It’s what I call “putting down a roof and calling it a house” or in rhetorical terms “begging the question.” An assertion is not an argument. A conclusion is not a reason.
“It’s my choice, it’s my body!” declared one woman. No matter how many times I tried to engage her with questions about how location is morally relevant, again and again she repeated “Because – it’s my body. So it’s my choice.”
A similar response came from a woman who asked me how many children I had and walked away with a smug look after I told her I had none. Our table-mate Micheal faced similar attacks when it was pointed out that he could not get pregnant. I was saddened by this. At an event that claims to live by reason and rational thought, how is attacking the character of the person making the argument the least bit valid? Even if I’m a bigoted, sexist, horrible person who enjoys kicking children and eating human flesh – you still need to address my arguments on their own merit.
Kelsey: We had a few fun debates. A couple of people said that they would “draw the line” when the heartbeat or brain waves begin. I smiled and informed them that those events happen so early that if you think abortion is wrong after that point, you are in effect pro-life. They didn't seem to mind. But it makes no difference to me whether or not they adopt a certain label.
Kristine: Yes, thankfully there were many who took the time to think about the issues and to engage in a mutual challenge of ideas. “I’m pro-choice but I’m glad you guys are here,” said another young man, after a lengthy discussion between a pro-life couple and a pro-choice couple broke out next to our table. “It takes courage to voice a minority view in an atmosphere like this.”
Indeed, we will continue to be a voice. Atheists are diverse, and some of us believe that women’s rights can be had without sacrificing the lives of the smallest members of our species.
Kelsey: Today was a bit more low-key in the exhibitors' room than yesterday, so I got the chance to attend a session in the main ballroom entitled “The Image of the Atheist Community.” It was presented by well-known author and radio host Jamila Bey. She had a number of suggestions for improving secular activism, including 1) fostering a sense of community, 2) “starting them young” by encouraging children to develop an interest in science, and 3) refusing to become complacent. These steps would be helpful for the pro-life movement as well-- or any other social movement, for that matter. Excellent advice.
Kristine: Finally, we're now famous! Well, sort of. I was interviewed for not one but two documentaries.
Kelsey: Such an overachiever ;-)
Kristine: One documentary producer was "personally pro-life" and engaged me in a very good dialog about secular pro-life arguments. The second documentary maker was so impressed with my speaking and ability to articulate my position that he told me he'd like to have me as a spokesperson for American Atheists. I wonder how well that would go over in the atheist community! :-)
Kelsey: Thanks everyone for your support and encouragement this weekend. We're psyched to have had the chance to engage in this vital outreach.