This post is prompted by Jacob Rees-Mogg’s recent comments about abortion and the inevitable, outraged response from many quarters. It is widely assumed that opponents of abortion are, as in Rees-Mogg’s case, motivated by religious belief. Whilst that is often the case, this post lists both well-known and lesser-known non-religious people who oppose(d) abortion to one extent or another.* I may update it from time to time.
- George Orwell in Keep the Aspidistra Flying
- Christopher Hitchens, in debate with Frank Turek, recognises that an unborn child is a human being (0:07), considers that the occupant of the womb is a “candidate member of society” (2:08), says that the concept of an “unborn child” is a real one (1:44), says that it cannot only be the responsibility of the woman to decide upon the child’s future (2:12), says that the “unborn entity has a right on its side” and “that every effort” should normally be made to preserve him/her (4:40).
- “Pro-life feminist” Bex, who cites first-wave feminists in support of her position.
- This man (ignore the quirks on the website).
- Another “pro-life feminist” (ditto)
- This man (ditto)
- One of my Twitter followers.
- The American-based atheist Kelsey Hazzard.
- Marko Attila Hoare, an atheist.
- Suffragette leader Sylvia Pankhurst.
- Dr Bernard Nathanson: “Although he eventually became a Catholic, the former abortionist Dr. Bernard Nathanson had his mind, as well as his heart, changed by science, not faith; the new technology of ultrasound allowed him to view abortion as it was happening. For many years, as an unashamed atheist, he was one of the most prominent and effective activists against abortion in America. His films “The Silent Scream” and “Eclipse of Reason” fought abortion by showing abortions.”
- Kristine Kruszelnicki, the atheist President of the American organisation Pro-Life Humanists.
- This Twitter user (to some degree at least).
- From the Republic of Ireland, AtheistsFor8th.
- The various people featured in this video.
PS According to the British Social Attitudes survey, in 2016 30% of the UK population rejected the proposition that law should allow an abortion when the woman decides on her own she does not wish to have the child. Given the declining levels of religious belief/observance in British life, it seems unlikely that all who rejected this proposition did so for religious reasons. The statistic also, of course, suggests that there is more support for Rees-Mogg’s general position on abortion (if not his specific position concerning rape) than some of his critics appear to believe.
*By “opposing abortion”, I mean this in general terms only, i.e. I include those who oppose abortion on principle but may (like Christopher Hitchens) make exceptions e.g. where the mother’s life is seriously endangered or (in contrast to Jacob Rees-Mogg) in the case of rape or incest.