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Deciding policy with religion

Ta-Nehisi Coates discusses abortion in this post and it got me thinking about where anti-abortion advocates draw their reasoning from:

I would submit that if you believe abortion to be murder, you don't decide at all. There is a chilling intellectual consistency in the behavior of Halappanavar's doctors, and pro-life activists who we dismiss as "extremists." Either abortion is murder, or it isn't. If you believe the former then Halappanavar's doctors were quite correct -- they refused to murder a baby to save its mother.

Walsh was lying in his refusal to admit that women actually do die during the work of pregnancy. But his position -- "without exceptions" -- strikes me as the honest one. The problem here isn't packaging. There is no way to honestly modify its import. Either you believe that women who have sex should run the risk of being remanded to potentially lethal labor, or you don't. No exceptions.

A lot of people strongly disagree with abortion because they genuinely think it's murder. But I think many come to that conclusion in two ways. First, their religion tells them it's so. They are told this from day 1 as a kid and it's ingrained in them by the time they hear a dissenting opinion. This religious belief also has the convenience of being fairly logical and self-evident, at least up to a point.

Because it's easy to think of pregnancy and see a baby inside a mother's big belly, it's fairly logical to think that's a person and aborting it would be killing it. And at a certain point I would agree with them. But this ignores the reality that most abortions take place very early on in the pregnancy and it's a question as to whether the fetus or cluster of cells qualifies as a human life.

It's at that point where the argument essentially comes down to what your religion tells you vs. the various arguments pro-choicers use. This is the point where the anti-abortion argument is extremely weak. Just because your religion says the policy should be 'X' should garner next to no merit. Why should we bother considering what your or anyone's religion thinks? What if my religion says abortion is not murder? How do we decide which person's religion to follow and make policy from?

That's why we have a 1st amendment and why we shouldn't dictate policy based on religious preferences. There's just no way to determine who is correct based on religious belief alone. If you do make policy based on religion you are discriminating against every person who doesn't share that religious belief. This country and gov't was founded in part of the idea that it's not right to do that.