A blogger at Patheos, who defines herself as a "feminist, progressive and nonbeliever," has responded to a recent post published by the "Friendly Atheist" Hemant Mehta featuring a pro-life humanist, by saying atheist opposition to abortion is not surprising at all.
The post titled, "Yes, There Are Pro-Life Atheists Out There. Here's Why I'm One of Them," by Kristine Kruszelnicki, president of Pro-Life Humanists, created quite the brouhaha, writes Libby Anne, who was "raised in an evangelical family, was homeschooled."
But why can't atheists be against abortion, questions Anne, who blogs about "all sorts of issues, but especially about the trials and joys of leaving fundamentalist and evangelical religion… everything about Christian Right politics."
We need to get away from the assumption that atheist are "politically and socially progressive," she argued.
"You can be an atheist and be progressive, conservative, libertarian … sexist, racist, homophobic. Atheism does not have a statement of faith, or a catechism, or a set of beliefs. This is why I do not identify first and foremost as atheist … My feminism, my belief in social justice issues, and my advocacy for children's rights are infinitely more important to me than my lack of belief in a deity."
Anne writes that the arguments against abortion she was taught did not center on religion.
The blogger says she was taught to defend it with the acronym SLED: Size, Level of development, Environment, and Degree of dependency.
"The basic argument is that fetuses differ from babies, toddlers, and other born humans only in size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency, and that none of these justify ending life. We don't kill people off because they are smaller than others, we don't kill people off because they have developmental problems (i.e. various disabilities), we don't kill people off based on where they are located, and we don't kill people off just because they are dependent on others and need caring for. Therefore … abortion is not morally justifiable," Anne explains.
While Evangelicals believe God values all human life, atheists believe life is inherently valuable, she points out.
But these arguments are not important, Anne adds. "What I find more interesting are the practicalities of it."
The blogger goes on to say that those engaged in the debate should not work to legislate "these personal beliefs, which Kristine willingly admits is her goal."
"… If the pre-born are human members of our species and worthy of recognition as human persons, we have just as much of an obligation to protect them from the choices of other human beings and to ensure that violence against them is not legal and condoned," Kruszelnicki wrote in her post.
Banning abortion is not the solution, Anne suggests. "Women tend to have abortions because they don't have money to raise a child, or because they don't feel like they are at a place in their lives where they can give a child a good life."
The best way is to make effective birth control more easily available and make raising children more affordable, she argues.
"I really wish we could all stop arguing about whether or not abortion is moral and instead set about trying to make it less necessary in ways that have the potential to make life better for everyone, man, woman, and child."