Once a month or so, the Secular Pro-Life blog features a short interview with a pro-life atheist. (See the full series of interviews here.) 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. This month, we welcome Nora L.!
How did you arrive at the anti-abortion position?
My grandmother was a pro-life activist, and as I child I was exposed to models of fetal development and brochures explaining why fetal life was worth protecting. As a result, I’ve always seen abortion as violent and morally wrong.
How did you arrive at the atheist position?
My parents were lapsed Catholics who embraced New Age spirituality. They took me to church regularly but reluctantly, I suppose because they felt that children need some kind of moral framework and that’s what was familiar to them.
In high school CCD class, I learned that homosexuality and masturbation are considered sins, not just the occasions to sin I’d previously thought they were. (An occasion to sin is a behavior which isn’t inherently sinful in itself, but could almost certainly lead to sin, e.g. drinking or gambling.) That led me to wonder: Where do these rules come from? From the Bible. Why should we follow what’s in the Bible? Because it’s the Word of God. How do we know that? Because the Prophets said so. Why should we believe them? Because they said so. The whole thing was just circular reasoning.
I knew many wonderful gay people who had beautiful, loving relationships. The evidence before my eyes showed that homosexuality was a source of good in the world. Compared with a faith that has nothing supporting it but itself, it became clear that the Bible was wrong about human nature, was impossible to validate, and couldn’t be counted on for guidance. The house of cards just fell apart in the face of my lived experience.
How do you contribute to the cause of saving lives in the womb?
I don’t do as much as I should. I’m a credentialed sex educator, and I’ve taught kids about fetal development and contraception options through a comprehensive sex education program. I spent about a decade working in child welfare and adoption. I’ve marched, and I donate to leftist pro-life organizations when I can. Just about everyone in my social sphere is pro-choice, and I engage in conversation about abortion with them in person and online. It’s funny, sometimes a pro-choice friend will trot me out before other pro-choicers as an example of a pro-life person who doesn’t fit the stereotypes.
What words of wisdom do you have to share?
Always assume everyone is post-abortive. Even pro-life people. Even people you know very well. Even people who swear up and down they’ve never had an abortion or impregnated a partner.
Focus your frustration on the system that forces people into believing that they “need” to have an abortion, not the people who find themselves in those situations. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt: they are good people with good motives who just have incorrect information.
[Want to be featured in a future edition of Ask a Pro-Life Atheist? Email email@example.com with your name, affiliation(s), and answers to the four questions. Photo credit: Michal Czyz on Unsplash.]