Friday, July 20, 2012

Religion and abortion: Why the pro-life view should not be dismissed for its alleged basis in religion

Religion and abortion: Why the pro-life view should not be dismissed for its alleged basis in religion | NRL News Today: Pro-choice advocates routinely dismiss the pro-life position on the grounds that it is a mere religious belief and therefore may not be “imposed” on our pluralistic society.

This claim is mistaken in two ways. First, the pro-life position is not inherently religious. Pro-lifers contend that abortion takes the life of an intrinsically valuable human being and should be prohibited by law as a matter of basic justice. This view is supported by empirical facts of biology (which show that the unborn, the human fetus or embryo, is a bona fide member of our species) and a foundational moral principle (namely, the equal dignity and right to life of every human being). Thus pro-lifers offer serious moral arguments using science and philosophy; they need not appeal to God, religious authority or sacred texts.

. . . Second, many pro-lifers do hold a religiously-informed and/or religiously-motivated pro-life position. But that fact does not render it illegitimate or unworthy of public consideration. Religion has played a central role in the work of social reformers throughout history. William Wilberforce passionately and tirelessly led the effort to abolish the British slave trade—and he did so with distinctly biblical motivation. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Christian minister who grounded his civil rights efforts in his religious perspective. Both Wilberforce and King successfully fought to change the law to reflect their religiously-informed moral views.

But those views—that slavery and racial discrimination are morally wrong—are not exclusively religious beliefs. And they should not be ruled out-of-bounds because they have deep ties to religion and religious people.

Editor: While I agree one need not be religious to be pro-life, I think the secular, scientific argument lacks authority for stating that a human being is valuable no matter the level of functionality. See Donal O'Mathuna's Medical Ethics and What it Means to be Human. Should Christians concede that the non-religious argument is stronger?

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