Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

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The Other "A" Word

In this long-awaited episode, the cast of Ask an Atheist discusses our position on abortion and responds to feedback about this topic. Speaking on this episode: Becky, Deanna, Nick, Mike, Libbie, Scott, Sam, Eileen, and Bob.

Additionally, Bob posted this blog post back in February about this subject: 5 Recommendations to the Pro-Life Movement

About the Author: Becky Friedman

Becky works on the Ask An Atheist production team, frequently appears on episodes, and lends her voice to commercial announcements. She speaks Spanish, works as an educator in the Seattle-Tacoma area, and sits on the Board of Humanists of Washington.

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Which girl said rampant orgying sounded awesome?

John M

Interesting to apply some trolleyology to the problem. If the best defence of abortion is to de-humanise that which you are about to destroy, that is what to expect in arguments. Checkmate atheists:)


The only runaway trolley problem presented is the group of toddlers vs. the 7 year-old. And most people would say that if you can only save one or the other, they’d save the group of toddlers. The argument is that most people already inherently don’t consider blastocysts or embryos human because (1) most would choose to save a 5-year-old child over a vial of frozen embryos, and because (2) abortion opponents don’t put pictures of blastocysts on posters. They put faces of children or faces of near-term fetuses. The only way to dehumanize a blastocyst is to have it be… Read more »

John M

We would both pass those tests, but that is not the case I had in mind. I was thinking about the rights and wrongs of doing away with a human being not for reasons of danger to the mother’s life, or even rape, but just the common garden reason of inconvenience.

When do you say we begin to exist? I say earlier…? were you…ever a blastocyst?

Dianne Leonard

I am 59, old enough to remember what it was like pre-Roe. In those days, the leading cause of death among women of childbearing age was septic abortion. Every hospital had wards for women who were suffering the effects of septic abortions. In 1972-73 I worked at a doctor’s office, and one of my jobs was calling the local hospital to schedule “TAs” (therapeutic abortions). California had one of the nation’s most liberal abortion laws, but you still had to get the approval of 3 doctors. I will never forget moving medical files to the “deceased” section, of women who… Read more »

Sam Mulvey

I was once a blastocyst, and yeah, I’d say that I didn’t qualify as human then. If my parents had chosen to get rid of me, I wouldn’t have held it against them. ;P Similarly, someday, I will die. After I die, I will more than likely be buried in spite of my wishes to be distilled into whiskey to be consumed by Martians if and when they should exist. Actually, in either case I will be consumed, digested, and excreted. While those molecules may have once been me, and I was human, I don’t believe that the sewage deserves… Read more »

Sam Mulvey

Also, did you just use “checkmate atheists” unsarcastically?


Hi Sam, I was kind of bummed out with the way the arguments were being made on the last show for pro-choice. It seemed like the panelist would start with a really good argument and then wander off to an ending of sarcasm. If it is possible can you re-address these topics because I am really interested in a skeptic’s argument for these ideas. There was an idea that between the first cell from conception to a full pre-born child there is a “spectrum”, I think an analogy of a color spectrum between green and blue was used to describe… Read more »


I just listened to this episode earlier today and I’ve got to tell you I loved it. The format was perfect. Three speakers for fifteen minutes at a time with a specific topic. Everyone seemed well informed and focussed on their bit of the discussion. The segments were put in the right order, first the facts and some arguments, then some opinions from both sides, and finally real experiences showing that the pro life movement isn’t some monolithic institution either and that it’s OK to think differently (no dogma from you guys and girls).

Sofie Louise

Eiji: I actually agree with this not being the most sound arguments I’ve heard – nor the most convincing. Comparing it to the discussion on the Godless Bitches podcast, I found it a little lacking (or simply relying too much on too little). On the GB pod, they compared the fetus to a parasite which it shares some features with and I actually found that to be a compelling analogy. Pregnancy is hard on the body – very much so, and if you don’t consider the fetus (or clump of cells, according to time) as more important than the mother,… Read more »

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