young adult in a vacuous generation, eh?).
So I leave it to you, DP, what's right, and what's wrong?