As early as our days on public access, our viewers and listeners have eagerly asked us “When are you going to discuss abortion?” In keeping with our founding purpose as a show dedicated to atheism, skepticism, and the separation of church and state, we searched for a way in which this intersects with the topic. A few months ago we put our an open call to our listeners to provide us with non-religious reasons to oppose abortion rights. While some listeners responded with a few arguments they’d encountered, we heard very few atheist abortion opponents.
On Sunday, you’ll hear from a range of us who’ve been involved in Ask an Atheist: Sam, Eileen, and Bob; Mike, Libbie, and Deanna; and Becky, Nick, and Scott. I’ll save the bulk of the discussion to this awesome cast, but want to give a few points that will guide our discussion.
The majority of arguments against abortion are religiously motivated and not based on science. Science says nothing about souls, about any god giving the breath of life or dreaming us into the wombs of our mothers. Because of these deeply held beliefs, religious folks then attempt to make all sorts of reasons why abortion is bad, including but not limited to misinformation that abortion is dangerous, or that it leads to murder or infanticide being legalized, or any number of spurious arguments. AaA contributor Bob Seidensticker has deftly addressed these at his blog GalileoUnchained.
The question of when human life begins is, possibly inextricably, linked to the question of moral permissibility of abortion, and isn’t inherently religious nor spurious. I’m moved by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan’s essay that originally appeared in Billions and Billions (Thanks to listener Crankyhumanist for the link). “We offer for consideration the earliest onset of human thinking as that criterion [for when abortion is not permissible],” they state. Human thought, they explain, is as observed by brain waves characteristic of people age infant through adult. This essay is written, albeit years ago, from an intensely sensitive and humanistic perspective.
Please join us this Sunday as we discuss these and other issues related to abortion, reproductive rights, religion, and atheism. It’s bound to be a chock-full episode!