Blues, Greens and abortion

bySnowyowl8y5th Mar 2011155 comments


Abortion is one of the most politically-charged debates in the world today - possibly the most politically charged, though that's the subject for another thread. It's an excellent way of advertising whether you are Green or Blue. As a sceptical atheist who thinks guns should be banned and gay marriage should be legalised, I naturally take a stance against abortion. It's easy to see why: a woman's freedom is less important than another human's right to live.

Wait... that sounds off.

I really am an atheist, with good reasons to support gun bans and gay marriage. But while pondering matters today, I realised that my position on abortion was a lot more shaky than it had previously seemed. I'm not sure one way or the other whether a mother's right to make decisions that can change her life trumps the life of a human embryo or fetus. On the one hand, a fetus isn't quite a person. It has very little intelligence or personality, and no existence independent of its mother, to the point where I am comfortable using the pronoun "it" to describe one. On the other hand, as little as it is, it still represents a human life, and I consider preservation of human life a terminal goal as opposed to the intermediate goal that is personal freedom. The relative utilities are staggering: I wouldn't allow a mob of 100,000 to kill another human no matter how much they wanted to and even if their quality of life was improved (up to a point). So: verify my beliefs, LessWrong.

If possible, I'd like this thread to be not only a discussion about abortion and the banning or legalisation thereof, but also about why I didn't notice this before. For all my talk about examining my beliefs, I wasn't doing very well. I only believed verifying my beliefs was good; I wasn't doing it on any lower level.

This post can't go on the front page, for obvious reasons: it's highly inflammatory, and changing it so as not to refer to a particular example would result in one of the posts I linked to above.