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 Secular Pro-Life volunteer K.B.
How did you arrive at the anti-abortion position?
I can’t really recall specifically adopting a pro-life position. I just had a habit of pushing back against actions that are violent, cruel and ostracize individuals. My concern wasn’t and isn’t isolated to human beings, but they’ve often been my main focus. Most of the time, this has led me to a fairly left-wing political position. I marched against the Iraq War, and celebrated in the streets of Boston in 2004 when marriage equality efforts finally made their first policy victory. As I became more politically aware and found like-minded bleeding hearts in high school, I felt the heady righteousness that comes with moral certitude. I talked with friends about our laundry list of things we wanted to change in the world to allow more humans to live happier, safer lives. So it was a severe and unexpected shock to me when I brought up abortion thinking that of course we all would be against it. This was violence against the most vulnerable of us all. As I’ve gotten older I understand the topic with a great deal more nuance. I recognize that there is a burden on us as a society to balance protections to the unborn with support for their parents. But I’ve never been able to attach disqualifiers to “all human beings deserve to be free from violence.” To do so would make the statement feel inauthentic.
How did you arrive at the atheist position?
My path to agnostic atheism (or as I call it, the default state) was the biggest nothing burger I’ve had in terms of personal changes, though the fallout was distinctly negative. I was raised Catholic. This was never a factor in my pro-life stance. I had never heard the topic once brought up in my very blue state liberal local church. But it impacted me in other ways. Searching for approval like most kids do, I got into the whole religion thing: I was an altar server right as that was first being allowed for those of us without testes, read my children’s bible, etc. Got a little preachy.
But by high school I realized that I just didn’t believe in any of it. The church never did anything bad to me. It just seemed fake. I couldn’t see how it was any different from kids playing make-believe about an imaginary friend.
My father had impressed upon his children how important the truth was to a person. So I felt I couldn’t keep going to church and go through the motions. It came to a head when I refused to get confirmed. I felt that to do so would be dishonest.
He didn’t like that very much and didn’t speak to me for a whole year of high school despite living in the same house. So much for truth.
This makes it very entertaining for me when pro-choicers accuse me of being a secret Christian. I must be a serious method actor to endure familial ostracization all for the sole purpose of tricking some folks on Twitter.
How do you contribute to the cause of saving lives in the womb?
Not enough. I have three kids of my own now and am struggling to get much of anything in my life done outside of work and kids since we don’t have a support network. Still, I donate where I can, have written a handful of SPL posts, and sometimes SPL’s executive director, Monica, uses me as a sounding board when she’s getting ready to send something out. I used to do the monthly emails here as well when that was still going on. I am hoping as the youngest gets older I will be able to do more again.
What words of wisdom do you have to share?
Maybe not wisdom, just perhaps solidarity. Sometimes it seems like this issue is insurmountable. Even when we make progress, the fact is there are still thousands of human beings at their very first stages of life who are being brutally killed. All while millions celebrate or don’t care. There is no “win” to be had because already too many have been killed. But we can’t give up. Because leaving all the future victims of abortion to their fate is cruel too. I think that is what we have to hold onto, to remember why we fight.