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Massimo Pigliucci, Abortion, and the Scope of Tradition – UPDATED

UPDATE: Important note: This post has a different comment policy than the standard one on this blog. Comment policy is at the end of this post.

SECOND UPDATE: Pigliucci has now updated his post, from saying that abortion should always be a very difficult and emotional step, to saying that “certain types of abortion (say, last trimester)” should always be a very difficult and emotional step. He has now transparently noted in the post itself that he has made this change, although he had not done so at the time the post was written. It’s still a bullshit argument — it’s incredibly patronizing to tell women how to feel about their own abortions — but it’s a somewhat different bullshit argument.

The point is: so what? What does any of the above, including abortion, fiscal conservativeness (or not), support for the military (or not), owning guns (or not), and liking or disliking Obama have to do with atheism? Nothing, absolutely nothing.
-Massimo Pigliucci, “David Silverman and the scope of atheism,” Rationally Speaking blog

Dear Massimo Pigliucci:

You seriously think abortion has nothing to do with atheism?

Actually, let’s get a couple of quick things out of the way first. Thank you so much for dismissing the issue of the basic right to bodily autonomy of half the human race as a “tempest in a teapot.” Thank you for referring to the recent controversy about it as “the meat of the matter — such as it is (emphasis mine). What a great way to make women in the atheist movement, and women who are considering joining the atheist movement, think that our issues are taken seriously by the movement’s leaders. As I said in my original post on this topic: By all means, let’s treat the right to abortion as a philosophical exercise in which both sides should be thoughtfully considered and given intellectual validity — as opposed to a serious, real-world battle in which women’s right to bodily autonomy is being chipped away at and in which women are literally dying. And then, perhaps, we can have yet another panel at another atheist conference about why there aren’t more women in the atheist movement.

/sarcasm

Stephanie Zvan has already masterfully taken apart your whole thing about how abortion should always be a very difficult and emotional step.* I assume someone else will take apart your troubling mischaracterization of David Silverman’s original remarks (the ones that started this latest firestorm). And I assume someone else will take apart your insistence that your previous support of abortion and other women’s rights should somehow give you a “get out of criticism free” card for screwing this one up so massively. So here’s what I want to say to you:

Do you seriously think abortion has nothing to do with atheism?

Are you aware that the fight against abortion rights has been waged, almost entirely, by the Religious Right? Are you aware that the case against abortion rights is almost entirely centered in religion?

Of course atheism has something to say about abortion. What atheism has to say about abortion is, “There are no gods. You have no evidence that your god exists — and you certainly have no evidence that your god shares your political opinions. So stop trying to make laws and public policy based on what you think your god wants. If you can’t make a good secular argument for why some people’s basic right to bodily autonomy is trivial and they should be forced by law to lend their organs to a zygote/ embryo/ fetus for nine months — and not a craptastic, laughable-if-it-weren’t-such-an-important-issue retread of the religious arguments, but an actual solid secular argument — then get the hell out of the way, and let people make their own decisions about their own bodies.”

Abortion rights are supported by over 98% of atheists. Do you think that’s a coincidence? Do you really not get how deeply connected this issue is with religion?

You say that “pretty much the only social issues that ought to unite every atheist are the separation of Church and State and the right of unbelievers.” First, and very importantly: Abortion access is a church-state separation issue. Again: The anti-choice agenda is almost entirely driven by the Religious Right, and the arguments against is are almost entirely centered on religion. Yes, there is a whisper-thin veneer of secularism painted over these laws — just like there’s a whisper-thin veneer of secularism painted over intelligent design being taught in public schools. It’s still, obviously, an issue of secularism. Getting religion out of government doesn’t just mean things like getting the “under God” part of the Pledge of Allegiance out of public schools. It also means getting laws based on religion, laws overwhelmingly or entirely motivated by religion, out of our government. It means getting religion out of our laws about abortion, birth control, same-sex marriage, LGBT employment rights, public funding of charitable organizations, sex education in public schools, parental responsibilities to provide medical care to their children, licensing of day care centers, licensing of hospitals that don’t follow standards of medical care, and more.

Second: You’re arguing that organized atheism should only work on issues that logically and directly descend from atheism itself. If we take this argument to its logical conclusion, there are literally no atheist issues. There are literally no issues that logically ought to unite every atheist. Being an atheist doesn’t automatically lead to the logical conclusion that church and state should be separated — you could be an atheist and still think religion is good for most people and therefore should be entrenched in law. And you can certainly be an atheist and still think pursuing church/state separation is sometimes a bad idea — look at all the atheists pushing back against the American Humanist Association fighting memorial crosses on public land, or against American Atheists pursuing the court case about the 9/11 cross. You could even be an atheist and not support the rights of unbelievers — again, you could regret your atheism, and think that religion on the whole is better for most people, and therefore think that atheists should be treated as second-class citizens so more people will stick with religion.

Almost no atheists take those positions, of course. (Apart from the “Do we really have to fight public crosses that people are emotionally attached to?” ones.) But almost no atheists are anti-choice, either. Almost no atheists are against same-sex marriage. And for many atheists, these and other issues are every bit as entwined with our atheism as atheists’ rights and traditional church/state separation issues — with every bit as much logical support for that entwining.

So what you’re saying is not, in fact, that organized atheism should only work on issues that logically descend from atheism itself.

What you’re saying is that organized atheism should only work on issues that it has traditionally worked on in the past.

What you’re saying is that the people who have traditionally been running organized atheism, the people who have been setting the agenda of organized atheism for decades, are the people who should continue to set the agenda.

What you’re saying is that the old guard should get to keep running the show.

For many people, the things that led them to begin questioning religion are real-world issues that affect real people, ways that religion screws up people’s lives by the millions: abortion, birth control, LGBT rights, religious frauds preying on poor neighborhoods, religious interference with HIV prevention and education, abstinence-only sex education, religion inspiring people to disown their gay children and even sentence gay people to death. That’s not what ultimately got them to disbelieve (usually) — but it’s often a huge part of the process. What you’re saying to these people is, “It’s great that you stopped believing in your god or gods. It’s great that your passion to stop pointless suffering caused by religion helped drive you out of it. Now, let’s get to work. But you don’t get to help decide what we work on. The issues you care most about, the issues that drove you out of religion, shouldn’t have anything to do with your atheist activism. And I will fight tooth and nail to keep you from changing our agenda. Work on the issues I think of as atheist issues, the issues we’ve always worked on — or get out.”

If we take your argument to its logical conclusion, atheists shouldn’t even be forming supportive local communities that do anything at all other than sit around and discuss the fact that God doesn’t exist. After all, what do pub nights or family picnics have to do with atheism? Is that the atheism you want? It’s not the one I want. It’s not the one thousands of atheists want. And you don’t get to set the agenda for all of us. If you want to keep working on rights for non-believers and traditional issues of church/ state separation — that is awesome. If you even want to start or support an organization specifically dedicated to those issues — that is awesome. Those are important, relevant issues. But you apparently want atheists who care more about other issues — issues that are every bit as relevant to atheism as yours are — to stop doing the atheist activism they care about… simply because it isn’t what you think of as atheist activism.

At best, at the most charitable interpretation of your words, you’re making the argument from tradition — one of the worst, least rational arguments around. At an only slightly less charitable interpretation, you’re making the argument from privilege. You’re making the argument that the people currently running things should continue to run things. In fact, the argument from tradition is an argument from privilege.

Knock it off.

The face of atheism is changing. It’s expanding. It’s getting larger, younger, more diverse, with new ideas about what atheism is and what its priorities and values should be. And this is a good thing. This is a necessary thing if organized atheism is going to continue to grow. Why are you trying to get in the way?

*Note: Pigliucci’s piece, as originally written, said that abortion should always be a very difficult and emotional step. He has since revised it, as he notes in the comment section, to say that “certain types of abortion (say, last trimester)” should always be a very difficult and emotional step — although he has not, as of this writing, transparently noted in the post itself that he has made this change. (UPDATE: Pigliucci has now transparently noted the change in the piece.)

UPDATE: Comment policy for this post: I am not willing to host a debate about abortion in this blog. I am willing to host a meta-debate about the controversy this issue has stirred in the atheist community, and the things various people in the community have said about it. But I am not going to host a debate about the basic right to abortion — any more than I would host a debate about whether gay people should be locked up in prisons or mental institutions for being gay. There are plenty of places on the Internet where you can debate the question of whether people with working uteruses have the basic right of bodily autonomy. This is not one of them. Violators will be put into comment moderation (or banned, if their comments are sufficiently vile), and their comments will be disemvoweled. Thank you.

Comments

  1. Erp says

    Actually on the church-state issue one could be an atheist and think religion should be utterly and completely suppressed by the full power of the state. A bad idea for all sorts of reasons but certainly one held by some atheists in some eras.

    I suspect in some communities where atheism has been fairly well accepted for generations along with various religions those who accept new progressive ideas may well cross the religion/atheism boundary. Hemant’s guest “pro-life” poster at least forces self-identifying atheists (especially the young ones) to examine and learn the arguments and learn why the issue is important. Ideally the poster will eventually understand and accept why the choice must belong to the woman rather than the state or a doctor (or a panel of doctors) or her father or husband (she doesn’t go as far as the RCC view where there is no choice even if it kills the woman).

  2. says

    Thankyou for the pushback — that post by Massimo was what finally got me to unsubscribe from his blog. The condescending, “more intellectual than thou” attitude is one that this atheist can do without.

    It’s also very telling that the usual crowd has been in the comments praising him for his bravery.

  3. says

    All of this is absolutely right, and phrased as well or better than I’ve heard it anywhere.

    People fight for atheism like that’s the big issue… but if you eliminate religion and allow the religion-based bigotry to be replaced by secular arguments for the same position? What the hell have you achieved? Worse than nothing, IMO.

  4. says

    *stomps and cheers*

    I will also point out that Minnesota Atheists (which I mention because I’m their associate president) has an official public policy position that explicitly supports abortion rights. Then I will point out that the Secular Coalition for America, the lobbying organization for most of the national atheist groups, put out a model secular policy guide that explicitly supports abortion rights. CFI’s Center for Public Policy tracks anti-abortion legislation. This is not a new issue for organizations to take a position on.

    Not only is arguing from tradition fallacious, but in this case, Pigliucci isn’t even arguing from existing tradition.

  5. hjhornbeck says

    Ooo, this will come in handy as an index post. Excellent writing, Christina!

    (May I insert a plug for Secular Woman? After all, they’re the most vocal pro-choice org in the secular community.)

  6. Stacy says

    Being an atheist doesn’t automatically lead to the logical conclusion that church and state should be separated — you could be an atheist and still think religion is good for most people and therefore should be entrenched in law.

    Indeed. This seems to be the opinion of some neoconservatives, who support the Religious Right, despite being atheists or agnostics themselves.

    I’m so sick of the “But that’s outside our purview!” argument.

    Masterful takedown, Greta.

  7. says

    Being an atheist doesn’t automatically lead to the logical conclusion that church and state should be separated — you could be an atheist and still think religion is good for most people and therefore should be entrenched in law.

    That describes on of my BFFs to a T. Oh, she doesn’t believe in god but is a proud tithe payer to the RCC.
    And it’s not like weR’e living somewhere where you get disinherited for leaving the church or that her employer would fire her.
    People like me who live in countries like Germany with official government sponsored churches but notably less religious interference in our daily lives are often pretty “meh” about religious displays on public property.
    But every time there’s a struggle for LGBTQ rights, for abortion access, my worst opponents are, you guess it, christians…

  8. Al Dente says

    There are two flavors of atheists, the dictionary atheists (atheism ONLY means not believing in gods) and the social atheists who

  9. Al Dente says

    Please ignore @8. I hit submit comment for some reason probably having to do with my general cluelessness.

    There are two flavors of atheists: The dictionary atheists (atheism ONLY means not believing in gods) and the social atheists whose atheism causes us to examine the effects of theism on our societies. As Greta notes, the vast majority of atheists are pro-choice and, I believe, reached that opinion because we reject the religious anti-abortion arguments.

    Pigliucci is a dictionary atheist, except he really isn’t. His atheism involves arguing against prayer in school, arguing against teaching creationism, and other secular matters. He doesn’t realize, or doesn’t want to realize, that abortion falls under the same atheist rubric. Sorry, Massimo, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim that atheism entails certain secular opinions but not other ones which you find somewhat icky.

    What’s particularly annoying is Pigliucci ends his screed by saying he’s an ally to women. That’s like “I’m not a bigot but….”

  10. Donnie says

    Greta, simply put, I love you. Not in the stalkerish way, but in the way your writing stirs my mind and infuses my atheist’s soul with a purpose. Thank you for writing this, and pulling the layers of bullshit off of this issue. With the various FtB bloggers addressing the issue of abortion straight forward, I now understand the basis for being pro-choice: bodily autonomy.

    As a guy, this issue has never been front-and-center in my mind. I have been pro-choice because…..now, I know the rational basis for being pro-choice, and you and the other FtB bloggers have armed me with the responses to the pro-life BS lies, word plays, and general appeals to emotion.

    I am an atheist because there is no reason to believe in a god(s). So what…..yeah? I am an atheism+ because there are more important, more impactful issues in life than simply ‘no gods’. It’s those ‘other issues’ that make the atheist movement a movement with a purpose and a cause to follow.

    Simply put, ‘Thank you’. Thank you all for being awesome. For all the hate and resentment that you and the FtB bloggers receive, please know that you all are reaching people (or, at least this one privledged white dude), and are making a positive impact – keep pushing the rift wider.

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    To me, atheism is a consequence, a result of the movement I really want to promote: one for better thinking (and applying same to public issues).

    From this standpoint, I really should be more involved with the skepticism movement – but their self-imposed traditions (see our esteemed host’s observations above) hobble such groups to near irrelevance even before factoring in those counterproductive libertarian influences.

    In terms of critiquing the status quo and bringing forth better ideas, the feminist, environmental, and peace movements often have a more constructive agenda than the atheist and “skeptic” organizations combined.

  12. Menyambal says

    *applause, applause*

    I’ll add that the anti-abortion movement is entirely conservative Christian. There are some working false-flag liars-for-Jesus missions among the heathens, and there are a few converts who have succumbed to their efforts.

    There is nothing to support the anti-abortion stand in the Bible. It’s all made up. It’s a crusade that was invented to energize the faithful, to encourage the group, to raise money and to be leaders of. It’s a blessed pep rally.

    So in one sense, as it is a non-biblical thing, yes, atheists have no stance on it. But, damned if it isn’t religious in the sense of being a ginned-up way to fleece the followers by demonizing others, so it is a religion in itself, and atheists can’t ignore the fact that the others being demonized are women. Specifically, if one wants personal motivation, atheist women.

  13. Donnie says

    Secondly, because ‘skepticism’, I researched the CDC’s abortion surveillance report, of all the reported abortions from States to the CDC, 1.3% of abortions are at the >= 21 weeks. Thus, women must be denied, positively restricted and shamed, for the women who do not think really hard about 3rd trimester abortions? Yes, I am strawmaning his arguements, but 3rd trimester abortions are very rare compared to all abortions, and forced birthers use 3rd trimester abortions as a wedge strategy for banning or restricting abortions at all trimesters.

    Because, we all know that women are fickle, am I right? I know pregnant women at >= 21 weeks just wake up and say, ‘i really wanted to have a child, but having an abortion today really sounds like fun.’ How much hard thinking, and emotional turmoil must a women go through to satisfy the forced birthers that a womem has thought long and hard about aborting a 3rd trimester fetus that has its brian growing outside its body? How long did Savita have to think about abortion while she sat in bed screaming in pain?

    Seriously, this whole thing about women thinking before aborting a fetus makes women sound like emotionaless andriods incapable of making a decision on her own. I feel that forced birthers have done a great job of using 21+ week abortion as a wedge strategy against all abortions. Exhibit #1, Massimo Pigliucci.

  14. triamacleod says

    @ Donnie #13

    The rage over later term abortions could be easily defused with a little education. The vast majority of abortions done after 24 weeks are due to one of two reasons. 1] severe deformity / non-viability of the fetus (as in most testing for chromosome defects aren’t done until 18-20 weeks) 2] imminent risk to the mother’s life. And even then the availability of an abortion is not guaranteed. I have an acquaintance who is currently 7 months along with a Trisomy 18 fetus and she is unable to get an abortion due to her location in a deep red state. She knows the fetus is failing and that unless the fetus dies in utero and causes her to crash, she will not be able to find or afford an abortion. (her insurance will not cover any non-life saving abortion).

    If more people realized that, (despite the popular media image of an indecisive party girl who waits too long to get an abortion), the real reason for later term abortions is medical necessity I feel comfortable that we could eliminate the non-medical hurdles that women are forced to endure for these procedures.

  15. psanity says

    Greta:

    The face of atheism is changing. It’s expanding. It’s getting larger, younger, more diverse …

    As someone who is nearly as old as dirt, and a lifelong atheist, I don’t quite agree. I think the face of atheism has become visible — IME there have been plenty of atheist people of color, women, and LGBTQ folks all along. People who already have challenges to their autonomy, rights, and lives couldn’t really give up the “protective coloration” of religion. Who needs the extra layer of othering and social scrutiny?

    Even today, in SmallTownX, where I live, I can’t really be an out atheist. It would damage my ability to do my job and other community work — sometimes I teach children. To the extent I am slightly out, it’s because a) I want kids to know atheist role models exist and b) I can find atheist communities online where I can feel normal, if pseudonymous. I can imagine how reluctant I’d be if I were gay, or black, or married to a religious person, or if it affected my spouse’s employment — especially, say, 20 years ago, or 30, or 40. Or if I had no way to be in touch with other atheists.

    So, I don’t think atheism is becoming all that much more diverse; it’s that the burka is coming off. And the “leaders” are upset in very predictable ways.

  16. tonylloyd says

    “Thank you so much for dismissing the issue of the basic right to bodily autonomy of half the human race as a “tempest in a teapot.””

    But he didn’t. He dismissed the issue of whether one can discuss discussing the issue of the basic right to bodily autonomy of half the human race as a “tempest in a teapot”.

    I can see the argument that being against abortion is a moral failing. With Silverman we do not have someone who argued against abortion. He argued against arguing against abortion being a moral failing. Which was taken as a moral failing. Now Pigliucci argues against arguing against arguing against abortion being a moral failing. Which is taken as a moral failing.

    How meta does this thing go? Would I be condemned for arguing that arguing that arguing against that arguing against abortion is a moral failing?

    There was a storm of indignation a few years back when an MP in the UK said that she could “understand” the motivation of Palestinian suicide bombers. Condemning suicide bombing wasn’t enough: for your thought to be conscionable you had to, literally, be incapable of comprehending the action. And the meta was there as well: her party, the Lib Dems, were criticised for only making her stand down from the spokesman role she had. This was “fainthearted”. One wonders what action is sufficient if one finds a colleague who is not utterly unable to follow the reasoning of another.

    “By all means, let’s treat the right to abortion as a philosophical exercise in which both sides should be thoughtfully considered and given intellectual validity — as opposed to a serious, real-world battle in which women’s right to bodily autonomy is being chipped away at and in which women are literally dying.”

    Is it not permissible to think? Apparently not. Some issues, it appears, are to be dogmatically held. So dogmatically, in fact, that the dogma collapses into the subject. There is no “meta” there is no “about”, there is no distinction between attacking women’s rights and discussing attacks on women’s rights.

    “And you don’t get to set the agenda for all of us.”

    And neither do you Greta. My mind is my own and I will entertain whatever alternatives I like. You know what you can do with your dogma.

  17. patterson says

    @16

    I can see the argument that being against abortion is a moral failing

    Must take a lot of chutzpah to write a 6 paragraph response with 3 quotes to a post without actually addressing the argument of the post. Or maybe not chutzpah though, maybe something else.

  18. tonylloyd says

    @16 From the comment policy, this is a “meta-debate about the controversy this issue has stirred in the atheist community,”

    My particular concern is with the apparant demonisation trying to discuss this matter. I’ve already stuck my neck out commenting on the meta-meta-meta issue. If you think I’m going any further, then you have another think coming.

  19. triple3a says

    @16

    Is it not permissible to think?

    You really don’t get it, do you?  Nobody’s arguing that you can’t think any damn thing you want.  Atheist leaders working from privilege and tradition do not get to determine what constitutes a “proper” agenda ( or “proper” thinking) for other atheists.

    It is permissible to think.  Thinking is what led Greta to come up with the brilliant post above.  Thinking is what is leading atheists to fight their social justice battles publicly.  Thinking is what is giving atheists the courage to stand up for bodily autonomy.  Thinking is what is leading atheists to insist that women be treated like the full, autonomous, human beings they are, especially in spaces specifically dedicated to atheist and secular causes and events.

    If your “thoughts” lie elsewhere, so be it.  Some of us have better things to do and think.

  20. says

    It’s not that it’s impermissible to think. It’s that if you want women to believe you’re on our side, thinking is not enough. What’s required is fighting, since the attack is ongoing and concerted and apparently somewhat effective. But all Pigliucci and Silverman and the atheist dudebros WANT to do is think, apparently. It simply is not enough.

  21. says

    I often see, in response to statements along the lines of “treating people this way is unacceptable” or “these attitudes are harmful and unacceptable” or “our rights should not be up for debate”, many of the…how to put this…less progressive members of the atheist community will shout “Dogma! Dogma! You’re trying to hold us to an ideology!”

    It’s fascinating to me that they rarely are willing to argue the points on their own merits, but retreat into the accusation of dogmatism and ideology, as though these were refutations in and of themselves. It’s also interesting that they don’t recognize their own ideological biases in so doing.

  22. Greta Christina says

    But he didn’t. He dismissed the issue of whether one can discuss discussing the issue of the basic right to bodily autonomy of half the human race as a “tempest in a teapot”.

    tonylloyd @ #16: And the core topic around which that meta-debate was centered was abortion: an extremely important topic for many/ most women, a topic in which we are commonly talked “about” and treated as incapable of making our own decisions, and a right which is under intense attack. Referring to discussions about this, even meta-discussions about how people in the atheist community view this issue, as a “tempest in a teapot” was insensitive at best, and showed little regard for the seriousness of this issue for women.

    Is it not permissible to think?

    Wow. Seriously? Please point to the place in this post, or in any of the recent posts on this topic, where I said that people could not or should not think. In fact, much of the point of my writing about it has been to suggest that people do think: that they think more carefully about how important and how loaded the issue of abortion is for women before they open their mouths about it. The fact that you, and so many others, seem to see this as a huge restriction on your freedom… well, it’s very telling.

    “And you don’t get to set the agenda for all of us.”

    And neither do you Greta. My mind is my own and I will entertain whatever alternatives I like.

    Not only am I not trying to set the agenda for the entire atheist movement, the way Pigliucci is explicitly doing in his post: I specifically said that I supported him in working on whatever atheist-related issues he chose. The exact words I used were “that is awesome.” Please read more carefully.

    You know what you can do with your dogma.

    If you are saying what is usually meant by this phrase: Please review my comment policy. Personal insults aimed at other commenters (including me) are not permitted. Critique ideas with fervor, but don’t insult people.

    My particular concern is with the apparant demonisation trying to discuss this matter.

    tonylloyd @ #18: Because “asking people to discuss this issue with some sensitivity to how women feel about it and the history behind it” totally equals “demonization.” m-/

    If you think I’m going any further, then you have another think coming.

    [wipes away a tear] I guess we’ll have to find a way to carry on somehow without you.

  23. John Horstman says

    @Greta #22: But but, don’t you know tonylloyd is the lynchpin of the entire secularist movement?!?!?!? Without zir, every nation on earth is poised to collapse into nightmarish theocracy! I know it seems unlikely, but this is one instance where the Butterfly Effect will have severe and surprising consequences instead of being rendered utterly inconsequential on the macroscopic social level! We must not drive zir away, even at the cost of abandoning support for the bodily autonomy of all people capable of pregnancy – ze really is that much more important than around half of the population! (/absurdlyoverthetopsarcasm, in case it isn’t clear to anyone.)

  24. tonylloyd says

    “even meta-discussions”
    My point, really. Not only is abortion out of bounds with classes of viewpoints un-put-forwardable. But also viewpoints beyond the discussion, about the range of discussion and the type of discussion we have. Or even discussion about discussion about discussion has a range of views beyond the pale.
    <b?“Wow. Seriously?” Yes. Seriously. “Please point to the place…” The passage was quoted in my post.
    “If you are saying what is usually meant by this phrase” I don’t think I could have meant what is usually meant. There’s no insult in the way I used it. I mean by “dogma” something that is held to be authoritative and not to be questioned (in this case, even hypothetically). That’s a summary of what I see as your position and my willingness to accept it.
    “[wipes away a tear] I guess we’ll have to find a way to carry on somehow without you.”
    I’ve got it. I’m gone.

  25. Al Dente says

    tonylloyd @25

    I realize you took your ball and went home in a huff, but on the off-chance you might peek at this thread again, I’ll try to dispel some of your misconceptions.

    Both Silverman and Piglucci are dismissing the concerns of large numbers of women, including almost all atheist women, and a fair number of men about abortion. Piglucci calls it “a tempest in a teapot” and Silverman likens the controversy to prayer in school. While abortion is still legal in the US the religious right have been chipping away at the availability of abortion, putting restrictions on abortion providers and mandating unnecessary medical procedures and counseling before a woman can have an abortion. Despite Silverman’s and Piglucci’s trivializing the matter, abortion is not a trivial matter. It’s becoming harder and harder for someone seeking an abortion to get one. In South Dakota there is exactly one open abortion clinic.

    Plus Piglucci is annoyed that some women aren’t suffering enough angst because of abortions (he’s modified this to demand angst only for third trimester abortions). How can a man who will never have to consider abortion except in a purely intellectual fashion insist that women having abortions be emotionally effected? What difference does it make to him?

    You have misread what both Greta and the commentators on this thread have been saying. There is no dogmatic, “my way or the highway” pronouncements about abortion. Instead, there is concern that two intelligent men are so cavalier as to minimize the legitimate concerns of a large portion of the population.

  26. =8)-DX says

    I’m completely baffled that anyone could think of the abortion debate as anything *but* a religious one. My entire childhood I was bombarded with religious arguments against abortion and abortion advocacy (pro-life) was a huge part of my parents’ lives, including their decision to join the RCC. Being anything but pro-life was seen as being a bad Christian, and not taking an active stance was seen as betraying one’s faith.

    Add to that the fact that in my atheist-majority, abortion-allowing country, almost the only people who are for imposing more restrictions on choice are the Catholics and their sympathizers. Fetuses having souls and “the sanctity of life” are central issue in their argument! Shit when I became an atheist I was actually *forced* to start taking rational stances on abortion, because I couldn’t just fall back on the religious position.

    My beef with Christianity has been:

    You filled my child’s mind with the following false information presented as unarguable truth:

      •   Abortion is always bad and should be illegal.
      •   Euthanasia is always bad and should be illegal.
      •   Being LGBTQ is unnatural and evil.
      •   Sexuality aside from the vanilla, hetero, married, ending-in-piv-ejaculation kind is always bad and harmful.
      •   Divorce is always bad and harmful.
      •   Morals derive from theology.
      •   Prayer works.
      •   God exists.

    A common thread to all these is: you don’t own your body, your mind, your time, your feelings – religious dogma as expressed by the Church trumps bodily autonomy and individuality. So fuck off if you think abortion is not an atheist issue!

  27. =8)-DX says

    Just to add:

    pro-life arguments:
    1) fetus as human being – based entirely on “ensoulment” (arguments about fetal heartbeat, measurable brain-waves, undetectable pain responses and “fingernails” as well as the “it’s a baby” fetus-porn are all about imagining a soul that isn’t there, even if this isn’t explicitly mentioned, even from non-Christians).
    2) later term arguments – dogma trumps women’s decisions (miscarriages are fine because God gets to decide that, not women, but if God decides something is bad then it should also be illegal, and/or society should shame and pressure people from doing it).
    3) Forcing one’s beliefs on others is exactly what religions do and atheists’ central complaint – and specifically the restriction on secular arguments (a secular argument has to be based on reason, logic and scientifically-verifiable fact, rather than faith).

  28. J. J. Ramsey says

    Al Dente:

    Silverman likens the controversy to prayer in school.

    Actually, Silverman had contrasted the controversy with issues such as prayer in school and gay marriage. If you are going to be outraged at Silverman for things he supposedly said, you should make sure he actually said them.

  29. Greta Christina says

    he clearly footnoted the change, with an asterisk, and referred to the original reading, by midday Saturday. So, you’re wrong on that.

    Steve Sirhan: He had not done so at the time that I wrote this. I will update the post to reflect that he has.

  30. says

    Don’t worry, TonyLloyd, Between the disrespect for women’s bodily autonomy as manifested by skeptical/atheist resistance to anti-harassment policies, and the disrespect for women’s bodily autonomy as manifested by skeptical/atheist disdain for pro-choice advocacy as a clear-cut case of religious rules being encoded into law, it’s more like that you, Pigliuggi, and Silverman, and your dudebro ilk will retain influence over the direction of the atheist/skeptical movement, and women and those men who regard us as fully human are the ones who will be alienated into joining other progressive but not specifically atheist/secularist/skeptical groups.

  31. hjhornbeck says

    Greta Christina @30:
    Actually, it’s a bit worse than that. Copy-pasta:

    [Pigliucci] also claims to be able to predict the reactions of his critics, so let my crow about one of my own:

    His edit retains the general applicability of his prior comment, but now incorporates specific examples. Should the heat continue, he can go “no no, I meant ONLY third trimester abortion;” should it slack off, he can claim he was talking about abortion in general.
    Pigliucci just put his goalposts on wheels, a shameful act for any philosopher.

    And what do we find in Pigliucci’s rebuttal?

    Predictably, neither piece takes a kind view of my essay, nor, frankly, did the authors try to give it a charitable reading that may lead to fruitful discussions rather than name calling. But in the case of PZ’s sarcastic remarks, I richly deserved it. His entire (short) post takes me up for writing (in the original version of my essay) that “abortion should always be a very difficult and emotional step.” I did not mean that literally, as should have been clear from the context and the examples given. But it was certainly an instance of sloppy writing on my part. After some of my readers pointed it out, I revised the entry to read: “certain types of abortion (say, last trimester)” should always be a very difficult and emotional step,” and later added a footnote to call readers’ attention to it.

    It wasn’t clear, in my opinion, and it’s telling that …

    To decide to get an abortion is always (or, at least, should always be) a very difficult and emotional step, precisely because it has significant ethical consequences.

    … became…

    To decide to get certain types of abortion (say, last trimester) is always (or, at least, should always be) a very difficult and emotional step, precisely because it has significant ethical consequences.

    … then turned into (look carefully for this one) …

    To decide to get certain types of abortion* (say, last trimester) is always (or, at least, should always be) a very difficult and emotional step, precisely because it has significant ethical consequences.

    … which Piglucci quotes above as …

    certain types of abortion (say, last trimester)” should always be a very difficult and emotional step

    Pigliucci appears to be acting very dishonestly here, and it’s being used as leverage against you and anyone else who disagrees with Pigliucci.

  32. Schlumbumbi says

    #32 hjhornbeck

    Pigliucci appears to be acting very dishonestly here, and it’s being used as leverage against you and anyone else who disagrees with Pigliucci.

    Don’t blame him. He’s a professor and not used to getting dogpiled by people who will turn around every single letter to misread him.

  33. hjhornbeck says

    Schlumbumbi @33:

    He’s a professor and not used to getting dogpiled by people who will turn around every single letter to misread him.

    He’s not just a professor, but a philosopher, which means he should hold himself to a high quality of discourse. A silent edit that opens up more wiggle room does not meet that.

    It’s a small point, though; I’m far more interested in what Piglliucci thinks, and this edit does make that clearer.

  34. J. J. Ramsey says

    hjhornbeck, you appear to be calling Piglliucci dishonest for certain edits made to his blog post, because he first revised his post to read “certain types of abortion (say, last trimester),” and only later added a footnote to note the change. You describe at least the first edit as a “silent edit.” However, you yourself quote Piglliucci as saying, “I revised the entry to read: “certain types of abortion (say, last trimester)” should always be a very difficult and emotional step,” [stray quote mark is sic] and later [emphasis mine] added a footnote to call readers’ attention to it,” so that first edit is not as silent as you had said it was.That’s a pretty thin basis for an accusation of dishonesty.

  35. Greta Christina says

    J. J. Ramsey @ #35: In the current incarnation of his post, Piglliucci is transparent about the edit he made. Originally, however, he was not: he made the edit without noting in the post that he had done so (although he did say so in the comments). He only made the edit transparent after it was pointed out to him in the comments that this was problematic. I’m not sure I would call that dishonest, exactly, but it’s not exactly transparent, either.

  36. Greta Christina says

    Don’t blame him. He’s a professor and not used to getting dogpiled by people who will turn around every single letter to misread him.

    hjhornbeck @ #34: Seriously?

    First: Piglliucci is not simply a professor. He is an author, commentator, blogger, and podcaster, and has been for some time. He is used to the world of public commentary and debate.

    Second: On what basis are you concluding that the people who disagree with him are deliberately attempting to misread him? Even if you conclude that his critics did misread him — what makes you think we’re doing so no purpose?

    Third: SERIOUSLY? He’s a professor, so we should be gentle with him and not criticize him? I’ve seen a lot of privilege and expectation of privilege expressed in these conversations — but very few have been expressed so blatantly and openly. “Don’t be so harsh on the poor professor, he is a delicate flower nurtured in the sheltered hothouse of academia, be gentle with him.” Seriously?

  37. hjhornbeck says

    Christina @37:
    Er, I think you’re confusing something I quoted for my own views. I fully agree with you here, and I was even going to add a rant about academia, but spinning on Pigliucci’s editing practices is far less useful than discussing his view on abortion. Elsewhere, I’ve pointed out the links he provided as evidence for secular arguments don’t actually contain any arguments, their either refuted in the text or don’t discuss abortion at all.

    Moreover, and importantly, Christina confuses a discussion about the ethical issues raised by abortion with support for curbing women’s access to the procedure. While the first is obviously relevant to the second, one can very consistently maintain that there is something to be debated about the ethics of abortion while at the same time staunchly defending a woman’s right to have one.

    Not true. Do we permit teachers to “teach the controversy?” As several other bloggers have already pointed out, most notably Ophelia Benson, re-opening the discussion is only useful when new information comes to light. For the bodily integrity argument, that’s when our rights have been changed or reinterpreted. To insist on re-opening it anyway only sows uncertainty and doubt, which benefits those looking to roll back those rights.

    But Christina already knew of my correction to the above statement (she acknowledges it at the end of her post), which should have set things straight. Why didn’t it? Why did Christina go on with her diatribe even though I had already corrected my post and explained what I actually meant? No interest in being charitable, apparently, nor in actually engaging in a discussion.

    Let’s see if I’ve got this straight:

    1. Pigliucci writes his blog post.
    2. Others, including Christina, write their own blog posts in reaction to the original phrasing in his post.
    3. Pigliucci silently revises that phrasing, then silently makes an open note of the revision.
    4. Christina openly acknowledges the revised phrasing, but leaves her original post intact.
    5. Ergo, Christina is being uncharitable?!

    You have got to be shitting me. It should be obvious Pigliucci is the dishonest one here.

    But there is no reason to pretend that the other side is made up entirely of religious nuts and ignorant country bumpkins.

    Has any pro-choicer accused the anti-choice camp of being ignorant country bumpkins? From my own extensive dealings with them, I can assure you they’re smart and well-trained. They have to be, if they want to argue for the absurd with a straight face. Pigliucci’s tossing out straw people here.

    Honestly, I don’t have the desire to go any further. Given his dishonest tactics and inability to produce a secular argument, Pigliucci doesn’t deserve any more of my time. Others have done a better job, anyway.

  38. carlie says

    He’s a professor and not used to getting dogpiled by people who will turn around every single letter to misread him.

    Are you freaking kidding? I’m a professor. We’re used to people parsing every single word for every shade of nuance in everything we write. You want to take a group of professors out of commission for a few days, throw them into a room with a single paragraph and ask them to wordsmith it. That’s what we do

  39. J. J. Ramsey says

    hjhornbeck:

    Let’s see if I’ve got this straight:
    [...snip..]
    5. Ergo, Christina is being uncharitable?!

    Actually, I was criticizing you for calling Pigliucci dishonest. To use your turn of phrase, let’s see if I’ve got this straight:

    1. Pigliucci has said that he had edited the “certain types of abortion (say, last trimester)”, and then later added a footnote to call attention to the previous edit.
    2. You quote various versions of his text showing that he had made, well, exactly the changes that he himself had said that he had made.
    3. Ergo, Pigliucci is being dishonest?!

    hjhornbeck:

    Elsewhere, I’ve pointed out the links he provided as evidence for secular arguments don’t actually contain any arguments, their either refuted in the text …

    So on the one hand, the entries in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy to which Pigliucci linked supposedly don’t contain any arguments against abortion, but on the other hand, those texts have refutations to those arguments … which is kinda hard to do without saying what those arguments are. Indeed, if I look at the first of the links in question, there is a brief sketch of secular arguments against abortion. That is certainly enough to to support Pigliucci’s point that secular arguments against abortion exist. And why would it be a problem that the refutations of those arguments are there as well, when Pigliucci said outright that he did not find the arguments convincing?

    hjhornbeck:

    … or don’t discuss abortion at all.

    A couple things. One, you said that one of the encyclopedia entries “spends a fair chunk of time discussing pregnancy in developmentally-challenged people, which are irrelevant to the current debate.” This is a bit funny, considering that that “chunk of time” includes a discussion on whether to pull the plug on a pregnant woman in a persistent vegetative state, a question that obviously brings up the issue of pulling the plug on — you know, aborting — the fetus still in the woman. The one page that does explictly avoid getting into a discussion of abortion goes onto say, “Although positions on procreative autonomy are not independent of positions on abortion, the extensive philosophical debate about abortion must be dealt with independently.”

    So the links provided do turn out to be a fairly reasonable starting point for someone who wanted to get his/her bearings on what is out there regarding secular anti-abortion arguments … which is all that Pigliucci promised of them. That’s just so dishonest of him. :-)

  40. says

    You’re arguing that organized atheism should only work on issues that logically and directly descend from atheism itself. If we take this argument to its logical conclusion, there are literally no atheist issues. There are literally no issues that logically ought to unite every atheist.

    Exactly, this. As I commented over at Daylight Atheism when Adam Lee wrote about this, it seems to me that people put whatever they care about in category of Very Relevant to the atheist movement, and put whatever they are not passionate about, whatever they would be willing to compromise on in the Not As Relevant category.

    I tend to think there are secular and religious arguments for just about everything, but the existence of a secular argument doesn’t meant that there isn’t a long history of religious support for it, or that the overwhelming real-world incarnation of arguments isn’t made up of religious arguments. And I was definitely a person who doubted the religion in which I grew up due to the discrimination first.

    In fact, the argument from tradition is an argument from privilege.

    This, so much!

  41. hjhornbeck says

    J. J. Ramsey @40:

    To use your turn of phrase, let’s see if I’ve got this straight:

    1. Pigliucci has said that he had edited the “certain types of abortion (say, last trimester)”, and then later added a footnote to call attention to the previous edit.
    2. You quote various versions of his text showing that he had made, well, exactly the changes that he himself had said that he had made.
    3. Ergo, Pigliucci is being dishonest?!

    You don’t. The part you quote comes from a second post made after at least the first edit, and is point five in my list. Pigliucci is still criticizing Christina for not knowing about something she couldn’t have known, and my point still stands.

    So on the one hand, the entries in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy to which Pigliucci linked supposedly don’t contain any arguments against abortion, but on the other hand, those texts have refutations to those arguments … which is kinda hard to do without saying what those arguments are. Indeed, if I look at the first of the links in question, there is a brief sketch of secular arguments against abortion. That is certainly enough to to support Pigliucci’s point that secular arguments against abortion exist.

    Both you and Pigliucci appear to have missed the point. Others have done an excellent job of explaining this, so I defer to them.

    I’ll it at that. I’ve discussed Pigliucci far more than his posts warrant.

  42. bcurd23 says

    Much of this discussion touches on one’s concept of what it means to be an atheist. I can see where Massimo may have been coming from in the sense that atheism, at least in my view, doesn’t necessitate having a particular view about any given issue. Certainly most atheists lean heavily liberal and believe in abortion rights and, Greta points out, much of church-state separation touches on issues regarding women’s bodies and reproductive rights. But I think if you’re really strict about it, then you’re left saying that atheism is merely a conclusion and not in and of itself a framework for further conclusions.

    Without trying to turn this into an argument about abortion and for the record, I do believe in abortion, at least until the fetus can feel pain, at which point I think the ethical picture gets more complicated. I say that as a male and looking at some of these posts, I can’t help feel like sometimes on this particular, there seems to be a thought from some that the opinion of any male on this is automatically null and void just be virtue of their gender. That strikes me as fairly harsh and unfair. Yes, we always talk about walking in someone else’s shoes, but in reality that’s rarely feasible. We have to do the best we can from our vantage point.

  43. Greta Christina says

    But I think if you’re really strict about it, then you’re left saying that atheism is merely a conclusion and not in and of itself a framework for further conclusions.

    bcurd23 @ #23: Asked and answered. One of the main points of this piece is that, if you treat atheism as merely the conclusion that there are no gods with no further implications based on that conclusion, there is literally no foundation for organized atheism. There are literally no issues that atheists could work on together, and no basis for forming atheist communities. If you’re willing to move past that single conclusion, and are willing to work to organize atheists around issues most of us share and that are related to religion and secularism, there’s no logical reason to work on (for instance) getting religion out of public schools, but not work on abortion rights. If you’re not, and you are in fact saying that there should be no organized atheist communities or movement: Your concerns are noted. Thank you for sharing.

    I say that as a male and looking at some of these posts, I can’t help feel like sometimes on this particular, there seems to be a thought from some that the opinion of any male on this is automatically null and void just be virtue of their gender.

    Citation seriously needed. Who in this conversation has said that any opinions from men on this issue are automatically null and void? What has been said, several times, is that men’s opinions ought to be expressed with some acknowledgement and respect for the fact that this issue is primarily an issue that affects people who can get pregnant, and that those voices are the ones that should be front and center — and with some acknowledgement and respect for the long and ugly history of women’s bodily autonomy being disregarded.

    Without trying to turn this into an argument about abortion and for the record, I do believe in abortion, at least until the fetus can feel pain, at which point I think the ethical picture gets more complicated.

    Seriously? “Without trying to turn this into an argument about abortion, here is my position on abortion rights.” Go read A Defense of Abortion by Judith Jarvis Thomson. And if you then want to discuss it, and the basic principle it lays out that people should not be forced to be organ donors, do so elsewhere. Do not bring the debate about abortion, and whether/ when it should be legal, into this blog. I have clearly and repeatedly stated my wishes on this, and you have violated them. I am therefore putting you into comment moderation. Any further comments from you will have to be approved by me before they are posted.

  44. J. J. Ramsey says

    Greta Christina:

    There are literally no issues that atheists could work on together …

    So, what you’re saying is that atheists have no vested interests at all in the encroachment of theistic beliefs on their affairs?

  45. Greta Christina says

    There are literally no issues that atheists could work on together …

    So, what you’re saying is that atheists have no vested interests at all in the encroachment of theistic beliefs on their affairs?

    J. J. Ramsey @ #46: No, of course not. That’s the entire point. My point is that, if you take Pigliucci’s argument to its logical conclusion, then that’s what HE’S saying. My point is that the battle against abortion rights is an encroachment of theistic beliefs — every bit as much as teaching intelligent design in schools — and that there is no logical reason for organized atheism to fight the latter and not the former.

  46. J. J. Ramsey says

    No, of course not. That’s the entire point. My point is that, if you take Pigliucci’s argument to its logical conclusion, then that’s what HE’S saying.

    No, that’s your reading of Pigliucci’s argument, and it’s not a very good one. The way I read, if atheism is just the conclusion that there are no gods, then there are very few things that an atheist can be said to have a vested interest in simple by virtue of being an atheist. However, issues that pertain to discrimination against atheists — and church-state issues definitely fit under that — can impact any atheist, regardless of his/her politics and values, so if atheists with widely diverging views are going to unite about anything, those issues are going to be about it. Of course, Pigliucci had also pointed out that atheists who have certain shared values, such as secular humanists, may unite on far more issues.

    My point is that the battle against abortion rights is an encroachment of theistic beliefs — every bit as much as teaching intelligent design in schools.

    Intelligent design is basically about giving certain religious beliefs a scientific veneer, especially so that they can be snuck into schools. The Designer of intelligent design looks at the very least like a deist’s conception of God, and attempts to argue, for example, that the Designer is just an alien raises the question of what designed that alien, since the arguments of intelligent design would tend to rule out that a biological creature as complex as that alien could have evolved. While intelligent design is barely coherent as is, pulling God out of it would make it fall apart entirely.

    By contrast, if you look even at the religious case against abortion rights, there’s a few vague Biblical texts that provide half-assed support, and even an Old Testament text where someone causing a pregnant woman to miscarry is only penalized by a fine, rather than treated as murder (Exodus 21:22). That the majority of anti-abortionists are religious is more an accident of history than anything, as can be demonstrated by how easily one can take away religion and still have a framework for a debate on abortion. Indeed in Judith Jarvis Thomson’s defense of abortion, her summary of the argument against abortion is presented in entirely secular terms.

    One could go onto argue that organized atheist groups, even if they do not wish to fight for abortion rights, should at least stay out of the way of their secular humanist allies who do have a stake in that fight. I would say that’s fair, at least on a pragmatic level, and I’d say further that so far, organized atheist groups have been doing at least as much. David Silverman’s actions haven’t changed that. The claim that he was somehow throwing women under the bus is Steve Ahlquist’s fevered nightmare, not something that had much to do with reality.

    What did Silverman actually do? Well, if you ask him, he was giving his usual schpiel about how there’s fiscal conservatism and social conservatism, and that the latter is a misnomer that is really about theocracy. He at least thought that his interviewer had brought up secular right-to-lifers, and as he put it, “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 religious issues. There was no indication that he had talked to anyone at CPAC about softpedaling abortion rights, or that he was planning to. All in all, what he actually did was fairly trivial.

    I suggest that when Pigliucci was referring to a “tempest in a teapot,” he was referring not to “the basic right to bodily autonomy of half the human race,” as you claimed, but rather to the overblown response to Silverman spearheaded by Ahlquist. That certainly makes more sense of what he wrote than anything that you have said about him here.

  47. Greta Christina says

    No, that’s your reading of Pigliucci’s argument

    J. J. Ramsey @ #48: Okay, fine. That’s my reading of Pigliucci’s argument — or rather, my reading of Pigliucci’s argument taken to its logical conclusion. I think it’s a reasonable reading, I’ve made the case for why I think it’s a reasonable reading, and I don’t have the time or energy to re-hash it.

    What did Silverman actually do? [snip] All in all, what he actually did was fairly trivial.

    Even if you give what Silverman said the most charitable possible interpretation — something I’m inclined to do, I like him and think he does good work and want to think well of him — he did rather more than what you said. He stuck his oar into a highly charged, extremely sensitive topic, at a time when women’s right to choose is extremely threatened and embattled, and at a time when women in this movement are already feeling trivialized and alienated. And he did so in a careless, thoughtless, clumsy way that stirred up an ugly fight and gave ammunition to our opponents. I think it’s entirely possible — likely, even — that his intentions were good… but intention is not magic. There is an appropriate way to respond when well-intentioned but careless acts hurt people. It’s called an apology. I’m still waiting for one from Silverman.

    I suggest that when Pigliucci was referring to a “tempest in a teapot,” he was referring not to “the basic right to bodily autonomy of half the human race,” as you claimed, but rather to the overblown response to Silverman spearheaded by Ahlquist.

    I disagree about the controversy being overblown. And so do a whole lot of women in this movement. When a leader of a major organization seemed to be treating one of our most important rights — and one of our most threatened rights — as a question that’s up for reasonable debate in our movement, and then gets defensive and pissy when people get upset about it, it is reasonable for people to be angry, and to take it seriously. Again, even with the most charitable interpretation of Pigliucci’s comment, it was an incredibly insensitive, thoughtless, clumsy thing to say — at a time when women in this movement are already feeling like our concerns are being disregarded.

    Even if you give both Silverman and Pigliucci all the benefit of all the doubt, they still acted carelessly and clumsily, and with little thought for how their words would be heard by the women in this movement.

  48. J. J. Ramsey says

    he … gave ammunition to our opponents.

    How? He pointed out that a secular case for abortion exists. That’s not really news to either the theocratic or secular opponents of abortion, who have both long already been capable of expressing their arguments in terms that are at least not explicitly religious.

    You haven’t really said what Silverman actually did besides point out that the abortion issue isn’t 100% religious, except perhaps to say that he said it in a clumsy fashion. Instead, you’ve resorted to vague phrases like “stuck his oar,” rather than point out anything concrete that he did to justify the accusations that he threw women under the bus.

  49. says

    (Just a note….. I based this post on a comment I left on a video titled “Abortion is Not a Woman’s Issue” by user SpinozasPsyche. The only reason I say this is to put my subsequent comment into context with this particular issue, and to verify that it is the same person posting here and there and that I am not plagiarizing someone else, since the verbiage may be similar or identical.)

    One thing that gets lost to many people, even to self-described proponents and defenders of abortion, is WHY abortion should primarily be framed as a women’s issue, “framed” being the key word. Framing an issue in a particular way does NOT ignore that the issue can be multifaceted.

    It seemed like the essential point of the aforementioned video (as twisted and not particularly well thought out as it was) is that because the act of having an abortion can affect multiple parties in different ways, all said parties should be given equal consideration. One example given is that men are involved in the act of fertilization, and can be emotionally impacted by a woman’s decision to have an abortion. Also, because some people consider a fertilized egg and its subsequent in utero forms to be human life worthy of the same rights that they have, their feelings should also be considered. (Although even if one takes this last idea to be a given, as Greta has mentioned before in her blog, the SCOTUS has affirmed that one person does not have nonconsensual access to the bodily organs of another.)

    Saying this makes (maybe?) the same fallacy as saying that because teaching evolution in public schools can have a negative emotional impact on a creationist student, these students’ feelings should affect the very decision to teach evolution at all.

    Okay, so some people are truly concerned that abortion can have a negative psychological or emotional affect on men. GREAT! I agree that it can. Maybe these people could bring awareness to this issue and advocate for psychological and supportive resources for men who are emotionally troubled by abortion. This is a different way of FRAMING the conversation.

    But because restricting access to abortion ultimately means denying a woman full control over what happens to her own body, the personal emotional feelings of others should NOT be considered as a valid way to frame the very question of whether abortion should be legal at all. Abortion access should be unequivocally framed as an issue uniquely affecting the bodily autonomy of an individual, regardless of whether or not it makes another person just feel icky.

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