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The Jan. 23 Bangor Daily News included an OpEd piece by Rachel Laser, “Abortion bans undermine church-state separation.” The author complained about lawyers and legislators invoking God and his commandments in their arguments for restrictions on abortion. Such arguments do little to persuade anyone who doesn’t believe in God or who interprets the Bible differently. And yes, much of the opposition to permissive abortion laws is motivated by religious beliefs.
But one doesn’t have to be a follower of any religion to be distressed about the preventable deaths of more than 890,000 unborn human babies per year ( Guttmacher Institute’s statistic), or to believe it is the state’s business to prevent such loss of life.
The music critic Nat Hentoff (1925-2017), a Jewish atheist, opposed permissive abortion laws for the same reason he opposed nuclear armament, the death penalty, and euthanasia. Citing unassailable research on fetal development, Hentoff rebutted the claim that the baby in the womb is “not a human being” but “an organism with the potential to become a human being.”
He wrote: “I’ve interviewed a number of physicians engaged in research on prenatal development. Without exception, they emphasize that human life is a continuum—from the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterine lining to birth to death. Setting up divisions of this process to justify abortion — as in Roe v. Wade — is artificial. It’s a denial of biology. Whether in the fourth or 14th week, it is the life of a developing human being that is being killed.”