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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Pro-Life Women's Conference: Our Seneca Falls

We could all use some words of hope and encouragement after yesterday's tragic Supreme Court ruling. I'm probably not the person to give them.

We love to compare the right-to-life struggle to earlier causes like women's suffrage and the abolition of slavery, but we shy away from seeing that comparison through and concluding that victory is centuries away. We "only" have 43 years and 55,000,000+ victims behind us, but we tell ourselves the end is within our lifetimes. I'd like to think so, but I grow pessimistic. I think about how I won't get to see justice prevail because there's no afterlife. I listen to really sad music. I drink wine.

Sorry, where was I going with this?

Oh, right. If you take the long view, then last weekend offers a great reason for hope. The inaugural Pro-Life Women's Conference took place in Dallas, and it was incredible. "Our Seneca Falls," more than one attendee called it. It's always encouraging to be among friends and like-minded people, but this was special.

The diversity was incredible. Beyond being pro-life women, we had little else in common. People old enough to remember 1973 mingled with high school students. Mothers brought their young children. A significant fraction of attendees and speakers were people of color. The conference was friendly to wheelchair users. 

I encountered stridently conservative Christians and members of the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians. I met the president of Democrats for Life, and a woman who is running for state office as a libertarian. And we came from all segments of the pro-life movement: pregnancy center leaders, campus activists, abortion survivors, sidewalk counselors, political lobbyists, birth mothers, and former abortion workers.

Pictures speak louder than words, so check out our photo album.

If I were on the other side, and I spied on the Pro-Life Women's Conference, I would be petrified. We're unified. We're learning from each other. We're thinking historically. We aren't giving up. 

The Seneca Falls convention took place in 1848. The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote, wasn't enacted until 72 years later, and not enforced for women of color for several additional decades. It is our duty as pro-life advocates to shrink that timeline as much as we possibly can. Lives depend on it.

Secular Pro-Life reps

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Pro-Life Women's Conference begins tonight!


We are so excited to gather in Dallas with female pro-life leaders from across the country. If you're attending, we'd love to see you! SPL president Kelsey Hazzard will present tomorrow at 3:30 p.m., and our exhibit booth will be open for the duration of the conference. Look for our tall bright blue banner; you can't miss it.

The full conference schedule is available here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bodily Autonomy and Medical Ethics in the Abortion Debate


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

On those rare occasions that I tell my friends that I have a pro-life stance on abortion, their reaction is typically surprise followed by a quick objection along the lines of  “Well, if it’s her body...” and then they seem to think it’s hardly worth their time to say anything else. 

As readers of this blog may well know, what my friends are thinking of is commonly called the bodily autonomy argument. Briefly, it states that any person has a right to decide on what does or does not happen to his or her physical person. If a woman wishes to have the shape of her nose changed, for instance, that is up to her, even if others might have moral objections. Likewise, the argument goes, if a woman has an embryo or fetus inside of her, she has the right to have it removed. 

It’s a powerful argument and for many, the end of the conversation.

Conversely, the ubiquity of the bodily autonomy argument has meant that pro-life advocates have worked hard to refute it, and have done so elsewhere. When they have, those counter-arguments have usually been framed in terms of the moral obligation of a mother to care for a child, or as a refutation of the so-called violinist argument.

These counter-claims are entirely worthy, but there is another way to refute the bodily autonomy argumenta rebuttal related to basic medical ethicsand that is the counter-argument I would like to advance here.

My case begins with the idea that, the right to bodily autonomy must surely mean, primarily, the right not to have one’s body harmed or invaded. One cannot be compelled to have sex against one’s will, or to be stabbed or even tattooed without one's consent. But there is no reason to think that bodily autonomy includes the right to have anything done to one’s body, without recourse to ethical considerations. And if an abortion is to be understood as a medical procedure, as pro-choice advocates insist that it must be, then it, like other medical procedures, must be subject to ethical scrutiny.

And, in fact, medical practitioners do sometimes refuse to perform procedures that they believe are unethical. Those with body dysmorphia or body identity integrity disorder sometimes seek to have a healthy limb removed. When a Scottish surgeon agreed to do so, that practitioner was denounced by colleagues.

Conversely, transhumanists even now are seeking surgeons to implant technological gadgets into their bodies to turn them into the first real supermenwithout much luck so far.  And even if such procedures did become commonplace it would only be after debating the ethics of the procedures in questions. The fact that the patients have the right to bodily autonomy doesn't remove the practitioners' obligations not to harm human beings.

A particularly affecting instance of a refusal to undertake a procedure due to ethical concerns made headlines in my part of the world not long ago. In January, New Brunswick toddler Zaccari Buell was in need of a kidney transplant. His mother, Ashley Barnaby, offered to donate her kidney, but her surgeons would not perform the operation on the grounds that Barnaby had health problems of her own; it would be unethical, her doctors said, to remove the mother’s organ. She is, according to reports, at risk for developing diabetes, which means she can't risk being down one kidney.

If pro-choice advocates were right, there should have been no reason to deny Barnaby her wishes. It's her body, after all. But she was refused and with good reason. It would be wrong for surgeons to perform a procedure that did harm to a human being even if they were asked to do so. And if a fetus is a human being, then the same ethical concerns must be at play.

Of course, others do argue that a fetus is not a human being in a moral sense. But that is the discussion we need to have. And simply saying "it's her body" is nothing more than a distraction.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tonight: webcast recap of pro-life leaders' meeting with Trump

Kristan Hawkins
Today in New York City, Donald Trump will meet with leaders from select pro-life organizations, among them Students for Life of America (SFLA). SFLA president Kristan Hawkins has this to say:
I know many feel conflicted (myself included) right now about the upcoming election, but we all agree that this November could change the trajectory of legal abortion in our nation. Planned Parenthood must be held accountable and at the very least, be defunded of our taxpayer dollars. The Supreme Court must have a pro-life jurist to replace Justice Scalia.
For many, Donald Trump has not been their first choice, and over the past several months I’ve heard conflicting statements from him, especially on defunding Planned Parenthood. So a conversation must be had.
As our regular readers already know, Secular Pro-Life shares Kristan's distaste for Mr. Trump. But into the fray she goes, in the hope of at least figuring out what the hell is going on—after which she and the rest of the SFLA team will convene a free webcast to tell us all what went down.

Thank you, Kristan, for volunteering as tribute.

The webcast will take place tonight at 6:00 p.m. Eastern (3:00 p.m. Pacific) and last about thirty minutes. Register here.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Praising mothers as "heroic"

Save the 1, an organization for people conceived in rape and their families, posted this meme on facebook recently:


They added:
Please do not refer to rape survivor mothers as heroes. Save the 1 mothers are offended every time they hear this. They think it's normal to love their children who were conceived in rape. Same thing for those who have children with special needs. How would you feel if someone told you that you are a hero for "actually loving" your own child and how extraordinary they think you are that you didn't want to kill your child?
I'll confess I've fallen into this trap. Certainly I have never said, would never in a million years say, something egregious like "Wow, I can't believe you love your baby! That's super weird!" I'm not a jerk. But Save the 1 points out that calling mothers in difficult circumstances "heroic" is the more positive side of the same coin.

I have used the language of heroism before, and not only in reference to women who conceive after a sexual assault; I've thrown it around for mothers who have chosen life in all kinds of situations. That's inconsistent of me. Refusing abortion may take maturity; it may take a leap of faith; it may take courage. But does it rise to the level of heroism?

As pro-life advocates, we believe that the right to life is a basic human right. Refraining from killing someone is meeting your bare minimum moral obligations. I've never killed anyone. I don't deserve a medal.

So is there any instance when we might say that a refusal to kill an unborn child is heroic? Yes. Far too often, pregnant mothers face physical violence—from the fathers of their children, from their pimps, and even from their own parents—in attempts to coerce an abortion. Women who defend themselves and their children from that type of aggression are definitely heroines in my book.

Of course, coercion may or may not coincide with "hard cases," but you can't know until you've heard the whole story. So let's listen to mothers. Let's not assume. Let's not inadvertently degrade the love they have for their children.

Friday, June 17, 2016

We asked, you answered: Is abortion comparable to the Holocaust?

Recently we asked our FB followers: “Do you think comparing abortion to a holocaust is a valid comparison?”



We got tons of responses. (I read over the first 80 comments but stopped keeping track after that.) Opinions seem to break down into three overall categories:

1. No, the comparison has problems.
2. Yes, it’s a valid comparison, but not necessarily an effective one.
3. Yes, it’s a valid comparison.

Below is a sampling from each category. Some comments are edited for length but not content. You can read the unedited comments as well as all the comments not reprinted here on the original FB post.

1. No, the comparison has problems.

Emily: In the world of therapy/psychology it is often said that people should not attempt to compare their grief with another's. For the same reasons, I think in comparing abortion and the holocaust there is a breakdown that can unintentionally minimize the grief of either tragedy. Just as with all sadness, we see some grave similarities. But there are many reasons not to measure them next to each other.

Noah: Abortion isn't about killing all babies, just ones in certain circumstances, while the holocaust was about wiping out entire groups of people.

Christian: The comparison is not simply one of deaths but of overall suffering. The prisoners in the Holocaust were starved, abused, stripped naked and humiliated, shot for sport, experimented on, worked like slaves, frozen, marched to death, and lived with the ever-present knowledge that they might be corralled in a gas chamber like animals. They were the living dead. Dismemberment of a fetus is ugly and disturbing, but the victim is not a conscious sufferer (at least not to the same degree). It doesn't process what's going on at all, or, if it does, it's at the most remedial level (physical pain).

Richard: Until the government mandates people having abortions against their will, it's tough to say they're parallel.

Frank: I don’t think so, for the following reason: a holocaust is directed against the people of a certain race (or, in some cases, a religion or other common factor), and the desired end result of that holocaust is a world free from Jews/Catholics/Palestinians etc. Abortion supporters don’t target any particular group; they don’t discriminate on any other grounds than age, and in general they don’t force any mother to abort her child. Whilst I am strongly pro-life, I consider the term holocaust not only inaccurate but also unnecessarily provocative which can’t possibly be helpful in a rational discussion.

Aria: Jews, gypsies and non-Aryans were raped, pillaged, humiliated, tortured, and worked to death. As much as I deplore abortion, no, I don't think it's a fair comparison.

Grace: The problem with comparing abortion to the holocaust is the regular societal dismissal of Jewish suffering and persecution by the non-Jewish general public. Many Jewish people are frustrated that anti-Semitic sentiments are often alive and well despite the toppling of the Nazi regime. Instead of co-opting an event that is very much a pivot point in Jewish history (though gay people, Catholics, and Roma people also suffered greatly), it would be better to stop using this comparison.

Moni: holókaustos means burning something down totally…[it] can also be applied on the Nazi-ideologies' wish to destroy the whole Jewish nation, figuratively 'burn down' the Jewish nation to its ashes. Abortion does not have the aim to destroy a nation - applied on the third world, 'birth control' does want to stop the growth of the population (which is considered too high), but not destroy a race or a nation completely.

The greek word génos can be applied widely on race, lineage, origins, descent or background, the latin word caedere means murder or massacre. So no matter what motivation causes an ideological mass-murder of women (China, India) or handicapped people within the womb, the word genocide fits perfectly. Also the high amount of abortions within the black (and neglected by society) part of American population can be seen as genocide, out of opportunistic economic motives. Genocide implies the organised murder of a group of people for base motives, people who are, to quote Warren J., "classified as non-persons.”

I tend to say, that the holocaust was a genocide, but not every genocide should be called holocaust.

2. Yes, it’s a valid comparison, but not necessarily an effective one.

John: Since the unborn child is fully human, it is unquestionably accurate to make that comparison. However, is it politically and rhetorically advantageous? That's another question entirely.

Jeff: It is logically analogous, yes. But the prevalence of Reductio ad Hitlerum makes it an ineffective and often counterproductive rhetorical tactic. I would avoid it.

Kasey: Unfortunately I've had pro-choice people immediately write me off as a crazy person when I use this comparison. … I've learned that before using the comparison I need to preface it with clearly emphasizing the truth about what I believe: science and logic and general human morality dictate that an unborn baby is a human being of equal human rights at an early stage of development. That seems to help the comparison land better.

Beatrice: Yes, but it's the kind of thought I would keep to myself. We need to meet people where they are and the average person who believes that abortion is a woman's right is nowhere close to that thought pattern.

R.J.: In many ways, yes - but strategically I believe such a comparison is most valuable when used to motivate apathetic pro-lifers, rather than converting abortion-supporters to being pro-life.

Simon: An argument might have valid points if looked at objectively but may still hit a wall emotionally. Industrial animal agriculture has been compared to slavery by some vegans yet people won't even consider the concept. Fundamentally people think they are good moral beings and if it’s argued otherwise they automatically become defensive. If you don't overcome this even a valid comparison is counterproductive.

Adele: It is absolutely a valid comparison--you have the systemic and LEGAL elimination of a specific group of defenseless people. There are even lots of parallels in the euphemisms used for abortion, the unwillingness to look at pictures of the procedure, and the demonization of the opposition. Having said that, I have never found it a useful argument, as it does not engage pro-choicers in meaningful conversation.

3. Yes, it’s a valid comparison.

Lisanne: I really think someday we're all going to look back on legalized partial birth and late term abortions with the same revulsion and disbelief that society could justify committing such an act.

Kyle: The issue, to me, is why abortion is immoral; the reason is because it's killing a human being. To the people who support aborting a baby, they believe he or she isn't a human being. To quote Adolf Hitler: "The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but they are not human." So the comparison should be between the mindset of Nazis and pro-choice people. That said, they'd still just laugh it off like they always do.

Drexel: They're both given pleasant euphemisms: Choice and The Final Solution

Chris: Yes, very valid, because babies are exterminated in mass numbers for the same reasons Jews were; the belief that they are not equal human beings, and don't have equal rights to everyone else, and that their extermination can actually make society better.

Jimmy: Through the lens of history we can look back several generations and say to ourselves, "How did they let this happen? How could they not see the evil of it? What let them stand by and accept this as normal?" We bear witness to the systematic attempted extermination of the Jewish people, the Romani people, and any who were deemed undesirable. We can feel the horror of events that unfolded as the Holocaust took shape and changed the world forever. There are many who understand that in a century our descendants will talk of the dark years of Abortion in the same manner. That everyone alive will understand it could have been one of their ancestors, one of their grandparents or great grandparents who might have been lost. Many will still have records of lost life from their family line. And they will ask of history, "How did they let this happen? How could they not see the evil of it? What let them stand by and accept this as normal?"

I do not know how we will answer them.

Alexandria: Yes in the sense that the differently abled are targeted. As an experience it is different, but the sentiment - this life is not valuable/perfect enough- is the same.

Victoria: Yes. Particularly because in both abortion and the Holocaust, one segment of humanity is demonized, dehumanized and vilified in order to be quite ruthlessly murdered, under the same guise of protecting the "rights" of another segment of humanity, with the justification of the dehumanized "enemy" as being oppressive to the second segment. Even though, realistically, the second segment is on no way oppressed and is in fact the oppressor.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Advice column tells grandmother to help kill grandchild in abortion

Slate has always been hostile to the right to life, but this week's "Dear Prudence" advice column takes it to a new low.

Let's break this down.
Q. Daughter wants late-term abortion: My daughter left her husband, and now wants to abort what had been a wanted pregnancy. She is too far along to terminate in our state, but she could get it done elsewhere.
Translation: she is at least five months along. The baby looks like this:

She asked me for money, to cover transportation and the procedure itself. My daughter says that she can’t have a child with her soon-to-be-ex and that he would block an adoption. 
If Prudence had done the responsible thing and consulted a family law attorney for the column, this would have been a no-brainer. A father cannot simply demand that a mother raise a child, then walk away. If a father is going to "block an adoption," he must do so by taking on the responsibility of raising the child himself.

If the issue here is that she thinks he would make a lousy father—the column does not make that clear, but it's certainly possible that she left because he was abusive—then it's a matter of showing the court that he's unfit. Custody battles are certainly no fun, but are they worse than death?
This devastates me. I thought I was pro-choice, but everything in me screams that this is wrong.
Congratulations, you have a conscience.
But my daughter said that if I don’t help her, she’ll have to find “some other way,” and I’m afraid of what that might mean.
This is clear emotional blackmail. Prudence normally has no problem calling that out, but not in this case.
Also, my husband doesn’t yet know that our daughter wants to abort, but he would be even more devastated than I am. Should I help my daughter do this, or not?
If by "this" you mean make a rash decision to end the life of her wanted baby (who she has by now felt kick and likely seen on an ultrasound), and put her own life at risk in a dangerous late-term abortion, no. That's not helping your daughter.

My advice? Give your daughter real help. Set her up with an attorney and help her pay her legal expenses. Offer her and her baby space in your home. Take her to counseling. Tell her how much you love her. Any of those things would be a far greater investment in your family's well-being than spending your money on transportation and a paycheck for Leroy Carhart.

But Prudence will have none of that.
A: Being pro-choice doesn’t mean the specifics of every single abortion fills you with joy; being pro-choice simply means you believe the only person who should decide whether or not a woman should carry her pregnancy to term is the woman in question. 
And, apparently, it means never daring to mention that someone carrying a wanted baby, in the late second or even third trimester, who is in the midst of an ugly divorce, and suddenly decides she wants an abortion, might be in a highly emotional state and consequently do something she will regret.
It’s understandable that you might grieve the loss of what you hoped would be your grandchild, but you need to deal with your emotions about this on your own, and not use your sadness as a reason to pressure your daughter into carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term.
This sentence makes me furious. "What you hoped would be your grandchild"?! Stop pretending. Stop playing rhetorical games. Have an ounce of courage and acknowledge that passage through the birth canal is not magic. This is her grandchild, and she has been asked to help kill her grandchild. "Sadness" is more than "understandable." And apparently, anything short of an enthusiastic denial of the truth, any suggestion that there is an alternative here, constitutes "pressure." (But, again, being in the middle of a divorce and all the emotional baggage that comes with it is a totally conducive to free choice.)
Your daughter was happy to have a child in a stable partnership under certain conditions but doesn’t feel equipped to have one by herself in the middle of a divorce and is determined to have an abortion. She’s going to get an abortion no matter how you feel about it. 
Unless you, you know, talk her out of it and offer support for her! What is it with abortion advocates' willful blindness to the idea that a woman can change her mind?
You can either make having one more difficult for her, or you can help. That choice, at least, is yours alone.
So to recap: "help" means shelling out cash for the death of your grandchild and possible lifelong trauma to your daughter. Refusal to do so is selfishly "using your sadness to pressure your daughter."

"Feminism" my ass.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Monday, June 13, 2016

Statement on Orlando shooting


In the wake of the mass shooting that killed at least fifty people at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Secular Pro-Life reaffirms its strong support for LGBT people. The right to life is inalienable, and certainly not conditioned upon any person's sexuality. Many of our members are queer and we mourn this affront to their rights and their sense of safety.

At this time, reports indicate that the shooter was inspired by ISIS. We place the blame for this atrocity squarely where it belongs: with the shooter and those who aided or abetted him. Just as it is wrong to smear the entire pro-life movement when someone claiming the "pro-life" label commits a violent act, it is wrong to paint law-abiding Muslims with a broad brush. Secular Pro-Life is proud to work peacefully alongside people of all faiths, including Islam, toward a more just society.

Finally, we urge our readers to take concrete actions to honor the memory of the victims. Be generous. If you are able, donate blood and/or funds to disaster relief groups. Give your time. Let us come together in a spirit of volunteerism like we did after 9/11.

Friday, June 10, 2016

SPL president to speak at National Right to Life Convention


Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard will present at the 2016 National Right to Life Convention on Saturday, July 9 from 10:45 a.m. to noon. Her workshop topic is "Making the Pro-Life Argument from the Secular Perspective." This is the first time Secular Pro-Life will have a presence at the NRLC convention.

The NRLC convention brings together pro-life leaders from all fifty states. This year's location is the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport in Herdon, VA. For more information and to register, please visit the convention website.