A Call to Atheists and Secularists to Defend Women's Right to Abortion and Birth Control
Atheists and secularists generally pride themselves on respect for science, opposition to harmful religious myths, and a fierce defense of the separation of church and state. Yet there is a critical need for atheists and secularists of conscience to collectively challenge the current moral, cultural, and political siege upon women’s right to self-determination. Flowing from each of these principles, we call on atheists and secularists to make public their support for women's right to abortion and birth control. Due to the insidious climate of anti-abortion propaganda and legislation these basic rights are being viciously imperiled.
Nearly 90% of U.S. counties have no abortion provider. 2011 saw 92 new abortion restrictions enacted throughout the states, shattering the previous record of 34 adopted in 2005 under President Bush. Doctors who provide abortion are terrorized and killed. In many communities, Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), funded by powerful Religious Right foundations and staffed by non-medical personnel, outnumber legitimate reproductive health facilities. Due to this climate of misogynist persecution the moral stigma and shame cast on women who get abortions is as great as ever. Women of color and working class white women who live in communities without adequate reproductive health care are disproportionately impacted by these policies.
But that is not all. Birth control is also under attack. Pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions. “Personhood” amendments threaten to criminalize miscarriages and ban all contraception. And President Obama openly upheld Kathleen Sebelius's unprecedented decision to overrule the FDA, thereby banning over-the-counter distribution of Plan B (emergency contraception).
All this constitutes an affront to science. Fetuses are not babies. Women are not incubators. Abortion is not murder. Fetuses have the potential to become babies but until they are born they are a subordinate part of a woman's body and they are not independent biological or social beings.
All this is rooted in harmful religious myth. The driving core of the anti-abortion movement has always been the biblical mandate that women bear children as “payment” for having allegedly caused original sin. This is clearly laid out in 1 Timothy 14-15: “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” This explains why every major anti-abortion organization is also anti-birth control.
All this is an egregious violation of the separation of church and state. Given that the restrictions on a woman's right to abortion and birth control fly in the face of science and are driven primarily by religious myth and social stigma rooted in these myths, they are wholly illegitimate. In the final analysis, these incursions fundamentally undermine women’s right to self-determination.
We, the undersigned atheists and secularists, find one or all of these reasons require us to raise our voices in defense of women's right to abortion and birth control. Women who cannot decide for themselves when and whether to bear children are not free and if women are not free then none of us are free.
We call on others in the atheist community to publicly join us in this stand. Add your name to this call. Pledge that on January 22nd, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade (the Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion), and going forward after that, you will join us in publicly expressing these views through blogs, interviews, articles, Facebook and other social media; as well as to the friends and family in your lives.
Labels: abortion, Amanda Marcotte, Annie Laurie Gaylor, atheist, birth control, Hemant Mehta, Norm Allen, Roe V. Wade, science, secular, separation of church and state, Sikivu Hutchinson, sunsara taylor