The Secular Pro-Life blog is kicking off a new series! Once a month or so, we will feature a short interview with a pro-life atheist. Although Secular Pro-Life is not exclusively for atheists, historically atheists have played a key role in the organization. As atheists become more prominent in the pro-life movement generally, we’re excited for the opportunity to share their stories. Starting us off is none other than our founder and board president, Kelsey Hazzard.
How did you arrive at the anti-abortion position?
I have opposed abortion for as long as I have known what abortion is. My initial reaction was basically “Hey, pick on somebody your own size!” I found pro-choice arguments unconvincing and noticed that they were never applied in a consistent way; for example, the pro-choice people I debated wouldn’t own how their personhood arguments also logically excluded newborns and some disabled adults from the community of human beings with rights.
But it wasn’t until college that I became an activist. I connected with Students for Life of America, took a prenatal development class, learned pro-life feminist history, studied law and realized what a joke Roe was, met abortion survivors… for the past fifteen years or so, I’ve just been accumulating more and more reasons to be pro-life!
How did you arrive at the atheist position?
I grew up in the United Methodist Church, which is officially a pro-choice denomination. For a while there I was doing pro-life work in direct opposition to my church, and in hindsight, that wasn’t sustainable. I was practicing something pretty close to moralistic therapeutic deism; my prayer life was scant, but I enjoyed the volunteer opportunities and singing in the choir.
A boyfriend introduced me to evangelical Christianity and encouraged me to dive deeper. The effect was the opposite of what he intended. I saw a lot of inconsistencies and the Bible stopped making sense. I was particularly caught up with Calvinism and the idea of the “elect,” which I found to have a lot of Biblical support but which I couldn’t reconcile with the claim that God wants all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). And if a loving God wants all to be saved, wouldn’t He make his doctrine easy for all to understand?
After that boyfriend dumped me in a rather spectacular fashion, I took a break from church and, lo and behold, I was still behaving ethically. My doubts led me to the conclusion that I did not belong to the elect anyway, and there wasn’t much point in continuing to call myself a Christian. Eventually the whole thing just struck me as running around in circles. Atheism soon followed and I didn’t look back. I do envy the comfort Christians get from their belief that they will reunite with loved ones in the afterlife, but I can’t force myself to believe something without evidence that it is true.
How do you contribute to the cause of saving lives in the womb?
I’m best known for starting Secular Pro-Life, and that has certainly been a major part of my advocacy. But I have also held leadership roles in pro-life student organizations at the University of Miami and the University of Virginia School of Law; opened my home to pregnant mothers in crisis situations; mentored younger activists through Students for Life fellowship programs; instilled pro-life values in my foster children; and made donations of time and money to a wide variety of pro-life projects.
What words of wisdom do you have to share?
You can’t do everything, but everyone can do something! Find your niche and don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
[Want to be featured in a future edition of Ask a Pro-Life Atheist? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, affiliation(s), and answers to the four questions.]