I grew up in a Catholic home; prayers before meals, Sunday mass, the whole nine yards. From an early age I was taught that abortion was wrong. In fact, I don’t think there was ever a moment where I doubted its immorality. In many ways my faith has and continues to lead me to the pro-life movement, but when confronted with a debate, I never use my faith as an argument against someone else.
I realized recently that no matter how far I distance myself from religion, people still find ways to make my arguments religious. A few days ago, one of my atheist friends on Facebook made a post about abortion, clearly referring to my past arguments. Normally I take everything my friend says with a grain of salt, but this post was different.
Instead of countering arguments that I and other pro-life advocates have made, he completely shifted the focus of the debate away from abortion and onto religion. He said “you can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into,” as if being pro-life means being religious. In reality there are many pro-life organizations that are secular. Secular Pro-life is a good start, there’s Pro-life Humanists, and if that’s not sufficient I would recommend atheist Christopher Hitchens who believed that the unborn child has a right to life.
I think it’s extremely ignorant to say that someone’s arguments – religious or not – should be dismissed just because of his/her faith. I’ve never dismissed any atheists’ arguments because of their lack of faith. At the end of the day, it makes sense for my friend to associate religion with abortion. It’s far easier for him to argue against something he sees as fiction rather than acknowledge the real arguments being made.
I suppose when you boil it down there is a difference in theory. Whereas Christians believe that all life is ordained with meaning and purpose, atheists believe, as Richard Dawkins says, “our life is as meaningful, as full, and as wonderful as we choose to make it.” And to a point that is true, values are subjective. Whether you get your values from your faith or from yourself, each person is entitled to determine his own worth, free from the views of others. It is sad that my friend has decided to subject others to his view that some lives should not be as full and wonderful as his own. Isn’t that what atheists are fighting against? The subjugation of other people’s opinions? If we are to determine our own worth, why are we content living in a society where others make that determination for us?
I believe all life has value which necessitates its protection. The difference between the two of us is whether we are all created equal or determined equal by the subjective choice of another. If supporting the former makes me a religious fanatic, then a fanatic I am indeed.