Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Nancy Pelosi's dubious "smackdown"

Congresswoman Pelosi
[Today's guest post is by JoAnna Wahlund.]

Maybe someone out there can explain this, because I am really confused.

Nancy Pelosi held a weekly briefing on October 1. You can watch the video here.

At one point, a CNS news reporter asked, “In reference to funding for Planned Parenthood: Is an unborn baby with a human heart and a human liver a human being?”

Pelosi responded: “Why don't you take your ideological questions—I don't, I don't have—”

Point of Confusion #1: “Ideological” is defined as “an adjective that describes political, cultural, or religious beliefs.” The question “Is an unborn baby with a human heart and a human liver a human being?” isn’t a question about political, cultural, or religious beliefs. It’s a question regarding scientific fact. So why does Pelosi call it an ideological question?

In fact, the reporter follows up with yet another scientific (not ideological) question. “If it's not a human being, what species is it?”

Pelosi’s baffling response is decidedly unscientific and and rife with logical fallacies:

Pelosi: “No, listen, I want to say something to you. I don't know who you are...”

Point of Confusion #2: So what? How does his identity change his questions or make them less relevant?

Pelosi: “…I am a devout practicing Catholic, a mother of five children. When my baby was born, my fifth child, my oldest child was six years old.”

Point of Confusion #3: How is that relevant? What does this have to do with the scientific question as to whether or not an unborn baby with a human heart and a human liver is a human being?

Pelosi: “I think I know more about this subject than you, with all due respect.”

Point of Confusion #4: How does her response prove that she “knows more about this subject” than the reporter? He asked her a scientific question and she responded with, “I’m a Catholic with five kids, so I know more about this than you.” Um, what? That makes no sense. As Secular Pro-Life’s very existence proves, you don’t have to be a Catholic, Christian, or theist to know that abortion is wrong (and sadly, some Catholics, like Pelosi, don’t know or won’t acknowledge that abortion is wrong). Abortion is first and foremost a human rights issue, not solely a religious issue.

Moreover, I happen to be a “devout practicing Catholic” myself. Unlike Pelosi, I actually believe and practice what the Catholic Church teaches regarding abortion, a teaching of which Pelosi, who claims to be both “devout” and “practicing,” is ignorant.

In fact, I’m a mother of nine children (five born, one unborn, three lost to miscarriage). My oldest is 10, and will be 11 when his/her youngest sibling will arrive. By Pelosi’s logic, I actually know more than she does about this subject. In fact, I can answer the reporter’s question with actual science:
It is possible to give ‘human being’ a precise meaning. We can use it as equivalent to ‘member of the species Homo sapiens’. Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being.
~ [emphatically pro-choice] Dr. Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, 2008), 85-86.
Was that so hard?

Pelosi: “And I do not intend to respond to your questions, which have no basis in what public policy is that we do here.”

Point of Confusion #5: So Pelosi believes that matters of science have no basis in public policy? If so, why does the government have an Office of Science and Technology Policy? Would she say that science has no basis in public policy regarding climate change? Is she learning the “science” of abortion from Bill Nye instead of actual scientists? 

Point of Confusion #6: Let’s take a look a sampling of headlines following this briefing:

Nancy Pelosi Crushes Reporter’s ‘Ideological’ Parenthood Question: I Know More Than You - Mediaite

Nancy Pelosi smacks down a conservative reporter’s anti-abortion talking

WATCH Nancy Pelosi Put A Right-Wing Reporter In His Place For Pestering Her With Abortion

Pelosi shuts down reporter's ‘ideological’ question on

Let me get this straight: Nancy Pelosi responded to a reporter’s scientific questions by calling them “ideological,” claimed she knows more than he does by virtue of being Catholic with five kids, and stating that science has no basis in public policy... and that’s a “smackdown”? She “crushed” and “shut down” the reporter with that response?

Were we watching the same briefing?

I saw a dishonest politician engage in egregious non sequiturs and numerous logical fallacies to avoid answering a question that she knows she can’t answer without also acknowledging that she supports and champions the deliberate killing of innocent human beings (after all, abortion is her “sacred ground”).  

Last time I checked, that wasn’t a “smackdown.” That was a colossal embarrassment and a shocking display of ignorance. I know this not because I’m a Catholic mother of many children, but because I’m a rational human being with rudimentary skills of logic and reason. 

Maybe I should use Pelosi’s criteria and try to find a Catholic mom with even more children to explain this lack of logic to me. Oh wait, this one opposes abortion. So does this one. Hmmm. In fact, all Catholic moms of my acquaintance with 5+ kids are pro-life. According to the Gospel of Nancy, we all know more than she does about abortion. Perhaps she’d like to fly us down to Capitol Hill so we can explain things to her?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Woman blinds herself with doctor's help. Her body, her choice?

You probably read the about the woman who received her fifteen minutes of fame last week for her decision to blind herself, with the assistance of a psychologist:
A North Carolina woman says she is happier than ever after fulfilling her lifelong wish of becoming blind.
Jewel Shuping, 30, has Body Integrity Identity Disorder, which is a condition where able-bodied people believe they are meant to be disabled...
In 2006, Shuping found a psychologist who was willing to help her become blind. The psychologist began putting numbing drops in her eyes, followed by a couple of drops of drain cleaner.
“It hurt, let me tell you. My eyes were screaming and I had some drain cleaner going down my cheek burning my skin,” she told Barcroft TV. “But all I could think was, I am going blind, it is going to be okay.”  It took about half a year for the damage to take effect.
The reaction I've seen on social media has been one of horror, particularly when it comes to the psychologist's involvement. (The Independent reports that "the psychologist was not named and it is not known if they are facing prosecution.") And it appears that pro-life and pro-choice are in agreement for once; the commenters on the (extremely) pro-choice site Jezebel are just as horrified.

You know what? Her eyes are part of her sovereign zone. Her body, her choice.

I was a psychology major in college. My mom has her master's in counseling. I am thoroughly aware that this unnamed psychologist (assuming he or she exists) is in wild breach of all sorts of ethical boundaries for the profession.

But hey, some doctors kill in the name of bodily integrity and are lauded as heroes! This one merely blinded someone. (With consent, I might add, which the abortionist's victim can't give.) So what's the big deal?

The thought of someone having drain cleaner poured into their eyes certainly sets off the cringe reflex, of course. It's painful and gross. But if you really believe that bodily integrity is a value so important that it justifies abortion, there is no logical reason to find the psychologist's actions here morally repugnant. If anything, you should be encouraging the development of less painful blinding procedures. That Ms. Shuping had to take the "back-alley" drain cleaner route is a travesty. Somebody call NARAL.

A while back we posed the following hypothetical scenario to pro-choice readers:
Jane decides to chop off the legs of her embryo, at week 7. Believing that Jane has the right to choose what happens to her body, Dr. John, with help of modern technology, performs the operation and chops the legs off Jane's embryo. In week 10, Jane decides to chop the hands of off her fetus and Dr. John again performs what he reasons to be Jane’s personal choice and right. Taking it to an extreme, Jane decides to pluck her fetus’ eyes out. I'll refrain from continuing this gruesome tale, but it ends in one of two ways: Jane finally decides to have an abortion, or Jane decides to give birth to an blind, amputated child. This second possible outcome reveals the obvious fact that Jane's actions were not done to her own body, but to the body of another individual. 
If it is true that a woman’s right to control her own body extends to her unborn child, then Jane's actions are permissible. Assuming we are not sociopaths, however, we naturally condemn Jane's hypothetical actions as inhumane and morally repugnant. Clearly, Jane's right to control her own body does not extend to her fetus. A woman's right to bodily autonomy does not go that far.
At the time, it was just another outlandish thought experiment, joining famous violinists and kidney donation mix-ups and all the rest. Now, I'm not so sure. A few news reports indicated that Ms. Shuping is dating a man who is blind as a result of natural causes. What if she wants to ensure that they have a blind child together? Obviously she can't blind her child after birth without risking criminal charges. But before? The lack of adequate technology could be the only thing stopping her.

FSM help us all.

Friday, October 2, 2015

"Nobody likes abortion."

A lot of people who support legal abortion object to the label "pro-abortion." They tend to prefer the term "pro-choice," claiming "pro-abortion" incorrectly implies they like abortion or would encourage people to get abortions. In reality plenty of people think abortion should be legal but consider it an inevitable tragedy or necessary evil. They are not pro-abortion any more than people who think adultery should be legal are "pro-adultery."

However, when these pro-choicers reject the "pro-abortion" label, their objections often go beyond "I personally am not pro-abortion" to "There's no such thing as 'pro-abortion.'" For example, in Bill Nye's recent nonsensical video on abortion, he claimed "Nobody likes abortion."

But Nye is wrong. While most Americans see abortion as morally contentious, there's a significant faction who embrace abortion as an unadulterated good. For those curious about what this mentality looks like, below is a sampling of writing from people who actually are pro-abortion:

  1. "Actually, I Love Abortion." The Frisky, September 25, 2015
  2. "My abortion made me happy: The story that started the #shoutyourabortion movement" Salon, September 22, 2015
  3. "I am pro-abortion, not just pro-choice: 10 reasons why we must support the procedure and the choice" Salon, April 24, 2015
  4. "Katha Pollitt On What The Pro-Abortion Rights Movement Gets Wrong About Choice" Huffington Post, October 15, 2014
  5. "Abortion: Not Easy, Not Sorry" Elle, October 14, 2015
  6. "Stop calling abortion a 'difficult decision'" Washington Post, August 15, 2014
  7. "Why I Filmed My Abortion" Cosmopolitan, May 5, 2014
  8. "So what if abortion ends a life?" Salon, January 23, 2013
  9. "Abortion As a Blessing, Grace, or Gift -- A Renewed Conversation about Reproductive Rights" Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, January 12, 2013
  10. "It Happened to Us: Abortion" XO Jane, May 8, 2012
  11. "I Love Abortion: Implying Otherwise Accomplishes Nothing for Women's Rights" RH Reality Check, March 14, 2012
  12. "In Defense of Abortion On Demand and Without Apology" Gender Across Borders, September 22, 2011
  13. "Labels, Labels, Labels: The Best One?" The Abortioneers, December 2, 2009

Picture taken by Zombie at one of San Francisco's Walks for Life.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

39 Years. Over a Million Medicaid Kids Saved.

Today is the 39th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment.

First enacted on September 30, 1976, the Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal Medicaid dollars for medically unnecessary abortions, except in cases of rape and incest. The result? There are over a million young Americans alive today who would have died in the absence of the Hyde Amendment. And that is a major cause for celebration!
We're not saying that the Hyde Amendment is perfect. In a handful of states, it has been rendered ineffective by activist judges who have ordered abortion payments from state Medicaid funds. It doesn't prevent taxpayer funding of abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood. And as previously stated, it doesn't offer any protection for children conceived in acts of violence.

But any policy that saves a million lives in less than 40 years is a policy worth preserving—and expanding.

Of course, abortion organizations don't see it that way. They're pushing for an end to the Hyde Amendment, using slogans like #BeBoldEndHyde. As if there's anything "bold" and courageous about killing someone who can't fight back.

One year from now, we will witness the 40th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, and if it's anything like the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, it is going to be a zoo. So we're planning ahead, and we need your help.

Secular Pro-Life is seeking volunteers to serve on the advisory board for our Hyde Amendment project. To qualify, you must be a "Medicaid Kid"—a person who received prenatal/birth care through Medicaid as a baby, and who was born after September 30, 1976. We are very grateful to the pro-life Medicaid Kids who have already stepped up, and we need just two or three more to complete our board! Get all the details here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

#PinkOut for Planned Parenthood? We have a better idea.

Planned Parenthood is asking its supporters to "turn the internet pink" today, using the hashtags #PinkOut and #StandWithPP. This, of course, is in response to the #PPsellsbabyparts scandal and subsequent efforts to redirect Planned Parenthood's government funding to more deserving women's health providers.

I can't think of a better illustration of the shallowness of the pro-choice lobby. The pro-life movement sets forth legitimate concerns about organ sales and other unethical practices—including altering the abortion procedure in the interest of getting more intact organs, rather than in the interest of the woman's health—and they respond with "Ooo, look! PINK! Pink is pretty! Pink means we care about women!"

So we've created a meme to set the record straight:

We rarely use photos of abortion victims, but sometimes it is called for, and it's certainly an effective way to cut through the cutesy pink nonsense. The victim pictured here was killed when he or she was 10 weeks old, according to the Center for Bioethical Reform.

Please spread the meme far and wide, using their hashtag #PinkOut.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Dear Bill Nye: Where's the science, guy?

NARAL Pro-Choice America posted a video featuring Bill Nye giving his views on abortion. Throughout the roughly four and a half minutes, Nye says pro-lifers have a “deep scientific lack of understanding” and hold positions “based on bad science.” He thinks we anti-abortion folk “apparently literally don’t know what you’re talking about” (as opposed to figuratively not knowing..? Not sure.)

We’d hope, then, that Nye would go on to explain exactly what scientific misunderstanding pro-lifers have, but sadly the video contains almost no science whatever. Instead Nye goes on about “men of European descent” (No, not really accurate) passing ignorant laws based on their “interpretation of a book written 5,000 years ago” (such a strawman) that apparently makes them think “when a man and a woman have sexual intercourse they always have a baby” (is that a joke?). He graciously informs us that, in fact, women don’t get pregnant literally every time they have sex. It’s a good thing we have famous scientists to explain that to us plebians.

Nye then meanders into very strange territory:
“You wouldn’t know how big a human egg was if it weren’t for microscopes. If it weren’t for scientists, medical researchers looking diligently. You wouldn’t know the process. You wouldn’t have that shot--the famous shot or shots where the sperm are bumping up against the egg. You wouldn’t have that without science. So then to claim that you know the next step when you obviously don’t… okay let me do that [take] again.”

It’s hard to understand how this distasteful mix of elitism and non sequiturs is supposed to relate to political positions on abortion. It seems like Nye is suggesting that pro-lifers and scientists are mutually exclusive groups (once again, off-base), that pro-lifers should be grateful to scientists for unraveling some of the mysteries of biology, and that pro-lifers are incapable of understanding the process of human reproduction beyond fertilization. In fact there seems to be this weird overtone hinting that science is inherently pro-choice and so pro-lifers have no right to discuss the scientific backing for our position.

These implications are especially rich considering Nye never does get around to explaining how the pro-life position is unscientific. The closest he comes is when he points out that many fertilized eggs don’t implant:
“Many many many more hundreds of eggs are fertilized than become humans. Eggs get fertilized—by that I mean sperm get accepted by ova—a lot. But that’s not all you need. You have to attach to the uterine wall, the inside of a womb.”

Nye is by no means the first person to suggest that implantation (attaching to the uterine wall) is somehow a more meaningful moment in human development than fertilization. The medical community defines the beginning of pregnancy as implantation, and plenty of pro-choicers have equivocated between the beginning of pregnancy and the beginning of a human organism.

But the people making this equivocation are the ones misunderstanding biology. As organisms, every one of us began as a zygote, and that means every one of us had a biological beginning that preceded the moment we implanted in our mother’s womb. Nye doesn’t explain how it’s “bad science” to acknowledge that reality. (Actually, I’m not sure whether Nye understands that’s what pro-lifers are saying. If Nye is aware of anything more than some pro-choice caricature of an actual pro-life position, he doesn’t show it.)

Note that even if implantation, rather than fertilization, were the defining moment of new human life, it wouldn't change the abortion debate very much. Abortions typically happen weeks or months after implantation. So even if Nye's comments had provided new, insightful information, they don't come close to demonstrating that an anti-abortion position must be based on "bad science."

Meanwhile, it’s true that if zygotes don’t implant they will die and not develop into fetuses. It’s also true that if fetuses get tangled in their umbilical cords they may be stillborn and not develop into infants. And infants with congenital heart defects may die and not develop into toddlers. And really any of us at any life stage could suffer a natural death and not develop into the next life stage. How does that fact imply that zygotes aren’t humans, much less that abortion is justified? Unfortunately, Nye is too busy venting his frustration at our ignorance to explain the relevance of his rambling. Or maybe he believes that as long as nature kills us, it’s okay if we kill each other. I mean tsunamis kill thousands of people, and that’s why we’re fine with genocide, right guys? Right?…No? Yeah, I guess that makes no sense at all.

The truth is science tells us the fetus is an organism and a member of our species (and it is a “deep scientific lack of understanding” to suggest otherwise). But science is descriptive, not prescriptive. Through genetics we know each of us inherits a mixture of our parents’ DNA; through embryology we know that our hearts begin to beat about three weeks after fertilization; through ultrasound and magnetic resonance technology we can watch the embryo's movements, which provide sensory input that spurs brain development; and yet this wealth of information can't indicate whether or why we should care.

Science can’t tell us what to value in human beings or when we should protect one another. Those questions fall within the realm of philosophy, a realm Nye steps squarely into when he implies a value judgement based on how easily organisms can naturally die. His implication isn’t a scientific fact, it’s a philosophical position, and Nye’s famous nickname doesn’t give him the right to conflate those two completely different approaches. It’s especially loathsome that this hand-wavy philosophical viewpoint is trying to be passed off as “science” by one of our country’s biggest science advocates. That’s not okay no matter how quirky his bowtie is.

Friday, September 25, 2015

35 Years of the One-Child Policy

A Chinese mother recovers from surgery with her forcibly aborted baby by her side.

Today marks the 35th anniversary of China's infamous one-child policy.

It is difficult for me, as an American, to wrap my head around the scale of this human rights disaster. Indeed, it's sometimes painful for me to look the abortion crisis of my own country straight in the eye. But we cannot turn away from the brutality and tragedy of the one-child policy. We owe it to the people of China to acknowledge their pain. And sadly, we must push back against our own leaders, like Joe Biden, for their cowardly acquiescence to China's slaughter of her own people.

In the United States, we lament the fact that boyfriends and fathers frequently coerce women into having abortions, using financial threats, emotional blackmail, and physical violence.
In China, women who are pregnant with a forbidden child are kidnapped by government agents, who then forcibly abort the children, even in the third trimester.

In the United States, we mourn the loss of approximately one million lives each year.
In China, there are over thirteen million abortions per year.

In the United States, sex-selective abortion is a pro-life concern in some regions, but in general, boys and girls are about equally likely to be victims of abortion.
In China, the one-child policy, combined with a strong traditional preference for sons, has led to the systematic destruction of preborn daughters so that today there are millions of "missing" women. Gendercide, in turn, exacerbates sex trafficking.

In the United States, pro-life advocates face censorship.
In China, pro-life advocates face arrest, beatings, and worse.

You can visit Women's Rights Without Frontiers to learn more about China's barbaric one-child policy.

Americans United for Life had an event planned in Washington, D.C. to mark this tragic anniversary, but it had to be postponed for security reasons related to the Pope's visit to the city. We will let you know when it is rescheduled.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Abortion is a symptom, not a solution

[Today's guest post is by Sean Cahill, a recent graduate of the University of Arizona College of Law. She says: "Because it changes the way my voice is heard when it comes to life issues, I feel compelled to state that I'm a woman, despite what my name suggests."]

When a man steals to satisfy hunger, we can safely assume that there is something wrong in society - so when a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is an evidence that either by education or circumstances she has been greatly wronged.

~Mattie Brinkerhoff, writing in Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton's feminist newspaper The Revolution, 1869

Whether you want abortion to be illegal or you champion the “right” to have an abortion up until a woman’s due date, we should be able to agree: when a woman has an abortion because she feels that it's the only way to make it in this world, we as a society have failed her.

The Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion, provides disturbing data on the reasons women seek abortion. They fall into two major categories: a lack of financial support, and a lack of emotional support. As Serrin Foster, the president of Feminists for Life, explains in the well-known speech The Feminist Case Against Abortion, most women who get abortions do so because they feel that they cannot complete their educations, would lose their jobs, would not be able to provide for their born children, or are afraid of stigma related to sex or pregnancy. These in fact are the very social problems that abortion lawyer Sarah Weddington emphasized during oral arguments for Roe v. Wade.

A lack of emotional or financial support is largely why women sought abortion in the 1800s, when prenatal development was poorly understood and abortion had not yet become illegal. If abortions are sought for the same or similar reasons as well over a hundred years later, where is our progress?

Pregnancy is not a disease and does not suddenly change a woman’s capacity to contribute to this world. And yet "feminists" tell me over and over: it would be impossible for her to complete college, pursue her career goals, or not end up on the street. If that's true, we have failed.

Why should we accept this? If these are in fact the justifications for abortion, then abortion is not a solution but a symptom, a symptom of a broken society that does not respect women for who they are.

In the years leading up to Roe v. Wade, Sarah Weddington, the National Organization of Women, and other lobbyists made a list evidencing women’s subordination, showing that women were being treated as second-class citizens. They shouted that pregnant and parenting women were forced to leave school, leave jobs, remain trapped in abusive relationships, raise children on their own because of irresponsible men, and were being alienated by friends and families because of the stigma related to sex and pregnancy outside of marriage. Then came the kicker: things were so bad for women that they were going to unlicensed doctors in unsanitary conditions, and having their unborn children dismembered and poisoned. Society responded, with the Supreme Court as its mouthpiece: You’re right, women do have it bad... you can start doing that last thing in a doctor’s office.

But no, we are not going to demand that children born outside of marriage and their mothers are de-stigmatized. No, we are not going to ensure women are able to earn a living wage. No, we are not going to ensure proper maternity benefits. No, we are not going to demand accommodations for parenting students and employees at colleges and workplaces. No, we are not going to demand men act responsibly. We are not going to do anything. You are going to have abortions. Society will not accommodate your fertility; your fertility must accommodate society. You get pregnant, you deal with it. 

Is this what liberal society celebrates every 22nd of January?

Where would we be today if the social activists of the 1960s and 1970s had demanded better than abortion? What if, forty-two years ago, people had looked at the list of reasons abortion was “necessary” and began systematically addressing those problems? What if we didn’t have legal abortion acting as a band-aid masking the real problems? What if women told boldly colleges, employers, men, and society at large: “We get pregnant. Accept it.”

This does not mean merely accepting the fact that pregnancy happens, but creating a culture of life that embraces motherhood instead of scorning it. Whether pro-choice or pro-life, we all have to agree that abortion should not be necessary for a woman to make it in this world. I say we demand better than abortion. We must demand society accept women as we are. Men are not the benchmark. Men can have sex without getting pregnant. Women get pregnant. Accept it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Senate vote on Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act expected today

The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, commonly referred to as the "20-week ban" because supporters rely on evidence that children can feel pain 20 weeks after conception, is coming up for a vote in the Senate today. The House has already passed it.

I've noticed some confusion about whether this is related to the exploitation of late-term babies for organ harvesting and research, how this is connected to the ongoing Planned Parenthood scandal, and why pro-life leaders are pushing the issue when we all know President Obama will veto it anyway. So let's get back to basics.

The 20-week ban is the bare minimum of human decency. Developmentally, babies at 20 weeks of gestation are not much different from preemies. They can hear, respond to touchkick, and yes, feel pain.

Above: A 21-week-old preborn baby smiles.

Even if you stubbornly believe in your heart of hearts that you become a person when you pass through the birth canal and not a second earlier, a 20-week ban is easily justified on pure animal welfare grounds. That may be why the majority of people who identify themselves as pro-choice reject such late-term abortions. Another important majority in favor of the 20-week ban: women.

Very few other nations allow elective abortions after 20 weeks. Among them are China and North Korea, not exactly the role models we want to follow on human rights.

We've been pursuing pain-capable legislation for a long time, at both the state and federal level. It was in the works for years before anyone had heard of the Center for Medical Progress, and it is not specific to Planned Parenthood. (In fact, the most notorious late-term abortionists are affiliated with independent abortion businesses; think Leroy Carhart and Kermit Gosnell.)

We are pushing forward despite opposition from the White House because this is an opportunity to hold Obama and his allies in Congress accountable for their extreme pro-abortion stance. Remember, President Clinton vetoed the partial-birth abortion ban twice before it finally passed under Bush, and it took several more years to get through the Supreme Court. The same persistence is needed here.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Slate: Be suspicious of safe havens, because pro-lifers support them!

"Safe haven" is a catchall term for laws that allow mothers to surrender newborns to hospitals, police stations, and similar facilities without facing any liability or interrogation. Every state in the U.S. has a safe haven law.

Slate published an article on the subject last week. At first, author Christina Cauterucci talks sense:
From a harm reduction standpoint, safe haven laws are an ideal way to prevent infant death and mistreatment without ignoring the reality that some mothers, for one reason or another, won’t consider formal adoption or parenthood viable options.
The harm being reduced here is babies left in dumpsters. So yeah, pretty important. Good.

Then it gets weird.

Cauterucci, quoting a book review, asserts with no evidence whatsoever that safe haven proponents treat mothers "as vessels for the precious infants, not as people in their own right with their own needs." Weren't we just talking about how safe haven laws meet the needs of mothers who "for one reason or another, won't consider formal adoption or parenthood viable options"?

Next paragraph:
Anti-abortion organizations have lobbied for safe haven laws as a means of preventing infanticide and offering another route for women who might have otherwise chosen abortion. One extreme development in safe haven options, Indiana’s pilot program for the kind of baby drop-boxes that currently exist in some countries in Europe and East Asia, is the pet project of pro-lifer Monica Kelsey.
Understand that this is Slate, whose authors and readers lean strongly in favor of abortion. When Cauterucci reports on pro-life advocacy for safe haven laws, she is making an argument against safe haven laws. That is made abundantly clear in the following paragraph, when she suggests that maybe safe haven laws aren't all bad, "though their advocates have leaned on anti-choice rhetoric."

Note carefully that this will not prevent anyone at Slate from continuing to assert that those mean anti-choicers do nothing to help mothers or children after birth, because we just want to control women's bodies.

Cauterucci takes issue with Monica Kelsey's approach in particular, stating that the U.N. "has condemned these boxes on the grounds that children have the right to identify their parents." In an ideal world, yes, everyone would know who their parents are. We do not live in an ideal world. Not knowing who your parents are is unfair, and even if the child is emotionally okay with it, there are the negative consequences of not having a complete family medical history. Still, it's not a fate worse than death... right?
Women need cheaper and more accessible ways to prevent or terminate unwanted pregnancies, and they need more support as mothers should they choose to give birth. They need these things more than they need easier ways to abandon their babies.
I can't formulate a better response than this comment on the original article:
I wonder if the author would be willing to look one of these kids in the face and say "it's too bad your mom didn't have better access to pregnancy termination services."