In a 2010 survey, Americans stated that the group of people that they trust the least is people of no religion. The study went on to say that Americans see irreligion as more suspect than other controversial lifestyles, including homosexuality. In this less than welcoming climate, it is easy to see how, for some young people, opening up about their lack of faith is to akin to coming out of the closet, so to speak.
Being an atheist or agnostic in America isn’t the easiest of tasks. Likewise being a pro-life college student on a campus where the key age demographic (18-24) accounts for 44 percent of abortions performed isn’t a cake walk either. Yet I remain steadfastly pro-life and agnostic; as one secular person I know has described it, we are a minority within a minority.
So why do I hold both positions? Let me attempt to explain. Because the abortion debate is so extensively peppered with red-herrings and distractions, an interesting way for me to explain myself is to state issues that are NOT the reasons I am pro-life.
I am not pro-life because I am “anti-choice.” I believe in the maximum amount of just choices between consenting adults. I think women and men should have the right to choose to have sex or not. They should be able to choose whom they have sex with and when and how often they have sex. They should be able to access whatever scientific sexual education materials they are interested in and whatever types of birth control they prefer. Men and women who are not ready should be able to choose adoption and whether the adoption is open or closed. Women and men who are struggling as new parents should be able to choose to apply for government assistance for the sake of their new child.
But men and women should not be able to choose to take the life of their child. Not all choices are moral; the choice to own slaves is immoral, the choice to discriminate against minorities is immoral; choice is only the embodiment of freedom when those choices do not harm others.
I am not pro-life because I am against “women’s health.” I support the right of any woman to abort a pregnancy that poses a risk to her physical well-being. According to the Guttmacher Institute, only twelve percent involved issues with the mother’s health. In contrast, half of all babies aborted are female, and one-hundred percent of innocent female fetuses’ health is affected when they are intentionally killed. As the late and renowned atheist Christopher Hitchens stated, “In order to terminate a pregnancy, you have to still a heartbeat, switch off a developing brain . . . break some bones and rupture some organs.” Therefore I ask: is the purpose of women’s health to keep women’s hearts beating or intentionally stop them? I support women’s health by opposing the 1,750 baby girls that were unjustly killed yesterday, are being unjustly killed today, and will be unjustly killed tomorrow; that’s opposing a real “war on women.”
I am not pro-life because I against bodily autonomy. I believe that men and women should be able to put whatever they want into their bodies so long as they are willing to accept the consequences. Pregnancy is not applicable to this principle because both parents should accept the risk of parenthood by engaging in consensual sex. In rape cases, because consent is not present, I do believe a bodily autonomy argument is compelling and therefore I do support an exception for rape cases.
I am not pro-life because I am a clueless, sexist man who will never get pregnant. I consider myself a male feminist. I do not want to send all women back to the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. On the contrary I have an equal amount of respect for women who wish to focus on their education or careers, for women who wish to be stay at home as mothers, or for those who wish to do both at some point in their lives. I hope my future spouse is an intelligent, accomplished, and independent woman; likewise I wish to live in a world where my future daughters have the same opportunities available as my future sons. In fact I hope the day Roe v. Wade is overturned, we have a pro-life female chief justice and a pro-life woman as our president. And on that beautiful day I would love to have pro-choicers lecture me about sexism.
I am not pro-life because of religion or politics. I am an agnostic and a registered independent. I hold some liberal, some conservative, and some libertarian viewpoints. I am certainly not pro-life because I want to create a wedge issue to divide people. I wish people would naturally recognize the dignity of the unborn. This would save me the time and money trying to persuade them; however if they don’t recognize fetal humanity I have a moral obligation to try to show them.
I am not pro-life because I want to restrict people’s freedom. If I am a “culture warrior” in any sense I would not be on the conservative side. In fact I am very socially libertarian on every issue except abortion. The right to an abortion perverts the very notion of freedom. As the classic libertarian quote states, the freedom to swing your arms stops at the tip of someone else’s nose. Likewise our sexual and reproductive freedom stops at the tip an innocent’s baby nose.
CLICK LIKE IF YOU’RE PRO-LIFE!
I am pro-life because it is the pre-eminent moral and legal dilemma of our time. In determining which side to take I’m often reminded of the famous quote of Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart who said he did not know how to define obscenity, but he added, “I know it when I see it”. Well as an agnostic and social libertarian, I don’t have a definition of barbarism but I know it when I see it. For anyone who has ever seen an abortion, it’s hard to imagine how they could describe it as anything but barbaric. The founder of NARAL himself, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, became a fervent pro-life activist as the development of ultrasound technology opened his eyes to horror of the procedure. Before his death he wrote his autobiography, in which he stated, “I am one of those who helped to usher in this barbaric age.”
Thankfully for Dr. Nathanson, he spent the last thirty-two years of his life attempting to make things right. We are equally fortunate to use our lives to end this great injustice. Whether you’re a secularist, believer, man, woman, Republican, Democrat, or even a former pro-choicer, we can all wear the label “pro-life” proudly.
LifeNews Note: Nick Reynosa writes for Secular Pro-Life.