Tuesday, July 3, 2012

They Exist!

[From "I think, therefore I blog," Jameson Graber considers the dynamics between Secular Pro-Life and a) religious pro-lifers and b) pro-choice secularists.  Excerpts are reprinted with permission.]

SPL's blog regularly receives comments from people trying to "uncover" their secret religious affiliation. Their presence at the Reason Rally was not exactly well-received by all. Why is this?
Accusing SPL of being "secretly religious" is the most ironic of accusations, since it seeks to discredit someone's view solely on the grounds that it breaks with secular orthodoxy. The irony would be amusing if not for the high stakes in this debate.
Perhaps part of the claim that SPL is "secretly religious" stems from SPL's own need for solidarity, which happens to come largely from religious organizations. It is true that they link to blogs like Jill Stanek's, whose views are hard-line conservative and religious, and that they work with sites like, which has a specifically religious and conservative affiliation. But keep in mind that SPL maintains a pro-contraception stance and remains willing to openly debate the rape exception, two positions which are out of sync with standard pro-life religious orthodoxy. Many of their members also openly support gay marriage, although the purpose of their organization is not to address such issues.
The point of SPL, as I see it, is not to advance secularism, but rather to advance the pro-life movement from a secular perspective. As they do so, it's natural for them to make friends among religious pro-lifers. In my opinion, the religious pro-lifers stand to gain quite a bit more from SPL than the other way around in terms of intellectual credibility; in terms of resources, however, quite the opposite is true. I don't think anyone needs to apologize for this. 
(As an illustration of one of my points above, I've been impressed with SPL's ability to clearly and openly discuss the issue of bodily integrity with regards to the abortion debate...It is SPL's willingness to delve seriously into all the philosophical dimensions of the abortion debate that makes me believe they will grow to have a huge influence on the pro-life movement.)

[A big thank you to Jameson for such kind words of encouragement.] 


An RibĂ­neach (bobby) said...

This is very true. Although I come from a religious background I dont know of any decent religious arguments against abortion.
In fact the arguments which dismiss the personhood of the fetus are interesting in that they invoke a philosophical interpretation on the debate (and replace personhood with soul and its an old fashioned religious argument).

Save the Tiny Humans said...

I know what you are saying. I like your site, because while I am religious, my reasons for being pro-life are not. I find pictures of Mary and signs with Bible verses that vaguely speak on pre-born life to be confusing and off-putting from the message you are trying to convey. We are trying to say, your baby is alive, please don't kill it. How does a picture of Mary convey that to anyone who is not Catholic?
Now, and I am going to say it. I don't believe that women who are raped should get abortions because the baby is not at fault. No one would expect her to have to raise that child if she didn't want to. But the point is if you are going to go at it logically, you can't say that the pre-born is a person except in the case of rape.

LN said...

In reference to the rape exception/lack thereof, I and a couple others at SPL don't argue for the exception because the pre-born is suddenly not a person. It's more about competing rights. If you're curious:

LN said...

This is very interesting to me, I never thought of it like that. People reject the concept of a soul because it's supposedly purely a religious thing, yet they argue about what constitutes "personhood". Because there is no arguing that it is a human being. So they resort to "person" which is synonymous with "soul" from what I can tell. Kind of hypocritical of them, no?

Anonymous said...

There's a positive correlation between religiousness and support for "pro-life". It's not "ironic" to claim that "secular pro life" is secretly religious. The only way to avoid massive cognitive dissonance while supporting "pro-life" policies is to be religious. Just because you may be suffering from cognitive dissonance, doesn't mean that the claims that "secular pro life" is actually religious in intent are false.

LN said...

And there is *no* way to avoid massive cognitive dissonance while supporting "pro-choice" policies.

See, I can throw claims around without any elaboration too.

Anonymous said...

secular repeal of health care reform law?

secular stand your ground gun legislation?

secular invasion of Iran and unrestricted diplatmatic aid to Israel?

secular Defense of Marraige act?

Secular pro-life?

All of these ideas are either nonsensical, oxymoronic, or secretely religious.

Kara said...

Being allied with religious pro-lifers is not a problem. Christians who come in and say, "I believe in god, you don't. while we both want to see the pre-born protected for rationale that we may have developed independently, lets work on the common ground." that is fine. That is great. You are right, it is not the secular that is the focus, it is the pro-life. The secular is the means.
That being said, to endorse the other talking points upon which there is not agreement between the secular and the non-secular, that is where SPL can run into trouble. Linking to a blog, as was the case before, is endorsing. Endorsing an abstinence only view, or mentioning how terrible the "gay lifestyle" is is either contradictory to the pro-life movement (where pro-life is the one and only focus) or irrelevant. You want to endorse those blogs that give a fresh take on the SPL views, not blogs with which there is one point of commonality, and many more which are murky or in opposition.
I think it is a good think those other links are no longer prominent.


How "secular" is a blog that copies postings from a self-avowed anti-secular tea party activist? (I'm talking about you, Timmerie)

"Secular" pro-life is an absolute joke.

Anonymous said...

The idea that secular folk can't be pro-life is just bizarre. You don't need to be religious to empathise with unborn children and wish for them to live.

The love and protectiveness I feel for my unborn child has nothing to do with any dogma or supernatural being -- in fact I am an atheist and morally opposed to religion. I just think my baby deserves to live, regardless of how drastically it will change my life, how "inconvenient" it will be, how hard it will be to be a single mother, how much social ostracism I will face because young/single women are "supposed" to abort their unplanned pregnancies and are by default "incapable" of being good parents.

It's my baby and it needs my protection, so as far as I'm concerned the only moral thing to do is to protect it.

This is admittedly an emotional argument, but throughout the whole pregnancy I have been counselled that my emotions are important, and certainly a legitimate reason to not have an unwanted abortion that has nothing to do with imaginary supernatural beings.