Last night, NRLC marked the 25th anniversary of the founding of Teens for Life. It was a sad occasion in a way, since the pro-life movement always hopes to go out of business, but they kept the tone upbeat. The celebration featured lots of pictures of teens with big hair in the 80's. Next, Dr. Angela Franks presented a history of Margaret Sanger and American eugenics. It was mostly information well-known to pro-life advocates, but she put it all together very nicely.
This morning, Dr. Steven Zielinski kicked things off with a presentation on the current state of fetal pain research. The focus was on evidence for fetal pain at 19-20 weeks, since that was the gestational limit in the recently passed law in Nebraska. He was an excellent speaker and encouraged religious people not to view science as the enemy. I met him afterward and he was enthusiastic about our work. Sadly, Dr. Zielinski is suffering from kidney disease and unable to do as much research as he used to. He is looking for a successor. If you are a medical student interested in fetal pain research, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After lunch, I attended a workshop on the 2010 elections. Things are looking up for us. They presented some interesting statistics on the impact of pro-life voting efforts; pro-lifers are much more likely to be single-issue voters than abortion advocates are, and we routinely swing things by 3-4%. But the speakers did warn us not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. A member of the audience put it best: vote for the outcome, not the candidate. In practice, this means voting for the moderate pro-life candidate who has a real chance over the strong pro-lifer who doesn't. Some people will probably disagree-- it's the classic incrementalism debate--but I think NRLC is right.
Next, I went to an incredibly depressing workshop called "The Future of Planned Parenthood: Building the Abortion Empire Through Mega-Clinics and Chemical Abortion." Dr. Randall O'Bannon showed that over the last few years, Planned Parenthood has demonstrated a pattern of closing smaller, unprofitable centers, merging affiliates, and opening new, large centers to target both low-income and suburban customers. He also discussed the telemedicine scandal, as well as Planned Parenthood's relative numbers of abortions and adoption/prenatal services (guess which matters).
Fun fact: Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has no medical background.
I then attended "Confronting the Abortion of Children with Down Syndrome," a wonderful workshop run by Eileen Haupt, the co-founder of Keep Infants with Down Syndrome and the mother of Sadie. She talked about prenatal testing, the current state of Down Syndrome research, and post-natal threats to DS children from pro-infanticide activists like Peter Singer. She was also very open about her personal experience raising a daughter with DS.
We've been discussing prenatal testing on the Facebook group. Haupt says that she refused testing and that she's glad she did, but that sometimes knowing ahead of time can be helpful, especially if the baby will need heart surgery soon after birth. You should balance that against the likelihood that, if you do get a prenatal diagnosis, many doctors will insensitively push abortion.
Fun fact: There is a waiting list of families who want to adopt children with DS.
Finally, I went to a workshop on IRS compliance. It was as dull as it sounds, but since I'm thinking about registering SecularProLife.org as a 501(c)(3), it was fairly helpful.