Why Are Religious Conservatives So Bad When It Comes to Discussing Abortion?

When it comes to the 100% pro-life position regarding rape/incest exceptions, here’s an argument against allowing them that I can understand:

If the product of conception between two humans is a human, and if human life — including inchoate human life — is deserving of protection, then the manner of a baby’s conception is irrelevant to a determination of whether that inchoate life has the right to continued existence.

I don’t agree with that… but I understand that. If the pro-lifers left it at that, I think they’d be better off strategically.

Flashback to Todd Akin for a moment. Here’s what he said that go him into all the Trouble:

Todd Akin (via Christian Science Monitor)

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare… If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Akin later said he didn’t mean “legitimate rape”… he meant “forcible rape.” Which really doesn’t help his case.

But the Illinois Family Institute is taking it a step further. Laurie Higgins admits that Akin said something awful (she points out that “legitimate rape” is an oxymoron)… but in her effort to spin it for the best, she somehow makes it even worse:

Akin’s disastrous sentence construction, which implies that some rapes are legitimate, communicated an idea that he does not believe and did not mean to say. The correct phraseology would be something like “legitimate claims of rape,” meaning that some claims are false, which of course is true. Some women claim to have been raped when actually they have not been raped.

I’m going to set aside the whole “some women lie about rape” thing right now…

But IFI thinks Todd Akin should have said this:

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare… If it’s a legitimate claim of rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”


It would still be horribly offensive, not to mention untrue.

A Republican Senate candidate from Pennsylvania, Tom Smith, also said something incredibly ignorant about abortion yesterday. When a reporter asked Smith — a pro-lifer — what he’d do if a family member was raped, he said that he’d been through a similar experience already and his daughter chose to keep the baby.

“She chose life, and I commend her for that,” Smith said. “She knew my views but fortunately for me… she chose the way I thought. Now don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t rape.”

Then what was it? asked the reporter.

Smith came clean: His daughter had a baby out of wedlock.

His daughter chose to have sex with someone and he’s comparing that to a woman being forced to have sex against her will.

This is the state of the Republican Party.

(At least his daughter had a choice… a choice that Smith would take away from all other women if he had his way.)

Republicans have been digging their own graves every time they talk about abortion. Which is great for those of us who are pro-choice, but awful for the state of our country when people like this are getting elected all over the place.

But this is why the media needs to keep pressing Republicans on social issues like abortion and gay marriage. They don’t know how to talk about it in an effective way. Every time they open their mouths, they’re finding out that lines that get applause in church aren’t working with people outside of it. That’s a good sign. I love it when ChristianSpeak gets pushed further into the outskirts of what passes as reasonable dialogue.

It’s stunning that so many people — who want to be government officials — could be that callous about the health and well-being of American women.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627228091 Alexander Ryan

    Well, you can’t change what you don’t understand. And it seems just when we think we’ve seen the most stupid and abhorrent things being said and done by someone or something, it backhands us and 1-ups itself.

  • LesterBallard

    When people say they have religious objections, that’s it for me. Because they’ll tell you their pro-life, but if their god suddenly murdered every pregnant woman on the planet, along with every newborn, they wouldn’t give a shit. They’d just say god’s will, praise him. Fuck that.

  • http://www.allourlives.org/ TooManyJens

    Why Are Religious Conservatives So Bad When It Comes to Discussing Abortion?

    They’ve never had to get good at it. Nobody questions them within their own circles, and everyone outside their own circles is unGodly and sinful and not to be learned from.

  • Tainda

    Every time one of these morons opens their mouth and spouts another brilliant quote I just smile and say to myself “keep it coming”

    I’m sure these assholes don’t believe in date rape or marital rape.  Those aren’t “legitimate” I’m sure

  • lellipses

    I bet most members of the GOP, those who sensibly condemned Akin’s statement, are getting tired of the string of idiots who’re all too eager to defend him and put their his foot in their mouth.  They don’t seem to understand what the outrage was about and would rather run their mouths than even TRY to understand.  It’s infuriating.

  • William R. Dickson

    I’m not a huge fan of Bill Maher, but his recent column on Akin and the GOP hit the nail on the head for me: religion, at least outside the rarified atmosphere of religious academia, trains people to reason badly and primes them for magical thinking. Offensive nonsense is an expected result.

  • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

    Hear, hear.  It didn’t seem possible to sink lower than the Akin debacle.  Congratulations Mr. Smith, you seem to have discovered a trapdoor in the bedrock.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    Is there any subject that religious conservatives can address rationally? That’s not intended as an insult, but is a valid question. It seems to me that the ability to engage in rational debate is a skill that is disappearing among all Americans, but has declined even faster among conservatives, and is perhaps gone completely among religious conservatives.

    Frankly, if you have anything approaching reasonable thinking skills, I don’t think it would be possible to be a religious conservative.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    Their position is easier to understand once you remember that sex outside of marriage is always a bad thing for a woman, and whether she consented or not is a secondary concern.  She had sex. She now has to deal with the consequence.

  • Joshua Zelinsky

    This is an example of belief overkill, a common cognitive bias one sees in a lot of situations. Essentially, people are inclined to believe that different lines of reasoning to the same result are all correct  or all incorrect even if they aren’t logically connected. For example, with the recent healthcare law,  people who thought that the law was pragmatically a good idea also were likely to think it was constitutional. People who thought it was a bad idea were likely to think it was unconstitutional. There’s something pretty similar going on here. It is easier to accept every possible argument that’s pro-life or every argument that’s pro-choice than to carefully take a nuanced position where arguments that support your viewpoint sometimes need to be rejected. 

  • jdm8

    “They don’t know how to talk about it in an effective way.”

    I don’t want them to get better at it. Abortion isn’t their business.

    This religious argument is nonsense anyway, when there is a prescription for abortion in the case of adultery in the Torah.

  • Reginald Selkirk

     William Lane Craig deepens the hole. Not only does he go into extensive discussion about the “legitimate rape” phrasing, but he tries to defend Akin’s statement on the rarity of pregnancy in cases of rape. He labels the mainstream value of 5% being reported as coming from pro-choice sources, and counters with other (unnamed) sources which say the figure may be as low as 1%. The one thing WLC never gets around to mentioning: whether the woman should have any ‘personhood’ rights.

  • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

    D’oh, I can’t get your link to work. :(  Probably a good thing, because I’ve thrown up enough for one week. 

  • The Other Weirdo

     Do you mean that the argument for abortion is so weak that it rests entirely on the weakness of the opposing camp?

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

    Just take out the quotes: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/akins-blunder

    There, now vomit away!

  • The Captain

    Hemant I have to disagree, not with any of the specific points, no these are awful people saying awful things. What I disagree with is the premiss that they are “bad” at talking about abortion. They are actually freaking geniuses about the subject! How you ask? How can these people who say these stupid things be geniuses? Because ever since they started saying this ridiculously stupid crap, the entire abortion debate has now focused on “in the case of rape”. But what happened to abortion being legal for people who haven’t been raped? What happen to that fight? Why is the pro-choice crowed no longer talking about abortion rights for every women?

    Every time these anti-abortionist say these stupid comments the pro-choice crowed jumps to find the “gotcha” logic in them that makes them look stupid. But in doing so these people who look so “bad” at talking about it from the outside have once again silently moved the goal post of the debate. Pro-coice people need to stop falling for this trap, if some idiot says something horrible about abortion in the case of rape, do not fall for it Hemant. Just ignore the ignorance and keep arguing that abortion is fine for ANY woman that wants one, rape or not!

  • Octoberfurst

     Excellent point! A person can say any number of idiotic things in a church and never get challenged. The sheep will just nod their heads in agreement But if they say the same thing in the outside world people will give them a quizzled look and call them on their BS. Being unaccustomed to having to defend what they spew out they will give really poor idiotic replies which makes them look even worse.  I’ve seen it happen many times in my life.

  • Coyotenose

     The argument for abortion rights is simple and overwhelming: Women are people. Embryos are not. The person’s right to protect and make decisions about her body overrides any counterclaim that has or could be made.

    It isn’t the Pro-Women side’s fault that the other guys have no argument that isn’t based on religion, bald lies, or ignorance… which are really all the same thing anyway.

  • WoodyTanaka

    Not only that, but the creepyist thing to me is when the christians make noah’s ark stuffed toys for babies.  Have you seen these things??  In the story, the demon YHVH murders every baby in the world and yet these crazy christians are giving little stuffed arcs with the animal heads popping out.  It’s freakish.

  • A3Kr0n

     inchoate (incomplete) life also includes sperm and eggs if I understand this correctly. Should they also be given rights?

  • Redondoron

    Stop calling them pro life. They are mostly antiabortion. If they were pro life they would be against the death penalty. They would be against way. They would vigorously support laws that keep people healthy. 

  • ReadsInTrees

    The “only for rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life” thing is no good. I mean, can it just be a claim of rape while at the abortion clinic (in which case, why bother with the rule because then everyone will just say it was rape in order to get an abortion), or does there have to be a police report for the rape? Or, does there need to be an actual rape conviction? All of these are bad options. Do we tie up the police with potentially false rape reports? If we need a conviction…well, we all know how long it takes a case to work through the court system. If there needs to be a rape conviction for a woman to get an abortion, it will be several months at least before she’d be able to get an abortion….in which case it might be past the allowed abortion time frame anyway.
    It should just be allowed up to a certain point, no questions asked. Trying to limit abortions based on HOW the conception happened would just be another case of rights being taken from women.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    Some religious conservatives believe that a holy angel descends from heaven and implants a human soul at precisely the time of egg fertilization thus differentiating the fertilized egg from all other tissue and fertilized eggs from all other species.  They believe that personhood is divinely bestowed at this time and any human action that might prevent subsequent cell division thwarts the will of God and the plan God has for this fertilized egg.  The religious conservatives think the subsequent physiological development and tissue differentiation of the fertilized egg as it takes human form is irrelevant to the personhood status. 

    Then the religious conservatives believe that if for some reason the religious training of the person did not take and they end up being homosexual or atheistic, then they have turned away from God’s intended plan and will not be considered worthy of entrance into in heaven.  They might even be tortured for eternity as some sub-human despicable filth. 

    In emulating their most merciful and loving God, the religious conservatives will also desire to ostracize the homosexuals and atheists in this life and basically resend the full personhood status of the adult apostate.  If thwarted on the federal level, the religious conservatives will strive to alter the state constitutions to say no marriage for the homosexuals and keep existing planks in some of the state constitutions saying no public office for the atheists.  The religious conservatives will conduct a cultural war that paints the cause of all troubles as being the turning away from God by the homosexuals, atheists, and their liberal enablers who falsely hold universalist views – for clearly the bible says that the path to heaven is narrow.

    The religious conservative will view government as a natural enemy of church power and will resist any and all action by government to help out the needy.  The religious conservatives want the churches to be the sole provider of humanitarian action.  This keeps the churches relevant, necessary, powerful, and able to proselytize to the most people.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Don’t you mean, “The woman’s right…”? And it’s not a right, it’s a legal privilege, one that can be removed. The other side isn’t interested in rights(especially not yours) or decisions. It’s a blood cult that’s more than willing to send women into the ground over points of largely made-up doctrine. Rightly or wrongly, they are framing this argument on the preservation of life. For them it’s also about sexual immorality, as they see it. And you keep yammering on about your rights, as though they are somehow given to you from on high.

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    Why Are Religious Conservatives So Bad When It Comes to Discussing Abortion?

    Because they have found that it gives them political influence within the Republican party.

  • Trickquestion

     It’s in the bible too.
    Numbers 5:11-31

  • Tainda

    And they will go back to the days of doing it with a clothes hanger/non-professional anyway which increases the likelihood of losing the mother.  They just don’t think their arguments through.

  • http://www.allourlives.org/ TooManyJens

    He labels the mainstream value of 5% being reported as coming from pro-choice sources

    The Right ALWAYS does this. Like I said in another comment on this thread, the right (particularly but not limited to the Religious Right) regard any information that doesn’t come from an explicitly right-wing source as liberal and therefore illegitimate. They can’t debate because they can’t honestly consider the weaknesses in their points, as any good debater must do to improve their arguments.

  • Miss_Beara

    Rape, the uterus and gay marriage. The Republican platform. 

  • eonL5

    JeffP says: “Some religious conservatives believe that a holy angel descends from heaven and implants a human soul at precisely the time of egg fertilization thus differentiating the fertilized egg from all other tissue and fertilized eggs from all other species.”

    And then their god spontaneously aborts ~15-20% of them. And even before that, roughly half never get implanted.

    “It is estimated that up to half of all fertilized eggs die and are lost (aborted) spontaneously, usually before the woman knows she is pregnant. Among those women who know they are pregnant, the miscarriage rate is about 15-20%. Most miscarriages occur during the first 7 weeks of pregnancy. The rate of miscarriage drops after the baby’s heart beat is detected.”

    See http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001488.htm

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    This is true but the religious conservative will say that God simply called up those just bestowed souls to heaven to aid God in some task or other. Perhaps the descending angel didn’t get the memo that the just-bestowed soul was needed by God. The religious conservative believes that the mind of God is so vast and complicated that we can’t possibly know everything about God – with the expectation of what we are to do with our private parts, the proper male-female dynamics, and the specific details of getting into heaven.

  • Coyotenose

     No, I meant exactly what I said. The woman is the only person between the two humans.

    A person’s right to make decisions about their body is considered a Natural Right upheld by law. Agreeing to Constitutional law implicitly means agreeing to such. Their, and your, ignorant, dickish yammering doesn’t change that.

  • Coyotenose

     The religionists claim that it only magically becomes human when fertilization occurs and there is a “potential” human being. They are of course too stupid to understand that their entire definition of a person therefore boils down to a DNA strand, while a Pro-Life definition requires some form of personality and awareness… a soul, if you will. Ironic, that.

    I had a published Creationist preacher screaming when I forced him to define a person as a unique set of DNA, then pointed that out. And of course that he was saying that identical twins aren’t people, and clones won’t be. It was great.

  • http://northierthanthou.com/ northierthanthou

    I think the key to most all Republican political rhetoric these days is that it is a highly reflexive status politics. The bottom line has less to do with long range outcomes than short term validation. …and in that respect, the pro-life lobby is far less interested in stopping abortions than they are in using that cause to remind us all that they are good Christians.

  • Rwlawoffice

     You can say this as forceful as you want and it will never be true.  The pro life side of this argument is the only logical and consistent side. It is the pro death side that insists on defining life by multiple and different definitions in order to justify ending it. It doesn’t matter to me at what stage the baby is developing from conception to birth it is a human life worthy of protection.

  • RebeccaSparks

    The problem with the pro-life movement is that it’s actually about reducing abortion as it is controling women’s sexuality.  If you want to actually reduce abortion, you would speak with women who have had abortions and find out the causes – say a married woman who had limited access to birth control, and not enough money/childcare options to support another child – and you see what social programs you could start to address these issues.

    However, the pro-life community seems completely unconcerned with discovering the reasons why women have abortions–because they a priori know this about abortion:  Women should not have sex outside of marriage. –> The natural consequence/punishment for women having sex outside of marriage is getting pregnant out of wedlock –>Women who have abortions are women who want to have sex without paying for the consequences.

    This is the reason why pro-lifers would oppose things that would actually reduce pregnancy like increased available daycare or birth control distrabution; because women who have sex outside of marriage should get pregnant and pay penance by raising the resulting child.  You can’t be morally superior by talking about punishing by pregnancy-instead you talk about protecting those children that should have been born if not for their selfish, sex-crazed mothers.  Also, since this is a choice there’s no social responsibility to provide services to these moms.

    There are several gaping problems with this theory, but a common objection that is important to this conversation is that if a woman is raped than she did not consent to sex and shouldn’t be forced to bear the consequences.  Sometimes pro-lifers will state that it’s the woman’s responsiblity to have the child anyway.  Most times they have a hard time believing women get pregnant from rape because it doesn’t fit with their preconcived worldview.  

    I’m glad that people have the common sense to be upset that the offensive comments these guys are saying, but it’s not just recently that public figures have been saying this kind of thing–and by hopeful and fully elected public officials alike.  

  • Reginald Selkirk


  • The Other Weirdo

     “Person” implies all persons, male and female. I’m pretty sure you don’t intend to give men the right to decide what to do with women’s bodies. Had you said “The person’s right to protect and make decisions about their body”, you wouldn’t have an argument from me.

    They are not seeing a person, they are seeing two. Yes, it’s a stupid argument. But you framing your side as something as theoretical as a “natural right”, whatever the hell that means in the real world, is going to lose you this fight. By out-breeding, if nothing else. I could be wrong. I hope I am.

    Ultimately, it’s no skin off my nose. I’ve been told, time and time again, that, as a man, I can have no say on this topic.

  • Ibis3

    That may be true as far as the pro-choice issue is concerned, but what about the rape culture issue? We are fighting two battles: one for free access to abortion on demand (actually a major skirmish in the battle for complete reproductive rights including access to contraception and education), the other for the end to the patriarchal treatment of rape (including the slut shaming of victims, classifying only violent stranger rape as “legitimately” rape, myths about pregnancy and rape and about false allegations, etc.). Since we need to fight on both fronts, we can’t just let this crap slide. 

  • Reginald Selkirk

     Even if a zygote were a person, this would not make the woman a non-person, and she should still have the right to control the use of her body.

  • Reginald Selkirk

     You don’t seem able to distinguish between “human life” (and “human,” really? As if a woman would be pregnant with a cat fetus.) and personhood. I could also point out that not all persons have equal rights. Those under 16 do not have the right to drive unaccompanied, those under 18 do not have the right to vote, those under 21 do not have the right to drink.

    And even if a zygote were a person, with some rights, the woman would not cease to be a person with rights, including the right to control her body.

  • Alex

    Considering the recently approved GOP platform, I doubt that “most” members of GOP even so much as disagree.

  • Ibis3

     And there would undoubtedly be not only a massive increase in false allegations (right now they’re about as rare if not more rare than for other assaults), but an increase in convictions of innocent men. Is that really where they want to go?

  • http://bunnystuff.wordpress.com/ Jaimie

    Frankly, if you have anything approaching reasonable thinking skills, I don’t think it would be possible to be a religious conservative.
    There is much truth in this statement. As a former Christian I can tell you that critical thinking on religious and political issues is a big no-no. You believe what you are told to believe. You vote for who they tell you to vote for. The Hell card gets pulled out at any hint of rebellion. Of course they can’t argue. Of course they don’t care about the child once it is born. That’s not what is important. All they care about is not going to Hell. It’s a simple fear-based mentality.
    It’s good to be free.

  • Rwlawoffice

    This is one of those artificial distinctions from the pro abortion side. Human life is human life. It doesn’t need someone else deciding if that human life is a person based upon some other criteria.  For example, recent medical “ethicist” in the UK are now debating if an infant is a person until it has some arbitrary level of self awareness.  Nonsense.

    I disagree with you that a person’s right to life overrides any other person’s right not to be inconvenienced. 

  • Jessica

    What bothered me is when Smith says “fortunately I didn’t have to…um..she chose life” What was he going to have to do?!

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I disagree with you that a person’s right to life overrides any other person’s right not to be inconvenienced.

    You also disagree with most people on that.
    Famous violinist thought experiment

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QPVVPRJ7QKLPU6TF5B4IZTENTI No

    Pfff, I wish.

    If the larger majority in their party really is finding increasing discord with the national party and its insane antics, they sure have a way of failing to make themselves known, which is rather notable given the drive that conservatives tend to show to get out and vote, when compared to their more complacent liberal opponents.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QPVVPRJ7QKLPU6TF5B4IZTENTI No

    Ironic or not, the atheist anti-choice argument is the best one that can be made, though it’s the last one the religion-soaked anti-choice movement will come within 20 feet of. It’s far easier to make the pro-life case if one believes this is the only life that anyone gets, and that it is best enjoyed rather than abbreviated before it begins.

    That’s a position I can at least understand, if not agree with, and it’s simple, without the need for religious BS to back it up. It’s more self-evident than anything the anti-choice crowd has ever come up with.

  • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

    The problem with these guys is laid out in your lede. If they just stuck with the axiom that all fetuses are always entitled to be born, and left it at that, they’d be fine. But they’re not satisfied with it as a simple, dogmatic, axiomatic statement. They think they need to dress it up with rationales and justifications, and try to make it seem as though their position is well-thought and arrived at by extensive analysis rather than as a reflexive dogma. But because they can’t really do that … because they have nothing to base their notion on … they end up spewing gibberish, nonsense, and absurdity instead.

    They just can’t help themselves. In a lot of ways, I pity them. They’re small-minded, and making it worse, is that they’re so small-minded that they aren’t able to conceive of how small-minded they really are.

    That said, my pity for them only goes just so far, and in a lot of cases, it’s gone now. Akin for example deserves all the criticism that’s been heaped on him. Now that he’s had some time to realize how buffoonish his comments were, he no longer has any valid excuse for continuing to be a buffoon. He’s chosen to do just that, of course … so I no longer can feel any pity for him. Just derision for yet another Christofascist who won’t grow up and act his age.

  • Doctor Jen

    I’ve wondered for years why any pro-lifers would allow exceptions for rape.  Like Hemant, I sure don’t AGREE with that but if you are trying to make the argument that zygotes/embryos/fetuses have equal moral status to everyone else then you don’t make an exception based on the biological father’s (or mother’s behavior.)  Of all their arguments, this is actually the only one that makes any sense.  But, the moment you say you will make exceptions for rape, you have revealed that you are more concerned about punishing women than “saving babies.”

  • Sailor

     The zygote is a single cell, a human life has 50 to 75 trillion cells. You really think they are equivalent? It is like saying an acorn is an oak tree

  • Doctor Jen

    And small government.  Remember, it has to be reaaally reaaally tiny to fit inside my uterus!!  
    They are truly repulsive.

  • Corey

    Being concerned for the unborn, regardless of how it came about, should not trump being concerned about equal rights for all human beings. I know that will be something hard for conservative Christians to understand, but that is what those they vote for depend on to win elections.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Here we go again.  One of the irrelevant distinctions made by those that support abortion on demand.  None of the other trillions of cells in your body will ever develop into a separate human being. But that zygote already is a separate human being and within minutes of being one cell it will be millions of cells. So not equvilant in size or abilities to the human being that it will develop into, but equivilant in every other way.

    The acron is an oak tree in its stage of development. Like a tadpole is still a frog.  Different names at sifferent stages of development do not change the charaacter of what it is. 

    Let me give you an example of how absurd and inconcistent this argument is.  Do you think that endangered turtles should be protected? Do you know that this protection includes protecting the eggs of these animals ? If you agree with this, why do you think the eggs should be protected?  It is because they grow up to be turtles.  We live in a country where the federal government protects the embryos of turtles but does not protect the embryos of humans.  

  • Rwlawoffice

     Actually, in this country pro life supporters out number pro abortion supporters. 

    The violinist thought experiment is something that I am familiar with and it is a flawed analogy that I don’t find persuasive.

  • LesterBallard
  • Sailor

    An egg is not yet a turtle and fetus is not yet a human. It is at the beginning a small bundle of rapidly dividing cells. Most of us do not value a fetus and a baby the same way. If you went into a burning building and had the choice of rescuing 300 test tube fertilized eggs or one living baby which would you choose?

  • Concerned Citizen

    As one of the dreaded atheist pro-lifers I approve this message ;)

  • J Myers

     None of the other trillions of cells in your body will ever develop into a separate human being. But that zygote already is a separate human being and within minutes of being one cell it will be millions of cells. 
    Seriously:  so what?  Why does this matter in the slightest?  Talk about “irrelevant distinctions”…

    Do you think that endangered turtles should be protected? Do you know that this protection includes protecting the eggs of these animals ?

    Great goat-blowing Christ, are you actually this stupid?  And you think the violinist thought experiment is a flawed analogy?

  • Rwlawoffice

    Way to miss the point. We protect turtle embryos in this country but pro abortion folks don’t want to give human embryos the same protection.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Yet the turtle egg gets legal protection and the pro abortion crowd does not want to give that same protection to humans.

    The burning building example is a fallacious argument. It does not follow that because some would save the child that the embryos have any less moral right to survive then the child nor does it mean that you would have the right to set that fire to kill the embryos intentionally.

  • TiltedHorizon

     It is not fallacious, it is an example of the difference in value between a “fetus and a baby”. Considering you are arguing there is no difference between the two then you should have no trouble explaining which you would save and why.

  • SphericalBunny

    If the turtle egg could only survive by being implanted in the body of a man, they wouldn’t be legally protected, we wouldn’t insist it was a man’s moral duty, and they’d probably be extinct. Also, did you realise that turtle eggs don’t stay in the mother? Gosh, it’s almost like your analogy was apt in completely the wrong way; as in we protect the birthed entities that are separate from the mother, and therefore not exclusively reliant on her. Yeah, you just argued that we don’t privilege turtles over humans, despite suggesting the contrary.

    Also, despite you having kidneys and a liver that you could donate, and people will die without, you’re not legally forced to do that – even though it would only be about the same level of ‘inconvenience’ that you labelled pregnancy as. Why do you think that might be?

  • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

    You have an unbelievably fucked up view of the world, Robert Wilson. Abortion on demand? Pro-abortion? Pro-choicers are by and large NOT dancing in the streets over the joys of aborting a blastocyst or a fetus. There is no line-up of revelers waiting for their abortions-on-tap. You and your sick little clique of magical thinkers might keep painting the picture that way, but no amount of lying or misrepresentation on your parts will make it true.

    And you know what else is seriously whacked with you theists? Lots of you get all fussed about abortions but cheer on the execution of convicted human beings. Life is precious and must be protected, unless it’s some black or brown guy who looks guilty. What am I saying, they’re ALL guilty.

  • LesterBallard

    It’s a fucking death cult.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    Too true. They don’t actually have a problem with killing. It’s just that they think only their god is allowed to kill, and whenever he does, it’s considered a moral act. That’s why they defend biblical genocide. Their god is allowed to drown babies and send bears to maul children, and it’s all hunky-dory.

  • Georgina

     Quite, in fact, being raped is almost a mitigating circumstance. 

  • MariaO

    Usually they do not have a problem with killing period. How else do you explain that most “prolifers” are also “prodeathpenalty”? How can anybody take an anti-abortionist that use the sanctity if human life seriously if they approve of the state murdering its citizens?

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    At least the Catholic church is (officially) consistent on that issue. You’re right that anti-abortion Protestants seem happy to let the state kill people. I don’t know how anyone can consider themselves “pro-life” and gleefully support government execution.

  • Mr. X

    You really don’t see the difference between killing an innocent child and executing a convicted criminal?

  • Mr. X

    “things that would actually reduce pregnancy like increased available daycare or birth control distrabution;”

    Well, access to contraception and availability of daycare has increased significantly over the past century, but I don’t see any evidence that fewer people are getting pregnant outside of wedlock. Quite the reverse, in fact.

  • J Myers

    I didn’t miss the point at all, you twit: the point is that your example has no relevance whatsoever to the issue under discussion.  Do you actually need someone to explain to you in detail why that is?  That is the reason I was asking if you were actually that stupid.  Question answered, it would seem.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    Why, yes, a convicted crimimal is an actual living, breathing human being with thoughts, emotions, memories, hopes, dreams, fears, and a family that probably still loves them, despite their horrific act.

    I would think that “pro-life” Christians, who are supposedly all about love and redemption and forgiveness, would be against killing even the worst human being on the planet. But somehow compassion seems to elude them. Many are quite gleeful about execution, and hope that the offender will burn in hell as well.

  • Coyotenose

     Fetuses aren’t children, or people. Trying to redefine words to make emotional plays isn’t going to work.

  • Marie

    The most shocking part of what Akins says, from my point of view, is that he believe that in some way, female body can “choose” to be pregnant or not. That is so wrong…

  • Miss_Beara

    I forgot GOD. GOD is super duper important to them. :-P

  • Philip Graves

    I hear what you’re saying. At the same time, I (and getreligion blog) always find it interesting that the same interviewers who consistently question Republicans about rape/incest exceptions fail most, if not all of the time, to ask Democrats about their votes on sex-selective abortions… Both of the Party’s platforms are not in line with the American Public… 

  • Susan

    I find it stunning that so many people – who want to be government officials – can be so callous about the health and well-being of unborn babies.

  • Susan

    That’s odd – YOU were once a fetus.  Does that make you not a person?

  • lakingscrzy

    Would you care to explain when one DOES become a human/person? Maybe if we get an objective standard in this discussion we can settle the dispute. What’s that? Science AND philosophy have come to agreement on when life begins? Well then…

  • lakingscrzy

    women who have sex outside of marriage should get pregnant and pay penance by raising the resulting child.

    Pay penance? Why do you hold a view of children as a burden? You are imposing your own view of children onto your opponents and then upending a straw man. Pro-lifers actually *like * babies, they think they are the greatest gift; many old white republicans may not, but most often the lifers do. So when they think about abortion on demand, they see somebody have their cake, eat it, then vomit it back up and declare it was their right to do so.

    If you don’t like babies; if there is no emotional sway against killing babies (or potential babies); or if you tend to put self interest above charity and sacrifice, then there is little hope for conviction or persuasion.

    I know the rhetoric of these debates: my body, my choice, my liberty, me, me, me. It may be completely justified, but here’s the dig; it’s selfish, wasteful, and insulting to observers. How prolifers see abortion advocates who campaign in the name of liberty is akin to how the entire rest of the world sees America’s “liberty” expressed through divorce. One or both spouses self interest becomes the center of attention, causing a rift that allows children and family to fall through.

    Regardless of your political stances, the evils of championing self interest in the name of liberty are abhorrent. We split the family half a century ago with no fault divorce, now we are trying to stop families altogether, what’s next, the abolition of the family unit itself?

  • lakingscrzy

    Most are anti-death penalty. Be cautious not to convolute pro life and republican.

  • lakingscrzy

    You fool, academia is academia, regardless of religious affiliation. A peasant atheist is just as logical as a peasant theist. You may view religion as a first step to rationalism and be justified, but by no means are they mutually exclusive. Be careful with Maher, all of his rhetorical straw makes him stand dangerously close to his antithesis, Glenn Beck.

  • lakingscrzy

    So we can’t know anything for sure about a trans dimensional entity, but we can determine and deduce proper conduct for ourselves? That sounds pretty basic and rational to me.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    I know a woman who is a social worker, working with the homeless on the streets.  30 years ago that led to her rape.  She choose to keep the child, and though she’s never been married, she is a grandmother today.

    I’m Catholic, I’m on her board of directors, and she is one of my heroes.  There is NO WAY I can agree, in 20/20 hindsight, that the three lives that came from that rape didn’t deserve to happen.  And I find it incredibly bigoted and downright misanthropist of just about any pro-choicer to claim that any child deserves the death penalty because their father was a rapist.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Why are embryos not people?  Do you have any reason at all beyond simple age bigotry?

  • TheodoreSeeber

    And I consider those age bigotry as well.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Most people is not a statement that I can base truth on.

  • http://www.themonthebard.org/ Themon the Bard

    Hemant, your argument is solid, but you’re missing the whole point.

    You say, “They don’t know how to talk about it in an effective way.”

    Really? Then why are we even having this discussion?

    The truth is, they’ve framed the whole conversation. The whole thing. That strikes me as pretty darn effective.

    They have an entire movement, an entire CULTURE, devoted to their fetish. That’s pretty darn effective.

    They are well along the way toward overturning Roe vs. Wade, and they have never put a single boot of rational or defensible argument on the ground. Not one. That’s terribly effective.

    You make the assumption I’ve always made, and then found myself bitterly disappointed. People are not rational. That is a fact. You don’t win them over with rational argument. Rational argument is a parlour game indulged in by the over-educated. For most people, a rational argument is as compelling and as comprehensible as a grand-master chess move. Which is to say, not at all. 

    These congresscritters don’t play that game. They never have. They would not be any good at it if they tried. They aren’t interested in trying, because they know it wouldn’t get them elected, much less re-elected.

    What happened to Akin is that he played to close to the edge, and fell over it. I don’t know if it was a miscalculation, or if he made the classic mistake of starting to believe his own propaganda — I suspect the latter, since it’s a common stumbling block for those who deal in manipulation. But he took the rape-thing one step too far, probably one word too far, and he outraged people who should by rights have been on his side. Even so, he’s still in the race, from what I understand, and doing reasonably well. In the rational world you would like to live in, his numbers would be in the low teens.

    As would Mittens’. 

    As a scientist, please observe reality as it is. People are not rational.

  • Grammie

    To Hemant:  Regarding the statement, “This is the state of the Republican Party.”  You generalize.  The statement is like, “All Indians Walk in Single File.  At least the ONE I saw did.”  Not Factual.

  • Erin

    How do you not see that being concerned for the unborn IS being concerned about equal rights for all human beings? When a woman is pregnant, there are now TWO PEOPLE involved in the situation, regardless of how much she hates her biology for it. A successful abortion is a dead human; and you think pro-lifers are trumping rights? What rights are worth anything if you can classify an entire group of people – the unborn – as having value that is dependent on the whims of another? Whole person if you want ‘em, 3/5 of a person if you don’t, and therefore property.
    And so far, NO ONE has explained WHEN and HOW these unborn creatures become human and thus gain human rights, without being completely arbitrary and this totally illogical.

  • Jglord26062


    I chair the ignorant project:

    I have tried to think of a proper response to your
    arguments, but know that no matter what I would say, you would respond in a
    negative way. For if I were to remind you that murder was once defined as
    choice one made for personal profit or gain, used to hide an act or actions
    deemed unacceptable by the society at large. Yes, I understand that now we
    define the destruction of human life in degrees now for we have become more enlighten
    as we have become more irresponsible.

    You would say to me you fool. If I were then to say that the
    baby as I choose to call it is not a part of the woman’s body but only a
    passenger sustained by the woman’s body through a small umbilicus. You being
    calloused would then define the child as is done today as a foreign body and
    remove it as if it were a cancer.

    So our disagreement comes down to perspective: You choose to
    say there is no God; that man has no future beyond the here and now.

    While I see limitless possibilities for I have faith in the
    living son of the highest God whose name is Jesus who is the Christ.

    You would call me foolish for seeing all life as sacred,
    beautiful and the loss of those lives as a loss to all. My friend to be an
    Atheist I wonder why you can reject hope compassion and abounding love for your
    fellow man. For to not have simple compassion empathy and love for the very
    least the product of your own unions then what does that make of the
    enlightened man of this modern age?

    My answer is your hearts are as the prophets said when they
    spoke of you their hearts are cold and calloused seeking only for themselves
    they have become as white wash tombs full of death and gloom; Paraphrased for
    your benefit. May you be blessed I’ll be praying for you.

    pe your comment here.

  • RebeccaSparks

    Thank you for bringing my attention to this typo–I was putting two sentences together.  I  meant to say things that would reduce abortion, and abortion is actually on the decline.  I had more trouble finding stats regarding out of wedlock births; it seems that it was at an all time high in 2007 but declining since in all groups except 20 year olds, and at least 40% of these women are co-habituating with their SO.

  • RebeccaSparks

    Pay penance? Why do you hold a view of children as a burden?

    I see childcare as a huge responsibility, with enormous demands on money and time.  While kids are the “greatist gift,” supporting a child is not something to undertake lightly.

    To summerize and clarify my arguement, what I said is that while pro-lifers say that they want to end abortion, they should do little research as to why women  actually obtain abortions and addressing those concerns.  Some things that they could do is make sure everyone has access to birth control and affordable childcare.*  

    However, I don’t see any prolife group doing this research or trying to provide these solutions–sometimes even creating barriers to these.  Instead, I see them shaming mothers who obtain abortions or have children out of wedlock.  To me it seems that when you analyze the actions of pro-life campaign, they care a lot more about people having sex out of wedlock than about minimizing or ending abortion.  Instead they hold the mother soley responsible and call her selfish for not completing a pregnancy, even when her life is in danger.  Pro-lifers seem really concerned about sex outside of marriage as a cause for abortion, while not worrying about the 20% of abortions that married women have.  I don’t really see why this is a strawman attack.  However… 

    …if there is no emotional sway against killing babies ..
    This clearly is a strawman.  It’s a distortion of my post to say that I don’t like or don’t respond to baby deaths.

    And this:
    I know the rhetoric of these debates: my body, my choice, my liberty, me, me, me.

    Is a red herring.  This has nothing to do with the argument I laid out at all.  In fact, I really don’t see you responding to what I said, unless it was to take it out of context.

    *Federally mandiated paid time off work for maternaty/paternity leave, abolition of paternity rights for rapists, and many other s but I didn’t mention these in my previous arguement.

  • Earl G.

    Well said.

  • Earl G.

    Enter the drunk-driving five-year-olds!  What a great idea for society!

  • Earl G.

    So why do you still have both your kidneys?

  • Earl G.

    You were once a child.  Does that make you not an adult?

    Enough with the stupid, already.

  • Earl G.

    You mean a few billion years ago?  That’s when life began.

  • lakingscrzy

    Nice dodge, mind answering my question?

  • idea1013

    The way that many define it, in terms of this issue at least, is by viability. If the fetus has reached a stage of being viable outside the womb, then it is considered a separate life from the woman. If we’re talking about what makes a person a person, then I’m afraid that is subject to difficult to cover on a comment board like this because we have to consider notions of consciousness along with viability, the possible existence of a soul or other life force, etc.

  • idea1013

    First, name calling is a terrible way to start a reasoned disagreement. Second, the point being made above is not only a valid, it is one evidenced in actual research. Just look into first: religiosity, logic, magical thought, rationalization, even through in irony when doing your search through scientific journals and see what you come up with. Is Bill Maher offensive? Yes, on a daily basis, but on this point, he’s correct.

  • lakingscrzy

    OK then, do we abort based on viability or personhood? I’ve heard quite a lot from the choice camp around framing it as personhood, being so arbitrarily obtuse that you could justify infanticide, genocide, and our own personal skeleton in the closet: Dredd Scott.

    Now, for the definition of “viability”, “If the fetus has reached a stage of being viable outside the womb, then it is considered a separate life from the woman”; we need to define this further. By viable do we mean organ function and biological sufficiency outside of dependency regardless of mental function? Then the second somebody drops into organ failure they are damned. Or do we go to the “potential” argument where, if it can be reasonably assumed with all current knowledge that the fetus or child will grow into an able bodied and rationally functional member of society it is granted its rights? But even there we cast aside the mentally handicapped who can have little to no hope of recovery from their condition.

    It may seem like a small deal, and a lot of smoke has been blown over “changing definitions”, but people do not realize the strength language holds over them. I’ve heard it said that your language and the methods you use to define objectivity color your perspective. If you knew no words, if you had no grasp of language, you could never articulate feelings and express and connect yourself and thoughts to other people. Language is practically consciousness, and definitions sure as hell matter.

    The reason the conservatives freak over this definition game is because when you change the way something is thought about, when you have notions or beliefs about what something *is*, it will completely dictate your actions toward it.

    (Inc Godwin) Want to know why Hitler was so successful? Because he got people to believe what he was saying, he twisted truths and changed perspectives to sway masses. I feel safe in stating this conjecture: the Nazis held no sympathy for their actions because they did not feel they were doing anything wrong, their definition of “Jew” did not include “human”, “person”, or “brother”.

    If you are an adherent to relativism you cannot deny this. Something you do is only wrong in the eyes of somebody other than yourself. Somebody must judge it from their own standpoint to even create any moral contrast. In this thought you can say that the Nazis were only wrong insofar as they lost to a majority opinion that called them evil and fought and won. Might makes right as they say. If you claim hard empiricism you will eventually and ultimately undermine any principles or “rights” you believe in. This loss of philosophy in the west is going to crush us.

    Empirically you may see yourself as only destroying a bundle of cells, but philosophically you are so far off base. For all the mental gymnastics we have to go through to justify our preconceived notions we fail to see the blazing Occam’s razor in front of us, “from womb to tomb.”

    Your life began as soon as you began to grow, just as you will continue to grow till the day you die. We wish to euthanize under agers now because it conveniences us, how long till grandpa is too much of a burden? As many have been bringing up as “acceptable” the past practice of exposing children, can I expose my grandfather with Alzheimer’s? Grandpa is more burden and less fun than children. He is jut as “viable”, if not less so, as a newborn, but I would be killing him by doing so.

    “In the U.S., most crimes of violence are covered by state law, not federal law. Thirty-five (35) states currently recognize the “unborn child” (the term usually used) or fetus as a homicide victim, and 25 of those states apply this principle throughout the period of pre-natal development.[2] These laws do not apply to legal induced abortions. Federal and state courts have consistently held that these laws do not contradict the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on abortion”

    A murder is an affront to the person who holds the right that is infringed upon. So in order to say somebody has committed murder, you must assume or admit the thing killed had not only life, but a right to it, and that being forcefully taken away is a crime.


    This is no new concept.

  • Mike Stokes

    To answer your question, conservative Christians oppose abortion because it takes the life of a baby, we don’t believe babies should be murdered. On the matter of gay-marriage, Christians believe the Bible teaching about this perverted sexual act.

  • Sdd757

    Anna, I could be wrong, but you apparently never had anyone in your family murdered. It’s an entirely different thing to rid the world of someone who is evil and killing something that is innocent. In addition, atheist don’t seem to have a problem with mass murder by government either. French Revolution, Mao, Stalin…

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    Right, because it’s perfectly okay to kill people as long as you think they’re “evil.” Sounds like you have a lot more in common with Mao and Stalin than I do.

  • Jayn

     Nitpick: Numbers is part of the Torah (along with Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy)