Monday, May 2, 2016

Book Review: The Walls are Talking

As we wrote last month, The Walls are Talking is an anthology of stories from former abortion workers, compiled by Abby Johnson of And Then There Were None.

Many of the abortion workers featured in this anthology had religious conversions alongside their ethical ones, and cannot help but insert thanks to God or biblical references. It was distracting for me as a secular reader, but of course they have the right to tell their own stories as they see fit.

I urge you to read The Walls are Talking anyway.

Be warned that it is not an easy read. Abortion workers describe the horrific details of late-term abortions, abortions as birth control, dealing with fetal remains, and exploitation of women and girls that will make your heart break. But we need to know what we are dealing with.

For me, the most impactful stories were the ones about abortion complications. Years ago, when we launched, we advertised it with this graphic:

I had no idea how true that was. From reading The Walls are Talking, it becomes abundantly clear that abortion complications are under-reported. In fact, the victims themselves may not know that they came close to death.

This had never even occurred to me. It's not the sort of thing you could get away with easily at a hospital, where dozens of people touch any given patient file. But at a small, independent abortion business, it's possible to cover up malpractice, and abortion workers have every incentive to do so.

The story that hit me strongest was one of a girl whose father waited in the lobby while she underwent the procedure. The girl, under sedation, had no idea that she was hemorrhaging and that the workers were scrambling to get the bleeding under control (without transporting her to a hospital, of course; that would attract attention). Her father grew concerned as the hours ticked by. The abortion worker—who now deeply regrets her involvement—went to the lobby:
I swallowed hard and masked my own fear with a smile that I prayed didn't come across as forced. "Sir," I started, careful to keep my words from rushing out in a torrent, "I'm so sorry for the delay. We had a procedure that was a bit more complicated than we anticipated, so we really got backed up. We are trying out best to get caught up now."
Technically, every word of the statement to the father was true. She just didn't mention that the "complicated" procedure was his daughter's procedure.

I think the phrase I'm looking for is "deceptively edited."

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Scientists discover "flash of light" at conception, immediately use it to decide which embryos to kill

A Telegraph article and accompanying video, published yesterday, has quickly gone viral among the pro-life community. The headline: "Bright flash of light marks incredible moment life begins when sperm meets egg." The article states:
The bright flash occurs because when sperm enters and egg it triggers calcium to increase which releases zinc from the egg. As the zinc shoots out, it binds to small molecules which emit a fluorescence which can be picked up my camera microscopes.

To be clear, the headline is a little deceptive. Buried toward the end of the article is this statement: "In the experiment, scientists use sperm enzyme rather than actual sperm to show what happens at the moment of conception." Obviously, sperm enzymes aren't enough to fertilize an egg and create a new human being. So the flickers of light you see in the video aren't actually the first moments of nine people's lives. It just looks the same. (From a pro-life perspective, that's a good thing; this was a "basic science" study rather than an attempt to help infertile parents, so if actual embryos had been created, they probably would have been destroyed.)

Even so, I get why pro-life groups are sharing this, because it is very, very cool. And the article is refreshingly clear about conception being the point where life begins. There is no obfuscation. The very first line of the article is "Human life begins in bright flash of light as a sperm meets an egg, scientists have shown for the first time, after capturing the astonishing ‘fireworks’ on film."

Which is why the rest of the article is so incredibly disturbing.
Not only is it an incredible spectacle, highlighting the very moment that a new life begins, the size of the flash can be used to determine the quality of the fertilised egg.
Researchers from Northwestern University, in Chicago, noticed that some of the eggs burn brighter than others, showing that they are more likely to produce a healthy baby.
The embryos that flash brightest are supposedly the healthiest, while the dimmer-flashing embryos are presumed defective.
"This means if you can look at the zinc spark at the time of fertilization, you will know immediately which eggs are the good ones to transfer in in vitro fertilization. It’s a way of sorting egg quality in a way we’ve never been able to assess before."
That's right, kids. After a brief moment of awe at the marvel of human life, researchers quickly moved on to figuring out which embryos should have a chance to live and which should be summarily destroyed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Recap: Life/Peace/Justice Conference 2016

Secular Pro-Life spent last weekend at Villanova University for the Life/Peace/Justice Conference. It brought together whole life activists working in all areas: saving lives from abortion, abolishing the death penalty, combating poverty, preventing suicides, and so much more. It was an incredible gathering. Check out photos here.

Conference attendees of various faith backgrounds at the "infidelicious" Sunday morning breakfast sponsored by SPL
SPL president Kelsey Hazzard addressed a pack room for a breakout session entitled "How to Lose a Pro-Life Secularist in 10 Days: Things We Do to Push Away Pro-Life Atheists & How to Win Them Back." And we recorded it for you:

Your next chance to see us is at the Pro-Life Women's Conference in Dallas, June 24-26. Kelsey will speak on pro-life apologetics, and SPL will once again host a Sunday morning breakfast as an alternative to church services. We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Imprecise Language Used by Pro-Life Advocates

Some tools typically used in a D & C
[Today's guest post by Clinton Wilcox is part of our paid blogging program.]

Something I've noticed for quite a while is that well-meaning pro-life people tend to ignore any sense of nuance in the abortion discussion. This can lead to the appearance that the pro-life person holds an extremist view, even when the person doesn't.

An encounter I had recently underscored this problem and, I think, really helps show why pro-life people need to be careful with their words and with their definitions. Whether you mean to or not, refusing to add nuance to your discussions and refusing to be careful with definitions can be harmful to other people, even to other pro-life people.

I was with Justice for All at Fresno State a few weeks ago where I was approached by a woman I'll call Deanna. She had had three miscarriages, and for her first two miscarriages, the child's remains were expelled from the womb without any medical intervention. But in her third miscarriage, she couldn't leave the remains inside because it would cause a life-threatening infection. So the doctor performed a D&C to remove the child's dead body.

D & C stands for "dilation and curretage." During a D & C, a cannula is inserted into the uterus attached to a suction tube and the contents of the uterus are sucked out. D & C can be done for a number of reasons, including diagnostic testing in women who are not pregnant, and miscarriage treatment as in Deanna's case. But when the uterus contains a living unborn child, D & C is a common first-trimester abortion procedure.

Her son, who is apparently college age because he was studying to become a doctor, accused her of doing something wrong by having the procedure done. To him, pro-life people are supposed to oppose all abortions, so it was wrong for his mom to have the D & C procedure done.

The problem with her son's thinking should be glaringly apparent.

She sought my advice on what to tell her son about the D&C. I assured her that she didn't do anything wrong. When Deanna had the procedure done, the child was already dead. "Choosing life" was an impossibility. She was having the procedure done to avoid an unnecessary risk to her own life. There was nothing remotely morally problematic with what she did.

Why did this even become an issue? Because there are multiple definitions of the word "abortion." Within the medical community, any end to a pregnancy other than birth is called an abortion. What laypeople call miscarriages, doctors call spontaneous abortions. And what laypeople call abortions, doctors call induced abortions.

Deanna's son apparently thought that pro-life people are supposed to oppose all abortions, but this is not the case. An "abortion" to remove a dead baby's remains from the mother's uterus is not morally problematic, so that's an "abortion" that pro-life people can be okay with—if you even want to call it an abortion at all.

When we have our discussions on abortion, let's seek to add clarity to them by realizing that words often have multiple meanings. If we're not careful with our definitions, we stand a good chance of being misunderstood, even by those we are trying to help.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Pro-Life T-Shirt Day is this Friday

National Pro-Life T-Shirt Day is held every spring, and this year, it will be on Friday, April 22. Although Secular Pro-Life is not an official co-sponsor, we definitely encourage you to participate!

If you don't have a pro-life t-shirt, you can buy an official 2016 NPLTD shirt here for just $10. More fun designs are available at the Secular Pro-Life Zazzle store, which gives us a percentage of the proceeds.

Also on Friday, you'll find Secular Pro-Life representatives at the Life/Peace/Justice Conference VIP dinner in Philadelphia. The dinner benefits a local maternity home, and the featured speaker is former abortion worker Jewels Green. We'd love to see you there (in your pro-life t-shirt)!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Pro-Life Californians call for the Resignation of Kamala Harris

Pro-life residents in the state of California are calling for the resignation of California Attorney General Kamala Harris after Harris initiated a raid on the home of the Director of the Center for Medical Progress, David Daleiden. The seized belongings included Daleiden's laptop and hard drives containing video footage collected during the three years he spent undercover, investigating Planned Parenthood’s involvement in the sale of fetal body parts. It's almost impossible not to believe that it was the reported $81,000 Harris received in donations from Planned Parenthood that sparked her move to raid Daleiden’s home. Harris is currently running for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

On April 6th 2016 David Daleiden released this statement:

“Today, the California Attorney General’s office of Kamala Harris, who was elected with tens of thousands of dollars from taxpayer-funded Planned Parenthood, seized all video footage showing Planned Parenthood’s criminal trade in aborted baby parts, in addition to my personal information. Ironically, while seizing my First Amendment work product, they ignored documents showing the illicit scheme between StemExpress and Planned Parenthood. This is no surprise–Planned Parenthood’s bought-and-paid-for AG has steadfastly refused to enforce the law against the baby body parts traffickers in our state, or even investigate them–while at the same time doing their bidding to harass and intimidate citizen journalists. We will pursue all remedies to vindicate our First Amendment rights”.

In response to this outrageous overreach in government authority and obvious misuse of position, California residents staged a protest on Wednesday, calling for the resignation of AG Harris on the grounds of political corruption, and using the hashtag #KorruptKamala to support the campaign on social media platforms.

When addressing a crowd at the state’s capital in Sacramento, Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America said:

“California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who sent agents to raid the home of a citizen journalist who exposed Planned Parenthood’s practices of harvesting and selling the body parts of aborted babies, is using her Senate campaign website to advocate for the abortion giant, promoting a petition to defend Planned Parenthood. Ms. Harris is engaging in exceptionally corrupt behavior, using her office as AG to aide a staunch supporter of her campaign. This is exactly the kind of puppeteering and blatant conflict of interest that the American public is sick and tired of. Ms. Harris should immediately resign her position as the California Attorney General.”

On Thursday, Daleiden accused the DA's office of illegally colluding with planned parenthood, in court documents, and is seeking to dismiss his current charge of falsifying records (using a fake I.D.).

Prosecutors are offering pretrial diversion, which is essentially a probation period, to Daleiden and Sandra Susan Merritt who is facing similar charges.

You would basically have to be living under a rock not to have noticed that there are growing concerns about political corruption throughout the United States. A recent Gallup poll revealed that three in four Americans (75%) acknowledged that corruption was widespread throughout the U.S. government. It also found that over the last 10 years, this opinion has increased from just 66% in 2009.

Kamala Harris has not done anything to inspire trust in her pro-life constituency, and has clearly demonstrated her willingness to compromise the integrity of the Attorney General's office. We stand together with pro-life Californians and continue to remain steadfast in our stance against the victimization of the unborn, and corruption within our democratic system.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What would a "non-political" movie about abortion look like?

Elle magazine recently published an interview with filmmaker Tracy Droz Tragos, whose documentary Abortion: Stories Women Tell premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival later this month. The Elle article is entitled: "Is This the First Non-Political Movie About Abortion?"

I don't have access to the film, of course, but my sneaking suspicion is that the answer is no.

The project does sound intriguing. Tragos supports abortion; she says that one of her goals for the film is to offer an "intimate look" at why women "need" abortions. But to her credit, she includes pro-life women in the documentary, and tells Elle that her pro-life subjects demonstrated "compassion. I don't think these are unfeeling people. They're not coming at this from an evil place."

So there is some attempt at balance. It might not be a pro-choice movie, necessarily. But that doesn't mean it isn't a political movie.

The fact that the only people deemed worthy of an interview are women of reproductive age—women who could have abortions, even though some would refuse—is highly political. It implies that abortion affects only one person. Thus this introduction from the Elle piece:
[D]ocumentarian Tracy Droz Tragos wonders whether we've really listened to the people whose opinions matter most.
"It's always women that I want to give voice to—women who are affected," Tragos told me last week. "For me, that's the bottom line."
Would Tragos consider Melissa Ohden and Gianna Jessen to be women affected by abortion policy? They were both born alive after "failed" saline abortions.

What about male abortion survivors? What about fathers of aborted children? What about people (of whatever gender) who are alive today because pro-life advocates helped their mothers during pregnancy? Just to name a few.

Of course, a documentary providing voices to all of these categories of people would have an implicit message of its own: namely, that abortion has a wide-ranging effect on society that goes beyond pregnant women. That's at odds with the belief that abortion is merely a personal decision, so a pro-choice viewer would likely object to my framing as "political," just as I object to Tragos' framing.

Perhaps the reason we still await the first non-political movie about abortion is because such a movie is impossible.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Another win for pro-life free speech rights

In February, we reported that Created Equal had launched Project Weak Link, a petition effort calling upon Stericycle to cease doing business with Planned Parenthood. Stericycle is a medical waste disposal company. In addition to its legitimate business, Stericycle unfortunately contracts with abortionists. Planned Parenthood centers rely upon Stericycle to, quite literally, get rid of the bodies.

Supplementing the petition effort, Created Equal began distributing flyers in Lake Forest, IL, where Stericycle is headquartered. Stericycle was none too pleased and sued, seeking a restraining order to censor Created Equal. The hearing was held yesterday.

Created Equal argued that Organization for a Better Austin v. Keefe was dispositive.  In Keefe, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a "blockbusting" real estate broker could not use the courts to silence critics of his racist business practices. The protestors' First Amendment rights were paramount. For the same reasons, Created Equal argued, Stericycle's proposed restraining order would be unlawful.

The court agreed. Celebrating the win, Created Equal director Mark Harrington said in a press release:
We will not be bullied into silence. This lawsuit confirms that Stericycle is more interested in doing the dirty work for Planned Parenthood than protecting their image as a respectable waste disposal company. Further public exposure of their sloppy and unethical business practices in a lawsuit is far more damaging to Stericycle's image than ceasing to dispose of aborted babies for Planned Parenthood. If Stericycle is really concerned about their image, they need to cease transporting and disposing of aborted babies for Planned Parenthood. The campaign continues.
Keep up the good fight, Mark!

This is just the latest in a long pattern of censorship attempts from the abortion lobby. You can read about more examples here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and I could go on.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Abortion advocates' plans for the Supreme Court

The Atlantic has put together a wish list for a liberal Supreme Court, and the top priority is no surprise:
Most obviously, Roe v. Wade and the right to abortion would be secure. State laws imposing restrictions on abortions would be far less likely to be upheld. Since 2010, states have adopted about 290 laws limiting access to abortion. These statutes impose regulations on abortion providers, prohibit abortions earlier and earlier in pregnancy, restrict the use of insurance to pay for abortions, limit medicine to induce abortions, and create many other restrictions. These laws likely would not survive review in a Court dominated by Democratic appointees.
There is no right to abortion, of course. The Roe Court made it up, ignoring the right to life that actually is mentioned in the Constitution. Roe didn't create a right to abortion any more than Plessy v. Ferguson created a right to operate a segregated bus system.

Now, abortion activists want to compound the error and invent a right to unsafe abortion—committed by doctors (or perhaps not) with no admitting privileges, in facilities with hallways too narrow for a stretcher—through all nine months of pregnancy, paid for by taxpayers.

And there are reasons to believe that nominee Merrick Garland would sign on to this extreme agenda. Although Judge Garland has never had occasion to rule on an abortion case, President Obama surely would not nominate someone who didn't pass his abortion litmus test. More disturbingly, Senator Chuck Grassley, who is chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had this to say last week:
A major reason the confirmation process has become more divisive is that some of the Justices are voting too often based on politics and not on law. If they’re going to be political actors after they’re confirmed, then the confirmation process necessarily will reflect that dynamic.
For instance, just last week, after one of my Democrat colleagues met with Judge Garland, this Senator said, after discussing issues like “reproductive rights,” “I actually feel quite confident that he is deserving of my support.”
Obviously, I don’t know what they discussed during that meeting, or what Judge Garland said about “reproductive rights.” And to be clear, I’m not suggesting anything inappropriate was discussed.
My point is this: if Justices stuck to the constitutional text, and didn’t base decisions on their own policy preferences, or what’s in their “heart”, or on “empathy” for a particular litigant, then Senators wouldn’t deem it necessary to understand whether the nominee supports “reproductive rights.”
With this in mind, is it any wonder the public believes the court is political?
Also on The Atlantic's wish list: abolition of the death penalty. Or so they say. Obviously, they only want to abolish the death penalty for individuals convicted of murder. Executing someone for the non-crime of being conceived at an inconvenient time, they call "abortion rights." Hypocrisy at its finest.*

*I say this as a death penalty opponent myself (although I'll freely admit that the Constitution allows it; we need to end the death penalty through legislation, not through the courts).