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30% of Atheists, Agnostics Are Pro-Life
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The following comment comes from Skadhi the Raverner (Scandanavia’s answer to John the Revelator?) on a thread to one of Steve Sailer’s posts:

In my experience more young people don’t ‘get’ what’s wrong with homosexual marriage or marijuana, but are more likely to be pro-life atheists and to oppose multiculturalism.

Reading this, I instinctively googled “percentage of atheists pro-life” and was somewhat surprised to find scant quantitative treatment of the question, just links to topical forum threads and organizations for those maintaining the position.

Defining the politically charged phrases “pro-life” and “pro-choice” is difficult to do, with questions about pregnancy complications, rape, and the like clouding things up. The line has to be drawn somewhere, though, so for the sake of this post, that defining line will be whether or not a woman should be able to receive an abortion if she wants one, the specific reasons for her desiring one being irrelevant.

The following table shows the percentages of atheists, agnostics, those who believe but with reservations, and firm believers who are thus pro-life. For contemporary relevance, all responses are from 2000 onward:

God Prolife
Atheists 29.6%
Agnostics 32.5%
Uncertain believers 42.0%
Firm believers 71.8%

Just fewer than one-in-three atheists and agnostics are pro-life (keeping in mind that the definition of pro-life being employed here is pretty encompassing). So pro-life secularists constitute about 2.37% of the population, a considerably larger share than the secular right community, at 0.67%, can boast!

GSS variables used: GOD(1)(2)(3-5)(6), YEAR(2000-2010), ABANY

(Republished from The Audacious Epigone by permission of author or representative)
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  1. Anybody ever look at attitudes toward abortion among adoptees?

  2. You're a wellspring, sir.

  3. Possible corroborating evidence:

    The giant US Religious Landscape Survey from the Pew religion forum says that 24% of the "unaffiliated" (most of whom, to be fair, do not ID themselves as "atheists," but rather as just nothing) agree that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

  4. More interesting notes:

    The Pew data show that the unaffiliated have a similar level of abortion restriction support to US Hindus (24%), and notably higher than Jews (14) or Buddhists (13).

  5. The GSS is frustratingly limited on the question of abortion among those who adopt, and has nothing for adoptees, which would really be interesting to look at.

    With a whopping sample of 34, 22 are opposed to women being able to obtain an abortion for any reason, while 12 support it, which is about a 65%-35% split favoring the pro-life position. For the respondent pool as a whole, the split is 60%-40%.

  6. pat says: • Website

    I'm an atheist. I figured that out for myself. But I'm less clear about the question as to whether I'm pro-choice or pro-life.

    It seems to me that there isn't a whole lot of difference between the two. This famous fundamental dividing controversy doesn't seem particularly controversial.

    Take this test.

    If the doctor predicts the prospective mother would die if she tried to deliver – would you approve of an abortion? If the baby was a product of rape or incest – would you allow an abortion?

    Almost everyone says yes to these questions.

    How about if there is fine healthy baby being delivered and the doctor kills it by sucking out its brain? That's called partial birth abortion and almost no one favors it.

    In between those two positions are disputes about when abortions are too late. This is a quantitative dispute and tastes differ. I'm in favor of the morning after pill but against abortions in the ninth month. I think that's probably a common stance.

    Fifty years ago the Catholic Church taught that a pregnant woman who would face nearly certain death in child birth still had to take the risk. No abortion meant no.

    But today there is much greater agreement, and much less controversy.

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