I Lost My Best Friend to Abortion – I Can Stand to Lose the Atheist Orgs

I haven’t spoken to my best friend of 21 years since November 2012, when I found out he’d voted for Romney.

We’d survived about everything together. We made it through the years of horrible clingy-ness and self-esteem issues brought on by a lifetime in a church that told him he was worthless. We survived his crush on me, and three thousand miles of separation, and enormous long distance bills. We survived my loss of faith, and his journey through various flavors of Christianity and paganism before he returned to the Church of Christ. We survived him voting for Bush Jr. (twice) and me voting for Obama. We survived my obsession with science while his interests diverged into the occult. We thought we’d be forever.

But our friendship died when I found out he’d voted for Romney.

Image shows a headshot of Mitt Romney with a quote: "Outlaw all abortion even in cases of rape and incest." -CNN Debate, 11/28/07. Caption reads, "Romney supports dangerous "personhood" amendments. 'Is committed to overturning Roe vs. Wade, and he supports such amendments that define a life as beginning at the moment of conception.'" -Debbie Wasserman Schultz

This was a time of increasing attacks on women’s reproductive rights. And my best friend, who has many women in his life that he adores, and two beautiful nieces he dotes upon, voted for the man who would force all of us with wombs to carry unwanted, even potentially dangerous, pregnancies to term.

That broke something inside me. I can forgive a lot in my friends. I can accept their religion, even though I think religion is harmful bullshit. I can accept a certain amount of conservatism. I can accept that a person may have thought it sensible to vote for Bush Jr. Twice. But after that fiasco, to vote for the man who would not only flush our economy back down the toilet, but ensure Roe vs. Wade was a footnote in the history books and that women would have to turn to back-alley abortionists and dangerous home remedies to terminate even the results of rape – that was too much. That was a personal, visceral attack.

We argued. I did some shouting, I won’t lie. I was livid. And it was even worse when he told me he respected my right to choose. Really? How could anyone say that, when they were voting for the people who would take that right away? That’s the thing my pro-choice-but-very-conservative former friends and acquaintances cannot understand: your words whisper, but your actions scream through an amplifier.

What my best friend told me by voting for Romney, knowing full well that this would lead to a Supreme Court packed with anti-choice judges, who would ensure that women’s rights were set back a century, was that he doesn’t give a shit about me or his nieces. He doesn’t care what happens to us. He’s willing to gamble our bodily autonomy, health, and economic futures on a shitheel who was recommended by the church he made fun of every Sunday. He didn’t even consider us when he cast that vote. And he couldn’t understand why that felt like being stabbed in the heart.

Then it came out that he was personally anti-choice, because he’s adopted, and he’s glad he wasn’t aborted. He couldn’t see how saying he supported my right to choose while working to ensure that right was taken away was basically telling me I’m nothing to him. How selfish it is to force other people to give birth because your birth mother chose to carry you to term. How awful it is to be treated as nothing more than a walking womb.

We managed all of two conversations after that. Both of them ended with me furious and him unable to understand why. It wasn’t worth it anymore. I couldn’t stand trying to love someone who was willing to cast women’s health and safety aside so easily. We decided it would be best not to talk again for a while. And after an initial mourning period, I came to the conclusion that this was a deal-breaker. My friends must, at the very least, walk their walk when it comes to human rights.

Image shows me at the end of a wooden bridge, distant and walking away. Image credit Cujo359.
Image credit Cujo359.

You can’t tell LGBTQ people you love them and support their right to marry, then work to elect the people who not only want to deny them that right, but want to make their love illegal.

You can’t tell women you personally support their right to choose, then vote for the people who would rip their choice away.

It’s just words. Just noise. You say something lovely – I support you – and then open the trap door that dumps us into misery. That’s not support. That’s contempt masquerading as love. And I don’t have to tolerate it.

I’ll tell you something about the atheist organizations working hard for the rights of the non-religious. I appreciate the effort. But I’m not going to support orgs whose leaders think my right to choose isn’t just as unquestionable as the right to die and the right to live without the government forcing religion upon me. I can’t stand with leadership that is willing to cede my rights, who are trying to recruit people who want to force birth on women and trans men who have the misfortune to get pregnant. I will not accept a big tent that includes people who treat me and mine as less than human.

We’ve got enough of a problem with sexism without recruiting more misogynists. We don’t need a herd of atheists who believe women should be forced to be incubators, whose concern for them stops the instant they develop a blastocyst. If those are the people you want to reach out to, then what you’re saying is that you want me to leave.

And don’t tell me you’re pro-choice, personally. I don’t give two shits. The talk isn’t important. It’s the walk. And when you walk in the direction of the people who see me as worth less than a fetus, you’re showing me that your pro-choice stance is utterly meaningless. I can’t trust you to have our backs without stabbing them. I can’t believe you when you say you care about us and our concerns.

What you are telling me is that women aren’t welcome in this movement (and you don’t even think about trans people). You’re telling me that thousands of women aren’t worth as much as a handful of anti-choice conservatives who just happen not to believe in god. You’re telling me that your organization is not for me and mine.

I have no desire to be part of a tent that big. Atheism isn’t enough to make me want to stay in it. And if this means a schism, I’ll be happy to see that rift open. I’m much more content in a smaller tent that contains people who can see me as a human being even if my uterus ends up occupied, and who will ensure that real choices are available if I need to serve an eviction notice to the parasite in residence. I’d rather be united with those who care for each other more than their guns and their low taxes and their supposedly-small government.

Our right to abortion is not a bargaining chip you can trade. I lost my best friend over this issue. Imagine how much easier it is to lose you.

Image shows a pro-choice rally. A huge pink banner says TRUST WOMEN. Other people are holding signs saying "I have a heartbeat, too!" "Stop the war on women," and "Stop the war on choice."
Image credit ProgressOhio (CC BY 2.0)
I Lost My Best Friend to Abortion – I Can Stand to Lose the Atheist Orgs

35 thoughts on “I Lost My Best Friend to Abortion – I Can Stand to Lose the Atheist Orgs

  1. 1

    This. 100% this.

    It is amazingly pathetic that David Silverman would even bother to show up at CPAC, let alone make the bullshit statements he made. And Hemant Mehta posted a guest post by a pro-life atheist…

    No. I wrote about not being allies with atheists who can’t agree with basic human rights, and I stand by it completely. Is there a secular argument against abortion?

    Maybe, but it’s far worse than the religious arguments against abortion, and those are already extremely bad.

  2. 2

    You’re telling me that thousands of women aren’t worth as much as a handful of anti-choice conservatives who just happen not to believe in god.

    Ah, but you know, if those lady atheists were just a bit more rational, if they would understand the need for compromise and sacrafice, so we could all work on thise super-duper important things like school prayer.
    Really, why are those lady-atheists so selfish? School prayer affects all , why do those lady atheists suppose that their issues are more important?

  3. 3

    Well, fortunately, as atheists we don’t *need* to belong to a specific organization in order to maintain our atheism, nor are we even shunned for not renewing our membership annually. I find a great deal of satisfaction in being an unaffiliated atheist.

    I agree with you on this, and I would quit the AA if I were a member over it, unless they release a statement that David Fucked Up.

  4. 4

    So this guy is anti-abortion because his mother didn’t have one. I seem to be missing a step or two in that chain of logic.

    Dana, I’m sorry you lost your friend but there are times when one must chose between friendship and one’s ideals. You were faced with that decision and IMHO you made the right choice.

  5. 5

    I’ve known people who struggle with ultraconservative views while trying to establish liberal ones. It’s not pretty, and it can be maddening to their liberal friends. They can be totally devoid of logic at times.

  6. 7

    Thank you so much for writing this. Maybe it will get through to some people exactly how important this is. And I’m so sorry about what happened with your friend.

  7. 9

    “Our right to abortion is not a bargaining chip you can trade.”

    Sister…I agree so much I could hand you a medal. This is not negotiable, fellas. My membership in activism is, like Dana’s, immediate to dissolve if we start tangoing with pro-life apologia.

    It’s just like, “Uh-uh. No. Auf Wiedersehen.””

  8. 10

    So this guy is anti-abortion because his mother didn’t have one. I seem to be missing a step or two in that chain of logic.

    Me too.

    My mother – who was born in 1920 – had two abortions, both of which were performed by doctors (she was part of a respectable, middle class, urban white family, for whom such services were usually available).

    I know, because she told me: Mom was always forthright and completely unashamed about her own sexual history – an attitude I always appreciated. She was completely matter-of-fact about it, and had no regrets over a) the abortions; and b) not marrying the prospective fathers (an ex-fiance and ex-boyfriend, respectively).

    Funny, but the one thought that NEVER even crossed my mind, was “gosh, I’m lucky Mom didn’t abort me, too!” Rather, I felt more loved than ever, as she made it clear that both my sister and I were planned for and wanted.

    It’s safe to say that, had Mom continued either one of those earlier pregnancies, I wouldn’t be alive today. She would have married the father, and not gone on to work for Ford Motor – where she met my Dad (they were married in 1949).

    To be blunt, I owe my existence to the availability of safe, medically-supervised abortion.

    So do my two (now adult) children. The abortion I had at 22 was part of the chain of events that led to their respective births 10+ years later. Both of them know it, too (I’ve been as honest with them as Mom was with me) and are staunchly pro-choice.

  9. rq

    Thank you for writing this. I’m sorry you had to lose a friend. That always sucks, but it’s one thing to disagree on the little things, and quite another to not be supported as a human being.

    the instant they develop a blastocyst

    Loved this. Jives with my love of medical labelling here in this country, where being pregnant is an official medical diagnosis, along with every other disease you can think of (it has a registry number!). Not sure if it works the same way elsewhere, but it sure puts pregnancy where it needs to be – as a medical, treatable condition with various possible outcomes. And, of course, a person’s choice in how it should be treated.
    Not sure how coherent that sounds, but either way…

    *hugs* ♥

  10. 12

    Huh. I just realized that I am here because my grandmother didn’t have an abortion. I dunno if that was a strongly considered option in the mess she was in, but she wound up raising a child on her own. An abortion should have been available, should have been possible.

    I am sad that you lost a friend. I support your choice and agree with you, fully.

    I have trouble with people who regard religion and politics as trivial. Both are expressions of who we truly are, deep inside. We should all be able to get along, despite our differences, but to truly be best friends with someone so profoundly different is not possible.

  11. 13

    #7 elly- I owe my life to abortion, too, for the same exact reason. That’s what I said in the nasty note I left on a car with a “choose life, your mother did” bumper sticker. :)

  12. 14

    My joining American Atheists about 6 months ago was absolutely a “fool me once” situation. They passed the better-than-CFI bar with flying colors in terms of supporting targeted feminists. Until I learned that “support” was entirely window dressing, and that Silverman 100% supports Richard Dawkins’ blacklisting of Rebecca Watson. And I also recently noticed Silverman’s public support of a few online harassers. Including at least one who regularly implies that his feminist “enemies” are Nazis.

    I find Silverman’s newly-public values to be repugnant. For instance, the dishonestly named “fiscal conservatism,” which presumably includes the dismantling of the few remaining social safety-nets, while limiting opportunity and shoveling even more money to the 1%. “Gun rights,” meaning valuing the rights of honest hard-working law-abiding people like Nancy Lanza to own as many guns as she wanted over the rights of 6-year-olds to not be shot. That’s not to mention the Republican values of lying about science, destroying the environment, full support of racism while opposing minority rights, opposing heath care for those who aren’t either wealthy or lucky, etc. Silverman proudly proclaimed that the Democrats are “too Liberal” for him. I doubt he has the courage to ever list the “too Liberal” policies he dislikes.

    Silverman doesn’t believe in god. Congratulations, he’s at least minimally observant. I just don’t want anything to do with him or with American Atheists.

  13. 15

    I’m getting the feeling that Silverman is listening to the wrong people and somehow thinking that Libertarians are the future life’s blood of AA. As much as I would like to be surprised by he and other Atheist leaders discounting women (cis, trans* or other) I’m not. They either ignore us or just assume we’ll stick by them. It’s like one of those bad, country songs.

  14. 16

    My mom got pregnant with me before Roe. She and my dad had a shotgun wedding as teenagers because of it. They have never treated me with anything but the utmost love, kindness, and all-around great parenting one could want. They are still, over 40 years later, a very happily married couple, and no matter how hard you press them, they will never say they wish anything had been any different.

    And yet, if my mom had been able to choose an abortion, they might have had very different lives, also very good lives, lives they might have liked much more than the ones they had. And I wouldn’t begrudge them a second of it if they had done so. I wouldn’t be able to, because I wouldn’t be here at all, but even if I could, I wouldn’t. I’m not selfish and narcissistic enough to think that my presence in the world was worth making such a profound impact on their lives for.

  15. 17

    I was adopted before Roe v Wade. And I’m 100% pro-choice. Someone was forced to give birth to me, quite possibly against her will (I’m told my bio-mother was 15). I don’t know how anyone can feel good about that. And I don’t want anyone else forced into that situation.

  16. 18

    This movement could use a good schism. Atheism and secularism are good things, but they aren’t anywhere near the most important things. Largely because they are relatively unthreatened here.

  17. 19

    On top of all you said (which I agree with) your friend is using terrible reasoning by saying “I was adopted out instead of aborted therefore I am against abortion.”

    Consider these other versions of that argument:

    “I was conceived because the condom broke – therefore I am for condom failure”

    “My mother wasn’t taking the birthcontrol pill correctly – therefore I don’t want women to take the pill as they should”

    And thats just restricting that rationale to conception. Consider this example:

    “I got my kidney transplant from a car-accident victim, therefore I am against safety regulations in cars.”

    Good grief. I am not from the US (instead I hail from New Zealand) and, to be honest, in the past I never really looked at a candidate’s stance on abortion. Mostly because I just assumed those rights would always remain. That all changed when I began to discover how those rights are being erroded and rescinded in the USA. Now I make it a priority to know where a candidate stands on that issue because I now realise those rights can’t be taken for granted.

    I now believe there are two dangers when it comes to abortion rights getting taken away; Anti-choicers like your friend and complacent pro-choicers like I used to be.

  18. 20

    Then it came out that he was personally anti-choice, because he’s adopted, and he’s glad he wasn’t aborted.

    I figured this one out by the time I was twelve. I’m not adopted, but when my mom was pregnant with me, her doctor recommended she have an abortion, even though it was illegal. She told me about this as an anti-choice argument, and even then, I saw through it. How would I have I liked it if she had an abortion? I wouldn’t exist, so I would have no opinion on it. She even framed her argument as a choice – she chose not to have an abortion*. (The argument ended with her unable to answer that and walking away. She’s sort-of pro-choice, but also volunteered for one of those religious “counseling” “crisis pregnancy centers.)

    Be happy that your bio mother gave birth to you, because you are so awesome and the world is awesomer with your presence. Just recognize that she had a choice, she made it, and everyone else should have the same. (And really, how much less awesome would the world really be without you? I like being alive, sure, but if I’d never existed, my opinion doesn’t matter.)

    *tangentially related — she can recognize the false equivalencies in real world scenarios. My first cousin was killed by a drunk driver when he was 18. My mother was absolutely furious at an aunt who offered my uncle as sympathy, “we know just how it feels”, referring to her first pregnancy, which ended in a premature stillbirth.

  19. 21

    I am so sorry, Dana. I know that heartbreak first hand; I experienced it recently myself.

    I’ve gone even further than you and most people I know, in that I personally cannot have conservative friends: “conservative friend” is an oxymoron. “Which unearned privilege of yours is more important than my—or others’—human rights?” I’ve pointed out many times (and will no doubt have occasions to point out again) that it is well worth remembering exactly what it is that conservatives desire to conserve: a status quo that is racist, sexist, violent, amoral, ubercapitalist, hierarchical, heteronormative, patriarchal, and viciously social Darwinist—an imperialist oligarchy in a state of permanent war. I’ve even gone so far as to cut off all contact with even close family members over such issues as well. And you know what? Despite the pushback, I feel relieved. It leaves me more time and energy for writing and activism, where maybe I can actually accomplish some good, instead of arguing for my humanity with shitweasels who claim to love me. (I do, however, argue and mock conservatives relentlessly IRL when there is an audience AND it is safe for me to do so.)

    Silverman’s latest antics only add more evidence to my theory that to whatever extent the atheist movement wanted more women in *their* tent, it was for the purpose of providing entertaining eye candy—women to hit on or harass—and plenty of narcissistic supply.

    Bring on the schism.

  20. 22

    Trust women !
    I do with everything except money (kidding, only kidding) In actual fact the only thing I don’t trust my wife with is my books, she keeps trying to give them away, even though she knows I will re-read them, mind you Oxfam, and lately Goodwill have got the benefit of that.

  21. 23

    Powerful stuff, Dana. Powerful stuff. So sorry.

    I think I can guess who the friend was but it’s none of my business, so nevermind. Just keep on keeping on.

  22. 24


    I’m also with irisvanderpluym (#19) 100%, all the way to severing ties with immediate family members. My presence in your life depends, at minimum, on your recognition of the basic human rights of all people. Bodily autonomy is an absolute line.

  23. 27

    Romney, or Rmoney, is a whole smorgasbord of shit sandwiches. I can’t think of anyone whose life would have been made actually better under a President Rmoney. Even Libertarian billionaires would find a Mormon theocracy stultifying. But yeah, his odious pandering to the anti-choice crowd, whether they were his own convictions or just a cynical political ploy, is more than enough in itself to be a deal-breaker.

  24. 28

    Perhaps I somehow missed it in the article, but exactly *did* your friend vote for Romney? Was it because of Romney’s stand on abortion, or some other reason?

    I ask because I remember talking to a man a couple of decades ago who voted for Nixon, even though he knew full well of, and disapproved of, Nixon’s – how shall we say? – flaws. I asked why he ignored those flaws, and the man told me that he voted for Nixon because Nixon was more pro-Israel than his opponents. The man was a one-issue voter. All other issues faded into insignificance for him.

    What was so important to your friend that he would ignore Romney’s stand against women? Or was it worse – did he simply not think about it?

  25. 29

    Speaking as someone adopted, I also fail to understand your friend’s logic. True, I wouldn’t be here, if my biological mother had had an abortion. I also wouldn’t be here had she not had premarital sex. If she had not met my biological father. Or if any of millions of other things had gone differently from the way they had.

    But no one ever waxes all moral over those other things. Only over abortion. And of all the turns of event that led to my birth, I fail to see why to rate any of them as more important or morally-laden for that than the others.

  26. AMM

    Al Dente @4:
    “Dana, I’m sorry you lost your friend but there are times when one must chose between friendship and one’s ideals.”

    Not sure I’d call it ideals in her case. It seems more visceral. This isn’t so much Dana’s “ideals” as it is her life. It was _her_ body that was being treated as less important than his feelings. It’s sort of as if you (presumably atheist) were involved with someone who wanted to criminalize not being an evangelical Christian. Or if you were African-American and involved with someone who didn’t think slavery should have been abolished in the USA.

    “Ideals” or “values” would apply more to _my_ support for abortion (n.b.: I’m male.)

  27. 31

    My sister and her husband desperately wanted to have kids. Given a combination of less than ideal medical histories, their odds were not good. The weighed the risks, and went ahead with it, but ONLY because the doctors assured them that they would be monitoring the development carefully and if things started to go bad, that fetus would be out immediately. My sister was confident enough to go ahead, because abortion was readily and freely available to protect her health.

    I have a nephew, and now a niece on the way, because abortion is available. You want more babies? Tell people in higher risk situations that they can try and you will be there to help them if things go bad. Abortions are absolutely necessary, and should be legal and available and entirely at the discretion of the woman involved. No compromise.

  28. 33

    Then it came out that he was personally anti-choice, because he’s adopted, and he’s glad he wasn’t aborted.

    I really suspect that’s a major driving force in the anti-woman crusade: so many men still thinking like little boys, that they’re still the center of their family universe, and mom and dad are supposed to be ONLY Mom and Dad, and have no other role but to create and care for them. They still can’t get their heads around the idea of Mom and Dad aborting them, or never meeting to conceive them in the first place.

  29. 34

    But no one ever waxes all moral over those other things.

    Actually, sometimes they do. It usually starts with that quote about God knowing us when we were in the womb…

  30. 35

    Not that it’s any of my business – but your ex-friend’s two previous dumbass presidential votes also went to a committed anti-choicer. Why did the third fuckup count so much more than the first and second?

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