A Heathen’s Opposition to Abortion

Any minute one of our non-religious Revoistas will show up and lend credibility to the argument that the pro-life position need not have any religious basis at all.


Allow me to introduce myself:

My name is Uke, and I am a heathen.

In the most specific terms I can manage: I am an agnostic, with deist leanings (meaning, in lay terms, that while I have a gut feeling there is something bigger than myself, I have never seen proof of it so don’t feel comfortable in banking in it; thus the “I don’t know” of agnosticism suits me). I’m certainly not religious in any way. Don’t attend church, etc. I came to be this way, in part I suppose, because of my heavy self-investment in the sciences. I majored in biology with a minor focus on organic chemistry. In this way, I learned to demand an open mind of myself, and a commitment to only have gut feelings (i.e. intuition) about things until I could scientifically prove them (or see them proven).

I am also a heathen that absolutely abhors abortion, and believes that abortion is criminal. How can this be?

Quite frankly, it’s very, very easy to understand for me. I believe in Natural Rights. They are self-evident, that we have the rights of Life, Liberty and Property as per our very creation. God need not enter into it in any way, by the way. I was created, regardless of how.

In being created, I was given Life.

You taking that away from me now, as I stand here, would be a crime. It would be no less a crime if you killed me right after birth, or a moment before birth. In fact, it would be a crime all the way back to the very point where I had a life for you to take.

And NONE of that, as you can plainly see, has anything to do with religious teachings or assumptions.

Because, as I said, I am a heathen.

Now, it’s plainly obvious that a child isn’t given life merely upon being birthed. That’s simply absurd on its face, regardless of how some organization might pervert plain meanings of words to define it as such. Were this definition of life to stand, then it’s as variable as we want it to be. Child is born at 9 months, and he’s “alive,” great; if you want him “alive” a week earlier, just have a caesarian!

We’re now down to successfully birthing children down to, what? 20 weeks or so? That’s due to medical advances allowing for us to keep babies alive that only gestated for 20 weeks. And further medical advances will continue to bring that number even lower. What makes us think that we won’t eventually be able to remove the fertilized egg from the mother immediately after conception, and gestate it in a tube for 9 months?

So, using “birth,” or even “birth from the mother,” as the standard by which we judge the commencement of life is silly.

Some people assign independence as a measure to show when life begins, but this is also silly on its face. There are many people dependent upon caregivers, iron lungs, and whatnot in order to live. The infirm elderly, comatose patients, and damn 2 year olds wouldn’t stand a day without some form of physical assistance. Even those people that derisively call fetuses “parasites” don’t really get it; even if the relationship between fetus and mother is parasitic in nature (and you might find just a few arguments against that), so what? I haven’t ever heard of a non-living parasite.

Some people use a heartbeat as the indicator by which life begins. But that makes the window for aborting a non-life pretty damn short. A fetus grows a heart at Week 5. It begins beating at Week 6.

There may still be a point at which during the gestation (that is to say, after conception but before birth) at which we judge life to begin, but I’m not even so sure of it. The reason being that the state of “life” doesn’t require “sentience.” Pardon my triteness, but Life only requires Life.

Put another way, imagine that the movie monster from The Blob were to be real. The Blob, by any reasonable standard, is quite alive. It’s motile, it consumes, it excretes. And yet, it’s clearly not sentient (at least not as I recall… I’ll admit to not being a Blob aficionado). It doesn’t think, it has no self-awareness, and may not even be capable of feeling pain.

Okay, so by now you probably see where I’m going with this.

Let’s just say that at a certain gestational progress, humans don’t really look like much more than a little blob of cells. They don’t think, they don’t know about pain, love, Chinese food or how awful Nickelback is, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t alive nonetheless. They carry the characteristics required for life to exist. Hell, freaking mold on a piece of toast is alive and even it doesn’t groove as much as a little fetus does.

So, suffice to say that in my mind Life, the prime Natural Right, is given to a human long before birth, and possibly right back to conception. If that is so, it’s criminal to take that life, regardless of what some politicians say.

And I didn’t even need the Pope’s hand up my ass to tell you why I believe that.

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26 Responses to A Heathen’s Opposition to Abortion

  1. Uke says:

    Expanded from this thread.

  2. R.D. Walker says:

    I was going to say “amen!” but I think, instead, I will go with “hear, hear!” 🙂

    I was pro-life 20 years before I was a Christian.

  3. Ray Davies says:

    You make some good points,a very reasoned piece that really no one can contest. I too have been involved in science and medicine for over 40 years and I see things a bit differently. I see how can we have what we have without God? What happens to a person at the time of death? At one point you have you have a person and the next a chunk of meat. The life spark,(as some of us would say,the soul) is gone. After a cardiac arrest my spark (Soul) went somewhere and I did not want to come back. Was it a chemical reaction? I don’t know, but for me it increased my belief in God.

    • Uke says:

      There’s a book out called Proof of Heaven.

      I haven’t read it yet, but it seems interesting.

      Quick summary: A neurosurgeon, skeptical of an afterlife and “legitimate” near death experiences has his own, and writes about how he was so damn wrong.

      • R.D. Walker says:

        Yeah, there is no proof of heaven and there is no proof of God. Don’t bother to look. It is a waste of time.

        Just let go of what you think you know, stop blocking and be open to epiphany. You might be surprised as to what you discover.

        • Uke says:

          I’m always open, but not hunting for “it.” It’s about as neutral a state as I can imagine. I’m sure you’re familiar with it.

          Though, “blocking”? I don’t see it that way. Truly I don’t.

          • R.D. Walker says:

            I believe you. I blocked for ten years and then was neutral for 20.

            Then… something wonderful happened.

            It didn’t turn me into a Bible thumping Jesus freak, either. Same guy. It just made life… better. Happier. More meaningful. It made me a better man.

            It was a significant gift. 🙂

    • Locke n Load says:

      You’re neither alone in this nor weird sir. I’ve met several, know one quite well actually, who experienced it as well but to a man (and woman), it didn’t involve ‘heaven’ per se as much as the profound undersanding that we are absolutely, unquestionably, more than this mortal coil.

      The first time you see someone die is a weird experience. I’ve seen several believe it or not, and each time it was just…obvious. Something left, and left a gaping hole. You knew it exactly when it happened, even without looking.

      My favorite stories about this involve the blind or deaf who, when ‘dead’ and revived, could recount images and sounds in the scene surrounding their death. Don’t try and ever convince me we’re just animated meat bags, I know it isn’t so. This life is the temporary vessel for whatever it is we REALLY are.

      • notamobster says:

        LnL: That’s the death rattle. Your soul is literally shaking off this mortal coil. It’s quite amazing (in a neutral way) to see the stark difference between alive & dead in a split second.

        • Locke n Load says:

          whats weirder is knowing they’re watching you watch THEM

        • Locke n Load says:

          next time im in your area we can discuss this in person. its just too strange, too limiting, and too…. odd to do it in print. Some things can only be expressed in person, at a time when stream of consciousness isn’t inhibited by blasted keyboards.

  4. Dusty says:

    Excellent explanation! I have felt this way for a long time but just couldn’t put it into concise words.

    • Uke says:

      Concise? Don’t worry. Neither did I. This started out as a short comment on that other thread. 😛

  5. DocO says:

    Uke, very nice reasoning. I won’t quibble with some counter arguments I might make regarding the problems I personally have with a moral code that exists without a supernatural basis.

    I will merely say, as a recovering agnostic and continuously relapsing Catholic that the “gut feeling there is something bigger than myself” you spoke of was something that kept me from a descent from nominally Christian to miserable nihilist.

    That “gut feeling”, I believe, comes from a Place that you can half remember and want to return to. A Place where there is no death and sadness. Where all you have Loved in time has been preserved in Eternity. It is a Place where you were Created not made. By a Source so great that it can’t be trapped in double-blind randomized test or paradoxical philosophical argument about stones that can or can’t be moved.

    I will pray tonight, that you and I, and all who doubt might be a step closer to the Peace that surpasses understanding.

    God Bless and keep you Heathen Uke.

    • Uke says:

      I appreciate it, Doc. Really.

      With regards to a moral code w/o supernatural basis, would you say that I argued fairly well enough for why we must respect the Natural Rights of others, even barring a power greater than ourselves?

      • R.D. Walker says:

        There are all kinds of moral codes without religion. Hell, religion isn’t necessary.

        As Adam Smith said, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

        All human morals are self interested and there is no such thing as true altruism among men. Acts of apparent altruism turn out to be acts of selfishness in disguise. Altruism is an impossibility for humans.

        Not that it matters. “Altruism in disguise” has the same effect on our fellow man as true altruism. Self interest properly guided makes for a fine moral code.

        Now, having said that. True altruism does exist. It is, in my opinion, always the action of God and the Holy Spirit acting through the faithful. God’s justification makes us capable of true selflessness.

        As a practical matter, however, people who do good deeds because it makes them feel righteous are still doing good deeds… even if it isn’t true altruism.

        • Locke n Load says:

          True altruism does exist. It is, in my opinion, always the action of God and the Holy Spirit acting through the faithful

          In my reasoning that can be the ONLY real altruism. Otherwise its a complete myth. And frankly, that Holy Spirit of which you speak…well I’m pretty sure we’d have some disagreements as to its nature or source as well. But to its existence? No question.

    • Locke n Load says:

      That “gut feeling”, I believe, comes from a Place that you can half remember and want to return to. A Place where there is no death and sadness. Where all you have Loved in time has been preserved in Eternity

      yes. absolutely, yes

  6. Locke n Load says:

    Uke, one of these days perhaps we’ll get a chance to do this properly but this forum…it won’t work.
    I’ll leave it at this. As a heathen of sorts myself I too am forced to explain my position on abortion but I don’t go down your road because I know for a fact theres a soul. Personal experience tells me so. And I make no distinction between the zygote of a chicken, a goat, or a human without the soul. It is merely flesh. Without the animating essence that makes us more than sentient, well, I consider that flesh no more than anything else hatched of the furnaces of creation.
    What matters most to me is WHEN that soul arrives and whether that soul has any particular attachment to that body. Because if a soul can take a ‘do-over’ then things change immensely. Remember, birth control pills ARE technically abortifacients and therefore no different really than megadoses used to ‘abort’ within 72 hrs. So jumping up and down about RU486 and NOT getting pissy about birth control is a bit … confusing.

    I guess what I’m saying is the whole debate about Life means nothing unless you define WHAT life, and WHY that life is different than any other animal. It absolutely requires a belief in a human soul to justify its importance. Otherwise we damn well better stop frying eggs for breakfast.

  7. Rockheim says:

    Fantastically stated. I follow a very close path to that.

    After spending my youth in Christian Schools and then growing up seeing others, friends, family, especially the Catholics being abused by the various churches and hypocrisies of their institutions I lost all desire to be part of organized religion of any kind. I have my beliefs in a power higher than me. In God. I just don’t see the need to belong to a church to prove it to others.
    That said I used to be completely on the pro-choice side of the equation.

    Then my personal epiphany came when I saw my 11 week old daughter in an Ultrasound. Moving all over. Arms moving. Legs moving. Not a “collection of cells”. Not a “mass of material”. A living child. Sure. She looked exactly like Strongbad on the monitor and the printouts we got to take home. But there was no doubt at all about “life”.. and never again.. that was life staring us in the face.. And after that.. As I said. No doubt. Even at 11 weeks. Life. End of story.
    And when a bout of Preeclampsia forced a C-section and they had to deliver my barely 4lb girl almost a month and half early there was no doubt in my mind this was life. Even though she most likely wouldn’t have been “viable” 30 years prior.
    But after 3 weeks in the NICU, after being hooked up to breathing machines, given drugs to develop her lungs and constant aid, monitoring and prayer, she came home.
    A child. My child that would have failed the “liberal” definition of life, being able to survive without intervention. That nonviable “collection of cells” will be 8 years old in March.

    When does Life begin? Epiphanies. Irrefutable truths and how perspective has a way of changing even the strongest held beliefs..

  8. Lai says:

    And I didn’t even need the Pope’s hand up my ass to tell you why I believe that.

    No, of course not. Common sense rings a bell within us that no other starving, holiday boy could make, no matter how much he cries and implores blessings. Strings are pulled because our own Puppet Master tells us to move our fingers, simply put; and rightly so.

    This is not a new subject for discussion; not for me and Uke, and not for Uke and the world. But there is much to still be discussed for some; much to be discussed for others; and much to be discussed for Nickelback followers. 😛

    I’m saddened because I believe this will never be rectified, and in the meantime more lives will be lost.

    Not sure when life is created? Fine. Err on the side of caution. If only one life is spared, right?

  9. BaconNeggs says:

    Abortion and Morality, Gods Rights and Natural Rights.
    God and Heathen, Creation and Evolution, Life and Life Giver, Viable Life and Technological Life saving, Altruism and Self Interest, all good points and I enjoyed reading and sharing your thoughts and experiences.

    I would just like to mention quality of life, because for me, that is also an important moral issue too. Go to any one of those countries where God is front and center and contraceptives illegal, (Mexico or the Philippines for example) and you can see a woman with 10 or 12 children, living in near poverty and starvation day after day. Put aside the argument of God and Morality, that is the reality right now for millions of children.

    Yes planning and prevention is better than cure but if its Gods will or Natures will, then what about the quality of life in this mass of millions, living in misery from one meal to the next.

    I dont know at what point intelligent life begins and can only guess based on science and experience.
    In the past two years my Mum has suffered three strokes, the last one about 8 months ago was devastating, and so far across the line from life to being dead, that at one point in my mind I had begun to make the funeral arrangements, and yet…

    And yet, she came back from the depths of death and is back 100 percent as if nothing happened. Its all a blank, she cant remember anything, non of the frantic efforts and desperation trying to save her life over what seemed like “those last few days” of her life.

    Giving a life or bringing a child into this world to suffer is nothing to be proud of, and some people use god and religion as a cover for their own failure to plan ahead and support that life they chose to bring into this world. If you cant provide and support a child as you should, then there is a moral argument for aborting the fetus asap, to prevent a child a life of suffering that surely lay ahead.

    That said, when I think of someone like Steve Jobs (Apple) who could have been aborted but his mother choose to relocate away from her parents and have the baby in secret, then have the baby adopted because others may be able to offer that child a better life, then you cant help but think about all the other “Steve Jobs fetuses” that never got that chance.

    But if all life is sacred then how many are willing take the next logical and moral step and adopt a child from the teeming millions suffering around the world who would be given not just life, but quality of life?