Why don’t atheists oppose abortion?

Why don’t atheists include abortion among the most hideous forms of evil in the world?

Over 50,000,000 abortions have been carried out in the USA since 1973.

Here is where the real exposure hits the fan. If atheists (and others who consider themselves progressives) claim such deep loyalty to science as the basis for truth, why wouldn’t they oppose abortion like they oppose religion? I challenge all atheists who believe in science to speak out against abortion. I would love to be wrong about concluding that most atheists would not be willing to take my challenge.

It’s an indisputable fact of science that the life of the fetus is more than a “product” of conception. The occupant of the womb is a human life with the potential of becoming a mature human being. Abortion does not simply terminate a pregnancy; it terminates the life of a baby. If you have children, look closely at them and remind yourself that had you chosen to abort at any point from conception to birth, you would have ended their lives. This is beyond dispute. Induced abortion is the deliberate destruction of an unborn child. Why do we have laws related to fetal homicide? Why do doctor’s perform fetal surgery on babies in the womb?

Fetal Development:From conception to birth

Day 1: fertilization:all human chromosomes are present; unique human life begins.

Day 6: embryo begins implantation in the uterus.

Day 22: heart begins to beat with the child’s own blood, often a different type than the mothers’.

Week 3: By the end of third week the child’s backbone spinal column and nervous system are forming.  The liver, kidneys and intestines begin to take shape.

Week 4: By the end of week four the child is ten thousand times larger than the fertilized egg.

Week 5: Eyes, legs, and hands begin to develop.

Week 6: Brain waves are detectable; mouth and lips are present; fingernails are forming.

Week 7: Eyelids, and toes form, nose distinct.  The baby is kicking and swimming.

Week 8: Every organ is in place, bones begin to replace cartilage, and fingerprints begin to form.  By the 8th week the baby can begin to hear.

Weeks 9 and 10: Teeth begin to form, fingernails develop.  The baby can turn his head, and frown.  The baby can hiccup.

Weeks 10 and 11: The baby can “breathe” amniotic fluid and urinate.  Week 11 the baby can grasp objects placed in its hand; all organ systems are functioning.  The baby has a skeletal structure, nerves, and circulation.

Week 12: The baby has all of the parts necessary to experience pain, including nerves, spinal cord, and thalamus.  Vocal cords are complete.  The baby can suck its thumb.

Week 14: At this age, the heart pumps several quarts of blood through the body every day.

(facts from: http://www.nrlc.org/abortion/facts/fetaldevelopment.html)

Deeper issue for atheists:

I realize that it’s not politically correct to take the scientific position in opposing abortion. Instead of accepting the obvious facts, people squirm around the scientific evidence with word games or by trying to change the subject (imagine talking about choice or abuse and neglect of children to defend abortion). But if you’re going to manipulate facts about this hideous form of torture and murder, at least stop pretending deep devotion to scientific facts on other matters.

See also:

Steve Cornell

About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in Abortion, Atheism, Ethics, Evil in the world, Violence. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Why don’t atheists oppose abortion?

  1. “Why do we have laws related to fetal homicide?”

    Because, amongst other reasons, our laws very often have absolutely nothing to do with science or evidence.

    “Why do doctor’s perform fetal surgery on a baby in the womb?”

    Because it isn’t a black or white issue. A fertilized egg is clearly not a human, while a fetus at 8 months clearly is. Where that change takes place is a difficult question, and one we haven’t figured out yet.

  2. Will says:

    I’ll take a bite. I consider myself a pantheist, a position which makes me a functional atheist. I also have personal experience with both abortion and bringing a pregnancy to term, or at least I will come December when my daughter is due to be born.

    I believe that “potential” is not enough to trump “actual.” By that I mean the fetus, which you represent as the “potential” human being, does not have the same value as the “actual” human being, namely the mother.

    So right off the bat, the fetus automatically loses in questions of whether or not the woman can do what she pleases with her body. The fetus is not a human, she is, it’s her body. End of story.

    But as far as when a fetus becomes a human baby (which would be considered on a par with the woman), as NotAScientist pointed out, that is much more complicated. I think the UK has about the most reasonable stance on it, in that they ban abortions after (I think it’s) 22 weeks, which is about the time when detectable brain activity starts to occur. 24 weeks is the earliest time possible for a fetus to survive outside the womb, though actual survival rates for fetuses delivered this early are very, very low. But because of these facts, I think one could make a reasonable case that 24 weeks is a good marker for when a fetus becomes a human baby, and therefore a good cutoff for allowing elective abortions. Besides, 5 or 6 months (20-24 weeks) is plenty of time for a woman to decide whether or not to bring the pregnancy to term.

    In cases where the life of the mother is at risk, or in cases of rape or incest, I think that there really should not be any limit, since those cases are so extreme and it would outrageously violate all standards of human decency to compel a woman to endure that simply based on the “potential” of the fetus, and yes, even in cases where it has passed that threshold of 24 weeks.

    Now I’ll address your specific points:

    ——–

    ““Scientifically we are human beings by virtue of our genetic makeup. The human code in the chromosomes is there from the start. We are utterly different from monkeys or rats or elephants as soon as the chromosomes of egg and sperm meet.””

    The human code is in a chewed-off fingernail, too. A collection of cells with human dna does not make a human, no matter the “potential.”

    ““At eight weeks, all the organs are present – brain functioning, heart pumping, liver making blood cells, kidney cleaning the fluids, fingerprints formed, etc. Yet almost all abortions happen later than this date.””

    They are present, but not fully formed. (And the liver doesn’t make blood cells. That’s bone marrow you’re thinking of.) As I said, there is no detectable brain activity until around 22 weeks. There may be brain matter at 8 weeks (and I’m not sure on that without looking it up) but it’s not a functioning brain yet.

    ““Ultrasound has given a stunning window on the womb that shows the unborn at eight weeks sucking a thumb, recoiling from pricking, responding to sound. We can see the amazing pictures in Life Magazine or various books or Web pages.””

    At 8 weeks, the eardrums are not fully-formed, and as I said, the brain is not fully formed, at least not enough to process sound anyway (what it’s reacting to is the vibration caused by sound). I know this because my wife and I asked this same question of the doctors when we got our ultrasound at 10 weeks, 2 weeks after what you think is the time they can actually respond to sound.

    But regardless of that fact, yes, they do respond to stimuli…in a purely instinctual manner; there is nothing particularly “human” about these reactions. The “human” reactions come much later, my wife is at 29 weeks and I can tell you that my daughter inside the womb definitely responds differently to my voice as opposed to other stimuli (we play music, clap our hands, etc.). This is because the ears and brain are fully formed and able to differentiate sounds and other stimuli instead of just instinctually reacting like at 10 weeks.

    “There is a principle of justice that, when two legitimate rights conflict – say the woman’s right not to be pregnant, and the baby’s right not to be killed – the right that should be limited is the one that would do the most harm.” (John Piper)

    Well, may I say that John Piper has a clever way of absolving himself of having to spell out exactly what “the most harm” is while at the same time using the loaded term “baby” instead of a more neutral term, like “unborn.” It doesn’t end there, though. The choice of terms automatically leads the reader to Piper’s desired conclusion: a “baby” (no talk of fetuses) suffers more harm than a woman (the “baby” wants “not to be killed” while the woman selfishly just wants “not to be pregnant,” as if that were the only reason to have an abortion). Piper is trying to pretend he’s making a rational statement, but like dog-whistles, the watchwords belie his intent as they are designed to elicit an emotional response, not a rational one. It’s for these reasons I find Piper’s statement to be disingenuous. This is not to say that emotion has no validity in making a decision on whether or not to bring a pregnancy to term, but it does not automatically trump reason, and anyway your discussion was about appealing to the “scientific” atheist, I thought appeals to emotion would be out of place, yet here they are.

    —-

    I hope this clarifies things for you on the thinking of at least one (functional) atheist. I also hope you won’t be as smug and condescending in the future, as you were throughout your blog post. I believe that were you to actually follow your own blog title and take some “time to think,” you might find that such arrogance in unwarranted given your ignorance about what atheists think and believe, nevermind your ignorance on some key pieces of the science regarding fetal development. A piece of advice: if you’re going to pose a question to someone, you might not want to act like any answer they might give will be wrong. You also might want to reconsider using appeals to emotion when you claim the discussion is about science. So not only do you end up looking like a jerk, but you also look intellectually dishonest.

    Anyway, hope you take something away from more than the kneejerk “atheists are evil and deranged” response I’d expect given the tone of your post, but if not, oh well then. Peace out.

    • thinkpoint says:

      Will,
      I’ll respond to each of your responses. The parts in quotes are from a section by John Piper that I had in an earlier version of my post.

      Piper: ““Scientifically we are human beings by virtue of our genetic makeup. The human code in the chromosomes is there from the start. We are utterly different from monkeys or rats or elephants as soon as the chromosomes of egg and sperm meet.””

      Will: The human code is in a chewed-off fingernail, too. A collection of cells with human dna does not make a human, no matter the “potential.”

      Me: You prove nothing by using a finger nail comparison. When egg and sperm meet, the person who grows to maturity nine months later is the same person from the beginning —simply in earliest form.

      Piper: ““At eight weeks, all the organs are present – brain functioning, heart pumping, liver making blood cells, kidney cleaning the fluids, fingerprints formed, etc. Yet almost all abortions happen later than this date.””

      Will: They are present, but not fully formed. (And the liver doesn’t make blood cells. That’s bone marrow you’re thinking of.) As I said, there is no detectable brain activity until around 22 weeks. There may be brain matter at 8 weeks (and I’m not sure on that without looking it up) but it’s not a functioning brain yet.

      Me: Again, “present” is enough because the person who grows to maturity nine months later is the same person from the beginning —simply in earliest form (same thing applies to brain matter/activity. I am not sure how Piper slipped on the blood cell/liver reference.

      Piper: ““Ultrasound has given a stunning window on the womb that shows the unborn at eight weeks sucking a thumb, recoiling from pricking, responding to sound. We can see the amazing pictures in Life Magazine or various books or Web pages.””

      Will: At 8 weeks, the eardrums are not fully-formed, and as I said, the brain is not fully formed, at least not enough to process sound anyway (what it’s reacting to is the vibration caused by sound). I know this because my wife and I asked this same question of the doctors when we got our ultrasound at 10 weeks, 2 weeks after what you think is the time they can actually respond to sound.

      Me: responding to sound is not equal to formation of eardrums and really proves nothing. The same reality stands and trumps all of these fine points of distinction: If you had chosen to abort at any time, the baby who will soon be born to you is what/who you aborted. This IS indisputable!

      Will: But regardless of that fact, yes, they do respond to stimuli…in a purely instinctual manner; there is nothing particularly “human” about these reactions. The “human” reactions come much later, my wife is at 29 weeks and I can tell you that my daughter inside the womb definitely responds differently to my voice as opposed to other stimuli (we play music, clap our hands, etc.). This is because the ears and brain are fully formed and able to differentiate sounds and other stimuli instead of just instinctually reacting like at 10 weeks.

      “There is a principle of justice that, when two legitimate rights conflict – say the woman’s right not to be pregnant, and the baby’s right not to be killed – the right that should be limited is the one that would do the most harm.” (John Piper)

      Will: Well, may I say that John Piper has a clever way of absolving himself of having to spell out exactly what “the most harm” is while at the same time using the loaded term “baby” instead of a more neutral term, like “unborn.” It doesn’t end there, though. The choice of terms automatically leads the reader to Piper’s desired conclusion: a “baby” (no talk of fetuses) suffers more harm than a woman (the “baby” wants “not to be killed” while the woman selfishly just wants “not to be pregnant,” as if that were the only reason to have an abortion). Piper is trying to pretend he’s making a rational statement, but like dog-whistles, the watchwords belie his intent as they are designed to elicit an emotional response, not a rational one. It’s for these reasons I find Piper’s statement to be disingenuous. This is not to say that emotion has no validity in making a decision on whether or not to bring a pregnancy to term, but it does not automatically trump reason, and anyway your discussion was about appealing to the “scientific” atheist, I thought appeals to emotion would be out of place, yet here they are.

      Me: Your entire analysis again works off a faulty assumption that you can abort a “non-human” because you do it early enough. This is just scientifically dishonest. The emotional/rational distinction only stands if your assumption stands.

  3. iheartfilm says:

    I’m an atheist, and I only support medical abortions: those that are performed in order to save the mother. (There are other exceptions, of course, such as incest.) Abortions that are meant to erase the products of promiscuity are pretty selfish acts (and a lot more common than you think). They’re selfish because the woman who elects to have the abortion is basically saying that she doesn’t believe the fetus has the right to exist and flourish. I’m “Pro Existence.” All living things have the right to exist. Why do you think a woman (whether she wants to or not) conceives in the first place? Because a life inside of her is struggling to exist whether she wants it to or not. She is, after all, merely a host.

  4. Dearly Beloved:

    Jesus said “Suffer the little children to come unto me, for such is the kingdom of heaven”. “Children are an heritage to the Lord”. “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that diviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren”. In this passage “hands that shed innocent blood”, includes the slaughter of unborn children. Is not our current lawmakers and judicial system quick to punish those found guilty of abuse, molestation and other sinful acts against children usually required to be registered as offenders? Is not this practice a legal hypocrisy? What about the unborn? Why not put the abortion doctors and medical people commiting this atrocity against God and man, on the regisitered offenders list as well?

    Was not Hitler a criminal against ethnic groups such as Jews, Poles, Gypsies and when he also slaughtered their unborn and children? Pharoah wanted to destroy all the male children in Moses’s day, and Herod slaughtered infants under two years old after Christ was born. This pleasure driven demonic world we live in is “ripe” for God’s judgment. Anyone offended including children, the Lord said “that it would be better for a milestone to be hung around their neck and be cast into the sea”! When God creates a life in the womb, His desire is for that child to be given birth! The Lord knows how to terminate a pregnancy for His own reasons! He does not need our help in deciding who should live or who should die. The only time an unborn child’s life should be considered for abortion is when the mother’s life is in question. However, Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin. “She is now weeping for her children”.

    “And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni; but his father (Jacob) called him Benjamin; (meaning “The son of the right hand). And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day”; Genesis 35:16-20. “After the Birth of Christ, Bethlehem is where any child aged two or younger was slaughtered by the wicked Herod’s edict. He was so ruthless and fearful of Jesus who would be “King of Kings and Lord of Lord”s he didn’t care who died! It was said of him by Ceasar Augustus that “it would be better to be one of Herod’s swine that to be a member of his family”. Herod was known to have had his wife and sons killed, if they got in his way.

    Beloved, please understand the truths in God’s Holy Word! Thou shalt not kill!
    There is pardon for any sin and His grace and mercy is available to anyone for any sin! Will this slaughter of the unborn go on? Sadly it will. Does a woman have a right to choose? God’s word will eventually judge that right! Mom’s to be, please consider alternatives for unwanted pregnancies. Give the gift of Life! Greater Love has no man (or woman) as they would lay down their live for the friends (or unborn babies). To convey what I’ve written is simply a matter of conscience! Roe v Wade’s devilish influence will destroy this nation! God bless the unborn and may God shed his mercy and Grace on this nation!

    Pastor Stephen W. Pyle
    P.O. Box 965
    Elkins WV 26241
    304-637-0073
    pastorswpyle@yahoo.com

  5. Will says:

    By the way Steve, I think the Wikipedia article on fetal development is much more detailed than the source you citied in your “new” post,.it includes links to actual scientific studies. It’s also just a wee bit less biased than the National Right to Life Council, which means it doesn’t mischaracterize through over-simplification certain things like brain development.

  6. Vincent says:

    Oh but that’s an easy answer for me. As an atheist, I do not believe in the existence of absolute truth, absolute goodness or absolute evil. My moral answers are not predetermined. I do not have access to an ever-ready, conveniently predetermined, moral code that says things such as “X is good, Y is evil!”. Hence I unfortunately cannot utter absolute universal statements such as “I oppose abortion!” (implying all forms of abortions) or “abortions hurt women!” (implying all women). Instead, in passing judgment, I have the burden to actually look into the details of things, actually having to spend time understanding the circumstances of each and every particular situation. I know, it is quite a burden…

  7. Pingback: My appeal to President Obama |

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