Posts Tagged ‘Abortion Rights’


Barbara Ehrenreich has a great new piece in The Guardian, “Let’s call the pro-lifers what they are: pro-death.”

It’s good to see someone else — Ehrenreich, one of the most astute observers of the contemporary American political and social scene — point this out.

Here’s the definition of “pro-life” that we first published in 1992 in the original edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary:

PRO-LIFE, adj. Pro-death (of political opponents, abortion providers, and women, through back-alley abortions); 2) Vitally concerned with the well-being of “babies” right up to the moment of their birth — at which time they become “welfare cases” undeserving of such luxuries as housing, health care, adequate nutrition, and a decent education. This has led some unsympathetic observers to conclude that the interest of “pro-lifers” in the welfare of “babies” is purely hypocritical, and that they are, in fact, motivated by misogyny and anti-sexual “moral” hysteria — that their true interest is in causing as much misery as possible to sexually active women by forcing them to carry unwanted pregnancies to term.

This, however, is not the case. If “pro-lifers” truly lacked concern about the welfare of the unwanted babies born as the result of “pro-life” policies, they wouldn’t be so willing — in fact, so eager — to have taxpayers shoulder the crushing costs of building the prisons necessary to house those “babies” later in their lives.

— from The American Heretic’s Dictionary (revised and expanded), with the illustration by our old friend and co-conspirator Jim Swanson

(Please use the above definition and/or the graphic by J.R. Swanson, from The American Heretic’s Dictionary, wherever, whenever, and however you’d want; all we’d ask is proper credit.)



Atheists for Human Rights (AFHR), an all-volunteer 501 (c) 3 group,  is one of the smallest atheist organizations in the U.S. But it’s the only one–yes, the only one–that donates money to individuals and groups suffering religious persecution in this country. AFHR has little in the way of resources, but puts its money where its mouth is via its Moral High Ground project. Here’s a list of AFHR’s donations in 2013:

  • $1600 ( $400 each) to four abortion clinics, all suffering vicious attacks by the religious right. The clinics include those that picked up the torch when Dr.Tiller was murdered. These are clinics where the doctors come to work wearing bulletproof vests and the religious right attempts every possible legal scam–while they hypocritically lie about being concerned about the health of women–to try to shut them down.
  • $500 to LGBT tuition grant.
  • $300 to Final Exit Network, the death with dignity organization that assists the terminally ill, for their ongoing legal expenses in defending themselves against malicious  “assisted suicide” prosecution by fanatical district attorneys.
  • $658 to Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty (CHILD).  CHILD,  essentially all alone for decade, has been fighting faith healing laws, that allow religious fanatics to deny life-saving medical care to their children.  (They get almost no support from other child-welfare groups because that would require those groups to challenge [insane] religious beliefs–our biggest social taboo.)

If you’re an atheist or agnostic  and want your dollars to support victims of religious persecution in this country, please consider donating to AFHR’s Moral High Ground project. You can check them out via the AFHR web site.

cover of Culture Wars by Marie Castle


by Marie Alena Castle, author of Culture Wars: The Threat to Your Family and Your Freedom

(This piece originally appeared in the July-August 2014 Moral Atheist, publication of  Atheists for Human Rights.)
For some time we have wondered why atheist organizations have focused so much on ritualistic violations of state-church separation and almost never on the moral issues that affect our personal lives. Strange, because there are no laws that say we must have government-sponsored prayers in schools or religious monuments on public property. Yet we have numerous laws that restrict our most basic freedoms such as those involving sexuality, reproductive issues, end-of-life decision making, healthcare, and so on. These are seldom if ever challenged as atheist issues, and are dismissed as best left to other cause groups.

Now some poll results from the American Secular Census are in that may help explain this. It’s not good. The sticking point is women. On the fundamental issue of bodily autonomy, 44.1% of nonbelievers are not buying it. They want restrictions on abortion in various stages and situations. 55.4% favor no restrictions at all, with 0.5% undecided. On other issues, there is closer agreement. For example, 76.6% oppose school prayer and 97.3% favor gay marriage.

The problem is that morality cannot be dealt with cafeteria style. Something as critical to women’s wellbeing as the right to reproductive control cannot be denied while less critical rights are supported. Better to say all these personal issues are not related to atheism, even though every one of them is based on harmful religious beliefs, with no valid secular justification that has ever been identified.

David Silverman, president of American Atheists, says abortion is not a clear-cut issue, but doesn’t say why or how. And so he wants to bargain away abortion rights to attract the libertarians in the religious right to atheism.

At some point, this matter of whether women in their childbearing capacity are to be controlled by society or are free to control their own bodily functions has to be settled. Religion has everywhere and always sought to maintain control of women’s childbearing. The Catholic Church has staked its future as a viable organization on maintaining laws that restrict or outlaw abortion, including even some contraceptives. Why is this control so important? Perhaps it’s an evolutionary development that has made reproduction at all costs life’s most basic function. Every living thing is programmed to reproduce at all costs. Females in most species are limited in how much of this they can do, so are a scarce reproductive commodity. Is the always-and-everywhere behavior aimed at controlling women nature’s way to ensure maximum reproduction?

At some point, can we think through this primitive urge to treat women as community property and get over the notion that their reproductive concerns are the business of everyone but themselves? One would think atheists would lead in creating a moral society free of religious dogma and its focus on controlling women, but so far they seem to prefer throwing them under the bus.