Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Does aborting a girl bother you? Then aborting a child with a disability should too.

A gym teacher of mine once promised to “separate the men from the boys.” While I’m sure that would provoke a lawsuit today, the abortion industry is still separating the girls...

...from their arms, legs, and torsos.

By 16 weeks, a child’s sex is usually visible on an ultrasound, and for too many girls, that’s a death sentence. A cultural preference for sons fuels sex-selective abortion, and not just in far off places: the Canadian Medical Association Journal described Canada as “a haven” for those seeking to abort their daughters.

Planned Parenthood offers a haven of its own. In 2012, pregnant volunteers from the group Live Action brought hidden cameras to multiple Planned Parenthood facilities. On each visit, the investigator said she wanted an abortion if it turned out she was carrying a girl. As the resulting footage shows, staff were happy to help.

While some nations have tried to curb gender-selective abortion, Planned Parenthood doesn’t want the United States following suit: when Arizona made sex- and race-selective abortions a felony, the organization wasn’t happy. Most Americans feel differently.

A 2012 poll conducted by the Charlotte Lozier Institute found that 77% of Americans (including 80% of women) thought it should be illegal to abort “when the fact that the developing baby is a girl is the sole reason for seeking an abortion.” In fact, even some abortion advocates draw the line at gendercide.

By contrast, there isn’t nearly as much opposition to abortion in cases of disability. That’s curious when you look at the reasoning.

Last year, a Quebec mother sought an abortion at 35 weeks after doctors determined her son was small and had skeletal abnormalities. According to her lawyer, she “didn’t want her child to suffer the consequences of being physically different.” If social stigma is enough to justify abortion, then those pushing sex-selection have a good case. After all, there are a lot of cultures where women enjoy far fewer rights than men.

Others will argue that abortion is more humane than letting a child with disabilities suffer, but it’s not clear why that rationale shouldn’t apply to girls too. In some parts of the world, anti-female violence is rife. It can include honor killings, forced marriages, and genital mutilation—often done without anesthesia. One of my best friends has a disability, and her daily life involves far less suffering than that.

And then there's financial strains a special needs child can bring. Well, girls are frequently aborted in India because the dowries they require can wipe out a family’s finances. And unlike with disabled children in America, there's no public assistance to offset that cost.

If these reasons don’t justifying killing girls, then they don’t justify killing other children either; you can demand that our laws reflect that. Something else you can do? Tell Congress you want Planned Parenthood’s half billion dollars in annual taxpayer funding sent to federally qualified health centers and community health centers instead. They’re more accessible and offer services Planned Parenthood won’t.

Ana Carolina Caceres is a Brazilian journalist who was born with microcephaly. When some cited her condition as a reason for Brazil relax its abortion laws, Caceres pushed back, saything that “those who have abortions are not giving their children a chance to succeed.” Whether it’s because of their sex or their disability, a chance to live isn’t something children should be denied.

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"Grassroots Defunding" Campaign Connects Women to PP Alternatives

Yesterday, the Consistent Life Network launched, a new initiative to advertise alternatives to Planned Parenthood. This is a great program, and much needed. While Congress still can't get its act together and redirect Planned Parenthood's tax funding, there is no shortage of work we can do on the ground to decrease Planned Parenthood's deadly influence and help women obtain authentic, non-violent healthcare.

You may be wondering how Grassroots Defunding differs from Get Your Care, the pro-life-sponsored database of federally qualified healthcare centers (FQHCs) and community health centers (CHCs) that serve patients regardless of ability to pay. Essentially, Grassroots Defunding has taken Get Your Care's excellent premise and tweaked it in two key ways.

First, rather than listing all FQHCs and CHCs in the nation, Grassroots Defunding specifically focuses on those that are located near a Planned Parenthood facility; look up your local PP, and you'll find the alternatives available in the region.

Second, and most crucially, FQHCs and CHCs are just the starting point; this is a crowdsourced project allowing local pro-lifers to add more information about the resources available in their communities. This will help the movement identify areas of need and direct our time and money to those places.

As Grassroots Defunding puts it:
We matched CHCs with PP centers based on what was on the web. But only people on the ground and in the location can really give us the information that will make this higher quality. ... Do you know of clerical errors or updates? Or that a PP center or a CHC no longer exists, or has moved, or changed names? Do you or your friends have personal experience with any of the CHCs, good or bad, that you can tell us about?
Grassroots Defunding has specific action items for regions with strong PP alternatives, those with alternatives needing improvement, and those few without nearby alternatives. Secular Pro-Life strongly encourages you to volunteer! This project has incredible potential to improve the lives of women, and save the lives of preborn children.

If you can't volunteer, please consider donating to one of the many clinics offering peaceful alternatives to Planned Parenthood. Our Fund Women's Health campaign is still accepting contributions.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Pro-life events in Champaign and Pittsburgh!

Tonight, I will be on an airplane, making my way to the Students for Life of Illinois conference at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign! I'm especially excited to meet some wonderful Chicago-area film students who are working to bring my pro-life screenplay to fruition. If you're at the conference, stop by the Secular Pro-Life exhibit booth to say hello and take some free goodies.

A week from today, I will be on yet another airplane, headed to Pittsburgh, PA for the fantastic Life/Peace/Justice conference, organized by our dear friends at Rehumanize International. SPL volunteer extraordinaire Terrisa Bukovinac will be there too!

You can stop by our booth, and also attend my presentation. I will be speaking at the 2:15 p.m. breakout session on Saturday, October 21, and my topic is "Maximizing the Pro-Life Reach: Pro-Life Apologetics from a Secular Perspective."

Izzy speaks at last year's LPJ conference
The speaker lineup this year is most impressive. My other breakout session picks will probably be Jennifer Allison on the Syrian refugee crisis, Cessilye Smith on racism in healthcare, and Ismail "Izzy" Smith Wade-El on poverty. But all the possibilities are incredible; you really can't go wrong.

On the evening of October 21, we will celebrate the launch of Create|Encounter, which is a new Rehumanize International initiative focused on giving artists of all stripes (poets, essayists, visual artists, you name it) a forum for works that elevate human rights and dignity. This is a unique opportunity to interact with creative pro-lifers! And not to brag, but one of the works being featured at the launch is an excerpt from the screenplay I previously mentioned; you can read the excerpt here and come prepared to ask me questions about the film.

Hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Love Was Louder Than My Rape

My name is Louise McLean and I’m a Newfoundland native who lived in Bishop Falls until I was 10 years old. It was at that age my dad got a job out of province and my family moved to British Columbia. I am also a mother from rape.

When I was 16, I got my first somewhat serious boyfriend. After only 3 months of dating, that boyfriend raped me. We had not been having sexual relations, but one night he forced himself on me in spite of much insistence and resistance to stop. A couple months later I went to the doctor and heard the words “You’re pregnant.” I was filled with immediate joy and a smile came across my face. I tried to contain how I was feeling, because in my head, I couldn’t comprehend how I could be happy about being pregnant from rape—but my heart won the battle. My doctor told me there was an option for abortion, but he would not perform one, and I told him that was fine because I didn’t want one anyway.

Back 40 years ago, unwed, teenage pregnancy, and rape had such stigmas attached to them. I didn’t want to tell my parents because I was afraid that they would think the precious little baby growing inside of me was something to be “taken care of.” My innocent daughter may have been conceived in rape, but was no less worthy of protection and love. So the best way I could figure to protect her was to hide the fact that I was pregnant and the circumstances surrounding her conception.

During that time I went to Planned Parenthood as suggested by my friend and school nurse. At first I didn’t want to go because I thought they only did abortions, but I was assured they would counsel me and help me decide what was best for me—so I went. 16 years old and petrified. I sat in the waiting room looking at their pamphlets to see what they had to offer; I didn't see anything that was promoting me to keep my baby. I went to the woman at the desk and told her that I came there to talk to someone about how to deal with my pregnancy, and that that I was told they have counselling to help girls in my situation.

To my shock she asked me if I was there for an abortion. I gasped it utter disbelief and said “No! I could never do that.” Knowing I wasn’t there for an abortion, she told me that they only do abortions, so if I wasn’t there to have one that they weren’t interested in talking to me. I left in utter disbelief.

My pregnancy remained a secret until I was 6 months pregnant, at which time my mother asked me what I wanted to do. To her surprise, I told her that my plan was to finish school and have my baby. It wasn't that easy for an unwed, pregnant, teenage girl to go about normal activities without getting nasty comments from strangers on the street about how I shouldn’t have been sleeping around; that I was a disgrace and a bad influence on young girls; that I should be embarrassed and ashamed, not walking around smiling. But what hurt the most was hearing people say that I should have an abortion. How people could hate me and my baby so much was beyond me.

My due date was November 26, 1976. Exactly two weeks before that day I was in school and my big belly did something amazing that caught me and my friends off guard. It was the end of lunch hour and in a panic someone walked me to my cooking class while someone else ran to get the teacher and school nurse. They both looked at my belly and told me the baby had dropped, explaining to me that in the next two weeks or so my baby would be born.

I could feel her contracting for the next few weeks. My regular doctor went on holiday. When I saw the new doctor, she didn’t believe my due date was November 26, saying to me that young girls like me didn't know when they got pregnant—even though I had told her that I knew the day, the hour and the minute. Back then you didn’t question doctors, so I listened to her instead of the school nurse who told me I could have the baby any day.

Finally, on Friday December 17th, I went to see another doctor who was in charge of delivery. He asked me if I could feel the baby contracting trying to get out. I said how long does that go on before the baby is born. He told me that it can be for a few days after the baby drops. Shocked, I informed him that it has been going on for weeks. He immediately ordered X-rays with bed rest and upon the results he admitted me Sunday for emergency C-section, explaining to me that I had placenta previa and I had not dilated at all. The doctor asked if something were to happen during delivery, who should I save: you, or the baby? To which I said, “The baby, of course.”

That Monday morning, 40 years ago, I welcomed my darling daughter, Dianalee into the world. According to the doctor my baby was born with her skin in a state of decay due to being long over due. He told me that he recorded my daughter’s birth in the medical book of records as “miracle birth, unexplained.”

In her 40 years of life, Dianalee has NEVER reminded me of the rape or my rapist. It has been such a pleasure watching her grow into the fine young woman she is today. She and her husband Brian are involved in charity work, using their testimonies to speak hope into the lives of others. They have also blessed me with two grandchildren, whom I can’t imagine my life without. I have seven grandchildren all together.

People need hope! They need to know they are not alone and it can be done. Many women have done it before them and many women are doing it today. I am just one of the 75-85% of women pregnant from rape who embrace the lives of their children either becoming parenting moms or birth-moms. I speak out to offer encouragement to pregnant rape victims. Your baby matters, but how he or she was conceived does not. Hang in there. You got this!

[Today's guest post is the personal story of Louise McLean as told to Feleica Langdon. It is part of our paid blogging program. Feleica is a provincial pro-life speaker in Newfoundland, founder of Life Defenders, and the regional coordinator in NL of Campaign Life Coalition working alongside the provincial coordinator, Margaret Hynes.]

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Disgraced Congressman Tim Murphy reminds us that a woman’s “choice” to abort is often due to pressure from a man

The pro-choice crowd has made great strides in their cause by framing their advocacy for legal abortion as synonymous with feminism or women’s rights. The wool has been pulled over our eyes so tightly that we forget the inherent absurdity in the claim that women require the ability to legally murder their own children in order to somehow achieve freedom or fulfillment in life. In fact, 46% of women describe themselves as pro-life, according to Gallup. Cases like that of supposedly pro-life Congressman Tim Murphy, who recently submitted a letter of resignation after it was revealed that he asked his mistress to have an abortion after a pregnancy scare, remind us all that abortion is a violent act that is often imposed on women by men who seek to control them.

Despite condemnation of Murphy from pro-life organizations (including Secular Pro-Life), pro-choicers are salivating at the chance to use this story to paint all pro-lifers as hypocritical opportunists. However, we must take the initiative to use Congressman Murphy’s despicable behavior as an illustration of the true reality of abortion and its relation to women’s rights and women’s independence. In terms of the numbers, it is extremely difficult to find unbiased statistics on coerced abortion, since most “unbiased” organizations refuse to even touch the subject. To be prudent, let’s look at what the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute has to say. In a 2012 study, the Institute found that 7% of women who had abortions—84,000 women—experienced physical or sexual abuse by the baby’s father in the year preceding her abortion, with the study concluding that “Women with abusive partners are substantially over-represented among abortion patients.” The pro-life Elliot Institute paints an even starker picture. According to their research, 64% of women reported feeling pressure to abort their babies.

Many of these women, who may be victims of abuse or incest, genuinely fear for their lives as they face threats of violence and murder from boyfriends, rapists, or family members. According to a 2010 Guttmacher study, 70% of women who experienced intimate partner violence had partners who exerted “reproductive control”—the act of forcibly impregnating a woman, forcing her to get an abortion, or both.

Sadly, the very real issue of forced or coerced abortion has been ignored by everyday citizens and elected officials alike who claim that this is a made-up issue by pro-lifers to mischaracterize the nature of abortion. But if the Guttmacher Institute admits this is a problem, why isn’t it being taken seriously by people who purport to care about women? According to USA Today, in a 2005 study, Guttmacher reported that 14% of women who had abortions stated that they did it because their “husband or partner wants me to have an abortion.” If abortion is inherently about women’s rights, why are women making the “choice” to abort on behalf of their male partners?

The fact is, coerced abortion and abortion made on the request or behalf of a male partner is the dirty little secret of the abortion and “pro-choice” industries—who don’t want you to know that the decision to abort may not be the “woman’s choice” after all. It ruins their feminist narrative completely. This is why we must take every opportunity to raise our voices about coerced abortion—both for the women who are affected by this abuse and for the unborn children who suffer the gravest consequence.

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

Monday, October 9, 2017

Killing your child with meth is a crime. Killing her with forceps? Nope.

This spring, a Canadian mom allegedly gave something to her baby. No, it wasn’t a rattle or a teddy bear.

It was meth.

Michelle Rice is accused of feeding a fatal dose of methamphetamine to her 11-day-old daughter, resulting in second-degree murder charges. What charges would Rice have face if she had acted 12 days earlier?


Under Canadian law, a child isn’t recognized as a person until she’s been fully delivered. Jeff Durham learned that after his pregnant wife Cassie and their daughter Molly were murdered. Despite having a name, Molly had no rights, and the man who killed her faced no additional charges.

This is part of why Canada also has no rules governing late-term abortion. Some states don’t either; in New Mexico, Southwestern Women’s Options commits elective abortions through 28 weeks.

That isn't a pleasant thought; it gets worse when you learn what late-term abortions involve. Dr. Anthony Levatino is an obstetrician-gynecologist who committed over 1,200 abortions, and in the video below, he explains how a third trimester induction abortion is performed:

Day 1: To help ensure the baby will be delivered dead and not alive, the abortionist uses a large needle to inject digoxin or potassium chloride through the woman’s abdomen or vagina, targeting the baby’s heart, torso, or head. When the digoxin takes effect, the lethal dose causes a fatal cardiac arrest, and the baby’s life will end. (Even if the needle misses the baby, digoxin can still kill the baby when released into the amniotic sack, but will usually take longer to kill the child.) During the same visit, the abortionist inserts multiple laminaria sticks, or sterilized seaweed, to open up the woman’s cervix.
Day 2: The abortionist replaces the laminaria and may perform a second ultrasound to ensure that the baby is dead. If the child is still alive, the abortionist administers a second lethal dose of digoxin or potassium chloride. During this visit, the abortionist may administer labor-inducing drugs. The woman goes back to where she is staying while her cervix continues to dilate. The woman will usually wait a period of two to four days for her cervix to dilate enough for her to deliver the dead baby.
Day 3 or 4: The woman returns to the clinic to deliver her dead baby. If she goes into labor before she can make it to the abortion clinic in time, she will deliver her baby at home or in a hotel room. During this time, a woman may be advised to sit on a bathroom toilet until the abortionist arrives. If she can make it to the clinic, she will do so during her most heavy and severe contractions and deliver the dead baby. 
Babies in the late second trimester are killed via dilation and evacuation (D&E or dismemberment abortion) instead:

After the amniotic fluid is removed, the abortionist uses a sopher clamp — a grasping instrument with rows of sharp “teeth” — to grasp and pull the baby’s arms and legs, tearing the limbs from the child’s body. The abortionist continues to grasp intestines, spine, heart, lungs, and any other limbs or body parts. The most difficult part of the procedure is usually finding, grasping and crushing the baby’s head. After removing pieces of the child’s skull, the abortionist uses a curette to scrape the uterus and remove the placenta and any remaining parts of the baby.
As you read the words “teeth,” “grasp,” and “crush,” consider that there’s evidence a baby feels pain by 20 weeks. Some politicians have, which is why the House of Representatives recently passed legislation to protect pain-capable children. Tell your Senator you want it sent to the White House.

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

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Case of the Imaginary Violinist

Anyone who argues the pro-life position is likely to come across a series of logical fallacies about bodily autonomy. Often this is packaged in the form of a story about a fictional violinist. This illogical and highly implausible story was created by Judith Jarvis Thomson, an MIT professor, in her 1971 essay A Defense of Abortion. It involves asking someone to imagine that they are forcibly medically connected to a violinist with failing kidneys, so that their kidneys are doing the work for both of them for a period of nine months. Since in this fictional tale the violinist would otherwise die, the subject in question is not given a choice in the matter. Thompson’s point was that if someone has an ethical right to refuse such a scenario, they must surely also have the right to refuse to support their unborn child within their own body for nine months.

At its core this is nothing but a perfect illustration of the logical fallacy of false analogy. It is therefore rather dumbfounding how often it has been thrown around in supposedly serious argument. Let’s unpack this monstrosity and see where the argument falls apart in the case of abortion.

Firstly, this fictional story and the real world position of being a pregnant woman are intrinsically dissimilar situations. Note that in this story, the violinist is referred to with male pronouns. That he is both adult and male is clearly intentional. Most people strongly dislike the idea of being personally responsible for the support of an adult man. Were this an analogy about an adult being forcibly connected to a dying child, it would not have the same emotional appeal that Thomson intended. But in the case of abortion, we are in fact speaking of an adult being held responsible for the support of a very young child.

The violinist in the story is a stranger. Well, sadly, many of us don’t feel obligated to go out of our way to help strangers, so the use of a stranger in the story is intentional. But what if, instead, this were a story about a young child who is also a family member? What if it were, instead, one’s own biological child who lie dying? That scenario would cause this fable to lose so much of its emotional appeal as to be made entirely impotent as abortion propaganda. And yet, when we are speaking about abortion, that is exactly the scenario we are referring to: that of a parent providing life-sustaining support for their own child. We cannot compare a person’s obligation to a stranger to the unique nature and responsibility of the mother-child relationship.

We can further break this analogy down and see how it fails to make sense in other situations. For example, would someone be obligated to take a poor, out-of-luck adult violinist into their home to feed, clothe, and look after them for eighteen years? How about if they needed to be fed 8-12 times per day? How about if they were also incontinent and needed their diaper changed every 2-3 hours? Of course not. But that is exactly what a parent must do for their own child. Thus, in order to buy into this story, one would be left taking the absurd stance that a parent has no special obligation to support or sustain the life of their own child, which is actually exactly what abortion proponents are claiming.

We must also remember that abortion is a willful and unnatural act of destroying life. Abortion is not simply removing a child from their mother’s physical support. In most cases it is far more violent. If we wanted the case of the violinist who never was to be a more accurate analogy to pregnancy and abortion, we would have to insist not only have the right to choose to unplug from the violinist, but to have him torn limb from limb to make sure he is dead. Then, perhaps, we would also have to allow for his organs to be removed and sold. This is what is actually happening in many cases of abortion.

It is an entirely unethical and ridiculous position to take to say that someone has the right of bodily autonomy even when that autonomy willfully and intentionally takes away the life of one’s own child. And yet this story has become a perfect example of the “big lie technique,” which is yet another logical fallacy. This is the kind of argument they are relying on when abortion apologists make reference to a woman’s “basic right to bodily autonomy.” Although when examined closely it is both irrelevant and illogical as it concerns the issue of abortion; it has, by frequent repetition, been used as justification for an act which is in itself unjustifiable.

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

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Millions will die without abortion? Nope. Here's why.

Ever heard a fishing story? I’ve heard a few, and I’ve noticed something: the fish usually grows every time the story is told.

Of course, escaped fish aren’t the only things that constantly get bigger—so does the number of women predicted to die if abortion is outlawed. Estimates can climb to hundreds of thousands or even millions, and I’ve heard abortion advocates vouch for those figures.

The facts don’t.

CDC records show that in 1972 (the year before Roe v. Wade was decided), 39 women died from illegal abortions; another 24 died from legal ones. Given this, it seems unlikely that America’s maternal mortality rate would skyrocket following an abortion ban.

In Poland, it did the opposite. Poland offered abortion on demand in 1990, and its maternal mortality rate was 17 per 100,000. Shortly thereafter, the country began passing laws to protect children in the womb; instead of rising, its maternal mortality rate fell, dropping to 3 per 100,000 in 2015. The United States? Its rate stood at 14 per 100,000.

Poland isn’t the only country that bans abortion and does better on maternal mortality than the US—Ireland, Malta, Poland, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Lebanon do as well. Nor is it the only country to see its rate improve after restricting abortion; Chile’s continued to drop after pro-life legislation was implemented.

Generally speaking, I’ve found that abortion supporters don’t like to hear any of this. But what they really don’t like to hear? How the abortion industry puts women in danger.

Abortion is a great money saver; after all, child support gets expensive. That’s why some men grow accustomed to aborting their responsibilities, and they don’t always react well when a woman won’t cooperate.

Blackmail and financial coercion are common hazards, but they aren’t the only ones. Candace Pickens’ family discovered that after the 23-year-old was shot to death for refusing to abort (her 3-year-old son was wounded as well). Other women have faced stabbing, suffocation, explosions, and blunt force trauma for the same reason, helping to illustrate why homicide is now a bigger threat to pregnant women than hemorrhaging. Not that America’s largest abortion chain is helping to reduce it, as Planned Parenthood has opposed laws to protect women from violence and pressure.

But that’s not the only danger the abortion industry poses, as a study published in the British Medical Journal found abortion is associated with an elevated risk of suicide.

And then there’s how the abortion industry enables sexual abuse. Child predators like Timothy Smith, Edgar Ramirez, Cary Cross, John Blanks, Jr., Luis Gonzalez-Jose, Andrew King, John Haller, Adam Gault, and Grey David Woods all got help from Planned Parenthood. When Live Action investigators went to a Planned Parenthood facility while posing as human traffickers, the clinic manager offered to arrange abortions on child prostitutes who “can’t speak English” and “won’t know what’s going on.”

I’ll concede that there probably are things that the abortion industry is concerned about; the women and girls it profits from just aren’t among them.

It's true that an unexpected baby can bring serious challenges, and pro-lifers want to address them. That includes providing emotional and material support, helping you get health care, and offering the option of adoption.

What isn’t serious? The claim that millions of women will die without abortion.

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

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Walking with Silas

[Today's guest post is the personal story of Heather Iverson as told to Feleica Langdon. It is part of our paid blogging program. Feleica is a provincial pro-life speaker in Newfoundland, founder of Life Defenders, and the regional coordinator in NL of Campaign Life Coalition working alongside the provincial coordinator, Margaret Hynes.]

After three years of secondary infertility, Heather Iverson and her husband finally got to see two little lines. They were absolutely overjoyed, and so was their daughter, who was getting promoted to big sister. The Iversons went with a home birth and decided to leave the sex of their precious new addition a mystery until the birth. This is Heather's story.

* * *

"It’s a boy! Silas Lee!" I didn’t even notice he had clubfoot when he was born. We just snuggled, riding out the most amazing natural high of a med-free home birth and seeing our son for the first time.

After about an hour, the midwife brought him over to weigh and measure him and get his little footprints. That is when she told us that our son had clubfoot. Many would have been distressed but we were just happy our precious son was here and knew that we would get through this. We educated ourselves on what clubfoot was and visited specialists to start the correction process. Our paediatrician referred us to an orthopaedic specialist and at 6 weeks the process began. Due to growth, correction of clubfoot requires a series of casts. Each week you go in, they take one off and put another one on; each time stretching the foot a little more until it is in the correct position.

Eighty percent of babies with clubfoot need a minor procedure called a tenotomy. A tenotomy is a minor procedure where they snip the Achilles before they apply the last cast; that cast then stays on for three weeks while the Achilles reattaches with the proper stretch to it. Our son fell into the other twenty percent, which was great news. It only took four casts to get his foot where it needed to be.

The next step is the boots and bar. It is something that attaches to both feet and holds the clubfoot at the corrected angle to prevent it from relapsing. He had to wear that for twenty-three hours a day, seven days a week for three months. After that he went down to wearing it just at night and he will have to continue to do so until the age of five.

It breaks our heart every time we have to put those boots and bars on, but we will take that heartbreak over the kind that abortion leaves. Shockingly, every year, dozens of preborn babies who are diagnosed with fully treatable and correctable conditions like clubfoot and cleft lip are aborted.

When our boy was six months old we noticed that his toes were tucked on his clubfoot, so we went back to our doctor who attempted to correct it with two more casts. She was happy with the progress, but we were not. We decided to go to Dr. Dobbs, one of the leading orthopaedic doctors in the U.S. We made weekly trips from Michigan to St. Louis, Missouri for more casting and an MRI.

Thankfully, Dr. Dobbs was able to help Silas' toes gain flexibility, but they will always be a little tucked. So after eight casts and the boots and bar, we have a 14-month-old boy who is fully capable. In spite of the casts, Silas has reached every milestone right along with his peers. His foot hasn’t slowed him down at all; he makes sure to remind us of that every day!

Has it been easy? No, it’s not an easy journey having an infant in casts or foot braces, but it’s worth every doctor visit and brace application. All it requires is your time, love, and dedication. Isn’t that what being a parent is all about?

When your child receives a diagnosis—whether it’s prenatally or postnatally—knowledge is empowering and will equip you to be the best advocate you can be for your child. Instead of listening to doctors or loved ones telling you to abort, listen to the heartbeat of your growing baby who deserves a chance at life.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The impact of parental involvement laws on teen abortion rates

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

Recently I wrote a blog post showing evidence of the effectiveness of pro-life laws. In that post, one law I didn't mention was parental involvement laws. I chose to leave those laws out of my previous analysis because they only affect a minority of the population that may seek abortion. (Currently, women aged 17 and under make up only 3.6% of all abortion customers.)

However, I came across this paper by the Institute of Labor Economics which I thought was worth writing about. The paper analyses the effects of parental involvement laws (which includes both parental consent for abortion and mere notification of parents before abortion) on teenage birth rates.

Now as it is with most anti-abortion laws, the effectiveness of parental involvement laws on reducing teen abortions is controversial. For one, teens whose parents don't mind or who approve of their abortions aren't affected by these laws. For another, teens could travel to another state to obtain an abortion, or get a judicial bypass by claiming that telling their parents of the abortion would endanger them (even if it isn't true). Compared to many other pro-life laws, parental involvement laws are relatively easy to circumvent.

However, more and more states have been enforcing parental involvement laws, and the number of abortion facilities throughout the country has declined. The Institute of Labor Economics paper estimates that in the past 25 years (since Planned Parenthood v. Casey upheld a Pennsylvania parental consent law), 500,000 additional births to teens have occurred as a result of more states passing parental involvement regulations as well as increasing travel distance that teens must travel to reach an abortion center. Put more plainly: a paper written by authors unaffiliated with the pro-life cause has estimated that 500,000 lives were saved as a result of pro-life legal efforts.

Given that parental involvement laws affect a small percentage of women that seek abortions, half a million lives saved in 25 years (or 20,000 lives per year) is very impressive. This adds to the bundle of evidence that pro-life laws are effective in their goal of saving more lives.

Some more good news is that the absolute number of teenage births has declined by 67% from 1991 to 2016. Similarly, teen abortions have declined by 72% from 1991-2013 (see Table 1.1). Fewer teens are becoming pregnant, and among those who do conceive, fewer of them are choosing abortion compared with 30 years ago. According to Guttmacher data (see Table 1.2), the percentage of 15- to 17-year-olds who abort their pregnancies declined from a high of 50% in 1985 to 31% in 2013.

The exact reasons for the lower teen pregnancy rate are up for debate, and multiple causes are likely at play. Better contraceptive use and improved methods certainly play a role, but unfortunately, the percentage of high school students who report using no contraception at last intercourse has remained relatively steady since 1999. The recession probably contributed, but teen pregnancy continued to decrease even after the recession ended. Whatever the reason, fewer teens being put in the position that could lead them to choose abortion is a wonderful thing.

While all this is cause for celebration, I think this should also be cause to call on pro-lifers to reach out and support those teens who get pregnant and give birth to their babies even when they have been led to believe that abortion was the "right" choice for them. Students for Life set a great example by sticking up for pregnant teen Maddi Runkles when no one else was. Pro-lifers can make great progress in further reducing the teen abortion rate both by supporting pregnant teens and fighting for anti-abortion laws.