Monday, August 19, 2019

Baby Chris is 21 Weeks Old

[This is part 22 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

21 weeks after fertilization (23 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is almost a foot long and weighs one pound: the size of a large mango. According to the Endowment for Human Development, "[t]he structure of the fetal gastrointestinal tract has developed to approximate that of the newborn although full function is still weeks away."

Neurological development continues, with the two hemispheres of the brain showing distinct differences. And while there is no way to test whether babies dream or what they dream about, Baby Chris does exhibit the rapid eye movement (REM) typically associated with dreaming.

Download the free "See Baby" app to learn more about life in the womb!

Image description: Depictions of a 21-week-old unborn baby via the Endowment for Human Development. On the left, a diagram measures the baby in inches and millimeters. On the right, a 3D ultrasound shows the baby smiling, with eyes closed. The umbilical cord is visible across the baby's chest and neck.

Friday, August 16, 2019

In 3 Weeks: Let There Be Life Conference

Terrisa Bukovinac here. In addition to my work with Secular Pro-Life, helping to create an inclusive space for non-religious pro-lifers, many of you know that I also run Pro-Life San Francisco, a Millennial-led grassroots activist organization.

We are hosting a follow-up to last year’s groundbreaking Let There Be Life Conference with the 2019 version on September 6 and 7! It will once again be hosted at the prestigious University of California, Berkeley—home of the free speech movement. This event is intended to unite Californians from across the political, religious, age, and ideological spectrum for pro-life activism in our local communities. You will be inspired and equipped to make an impact! Also, there will be food and chocolate. Vegan options galore.

From my perspective, California is the most important state in America on this issue. We are the late-term abortion training capital of the world, home to Big Tech censorship, Pelosi, Feinstein, Harris, and home to the four Planned Parenthood affiliates selling baby body parts. California culture and politics shape progressive policy and thought across the globe.

California is also a place where revolutions are born, and I don’t think we can end abortion without one. As people who find purpose in pro-life work, we can come together to become activists by confronting the system to bring about justice for the most vulnerable among us. This year’s theme is the Hero’s Journey: Facing our fears, overcoming obstacles and discovering our personal worth to make a new path for California and to build a culture of life for all. Join us! All are welcome!

Friday 9/6 San Francisco 11 am: Secret Action-location TBA!!! This event is FREE

Saturday 9/7 UC Berkeley, Pauley Ballroom 8:30am-5pm: All your favorite speakers and exhibitors!!! Check out this line up!
Father Frank Pavone, Priests for Life
Terrisa Bukovinac, Pro-Life San Francisco
Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, New Wave Feminists
Catherine Glenn Foster, Americans United For Life
Walter Hoye, Issues4Life Foundation
Eric Cochran, Pro-Life San Francisco
Albany Rose, Post-Abortive Pro-Life
Herb Geraghty, Rehumanize International
Dr. Michael New, Charlotte Lozier Institute
Wynette Sills, Californians for Life
Robert Byrd, Pro-Life San Francisco
Jeff White, Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust
 Jazzi Milton, Pro-Life San Francisco
Elijah Thompson, Dank Pro-Life Memes
Bryan Kemper, Stand True/Priests for Life

Tickets: Early Bird Pricing!! Cost goes up $5 after 8/17!!!
$50 - Adults
$30 - Students and those under 18
FREE - 12 and under

Saturday 9/7 Berkeley, CA, Location TBA 7:30-10pm: Film Festival Hosted by Jason Jones. We will be screening Sing a Little Louder and Crescendo! He will also pitch his newest project. It is not to be missed! Free entry with conference ticket

Monday, August 12, 2019

Baby Chris is 20 Weeks Old

[This is part 21 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

20 weeks after fertilization (22 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 11 inches long and weighs 15 ounces; he or she is the size of a spaghetti squash. Baby Chris's cochlea is now fully developed, allowing him or her to hear the mother's heartbeat and other sounds.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 1.3% of abortions in the United States take place at 21 weeks LMP or later. With nearly a million abortions every year (although that number is thankfully declining), we can estimate that approximately 13,000 American children Baby Chris's age or older are killed in abortions annually. For context, 13,000 people would fill a small college football stadium.

For more information on Baby Chris's journey from conception to birth, download the free "See Baby" app.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Students for Life of America Annual Conference Announces Major Changes

Students for Life of America (SFLA) recently announced significant changes to its annual conference, which is held every year in the D.C. area after the March for Life. For starters, it is no longer the Student for Life of America annual conference; it has been rebranded as the National Pro-Life Summit, with SFLA as just one of four host organizations. This partnership will allow the conference to take place at the Marriott Marquis in the heart of our nation's capitol. (For the last several years, it's been held in Maryland as a cost-saving measure). And while the Summit will continue to have student-focused content, it will also be geared toward graduates.

This year's theme is "History Maker: Casting a Vision for a Post-Roe America." Wisely recognizing that the reversal of Roe will not be the end of the fight, the conference offers workshops in five critical tracks: "Leadership," "Changing Minds," "Bioethics and Battles Ahead," "Empowering Women," and "Winning Strategies." Attendees will learn how to achieve a lasting victory and preserve the right to life for generations to come.

The Event Formerly Known as the SFLA Conference will take place on Saturday, January 25, 2020. For the eleventh consecutive year, Secular Pro-Life will have an exhibit booth. Interacting with college-age activists is so important; today's young adults are the least religious generation in American history, and they must be equipped to make the secular case against abortion if the pro-life movement is to have any chance of success. The connections we make at these conferences reverberate, leading to campus speaking engagements, media coverage, and other opportunities to spread the message.

The cost of an exhibit booth is $2500. If you are able to contribute toward this expense, your generosity would be greatly appreciated. You can donate online here. Thank you!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Recap: SPL at the Democrats for Life of America Conference

Many of our followers know by now that SPL is run by three atheist women: Monica the conservative, Kelsey the independent, and me (Terrisa), the flaming liberal. Naturally, when Democrats for Life of America cleverly sought out a secular speaker for their national conference in Lansing, Michigan, I was happy to fulfill the role!

I work full-time in the pro-life movement and have been to countless pro-life conferences. The first thing that is noticeably different about the DFLA National Conference is just how much resistance it inspires from pro-choice groups. This year, a local groups took out three (yes three!) expensive billboards with the MSU specific message “Go Green, Go White, Go Home Dems for Life!'' Little did they know that DFLA Executive Director, Kristen Day, is MSU alumna! In addition, they dropped off flyers at the conference venue in the days leading up to the event. Similarly, last year at the 2018 conference in Denver, Colorado, a billboard was taken out exalting that “Abortion access is a Progressive Value” and NARAL hosted a press conference outside the venue to address the event!

I find these efforts kind of shocking considering what a relatively small pro-life effort we are. I’ve rarely if ever encountered anything similar at a more traditionally conservative event. Pro-life Dems are often referred to as unicorns, like we’re so rare were a myth. But it’s this effort to counter us that reminds me: Democrats who want to see abortion more restricted than it is today-contrary to the party platform-are actually in the majority. The abortion industry almost exclusively maintains political power through the financial relationship they have with our party. Pro-life Dems pose a unique threat to the future of that relationship.

The conference was lively, fun, diverse, and welcoming. Sure, it skewed a little older and more religious, but the topics and speakers were timely and engaged with topics relevant to us left-leaning types like protecting the life and dignity of immigrants, those who are incarcerated, death row inmates, the LGBT community, enemy combatants, and so much more. It’s pretty cool to be in a room full of people who align so closely in ideology to your own. Especially since being a pro-life activist alone can be so isolating. I presented a talk that Kelsey, Monica, and I developed together earlier this year, discussing the relationship between millennials, secularists, and leftists, why it matters, and what we can do about it to effectively win hearts and minds for life! Due to the nature of the conference it has a bit more of a left take on the concept but be assured, SPL is nonpartisan and welcome to all! Check it out here.

Then on Tuesday, DFLA hosted a press conference outside the Democratic Presidential debate in nearby Detroit, Michigan. They have created a political action committee to compel a qualified pro-life Democratic candidate to come forward and run for President of the United States in 2020! I spoke about the need for someone to represent the majority of Democrats and even Millennials by supporting abortion restrictions. Kristen Day urged the party not to ignore the 1 in 3 Democrats who are pro-life.

It’s an interesting time for being a pro-life Dem. Our party platform is as extreme as it gets, even calling for an end to the Hyde Amendment, which has saved more than 2 million lives. If you’re left-leaning and pro-life, now’s the time to be heard! Pro-life Dems are uniquely equipped to reach the next generation and replace the abortion influence with a culture of life. And together with our right leaning pro-life fam, we can end the abortion regime in America forever.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Baby Chris is 19 Weeks Old

[This is part 20 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.] 

19 weeks after fertilization (21 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 10.5 inches long and weighs just under 13 ounces; roughly the size of a large carrot. His or her movements are clearly felt by the mother, as "initial fluttering movements turn into full-fledged kicks and nudges."

If Baby Chris is biologically female, this week marks a significant reproductive milestone. According to the Endowment for Human Development:
By about 19 weeks, the number of oogonia within the ovaries of a female fetus peaks at approximately 7 million. From this point, not only does oogonia production end forever, but their numbers decrease to about 2 million by birth. These oogonia give rise to several thousand primary oocytes.
Learn more about how children grow in the womb by downloading the free "See Baby" app on your device!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

It's not about bodily autonomy. Here's how we know.

We've all heard the argument that begins "You must not really care about saving lives because you don't [fill in the blank with the policy preference du jour]. You're just about controlling women's bodies!" And when we're feeling uncharitable, we can always throw it right back at them: they don't really care about bodily autonomy, because if they did, they'd promote legalizing raw milk, or allowing minors to get tattoos, or whatever.

But I try to be charitable, so let's narrow the issues. "The debate about abortion is really a proxy battle in a war on women's right to control their bodies" is a testable hypothesis. It's thought experiment time.

Suppose there were a bill on the table that would make it easy for women who have not been diagnosed with breast cancer, but who fear such a diagnosis in the future (due to family history, the BRCA gene, or any other reason), to obtain elective mastectomies on demand. Government budget authorities have confirmed that the proposal is financially sound. This is a law that would not cause a single human death, but that would undoubtedly increase a woman's control of her own body.

Can you imagine the National Right to Life Committee, Susan B. Anthony List, Americans United for Life, and so on lobbying against such a bill? I, for one, cannot. There would be no reason for them to do that. Likewise, I have a hard time picturing pro-life stalwarts in the House of Representatives voting it down multiple times and celebrating its defeat. A woman's exercise of bodily autonomy by itself doesn't fuel outrage; it is only when that exercise ends in the death of a human child that the pro-life movement rallies its troops.

Now let's imagine the inverse: a bill that would save babies' lives, at no cost to women's bodily autonomy. Where would pro-choice lobbyists and politicians stand on that?

We don't have to imagine it. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 962) was introduced in the House of Representatives nearly six months ago. The legislation would require doctors to give infants who are born alive after abortion procedures—who are already outside of their mother's bodies—the same hospital care that their premature, wanted counterparts receive. It would not ban a single abortion.

At the behest of pro-choice groups, House Democrats have blocked a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act eighty times. That is not a typo. Eighty times.

It's not about bodily autonomy.

Photo Credit: Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

Monday, July 29, 2019

Baby Chris is 18 Weeks Old

[This is part 19 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.] 

18 weeks after conception (20 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is about the size of a banana at 10 inches long from head to toe and 10 1/2 ounces. Circadian rhythm—the daily cycle of wakefulness and rest—shows up in Baby Chris's movement and heart rate. You can also spot movement in Baby Chris's vocal chords as he or she practices the muscle movements that will be necessary to make noise in the outside world.

It's common for prenatal care providers to offer ultrasounds at this point in pregnancy, so we have an abundance of images this week. Here are just a few. Thank you to everyone who donated!

The 20-week ultrasound is a wonderful opportunity for family members to bond with the baby, and it is often when the baby's sex is revealed. Unfortunately, there is a darker side; this is also when parents may learn that their child has a disability, such as Down Syndrome, that is often accompanied by tremendous pressure from "pro-choice" medical professionals to abort. Hope Story is an excellent resource for families facing a prenatal diagnosis, where they can cut past the scaremongering and hear directly from other parents.

If you haven't already, download the free "See Baby" app for more information and resources on a child's development from conception to birth!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Pro-Life Events This Weekend and Next

If you're in Lansing for the Democrats for Life of America conference this weekend, be sure to catch Terrisa Bukovinac's speech! Terrisa is an atheist, SPL co-admin, and the president of Pro-Life San Francisco. More info here. For those who can't make it, we'll try to post video later.

Next Saturday, August 3, Students for Life of America is putting on its annual National Pro-Life Sidewalk Day. This is an invitation for pro-life advocates who don't normally go out to the sidewalk of their local abortion centers to take the leap and offer support for women in need. You can participate anywhere. More info here.

It's especially important to have students and other young people on the sidewalk. Often, sidewalk advocacy is dominated by retired folks who have the ability to be there during business hours. And don't get me wrong—their contribution is incredibly valuable! But where possible, a student presence is powerful; 45.5% of abortion clients are under the age of 25, and relating to a peer can have a life-saving impact.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

New Life: My Pro-Life Conversion Story

My name is Chris, and I’m an alcoholic. Thankfully, a recovering one – though I was not a first-time success story.

I got sober through Alcoholics Anonymous, and my most daunting obstacle to working the program’s Twelve Steps of Recovery was embracing a higher power. In trying (and failing) to quit drinking for some time, I’d seen many alcoholic atheists become quick converts to religion upon drying out.

I watched, with envy, as lost souls seemed to summon loving deities that sustained their sobriety. So I did what any hopeless drunk would do: I attempted to short-order one for myself.

It didn’t work. Spirituality isn’t a “fake it ‘til you make it” type of thing. Conjuring up a god I didn’t believe in was disingenuous and, in my experience, recovery requires brutal honesty. I was able to concoct no such deity, no interventionist god capable of personally arresting my alcoholism. I don’t buy the idea that God, in His or Her infinite wisdom, rescued a loser like me while leaving the schmuck on the next barstool to die. While other AA members were able to turn their will over to a capital-G God of their understanding, the best I could fathom is a lowercase one of my misunderstanding.

It was imperfect – but it was enough.

In the seven-plus years since my last drink, I have heard amazing stories of resilience – of people who were once hopelessly addicted and no longer are. So much of recovery is built on identification with other alcoholics, I believe, because few groups of people experience the sensation of being completely doomed… and then miraculously finding an escape hatch we never knew existed. We know both unsolvable compulsion and deus ex machina salvation.

One lesson I’ve learned in recovery is that people are incredibly durable. We can rise from near-total physical, financial and spiritual bankruptcy to become productive, even admirable members of society. Like microbes inexplicably living under the Antarctic ice shelves, or eyeless fish thriving in the lightless ocean depths, we adapt. We find a way.

Life finds a way. And when I realized that, I had found my Higher Power.

I had also found a heaping help of hypocrisy. Because once I realized life finds a way, a vociferously politically liberal like me had to come to terms with one simple fact: I could no longer support abortion rights without being a walking, talking contradiction.

That’s how recovery made me pro-life.

Second Chances, Second Thoughts 

Let me back up, because the term “pro-life” typically has ifs and buts. To state my position clearly: I believe in the right to abortion in instances of rape (including statutory rape), incest and serious threat to the mother’s health, as well as when the fetus is inviable or has debilitating birth defects. I also believe in contraception, including Plan B – which does not end pregnancy but rather prevents its likelihood.

Those circumstances aside, I believe that a woman’s rights to privacy and dominion over her own body, though indeed important, do not outweigh the right of a budding life to exist. It’s that simple.

Despite the recent uproar over length-of-pregnancy abortion limitations, my position has nothing to do with trimesters, or heartbeats, or out-of-womb viability. I believe that life begins at conception, meaning that if something is en route to becoming a human being, I value its right to continue along that path more than anyone’s right to terminate it.

That’s what pro-life means to me: All things being equal, I err on the side of life over the right, or choice, to end it.

And per my once-recovery-stunting struggles with God, this position has nothing to do with religion. In fact, my agnosticism only strengthens my conviction that life on this Earth is precious. If this is all we get, there better be a tremendously convincing reason to take it – to take everything – away from an innocent being.

Everything is exactly what my alcoholism nearly took from me. I was not only unemployed, but unemployable. I was a liar, a thief, a manipulator who used people to use, period. My wife had one foot (at least) out the door on numerous occasions.

Everyone deserves a second chance; what I got was third, fourth and fifth ones. In succession, I failed to stay sober following AA meetings, intensive outpatient therapy and, finally, inpatient rehab. I was running out of options and running out of hope.

And then, after a cathartic DUI, I was done. The principles of recovery – admitting defeat and powerlessness, taking stock of my shortcomings, making amends – started to stick to a shell-shocked man-child. My recovery is the closest thing to a miracle as I’ve ever witnessed. I was doomed… and then suddenly I wasn’t.

They say recovery and politics don’t mix; in fact, AA’s Preamble expressly says so. But recovery and morality certainly do. And it is this moral awakening that led me, despite my otherwise cookie-cutter liberal leanings, gradually to pro-life. This isn’t about politics. This is a principle – one I can’t see myself ever abdicating.

Life – even a lost life, like mine – finds a way. Every time I attend an AA meeting, I enter a room full of people who were granted a second chance at life. Considering this, the thought of denying someone a first chance runs counter to everything recovery has taught and bestowed.

Life is a precious gift. I know this because I was given it twice.

[Today's guest post by Christopher Dale is part of our paid blogging program. Photo credit: Louis Hansel on Unsplash.]