Dean Barnett, Boston-area writer and blogger, has a thoughtful op-ed at the Boston Globe on abortion:
"I'm proudly Jewish, but not at all religious. Quite frankly, I'm the very picture of the Chinese food-eating secular Jew who drives some of my more devout co-religionists batty. But I'm pro-life, and adamantly so. Unlike the often erroneous stereotype of the pro-life citizen, I didn't arrive at my position as a matter of religious faith. Rather, my conclusions flow strictly from logical inquiry."
"The big moral question regarding abortion is, 'When does life begin?' ......You might expect that since I'm pro-life, I would argue that life begins at conception. Actually, that's not quite right. In answering the question of when life begins, the best I can do is say 'I don't know.' Life may begin at conception. It may begin during pregnancy. Or it may begin at childbirth. While I have a feeling that life begins at conception, I certainly can't prove it.
"The only people who can say with absolute certainty and total conviction when life begins do so as a matter of faith or belief, not as the inevitable result of a logical process. This is every bit as true for the pro-choice absolutists who feel that life begins only at birth as it is for people who believe that life begins at conception. Indeed, I would argue that the pro-choice absolutists rely much more on something unknown and unprovable than their pro-life sparring partners."
"Even though my "I don't know" answer may be frustratingly inconclusive, it does have clear moral and policy implications. In our society, Roe v. Wade drove us to a court-ordered 'consensus' that life doesn't begin until close to birth. But what if that 'consensus' is wrong? What if life begins earlier? What if it begins at conception? If that's the case, then the implications are beyond horrifying. It means that our country has taken 45 million innocent lives through abortion since Roe v. Wade, all with the explicit sanction of the law and therefore the implicit sanction of the rest of society."
"Because we don't know where life begins, the only logical thing to do is to err on the side of caution -- the side of life. In other words, because an abortion might take an innocent life, it should be avoided. It should also be illegal in most cases.'
"Some may respond to this logic by asking, 'Who are you to foist your values on others?' That's a common question in the abortion debate, and yet it has no rightful place in the argument. It's the precise moral and logical equivalent of antebellum Southerners saying that blacks weren't human beings, and that slavery opponents had no right to even question their peculiar institution. History has judged that argument harshly, and rightly so."
"There in a nutshell is why this secular citizen is strongly pro-life. And, please note: In making my case, I didn't refer to God, the Bible, the Koran, or any other holy tract once. Please adjust your stereotypes accordingly."