Sunday, February 17, 2013
Thoughts of A Pro-Life Atheist
It may seem strange, as an atheist, to identify myself as "pro-life." Of course, nowadays, it is common to stereotype atheists as pro-choice; but there is always room for anomalies.
My reasoning for my stance against abortion is one that is does not involve the notion of
the sanctity of life. Beings come into existence, live their lives, and then cease to exist. This is the cycle which is life, and there is not any special significance about the idea of it. However, it seems to be the case that any sort of potential for existence is a completely different aspect, and one that I hold paramount in my stance about abortion. In this sense, it is misleading for me to designate myself as "pro-life." Perhaps a more appropriate title of my stance could be pro-potential.
By potential of life, I mean that fertilized egg, in the exact moment of conception, has a certain capacity that will lead to consciousness (given that the fetus is not exposed to medical complications that result in its death). Many people that hold the pro-choice stance will claim that a damaged or deformed fetus (and even ones without complications) are in the jurisdiction of the mother's choice. I must admit that, unless the woman is raped or the birth of the baby will lead to her death, any decision to abort this potential for life is a rights violation. Of course, if this action is a human rights violation is another matter entirely, for it could be argued that the fetus is not a human.
Pro-lifers usually object to the claim that human life starts at conception. I do not hold this view, for there is a lack of evidence that suggests that the fetus, before a certain stage in its development, experiences any neurological functioning. However, the potential for life is firmly established by fertilization; this cannot be refuted by any scientist or philosopher. Perhaps the next objection from the pro-lifers would be something like, "Well, in that case, the moment when your mother is born could be a potential for life, since her life inevitably leads to your own." This objection seems ad hoc, and totally misses the basis of my assertion. It is obtuse to say that the potential starts before fertilization.
As mentioned earlier, abortion is a rights violation. By giving the mother the right to infringe upon the fetus' potential for life, the point is made clear. When viewing this from a rights perspective, the potential for the fetus to develop into a rationalizing human being, whether his/her life is full of conflict or flourishing, is something that cannot be ignored. Many people of the pro-choice opinion are bound to say, "The child will not live a fulfilled life if they are exposed to a life full of hardships or given away to adoption. Why put the child through this? We should, instead, abort the fetus so that the child will not experience a horrible quality of life." To this, I ask: "Who are we to decide that another being cannot eventually overcome even the most destructive obstacles?" Adoption, in cases not mentioned previously, truly is the morally superior alternative to destroying another being's potential to experience the beauty of life. If indeed, the child grows up and realizes that his/her life is so miserable in his situation, he always has the right to commit suicide. This point may seem unavoidably poignant on first glance, but at least it leaves the ultimate decision to life up to the human subject, and not some outside source.
Just some thoughts... maybe an outline for a bigger exposition in the future.