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

It is often difficult and awkward to move disagreements forward to where they become productive in the insular, organized atheist community. Especially for a family that is as actively involved as the Ra family, because a lot of times we know and like and often respect the people involved on a personal level. And to make matters more awkward so do our other atheists friends. So basically, we all collectively cringed about Dave Silverman’s comment to conservatives about abortion rights, because we really like him and we respect his professional accomplishments in the secular realm. Of course, many of us were also chagrined because we are part of the super-progressive reproductive rights community. This is the comment for reference although you mostly likely already know what he said…

“I will admit there is a secular argument against abortion,” said Silverman. “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.”

There have already been many criticisms from the fiercely, liberal secular types including PZ Myers, Sarah Moglia, Steve AhlquistOphelia Benson, and Jason Thibeault. And too, there has been support for Silverman from no less liberal sources such as JT Eberhard and my personal friend, who I can testify is actually a ray of Secular Sunshine Shanon Nebo.  Silverman clarified his comment on her blog.

Sure Shannon.
I was talking to a lot of press this week – I mean a LOT of press, and most of it hostile. When I was talking to Raw Story I gave them the same pitch I’d given so many times before: Conservatism is basically divided into two parts, fiscal conservatism, which is real conservatism, and Social conservatism, which is Christian theocracy masquerading as conservatism, with the latter holding down the former. Is the fiscals dropped the Christian social bullshit, I said, real conservatism would benefit from the influx of conservative atheists who avoid the movement due to the theocratic aspects.

I said that all of the social conservative agenda was religious in nature, to which the reporter eagerly countered that there was a secular argument for abortion. He clearly knew he was right, and so did I – there is a secular argument (one with which I firmly disagree) whose existence I cannot deny.

Rather than take the road to discussing abortion, I acquiesced to his correct counterpoint, returned to my point, and said that school prayer, LGBT equality, and Death with dignity were better examples of purely Christian positions (“it’s maybe not as clean cut as school prayer, right to die, and gay marriage”), and we went on with the discussion on why American Atheists was there.

There’s my scandal. The rest of what you may have read is reckless “positing” by people who didn’t do what you did – ask me. Thank you for being responsible.

So there it is, Silverman says that even though he disagrees with secular anti-choice arguments, he couldn’t deny that they exist. As many of you already know there are secular arguments against gay marriage and euthanasia that are just as bad as the ones against a woman’s right to choose. 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. 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.

That poster could just as easily be posted because the Bible tells me so...

That poster could just as easily be captioned because the Bible tells me so…

I have seen this group tabling at atheist conventions. If the Discovery Institute were to table at an atheist convention with their supposedly secular arguments like aliens seeded life on this planet; it would be a sideshow. Yet secular arguments against a woman’s right to choose are not self evident to some of us that they don’t have some sort of merit. We scoff at canards like “Teach both sides of the controversy” and try to be more than fair to religious based arguments like the one in that poster.

I first became aware of Secular Pro-Life through the work of Godless Bitches Beth Presswood and her husband Matt Dillahunty. Matt debated one of their members at a Texas Freethought Convention.

In the debate, she had the audience sit through a graphic video of abortions.. Nobody in our community puts reproductive rights on the secular agenda more than Matt and Beth do.

And even though Silverman didn’t intend to be dismissive to all of us, who are fighting the Religious Right’s relentless efforts to deny access of a safe and legal abortion. Groups like Secular Pro-Life, that openly cooperate with and have members from the Religious Right, can rightly claim that he said there is a secular argument for their cause. One already has. (As Jason Thibeault predicted, so it has come to pass) I appreciate his clarification that they are bad arguments, but secular pro-choicers can’t catch a break especially here in the South. We need help and are just as under fire as science advocates are from creationists down here.

This is what really matters. It is now virtually impossible for rural Texans to get a safe and legal abortion here, because religious crackpots like Rick Perry run the government and have passed unnecessarily draconian restrictions on abortion clinics that only 6 clinics in Texas are currently up to speed on. Two more clinics have shut down just last week.  How is passing more restrictions on clinics and on women’s reproductive choices fiscally conservative? Legislating the hell out of women’s uteruses and fighting tooth and nail regulations on guns and other businesses doesn’t make sense.

Most importantly, where are rural Texas women going to go when they have a crisis pregnancy when the nearest clinic is 6 hours way. And there will be more of those because Planned Parenthood clinics that provide access to contraception have been shut down by the Texas government too.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church where Planned Parenthood was stigmatized. As a young woman, who didn’t yet have the resource to raise a child, I avoided the Planned Parenthood clinic that was in walking distance from my apartment. I didn’t even own a car and walked or took the city bus everywhere. I still had more privileges than millions of rural women have right now.

I wound up raising a child as a single parent because poor women often have relationships with poor men and the economic stresses that go along with that. Most of the girls in my youth group had unplanned pregnancies due to the stigma of seeking contraception and impractical Christian advice about staying a virgin until you are married. In every state that advocates abstinence only sex education even though it is in a secular manner, the teen pregnancy rate is the highest. The funny thing is that advice is do as I say not as I do because 85 percent of evangelicals have sex before they are married. Our culture still has Christian hang ups about sex, and they are largely unnecessary due to low cost contraception, which would reduce the number of abortions.

Maybe reproductive rights is not a battle that American Atheists has the resources to fight like school prayer and the cross at the Ground Zero museum. However, religious-based regressive social policies including anti-choice are hurting millions of families nonetheless. And I think it has already been shown that if you advocate for women that more women will join your community. That is more volunteers and donors to help fight religious policies that restrict the freedom of women to choose what is best for their families not the government. Most certainly not pro-life groups of any stripe that don’t have to live with the consequences of another woman’s unplanned pregnancy. My hope is that Silverman will use the opportunity this has created to show strong support for reproductive rights and to denounce religious regressive policies.

[notice] If anyone reading this would like to help maintain access to a safe and legal abortion, especially for low income women please support The Lilith Fund and Planned Parenthood. I also will be talking about secular arguments for abortion to do my part on making pro-choice a more self evident secular position on The Magic Sandwich Show on March 23. I may see if I can enlist a fire breathing pro-choice friend too.[/notice]

 

 

Comments

  1. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    So… people on the atheism+ side are upset because of a Silverman quote taken out of context? Is that right?

    • says

      Not “out of context”, since the whole context was given. The furor was because a lot of us interpreted it as Silverman perhaps stating that he was anti-choice (at least for my part, I’m entirely satisfied by his response quoted above), especially since he mentioned a secular argument against abortion, and followed up with two examples he clearly holds to be valid arguments.

  2. says

    Did you read the article? Who are the people on the “A+ side”, and why are so many people so fixated on mentioning them at every opportunity whether it is the topic or not?

    • EnlightenmentLiberal says

      I assume that was at me. Sorry. If you don’t like that label. I meant no offense. Let me rephrase. So, some secular progressive atheists saw a quote of Silverman out of context and got upset. Is that right?

      • says

        This is why I am not sure you read the post. The full context of what he said is quoted with context and further links to articles supporting him. Neither is that what the OP and main idea of the post is about.

        • EnlightenmentLiberal says

          I’ve read the post several times now. I just read it again. I’m trying to understand.

          What’s the problem with the quote?
          1- “I will admit there is a secular argument against abortion, …”
          2- “You can’t deny that it’s there, …”
          3- “… it’s maybe not as clean cut as school prayer, right to die, and gay marriage.”

          Ok. I see. I thought the problem was a possible confusion between admitting the existence of the argument (1 and 2) and supporting the argument (which he did not do). However, your actual problem is his weaseling in #3, where he said that abortion rights are less clear cut than (other rights)? Is that right?

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            I think that’s far from clear from your post… but ok. Thanks for the clarification.

          • Monocle Smile says

            I think Lilandra was trying pretty hard to be clear she wasn’t dogging Silverman too hard…because that stuff typically brings out the troll brigade. There are enough stupid-ass divides in the atheist movement as it is. Not that the movement needs to be unified, but I’d rather the borders be based on sensible differences.

            I have yet to hear a secular anti-choice argument that’s strong enough to justify legislative lobbying. I’ve only heard somewhat baseless emotional pleas (like screening abortion footage for an audience), which are fine when concerning personal decisions, but terrible for convincing (rational) others.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            I want to apologize again for making any sort of comment that belittled your position. I didn’t see what was going on, because I am an idiot.

  3. says

    People were upset about Silverman’s quote in context–his description and the reporter’s description of the event are quite close–because it was a terrible piece of messaging that came on the heels of years of erosion of reproductive rights and a particularly intense battle over the last couple of years. People are upset now because, rather than saying that, yes, it was a bad bit of messaging, Silverman is lecturing people who have been fighting the theocratic nonsense on the ground that they should have the respect for him to ask him what a bit of public messaging means rather than what it says before getting upset about it.

    Well, that and calling the response of a bunch of people whose rights are under intense fire a “witch hunt” against him.

  4. says

    I queried the American Secular Census database to ascertain support for choice and the other examples given by Dave Silverman in the quote, and this was the result: “Courting atheist conservatives: a misguided strategy, statistically” [See more at: http://www.secularcensus.us/analysis/courting-atheist-conservatives-misguided-strategy Takeaway point: Zero percent of our registrants, currently a 4-figure sample, all nonbelievers, want abortion made illegal. And while the support for “reasonable restrictions” may be higher than expected among seculars, the overall figures suggest that CPAC values are not those of the majority of Secular Americans and that migration between the groups is no way to resolve today’s culture wars within atheism. Thank you for an excellent post. – Mary Ellen Sikes, President

  5. Reginald Selkirk says

    If the fiscals dropped the Christian social bullshit…

    … they wouldn’t have enough votes to win any elections. That’s why they have wooed the Religious Right for decades.

  6. Pierce R. Butler says

    And Silverman’s idiotic claim that Democratic Party is too far “to the left” for him?

    Who’s got a rationalization for that dumbassery?

  7. Pteryxx says

    lilandra, thanks for this post and round-up of the situation.

    From the war in Texas article: (bolds and brackets mine)

    Neither clinic has an ASC [ambulatory surgical center - Ptx], and Hagstrom Miller says she doesn’t have the budget or patients to build a multimillion-dollar center. The Beaumont clinic does currently have a physician that has hospital admitting privileges, but he is 75 years old and trying to retire. Attempting to get hospital admitting privileges has proven a fruitless process; the stigma against abortion is too great in Texas, and Hagstrom Miller has not been able to get responses from any doctors or hospitals, despite calling them all.

    “I have trouble getting a vendor for bottled water,” she says.

    That’s not reasoned argument keeping those clinics from getting a piece of paper that would keep them open. It’s sheer stigma and hate. Religious stigma, secular stigma, what difference can it possibly make on the ground.

  8. Pteryxx says

    I should have noted, the same thing is happening in Mississippi – the last remaining abortion clinic in the state cannot get admitting privileges, despite having contacted every single hospital, because hospitals don’t dare be seen giving them that piece of paper.

  9. anne mariehovgaard says

    I said that all of the social conservative agenda was religious in nature, to which the reporter eagerly countered that there was a secular argument for abortion. He clearly knew he was right, and so did I – there is a secular argument (one with which I firmly disagree) whose existence I cannot deny.

    Sure, secular anti-choice arguments exist – but they’re either stupid/misinformed, not really secular if you look closely, or disgustingly misogynistic. Agreeing that an argument exists, but not mentioning that it’s really really bad makes it seem like you think it makes sense – not necessarily that you agree with it, but that it’s worth considering.

    Rather than take the road to discussing abortion, I acquiesced to his correct counterpoint, returned to my point, and said that school prayer, LGBT equality, and Death with dignity were better examples of purely Christian positions (“it’s maybe not as clean cut as school prayer, right to die, and gay marriage”)

    There are secular arguments for school prayer (It’s tradition – tradition is nice and traditional and stuff. Or prayer is like a kind of meditation and maybe reduces stress.) against Right to die (Natural=Good, and helping people die is not Natural – it’s almost as bad as vaccination. Or it’s wrong because life is good and death is bad, so there!) and against gay marriage (My marriage was a disaster, so noone should get married ever. Or gays are just icky so they should have no rights.) it’s just that they’re really shitty. Like the secular arguments against choice. So what he said was not just “unfortunate” it was wrong.

    • Monocle Smile says

      Do people actually use the secular arguments you listed? They all suck, ranging from grossly incorrect to not even wrong.

      • says

        yes. Also, “ranging from grossly incorrect to not even wrong” is also an accurate description of anti-abortion arguments.

        Point being: Silverman was being disingenuous when he made a distinction between abortion and the other issues.

      • anne mariehovgaard says

        Yes, people use those arguments; I’ve heard/read all of them. And not just once or twice. Just because an argument is ridiculous doesn’t mean you can’t find tons of people using it, unfortunately.

  10. Craig P. says

    OMG, so I *wasn’t* the only one who cringed when they read that quote and then took issue with it? *Phew*! That honestly makes me feel a bit better. lol.

    Honestly, the way I put it is that, yes, there *is* a secular argument against abortion, however, there is no _scientifically valid_ secular argument against abortion. Does that make sense, or am I being a little silly there?

    • says

      furthermore, there’s no definition of “secular argument” that would allow for there being a secular argument against abortion, but no secular argument against gay marriage. Opposition to assisted suicide and gay marriage are not “better examples of purely Christian positions” as he claimed.

  11. Philip Rose says

    I have yet to hear any argument against abortion that doesn’t have its roots in religious beliefs. When I wrote to the head of Operation Rescue for clarification on the origins of their beliefs he wrote back that they were absolutely founded on Christian principles.

    I’m still waiting for Mr. Silverman to offer evidence that the GOP is fiscally conservative. I always find it startling when someone makes that claim in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

  12. cuervocuero says

    Thanks for getting further information, Lilandra.

    Honestly, everything that goes on down below the Medicine Line is stark lessons for the people in Canada defending the fact we have no legislated abortion restrictions.

    We can never let up on keeping abortion legal and accessible because the American forces down there are so happy to fund/branch office the forced pregnancy brigades up here. They’re constantly pushing to bring the same horror show to our country, all done with crocodile tears and wringing of Very Concerned Hands of course.

    And lies and sneaky attempts at bills and howls for defunding.

    It’s awful for you all but hopefully it’s some teeny comfort that your struggle keeps people from getting complacent up here. Perhaps, some day soon, you can gain ground by pointing out how long Canada’s been going with things remaining between uterus owners and their doctors, It seemed to help with the equal marriage arguments.

  13. John Kruger says

    Strictly speaking, almost all the common anti-choice arguments are already secular. “Secular” does not mean “sound” or “rational”. Even though they all amount to religiously motivated rationalizations, religious types are smart enough not to come straight out and say that they are only against abortion because their church tells them it is wrong.

    The Bible has practically nothing to say about abortion, and what it does say does not fit all that well with the “pro-life” position. It is an emotionally charged issue that religious institutions like to plant their flag in, but there is seldom ever a direct appeal to religious doctrine or supernatural entities. There is occasionally the argument that a soul gets put into an embryo at conception, but mostly they end up putting forward arguments about the rights of the unborn, ect. and shy away from direct religious assertions.

    I listened to that debate not long after it occurred, and none of the anti-choice arguments were anything new or unique. They were the same bad arguments the more religious always put forward.

  14. TomHyndman says

    It’s easy to see how people can get the idea into their heads that life indeed starts at conception, once you’ve been exposed to that particular meme. The idea is not illogical, as we are dealing with biological matter that is beginning to take human form, so I can understand the arguments even if I don’t agree with them.

    • Monocle Smile says

      This goes out the window once you realize that “life,” by itself, is not what makes us human. Sentience is what makes us human. Permanently brain-dead comatose bodies on life support may be “alive” in that their organs still function outside the brain, but they aren’t people anymore and we need to start realizing this.

  15. Michael Carpenter says

    I’m about as liberal as it gets. Grew up in the bay area, voted dem since 18, Atheist for life, pro-gay rights, pro-Women’s rights but I have had a change of heart on abortion. I realized I thought of abortion as an extreme form of birth control that we saved for those “Oh Shit” moments.

    My girlfriend became pregnant and that got me thinking, am I ready? Ready to give up my current life? Ready to get responsible and make a solid consistent living? As i got closer to mentioning it to her, the more I thought about it and it became obvious that this is the most lazy heartless thing you could do.

    1) Most importantly, I used to be an embryo. Thank (Goodness) I was not terminated when my body was smaller.

    2) More technically, a new person is created when exactly half of the genes from the egg and exactly half of the genes from the sperm combine to make a new set of unique genes. Size is irrelevant. I was me even when I was only 10 or 100 or 1000 cells. It was still me.

    3) Pain or suffering is irrelevant, it doesn’t make it okay to terminate people if they don’t feel it or notice it. You wouldn’t say that about someone under anesthesia.

    Bottom line is, it has become an easy out for teen girls now. I’ve been in the waiting room of Planned Parenthood. It was to get free condoms. If you want to fight population control or poverty or rape victims hurt feelings, ask yourself, are there other ways? After all, it wasn’t the babies fault his or her mother got raped. Why should he or she lose out on their one chance to experience this amazing Universe because it will inconvenience their mom or dad? We only have a sliver of time to enjoy this and we are so fortunate to live in a time and country where anyone can prosper, some more humbly than others but lets put our genius liberal minds to figuring out other ways to conquer these problems instead of flushing them down the toilet.

    • Michael Carpenter says

      I’d also add, I have two frickin incredible boys now. My six year old is so awesome and super smart. My 3 month old is super cute and curious. My life would be wrecked w/o them.

      • Philip Rose says

        I did a reply to your other selfish, fallaciously written comment that hasn’t gone through yet. But as you tossed this in after my response that went through your initial words like a scalpel through butter I thought it only fair I follow up.

        “I’d also add, I have two frickin incredible boys now. My six year old is so awesome and super smart. My 3 month old is super cute and curious. My life would be wrecked w/o them.”

        So what? You’re happy you have some wonderful kids. That’s fine for you. However that has absolutely no relevance on the issue of abortion.

        As someone who was with a girl who had to have an abortion, I can say with total surety that I am absolutely 100% happy and satisfied that we went through with it.

        That you have some clever, lovely kids does not change that fact one jot, one tittle, not one bit.

        Her body. Her right.

        • Michael Carpenter says

          What is selfish about desiring rights for fetuses?

          Fallacious how? If you think I am religious, you’re way off. I am on the front lines everyday arguing with people about their beliefs in God. Here is a link to one of my longer conversations with a theist (I’ve got plenty more where that came from) :

          https://plus.google.com/u/0/112831237107611493445/posts/Tg3y2QmgGey

          And here is a link to my Audible Listener page if you need more proof of my background:

          http://www.audible.com/listener/Michael/A1FVU8YG54BE43/ref=a_pd_Bios-M_c1_2_sprMd?asin=B00F9F8K8K

          I still have yet to see any comment of yours cutting anything like a scalpel.

          “As someone who was with a girl who had to have an abortion, I can say with total surety that I am absolutely 100% happy and satisfied that we went through with it.” – I’m sure you are. That is my point. It’s all about you.

          Now I am going to talk to Monocle Smile because she actually brought some counter points that I found interesting. I actually spent a significant amount of time reflecting on her points. I’ll talk with you more when I see your scalpel through butter statements you made.

          P.S. I was totally respectful in my initial post and I am totally open to counter argument (and I may even change my mind) but your agro style leaves something to be desired. Let your argument speak for itself. Don’t attack the person, attack the argument. (Skeptic 101) ;)

    • Monocle Smile says

      Oh, my aching ass.

      Size is irrelevant. I was me even when I was only 10 or 100 or 1000 cells. It was still me.

      You are factually in error. Brain-dead is dead, meaning that everything that makes you “you” is a set of electrical impulses fired by synapses. The mind (produced by a working brain), not the rest of the body, is what matters. A corpse is not a person even though it has human DNA. I don’t believe you for a second about any of your supposed attributes. You don’t argue like an honest skeptic.

      After all, it wasn’t the babies fault his or her mother got raped. Why should he or she lose out on their one chance to experience this amazing Universe because it will inconvenience their mom or dad?

      Like the religious zealots involved in this battle, you just don’t fundamentally understand the issue. Your post is rife with emotional appeals and no substance. Sorry, your privileged faux-sob story doesn’t induce anything but nausea.

      • Michael Carpenter says

        “I don’t believe you for a second about any of your supposed attributes. You don’t argue like an honest skeptic.” This is funny to me. Would you say the same thing to Christopher Hitchens because he endorses the invasion of Iraq? The true skeptic thinks through dogma from all angles. I’d say I’m about 80% with most Democratic ideals. I’m no fan of Narcotics in all their forms. I have worked on psych wards and seen the effects of addictions. I have been an EMT and seen the effects of driving under the influence. Though I do understand we are at the point where we can’t do much about it because it has been endorsed for so long. I provided some links to Philip above but my comment has not been accepted yet so I will provide my credentials if that would make my argument more appealing to you, since you tend to place a large portion of your opinion on an argument by knowing who is making it. I think my book reviews are pretty telling so here is my listener page on Audible (And the date tags should show that i am not doing anything for you sake. ):

        http://www.audible.com/listener/Michael/A1FVU8YG54BE43/ref=a_pd_Bios-M_c1_2_sprMd?asin=B00F9F8K8K

        “Your post is rife with emotional appeals and no substance.” I concede, you are half right. It is an emotional issue for me. But should consideration of life and death be one of pure rationality? Should human emotion have a say in the taking of lives? Or are you a pure utilitarian?

        Let’s do a thought experiment designed to illuminate a racist lack of empathy. Imagine you’re asked to design a community that you will live in. This community will be full of different people with different needs, wants and conditions. You can assign hierarchies where some people get it better than others keeping in mind that you will be inserted into that community after you have built it. Now, knowing that out of all those people, you will become anyone of those people though completely picked at random. It is also possible that you will become a newly created fetus in the womb of a mother. If today, you had to flip the switch and get transported into this world, would you include abortion as a practice in this world? Or would you design other ways to deal with any hardships that might accompany a pregnancy? e.g. Public assistance for single or poverty stricken mothers, mental and emotional services for victims of rape, vigorous education of teens on the implications of un-protected sex, unobstructed access to birth control for both parties, increased incentives to adopt for qualified parents etc.

        “Sorry, your privileged faux-sob story doesn’t induce anything but nausea.” -If you consider growing up with a drug addicted father living on social security and living apart from and barely knowing your paranoid schizophrenic mother as “privileged”

        If I can make it out of those circumstances and be successful, any child can. And hey, it worked out for them see as I support them now :)

        • Monocle Smile says

          Since you ignored the most relevant portion of my post, shamelessly plugged your own bullshit for no apparent reasons, and seem content to continue making things up, I think we’re done here.

          • Michael Carpenter says

            I’m assuming you thought ” Brain-dead is dead, meaning that everything that makes you “you” is a set of electrical impulses fired by synapses.” was your most relevant point?

            Let me tell you something about internet debate. You actually don’t want people to address your arguments. That means one of two things, they are thinking about it or they cannot refute it. So that was a good thing.

            I do have a response to it, but it seems like you are intent on aborting this conversation since it is not to your liking. Predictable.

            ~Burn (I can take and I can dish it out)

          • Monocle Smile says

            I can almost smell the cowardice through my computer.

            You’ve devolved into Insane Troll Logic.

          • Michael Carpenter says

            Are you still here “Monocle”? What do you want? Seriously, go away. I’m bored with you.

          • Michael Carpenter says

            No, I’ve got to wake up at 4 to go serve my country. I take care of my responsibilities, not flush them when I’m not feeling up to it. I thought you were leaving.

            You – “I think we’re done here.”

            Bye. Stop keeping me up, I’m going to be super tired tomorrow, if you wanna accuse me of trolling again, do it tomorrow please.

  16. Philip Rose says

    The beginning of your post is a strange, rambling appeal to emotion wrapped up in a red herring. That you’ve worked on a psych ward and as an EMT contributes absolutely nothing to the debate on abortion.

    “But should consideration of life and death be one of pure rationality? Should human emotion have a say in the taking of lives? Or are you a pure utilitarian?”

    You still have yet to show that this is an issue of “life and death”. You’re also doing another red herring. The abortion issue is about natural rights, something a fetus does not have. Using the word “lives” is just an attempt to move away from this fact.

    and:

    “Should human emotion have a say in the taking of lives? Or are you a pure utilitarian?””

    Strawman in the form of a question.

    “Let’s do a thought experiment designed to illuminate a racist lack of empathy.”

    If you’d like. However what you provided isn’t a thought experiment based on racist lack of empathy. You essentially described the world we have today, services that people have in that world (that the GOP is fast eroding with their policy-become legislation) and then you threw the word “fetus” into the mix. It is literally nonsensical and does nothing to help your case.

    “If you consider growing up with a drug addicted father living on social security and living apart from and barely knowing your paranoid schizophrenic mother as “privileged””

    Regardless of your upbringing your attitude bespeaks one who has forgotten the hardships of such a life. You remind me of the ex-drug user who becomes an addiction counselor and has no compassion or sympathy for his patients because “he went through it as well”. Your application of your rose-colored glasses view of the world?
    That’s where your present privilege shine through. The difference between you and me mate, is that I remember what made me what I am today. You do not.

    “If I can make it out of those circumstances and be successful, any child can.”

    Apparently, not.
    http://www.globalissues.org/article/715/today-21000-children-died-around-the-world

    Your callus, selfish, provincial, ignorance of what others in the world suffer is incredibly sad to watch at work.

    • Michael Carpenter says

      “The beginning of your post is a strange, rambling appeal to emotion wrapped up in a red herring. That you’ve worked on a psych ward and as an EMT contributes absolutely nothing to the debate on abortion.”

      I was hoping you could connect the dots. I’ll draw them out for you. You indicated I was not “Liberal” or “Skeptical” enough. I then sighted that while liberal, I do not share all of the democratic parties positions. Then I referenced (indirectly) the liberal view of narcotic use, e.g. marijuana and alcohol that I do not share and pointed out why(referencing my work as an EMT and Psych Tech in the military). This was to illustrate that, while a lifelong dem, I don’t always walk lock step with my party which is why you questioned my motives. Try to keep up.

      “Using the word “lives” is just an attempt to move away from this fact.”

      Sorry, but I’ve never been inclined to refer to a living fetus in any other way. It seems you would have to try to find reasons to attempt to unclassify what is actually alive.

      ” You remind me of the ex-drug user who becomes an addiction counselor and has no compassion or sympathy for his patients because “he went through it as well”. ”

      This point can be made either way, if I hadn’t gone through hardship, I’m privileged. Exactly what economic situation is allowed to comment on economic hardships?

      ““If I can make it out of those circumstances and be successful, any child can.”

      Apparently, not.
      http://www.globalissues.org/article/715/today-21000-children-died-around-the-world

      Dude, I’m talking about America. That site is referencing the World. Admit that a majority of those people don’t have the resources we do. We don’t have those excuses. Our poverty is living the good life to many people around the world. My wife is from Tijuana, and I cannot even begin to compete with the poverty she endured. Dude, she didn’t even have a bathroom, they walked down the street to use a public outhouse. And she is the one that shamed me for thinking of abortion years ago. She was right, we have no excuse.

      Just a side thought I had while driving home. Any sort of poverty you can imagine now, I’m sure doesn’t compare with the standard of living 100, 500, 2000, 50,000 years ago. Humans are survivors. We can be happy even in abject poverty. There are a ton of challenges but I was never unhappy even when we were forced to eat old hot dog buns from the freezer with just some mustard on them. Even when I drank from the faucet to fill up because we didn’t have food because my dad bought drugs. If someone who has been there can’t talk about it, who can? This is why I value your argument since you’ve participated in an abortion.

      Thanks for the replies BTW, I’ve never discussed my views on abortion before so it is interesting to hear the counter arguments. Now I know what the religious people feel like when I engage them. Liberals make good points. Even though you usually just outright reject my arguments without counters. But I think you’ll counter more.

      • Philip Rose says

        “You indicated I was not “Liberal” or “Skeptical” enough.”

        Strawman.

        “Then I referenced (indirectly) the liberal view of narcotic use,…”

        Actually – you didn’t. You made a vague statement about witnessing the effects of drug use. Now you’re making a hasty generalization (fallacy).

        ” I don’t always walk lock step with my party which is why you questioned my motives.”

        Strawman again.

        “Try to keep up.”

        Trigger language, used to evoke a hostile response.

        “Sorry, but I’ve never been inclined to refer to a living fetus in any other way. It seems you would have to try to find reasons to attempt to unclassify what is actually alive.”

        Then by your usage of the word “live” a fetus is no different than an amoeba or a virus, neither of which are recognized as worthy of natural or juridical rights. So you’ve just argued yourself into a extreme pro-abortion stance.

        “Dude, I’m talking about America.”

        Raising the goal posts fallacy.

        “That site is referencing the World.”

        America is part of the world.

        “Admit that a majority of those people don’t have the resources we do. ”

        Fallacy of relative privation.

        “We don’t have those excuses. Our poverty is living the good life to many people around the world.”

        Incorrect. From the International Journal of Adolescent Health:

        “CONCLUSIONS:
        Despite major improvements in every WC, based upon financial inputs and child mortality outputs, the USA health care system appears the least efficient and effective in “meeting the needs of its children”.”

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22191192

        The numbers put child death due to poverty in the United States at at least 800,000 per year.

        I’d suggest in the future that you learn about what’s actually going on in your country before you vote on such issues as abortion. It’s called being a responsible citizen.

        The rest of your post is a doubling down on your earlier fallacy of relative privation. If you’re going to continue to debate people I’d suggest you do some reading on some introduction to logic, reason & debating.

        “Thanks for the replies BTW, I’ve never discussed my views on abortion before so it is interesting to hear the counter arguments”

        You are welcome. As soon as you provide an argument with substance that I can respond to I’ll stop treating you like a 1st year philosophy student. Apologies if I’m coming across as a brusk teacher but I deal with many comments like yours and it get repetitive.

        “Now I know what the religious people feel like when I engage them.”

        You’re beginning to recognize that your arguments are based entirely on emotion and faith? That’s a start.

        “Liberals make good points.”

        I’m a Social Libertarian. Not quite the same thing.

        I’d suggest you focus more on education and research and less on gut reaction.

        “Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.”

        — Edward Everett

        Sincerely;

        Rev. TheTruePooka

        • Michael Carpenter says

          I can tell you have researched it a lot. I would to if I participated in one.

          I’m sorry if I don’t discuss my views in scientific paper type of way you expect. I tend to talk in a stream of conscientiousness kind of way. I think it is the most honest way to discuss issues. Not all of my points will be pointed toward abortion directly, but instead I was forced on the defensive by being called a disingenuous about my secular outlook. It’s a little strange and was hard for me to let go of. And enough of the logical fallacy crap, I’ve never sighted that in an argument with anyone else because it makes you come off as a douche. Religious apologist do that crap all the time.

          I may not have a degree in philosophy but this is far from an unanswerable question. My personal experience with abortion and my education on psychology should qualify me to at least have an opinion. And maybe you’re hearing those arguments over and over because they are right. And religion being right about this IMO is on accident. This is obviously a human rights issue which is something the left champions. Does it surprise you that we would be divided on who’s rights should be considered more. The question is, does a woman’s right to not be inconvenienced matter more than a humans embryos right to live a life. If you decide to give that embryo rights after you get a chance to terminate it, it seems like your motives are in question. I understand there are extreme circumstances. I am talking about a mojority IMO of abortions that happen because the mother is a teenager or the woman is not wed. To me, those are not good enough excuses. I guess it comes down to your views.

          I became a vegetarian because I would have a hard time killing that animal so how could I ask someone else to do it for me. Imagine, would you still endorse abortion so whole heartedly if you had to pull out the half developed fetus yourself and squish it? How would you do it? Would you let it starve so you wouldn’t have to actually induce death directly? Would you step on it? Why is it any better if some doctor does it? I guess it may just be me, because I seriously couldn’t kill a fly. It isn’t my right. I don’t see myself on top of the hierarchy. We are all in this together. All life sprung from abiogenisis together.

          I saw your youtube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CVTb7dAI3rA) and you strike me as someone separate from their feelings. Almost disconnected or detached. It seems like you are very resistant to thinking of the fetus as a life. I compels me to think you fear feeling for it.

          BTW I am of higher education (CS degree that I worked and paid for myself), I just don’t swing it around like some. Member of Mensa as well. ;) Hows that for swinging around mah thang.

          • Monocle Smile says

            I’m sorry if I don’t discuss my views in scientific paper type of way you expect.

            Given the relevance of science to this topic, you SHOULD be sorry.

            I tend to talk in a stream of conscientiousness kind of way. I think it is the most honest way to discuss issues.

            It’s also a good way to fuck up A LOT along the way.

            The question is, does a woman’s right to not be inconvenienced matter more than a humans embryos right to live a life.

            See, you bitch about being called “disingenuous,” but then you portray forced pregnancy as “inconvenience,” which is about as dishonest as you can imagine. Bodily autonomy is as close to “sacred” as rights get. People can’t be forced to donate organs, yet you think they should be forced to be incubators against their will. You’re a sick fuck.

            My personal experience with abortion and my education on psychology should qualify me to at least have an opinion.

            You don’t have any personal experience with abortion, and psychology has nothing to do with anything.

            enough of the logical fallacy crap, I’ve never sighted that in an argument with anyone else because it makes you come off as a douche. Religious apologist do that crap all the time.

            Laughable. You don’t like your shitty logic being pointed out, so you tone troll. Also, religious apologists have no fucking clue what logical fallacies are. I’ve literally NEVER heard one properly identify a logical fallacy committed by their opponent.

            I am talking about a mojority IMO of abortions that happen because the mother is a teenager or the woman is not wed. To me, those are not good enough excuses.

            Not only don’t you pull out numbers to support this bit of crap (numbers aren’t opinions, btw), but then you whine like a sanctimonious douche. That isn’t your decision to make, and it’s not the government’s, either. It’s between the pregnant girl and her doctor.

            I became a vegetarian because I would have a hard time killing that animal so how could I ask someone else to do it for me.

            That’s your decision. I don’t share you stupid train of thought. But I’m not about to make that decision FOR you. See how freedom works?

            BTW I am of higher education (CS degree that I worked and paid for myself), I just don’t swing it around like some. Member of Mensa as well. ;) Hows that for swinging around mah thang.

            You’re a total fuckstick. And you’re full of shit. You’re just trolling at this point.

            Abortion will not be an occurrence in the future. It seems primitive to me. Much like we will see meat eating as barbaric, so to will we see pregnancy destruction.

            Want to know how to end abortion? Cure the cause. Abortion is a symptom of other societal issues. Fix those, because banning abortions won’t stop them from happening. As for the other thing, there’s something wrong with your head.

          • Philip Rose says

            Stream of consciousness is useful for brainstorming for new ideas. But for actually writing laws and rules it can be counter-productive.

            “I was forced on the defensive by being called a disingenuous about my secular outlook. ”

            Whether or not you are disingenuous in your secular outlook is actually immaterial to the question at hand of whether your position on abortion rights is logically sound.

            “And maybe you’re hearing those arguments over and over because they are right.”

            That’s an argument ad nauseam (argument from repetition). Which brings me to this…

            ” And enough of the logical fallacy crap, I’ve never sighted that in an argument with anyone else because it makes you come off as a douche. ”

            I’m always a bit dismayed and amazed by this. It’s really no different than someone saying to a mechanic “enough of this mechanical engineering crap!” when he tries to explain why your car won’t start.

            I sympathize that you are upset by having your logical inconsistencies pointed out but we’re having a discussion on what the law should be in relation to civil rights. And for the most part, no. You do not determine what should be law based on emotive thinking (if we did that the civil rights era never would have taken place and we’d still be drinking from white/ colored fountains).

            Yes, sometimes the law will allow for emotion (like in the case of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell which was a ruling that reflected society’s inability to cope with homosexuality in America and the military) but that sort of ruling is for the most part a temporary solution enacted to give society time to adjust and catch up with what is right.

            So yes; if you want to argue on this topic you will have to accept that I will not argue on unsound and unproductive grounds.

            “Religious apologist do that crap all the time.”

            I have not experienced that. Usually religious apologists are the ones using fallacies.

            “This is obviously a human rights issue which is something the left champions.”

            That is not obvious to me.

            The problem here is that (again) you’ve laid down the claim that a fetus has natural (human) rights and you have in no way, shape or form presented any sort of argument to back up that claim.

            And frankly, this is the main goal of the anti-abortion movement, To conflate juridical rights into human (natural) rights.

            But they are not the same thing, and no matter how much personhood legislation you get into place for either fetuses or corporations, neither will ever qualify to be classed in the group that is deemed worthy of laying claim to “natural rights”.

            The anti-abortion movement is attempting to redefine what has always been an issue of States rights vs Individual rights into a fetus vs. women’s rights. If you actually read the language, discussions and rulings involving Roe vs Wade and the present attack on abortion rights in the state legislatures of this nation you’d see this is the case.

            I argue for the pro-choice side because I am a libertarian. For me, this is an issue of infringement by the state on an individual’s right. As this is America we have such things as the right to privacy & the Supremacy clause.

            The anti-abortion side would overthrow the right to privacy, discard the supremacy clause, and give superior rights over all other American citizens in America to what we call “a fetus”.

            There are no other instances where a person is expected to sacrifice their own life for the well being of another in this country. The anti-abortionists jeopardize our already eroding rights in this country for what is essentially a faith-based belief.
            Regardless of whether SPL is a religious organization, until you can provide an argument to support the pro-life position that is rational and logically consistent?

            That is all your beliefs on abortion are; faith based. Which is perfectly fine however in this country we do not (ideally) write law that forces people to follow the faith-based beliefs of others.

            That is unacceptable.

            “and you strike me as someone separate from their feelings. Almost disconnected or detached. It seems like you are very resistant to thinking of the fetus as a life. I compels me to think you fear feeling for it.”

            I was raised a religious Jew. Our views about the fetus are quite different from the rest of what is a very Christian America. What you are experiencing in watching me discuss this issue could best be described on your part as culture shock. That said, I have examined the abortion issue from all perspectives (emotionally, philosophically, historically, anthropologically). That in the end is what has determined my position.

            ” would you still endorse abortion so whole heartedly if you had to pull out the half developed fetus yourself and squish it?”

            Without question. Squeamishness has no place when it comes to defending individual rights.

            Please understand; I have no real interest in convincing you to be pro-individual rights. If you wish to think of a fetus as deserving of superior rights I respect your right to live that way. However, my forbearance stops at your attempting to infringe on the rights of others by enforcing law.

        • Michael Carpenter says

          BTW, I really feel like you’re on the wrong side of history on this one. I predict (Yes, unscientifically) Abortion will not be an occurrence in the future. It seems primitive to me. Much like we will see meat eating as barbaric, so to will we see pregnancy destruction. Just my predictions. No need to lay out the MULTIPLE logical fallacies! (Yawn)

        • Michael Carpenter says

          Going to bed early, won’t be able to comment until late tomorrow, thanks for the back and forth. Also, why are you so compelled to answer everyone about this if it annoys you so much? Reminds me of this video, I was cracking up watching it. Totally me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4DefhoL26M Listen close to the closing phrase. Admit you laughed if you do. :D

          • Monocle Smile says

            Yeah, you’re expending an awful lot of effort just to troll this blog. You’re sad.

  17. Philip Rose says

    @Monocle Smile

    I should point this out;

    It does not matter if this person is a troll or not. What matters is he provides an excellent opportunity to publicly rebut what are some common arguments and tactics you see in the pro-life community.

    So if he is a troll, then he loses because he has inadvertently provided an opportunity for all to witness and learn which means he has failed in his objective of wasting my time, as I found this to be a very productive exchange. :)

  18. Michael Carpenter says

    “It does not matter if this person is a troll or not.” -Philip

    I agree, an argument is an argument regardless of the intentions of the one making them. BTW, i am not a troll (at least I’m not trying to be.) I’ve thought a lot about this and I’d like to hear counter arguments so that I can examine any holes in my logic. Which brings me to:

    “I have not experienced that. Usually religious apologists are the ones using fallacies.” -Philip

    I’ll provide a link to a few apologist debates that resonate with Theist saying “That’s a logical fallacy and I disregard it because it is obviously wrong based on that.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-b6vNw_Z84k (John Mark Reynolds)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSwJuOPG4FI (Hamza Tzortzis)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaUb3I1NP14 (Bob Enyart)

    Notice that none of the opposing Atheist site any logical fallacies coming from the other side.

    A claim isn’t necessarily wrong because you can fit it into a logical fallacy definition; it is wrong because it has no supporting evidence or it can proven wrong. For example, siting an argument from populous as defining a fallacious argument doesn’t always work. To me, it is compelling that a majority of scientist concur with the fact of evolution. From this, I infer a something from this: that it is likely that this claim has been scrutinized by people who have an interest in verifying it, thus adding to the probability that this claim is true. I understand this is not a way to prove something is true, instead it is a way of increasing the probability that it may be true. Anyone who uses metacritic.com, rottentomatoes.com or yelp.com uses this “fallacy” for highly accurate predictions all the time. I do acknowledged that this fallacy defines a problem in reasoning if it is the only case made to define what is true, but also what is false. That’s my case for that particular fallacy you cited. I will call it the ‘logical fallacy’ fallacy. :)

    You will say “That has nothing to do with abortion.” which is not true. I presented my arguments against destroying fetus’s which you disregarded because you felt they were ineligible since they seemed to fit into a fallacy definition. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a debater I really respected and thought was convincing start disregarding arguments because he or she thought they were fallacious (even if they were). Some of the highly educated people that come to mind are Carl Sagan, Sam Harris, Chris Hitchens, Lawrence Krauss and even Dan Dennett who is a Philosopher of whom I’ve read many of his books. If convincing people is your goal, study the masters.

    “As soon as you provide an argument with substance that I can respond to I’ll stop treating you like a 1st year philosophy student.” -Philip

    As burning as this statement is, it seems to me, siting arguments as erroneous because they fit a fallacy definition would more likely be a behavior fitting a 1st year philosophy student. Somehow thinking that you don’t have to counter points if you can fit them into these definitions seems lazy and perhaps misdirecting. I’m guessing you’re a philosophy major? Or something related?

    (No offense intended, I would only talk with you if I valued your opinion. So far, I’m not convinced that people or “fetus’ of humans” become more valuable or respected or acquire increased rights based on it’s current age, current size or current organs)

  19. Philip Rose says

    Thanks for the links. However I wasn’t stating it wasn’t possible, just that I’ve never witnessed it to my recollection so it wasn’t really necessary.

    “A claim isn’t necessarily wrong because you can fit it into a logical fallacy definition”

    The only way that’s not the case is if there’s other information that makes it not a logical fallacy. For example; an argument by majority is a fallacy, however if the majority belief is proven correct by other means then while the fallacy is still a fallacy it just happens to be correct. However it is not correct due to the fallacious claim, it’s correct due to the evidence provided by other means.

    Your evolution example proves my point perfectly. Evolution is believed not because all scientists agree it is right but because evidence gained from research proves it is right.

    ““As someone who was with a girl who had to have an abortion, I can say with total surety that I am absolutely 100% happy and satisfied that we went through with it.” – I’m sure you are. That is my point. It’s all about you.”

    Oh, bullshit. You’ve made this entirely about you. I countered with an example of myself who was with a woman who had an abortion and had no issue with it to negate your own argument from personal experience.

    This is about individual rights for all, plain and simple.

    Now you’re just wasting my time.

    • Michael Carpenter says

      “Now you’re just wasting my time.” -Philip

      Wasting your time? You don’t have to answer? I’m not forcing you to do anything. Stop reading if you are not interested. Do you see yourself as some soldier for abortion that doesn’t choose to engage but does so reluctantly as a duty? If so, do yourself a favor and give it up now, because you’re wasting your own time (and your not very good at it). I am here to have a discussion, not to force my agenda on you or others. I’m not creating laws or even adjusting my vote to enforce my premise considering I vote 100% dem. What a tortured soul you must be. ; ;

      “This is about individual rights for all, plain and simple.” -Philip

      I agree (underline all).

      I found a site where many people were claiming that a secular argument against abortion doesn’t exist. I was compelled to dispute this based solely on my secular outlook and disbelief in the practical usefulness of fetus disposal.

      e.g. “I have yet to hear any argument against abortion that doesn’t have its roots in religious beliefs.” -Philip

      You have failed to prove this in my case. This is why I commented, simply to show that pigeon holing anti-fetus destroyers as all religious. It forces you to marginalize ethical opinions. Much as you have with me seeing as I’m “Wasting your time.” Open your mind Philip. It’s not a religious conspiracy. It is simply a enhanced form of empathy (Which you feel is misplaced.) I get that being pregnant sucks really really bad if you’re raped or in poverty, but that same empathy that forces me to help that person, also calls me to help the embryo. I just can’t choose a time period in a humans development to switch that feeling off because it is real empathy and not a manufactured empathy through social conditioning.

      Please, I implore you, don’t waste your time responding. I would hate to inconvenience you. I’m not interested anyway since you’re not making any arguments why destroying fetuses might be a good idea.

  20. Philip Rose says

    “Wasting your time? You don’t have to answer? I’m not forcing you to do anything. Stop reading if you are not interested. Do you see yourself as some soldier for abortion that doesn’t choose to engage but does so reluctantly as a duty? If so, do yourself a favor and give it up now, because you’re wasting your own time ..”

    Anyone who could be either so ignorant or disingenuous as to spout this sort of twaddle is wasting my time. So therefore, I am taking your own advice. I stopped reading right at that moment and will now ignore all that issues forth from you.

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