"Let’s begin by noting that while not all atheists are pro-choice, a sizable majority are. In fact, a recent Gallup poll revealed that those with no religious attachment are the most likely demographic to identify as pro-choice.
With that in mind, let me present what I think is the strongest argument for the moral and legal permissibility of abortion, often made by atheists:
“Pro-life advocates say that abortion is wrong because the fetus or embryo has human DNA. However, merely possessing human DNA doesn’t make it wrong to kill something because then it would be wrong to kill gametes (sperm and egg) or tumors that also have human DNA. Instead, it is wrong to directly kill innocent persons.”
But what is a person?
“A person is any being who is capable of rational thought and/or self-reflection. Since fetuses and embryos are clearly not persons due to their inability to engage in rational thought, it follows that abortion is not immoral and should remain legal.”
Sounds like a familiar argument so far. What makes it hard to refute is if you tack this part on to it:
“Yes it’s true that newborn infants cannot engage in rational thought that surpasses higher-order animals like pigs or dogs, which are also not persons. But this only means that newborn infants are not persons. Just as it is not immoral to euthanize a pet because it is unwanted, it is simply not immoral to euthanize an infant that’s unwanted because infants aren’t persons.”
Michael Tooley famously defends this view in his 1982 book Abortion and Infanticide. Peter Singer defends a limited view of infanticide and several years ago the issue came up in the media with the publication of a journal article defending “after-birth abortion.”
What makes this argument hard to refute is that it is consistent. You have to dig deep with the argument’s metaphysical assumptions about persons to show what’s wrong with it instead of just pointing to a repugnant conclusion of the argument.
But what about the pro-choice atheist who thinks infanticide is wrong? Can he consistently defend legal abortion without opening the door to infanticide? I don’t think so and here’s why.
…….see the article for the rest of this challenging argument.