AS198: Debating Abortion, with Tyler Vela

Here’s part 1 of a 2 part spirited debate with Christian and past guest, Tyler Vela. Tyler hosts a podcast called the Freed Thinker, which you can find on iTunes or through google.

If you’d like access to part 2 right away, check out http://www.patreon.com/atheist!

10 thoughts on “AS198: Debating Abortion, with Tyler Vela”

  1. I think it is important to make the distinction between “Pro-Life” and “Anti-Abortion.” Most of these folks who call themselves pro-life, are not. They are vehemently against abortion, but once the child is born, it’s not their problem if the child is abandoned or abused—they just don’t care. Virtually all of the “pro-life” crowd are also pro-war and pro-death-penalty. The pro-life contingent would gain a tremendous amount of credibility if they were pro-ALL-life and not just fetal “life.” They could also pick up some cred if they were pro-contraception and sex education which would go a long way toward reducing the need, desire and incidence of abortion.

    I was very glad to hear that Tyler recognizes that this distinction exists.

    It would be a lot easier to listen to anti-abortion rights people if they were just as adamantly pro-life toward people who are already born and grown to some extent as they are toward unborn fetuses. The other night I sat and listened to Trump call for the killing of the families of ISIS operatives and Carson call for the indiscriminate “carpet bombing” of any place that ISIS has been detected. Their willingness to indiscriminately kill noncombatants, including children, robs them completely of any “pro-life” credibility whatsoever.

    Oh, and by the way, Republicans ARE NOT pro-small-government. Nobody is. Everyone is pro-big-government—as long as they get to drive. No one wants anyone meddling in their affairs and telling them what they can and cannot do, but they love to be able to regulate other people’s behavior including the most intimate aspects of other people’s lives. And, as far as I can tell, that’s universal.

    I’m so old that when I was a kid, it wasn’t even considered certain that smoking was injurious to smokers, much less non-smokers in the vicinity. We would go to drive-in movies and my parents would smoke in the car incessantly, barely cracking a window for some welcome but inadequate ventilation. I’m over 60. So the second-hand smoke didn’t cut me down like a sniper’s bullet the way you might think. Maybe I’ll die when I’m 70 and if I hadn’t been exposed to second-hand smoke I would have lived to 80, but there’s no way to know that—now OR when I die. These harm/no-harm scenarios need to be based on situations with MUCH more direct consequences to make any sense at all.

  2. One thing I wanted to point out, or clarify, however you want to describe it. Tyler several times mentioned people who are secular, and pro-life. Both as though it’s a common position, and as though it gives the position credibility. The fact of the matter is that the pro-life position, according to polls I’ve seen, is held by less than 5% of atheists. I would suggest similar numbers of atheists believe in astrology, bigfoot, or ancient aliens, are racists, sexists, and/or homophobes. Being a secular person does not making one immune from irrationality, or from holding emotionally based opinions.

  3. I think that perhaps the thing that most stuck out to me (perhaps because of recent discussions on other topics) is when your guest said that he just doesn’t count abortions to save the life of the mother as abortions…which strikes me as a completely intellectually dishonest way of getting around the whole “I don’t want to sentence a woman to death just to have a kid, but I need to find a way to be consistent” problem. Especially since he says later in the episode that being logically consistent is perhaps what he values most in discussions like these.

    I was immediately reminded of Eli B, when he dismissed the debate over safe spaces by simply saying “those aren’t safe spaces” – well, actually, as defined by common usage, they are. And, an abortion to save the life of the mother is still an abortion…whether it will generate logical inconsistencies in your argument or not.

    You can’t claim that you are holding the logically consistent point of view when you simply say, abortion is wrong…except in this particular case…but i don’t count that case as an abortion anyway…so voila…no inconsistency.

  4. Tyler’s argument at the end made no sense. The woman smoking, or doing drugs during pregnancy only becomes relevant once the fetus becomes a person. So you can counsel a woman, put social pressure on her while she’s pregnant, and say “if you intent on carrying this child to term it’s best not to do drugs”. You can even make it a crime for the woman doing drugs, by saying IF once the child becomes a person, it can be determined that your use of drugs while pregnant has cause it harm, you could be charged with a crime. Otherwise there is no victim.
    Tyler’s argument begins with the premise that the fetus is a person, and capable of being a victim.
    His argument is like arresting someone for murder when they fire a gun because someone could potentially have been standing in front of the bullet.
    Here’s an analogy Tyler probably wont like because of the comparison, but let’s say a computer company builds defective computers due to using parts they knew were defective. Is that a crime, or is there even anything wrong with it? No. There is nothing wrong with it unless they sell those computers to unsuspecting consumers, until then there is no victim, and thus no crime.

  5. I think I have to disagree completely with how this debate even starts. Whether or not a fetus is a person is irrelevant to bodily rights. Even if we grant that a fetus is a person and give them full rights they still don’t have the right to use the mothers body unless she grants them that right.

    1. “I think I have to disagree completely with how this debate even starts. Whether or not a fetus is a person is irrelevant to bodily rights. Even if we grant that a fetus is a person and give them full rights they still don’t have the right to use the mothers body unless she grants them that right.”

      That’s a good point to bring up. We don’t force one person to donate organs to save another persons like. Of course the come back could be that the mother has a special responsibility because she got pregnant, but then what about rape, or incest where someone has essentially forced her to incubate the child. Of course it gets even more complicated because then the question is if someone forcibly harvested an organ from you (kidney let’s say) could you demand it be given back if it would kill the person it was given to? I would say no, unless you couldn’t live without it. I guess at that point we’re back to the person question. Do you have the right, if you believe a fetus is a person, to kill it even if it was implanted without your consent?

  6. Tom,

    I usually agree with a lot of what you say. However the debate on abortion is one that is filled with emotions on both sides. I find it hard to listen to a debate because there is not a right answer that will satisfy everyone. I am just glad that the law is on the side of women’s rights not the zygote’s or embryo’s. The thing that bothered me the most though was that you said if you believed abortion was wrong you would be ok with someone shooting up an abortion clinic. This is a very irresponsible thing to say and something that I completely disagree with. If I was a pro-lifer I think would and should be opposed to killing doctors as much as I was opposed to the doctors killing the babies. Should a person who is against capitol punishment go into a prison and shoot all the people in the prison? Should a person who is upset about a negligent doctor whose malpractice kills someone go out and kill that doctor and everyone who works in his or her office? A pro-lifer should NOT shoot up a clinic and it was wrong of you to stipulate that you thought they would be justified in any way doing so!

    Paula

    1. Paula, I don’t think they would be justified in doing so. I do think, however, that if I actually believed someone was murdering PEOPLE in an office with government approval, I would be highly sympathetic to someone putting a stop to that. Do you not think that’s a logical conclusion? This is why the abortion debate is so important. I think pro-life people are wrong and I think their beliefs have dangerous consequences. I’m sorry if you don’t agree with that, but I’m not advocating violence or saying they’re right, I’m saying it’s a logical conclusion of their belief. Thanks for the comment, I hope I cleared it up a little.

    2. “Should a person who is against capitol punishment go into a prison and shoot all the people in the prison?”

      Should a German in 1940 storm a concentration camp, kill the guards, and rescue the Jews lined up at the gas chambers?
      I believe this is the sense in which Thomas meant that he understood why someone who truly believed murder was being committed would shoot up an abortion clinic, or kill an abortion doctor.

  7. Hey Thomas. I had a though when Tyla raised Peter Singer and infanticide. I think you said that there was no philosophical difference between a child 1 day after birth to a child 1 day before birth. This is probably correct but there is a situational difference. Once a child has been delivered it no longer requires the consent of its mother to be housed inside her body?If the mother chooses to abandon the newborn baby which has in most cultures and times been her right the State can now choose to take responsibility of sustaining the infant until it reaches personhood. In the context of your debate with Tyla this is probably a mute point because he grants personhood to fertilised eggs and should be arguing that the state take care of all the excess fertilised eggs from IVF clinics

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