Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

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Before We Go

In a few hours, Sam is hitting the road to begin the tour. But before he leaves, Mike and Nick join him to talk about some interesting news in the last few days, and catch up on emails.   Additionally, we talk with Sunsara Taylor of Equal Time for Freethought on WBAI, about the upcoming Abortion Rights Freedom Ride.

We got some emails in direct response to this episode.

After the show, we received two emails from Alexis in Tacoma.   They’re included here without edits, and we invite Ask an Atheist listeners to respond in the comments.



Hi. I got stuck listening to ask an atheist at my dads house because that
was on. I called about abortion. The guy totally talked AT me and
interrupted me a lot. I had the pill abortion and was encouraged to wait
til the baby gets bigger and get a surgical. Idk if they make more money
that way. I believe women should have the right to choose within a month of
their missed period. So that they can get the miscarriage pill and not let
the baby get bigger to where a doctor jabs scissors in a big baby’s neck
and sucks out their brains. I’ve heard on the news and read in court papers
about doctors having to strangle aborted babies to death because the saline
doesnt work sometimes. It isn’t very well documented and what is documented
is horrid! All I got was the pill abortion and I get suicidal a lot.
How about unbiased counseling before we let moms get abortions? I’ve gotten
psychotic over mine. I don’t ever want a funeral. I don’t deserve one. My
dead babies never got one. I will jump off a bridge when that time cones
and hopefully my burial is as un proper as the babies I aborted. Did u ever
think abortions fuck with your head? Wtf!?
You love abortions and I hope someone strangles u to death or saws ur body
into bits and pieces when u die. A lot of successful people have been
aborted. How can u hate them so much and love the idea of destroying their
Alexis, “I called about abortion”

If u really want to know, I think people that get late abortions and don’t
regret should get abortions! They have to be terrible people to go that far
anyway and would make bad parents!
I was at the abortion clinic to get mine and there was a girl getting the
surgical telling me how long it took her to decide. She was at the clinic
for the two day procedure and had a big pregnant belly at cedar rivers
Ask an atheist is an asshole.
Women shouldn’t have the right to choose for so damn long it should be if u
don’t decide in 8 weeks u are gonna have the baby whether you like it or
People are so fucked up.
Alexis, “Abortion”

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Ben Garvey

Alexis, you need to get professional help. The call to the show and your comment here read as cries for help. Please, go talk to someone.

Scott WA

Wow… just wow. Alexis needs some serious ‘unbiased’ counseling alright.
A)Get on the pill, implants, sterilized… or stop having sex completely where it involves a penis and her vagina. She should not be having children in her condition.

B)Get some counseling for the depression and whatever else is going on in her head. Someone with her psychological issues shouldn’t be trying to tell others what they should do.

Multiple abortions… but other women deciding to have an abortion differently than she has, they are fucked up?

Interesting that YOU are the asshole for DISCUSSING the issue.


It’s unfortunate you regret your abortion. Maybe you needed more time to think about that decision; doesn’t mean everyone does, so don’t legislate it. It isn’t too late for some therapy to sort through those difficult feelings. Talking about suicidal thoughts sounds serious. Please get help. The rest of this is not really for you- just riffing on your comments- so unplug here and find that counselor. —————————————————————- First thing is first- don’t blame the medical industry. Despite “reports”, by which I mean fabrications and rumors, abortion is not a profit industry and Planned Parenthood is not raking it in… Read more »

Cheryl in Tacoma

I tuned in yesterday on my way to Chambers Bay with my dog, so I only got to listen to the first few minutes before heading off to chase bunnies. And I have to say that you’re starting to get as predictable as I’ve come to expect among atheist activists. Some gems from that segment: “Stomping down gay rights is sort of a sport among Christians.” Again I must remind you that the wackos who go to protest parades do not represent mainstream Christianity. A number of major denominations embrace sexual equality. The Episcopal Church, for example, approved a same-sex… Read more »

Sam Mulvey

I am quite literally about to hop into the car and drive for a month, so I a more in-depth response will have to come later. But in the meantime, I have two questions for you, Cheryl: If Christians being against civil rights for the LGBTQ community is a trope that doesn’t have a lot of backing behind it, tell me: Who supported Proposition 8 in California, and similar initiatives in other parts of the country. Who paid for it? What are the major groups that keep the National Organization for Marriage in money? Who are the most prominent thinkers… Read more »

Cheryl in Tacoma

Thanks for taking the time to reply, Sam, given that you were in the process of embarking on a long road trip. And I do sincerely value our discussions, because I am perhaps in a minority that seeks to build bridges rather than walls between us. Of course I am aware that many people on both sides of the question are all too quick to point fingers and condemn one another just because of their religious or non-religious beliefs. This is in direct contradiction with Jesus’ example — the same Jesus who broke every rule by not only talking to… Read more »

Mike Gillis

Oh, for Zeus’ sake. For someone who listens to our show, you don’t seem to actually listen to our show. Yes, homophobia is a very mainstream thing in modern — and historic — Christianity. Both ideologically, and in the organized political fashion. Not every Christian shows up with a sign at a parade, but you’d be shocked at the huge numbers of Christians that share the protester’s sentiments. It never fails to burn my ass how many blue state liberal Christians seem to fantasize that they represent the majority of Christians everwhere, and that fundamentalists are just an abberational blip… Read more »

Cheryl in Tacoma

To be fair, Mike, I did take care to mention that the Franciscan Health System may be deficient on a number of points, and those certainly are a matter for immediate and intense concern, especially if they’re taking over all the hospitals in our area. My concern is that you guys apparently took one sentence out of an email you received as gospel (pardon the expression) and ran with it, without even verifying for yourselves whether it was true, insinuating that those hospitals might just practice voodoo or try to pray the cancer away rather than employing actual medical science.… Read more »


I am all about building bridges, Cheryl. Mutual respect is needed as we live in a pluralistic society; and humanity will by all indications be stuck with religions forever, for better and worse. Eliminating the worst aspects of religious thinking and nourishing the better aspects is the role of the moderates such as yourself, and I applaud it- Muslims in particular need to clean up their backyard- a challenge given the poverty and corruption and tribalism- but the Christians in the US are making recent strides. Stereotypes do not help, and the aimge of the angry antagonistic atheist is one… Read more »


So I’ve been meaning to comment for some time: I hope all your summer touring plans aren’t yet set in stone because I had an event I wanted to bring up. Friday, August 9th in Minneapolis/St. Paul, we are sponsoring a minor league baseball game. We did this last year and got national attention (on fox news, blergh). It’s really cool. We sponsor the St. Paul Saints and for one night only, they rename their jerseys and team to the Mr. Paul Aint’s. Kind of a fun toungue-in-cheek thing. Last year, David Silverman (President of American Atheists) threw out the… Read more »

Becky Friedman

Thanks, Matt! Since both Sam and I are slated to be at Camp Quest Northwest on Aug 10-18, we won’t be able to extend our trip through the MN conference time. Although as baseball fans (of minor leagues in particular) we would have loved to been able to attend.

And if you think it’s something you’d enjoy, any time you want to suggest conference organizers schedule a radio show taping with Ask An Atheist at future conventions/conferences, we won’t complain!


Mike once again, and correctly, doubted that a sound secular argument against abortion can be found. I think that Mike may not be as familiar as he’s claimed with a lot of what Christopher Hitchens has written. Hitchens was vehemently anti-choice and quarreled often with his fellow columnist from The Nation, Katha Pollitt, about this and many other feminist issues. His arguments in my view were, while beautifully written as always, illogical. As a hero of the New Atheists, I’ve always found Hitchens a somewhat fatuous showman.

Sam Mulvey

I really hate doing the drive by comment thing, but I’m on the road and don’t have much choice. I think the abortion arguments are distinct from the anti-LGBT ones in that there are atheists who are anti-abortion while still maintaining a semblance of logic and skepticism. The arguments follow a logical progression, and are understandable without an external authority. The problem lies in the base assumptions. This is where Hitchens is wrong– a fetus basically *is* an appendix. There’s a gap in human value that has people valuing a thing that *might* feel over person who *does* feel. To… Read more »

Mike Gillis

I’m not sure how Hitchens has come up in the discussion. Nor have I seen argue against reproductive rights. If he’s done so, please provide a link to something he’s said or written on that note. I’ve seen Hitchens write against religious attacks on reproductive rights in 1995 in his takedown of Mother Teresa, “the Missionary Position – Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice” and again in this clip: If this is a new development, good on him. One of the things I honestly respected about Hitchens was his willingness to admit when he’d been wrong. The best example… Read more »

Sam Mulvey

While agreeing with you on everything else, Hitchens could be described as anti-abortion in a few places.'_political_views#Abortion

Sorry for the Wikipedia. I’m about to get back on the road.

Greetings from Anderson, CA!

Mike Gillis

Even looking at that bit from wikipedia: Hitchens stated that “[an] unborn child seems to me to be a real concept. It’s not a growth or an appendix, You can’t say the rights question doesn’t come up. I don’t think a woman should be forced to choose, or even can be.” Although holding a personal anti-abortion position, Hitchens opposed the overturning of Roe v. Wade, stating, “that will make abortion more like a contraceptive procedure than a surgical one. That’s the Hitchens plank, and I think it’s a defensible one.” Hitchens believed that a fetus should be regarded as an… Read more »

Sam Mulvey

Mike, that implication simply isn’t there.

*I* would describe Hitchens’ defense of his pro-choice views as vehement. Vehemence does not preclude nuance, and as usual his opinions veer from easily defined lines in the political debate, even if they’re clearly against abortion conceptually, if not lawfully.

How about this:

Sam Mulvey

On a reread, that comment sounds a *lot* grumpier than I mean.

Mike Gillis

Fair enough. I apologize if I jumped to a false conclusion.

For the sake of clarity, I should probably say that I define “pro-choice” pretty broadly. I talk about legality, regardless of one’s feelings. I’ve met more than one woman who is a vocal supporter of giving other women the right to make a choice that they say that they’d never make for moral reasons.

I think Hitchens is wrong about fetal personhood, but I’d call him pro-choice based on the legality question.


Sounds vaguely similar to my opinion. I’m both pro-choice and pro-life. What I’m not is anti-abortion or anti-choice, which is what the people who wear the pro-life label really are. To some degree, I’m largely a consequentialist. I care more about the results of a policy than I care about the front end of the policy-making. Making abortion illegal does not decrease the number of abortions. Worldwide statistics demonstrate that legal abortion-on-demand is correlated with a decrease in abortions. That ends the discussion, right there, for me. The fact that I also come down on the legalization side for logical/ideological… Read more »

Timothy Meixell

Cheryl, I get that the “wackos who go to protest parades do not represent mainstream Christianity,” but your’e not giving me a picture that is all that much brighter. You stretch to find an insult when one isn’t there: “Just because we believe in civil rights for everyone doesn’t mean that there isn’t a portion of our community that are going to make mistakes.” I hope you didn’t mean to imply here that religious believers don’t believe in civil rights for everyone, because that is flatly untrue. Yes, there are some who cloak their bigotry in religious trappings, but that… Read more »


FYIW, I grew up in a Catholic-dominated city where it was rumoured if you were a pregnant dying woman (or girl) to a hospital with a big ol’ cross on it, they’d save the fetus-baby and leave the person-woman to die, if only one could be saved. As I result, I have had a fear of pregnancy since I was little. I couldn’t imagine a worse fate, to be saddled with a baby that would interrupt my studies and life path, especially since not all pregnancies could be planned and not all forms of contraception were 100% effective (hell, even… Read more »


I just listened to this episode, since I’m a little behind on my podcasts. I heard Alexis’s call, and she just doesn’t pass the sniff test. Check me on this. She’s claiming to have gone to an abortion clinic that only does abortions, to get an ultrasound for a baby that she planned to have. Does this make any sense to you guys? Did anyone else notice this? I haven’t read the rest of the comments yet, to see if anyone else brought it up. I call shenanigans. She’s lying somewhere. Unless she can provide us with the name of… Read more »


Oh, wait, I just listened to it again. It was the pill versus surgical abortion. If I’m not mistaken, the surgical abortion is a lot less traumatic for the mother’s body. Abortion pills suck.

Did she ask the people at the clinic why they recommended a surgical abortion? I bet they had a good reason, but we won’t hear it from Alexis.


Heh, and I just finished the episode. Sam used the same phrase I did, for Alexis, except he used ‘smell test’. Very funny.

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