There Is A “Pro-Life” Table At The American Atheist Convention

Posted by Phil Ferguson on March 26th, 2012 – 33 Comments – Posted in Uncategorized

The funny thing is that it is right next to me.  They claim that the group is secular and based on science but I’m not so sure.  They hold to position that life starts at conception and say the same things that a religious group does.  They even had a little box filled with babies and they were asking for donations.

The strange thing is that there table is right next to mine!  So… I made this box….

  1. Robert Tobin says:

    More BULLSHIT ARTISTS infected with the GOD VIRUS.

  2. Biodork says:

    That’s great, Phil. You rock. I don’t get it, this whole “life begins at conception” thing. The idea I’ve heard from religious groups is that the soul is placed at conception. But if you don’t believe in a soul, what’s so special about a little sperm on egg action? “Life” begins at conception? This group has a funny definition of “life”.

  3. Life begins at life. Sperm is life. Each time pro-lifers have sex or masturbate they are murdering 5-10 million lives. Pro-lifers are hypocritical mass murderers.

  4. Phil says:

    I agree with all of you! Thanks for the great comments!

  5. michelle says:

    This is actually evidence that you don’t need religion to be wrong. Just because it sounds similar does not mean it is god based nonsense, I’ve seen this thread in many atheist sites. Thank you for the box Phil.

  6. A similar (possible the same) group was very active in atheist circles on Twitter, about a year ago. They were in pretend-agreement with atheist positions, while relentlessly pushing their pro-life stance. They were adamant that they were atheists through and through, and that the idea of holding these extreme pro-life views (“starts at conception”) was not at odds with an atheistic and rationalistic world view. They posted links to websites that exposed their true agenda pretty easily (it was very clear that they were trying to play a tactical battle against atheism), and when confronted with questions about their pretend-atheism, they vanished overnight. I’m pretty sure this is the same bunch. They’re just trying to co-opt.

  7. Vegan Atheist says:

    Brian Sapient’s comment not only lacks an understanding of the difference between sperm/ovum and a distinct human life on a clearly-defined life cycle, but it shows he doesn’t even understand basic pro-life philosophy.

    We may be a minority in the atheist and skeptic communities, but we pro-life atheists DO exist. While I can’t say whether or not our numbers are actually increasing (because I don’t have empirical evidence, just my own anecdotal), I have seen several (11 off the top of my head) adopt pro-life worldviews in the past few years, and that’s only those who have changed their opinions; I have a few dozen more (IRL and FB) that were already pro-life/atheist before I met them.

    And I apologize if my comment sounds rude or condescending; I’m trying to type this all before my lunch break ends.

  8. Jim Newman says:

    Hell, my 14 yr old vegan daughter is prolife but at least she can claim attendance at a bible belt school for her skewed view of life supporting compassion. There she can’t be lectured on religion but she can receive bullshit propaganda that a 1 minute old cell is a person worthy of more rights than the mother.

  9. Susanne.D.Nimes says:

    I don’t care if someone believes that “life” begins at conception. They have every right to believe whatever nonsense they like.

    It doesn’t make sense on any logical level. Take our vegan friend’s claim – “human life” begins at conception. Well, what makes it “human life”? Eggs and sperm are alive. They also have human DNA. On what grounds can you dismiss them as “human life”? That they don’t have the normal quota of chromosomes? Look out people with trisomy 23, Vegan atheist doesn’t think you’re quite human either, I presume…

    At the end of the day, if someone else chooses to keep their foetus, grow it into a baby and give birth to it, I’m totally happy for them. That’s their choice and I applaud it. But it is their CHOICE.

    My choice would be different. I can respect others’ choices, they should damn well if not respect mine then at least quit gobbing off as if I shouldn’t have a choice.

  10. M says:

    Genetically, individual human organisms, aka human beings, begin at conception. This is simply scientific fact. Colloquially many refer to this as “life” beginning at conception, but the point is the same.

    http://blog.secularprolife.org/2011/11/no-matter-how-small.html

  11. mooselips1989 says:

    Vegans Atheist, How do you feel about fertility clinics? They destroy uncounted amounts of life every year. If you are female, are you willing to impregnate yourself with as many viable embryos that you can every eleven months? And what about the destruction of the nonviable ones?

  12. Savonarola says:

    Hmm. How much hair-splitting do we want to do?

    I’m “pro-life,” too. Life is the most important thing we get. I like it, and I like others having theirs.

    Part of that life is making choices. Having choices is pretty important, too.

    And sometimes, things aren’t choices. For example, I do not *choose* to be pro-choice; I did not wake up one morning and decide to try being pro-choice. I am convinced by the strength of the arguments that the choice of a person should take precedent over the potential personhood of a non-person.

    If I can be “pro-choice” and also “pro-life,” then at least one of those labels isn’t very useful. In this context, “pro-life” means “anti-choice.” How about we start calling things what they actually are?

    @Susanne.D.Nimes: don’t forget Turner syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, and all the other fun abnormal karyotypes. In misogynistic societies/religions, does an XYY male get more privileges? does a XXX female get extra oppression? Do XX males have to oppress themselves? If it’s all based on karyotype, then I don’t see why not…

  13. Vegan Atheist says:

    mooselips1989, I oppose them for four reasons:
    1 – I support less procreation, not more
    2 – There are children already in need of homes
    3 – The cost is prohibitive and could be better spent assisting the lives already in need, rather than bringing more into the world.
    4 – The process almost always results in the death (or likely death) of “excess” lives.

    Savonarola, I have absolutely no problem whatsoever being called anti-choice. I’m anti-choice on the death penalty, anti-choice on slaughtering animals needlessly for food/clothing, anti-choice on conning teenage girls from Mexico to come to the US and be pimped out of a rowhome for eight months, anti-choice on transphobic assault, anti-choice on firing someone because they’re gay, anti-choice on sexual assault and manipulation, and anti-choice on racially-motivated assaults in

    There are plenty of other choices I’m against, but I listed these because I’ve actively organized against these “choices” – not by getting mad and arguing about it online, but gone out and taken action IRL….srsly.

  14. Jim Newman says:

    Hmmm, at the risk of stirring already fetid waters I will first say I have no idea of who is most activist here but it’s certainly not relevant to the truth of anything said or whether vituperation is worthwhile

    As to rights, the law has long had more sophisticated demarcation of rights than personhood or not for good reason. A person in a coma, womb, or basket on a hillside or many other situations has far more diverse rights and privileges than simplistically alive or not, person of not, conscious or not , citizen or not, protected or not, than is being discussed here.

    I guess I will bow out of what I see here as pointless as even the law itself would change as in China if too many people were the issue just as some day we may deem old aged not worth saving as the Inuit for good reason could not save the old and left them. In the end all our pure ideas are bullshit in the face of evolutionary pressure to survive.

    At least it would seem the ProLife table at the conference which I attended was sincere and that was what was interesting to me; whether it was integrity or subterfuge.

    My own opinion and desire is to give the mother the most power and rights as she bears the brunt of the work and material responsibility in spite of so called social support.

    Be that as it may perhaps our own activism would best yield results if we chose planning and tending to our own families and spent less time concerned with other less known and less invested interests not our own.

    Only a governance willing to usurp the needs of another has interests in the other and only then if it thinks it can reap rewards greater than its dependencies. Anything else involves an absolutist compassion supported by religion and not need, science, or reason. But that’s just my opinion in the face of socialized opression.

    In reality, to evolution, a society does what it sees fit to survive, successful or not, biased or not. We can be grateful that these “big” questions here concern whether to save a cell, and not how do we eat tomorrow. Perhaps our time would be better spent considering how to be sure some insane country doesn’t press the big red button labelled Fire and leave mothers alone as their lives are already difficult enough; I’m sure they will ask our help if they need it!!

  15. Savonarola says:

    Vegan Atheist wrote,
    > I oppose them [fertility clinics] for four reasons…
    … and then three of the four reasons you list are common arguments in favor of allowing abortion. (And I agree with these three wholeheartedly, incidentally.) If you value those reasons, but you are still anti-choice regarding abortion, then — to you — the fourth reason trumps them all. Have I correctly described your position?
    I suspect that I have, because that is the only logical reconciliation of your anti-abortion conclusion and your anti-fertility clinic conclusion with those four reasons in play. If so, then the sole difference appears to be that you have a belief that life begins at conception — or perhaps that humanity begins at conception, or perhaps that personhood begins at conception. I think that none of these positions cannot be argumentatively reduced to absurdity, and quite easily, too.

    > I have absolutely no problem whatsoever being called
    > anti-choice.
    Right, and this is where it gets mind-bogglingly hypocritical of you. Being anti-choice on abortion not only goes against reasons 1-3 of your list (hence my previous conclusion regarding #4), it means that you are in favor of forcing mothers to bear unwanted children. But at the same time, you want to deny women who *want* biological children of their own from having them. You are indeed anti-choice: You want to deny almost all reproductive freedom.
    As has been said here already, you’re entitled to hold whatever positions — indefensible or not — you care to have. But your right to an opinion regarding life/humanhood/personhood does not supercede the rights of women. Regardless of what you may argue, the science is not on your side, nor is the pragmatism.

    > I’m anti-choice on the death penalty
    Are you against voluntary euthanasia?

    > anti-choice on slaughtering animals needlessly
    > for food/clothing
    I understand your point, but if it’s for food/clothing, is it really needless? And what about “needlessly” slaughtering wheat life and corn life? Are you anti-choice on swatting mosquitos?

    > … not by getting mad and arguing about it online
    Yeah, apparently I “sound” mad when I disagree with people online. It’s rarely anger. Often it’s just derision. Derision that increases when someone stupidly calls me mad.

    > … but gone out and taken action IRL….srsly.
    And you even take an erroneously presumptive potshot as you run away? You’re not anti-potshot? Like, srsly?

  16. Jim Newman says:

    I woke up too early this morning feeling stupid I had been too gracious last night. It is insane and a crime against women and their rights to them to even begin to think pro cell or even pro infant rights supersede those of mothers.

    It is a huge issue and I was stupid to trivialize the support women need to automomy of their bodies, their reproductive rights, and even the progeny they have brought into the world.

    The banal political point of when life begins is utterly irrelevant to the vast political need of women and their rights to, yes, even euthanization.

    Only a crazed political arena so comforted in sanctimonious superiority of knowing what a mother needs or can do would even begin to consider a cell or infant more important than the mother and her sole choice.

    Was Bill Cosby kidding when he quipped “I brought you into this world and I can take you out?”

    I feel a little better now. Maybe I can get a nap.

  17. Conner says:

    Science teaches that human life begins at conception. If it is also true that it is affirmed by religion, it does not for that reason cease to be a strictly scientific truth, to be transformed into a religious opinion. He who denies that human life begins with conception does not need to contend with religion, but science. To deny this certainty of biology is not to express a lack of faith, but a lack of basic knowledge of human genetics, something that is even known by the general public. – Ecuadorian Federation of Societies of Gynecology and Obstetrics, April 17, 2008.

    Human life does begin at conception. It is a simple, scientific fact. This is true whether we choose to accept it or not. Below is a video demonstrating that prenatal human specimens at any stage of development–13 weeks or 16 weeks–are whole, individual, living human specimens. The video employs extensive quotations and citations derived from numerous pro-choice, scientific, and legal documents.

  18. Danitoba says:

    I am an atheist and pro-life. I will attempt to defend the position.

    The premise that sperm is a human is as demonstrably false as the position that a fetus isn’t human until it is fully ejected from the mother. As if a moral person wouldn’t object to aborting a full term baby the minute before they were to be born.

    The only reason birth and conception are used as goal posts for life is because they are discretely measurable, any other measure of life will be subjective. A goal post like: Could the fetus live on its own if induced rather then aborted? Would change with technology, wealth and location to be essentially meaningless.

    One does not need to believe in god to believe that where there is a tension between human life and the rights and grave inconvenience of another human, to come down on the side of human life.

    As an aside, I deplore the tactics on both sides.

  19. Markita Lynda, healthcare is a damn right. says:

    Think it through! Life began more than 5 billion years ago. It’s been continuous since then. Every time you kill an insect, you are breaking a chain of life that has lasted billions of years. How dare you!?

    Meanwhile, human beings are not allowed to use the bodies of other human beings to save their lives. As long a a woman is necessary for the life support of the fetus, its life is in her gift. There is no reason in law or morality to make a pregnant woman assume a burden that you demand of no one else.

    And don’t give me that innocent life argument. An fetus has not had an opportunity to be good or bad. Its innocence comes from incapacity to breathe or act.

  20. Markita Lynda, healthcare is a damn right. says:

    Danitoba, do drop that red herring. No one wants to carry a fetus for 8 months and 29 days and then have an abortion. A woman who is unwillingly pregnant want an abortion yesterday. Early abortions are safer than childbirth. Later abortions are more dangerous and doctors won’t do them without a good reaon. Late abortions are the result of medical decisions about wanted pregnancies.

  21. Markita Lynda, healthcare is a damn right. says:

    Late abortions are also caused by throwing obstacles in the way of early abortions.

  22. Sally Strange says:

    Actually, the earth is only 4.6 billion years old (give or take a few hundred million years), so unless you have evidence of panspermia, we can safely say that life is younger than the earth. Generally life’s origin is put at around 3 billion years ago.

    And yes, it’s clear that “life” does not begin at conception. Life is continuous. A particular iteration of human DNA begins at conception.

    Even if the conceptus were a fully formed and sentient human being, that would still not give it the right to force an unwilling woman to donate her organs against her will. If you are atheist and support criminalizing abortion–that is, forcing women to give birth against their will–then to be morally and philosophically consistent, you must also support forcing people to donate blood, bone marrow, kidneys, and any other body organ that isn’t life-threatening to lose against their will. After all, people will die if we don’t donate blood. If you are “pro-life” as you say, you would support giving the government the power to compel these sorts of life-saving donations.

  23. Darrel says:

    So we see, pro-life atheists are just as sloppy and inaccurate with language as pro-life theists and all the rest. Please people, tighten up the language, stop sliding between scientific terms and classifications as if that accomplishes something by definition. What matters is when we have what we society wants to consider a “person” and give the status of “personhood” to.

    There is nothing inconsistent with being an atheist and pro-life. Nothing at all. You are welcome to your opinion, until you try to impose it on everyone else. But don’t fall for the same word games the religious folks do.

    DANITOBA says: “The premise that sperm is a human is as demonstrably false as the position that a fetus isn’t human until it is fully ejected from the mother.”>>

    The word “human” isn’t useful here. My toe nail clippings are “human” toenail clippings. Human sperm is “human” sperm, by definition. Saying when sperm meets egg = “human” begs the question at hand. We are on the cusp (perhaps a decade or two) of being able to clone humans (or whatever) starting with something such as a skin cell. When this happens, under your definition, this would make each of my 7 trillion or so cells, “persons” or (even more silly) “human persons.” This follows from your claim and shows how silly it is to consider an embryo a person or a human.

    Note (as with the skin cell example, soon to be realized) each sperm is:

    a) alive
    b) genetically unique
    c) and has the potential to become a person (or “human person”), if further necessary conditions are allowed to progress.

    In this respect, it’s situation is identical to an embryo, which is also:

    a) alive
    b) genetically unique
    c) has the potential to become a person only *IF* further necessary conditions are allowed to take place (which necessarily require a willing host).

    An embryo is not a person for the same reason, a pecan is not a tree. Calling a pecan a tree, because it has the potential to become a tree, is to be inaccurate and sloppy with language. It is to mistake the actual, for the potential. Don’t do that. If you have good reasoned arguments for your pro-life position, let’s hear those. Stop being slippery with language and attempting to define your way to success with word games! That’s what fundies do.

  24. Sally Strange says:

    Also, please do not use the epithet “pro-life” if you’re going to be accurate with your language, at least if you are meaning that you support the criminalization of abortion. Evidence shows that making abortion illegal increases does not decrease the abortion rate, but does increase the number of women dying as a result of getting an abortion, which is normally a very safe medical procedure. Since these policies are often accompanied by restricting access to birth control, it also coincides with an increase in maternal mortality. I suppose you could have a situation where you actually increased access to birth control and health care while also criminalizing abortion, and perhaps the decrease in childbirth deaths would offset the increase in deaths due to illegal abortion, but this has pretty much never happened in the real world.

  25. Darrel says:

    M says: “Genetically, individual human organisms, aka human beings, begin at conception. This is simply scientific fact.”>>

    More slippery word games and question begging. Sperm are “individual human organisms” and calling an embryo “aka human beings” is blatant question begging. Avoid logical fallacies when making your points.

    Regarding your claim that your labeling is “scientific fact,” not remotely. It’s much more complex than that. This gives a good layout:

    ***
    “Students were told that biologists were unanimous in agreeing that life starts at fertilization, and that there was no dispute in the scientific literature. Besides being a parody of science (i.e., that scientific facts are the objective truth and that all scientists agree what these facts mean), it is wrong. I have read a wide range of scientific positions on when life begins, and these positions depend on what aspect of life one privileges in such discussions. Here is my classification scheme concerning when human life begins. You may have others.

    1. The metabolic view. There is no point when life begins. The sperm cell and egg cell are as alive as any other organism.

    2. The genetic view. A new individual is created at fertilization. This is when the genes from the two parents combine to form an individual with unique properties.

    3. The embryological view. In humans, identical twinning can occur as late as day 12 pc. Such twinning produces two individuals with different lives. Even conjoined (“Siamese”) twins can have different personalities. Thus, a single individuality is not fixed earlier than day 12. (In religious terms, the two individuals have different souls). Some medical texts consider the stages before this time as a “pre-embryonic”. This view is expressed by scientists such as Renfree (1982) and Grobstein (1988) and has been endorsed theologically by Ford (1988), Shannon and Wolter (1990), and McCormick (1991), among others. (Such a view would allow contraception, “morning after pills”, and contragestational agents, but not abortion after two weeks).

    4. The neurological view. Our society has defined death as the loss of the cerebral EEG (electroencephalogram) pattern. Conversely, some scientists have thought that the acquisition of the human EEG (at about 27 weeks) be defined as when a human life has begun. This view has been put forth most concretely by Morowitz and Trefil (1992). (This view and the ones following would allow mid-trimester abortions).

    5. The ecological/technological view. This view sees the human life as beginning when it can exist separately from its maternal biological environment. The natural limit of viability occurs when the lungs mature, but technological advances can now enable a premature infant to survive at about 25 wks gestation. (This is the view currently operating in many states. Once a fetus can be potentially independent, it cannot be aborted).

    6. The immunological view. This view sees human life as beginning when the organism recognizes the distinction between self and non-self. In humans, this occurs around the time of birth.

    7. The integrated physiological view. This sees human life as beginning when it has become independent of the mother and has its own functioning circulatory system, alimentary system, and respiratory system. This is the traditional birthday when the baby is born into the world and the umbilical cord is cut.”

    References:
    Ford, N. M. 1988. When Did I Begin? Conception of the Human Individual in History. Cambridge University Press, NY.

    http://zygote.swarthmore.edu/intro5.html [link broken]

  26. Darrel says:

    SALLY: “Also, please do not use the epithet “pro-life”… >>

    Good point Sally. I normally don’t do use that. At the very least it deserves “quotation” marks.

  27. Savonarola says:

    Conner says:
    > Human life does begin at conception.
    Regardless of what you cite, the only question with this statement is how life is being defined. A sperm cell can be a human sperm cell, and a sperm cell can be alive or dead, so is a sperm cell that is both a human sperm cell and alive a live human cell? Damn right it is. And such a cell precedes conception. The “living human” approach doesn’t help you.
    But that’s not really the question you want to ask.

    Note that all of these anti-choicer comments refer to the life of the fetus. Whether the fetus is alive is not really being debated. The issue is whether the fetus is a person and therefore has rights like a right to live.
    Note that nobody is making the latter argument. That’s because they can’t.

    > It is a simple, scientific fact.
    Hi, I’m a scientist and science teacher with specific education in genetics and a degree in biochemistry. No need to lecture me on what science says is true or not true. If you think that your understanding of genetics trumps mine, you go right ahead and fire off your best shot. Else, take your copy-and-paste crap and go home.

    > … that prenatal human specimens at any stage of
    > development–13 weeks or 16 weeks–are whole,
    > individual, living human specimens.
    I don’t deny that “prenatal human specimens” of 1 week after conception are “living human specimens.” But this does not help you. Being a “living human specimen” is not a sufficient condition for having a right to life.

    Danitoba wrote,
    > The premise that sperm is a human is as demonstrably
    > false as the position that a fetus isn’t human until
    > it is fully ejected from the mother.
    I agree, but don’t care, because that means nothing. Can you support a claim that has any real muster? Like one that says that the fetus is a person with rights? or even just that it has the right to live? I suspect that you can’t.

    > As if a moral person wouldn’t object to aborting a full
    > term baby the minute before they were to be born.
    First, stop using the word “baby” when we’re talking about a fetus.
    Second, I have a moral objection to the systematic disinformation campaign that religious parents foist upon their children. But I recognize that it is their right to do so. Likewise, I am greatly disheartened when intelligent people hold beliefs that are completely indefensible, and though I’d rather those people not do that, it is absolutely their right to do so. Does letting you be wrong make me an immoral person?
    I didn’t think so. So even your attempt at fallaciously poisoning the well fails.

    > … birth and conception are used as goal posts for
    > life is because they are discretely measurable,
    No, but they’re sometimes used as benchmarks for *personhood*. And as 100% of women who are pregnant do not know until after conception, before conception is a really stupid time to require abortion.

    > One does not need to believe in god to believe that
    > where there is a tension between human life and the
    > rights and grave inconvenience of another human, to
    > come down on the side of human life.
    I disagree completely. I do not accept that there is tension between “human life” and the rights of women. I acknowledge that some people argue that there is tension between the rights of a woman and the rights of her fetus, but nobody can show that the latter exist.

    > As an aside, I deplore the tactics on both sides.
    I deplore the very idea that the existence of a single zygote cell in a woman’s body negates her right to exercise control over her body.

    Quick recap:
    You argue about the “life” of the fetus, not the personhood or rights of the fetus.
    You argue using the word “baby” instead of the appropriate scientific terms.
    You commit the fallacy of poisoning the well.
    And then you say that you deplore the tactics on both sides.
    Now is when I get to call you a hypocrite.

  28. Sally Strange says:

    In addition, I’d expect people who are genuinely passionate about the lives of fetuses to be throwing money and attention at the development of artificial uteruses. This possibility is not as far off as you might think. If the state really has a compelling interest in making sure as many fetuses reach viability as possible, then artificial uteruses would remove the tension between that goal and preserving women’s autonomy and right to privacy.

    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/02/14/what-do-artificial-wombs-mean-women

    And yet the only people I have ever heard talking about this are pro-choice folks at RH Reality Check, and fans of sci-fi writer Lois McMaster Bujold.

  29. Savonarola says:

    It appears that as I was composing my message (and losing internet connectivity), Darrel (and others) beat me to many of the points. Blast(ocyst)!

  30. Markita Lynda, healthcare is a damn right. says:

    SallyStrange, you are right. I was confusing “over 500 million years ago” for the Precambrian life with 5 billion. Thanks for the correction.

    Other: as far as the rights of a fertilized egg go, a copy of a recipe does not have the same value as a cake. To turn a recipe into a cake requires time, material, and energy. People do not mourn a late period the way they do a baby and we would think them misguided to do so. So except for the legal absolutists, we already know that a fertilized egg is not a person.

  31. Markita Lynda, healthcare is a damn right. says:

    > … birth and conception are used as goal posts for
    > life is because they are discretely measurable,

    Actually, the “goalpost” method is why pregnancy officially begins on the first day of the last period before pregnancy, because one can tell when a period starts (and not when it ends as it tends to trail off). Pregnancy is 40 weeks from the start of the last period. And that is why a woman is “two weeks pregnant” at conception, even though pregnancy is not established until implantation, some days later.

    The anti-choice contingent routinely confuse “how many weeks pregnant” with fetal age, which trails by about two weeks. Thus an abortion at eight weeks pregnant dislodges a six-week embryo, which is about 5 mm. long and has no brain.

  32. Markita Lynda, healthcare is a damn right. says:

    Danitoba wrote:

    A goal post like: Could the fetus live on its own if induced rather then aborted? Would change with technology, wealth and location to be essentially meaningless.

    All the more reason to leave the decision up to the people most concerned, namely the woman, the people she loves as far as she chooses to involve them, and her medical professionals.

  33. Ha the pro lifer refuses to accept that a sperm is life!! HAHA!

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