Non-religious/secular pro life arguments?


Hello all
I was wondering if anyone could provide any non-religious or scientifically based arguments for being pro-life. I feel like every time anyone tries to defend their position that unlimited access to abortion is literally allowing murder, some secular person (usually an atheist and/or feminist) starts going on a rant about the other person "cramming your religion down their throat.’’ Since, clearly, they dont want to hear that every human life is sacred ( I shudder to even imagine their opinion on that), can anyone share with me any scientifically based arguments for being prolife?


This is a topic I have a bit of familiarity with, so if I overwhelm you with information, please let me know so I can go slower.

The first thing you need to establish is that since the time of conception, what is inside the mother is a human being. This isn’t just a matter of opinion or religious belief – it is a scientifically established fact echoed in multiple embryology and biology textbooks. In the words of Trent Horn, an apologist here on CA, to paraphrase, if you can find an embryology textbook that says something else, I will eat that page.

Many a times you’ll find the pro-abortion camp repeating mantras such as “it’s just a clump of cells”, “it isn’t alive”, “if it isn’t viable it isn’t a human”, etc. The following scientific references show otherwise…

From Campbell’s Biology, 8th edition, page 251:

The human life cycle begins when a haploid sperm from the father fuses with a haploid egg from the mother. This union of gametes, culminating in fusion of their nuclei, is called fertilization. The resulting fertilized egg, or zygote, is diploid because it contains two haploid sets of chromosomes bearing genes representing the maternal and paternal family lines.

From Kratz and Siegfried’s Biology for Dummies, 2nd edition, page 92:

Through sexual reproduction (see Figure 6-5), a sperm and an egg join together to create a new individual, returning the chromosome number to 46.

From Keith L. Moore’s The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition:

A zygote [fertilized egg] is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete unites with a female gamete or oocyte to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.

From Carlson, Bruce M. Patten’s Foundations of Embryology, 6th edition:

The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual.

Clark Edward and Corliss Patten’s Human Embryology, McGraw–Hill Inc., 30, has this to say about it:

It is the penetration of the ovum by a sperm and the resulting mingling of nuclear material each brings to the union that constitutes the initiation of the life of a new individual.

Keith L. Moore & T.V.N. Persaud’s Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects, 5th edition, page 500, is adamantly clear:

The zygote and early embryo are living human organisms.

And finally, from Leslie Brainerd Arey’s Developmental Anatomy, 7th edition (Philadelphia: Saunders, 1974), 55:

The formation, maturation and meeting of a male and female sex cell are all preliminary to their actual union into a combined cell, or zygote, which definitely marks the beginning of a new individual. The penetration of the ovum by the spermatozoon, and the coming together and pooling of their respective nuclei, constitutes the process of fertilization.

The second thing you need to point out is, if what is inside the woman a full-fledged human being, a Homo sapiens sapiens, what makes it different from you or I that makes killing it justified or less morally repugnant? :shrug:


Nat Hentoff, one of my favorite music writers, is pro-life and not especially religious. It has at least been implied that his vocal pro-life stance led to his dismissal from the Village Voice, where his writing had been published since Fred Flinstone’s 16th birthday.
Just Google “atheist pro life” and that should keep you busy for the evening.


Everything what you said is factually correct, but none of them have any bearing on the subject. None of those quotes take into account the enormous quantitative and qualitative changes which happen during the development of the zygote to a newborn.

Are you under the misconception that you just consumed a couple of pieces of Kentucky Fried Chicken when all you had was a few scrambled eggs?


There is also a substantial change that occurs from newborn child to adolescent, this is just part of how organisms develop, but the organism as a whole doesn’t change into another species. :shrug:

:banghead: These are the kinds of actual misconceptions I was talking about. First of all, most supermarket* eggs aren’t fertilized eggs. Hens lay eggs on their own without any intervention from roosters; however, if a rooster mates with the hen before it lays its eggs, they may then come out fertilized and may develop all the way till a chick hatches. It is these fertilized eggs, which are not the kinds of eggs restaurants usually use, that are chickens at fertilization. The eggs I have for breakfast are just eggs, unfertilized eggs, that were never fertilized in the first place.

I understand you may be pro-abortion (if not, I apologize), but that’s no excuse to be ignorant of how avian reproduction works.

  • Most eggs for sale out there aren’t fertilized. However, it is possible to get fertilized ones from free-range farms.


This is a nonsensical argument made by the pro-abortionist. They tell you not to cram your view on anyone while demanding the law endorse theirs. It’s insulting to one’s intelligence.

And I will shamelessly offer these links, which are more of an apologetic, but include arguments based on reason and science along with reference links where applicable.

Replies to Planned Parenthood arguments
Refuting Planned Parenthood on viability and SCOTUS


:thumbsup: :thumbsup:


Lots of changes, for sure. But one thing stays steady. After the birth there is no more a symbiotic / parasitic relationship between the mother and the fetus. It will become an independent being, one, which is not dependent upon the bodily interconnection with the mother. It will have many needs, but those can be supplied by anyone.

And that is the point. If you happen to get a fertilized egg and make an omelet out of it, will you think that you just had a fried chicken?


Babies are not parasites. A parasite is a foreign species. That phraseology is just the fallacy of “appeal to emotion” popular among abortion supporters.

Furthermore, IF a baby were by definition a “parasite,” so what. If the normative human development process included a so-called “parasitic” stage, that would not make the person any less human. It would actually be befitting of the normative human process and confirm the baby’s humanity.


I did not say “parasite”. I said “parasitic relationship” - which is NOT the same. In a parasitic relationship the host is free to terminate the relationship, if it so desires. (By the way the usage of the “bay-bees” instead of zygote/fetus designation is really an emotional appeal. :))

Just because it is normal, it does not make the fetus desirable. It is also normal to protect against an undesired pregnancy. If it fails, then the morning-after pill can prevent the implantation of the zygote into the uterus wall - which is the normal process in most of the cases. If you prefer abstinence, that is your business. But other people don’t, and that is their business.


Nat Hentoff is a liberal, a non-practicing Jew, and perhaps an atheist, as well as being fiercely pro-life. Here is one of his columns from the Jewish World Report:


What would be a woman’s reaction if her ob-gyn announced after a sonogram, “Congratulations! You’ve got a parasite! And it’s a girl!”


The zygote, then the embryo and then the fetus are full-fledged human beings that a) require a suitable environment (this would be inside the mother’s womb, within the amniotic sac for the unborn; in an oxygen-rich atmosphere at a suitable range of temperatures for the rest of us), b) require an energy intake (this is delivered to the unborn via the mother, and the born are fed orally once outside). This is just how it works for mammals, it’s how we reproduce. :shrug:

A parasite, or an organism that interacts with a host organism in a parasitic manner, is generally another species. Don’t believe me? Feel free to read General Parasitology by Cheng, T.C. The links I pasted above show conclusively that the starting at conception, this organism is undoubtedly a human being, a full-fledged Homo sapiens sapiens – the same species as the mother.

I have no doubt that for atleast a fraction of time, that egg contained a living chicken, a full-fledged member of the Gallus gallus domesticus subspecies. Obviously it didn’t have time to develop and hatch, but once it is fertilized and the organism inside remains alive, it is a full-fledged member of the Gallus gallus domesticus subspecies. It wouldn’t seem like fried chicken because the bone and muscle/meat didn’t have time to develop. :shrug: So no, while you wouldn’t call it fried chicken, it’d be a shame that it didn’t get enough time to develop and hatch.

Let’s look at the word “parasitic”. Here are its three definitions:

*](of an organism) living as a parasite.
“mistletoe is parasitic on trees”
*] resulting from infestation by a parasite.
“mortality from parasitic diseases”
*]habitually relying on or exploiting others.
“attacks on the parasitic existence of Party functionaries”

The third definition isn’t really a biological one, but one that is extended from the biological one, so you can’t apply things that apply to the biological definition (the first two, which invariably state you must have a parasite) to the third definition and then pretend it’s thus morally justifiable. :shrug:

If you don’t think murder once outside the womb is anyone’s private business and decision, based on all the scientific truth surrounding what the embryo and the fetus are, why don’t you find abortion squeamish or morally repugnant? That is my question. :hmmm:

Indeed, the pro-life cause isn’t even about religion. It’s about recognizing what the fetus is, and the dignity of human life in general.

The problem is, this isn’t a very popular opinion in the liberal world. I’ve heard of long-time news correspondents that were given the axe simply because they were pro-life; apparently you cannot have liberal tendencies and be pro-life, it is seen as treachery. :shrug:


This is something that I have often thought about. By far the biggest failure of the pro-life movement is using religion in its arguments.

There is no difference between killing an unborn child and killing a newborn, or a toddler, or anyone else. Most objections to this boil down to the following:

Size: An unborn child is really tiny. How could anything that small be a person? Well, a newborn is tiny compared to a 6 year old, who is small compared to a 20 year old. Size is relative. An infant is not less of a person than a teen or anyone else just because of size.

Level of development: An unborn child’s development is very minimal. But so is an infant. So is a toddler. They are all just at varying stages of life, but they are still alive.

Environment: An unborn child is in the womb. But the physical environment in which one lives does not determine personhood. There is no difference between a child in the womb 5 minutes before birth and a newborn 5 minutes after. It would be just as evil to kill either; the environemnt change makes no difference.

Dependency: An unborn child is completely dependent on the mother. But a newborn is completely dependent on someone else too. Neither can survive without care. A person in a coma is totally dependent on machines. A paralyzed person may be more dependent on others than the able-bodied. We are all variously dependent on others at different stages of our lives. None of this justifies killing.

Think of this as the acronym SLED.

They may also say that an unborn child is part of the mother. This is where the “A woman has a right to her own body” nonsense comes in. This is really a bit ridiculous. A woman does have a right to her own body, but that is totally irrelevant because an unborn child is not her body. They have different DNA, possibly a different sex, etc. The mother doesn’t have 4 arms and 2 brains.

Finally, someone might say that “Well we can’t be sure if they are human beings or not”. Even if this was true, it alone should be enough to ban abortion. If a demolition company is not sure if there is a person in a condemned building, they cannot proceed to blow it up until they’re sure. If you’re hunting and are not sure if the noise you heard in the bushes was a deer or a hiker, you cannot blast away until you find out. In literally every other occasion, society requires that one make absolutely sure that they are not going to kill someone before continuing with whatever they are doing. It is only logical that the same ought to apply to abortion.


And it’s something I also encounter imprinted in the minds of pro-abortion supporters. Because the pro-life movement uses religion so much, the pro-abortion camp tends to bring up the religious arguments all the time, even if no religious arguments are being offered. I’ve often debated with pro-abortionists, and after I’ve given all these secular, scientific lines of reasoning, they’ll say, “There is no such thing as a soul, you only care about ensoulment, bla bla bla”. It’s like they didn’t even listen to what I said. :shrug:

:thumbsup: I first heard this argument espoused by Peter Kreeft, and it’s solid.


Ask them to explain to you:
If the growing child is not human, what is it?
Dog? Bear? Algae?

If it is human, how should we treat him/her?

The likely response will be that it is not fully human because it cannot live on it’s own.
(Kinda like my 90 year old grandma, kinda like anyone who needs a heart operation to live.)


To be honest, I’m convinced that the Religious argument for the Pro-life position is on very shaky grounds compared to the secular arguments, which in my mind are much stronger. It is not like the Bible has any verses saying “though shalt not abort” or says specifically when ensoulment occurs. I am against abortion because I am convinced, based on evidence, that it is wrong and harmful for mother and child; I fight against wrongs because that is what Christianity teaches me to do.

Has anyone seen any feminist arguments against abortion, by the way? I’ve heard one argument that pointed out that the abortion industry essentially puts thousands of women in a position where they essentially *must *sacrifice their unborn child to get ahead in life or to satisfy their family and friends (just recently a women was nearly beaten to death by her boyfriend because she refused an abortion (see link)). Abortion is supposed to be all about choice, but for the women, it becomes all about what is most convenient for other people – for her boyfriend, her family, her boss, and society, it is far easier to just get rid of the child rather than help her care for it. Ironic that abortion defenders claim abortion is all about choice, when so many people who get abortions feel like they have no choice in the matter.


“Full fledged” is not a definition.

The word “generally” is important. It shows that the biological definitions are descriptive and arbitrary. The parasitic relationship is a biological exploitation of one entity by another - whether of the same species or another. But let’s cut to the chase. Let me grant all your arguments about full-fledged and fully human, and whatever else you bring up - at least for the time being. (Can’t be more accommodating than that. :))

Even in that case the woman is under no obligation to share her bodily resources. If someone needs a blood or plasma transfusion in order to survive (and these are renewable bodily resources) that need does not present an obligation for someone else to provide those resources. If someone needs a kidney-transplant, no one can be forced to provide one, even though one can live with one kidney only.

Our whole legal system accepts that we are the sole owners of our body (I am aware that some Christians disagree - but here we are dealing with secular arguments), and as long as this right in maintained by system, the zygote/fetus or even “baybee” cannot have claims to get those resources.

Shame? What a strange concept in this relation. Is it a “shame” to eat fried eggs if the eggs were fertilized?

But let’s take another example, this time against the “full-fledged”. Consider a medical student, who has finished her studies, she is as qualified as she can be. Yet, she cannot practice medicine until she receives her diploma. This can be considered a “formal” declaration, but it is very important. Without a diploma she does not have the right to call herself “doctor”, cannot put a shingle above her door and cannot practice medicine.

Just one second before she gets that piece of paper she is a medical student and one second after she is a doctor. The paper does not add any new knowledge or ability… it simply adds a new label to her. But we do not want to allow any random person to get a scalpel in her right hand, a sick patient in the other… and allow her to “have at it”. :slight_smile:

Murder is a legal term. An execution is not a murder. Killing in self-defense is not a murder. Killing in a war is not a murder. If allowed by the legal system, abortion is not a murder.

Of course I am NOT for abortions. I don’t know anyone who is pro-abortion. This term was coined by those who are anti-abortion as an emotional put-down. It would be much better if every child would be wanted and happily expected. If every parent would be able to raise that child in a decent environment. No woman gets pregnant JUST SO that she could undergo an abortion.

You know, all your arguments would carry much more weight, if you (the church in general) would strongly endorse the non-abortifacient preventive methods. This attitude that every sexual encounter must be “open” to procreation - even if there is no chance of it (missing uterus and ovaries?) is quite ridiculous. The point is that the people are required (by the church) to abandon their reasoning abilities, and PRETEND that conception is possible, even when it is not. Why should people play “dumb”?

One of the most UNITIVE activities are sexual in nature. The church also emphasizes how important this aspect is. And then changes its tune, and proclaims that the unitive aspect is not important PER SE, it is only secondary to the procreative one. Never mind that most couples have only two or three children in their lives, and have thousands of sexual acts.

As for the “unreliability” of preventive methods, that argument does not even get off the ground if one dares to think “outside the box”. The most civilized methods (when both parties concentrate on the OTHER one) are simply non-procreative in nature. There is no selfishness involved when the partners are only concerned about the pleasure of the other one… knowing full well that their own turn comes as well. And the real pleasure comes from giving, not just receiving.

So, finishing up, there is no secular reason against non-procreative sex. The church should encourage it, and then the stance against abortion (which is shared by others) would stand on much stronger “legs”.


Right. :rolleyes:
Because we can parse the word “human”, we should, evidently.
Sure, because for instance, a black person, really isn’t full fledged, right? Because they are deficient. Right?
Jews? Aborigines? Pick your less-than- full-fledged human.
Not full fledged. Not a person. I define and declare it.:rolleyes:

The word “generally” is important. It shows that the biological definitions are descriptive and arbitrary. The parasitic relationship is a biological exploitation of one entity by another - whether of the same species or another. But let’s cut to the chase. Let me grant all your arguments about full-fledged and fully human, and whatever else you bring up - at least for the time being. (Can’t be more accommodating than that. :))

**Even in that case the woman is under no obligation to share her bodily resources. **

Right. Because people don’t matter. What’s best for you matters, other people are merely objects for your benefit.


If a medical student is not a doctor, what is it?

A zygote. Micosil agreed that a fertilized chicken egg is NOT a “full-fledged” chicken. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Since you have no argument, you resort to badmouthing others. How typical. :slight_smile:

The point is that in our secular reality we are the owners of our bodies. If we wish to share some of the resources, that is fine. There are blood donors and plasma donors. But no one decries those who are not donors. There is no obligation to be one.

As a matter of fact, our ownership is so strong, that it survives our life. Not even our corpses can be cut up and used without our prior permission. Not even if our organs could save someone else’s life.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit