I shook my head in disgust as I read most of this article by Ben Sherman on why men should oppose the Texas pro-life bill. To wit:
For those of us guys who like girls — you know, like them like them — and want to have relationships with them that may last anywhere from a few minutes to many years, we need to think about how this bill…hurts us, too. We need to stand with women in their fight to control their own bodies.
Ben “gets it”: this bill would make it harder for women to abort their baby, which means it would make it more likely that guys having those “few minutes” long relationships with women would be more likely to be on the hook to provide for any babies the women they impregnated chose not to abort.
And he has been appropriately lambasted by both pro-lifers and pro-choicers for his barely veiled appeal to stop the bill so that young men will be able to have consequence-free sex with women.
But, back in my atheist days, I was even worse.
I was dating a young woman, raised Catholic to a mild degree, and being a good serially monogamistic atheist, we had been dating exclusively for years. One day we were discussing the hypothetical possibility of her getting pregnant–something that, for various reasons I won’t go into, was highly unlikely–when I said offhand: “Oh but you would just get an abortion.”
And she stopped and said: “Uh, no I wouldn’t.”
Ooops! So much for having good communication in our years-long relationship! I was shocked and asked her why not, and she said that she didn’t believe in aborting a baby. I knew it was that residual Catholic influence from her upbringing, and it gave me another reason to detest the Catholic Church.
I was alarmed. My girlfriend would refuse to get an abortion if she got pregnant. That means I would be stuck with a baby way too soon in life and with a person I didn’t know if I wanted to marry, which meant child support payments for almost twenty years and essentially my life being ruined. Me me me me.
Of course that is the way of it: it was all about me, just like Ben’s article is all about him being able to have sexual intercourse without fear of a child being conceived and born from it. Sure, it’s couched in suitably appropriate language about supporting women and their choices, but under the thin veneer it is about “us bros” having those “minutes long” relationships without consequences.
But back to my young atheist days for a moment. I was suddenly afraid of having a child. Thankfully, that never happened. But if my girlfriend had gotten pregnant, I wonder if I would have pressured my girlfriend to have an abortion, even against her beliefs? I would like to say never would I have done that, but I probably would have. I was a lustful, selfish young man, and a child would “mess up my life,” big time.
Did I think that the fetus wasn’t human? No, I didn’t think that. I knew it was human. I knew it was a baby, but like Peter Singer, I didn’t care. So what that it’s human? It’s less human than I am, smaller by far, even tiny. No one would have to know; know one would care; my life is more important than its life. I was a pragmatist, and that meant, doing practically whatever I could to improve my own life.
Unlike Ben Sherman over at the Burnt Orange Report, I wouldn’t have balked too much at this bill. After all, you can still abort the baby before 20 weeks, and so what if I have to drive my girlfriend to a Planned Parenthood mega-facility in Austin or Houston? A few hours drive, tops. A little bit of money to save a lot later. Easy sauce. A no-brainer. Why people like Ben would get up in arms over such small obstacles would have been beyond me. This is your life we’re talking about, bro, and your gonna let a few little nuisance laws stop you from “taking care of the problem” so your life isn’t messed up? No way. Man up and get your girlfriend in the car.
This is why I laugh now at people (mostly on Youtube) who claim that I was never an atheist. Oh they have no idea what an atheist I was! I out-consequentialismed Peter Singer, out-blustered Dawkins, out-Hitchened Hitchens. I was an atheist of atheists. Through appliance of science, I’d got that ring of confidence.
So I can’t get too affronted by the Ben Shermans of the world. As you see, I was much worse, and didn’t even pay lip service to being pro-choice for the sake of women. I was pro-choice for my own sake, and was not ashamed to admit it.
My life is different now. Through faith and reason, I know that life begins at conception and that “a person is a person, no matter how small.” Now I remember in my prayers my and Katie’s three children who died in utero. John Thomas, Raphael, and Jacinta. They were little when they died, but I believe I will see them again when I meet Christ face-to-face. And I pray that Ben Sherman and others like him will have conversions and come to recognize the sanctity of all human life.
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