Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Even very pro-choice biologists acknowledge a human life begins at fertilization.

If you haven't already, you should really read Biologists' Consensus on 'When Life Begins', a dissertation by Steve Jacobs out of the University of Chicago. This blog post is going to be long, so here's the summary:
  • Most Americans think "When does human life begin?" is an important question that people deserve to know the answer to so they can be informed about their reproduction decisions.
  • Most Americans think the group best suited to answer this question is biologists because Americans view this as an objective issue that can be informed by scientific knowledge.
  • Over 90% of biologists, including 69% of "very pro-choice" biologists and 80% of "pro-choice" biologists, affirm a human life begins at fertilization.
If you want more details, read on.

A scientific or philosophical question?

There's a lot of communication breakdown in the abortion debate because "when life begins" can be either a scientific or philosophical question (or, as Jacobs puts it, a descriptive or a normative question). Often, people switch between these two approaches without even noticing. For example:
A human life begins at fertilization, so fetuses deserve legal protection throughout all of pregnancy.
This argument starts with a scientific fact and ends with a philosophical position without explaining how the speaker went from the first to the second. Here is sort of the reverse:
No one has the right to use another person's body, so the fetus isn't really a separate life until viability.
The speaker starts with a philosophical position and tries to use it to assert a scientific claim. Both examples are sloppy, slipping between science and philosophy without noticing or talking about it.

Jacobs decided to dig deeper into this communication breakdown. Do most Americans think the beginning of human life is a biological question or a philosophical one? Do they think the question matters in terms of the abortion debate? Who would they consider authoritative sources on this question? And what do those in authority (according to American opinion) think the answer is?

Our philosophical views stem from our scientific understanding

Before Jacobs explains his methodology and results, he does a great job reviewing how our society has traditionally viewed the interplay between science and philosophy on this issue. He cites historical examples demonstrating that people have generally believed that the philosophical (normative) flows from the biological (descriptive): whenever we know, scientifically, that we are dealing with a human life, we should protect that human. This was true even when people weren't sure about fetal life until they could feel the baby kick: once they could feel that kick, they thought that life should be protected. And when we learned the human in the womb was alive quite a bit earlier, we outlawed abortion quite a bit earlier.

Even in Roe v. Wade, this connection between science and philosophy didn't change: SCOTUS didn't say "Yes, of course the embryo is a human life but abortion should be legal anyway for XYZ reasons." Instead SCOTUS asserted that we can't know when human life starts, and only with that lack of knowledge can we justify abortion. During oral arguments the justices and attorneys involved openly acknowledged that if we recognized the fetus as a human person, Roe v. Wade would have been "almost an impossible case":
Justice Potter Stewart: Well, if it were established that an unborn fetus is a person within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment, you would have almost an impossible case here, would you not? 
Ms Weddington [attorney representing Jane Roe]: I would have a very difficult case. 
Justice Potter Stewart: You certainly would because you’d have the same kind of thing you’d have to say that this would be the equivalent to after the child was born. 
Ms Weddington: That’s right. 
Justice Potter Stewart: If the mother thought that it bothered her health having the child around, she could have it killed. Isn’t that correct? 
Ms Weddington: That’s correct.
As Jacobs summarizes:
Courts and lawmakers have a long and consistent history of using a fetus’ developmental landmarks to form their view on when a fetus is classified as a human, which they then use as the bright line that separates legal abortions from illegal abortions. 
In other words, historically the biological question of when human life begins has mattered a lot to society, especially in terms of abortion. But does it still?

Yes, it does.

Most Americans think "When does a human's life begin?" is an important question, best answered by biologists.

Jacobs surveyed 2,899 American adults. Here's a quick overview of the questions and results:
  1. "How important is the question 'When does a human's life begin?' in the US abortion debate? (1 = unimportant, 10 = important)" 87% rated the question as important
  2. "Americans deserve to know when a human's life begins so they can be informed in their abortion positions and reproductive decisions. (1 = do not agree, 10 = agree)" 84% agreed
  3. "Which group is most qualified to answer the question ‘When does a human's life begin?’"
    • Biologists (81%)
    • Religious leaders (7%)
    • Voters (7%)
    • Philosophers (4%)
    • Supreme Court Justices (2%)
  4. "Why do you think they are most qualified?" 91% of those who chose biologists argued that when life begins is an objective issue and biologists' scientific knowledge makes them best suited to resolve the issue
It's worth noting that the sample of Americans surveyed were mostly pro-choice (63%) and still the vast majority viewed when life begins as a biological question that was important to the abortion debate. Also worth noting—to my mystification—more than half (56%) of those who chose biologists as the relevant experts believed the biologists' input would strengthen the pro-choice side of the abortion debate.

Wha...? How? What great scientific ignorance makes people think that input from biologists will make the pro-choice view make more sense? I recognize I must be really stuck in my worldview here, because it's hard for me to imagine what they thought the biologists would say—perhaps some made-up crap about how embryos don't have hearts or there's no consensus on when life begins. I mean to be fair, given the rampant purposeful misinformation pushed by abortion rights activists masquerading as disinterested scientists, I can hardly blame the non-scientific pro-choice public for believing science is on their side.

And yet—surprise!—biologists did have a consensus, and nope, it did not strengthen the pro-choice side. 

The vast majority of biologists—even most pro-choice biologists—affirm a human life begins at fertilization.

Jacobs surveyed 5,502 biologists from 1,058 academic institutions. Of the biologists surveyed:
  • 63% were non-religious,
  • 85% were pro-choice, and
  • 95% held a PhD.
They were asked whether the following statements were correct:
  1. Implicit statement A: The end product of mammalian fertilization is a fertilized egg (‘zygote’), a new mammalian organism in the first stage of its species’ life cycle with its species’ genome.
  2. Implicit statement B: The development of a mammal begins with fertilization, a process by which the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote
  3. Explicit statement: In developmental biology, fertilization marks the beginning of a human's life since that process produces an organism with a human genome that has begun to develop in the first stage of the human life cycle
91% said implicit statement A is correct, as did 88% for implicit statement B. That number dropped to 75% for the explicit statement, and it broke down along political lines. The following proportions of biologists (based on their own descriptions of their political position) said the explicit statement was correct:
  • 92% of very pro-life biologists
  • 92% pro-life
  • 86% neutral
  • 80% pro-choice
  • 69% very pro-choice
(As an aside for our readers, 70% of atheist biologists and 72% of agnostic biologists agreed with the explicit statement that fertilization marks the beginning of a human's life.)

Figure 3 from the dissertation. Click to enlarge.

Jacobs also asked participants the open-ended question "From a biological perspective, how would you answer the question 'When does a human's life begin?'" Jacobs explains:
Most participants wrote about various points during pregnancy: when the sperm fertilizes the egg, when the zygote implants in the uterus, cell differentiation, neurogenesis, the first heartbeat, the first brain waves, the first pain response, fetal viability, and birth.
Jacobs categorized every answer that was after fertilization but before viability as "pre-viability." The results, broken down by the biologists' abortion stances, are as follows:

Figure 5 from the dissertation. Click to enlarge.
Unsurprisingly, very pro-choice biologists were more likely to choose an answer other than fertilization, and significantly more likely to say that—again, from a biological perspective—life begins at birth (can't decide if this is hilarious or sad). Still, the strong majority of all biologists—even very pro-choice biologists—affirmed that a human's life begins at fertilization.

I assume this means we can now add "life begins at conception" to the pro-science memes, right?

Further Reading:

Related Secular Pro-Life blog posts:
Other Sources:

Monday, February 24, 2020

Instead of abortion or adoption, what about kinship caregiving?

Ask any midwife to list a book she read on her journey towards birth work, and she will undoubtedly mention Ina May Gaskin’s Spiritual Midwifery. Those who aren't the naturalistic hippie types will definitely raise a brow at her use of “psychedelic” language and philosophy, but her work as a midwife can't be dismissed. She and her team uncovered the lost American tradition of midwifery and home birth, using their humble practice on “The Farm” (their commune) to jump start a birth revolution that has helped women regain bodily autonomy and self-confidence in the maternity ward.

Within Spiritual Midwifery, one account shared in her collection of empowering birth stories involved something like a kinship adoption. It was one of a few such stories in entire book, but I was engrossed in this particular case for a single, profound reason:

The adoption was temporary, and the birth mother was heavily involved.

At the commune where Gaskin works and lives, it’s common practice for neighbors, friends, and family to help one another raise their children. If someone needs help, it is—quite literally—next door. This was the case for baby Celeste. Her mother, Ginny, had for unexplained reasons allowed the Farm midwives to place the baby in the care of Lois. Ginny and Lois named their daughter together, and Ginny slowly reintegrated herself into Celeste’s life from the time Celeste turned one until she was a little over two years of age. The transition was seamless: Ginny even lived with Lois’ family on and off until she was ready to move out on her own. To this day, the story explains, they all continue to have a “warm relationship.”

Similar stories of open adoption can be found today—that is, the birth mother receives updates and communication about her baby and the adoptive family. A favorite example of this kind of close contact is the story of teen mom Kaleena, who pumped and shipped breast milk to the family, knowing the health benefits for infants. Even after the parents decided to wean the child, they assured her that they would all keep in touch.

With that said, open adoption is still vastly different from the experience of mothers like Lois and Ginny. In fact, even with the significant improvements we have seen in terms of rights for birth mothers and their children, there are still many who find themselves traumatized by the adoption process. Sometimes it is a birth mother who was manipulated and pressured by a private agency into “giving up” her baby. Other times, the adopted children themselves feel disconnected from their past, due to incomplete information and possible trafficking cases that lead to their “adoption.” Breaking stigmas and abuse surrounding adoption is crucial to saving lives—for both parents and their children. But with limitations and ongoing problems, what can we offer that is more holistic and healing?

Click to enlarge

I find a part of that solution in the story of Celeste and her two mothers. I prefer to call their arrangement “kinship caregiving” because, unlike adoption, the set up is temporary, and the phrase evokes an idea of domestic partnership and support. Neighborly love, if you will. 

Adoption has paths and choices worth defending and talking about, but it’s not perfect. It’s not the best solution for every unplanned pregnancy where the birth mother is not ready to parent, yet is traumatized through separation from her child after bonding through pregnancy and birth. Or, perhaps the mother truly does want to keep her child, but her immediate circumstances—even with help—could not allow her to parent responsibly. There are horror stories of families being unjustly torn apart by the system, much of it related to systemic oppression of minorities. One has to wonder—would a different kind of caregiving be a healthier and safer approach for these families in need? Whether the child is newborn or a teenager, there needs to be a better option than this trauma that occurs.

In those hard cases, it is not right to claim that birth parents are selfish for wanting to keep their children. They are not irresponsible or cruel to want to be in their children's lives as their primary caregivers. To go against these natural, biological yearnings and coerce people into placing their children for adoption is reminiscent of the days of decades ago, during the "baby scoop" era. The prevailing practice was “You’re an unfit parent? Then we’ll literally rip the baby from your arms and you’ll never see them again. Yay adoption!” We still see this attitude. In fact, some people see it as such a problem that they form organizations to fight against it.

I firmly believe—not just as a pro-lifer but also as a mother who has faced the threat of poverty and illness—that placing a child for permanent adoption is not always the answer. It is preferable to abortion, but that doesn't mean we should overly romanticize or downplay it. Of course a living baby and safe mother are better than a dead baby and injured mother—but that should be the bare minimum, not the bar we live up to. In those cases where a parent clearly wishes to be in his or her child’s life but can’t do so for a while, the answer should be to allow a compassionate and friendly person close to the parent to step in as guardian.

Women and girls in crisis pregnancies each have their own reactions and unique fears to their situations. One fear many share is the fear of birthing and parenting alone. They often don’t know about the charities and organizations willing and ready to help, and thus step into the abortion clinic or the adoption agency with little bearings. With such harsh choices, they may also face the stigma from their inner circle—a circle that fails to truly step in and help them with their situation in a way that is healthy. This lack of support leads to unwanted abortion and coerced adoption.

With all the legal systems and formal exchanges found in traditional adoption, we are missing an option with more heart and neighborly love. Our society is an individualistic one, and it hurts families in ways that echo throughout our culture. This is an emptiness that no legal system can ever heal or fill. It can only be filled with humanity, and that humanity should be found in the pro-life movement.

Even if we aren’t all in a position to adopt a child (temporarily or permanently), there are ways we can implement a soft type of kinship caregiving into our lives. Make the single postpartum mother some frozen meals as she adjusts to parenting. Offer to clean and babysit for that student parent so she can study and take a break. Donate breast milk or formula to the family who can’t breastfeed but can’t afford formula. If you are a close friend or family member to a parent in need, open your home and heart to them, their children, or both. Guide over that little bundle of joy while their parent is off preparing their hearts and minds for their child. “Adopt” their child, but adopt the parent too.

This option is not the answer to every problem we see today, but it could be what saves, nourishes, and grows a life—lives like Ginny and Celeste, who had a Lois to adopt them. May this one day be the new definition of a true kinship caregiving.

Today's article is by guest author Virginia Pride.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Interview: Pro-life Democrats reflect on the Democratic Party and the pro-life movement

Secular Pro-Life strongly encourages pro-lifers from different backgrounds to seek to understand one another and form coalitions in the fight against abortion. SPL’s main focus, obviously, is on different religious backgrounds, but the longer we've done this work the more we've realized how important it is to amplify the voices of all kinds of non-traditional pro-lifers. 

In this post we want you to hear from pro-life leftists and Democrats. We interviewed six people—Jenna, Kristin, Travis, Paula, Theresa, and Benjamin—who identify as pro-life or anti-abortion.

SPL is run by a liberal, a moderate, and a conservative. Not all of us (especially the conservative) necessarily agree with every view expressed in this post. In fact there are some parts some of us very strongly disagree with. Nevertheless, we post the content unedited (except for brevity) in order to give a voice to people against abortion who are often overlooked. We hope the perspectives here will help all of us gain better insight into different paths one can take to being pro-life.

Click to enlarge.

1. How would you describe your position on abortion? How long have you held that position and how did you arrive at it?

Jenna: I was raised pro-life, but it was seeing the Lennart Nilssen Nova special in fourth grade that I really, incontrovertibly became pro-life for my own reasons. I even found myself thinking that the abortion debate was over now—the humanity of the human embryo and fetus was right there, in front of our eyes.

Kristin: I am anti-abortion and view it as no different than killing anyone else. I have felt that way since I first heard what it was back when I was 14. It was an instantaneous repulsion. I heard that it was the termination of a pregnancy, knew from my middle school biology classes that that would mean killing another living human being, and was immediately against it and horrified that it was a thing to begin with. As an energetic feminist I instantly saw it as the exploitation of women, assumed that conservative deadbeat dads must be behind it, as there was no way that hoards of women were up and making the decisions to kill their children. I used to get anxiety attacks about it and had a lot of survivor's guilt given that I made it out of my mother's uterus alive whereas so many were killed.

Travis: Ever since I knew abortion existed I have been against it, even though both of my parents are pro-choice. It has never made sense to me why someone would terminate a healthy pregnancy. Politically, I do not think abortion can be eliminated by judicial order; we must change hearts and minds first. I support allowing individual states to determine their abortion policies, so Louisiana and Alabama can outlaw abortion but New York and California can keep it legal. Eliminating abortion in states where abortion rights are popular would have a severe political backlash. The Trump administration has been good business for Planned Parenthood, with abortions and revenues on the rise. I support exceptions for rape and incest until 24 weeks and after that only for non-viable pregnancies and serious health risks to the mother.

Paula: I believe in the sanctity and worthiness of all life from conception to natural death. I was raised Catholic, but I also base my beliefs on science. Genetics fascinate me and the uniqueness and worthiness of each conceived human being is very real to me. I have always been pro-life, even as a child.

Theresa: I’m unwaveringly against abortion, regardless of reason for seeking one. And I’ve been against it since the moment I was aware of its reality, which was probably in middle school or early high school. Back then, it began as a matter of having been formed by Catholic Church teaching within my parish community and at home from my parents: that human life has inherent and non-refutable value and the willful and intentional destruction of human life is absolutely not acceptable, especially within the womb.

Benjamin: I am pro-life and have been so consistently since my early twenties (I’m now in my early forties). I am conflicted on the rape/incest question, as well as abortion in cases of disability. I don’t care what anyone says—these are heartrending cases for the expectant mother/parents who deserve the sympathy of pro-lifers rather than judgment. 

I grew up Jewish in the rural South (the “buckle of the Bible Belt”), which imparted on me “outsider status”—an identity that I embraced. My congressional district was (and is) super-majority Republican. This along with my parents’ influence (who had come from elsewhere) led me to gravitate to more liberal politics—which, of course, included a reliably pro-choice position on abortion. I recall laughing at my pro-life 8th Grade health teacher (male—also a football coach) when he told our class that abortion was performed with “scissors” and that “sometimes the baby comes out crying.”

2. How would you describe your political position with respect to American politics (e.g. liberal, moderate, conservative, Republican, Democrat, etc.)? How long have you held that position and how did you arrive at it?

Jenna: I’m pretty far left and consider myself a Democratic Socialist. I first started leaning left when I struck out on my own at 18, and came face to face with low wages and a lack of healthcare resources. As income inequality widens and our health care system erodes further, I move farther left.

Kristin: Generally I just say that I am everything on the left. I have often called myself a hippie, even as a kid. I have been anti-war since I was young and have always hated violence and supported equal rights for all. I was about 13 when I first started to understand Democrat vs. Republican and started to say I was a Democrat, and then liberal vs. conservative and used "liberal" more often. I came out as atheist right before that. I agree with general left-wingers, though my main ideals are more anarcho communist in nature. When I found out what communism was in my high school history class, which was basically described as a society that is governmentless, moneyless, and classless, where people come together to take what they need and only what they need so that there is enough to go around for everyone, I had a eureka moment of "That sounds like a utopia!" and knew that even if that is hard to attain, that is what I think the goal of humanity should be. I have often thought of it as weird to say that, given that all humans are for all intents and purposes created equal, one human or a group of humans should rule over all others when we are essentially all peers. Still, I understand that moving the status quo is better than doing nothing at all so I agree with pushing Democratic and Socialist policies such as raising the minimum wage or supporting universal healthcare in the meantime, but I would like to see an end to Capitalism.

Travis: I have stereotypical liberal positions on most issues with the exception of abortion and religious freedom issues. On economic issues, I am more liberal because I find American capitalism is morally corrupt.

Paula: For many years I was a Republican. I was upset that the Democrats had abortion rights in their platform. However, I was seldom able to vote for Republican candidates because they seemed to ignore the needs of the poor and vulnerable. I often did “write-ins.” I was an Independent for a few years and I might return to that status someday. For now, I am firmly a Democrat. I joined the party when Obama was running because I wanted to vote for him in the primary and you must be affiliated with a party in my state in order to do that. I guess I am a liberal. I worked as a social worker before I retired and I saw with my own eyes the need for safety nets such as food stamps, Medicaid, WIC, SS benefits. I resist labels.

Theresa: I am more liberal leaning nowadays. Ultimately the issues are more important to me than partisanship. Human dignity, rights, and life transcend partisanship. I was once registered as a Republican because I voted with the idea that abortion was the most important issue. It remains a grave issue to me, but I left the Republican Party as of 2016, completely appalled at the nomination of Donald Trump, a man so vile and repulsive in his words and in his treatment of anyone who will not feed his ego. I knew that it was not possible for me to both oppose abortion and support a man who was clearly not consistently pro-life, if he was even pro-life to begin with.

Abortion has always been a grave evil to me, but I’ve since come to understand that human life is not a single issue phenomenon, and abortion cannot be the only important issue to focus on. Babies aren’t born in vacuums and choices, especially the decision to abort, aren’t made in a vacuum either. Every life issue that impacts you or me or others impacts the unborn too. If an expecting mother is facing a crisis, that crisis will affect her child, too—often and unfortunately in the form of abortion. So if I care about unborn children, I really ought to care about all issues that affect their mothers and families. Whether it is the environment, healthcare, childcare, a living wage, parental leave. Whether it is racism, misogyny, ableism, and any forms of bigotry. Valuing the rights of the unborn begins before conception, with ensuring that society supports the needs of women so that they are capable of bringing a child into the world freely, without distress. And every child deserves to be born into a loving and well-supported family.

I didn’t come to this more comprehensive position right away: it's been an ongoing progression from my Catholic liberal arts college through today (I'm now in my thirties). It was a college Sociology course that started my personal growth, but it was also listening to various arguments from both pro-life and pro-choice people over the years. I came to understand that life isn’t so simple, and that my experiences are not the same as others'. Listening to understand has helped me empathize with people who are struggling in ways I never did.

Benjamin: I am probably what would be called a “moderate” Democrat. I take issue with the direction that the party seems to be going. I know that I am getting more fiscally conservative as I get older—this has coincided with a rising income, so perhaps I am blinded by my own self-interests. I admire the passion of the younger Democratic activists but I believe that too much of what the party is pushing now is exclusionary. There appears to be a purity test on almost every issue, as well as a hyper-focus on social issues (like race/gender) that I believe is short-sighted, not to mention a mistaken electoral strategy. (I refer the reader to the recent election results in the United Kingdom.)

Click to enlarge.

3. How do you see the anti-abortion position fitting in with other Democratic values?

Jenna: Democrats protect the vulnerable in society. We work tirelessly for born children, and for equality for marginalized people. Being anti-abortion truly seems to be more in line with Democratic values than with the values of a party that does so little to help people thrive.

Kristin: I view it as the same as my other left-wing beliefs: it's all about supporting the most innocent, vulnerable, poor, downtrodden, voiceless, helpless, and defenseless. There is no group that fits these words more than the pre-born, other than non-human-animals. So I see being pro-life as just about the most liberal thing there is. It fits in with my stances of being a vegan and feminist, anti-war, not anti-death penalty, anti-police brutality, and supporting the rights of all who are disenfranchised. I'm against the violence and oppression of anyone.

Travis: The Democratic Party supports more pro-life positions than the Republicans, with abortion being the main exception. The positions of Democrats on the death penalty, LGBT rights, immigration, and gun control tend to more closely align with a consistent life ethic than Republicans' positions. Also, Democrats don’t support an unapologetic racist and sexual predator for president. 

Paula: I believe in social safety nets. I also appreciate the Democratic Party's support for civil rights, public schools, immigration, and refugee services. Statistics demonstrate that abortions go down when Democrats are elected.

Theresa: As a whole the Democrat Party fights for civil rights for most human beings. Unfortunately, they fail entirely when it concerns unborn human beings. Without a doubt, the Democrat Party establishment firmly supports abortion. But I also acknowledge their position regarding a living wage; their support for LGBTQIA people, people of color, and the disabled; their position regarding affordable healthcare; their call to employers to provide parental leave for new parents, their opposition to discrimination against religious minorities, and their advocacy for the environment. These are all issues that matter when it comes to deciding whether to have a child—whether to get pregnant in the first place, or if already pregnant, whether to carry the baby to term.

Benjamin: I’m not sure. I believe that the party has become so doctrinaire on the abortion position that its “values” have become muddled. I like to say that Democrats have the moral advantage when it comes to guns and the environment; Republicans have the moral advantage regarding the abortion issue.

Click to enlarge.

4. Regarding abortion, the Democratic Party platform says in part:
We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured. We believe that reproductive health is core to women’s, men’s, and young people’s health and wellbeing. We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide critical health services to millions of people. We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.
What are your thoughts on this stance?

Jenna: I disagree, and especially with the idea of revoking the Hyde Amendment. Hyde, along with gestational limits, have long allowed pro-life Democrats to have an uneasy truce with the pro-choice plank of the party.

Kristin: That is an inherently oppressive stance because they conveniently leave out that abortion kills distinct living human beings. We know way too much about science to ignore that elephant in the room. And I view it as inherently manipulative toward women to try to convince us that the deaths of our children equals healthcare and our rights to our own bodies, choices, and lives. An abortion is considered botched if it doesn't end someone else's life and destroy their body. I love the quotes "Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women" and "Abortion is a tool of the patriarchy." Ignoring what abortion is and trying to get us to support it with all this other talk about access and healthcare is exploitative.

Travis: I don’t have a problem with funding Planned Parenthood, since they do other things besides abortion and the federal funds they receive cannot go to abortion. I do wonder what was wrong with the “safe, legal and rare” wording the Democratic platform used to have. The current wording and many politicians seem to celebrate abortion, rather than looking at it as a tragedy. I understand that Democrats feel the need to not stigmatize women who have had an abortion, which I respect. The onus of abortion is heaped on women, while the father escapes relatively unscathed. But taking a life or pretending that something with different DNA and a heartbeat isn’t a life doesn’t comport with Democrats’ other values. At least the word “rare” respected the value Democrats place on life and made the platform less revolting to people who vote solely on the abortion issue.

Paula: I support the Hyde Amendment. I was so disappointed in Joe Biden for caving into pressure regarding his support of the Hyde Amendment. I don’t want my tax dollars to be spent on abortion (or war or the death penalty or ICE). The Hyde Amendment seems like a good compromise on an issue that is so divisive. I am also very disappointed that abortion has become a litmus test for Democrats, and I don’t feel welcome in the party. I have FB friends who have blocked me over abortion. It saddens me that we can’t find some areas of agreement or compromise.

Theresa: I believe everyone should have access to affordable healthcare, but abortion is not healthcare in the first place. The medical profession has a grave duty to first do no harm. And abortion, as opposed to miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, is the deliberate destruction of the developing human embryo or fetus. Intentional destruction of life is something I will always oppose. By all means, if women need contraception or any other means to prevent—not terminate—a pregnancy, prevention would be far more preferable to ending a life. Punish rapists and end rape culture instead of arguing that abortion is a necessity in cases of rape. Insisting that babies conceived in rape should be aborted does absolutely nothing to stop rapists. How many abusers take their victims to have abortions, only to continue with the abuse? End rape culture.
Benjamin: I strongly disagree. The term “reproductive health” was conceived in a focus group. (Though it’s not as bad as “abortion care.”) On the other hand, in this day and age, who (other than activists) cares about what is in a party platform?

5. Have you interacted much with Democratic activists or politicians? If so, how has that gone? If not, why not?

Jenna: Yes, some. It’s gone well, but I have mostly interacted on conservation issues rather than abortion issues.

Kristin: Not much yet. I would like to though, to see if I can get anywhere with getting them to understand the viewpoint of those who are pro-life, and how [the Democratic Party is] screwing themselves over by rejecting pro-lifers. I have Facebook commented to local Democratic politicians before and one seemed civil at first but then blocked me after I started talking about science.

Travis: I have had little involvement with Democratic activists and politics because my children take up most of my free time.  

Paula: Not personally, although I do keep informed. I write letters and send emails occasionally.

Theresa: I have only minimally interacted with my Democrat representatives in Congress, particularly regarding the issue of gun violence. I merely expressed my concerns to my Congressman and he responded by acknowledging that he shares my concerns and has voted in support for certain restrictions. Of course, this remains an ongoing battle so there isn’t any definitive conclusion to this issue at all.

Then there is the matter of the Women’s March in DC. I’ve wanted to participate in the Women’s March but I do not feel welcome since I do not share their support for abortion and they have made it clear that pro-life feminists aren’t welcome. But perhaps I shouldn’t think about my own personal comfort zone. If I intend to support Democrat candidates over Republican ones, I do intend to challenge them to give a greater support for life and to work towards decreasing the numbers of abortion.

Benjamin: Not really.

Click to enlarge.

6. If you could sit down with DNC leadership to discuss the issue of abortion, what would you want to say to them?

Jenna: I’d tell them that when she was pregnant with me, my mother was poor, mentally ill, in an abusive relationship, about to be single, and experienced complications that caused her doctors to say I would to be disabled. I’d tell them my life is worth living and that I, and people like me, can hear them when they talk about the reasons women “need” access to abortion.

Kristin: Ignoring or denying the humanity of the pre-born makes them look like a bunch of anti-science flat-earther ripoffs, so they need to actually admit that abortion causes real deaths, and that a lot of women have PTSD from abortions because of those deaths. [Party leaders] need to work with pro-lifers to hear our concerns instead of just ignoring everything and pretending that we just want to control women's bodies. We are women and a lot of us are strong feminists. Stereotyping the pro-life movement as a bunch of old, white, christian, conservative men will get them nowhere because most of us don't fit into that caricature, so they're just speaking past us. That's why the abortion debate is still fiery and has not budged in decades. And, most importantly, if they want to win against people like Trump, it is imperative that they start understanding that it is because the pro-life movement sees abortion as killing babies that so many pro-lifers are single issue voters and voted for him just because he is pro-life, whereas pro-life Democrats could win.

Travis: I would say that Democrats are politically dead on the state and federal level in the South and the Great Plains because of their abortion position. Widening the tent for people who are against abortion would be a great way to attract people uncomfortable with the racism of the Republicans.

Paula: I would want them to understand that their rigid support of abortion, without any restrictions or nuance, forces some reluctant folks to vote for Republicans. They are shooting themselves in the foot. This issue is being successfully manipulated by Trump and the Republicans. I have a FB friend who calls abortion a “shield” for all the terrible, cruel policies that are not pro-life being pushed by Trump and Republicans. Whenever I object to a policy that is immoral, I hear, “but abortion.” I would like Democrats to acknowledge the humanity of the unborn; a little human being in the first stages of life. Democrats used to be better at that.

I would also encourage them to talk about how abortions go down when they hold office. Democrats do more than Republicans to help women choose life. They should also show some respect for us. Apparently 1/3 or all Democrats are pro-life. They need us.

Theresa: Human rights begin the moment there is new human DNA. Life is the first and foremost human right and to deny it to the most vulnerable is absolutely not acceptable. Abortion takes the historical and lasting oppression of women and displaces it on helpless children. And a person isn’t valuable because he or she is wanted, but because he or she is human. 

A woman’s right to choose is like any other right: we are always free to choose, to speak, to worship or not, to protest and to bear arms, but none of us are free to exercise our rights in a manner that will infringe on the rights of others. We aren’t islands. We are members of society and our choices do not only affect ourselves. Freedom exists so long as we are responsible with it. If you claim to value a woman’s right to choose, provide her with better options. Unwanted pregnancy is not a default state of existence. Pregnancy can be avoided. Or, if in certain situations, it can’t be avoided, provide all the necessary societal support that makes it easier to choose life. Support single mothers. Give them access to a living wage, to affordable healthcare and affordable childcare, to maternity leave. Punish those who commit domestic violence or sexual assault and rape. There should be severe consequences for those who would assault and abuse women.

Benjamin: I would say that pro-life voters should not be ostracized. I live in New York and it’s basically a thought crime to be pro-life. There is certainly a silent plurality here, however, that consider the mainstream New York “Democratic” position on abortion to be downright barbaric. Recall Gov. Cuomo’s “celebration” of the recent New York abortion law by mandating that the Freedom Tower be lit in pink (the law itself is truly remarkable in what it allows).

7. Due to the DNC platform and the statements of major Democratic candidates, a lot of pro-lifers assert a person cannot vote for Democrats and call his or herself "pro-life." What's your response to that?

Jenna: Neither major party is pro-life. But given two imperfect choices, between the party I disagree with on just the matter of abortion—which Democrats are better at reducing than Republicans—and the party I disagree with on every other subject, I’m going with the lesser evil. Denying people a living wage, family leave, universal health care, affordable daycare, and gap mending benefits drives people to think abortion is their only or best choice. I can’t be party to that, or to the many other dangers and indignities the Republicans impose on people. And I haven’t found a third party I can be totally on board with.

Kristin: Given the endless amounts of other issues that are really important to people, I can understand why someone would want to vote for a pro-choice Democrat, and I think that people who say those voters can't be pro-life are ignoring all of these other issues. There are so many things that are super important to me besides abortion that I could never vote for a conservative. I don't really consider bombing people in other countries to be consistent with my pro-life beliefs. The "you're not really pro-life" mentality could easily go either way, so it's best for people to vote with their conscience instead of what other people label them. I likewise have a hard time voting for a pro-choicer, so I have yet to vote for a person. I will vote for left-wing pro-lifers, but I don't blame anyone for voting for pro-choice Democrats.

Travis: Neither party is pro-life; the Republican Party platform states that it’s against abortion but that doesn’t make it pro-life. As a voter, we have to determine which candidate most closely adheres to a consistent life ethic. Since most Republicans have declared fealty to Trump, they cannot argue that they are more pro-life than a Democrat.

Paula: I totally understand that position. Hillary was the first Democrat I ever voted for in a national election (Obama only got my vote in the primary). I never vote for Republicans either. However, I will vote for the Democratic candidate in the next election. I don’t care who it is. That is how imperative it is to get Trump out of office. As a Catholic, abortion is considered a great evil. I know many fellow Catholics who cannot vote for a Democrat due to that conviction. However, the Church says that we must vote our conscience. If we are not voting for a candidate because they are for abortion, but because they are less evil than the other candidate, it is okay. Also, there is a good case for saying that abortions go down when Democrats are in office. Social programs help pregnant women choose life.

Theresa: I disagree. I no longer vote according to one issue because a human life is not ever one issue. Life is more than being born. We all have needs, aspirations, personalities, experiences, and different perspectives. Our lives involve so many different issues from the womb until the tomb. I recognize how privileged I am, never having worried how bills would be paid, never enduring an abusive relationship, never being a victim of discrimination. I have always been free to make my choices, my dignity has always been intact, and I am content and at peace. Is it so unreasonable that I should want this dignified existence for all human beings? And if I have been so fortunate as to never have had a crisis pregnancy, I want the same for all women. At the moment only the Democratic Party supports policies that will best respect human dignity. When it concerns the quality of life for Americans, we shouldn’t fear government overreach as much as we should abhor the government’s indifference to people in need. Human life and dignity should be our highest priorities.

If anything, I cannot consider myself pro-life if I choose to turn a blind eye to all of the faults of the Republican Party and continue to vote for and support them. I firmly believe that being anti-abortion alone is not enough. Opposing abortion alone doesn’t make one pro-life if one doesn’t value needs of all after the baby has been born. There are nine months of development in the womb, and 70 or so years of life outside of the womb. To be pro-life means to defend life for the duration of those 70 years.

Benjamin: I’m torn. I see their point but I care too much about the environment to hand over the reins to the Republicans. 

Click to enlarge.

8. Have you interacted much with the overall pro-life movement (e.g. walks, rallies, meetings, lectures, protests, political activities, sidewalk counseling, pregnancy centers, etc.)? If so, how has that gone? If not, why not?

Kristin: A little bit. I have volunteered with crisis pregnancy centers which has taught me a lot, especially that they help a ton of low-income minority families by giving free supplies. I have gone to my local March for Life a few years in a row and that taught me that the pro-choice counter-protesters have absolutely no idea who pro-lifers are as people and why we are pro-life. They just read off chants from a script, stereotyping pro-lifers as religious conservatives. I have done small things like sidewalk chalked or hidden drop cards in various places. I returned to a chalking I did to see that people had actually taken the effort to grab a bunch of handfuls of grass and dirt from the local park and smear it on the chalk so that people wouldn't see it. I definitely want to do more and would like to start up my own local activism group.

Travis: I’m interpreting “pro-life” in this question to mean anti-abortion. I only use the term “pro-life” for people who are pro-life on all issues, not just abortion. I would never attend a rally that welcomes Trump or people like him, so I have never gone to the March for Life rally even though I live in the DC area. I am turned off by the misogyny I see underlying the anti-abortion movement. I knew one male Trump supporter who was obsessed with the idea that Hillary had an abortion but didn’t bother to ask how many Trump may have paid for. The comment sections of sites like LifeSiteNews are full of vile, hateful nonsense. I am embarrassed to admit I’m for more restrictions on abortions because I realize I’m aligning myself with male zealots who don’t respect women’s needs and autonomy when it comes to cases of rape and non-viable pregnancies.

Paula: I ran a pregnancy support and adoption agency for a Catholic Social Service agency for 10 years. We also had a program for post-abortion healing. It felt good to offer alternatives to abortion. Most of the parents we helped were able to find a way to give birth and raise their children. We helped them find the resources and support they needed to do that. Adoptions were hard, but we promoted open adoptions and the birth parents were empowered to pick the parents themselves and develop a good relationship with them. Occasionally, adoption was the only path they could take to give life.

The complicated grief of abortion was very difficult to resolve primarily because of politicization of this decision. They did not know where to go to talk about their grief and they could not forgive themselves. Many did not want the abortion in the first place, but felt pressured by boyfriends, parents, husbands, professionals, and friends. Financial circumstances also played a big role in some abortion decisions. The women and men I met regretted their decisions and came for healing. It did not feel like a “choice” to them. For many, there was an emotional and mental price to be paid for their abortion. Sometimes the grief and loss of their unborn children did not surface until decades after the abortion. Many had problems with addiction, promiscuity, and relationships after the abortion. I know that the clients I met might not be considered representative of all post-abortive men and women, but it made me determined to help parents of unborn children choose life. After the birth of a beautiful child, there is seldom regret.

I demonstrated in front of a PP clinic once. It was right after the undercover videos of the Planned Parenthood doctors came out. I don’t know if baby body parts were sold illegally, but I was sickened by the callous way the doctors discussed killing babies and picking out body parts, all while sipping wine and munching on salad. I needed to do something to protest and I joined a group in front of the local PP. As an aside, this was the first time I understood why some do not trust mainstream media. No one was covering this except Fox news. That was an eyeopener. I am not a fan of Fox news but it was the only place I could get information about this situation.

Theresa: When I was in high school and college, I attended the March for Life in Washington D.C with my Catholic schools. It was certainly quite the experience to be present with so many other pro-life supporters, even in the bitter cold. It has been almost 20 years since I’ve been to one of the marches. As of more recently, I interact mostly with pro-life groups online. It is often quite informative as over the years, the discussions I have had have further shaped my stance against abortion and they have convinced me more and more of the necessity for a more whole life approach.

Benjamin: Not much. I recently saw a group of people outside a church that had participated in a march for life and told them how much I admired their efforts.

Click to enlarge.

9. How accessible is the pro-life movement for you? How could it be more accessible? What are some ways other pro-lifers could make Democrats and leftists feel welcome?

Jenna: I haven’t interacted with the PLM in real life for years, for a variety of reasons. We don’t have much of an alternative PLM here in the Seattle area, and I don’t want to be part of the conservative movement. A big part of it is the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. It would be very hard for me to stand next to someone who shares the goal of preventing abortion, but then would deny a loving family, which might include people I love, from adopting a child. That’s certainly not the only leftist stance I find a lot of mainstream PLM activists are antagonistic to, but it’s a big one. So I’d say not tying anti-LGBTQ activism to pro-life activism. Also, not devaluing other human lives—immigrants, chronically ill people, the poor and homeless.

Kristin: Because I tend to stick to my progressive, feminist, atheist pro-life bubble, it seems hopeful and welcoming in those groups and with those people. When I venture out into the mainstream pro-life spaces, I start to remember that there are still people who argue with us that atheists have no moral grounding to be pro-life or we're going to hell for being atheist, or pro-choicers who tell us we cannot be pro-life feminists. There is still too much religious imagery and quotes, which makes the movement seem alienating to those who are secular. You can be religious but there's no reason to bring it to pro-life events and pages, just like you wouldn't hold a cross while giving a homeless person a meal. Conservative pro-lifers tend to not trust left-wingers and still frame it as a "left vs. right" concept, thus ignoring us. A big step in the right direction would be if these conservatives, especially the ones who have an audience such as those who associate with Fox News, would make sure to never frame the issue in a left vs. right way but rather just "pro-life vs. pro-choice." It would be amazing if they would take a minute of their time to mention that there are lots of left-wingers who are pro-life and perhaps even mention organizations such as Democrats for Life of America or Rehumanize International. Can you imagine what it would be like if Steven Crowder or Ben Shapiro said, "Also there are a lot of lefty feminist pro-lifers these days too. Check out the organizations New Wave Feminists and Consistent Life for more info on that"? That would be amazing. Basically, give us a platform, let us speak, and promote us like crazy. Abortion would end so quickly if that were to happen, because we can reach the people that the stereotypical pro-lifers can't.

Travis: I would only feel comfortable with an anti-abortion movement that is consistently pro-life. I would never be a part of an anti-abortion movement that is homophobic. LifeSiteNews posts anti-LGBT stories and, from my experience, anti-abortion and anti-LGBT tend to go together. The current anti-abortion movement overlooks an unrepentant Trump’s serial adultery and sexual harassment but won’t do the same for the perceived sexual sins of the LGBT community. I cannot be a part of that hypocrisy and hatred. I do follow New Wave Feminists on Twitter and Facebook and NWF has given me hope that I can find an anti-abortion group to call home. Also, Christian activist Shane Claiborne is consistently pro-life. If there was a march for the consistent life ethic, I would participate enthusiastically.

Paula: I don’t find it accessible at all except through facebook. Facebook has allowed me to make friends who share my values. So many people who call themselves pro-life are Republicans and sadly they seem to be under the spell of Trump. It is weird to me.

Nancy Pelosi made a statement a short time back that helped me feel welcomed. She said something about some of her own family members being pro-life. I can’t find the exact quote but I heard it when she was being interviewed. I will say this: Democrats are not doing a very good job of making me feel welcomed. They come across as very extreme and rigid. Our way or the highway!

Theresa: The movement itself is accessible enough. We don’t have to go far to find pro-life groups on social media, for instance. And my parish supports local pregnancy centers. But in truth, it has become more and more alienating when there is this commonly expressed belief that you can’t be pro-life and Democrat or liberal leaning. I don’t know that I need to feel particularly welcome because ultimately my concern is to uphold consistent respect for human dignity. I don’t believe as I do to fit in; I care for the sake of the unborn and their families.

But I can’t speak for everyone who is pro-life and more liberal. If people feel alienated from the pro-life movement, it can do nothing but hurt our cause. Pro-lifers as a whole need to recognize that we will not agree on everything, but we all share the desire is to end abortion. We should strive to work in the most effective manner possible. For too long I voted based only on opposing abortion, and there was nothing to show for it. Abortion continued with each vote I cast for Republicans and babies were continuously slaughtered regardless of the words on the lips of these politicians. Abortion itself is a more deep and insidious problem. We don’t treat diseases by addressing a single symptom—we attack the virus itself, and the symptoms will then disappear. Abortion is a symptom and we have yet to eradicate the underlying disease that is the overall lack of respect for human life and dignity.

Benjamin: Secular Pro-Life is a great example. Unfortunately many Democrats see the pro-life movement as male-dominated and “anti-woman” (false!) as well as religiously dominated (true). Just keep doing what you’re doing.

Monday, February 17, 2020

What questions do you want the Democratic candidates to answer regarding abortion?

Recently, Herb Geraghty of Rehumanize International made the following point in a few brief tweets:
At every debate/town hall event all of the Democrats should be asked: (1) Is there any point at which it should be illegal to abort a healthy pregnancy? & (2) How much money has Planned Parenthood had donated to you over the course of your political career to get you to say no?  
The level of abortion extremism out of nearly every national Democrat is an outrage and should be an embarrassment to everyone in the party, myself included. Routine state sanctioned & funded dismemberment of viable babies it not a reasonable position and the majority of voters know that. Late-term abortion is unpopular with every demographic except for those who profit from it!
[Related SPL blog posts: Responding to 8 common pro-choice claims about late-term abortion & "The people want Roe to stay."]

We thought Herb had a good point and we retweeted him asking our followers what else they would want to ask the Democratic candidates. Here are some of the suggestions:
  • Should medical professionals be required to participate in abortions?
  • When children in utero are screened for disabilities such as Down syndrome, a hugely disproportionate number of them are aborted. What are your thoughts on that?
  • Do you think abortion should be rare? Why or why not?
  • What programs would you enact as president to ensure women do not seek abortion solely because they feel they have no other choice?
  • If artificial wombs became available during your term, would you still support abortion?
  • Do you believe reducing the number of abortions is a goal the government should work toward?
  • What will you do to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality?
Of course it would be very difficult to get most politicians to give sincere answers instead of practiced talking points (as Democrats for Life President Kristen Day experienced so recently at Pete Buttigieg's town hall), but if you could get straight answers, what else would you want to ask the candidates?

Friday, February 14, 2020

Mark Your Calendars in March

Two pro-life events are less than a month away.

#1: On Tuesday, March 4, join pro-life advocates from around the country at the Protect Women, Protect Life rally outside the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.! That day, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in June Medical Services v. Gee, the case challenging Louisiana's requirement that abortionists have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Admitting privileges are a valuable way to screen out shoddy/quack abortionists (and yes, that absolutely is a documented problem in Louisiana, so don't let anyone tell you otherwise). This is the Court's chance to reverse its horrific decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt four years ago, which dangerously exempted Texas abortion facilities from a similar regulation.

Pro-life advocates will gather that morning to show our support for the Louisiana law. We are thrilled to announce that Secular Pro-Life's very own Terrisa Bukovinac will speak at the rally! Please arrive as early as you possibly can, because abortion lobby groups will undoubtedly try to crowd us out. Media will be there as well, so bring your best secular signs!

#2: Secular Pro-Life is proud to co-sponsor the pro-life "March on the Arch" in St. Louis, MO on Saturday, March 7! The march will begin at the Planned Parenthood on Forest Park Avenue — which is the only abortion business in the state — and end at the Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis. There will be food trucks, music, and exhibit booths, and the first 1000 people will get a goodie bag. Come out to support the Coalition for Life St. Louis in its effort to make Missouri the first abortion-free state!

[Supreme Court photo by Claire Anderson on Unsplash]

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

We asked, you answered: What are the top facts you wish people understood about either foster care or adoption?

We asked our followers what they wish people understood about adoption and foster care and got some insightful answers:

On differences between adoption and foster care:

Honestly, just getting across the fact that they aren't the same thing would be a step in the right direction. - Michael B.

They aren't the same thing and aren't meant to be. - Jamie J.

Foster care is not there for adoption and adoption is a long, expensive process with a waiting list. When putting a baby up for adoption the mother picks the family while she is still pregnant. You can't just walk into a foster home and be like "I want to adopt that child." They would tell you no because they are working to get that child back to their family. Foster care and adoption are not the same thing. - Desere O.

I would say that giving up a baby for adoption does not mean foster care. It means a private adoption agency, and everything is taken care of. One can choose to pick the parents or not, and one can choose to have an open adoption or not. I think most pregnant women fear that the child will go to foster care. - Shannon F.

If you’re pregnant and don’t want to raise your baby, you can handpick a couple to adopt him or her. He or she is not going into the foster care system. That’s not what it’s designed for. - Jamie L. (foster mother)

There are over 30 couples waiting to adopt for every 1 child that is put up for adoption. Babies generally do not lack homes and do not go into foster care at birth due to lack of a home. - Carissa J.

On adoption:

Adoption isn't a magic wand. It hurts. Your first reaction when someone is facing a crisis pregnancy shouldn't be to pressure them into adoption any more than it should be to pressure them into abortion. Whatever your intent, pressuring pregnant women to do what you think is best is harmful and unsupportive. - Sarah Y.

Adoption is a lot harder than people think. Honoring the birth parents is the right thing to do for the children as well as the birth parents. You can honor the role the birth parents played even if they weren’t great role models. They gave life to your kids, honor that. - Karis J.

Adoption is not a simple alternative to abortion. Many birth parents were instead torn between parenting and adoption, not adoption or abortion. Stop thanking birth moms for choosing life without knowing their story just because you assume the only other option was abortion. - Amber J.
  • Open adoptions are not legally enforceable and have been known to be closed by insecure adoptive parents. [Editor's note: this can vary by state.]
  • Adoption causes trauma to the child and mother and extended family (siblings, grandparents, etc) even if the child is placed with the loveliest family.
  • You will grieve the loss of your child placed for adoption. 
  • There are a lot of organisations that will help you keep your family intact - help you finish school, help you with child care, help with accommodation. Adoption should be the very last resort before all possibilities of parenting the child yourself are explored, because there is much grief in family separation.
This is a good list by Saving Our Sisters - who helps families considering adoption explore all the options and be fully informed of their decision before making the very permanent decision to sign away parental rights to their children: "Facts professionals don't disclose to expectant parents." - Malessa B.

All adoption starts with loss. For the bio parent and for the child. All my kids are adopted so I know this first hand. You have to stop just tossing it around like it's the easiest thing in the world to go through. And if you are an AP or FP [adoptive parent or foster parent] you better be educating yourself on all these issues and more. You owe it to your babies. - Louanne M.

People don’t give away a child. You make a plan for the best life for your kiddo. Sometimes that plan includes other people full time and forever. Open adoption let’s a person be a small part of the plan. No one is disposable. - Jennifer M.

On foster care:

The idea that no one cares about foster kids is a huge misconception. There are people waiting to adopt older kids (not just newborns). Kids in foster care are matched according to their specific needs with adoptive parents. It’s not like when they first come into foster care where their first priority is just finding them a safe place to sleep. A lot of thought goes into ensuring that they get the adoptive match right so that they make sure it’s forever. Kids are waiting, families are waiting, it’s not a simple process. A lot of children in foster care aren’t even legally free for adoption. You don’t just decide to adopt from foster care and pick a kid out of a catalog. - Laura R.

Your politicians taking kids from situations that are objectively better than the foster care system is neither something to be proud of nor justification for killing babies. - Jarland D.

Many children in foster care should not have been taken from their families. Those children suffer as if they had been kidnapped. - Rita G.

Foster kids aren’t in care because they did something wrong. I was shocked that people thought this until we announced we were adopting. I was surprised how often we were asked what was wrong with them. - Emily C.

Like (almost) everything else, the foster care system has many good people with great intentions to love and care for kids. - Karen T.

Being part of a successful family reunification (as a foster parent) is one of the most satisfying things you could ever do. - Lori S.

Birth parents still have legal rights over a child in foster care, so they can’t simply be adopted. - Stephanie R. (This point was echoed by many commenters.)

Foster kids are awaiting the return of family that did not abort and did not give up on them. Typically in treatment or doing time. It’s temporary and they are not up for adoption. - Kelly F.

There aren’t “thousands of abandoned, unwanted and available children” in foster care. The vast majority of children in foster care are there temporarily. One of the major goals of the foster care system is to reunite children with their families. I’m an adoptive mom, in an open adoption. - Louise C.

And lastly...

So many people never mention that they were adopted or spent time in foster care as a child. It just doesn't come up or they don't want to talk about it or might not even know themselves. But pro-choice people talk like no one adopts and no one fosters. As a child my cousin, a neighbor, and then my middle school best friend were adopted. My high school best friend had been in foster. My husband was adopted. These people are everywhere, adoption and fostering touch so many more lives than some people ever notice. - Emilie M.

Monday, February 10, 2020

"Big Money Behind Big Pro-Life" is Big Nonsense

The propagandists at Reproaction have really outdone themselves this time, hilariously arguing that there is "big money" behind "Big Pro-Life." I wish! In reality, the abortion industry massively outspends pro-life advocates. If you'll allow us secular folks the use of a Biblical metaphor, the abortion lobby is Goliath, claiming to be a scrawny shepherd boy for sympathy points.

Reproaction's infographic names ten supposedly "big money" pro-life organizations, with two obviously leading the financial pack by orders of magnitude: Heritage Foundation and Alliance Defending Freedom. This is misleading because Heritage and ADF's budgets are not devoted to ending abortion. Both are multi-issue conservative organizations, spending funds on everything from tax reform to the intersection of academic freedom and exercise of religion. What Reproaction has done here is analogous to citing the ACLU's massive budget to claim that there is big money behind Big Abortion.

Remove Heritage and ADF from the analysis, and the picture changes dramatically: the average revenue of the remaining eight pro-life organizations is a mere $8 million. And while I would personally love to have $8 million, that amount won't get you very far in the land of politics.

For comparison, NARAL Pro-Choice America brought in $14.4 million last year. The Center for Reproductive Rights had revenues of $34 million. And the granddaddy of them all, Planned Parenthood, has an annual income over $1.6 BILLION, with a B, much of it provided by taxpayers who conscientiously object to the dismemberment of human children.

So let's fix that chart, shall we?

And here it is without Planned Parenthood, so we can get a better look at the detail:

Money is not on our side. But the truth is. Despite being the financial underdogs, the pro-life movement presses on year after year, and we will not rest until every unborn child is protected.

In conclusion:
  • Go home, Reproaction, you're drunk. 
  • Stop trying to make "Big Pro-Life" happen. It's not going to happen.
  • Readers, now would be a great time to donate to Secular Pro-Life if you feel so inclined. Thank you.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

How many Democrats are pro-life?

Recently, Democrats for Life President Kristen Day questioned Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg about whether the Democratic Party welcomes pro-life Democrats. She said, in part,
I am a proud pro-life Democrat. Do you want the support of pro-life Democratic voters? There are about 21 million of us.
NARAL President Ilyse Hogue objected to that stat, pointing to a Kaiser poll that found 94% of Democrats think decisions about abortion should be made by women in consultation with their doctors (as opposed to by lawmakers). Hogue said Day's claim of 21M pro-life Dems is "impossible to defend."

It's not really, though.

As has always been the case, polling results regarding abortion heavily depend on the wording of the questions, and no doubt there's room to debate which polls are the most accurate and why. But Day's number isn't pulled from thin air. Dr. Michael New explained succinctly:
  • There are 245 million eligible voters according to the U.S. Census Bureau (see Table 1 here).
  • 33% of voters are Democrats, according to Pew Research Center (number reported as of 1/28/20).
  • 29% of Democrats refer to themselves as "pro-life" according to Gallup.
  • 245,000,000 x 0.33 x 0.29 = 23,446,500 self-identified pro-life Democrats
Still you could reasonably argue that there's a lot of difference between identifying as "pro-life" and wanting abortion to be outlawed. (To think more about what it means to be "pro-life," check out our thought experiment/poll "Who are pro-lifers?" here). How many pro-life Democrats actually want to outlaw abortion?

Well the same Gallup link above found that 14% of Democrats say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances (compared to 39% who say it should be legal under any circumstance). Reworking the math above would get us 11,319,000 Democrats who think abortion should be illegal all the time, making Day's stat seem pretty exaggerated.

But really that number is likely a lower limit, because the vast majority of pro-life people think abortion should be legal "under certain circumstances," e.g. when a woman's life is in danger. Gallup finds that 45% of Democrats take this view and, as has always been the problem with Gallup's wording here, it's difficult to gauge what percent of the legal "under certain circumstances" crowd would be typically considered pro-choice or pro-life. 

In any case more granular polls can give us more info. This poll from The Hill found that 12% of Democrats thought "abortion should be illegal under all circumstances" and another 32% thought "abortion should be legal in limited circumstances such as rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother," giving a total of 45% of Democrats who took pretty strong anti-abortion positions. Working the math above again, that would give us 36,382,500 Democrats who think abortion should be illegal all or almost all the time, making Day's stat seem awfully modest.

We've talked before about how different polls make it seem like the American public takes contradictory stances on abortion, and the same issues apply when we look at Democrats specifically. Even so, we get a range of somewhere between 1 out of 7 and almost 1 out of 2 Democrats who think abortion should be generally illegal. Democrats for Life of America is representing a large portion of the Democratic Party as they face off against increasingly dismissive and hostile party leadership.

Image taken from DFLA FB page.