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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Male abuser gets abortion pills online; vendor shows no remorse


Mother Jones has an article in its April/May issue entitled "She Started Selling Abortion Pills Online. Then the Feds Showed Up."

Quick pause for alternate headlines that more accurately capture the tone of the piece:
  • She Broke The Law. But It Was An Abortion Law, So It Shouldn't Have Counted.
  • Evil Police Fail to Recognize That Brave Abortion Provider is Above the Law. 
  • Abortion Access Uber Alles 
Anyway, moving on. The article is about Ursala Wing, who sold abortion drugs out of her apartment and advertised in the comments section of a blog. This is, unsurprisingly, illegal. As stated in the article, abortion drugs "may be distributed only in a clinical setting by a certified provider" per FDA regulations. 

Ms. Wing did it anyway, because "she needed money to pay legal fees during a protracted custody dispute with her former partner." She didn't see herself as an activist at first, although she was an abortion supporter and had herself terminated the life of one of her children with drugs purchased over the internet before becoming a vendor.

She sold abortion drugs to over 2,000 customers before finally getting caught. And how was she caught? Glad you asked:
An attorney told her that the FDA learned about her business when a Wisconsin man named Jeffrey Smith was arrested in February 2018 for allegedly slipping mifepristone into the drink of a woman who was pregnant with their child. Smith had twice ordered packages from Wing’s site, according to police documents. He has pleaded not guilty to attempted first-degree homicide of an unborn child. Wing is still waiting to be indicted.
If Ms. Wing were actually "pro-choice," actually a feminist, actually cared at all about women, you'd think she would be horrified that her product was used to end a wanted pregnancy against a woman's will. You'd expect, at the very least, some discussion of how online abortion vendors might verify that their customers are actually pregnant. (Kind of like those FDA-certified people verify in a "clinical setting." Gosh, might there be a reason for that requirement?)

But no, of course not.
Among people advocating or providing access to self-managed abortion, there is some tension between those who aim to serve women in need without drawing attention and those who want to stir things up. Wing has found herself unexpectedly in the latter group. She was glad to go on quietly undermining the law, providing pills to customers who came across her website. Now, against her own attorney’s advice, she’s speaking out. “I want some copycats,” she says. “There’s not enough people doing this.”
She wants copycats. She wants more women put at risk. She thinks she's a hero

I hope Ms. Wing is indicted as an accessory to homicide, and soon, before anyone else gets hurt.

P.S.—In October 2017, the ACLU sued the FDA to get rid of the abortion drug restrictions. If the ACLU is successful, abortion will become even more "accessible" to abusive men. The lawsuit is ongoing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Life: A Difficult Choice, but Still the Right Choice


I still remember the day I was sitting on the toilet in the bathroom watching the second blue line on my pregnancy test appear. My heart started racing and the room darkened as if I was about to pass out.

My daughter is the most beautiful person I have ever met. She was unplanned.

I have always had deeply held pro-life beliefs. Abortion never entered my mind as an option. But when I looked at my positive test—I knew the fear of unplanned pregnancy firsthand.

I was scared. Being pregnant was more than a little inconvenient. I was in the middle of law school. I was not married. I also came from a Christian upbringing that valued the notion of no sex before marriage. Worse yet I was a hypocrite who publicly embraced the ideology.

I knew people were going to judge me. I didn’t know if I would be able to finish law school. I didn’t know how my boyfriend (now husband) would react when I told him. How were we going to afford it? We were both living off of student loans and our living arrangement would not allow for a baby.

There were so many uncertainties and fears. I could see how a woman’s mind would wander to abortion. But even with that fear, I had no right nor desire to end my little girl’s life.

I’m sure many who read this will say, “Well that’s your choice. Not everyone has to do the same.”

“Choice.” That word we put up on a high pedestal and worship. We are America after all, land of the free. When it comes down to it though—some choices are inherently wrong. If I were to choose to end my child’s life in order to hide my hypocrisy, to ensure I could continue on my career path, so I wouldn’t suffer financial hardship; I would be committing a serious injustice and assault on another human’s life.

Yes, I know some of you will go on to say it’s not unjust or that she wasn’t alive yet. We as humans are capable of all sorts of mental gymnastics to justify our actions. I had no right to trade in my little girl’s life for the sake of convenience.

Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes there aren’t any easy options and the path ahead is too narrow for comfort. You just need to be strong and make the most of your situation and you may find out it’s better than the dream you envisioned for yourself.

Some may be thinking, “Well you didn’t have it as hard as many other women.” Indeed, I am fortunate to have a strong man by my side and we had loving people who helped us through a challenging start to our little girl’s life. But that’s not the point.

You don’t need to be in the worst situation possible (or even be a woman) to speak up and say abortion should not be a choice. You just need to know that the sacrifice of time and comfort a woman gives for her child is much less than the loss her child faces if she chooses abortion.

Women don’t need abortions. We need acceptance, love, encouragement…we need resources to allow our children to thrive while we still persevere at our personal goals. I was fortunate to find all these things on my journey. I am now a wife, a mom, and an attorney. Nothing brings me as much joy as being a mom.

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

Monday, February 18, 2019

Events This Week


There are three events this week which may be of interest to our readers.

First, tonight, over 100 Students for Life of America chapters are screening the film Gosnell, followed by a live-streamed Q&A. Check the list of schools here to find a screening near you.

Second, on Thursday evening, Equal Rights Institute is putting on a free webinar about "trotting out the toddler" in abortion debates. Register here.

Third, on Friday evening, Boilermakers for Life at Purdue University will host Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard for a free presentation entitled "Keep your ideology off my biology: An atheist's approach to discussing abortion." Details in the facebook event. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Dear Hillary Clinton: late-term abortions are *not* "almost always" medically necessary.

On September 20, 2015, HRC appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation" and stated:
I think that the kind of late-term abortions that take place are because of medical necessity. And, therefore, I would hate to see the government interfering with that decision. 
FactCheck.org took Clinton to task for this claim [emphasis added]:
A spokesman for Clinton’s campaign told us that she meant that many late-term abortions — not all or even most — are because of medical reasons. But that’s not what she said. Her statement left the impression that the majority, if not all, late-term abortions are medically necessary. The available evidence does not support that assertion.
I doubt Clinton actually did mean to say "many" instead of implying "all" or "most." The "always medically necessary" talking point regarding late-term abortions is ubiquitous. Today Clinton repeated the claim, this time even more explicitly:

(Click to enlarge)

I can't really fully blame the average pro-choice person for believing this idea when authoritative figures assert it--and the media repeats their assertions uncritically. Here's a CNN article from just a week or so ago interviewing OB-GYN Dr. Barbara Levy of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Dr. Levy explains that her discussions about "late-term" abortion (a vague term) refer to abortions at 21 weeks or later. She goes on to assert:
Abortions later in pregnancy typically occur because of two general indications: lethal fetal anomalies or threats to the health of the mother.
If Dr. Levy had said something more vague such as "often" or "frequently," we could argue that she isn't trying to infer most or all late-term abortions are for medical reasons. But no, she states "typically," as in these are the representative cases which happen more often than not.

But, as we've said many times over, there is zero data to support this idea. The FactCheck.org article (linked above) summarizes as much, and some of the more nuanced (read: honest) pro-choice people involved will readily agree. In a recent NY Times op-ed, the president for the Center of Health, Ethics, and Social Policy, Frances Kissling, states:


But it's not just that we don't know; it's that we have good reasons to believe it's not true. Guttmacher published a report explaining the common non-medical reasons women seek abortions at 21+ weeks. Arizona data suggest about 80% of their 21+ week abortions aren't for medical reasons. Pro-choice author Will Saletan outlined quite a bit of additional research suggesting women often get later abortions because they simply didn't realize they were pregnant earlier or weren't sure earlier that they wanted an abortion.

Every single time someone tells me that most or all late-term abortions are medically necessary, I ask for a citation. So far there have been zero. Heartbreaking anecdotes, yes. Data that would justify a quantifiable claim? No. Not ever.

But most people will keep believing it because (1) ACOG representatives and powerful politicians keep saying it and (2) it's what people would really rather believe anyway. The average pro-choice person doesn't want to face the fact that highly developed fetuses are being killed for non-medical reasons. That reality is just too uncomfortable.

If you do have data showing most 21+ week abortions are for medical necessity, please email us at info@secularprolife.org.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Comfortable pro-choice people: can we just not talk about the "killing babies" part?

Recently the FB group Defund Live Action posted this:


I can see an argument for avoiding the word "baby" while discussing abortion, but this post is more like "Can we just not discuss the other organism involved in this controversy at all? Can we please only use the euphemisms that keep me comfortable?" This kind of clingy vision tunnel version of pro-choice thought inspired the speech I did a couple weeks ago about "the comfortable pro-choice people."

Not all pro-choice people do this. Plenty will own the fact that abortion kills humans and move to discussions of bodily rights or more nuanced discussions of fetal personhood. In particular, abortion providers don't have the luxury of the above meme's ridiculous dishonesty. They have to actually work with the blood and body parts. A couple months ago I came across the 2017 paper "Dangertalk: Voices of abortion providers." One of the central themes of the piece was the chasm between pro-choice rhetoric and abortion provider experiences. Providers often feel they can't be honest about their experiences or various emotions about their work because it would undermine the pro-choice narrative. But when they are free to be blunt, as in this piece, many (not all) providers talk quite frankly about how abortion absolutely is killing. Excerpts:

(click to enlarge)

From my perspective, elements of the pro-choice side are trying harder all the time to re-frame abortion away from any discussion of fetal death and on to the woman and only the woman. I don't believe that strategy will ever really succeed, because they can't change the reality that human organisms are destroyed in abortion--that's the point of abortion. We've seen that in recent arguments about late-term abortion, where some abortion rights advocates argue women should have the right to destroy even healthy, viable fetuses for no medical reason (see #7 in 8 common pro-choice claims about late-term abortion). As Kelsey put it in her recent NY Daily News op-ed:
These policies do not vindicate a woman’s right to bodily autonomy. They vindicate a right to a dead baby.
Those who insist abortion has nothing to do with killing are kidding themselves. And every time they do, it underscores to me how difficult it must be for most people to be pro-choice with eyes wide open.

Students for Life of America launches action arm

Above: SFLA staffer Tina Whittington speaks at #ResistInfanticide rally in Richmond, VA

For years, Students for Life of America (SFLA) has organized students and young people to promote the rights of children in the womb. Its many activities—which I can only begin to list here, but include educational displays, speakers, rallies, direct aid to pregnant and parenting students, and much more—have all taken place under a 501(c)3 umbrella, limiting SFLA's ability to act on legislation.

That's changing with the recent launch of Students for Life Action, which is organized under section 501(c)4 of the tax code. As the Houston Chronicle explains:
IRS regulations prohibit 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations from engaging in most political and legislative activities. A (c)(3) nonprofit may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates. It may engage in certain nonpartisan educational and participation activities, such as sponsoring debates and voter registration campaigns. In contrast, IRS regulations allow a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization to engage in some political and legislative activities. It may lobby for legislation essential to its social welfare mission.
Students for Life Action's first order of business is to lobby against extreme legislation, like that introduced in New York and Virginia, that would permit third-trimester abortions and in some cases imperil babies who are born alive after an attempted abortion.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

How #ShoutYourAbortion Changed My Mind


I was raised pro-life. My parents were so passionate about the cause, in fact, that when my four brothers and I got old enough to drive, any new car had to be fitted with a pro-life bumper sticker or it wasn’t allowed on their property. All through childhood, I never questioned this idea. It seemed self-evident that everyone should have the right to not be killed—most especially helpless babies. The notion that the tiniest and most helpless among us should prove the single exception seemed absurd.

In my late teens, though, I started doubting the faith I was raised with and subsequently, the value structures it carried—including the supposed implicit value of the unborn life. The pro-life stance, like many other views I’d inherited, was not as simple as I’d thought. Through experiences of my friends and also articles written about the plights of women across the globe, I learned to stop condemning women in desperate circumstances. They already had plenty of that. What these women needed was compassion. No one wanted an abortion, I realized. Some situations simply have no good solution. I decided that the way forward was through helping people make the decisions they deem best for themselves, not by foisting my own moral code onto their backs. For over ten years, even after having two kids of my own, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind: the pro-choice movement was on the right side of history.

Then #ShoutYourAbortion happened.

The internet flooded over with stories, not of downtrodden women facing impossible circumstances, but of regular women, just like me, killing the growing embryos/fetuses inside them because they just didn’t feel like being pregnant. At first, I assumed these stories were made up—that they were actually pro-life radicals masquerading as post-abortive women, to make the pro-choice camp appear to be fueled by vacuous narcissism rather than high-minded ideals.

I pored over story after story told by women in my own demographic who got pregnant, sometimes through birth control failure, sometimes because birth control had seemed too big a bother at the time. There were a few stories I would have expected to see: people in dire straits with no easy “right” solution. Far more common, though, were stories with the same punchline: abortion—for anyone and for any reason—is simply a part of women’s healthcare. Specific reasons were incidental. The incidental nature of reasons actually seemed to be the point.

According to the new narrative being shaped, the very notion that people should have to justify their choice was problematic because it suggested that the fetus, itself, mattered in some way. In fact, terms like fetus or embryo weren’t even used (probably because they suggest a being, however primitive, existing beyond the mother). Almost exclusively, the human embryo or fetus was referred to as simply “the pregnancy.” A very clever linguistic turn, especially if you believe, as I do, that our ability to think is restricted by the words we use.

It seemed the pro-choice movement had officially moved on from mantras like “safe, legal, and rare.” If abortion is a humane service (so went the new argument), why on earth should it be rare? My side—the side which recognized that sometimes the best solution available is the least-bad of a host of terrible ones—had abandoned all pretense of engaging with the harsh ambiguities of life. Now, abortion was just good. Full stop.

I’d thought #ShoutYourAbortion would alienate other pro-choice people, but no one else seemed fazed. I started to wonder whether the pro-choice side had actually moved at all. Maybe they just finally felt free to express their views openly. Maybe I was just one of a handful of naive people on the pro-choice side who’d actually believed the earlier, feel-good narrative. Maybe, for all my belief that I was on the side of compassion and justice, all I’d really been was the pawn of an ideology which left no room for conviction that our lives have any inherent value.

For the first time, I felt utterly unqualified to make any definitive claims on the subject of abortion. Yet I needed to. In some way that I couldn’t understand, I knew this specific culture clash was rooted in something bigger.

I had to start somewhere, and I figured looking at my local culture (I live in the United States) was as good a place as any. From its inception, this country was united by a novel concept based around the ideas of John Locke: that all of mankind was created equal—that everyone had the right to their own life and destiny—because among equals, no one can rightfully render the life or will of another subservient to their own. We were never united by any specific belief system, but the dogged belief that the individual transcends even belief systems.

It sounds pretty great, but of course, it was never actually put into practice. From the genocide of Native American populations (obvious to any non-frontiersman), to the manifest injustice of slavery (obvious to any non-slaveholder), and countless other stains on our national conscience, we keep falling into the same trap over and over again.

I’d thought that people just couldn’t allow themselves to see human rights violations when their own livelihoods depended upon those violations. But the problem was so much more insidious than that. I don’t think it’s actually that hard for most of us, when directly faced with own hypocrisy, to admit that what we’re doing is wrong. What we can’t confront is the structural injustices our own tribe depends upon.

This is the difference between taking a good hard look in the mirror, versus walking up to your neighbor, brother, sister, your closest of friends, holding up this mirror to them, and saying: “Look! This is what you really are. You, who’ve brought me soup and bread every time my family fell on hard times, were only in a position to share your wealth because you’re propped up by the labor of your slaves!” Or “Son! You think you’re out there, on the edge of the frontier, risking your life to protect your family from savages, but let me tell you the truth! Those are innocent people—people just like you and me—and they were here first! They’re just defending themselves and what it rightfully theirs! You, son, are no hero. You are the savage.” How could any parent say this? Especially if they had already lost another son, as many had, in the service of that same cause?

Here is the dark, seedy underbelly of the beautiful, loyal, deeply social nature of the human psyche. Before anything, even our most sacred beliefs, come those people we love. Condemning them goes against our very deepest intuitions. This is how injustice to the Other is propagated again and again and again. Because, while our most cherished doctrines teach us that all humans are people with inalienable rights, our hearts only bind us to some of them. Our love for some effectively blinds us to existential reality of others. And there are very good reasons for this. But when this trait is exploited and deployed on a societal scale, the effects are disastrous.

This is at the heart of liberal Americans’ support of abortion rights for women. How could we acknowledge that many of our close friends killed their own children in the name of convenience? Only a monster could kill their own child. And our friends have proven themselves to be good, kind people. People who have been there for us when we needed them. How could we ever acknowledge a truth which would render them monsters—when we know, on as deep a level as we know anything, that our friends are not monsters?

And so they did not kill their child, we say. And they do not ever wish to do such a thing. What they want is simply control over their own body. We shove our cognitive dissonance down, telling ourselves stories of how a pregnancy involves only the woman—that even if there is some other human involved, that it doesn’t count. We say that it’s okay because in their early stages, humans almost certainly can’t experience much—not even pain. Yet we’re simultaneously outraged over the idea that killing a human in any other circumstance could be justified if only it was painless. We tell ourselves that the embryo or fetus has nowhere near the developmental capacity which renders human beings special, furiously stamping down the realization that this argument equally justifies infanticide.

I find myself more and more convinced that this is not a religious issue, and that it never really was. No mainstream religion has ever solved the myriad conflicts of interest that arise from people pursuing conflicting goals, or people who want to use other people as mere tools for their own end, or people who don’t want to be shackled to the tiny human who (for at least a little while) can’t survive without them. I know that people see this as a religious issue. But why? Why should it be necessary to believe each of us possesses a soul in order to oppose abortion?

If anything, belief in the soul acts as consolation in the case of abortion. If there is no immortal soul, whenever someone’s life is stripped away, this loss is permanent. All the potential of a unique, singular human being gets snuffed out—not merely relegated to place beyond this world—but finally, utterly, destroyed. I can’t imagine any moral weight heavier than that. 

I think no one else in the pro-choice camp was bothered by the #ShoutYourAbortion movement because, subconsciously, they’d long ago realized the only sustainable way to support abortion on demand is to assume there’s no person being obliterated. No person, no loss. Just a woman and her uterus. Once people have taken that idea firmly onboard, of course, of course, this new movement couldn’t be seen as horrific.

What is required here is imagination. The ability to honestly face conflicts of interest for what they are. The ability to say to our friend who finds herself tied to a human of her own (possibly unwitting) creation, “I am here with you. You are strong enough to do this.” We do not need to feel love toward the unborn, or anyone else who is being “othered” in order to defend their right to not be killed. All we need is to recognize that, intrinsic to their being, is the potential to love and be loved—that no one, not even those we love most, has a monopoly on that.

We must figure out a way, as a society, for all of us to finally count as people. It’s a hell of a thing to ask of ourselves; anyone who thinks otherwise hasn’t thought enough. But I believe we’re capable of creating such a reality. I don’t know the precise path that will get us there. But I do know this: seeing ourselves as a potential force for good—and recognizing this potential also lives inside the youngest of us—will get us a hell of a lot farther than, say, shouting our abortions.

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

Monday, February 4, 2019

Retraction: The terrifying trend of "telemed" abortion.

Hello readers,

This morning we published a guest blog about telemed abortion claiming it is a particularly dangerous practice. After push back from FB and blog commenters alike, we took a closer look and agree the post is off-base, so we have unpublished it. In the interest of transparency I'm posting this replacement note in case you came to the blog looking for that post. We should have vetted the post more carefully, and we apologize for the misleading information.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Take heart, the pro-life side is doing well.

I know it's been a frustrating couple weeks with NY, VA, and the many conversations that have ensued. But big picture, guys:

1) Abortion rates continue to decline. They peaked at 29.3 abortions per 1,000 women in 1980; in 2014 it was 14.6.

2) Abortion clinics continue to close every year.

>>The number of U.S. abortion clinics or medical facilities that perform more than 400 abortions annually, peaked in the late 1980s at 705. By 2011, 553 remained. The clinics have been closing at a record pace, according to a new Bloomberg analysis: One-hundred-sixty-two have closed since 2011, while 22 have opened.<<

3) More women are carrying unplanned pregnancies to term.

>>In 1981, 54 percent of unintended pregnancies resulted in an abortion. By 2011 that figure had fallen to 42 percent. Additionally, preliminary analysis of more recent data indicates that percentage has continued to fall during the past several years.<<

4) Over the last few decades, significantly more people consider themselves pro-life (see Gallup), and that trend is holding fast even as the public veers more left-wing on other issues (e.g. LGBT issues, drug legalization).

So take heart, people. Never give up, never surrender!