Wednesday, October 16, 2019

March for Life announces 2020 theme

Yesterday, the March for Life announced that the theme for January's gathering will be "Life Empowers: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman." The theme was selected to coincide with the centennial celebration of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which recognized women's right to vote. Accompanying the announcement, the March for Life released this spoken word video honoring our pro-life feminist foremothers, including those in the suffragist movement:

The March for Life will take place in Washington, D.C. on Friday, January 24, 2020. As always, we will be there with our giant blue banner. Stay tuned for details of our meet-up. The following day, we will exhibit at the National Pro-Life Summit (formerly the Students for Life of America conference).

Also, local and regional marches for life will take place across the country throughout the month of January. Secular Pro-Life will have a presence at the Chicago march on January 11. Want more meet-ups? We're open to your suggestions!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Baby Chris is 29 Weeks Old

Image via
[This is part 30 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

29 weeks after fertilization (31 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 16 ¼ inches long and weighs 3 ¼ pounds—about the size of a coconut. His or her full-term due date is just nine weeks away!

A baby's average weight at birth is 7 and a half pounds (although anything from 5.8 to 10 pounds is considered normal). That means Baby Chris is getting ready to essentially double his or her weight in only two months. The Endowment for Human Development reports that:
Each day, the adrenal glands produce large amounts of steroid products. The adrenal glands have doubled in size since week 20, and will double again before the end of pregnancy.
For more information on Baby Chris's nine-month journey from conception to birth, download the free See Baby app.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Women who've had abortions don't owe loyalty to the abortion industry

Since Roe v. Wade, there have been over 60 million abortions committed in the United States. Even if 40% of those were repeat abortions (statistics vary by year), about 36 million women have had at least one legal abortion in the past 40 years.

Some current and former abortion workers have wondered where all these women are. Why aren’t more of them active in the pro-choice movement? Certainly, there are many who are. But there has been no massive uprising of post-abortive women fighting for abortion rights. Despite high profile campaigns like Shout your Abortion, most post-abortive women keep their abortions to themselves. The fact that the pro-life movement is so powerful, even when such a large number of women have had abortions and would seem to have every reason to support that right, is telling.

Jeannie Jones counseled women and helped them get abortions both before and after Roe. She says:
I became convinced within a year or two of doing abortion counseling to great numbers at Amherst Medical that the whole thing – society's condemnatory attitude toward abortion – was going to change so dramatically because there were all these women of all ages who had abortions and members of their families who knew about it. They had this experience of making this tough decision. I thought that was going to change the political landscape and I can't believe [that opposition to legal abortion] is still going on. There's this enormous number of women having abortions still, but it's like you had one and you don't have any sympathy or concern for anyone else. Where is this enormous population of people who personally had this experience? Where are their families?
[Source: David P Cline Creating Choice: A Community Responds to the Need for Abortion and Birth Control, 1961 – 1973 (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006) 206]

Abortion is highly stigmatized despite many women having abortions. Former abortion worker Robin Dizard is so frustrated that more post-abortive women haven’t been fighting for abortion rights that she contemplated “outing” her former patients. The fact that many post-abortive women just want to go on with their lives, and others join the pro-life movement, angers her. She writes about exposing women’s secret abortions in order to shame them into being pro-choice, or to discredit their pro-life activism:
[I]t’s something that has been used very effectively in outing [of gay people], for example. I'm not in favor of it but look what it does. And look what happens when the hypocrites who are holding elected office get found out: "Oh, Senator whoever you are, your office is full of pornography, that's very interesting," and then the guy pipes down a little bit.
[Source: Ibid. 207]

Ironically and perhaps unintentionally, Dizard compares having an abortion to looking at pornography. This comparison acknowledges the stigma surrounding abortion.

Many pro-life post-abortive women are in fact open about their abortions; they see them as tragic events in their lives. Often, it is the abortion experience that motivates post-abortive pro-life women, whether they feel comfortable talking about their abortions or not.

Abortion worker Steph Herold also expresses her frustration:
We need our patients, who we do everything for, to stand up for us. We don’t need them to tell their abortion stories to everyone they know, although of course that would be great. We need them to fight for abortion access in whatever way makes sense to them. If one in three US women has an abortion by age 45, where are these women? Why don’t they stand up for us?
[Source: Sarah Erdreich Generation Roe: Inside the Future of the Pro-Choice Movement (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2013) 175]

Herold's fake "one in three" statistic has been debunked.

Herold isn’t seeing the women who had abortions at her facility on the pro-choice picket line.

Abortion facility owner Maggie Cage ran a full-page newspaper ad during Operation Rescue’s campaign. While pro-lifers staged sit ins in front of the facility door, Cage called for her former patients to come and “defend” the facility:
Where are you? Where are all the people we’ve helped over the years? We need you now. When you needed us, we were there. We held your hand and supported you. We see you in restaurants and at the grocery store, at PTA meetings and softball games. You are the businesspeople, the school officials, the politicians, the voters. We kept you safe. We held your secrets. But now we need help. Where are you?
[Source: Susan Wicklund This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor (New York: Public Affairs Perseus Books Group, 2007) 160]

All the current and former abortion workers quoted here avoid coming to an obvious conclusion: many women don’t consider their abortion experience empowering. At "best," they want to forget about it. At "worst," they actively work against abortion.

What about the numbers? How many women who have had abortions are active in the pro-life movement vs. the pro-choice movement?

Unfortunately, current statistics aren’t available. But there is an older study, done in 1981, which found that more post-abortive women were involved in National Right to Life than in NARAL (one of the most prominent pro-abortion groups, then and now).

[Source: Donald Granberg, “The Abortion Activists” Family Planning Perspectives July – August 1981]

The study was done by pro-choice researcher Donald Granberg and published in the journal of the Alan Guttmacher Institute. It found that 3% of women in National Right to Life and 36% of women in NARAL had had abortions. At first glance, it seems like women who have abortions are far more likely to join NARAL and be pro-choice. But when you actually count the numbers up, you find that more post-abortive women were members of National Right to Life.

At the time of the study, there were 12 million women in National Right to Life and 156,000 in NARAL. This means that 39,000 women in NARAL had abortions. In National Right to Life, the number was 245,000.

What this translates to, if you do the math, is that there were six times more post-abortive women in National Right to Life than in NARAL.

Of course, there is only so much we can determine from the study. It only includes two organizations (though at the time, they were the largest), and it is from decades ago. So, we don’t know how much it can be applied to today. But it is seems clear that the majority of the 36 million American women who have had abortions are not pro-abortion activists.

[Today's guest post by Sarah Terzo is part of our paid blogging program.]

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

How Legal Abortion Twists Society's Response to Miscarriages

Photograph by Joy Real on Unsplash. Image description: A cemetery in snow.

October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month, a time when we remember children lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), and the families they have left behind. As a mother who has lost two of my children to miscarriage, I appreciate the need for awareness. Despite the fact that one out of every four women has suffered a miscarriage, the subject is rarely discussed.

Our reluctance to discuss miscarriage is partly a product of our reluctance to discuss death and mortality in general. But there is more going on here. I am convinced that a major cause of women's suffering and silence is legal abortion.

Legal abortion means with miscarriage, someone will get slapped in the face by our response. Either post-abortive women get slapped by the truth that their unborn child was an actual living human who died on their demand—or—grieving mothers of miscarriage will get gaslighted and mocked for melodramatically mourning a disappointing pregnancy as if they can't still have a baby if that's what they want.

It's impossible to validate the loss and grief that we face when we lose a child to miscarriage without acknowledging the humanity and life that existed. And if what I mourn is the loss of a human child's life, abortion is taking the life of a human child. Naming the child and otherwise acknowledging this was an irreplaceable son or daughter reminds women who lose children by choice of what they have willingly done. This truth is not a pleasant message for post-abortive mothers.

On the other hand, denying this truth is a huge slap in the face to grieving moms. If all I lost was a "potential person"—basically I am just disappointed that pregnancy didn't end with a full-term baby. In that case, miscarriage is just temporary bummer and "better luck next time." It denigrates our grief and pain and for no other reason than it makes society feel better about disposing of children at will.

Lies told to enable evil toward unborn children also hurt those who love (and lose) these babies. It is just another bonus gift from the culture of death.

[Today's guest article is by Dr. Jacqueline Abernathy, Assistant Professor of Public Administration at Tarleton State University.]

Monday, October 7, 2019

Baby Chris is 28 Weeks Old

[This is part 29 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

28 weeks after fertilization (30 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 15 ¾ inches long and weighs three pounds—about the size of a large head of cabbage.

Hearing has improved to the point where Baby Chris can "distinguish between high and low pitched sounds." Many mothers like to expose their third-trimester children to music by placing headsets on the baby bump. There is certainly nothing wrong with that; however, beware sales pitches that certain types of music will increase the baby's intelligence, as such claims are scientifically dubious.

Want to learn more about prenatal development? Download the free See Baby app for your smartphone.

Friday, October 4, 2019

In Two Weeks: Rehumanize Conference 2019!

The Rehumanize Conference will take place from Friday, October 18 to Sunday, October 20 in New Orleans, LA, bringing together advocates from various anti-violence movements to learn from one another. Topics include abortion, the death penalty, sexual assault, racism, war, ableism, and restorative justice.

Secular Pro-Life is proud to be a sponsor, and we are also on the agenda twice:

"The Secular Case Against Abortion"
with Kelsey Hazzard of Secular Pro-Life

"ISO Secular Abortion Recovery Resources"
with Kelsey Hazzard of Secular Pro-Life and
Michaelene Fredenburg of Abortion Changes You

It's not too late to register, and scholarships are available. We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

"Except in the Womb"

Over at Slate, abortion supporter Christina Cauterucci has an article about the phrase "except in the womb." To call it an "article" is a bit generous. It's really more of a rant. The thesis is basically "I do not like it when anti-abortion people say this." Still, her annoyance is at least partially justified. For instance, when she says:
The ultimate message of “except in the womb” is that no one is allowed to try to change the world for the better until they try to criminalize abortion.
I immediately thought, Now you know how we feel when abortion supporters argue that we can't try to save babies' lives until we've adopted every child from foster care!, or until we've reformed immigration!, or whatever the popular distraction of the moment is. No one doubts that foster care and immigration reform are good causes. There's no need to make it a competition.

Via Dank Pro-Life Memes. Image description: One person says "Killing homeless should be illegal." A second person responds "How many homeless did you invite to your house?"

The use of "except in the womb" is sometimes perfectly on point, sometimes analogous to the "not until" pro-choice argument, and sometimes completely inappropriate. Surprise: context matters! So let's consider each of Cauterucci's examples, and my (admittedly subjective) verdicts on each.

Statement: "Climate change activists want to save future generations, except in the womb."
Verdict: Mostly bad

In general, using "except in the womb" in connection with climate change is bad form. It's a classic example of what Josh Brahm calls "fetus tunnel vision," defined as "the inability to see and/or acknowledge human rights injustices without equating or comparing them to abortion." The world has plenty of problems to tackle; we can acknowledge them on their merits without twisting everything into an abortion debate.

The one exception I'll allow is when climate change activists promote abortion as a form of population control, particularly for low-income minorities, to save the planet—as Sen. Bernie Sanders recently did. It's completely appropriate (indeed necessary) to call out the eugenicist roots of that thinking, and "save future generations, except in the womb" is a fine start.

But the usage Cauterucci cites was directed at Greta Thunberg, not Sen. Sanders, and it's pretty blatant fetus tunnel vision. Cauterucci's annoyance is understandable. I share it.

Statement: "Abortion care coverage for Peace Corps volunteers in the field? That’s supporting peace, except in the womb."
Verdict: Spot on

I have no complaints about this use of "except in the womb." Abortion is an act of violence, completely incompatible with any institution claiming a mission of peace. And it's obviously not a case of fetus tunnel vision since, as Cauterucci herself acknowledges, it directly concerns abortion policy.

Statement: "Opposed to Indiana’s ban on abortions sought due to fetal genetic disorders? That’s celebrating people with disabilities, except in the womb."
Verdict: Also spot on

You can't celebrate people with disabilities if you think they're better off dead. You really think people with disabilities don't notice your "fetal anomalies" abortion advocacy? It's hurtful. "Except in the womb" is great in this context; better yet, let's point ableist abortion supporters to pro-life statements from folks with disabilities.

Statement: "When Kamala Harris called for stricter gun laws after the Parkland shooting, it showed she cared about children being slaughtered—except in the womb."
Verdict: Borderline

If a pro-choice Joe Schmo brings up gun control and a pro-lifer responds with "except in the womb," that's clearly fetus tunnel vision, and also wildly insensitive to the families who have lost children to gun violence. The loss of life at Parkland is horribly tragic, full stop. Turning it into an abortion debate benefits no one.

The one reason I call this borderline is because it is not Joe Schmo; it's Sen. Kamala Harris, a public figure with a long history of hostility to unborn babies. Her political hypocrisy is gross and rage-inducing. Still, there's probably a better way to make this point.

Statement: "When Nancy Pelosi condemned Basher al-Assad for killing children with chemical weapons, she said she told her grandson the victims were 'children wherever they are'—except in the womb."
Verdict: Also borderline

Same as above.

Statement: "In replies and quote tweets on Twitter, conservatives regularly append the phrase to anything a perceived liberal says that rests on human decency or a shared set of morals. They’ve tacked it onto a March for Our Lives sign that said 'I don’t want [kids] to die'..."
Verdict: Definitely inappropriate. 

This is akin to the "Joe Schmo" hypothetical above—except that, for all you know, the person at the March for Our Lives is pro-life on abortion! That's just tribal antagonism for the sake of it. Knock it off.

Statement: " Rep. Eric Swalwell’s claim that he wants to protect children’s dreams..."
Verdict: Probably inappropriate. 

You can make the borderline case as with Sen. Harris and Rep. Pelosi above, except that Rep. Swalwell and his abortion advocacy are less prominent.

Statement: "... to Planned Parenthood’s post–Christchurch massacre tweet that said, 'we all deserve to live free from fear and violence'..."
Verdict: Absolutely fine.

C'mon. It's Planned Parenthood. They killed 332,757 helpless human beings last year. They don't get a pass.

Statement: "...and to many, many invocations of #BlackLivesMatter."
Verdict: NO. NO NO NO. NO.

Fetus tunnel vision and racist undertones? Not a winning combination. Please, for the love, do not do this.

Do you agree with my verdicts? Let's hear your arguments in the comments.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Baby Chris is 27 Weeks Old

Graphic via the Endowment for Human Development
[This is part 28 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

27 weeks after fertilization (29 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 15 inches long and weighs 2 and a half pounds—about the size of a butternut squash. Baby Chris performs somersaults in the womb.

Baby Chris can still be legally killed. A handful of abortionists, including the notorious Warren Hern and Leroy Carhart, openly advertise elective third-trimester abortions. This is despite the fact that, if born prematurely in the United States, Baby Chris would now have very good odds: 80-90% of babies born at this gestational age survive, and only 10% experience long-term health problems due to prematurity.

To learn more about the journey from conception to birth, download the free See Baby app.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Should We Make Abortion Unthinkable, or Should We Make Children Convenient?

Most people who identify as pro-life are advocates of legal restrictions on abortion. But there are some also who actively oppose abortion, yet do not want it to be outlawed, or at least do not want to make any efforts to outlaw it; their focus is on cultural attitude changes made possible mainly by better support for women, sometimes accompanied by promotion of certain kinds of birth control. Within each of those groups there is another spectrum as well: some oppose capital punishment and most war, and normally support universal healthcare, and call themselves consistently pro-life, while in others, anti-abortion advocacy is accompanied by more conservative political positions. But the distinction I would like to focus on here is that between the “legal” pro-lifers and the “cultural” pro-lifers.

I consider the “legal” pro-lifers and the “cultural” pro-lifers to be all on the same team. And it may even be best that different players on that one team have their different roles. It may be best for there to be both “tough cops” and “soft cops,” working in harmony. I think all the inputs of all the organizations that pursue only one goal or the other, or pursue any balance between the two goals, should be welcome on the team. But what I would like to argue here is that we will never achieve the maximum possible success against abortion without trying hard to enact laws; and that in fact we may never even make much progress on the cultural front until abortion is illegal. I would like to argue against the idea that efforts to create better conditions for women (even if those efforts are combined with the promotion of certain kinds of birth control) are enough, or that even all such efforts combined with moral suasion are enough. (Moral suasion through scientific and philosophical education is part of the toolkit of nearly all pro-lifers.)

Making Abortion Unthinkable, or Making Children Convenient?

Improving conditions for pregnant women, mothers, and children is a moral imperative, and not only because it will decrease the number of abortions. It will not only decrease the number of abortions, it will increase the number of healthy and empowered women and children. So we should pursue that goal for its own sake.

But we should face the fact that improving conditions in that way would do nothing at all to make abortion unthinkable. Nothing. Such progress would cause some women to think less about abortion, but that is not what we mean when we say “unthinkable.” When we say we want to make abortion unthinkable, we are using “unthinkable” to mean “so shocking that it cannot be imagined as possible.”

Suppose for instance that whenever a single woman or a couple decide to give life to and raise their baby, in exchange the government gives them a free car and a nice free apartment. The abortion rate will certainly decline. But suppose that the next year the economy worsens and the government discontinues the program. Couples will go back to baby-killing as usual, because their valuation of the unborn had not changed. They had given life because it was convenient to do so. Their consciousness about unborn life had not changed. Abortion had become situationally unnecessary for a year, but couples had not learned to perceive the unborn (at any stage of development) as full-fledged members of their family, and society had not learned that the unborn (at any stage) are our little sisters and brothers, whose protection is an imperative for us.

Unborn child-protection laws, on the other hand, send a moral message that we are going to stop treating unborn children, in our legal system, as less valuable than born children. They thus humanize the unborn. They don’t leave a hole in our institutions where the humanity of the unborn should be. (Laws can perform these functions adequately by targeting only abortionists and abortion pill vendors, by the way; it should be possible to avoid targeting pregnant women.)

Laws importantly influence culture, just as culture influences laws. If we are not continually and actively demanding legal protections for unborn persons similar to those we would demand for born persons, we will appear to believe that the unborn are not really persons, which will undermine even our efforts at moral suasion.

Rebecca Haschke does pro-life outreach on college campuses. In a Life Report video, she said:
I’ve talked to students on campus, though, when we talk about abortion – their reasoning for why abortion is okay is because the law says it’s okay. And I ask them, “Should the law be what determines what is right and wrong?,” and they'll be like “Well, yeah, it does.” And then I cringe and I say, “Well, have we ever had laws that have been unjust?” And then they go, “Yeah, we have.” [But] the law . . . influences people’s thoughts. 
In 2005, the Los Angeles Times interviewed patients at an abortion center: “She regrets having to pay $750 for the abortion, but Amanda says she does not doubt her decision. ‘It's not like it's illegal. It's not like I'm doing anything wrong,’ she says.”

In a 1996 debate with Naomi Wolf, Helen Alvare said (at 18:13):
The basis for the [pro-life] moral position is that it is the taking of a human life. In other arenas in society where the taking of a human life is concerned, the law also enters. If it doesn’t enter, that is the anomaly, that's the strange thing! So the very basis for the moral position leads. . . . I'm not saying the legal struggle will solve everything. The moral and legal have to go in tandem. 
To fail to advocate unborn child-protection laws is to countenance an anomaly, and thus to say that unborn children are not as good as born children. When the Virginia Supreme Court said in 1858, “in the eyes of the law . . . the slave is not a person,” that august pronouncement must have helped crystallize many people’s perceptions of slaves – certainly at least the perceptions of those who wanted to believe it. The pedagogical effect of law is well-known.

Actions proceed from thoughts, so consciousness is key to any kind of social change; and moreover, I think that the upgrade of consciousness involved in recognizing the unborn as full-fledged members of our human family, crossing that last and hardest frontier of civil rights, will have ramifying effects in upgrading morality in all areas of life. 

Unborn Child-Protection Laws Accomplish the Following:
  1. They are indispensable in making abortion unthinkable, as explained above. 
  2. They are proven to save some lives, right now, that otherwise we would not have saved and could have saved. Even the hard-core abortion advocacy site Rewire.News no longer denies this.
  3. The removal of abortion as an easy option ensures that people will protest strongly for better conditions for women. Why bother to protest strongly, which is a lot of trouble, as long as there is an easy way out, legal abortion? (For more on this, search here for “escape valve.”) 
  4. They prevent some unwanted pregnancies (a win from almost everyone’s point of view) by motivating women to adopt better contraception. Even the Guttmacher Institute agrees with this. 
  5. There will always be some women who simply do not want to be pregnant and cannot be induced, even by offering them the best conditions, to remain pregnant. Laws (the force of law, plus the pedagogical effect of law) are the only way for us to avoid abdicating our responsibility to at least try to protect these particular little citizens. 
Playing It Smart 

The “legal” and the “cultural” players on the pro-life team should at least never undermine each other’s efforts. The “cultural” forces should not publicly accuse the “legal” forces of failing to get at the roots of the abortion problem. (The roots are a mixed reality anyway; as mentioned, the “legal” approach addresses at least one root – perceptions of the unborn – with more institutional commitment than does the “cultural,” and it is only correct perceptions of the unborn that make abortion unthinkable.) And likewise, the “legal” forces should not publicly accuse the “cultural” of caving in and trying to placate liberal society.

[Today's guest post by Acyutananda is part of our paid blogging program.]

Monday, September 23, 2019

Baby Chris is 26 Weeks Old

The above image shows a 26-week-old fetus with an unhappy facial expression.
Perhaps (s)he can taste something bitter in the amniotic fluid?

[This is part 27 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

26 weeks after fertilization (28 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 14 ¾ inches long and weighs 2 ¼ pounds—about the size of a large eggplant.

From studies of premature infants born around 26 weeks, researchers know that Baby Chris has a well-developed sense of smell. This also corresponds with an increased sense of taste; the Endowment for Human Development reports that
[a] sweet substance placed in the amniotic fluid increases the rate of fetal swallowing. In contrast, decreased fetal swallowing follows the introduction of a bitter substance. Altered facial expressions often follow. A pregnant woman’s dietary intake can reach the fetus rather quickly. For instance, amniotic fluid assumes the odor of garlic within 45 minutes of ingestion by pregnant women.
Meanwhile, growing subcutaneous fat starts giving Baby Chris the plump, chubby-cheeked appearance of a typical full-term newborn.

Want more facts about prenatal development? Download the free "See Baby" app for your cell phone.