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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Confessions of a Pro-Life Atheist: What Gives me the Passion to Actively Oppose Abortion

[Today's post was written by SPL member Patrick Ptomey for Bryan Kemper's blog.  It's since been picked up by LifeSiteNews, of all places. We're reprinting it too.  Enjoy!]


It can be said without argument that all who are against abortion have at least one thing in common. Be that as it may, the process in which we come to that conclusion is oftentimes a result of many different factors, thus our beliefs, while similar in principle, can be quite different in theory. 

Dozens of people have asked me why I am pro-life.

In the past it didn’t seem like such a hard question to answer. After all, if I have the ability to form a belief then surely my answer to such a question should come without forethought. However, I have never been asked by a pro-life Christian to clarify my position as a pro-life Atheist. Admittedly, the question has become a bit more difficult to answer because of the unnecessary adaptation. It was my presumption that this was not a confusing concept, but once I began to compile my thoughts I soon realized where confusion could emerge. The purpose of this article is to clear up some of the misconceptions about pro-life non-believers by providing a general comparison between Theism and Atheism in relation to the abortion issue and contributing a personal account of my own journey to the pro-life movement. An argument from morality has been purposely omitted.

To state the obvious, the only difference between my label as a pro-life Atheist and your label as a pro-life Christian is our outlook on the existence of a deity. Similarly, the difference between a pro-life Jew and a pro-life Muslim is once again rooted in religious differences. That being said, we can easily deduct that an anti-abortion position is not dependent upon adhering to a specific religion; thankfully. For example, one can be religious without ever taking a position on the abortion issue. Likewise, one can be pro-life without being religious. Because the two labels are independent from one another, it is not hard to imagine the diversity of  personal convictions within the pro-life community. This may become a confusing concept to those who base their pro-life position on the belief that they could not differentiate between right and wrong without guidance from their respective deity. This is where I believe some confusion and hesitation may occur.

The Christian religion, for the most part, has adopted a position on the abortion issue. Churches which have chosen to take a position on the issue have subsequently suggested that its followers do the same. To the contrary, Atheism asserts one thing and one thing only. That assertion makes no mention to the the issue of abortion or any other social issue for that matter and therefore does not require that Atheists accept any more or any less. An Atheist’s position on any other topic is simply a personal opinion.

Personally, my pro-life beliefs belong to the discoveries in science. While I am sympathetic to women’s rights and would even consider myself a Feminist as would any man who believes in gender equality, the right to life outweighs our personal discomforts. I will hesitantly concede that had I been born 10 years earlier I most likely would have considered myself pro-choice based upon the absence of scientific evidence within the pro-life movement at the time. More so, if science had proven that life began at birth I would have had no foundation for an anti-abortion belief. Thankfully for the pro-life movement, science has reemphasized the movement’s argument that abortion takes the life of an unborn child. Today, the movement has realized that science is much more likely to reach an audience which is increasingly looking for demonstrable evidence from which to base their position on social issues; not just the church’s suggestion.

It’s worth mentioning that the internet also had a substantial effect by allowing me to better research fetal development and share information and ideas with others.When I began exploring the issue as a seventeen year old back in 2006, the internet allowed me to see the larger picture, unlike the tri-fold pamphlet provided by my Catholic church. The pamphlet provided me with no context or arguments from the opposition. Heck, I didn’t even know there was an opposition.

I am not sure why the issue ever captured my attention, but it evolved beyond into a passion. After a couple years of researching the issue I decided that I would adopt an anti-abortion position based on the scientifically accepted conclusion that conception was the formation of a unique and living member of the human species. This was done absent of religious arguments and by 2008 I was beginning to question a different position – Theism. That year I wrote a pro-life blog which turned out to become the catalyst for my pro-life activism. The MySpace blog [insert joke here] titled The American Holocaust, was my first attempt at arguing against abortion from a secular perspective. The amateurishly written blog received hundreds of comments and at times was the third most active blog on MySpace. At that moment I was convinced  that the incorporation of religion was unnecessary to make a point against abortion and instead allowed readers to view the issue as a scientific and moral obligation rather than just a Catholic issue. The internet had allowed me to understand the various ways the issue affected people, something I would have never understood within the walls of the Catholic church.

I am currently concluding the final chapters of God is Not Great by the late Atheist, Christopher Hitchens; a post-abortive father himself. Hitchens, a hero to many non-believers, also noticed the reality of the unborn human life. I would imagine it took a great deal of courage to advocate the value of the unborn human despite the overwhelming number of supporters whom he knew would quickly voice their disapproval. For unfortunate yet obvious reasons, theists were just as reluctant to commend him. Undoubtedly, Hitchens has taught many non-believers and believers to rethink their position on the issue for purely scientific reasons. Like myself and the thousands of other pro-life secularists, Hitchens recognized that science had demonstrably proven that life does exist before viability and therefore deserved proper acknowledgement from the pro-choice side.

“As a materialist, I think it has been demonstrated that an embryo is a separate body and entity, and not merely (as some really did used to argue) a growth on or in the female body.  There used to be feminists who would say that it was more like an appendix or even-this was seriously maintained-a tumor. That nonsense seems to have stopped.  Of the considerations that have stopped it, one is the fascinating and moving view provided by the sonogram, and another is the survival of ‘premature’ babies of feather-like weight, who have achieved ‘viability’ outside the womb. … The words ‘unborn child,’ even when used in a politicized manner, describe a material reality.”
-Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great (pp. 220-21)

It seems to me that the confusion many people have when I tell them I am a pro-life Atheist happens to originate from their perception that Atheism and pro-life activism are incompatible. This is a half-century old product of religion’s disproportionate obsession with the issue and the subsequent and illogical ‘We want to be everything you’re not!’ attitude of Atheists. The middle ground, a pro-life Atheist (or a pro-choice theist), doesn’t seem to suit either side. I think it is fair to call us the step-child of the pro-life movement.Arguing against abortion goes beyond the policies or teachings of any religious text. It is not an issue restricted only to the religious but rather an issue concerning human rights and therefore defies the labels of religion, political affiliation, race, gender, sexual orientation, and so on. If we can agree that abortion wrongfully takes the life of a living human being, then all other labels which define our individuality should be irrelevant to the issue at hand.
- A pro-life[r] Atheist 
  Patrick Ptomey

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Girls' self-esteem is a pro-life issue

I was deeply disturbed by a Huffington Post article I read last night: 
"People say I’m ugly. So … tell me -- am I?" 
A young girl stares earnestly, and perhaps a bit awkwardly, into the camera asking the world wide web of YouTube users to comment on her appearance. With 35,000 views and nearly 1,200 comments, her video is just one small piece in what seems to be a growing trend of teen and "tween" (between the ages of 11 and 13) girls taking to the Internet to broadcast concerns about their looks -- and asking strangers to weigh in on these insecurities.
The Huffington Post suggests that the solution is to petition YouTube to take these videos down.  That might suppress the specific trend, but it won't address the underlying problem of girls' insecurity.  We need to have a conversation with middle-school girls about their value as unique human beings, along the lines of the It Gets Better project for LGBT kids.

I consider this a pro-life issue.  Every human being has inherent dignity; your worth as a person shouldn't depend on your outward appearance!  In addition, this is a pro-life issue because studies show that girls who have low self-esteem are at greater risk for unplanned pregnancies.  We need to address self-esteem issues early, before students engage in destructive behaviors like unprotected sexual intercourse.

I've recorded a response video and encourage other pro-lifers (especially women) to do the same.  Let's get out there and make a difference!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Volunteer opportunities

Yesterday, we shared that AbortionSafety.com will launch in late March/early April, and that we are looking for last-minute volunteers to search for court records.

In a number of locations, we already have case numbers for lawsuits against abortion centers. That means that all you have to do is walk into the courthouse and hand the list of case numbers to the clerk's office!  How easy is that?  It would be a real shame if these cases went unexamined for lack of volunteers in these cities.

The cities and abortion providers for which we have case numbers are:
Virginia Beach, VA (Virginia Women's Wellness/David Peters)
Norfolk, VA (Hillcrest Clinic/John Baker)
Fort Bragg, CA (Women's Health Center)
Chico, CA (Nader Ostovar)

If you live in or near any of these cities, please contact us.  If not, please share with your friends in Virginia and California.  On behalf of the women and babies who will be helped through this effort, thank you!

Update: Our New York coordinator is looking for volunteers to do document searches at two NYC courthouses.  They are located at 60 Centre Street and 31 Chambers Street.  Again, if you are available to do a court search, please contact Secular Pro-Life.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Down to the Wire

As many of you know, Secular Pro-Life is coordinating AbortionSafety.com-- a woman-centered, searchable database that will warn women in crisis pregnancies about abortionists who have a history of medical malpractice.  We've all heard about Kermit Gosnell, Steven Chase Brigham, and other scumbags whose conduct was so extreme that they lost their medical licenses.  But they're just the tip of the iceberg. Countless others have maimed women, settled out of court, and continued with their practice without any publicity whatsoever.

Mock-up of the site's home page
For almost a year, volunteers around the country have been going to their local courthouses to look up malpractice complaints against their local abortion centers. Some of their discoveries have been truly heartbreaking, like the California Planned Parenthood responsible for a little girl's severe rH disease.  Then there's the Nevada abortionist who fatally perforated a woman's uterus; this poor woman's life was valued at just $20,000 in an out-of-court settlement.

If you want to research the abortionists in your area, there's still time. Our internal deadline is Thursday, February 29.  Anything we receive by then will be included when the site launches in late March or early April. That means you have about a week to uncover abortion malpractice in your community.  (If that's not enough time for you, don't worry; documents received after February can be added in a later site update.)

The Pro-Life Action League has a fantastic primer on how to search for lawsuits.  Don't hesitate to rely on the court clerks; they are there to help you!  We will also accept news articles from local mainstream media outlets.  Sorry, no blog posts or secondary pro-life sources.

Email your findings to info[at]secularprolife.org by February 29 to protect mothers in your community from dangerous "safe & legal" abortionists. And please consider making a donation so that we can advertise the site to as many at-risk women as possible.  Thank you!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quick Pro-Life News Bites

Virginia - Legislation requiring an ultrasound before an abortion passed in Virginia, but was amended to allow for an opt-out if an internal ultrasound is required. This was partially stemming from pushback from pro-choice legislators, national news media, and eventually Governor Bob McDonnell (R) who said he opposed the inclusion of internal (transvaginal) ultrasounds.

Florida - A House committee just passed an omnibus set of anti-abortion legislation. What does this include? A 24 hour wait period, restrictions on who can own / operate an abortion clinic, and the requirement that doctors tell patients that the unborn child can feel pain after 20 weeks were included. If it makes it through both houses, Governor Scott (R) is expected to sign it. He signed a number of pro-life measures in 2011.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Judgment versus compassion

[Today's post is by Heather, who is participating the Job Corp program.  Heather's own story of unplanned pregnancy can be heard here.]

I was riding in a cab with another student from Walmart back to the Job Corp Center where we stay. On the way back, we were talking the abortion that she had at the age of 13.  She herself had been born to a teen mother.  Her boyfriend bailed out at the last minute, so at five months she went to the local clinic and had an abortion.

I asked her a lot of questions.  "Did the doctors push you to get an abortion?  Did you get to see the baby on a sonogram?"  She said no, the abortionists did not push her to abort; if anything, they tried every possible way to influence her to keep the baby.  And yes, she saw her baby on the ultrasound screen!  She saw his face and his little body; she knew he was a boy.  I asked her, "How could you abort him after seeing and feeling him?"  It was a sonogram that had stopped me from aborting my own baby boy just a few years ago.

She was sad and said, "I didn't want to abort him.  But I was not going to bring another fatherless baby in this world.  I wouldn't do it.  I cried and I cried... they tried to convince me by the sonogram that I was too far along.  I could see his face; was this really what I wanted?  No, I didn't want to... but I felt I had to."

She was one of many pregnant teens in this country, faced with difficult challenges in an already difficult world.  What was I to say?  "You're a bad person for killing your unborn son halfway through your pregnancy"?  I couldn't say anything; I was speechless.

I like this girl.  She is cool and funny.  I don't judge her; how could I?  I could identify with her, because I was there during my own pregnancy.  I was almost four months and planning an abortion at my local center!  The difference is that I have my baby, and she doesn't. 

Many girls here get pregnant, go home and come back not pregnant, like it's no big deal.  
"What happened?" 
"Oh, I had an abortion... yeah, soooo..." 
And that's the end of the conversation. No big deal! 

It makes sense.  They're here for a certificate to land a good job to better their futures, same as me.  An unwanted pregnancy would mess everything up!  I hate abortion, but what do we do?  Who do we blame? These girls are not being forced to get pregnant, and they aren't forced to get abortions either-- although, as my friend's experience shows, they may feel like they have no other real options.  I'm sure these girls were not skipping with joy into the clinic to have an abortion like it was a hair or nail appointment, but rather entered the clinic with tears and anxiety.  I can't be mad at these young women.  But at the same time, I hate abortion and am tired of babies being killed!

I am lost in my own opinion on this.  They say it's a free country, and that means people have the right to do what they want within reason, so these girls are exercising that right.  Is abortion really just another personal choice people can make, like what religion they choose to believe, what person they will marry, and where they will live?  

I wish I could change the way things are.  I'm just one person out of 7 billion and the chances are not in my favor at the moment.  I want to change our society's view on sex, babies and motherhood.  Maybe one day it will change, but for now all I can do is hope!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Common Ground - Your Rights


Unless you’re 100% oblivious to news now a days, you are probably aware of a major issue the American people are being faced with -- mandated contraception, abortion inducing drugs, and sterilization. These services will be fully covered through President Obama’s mandatory healthcare plan, and there will be no copay or out of pocket fee for these services.

I’m not here to debate whether or not contraception is okay, but I do ask you look at the bigger picture. Rights are being violated under this mandate. The First Amendment right of religious liberties has practically been thrown in the trash. Whether you’re pro-life, atheist, Catholic, Muslim, or anything else in between, your right to practice your moral beliefs are being greatly violated and it is a slippery slope from here . . .

Sebelious and President Obama
Contraception, abortion inducing drugs, and sterilization are just the beginning of “preventative services” which President Obama’s administration will mandate. If Health and Human Services (HHS) is able to pull this blatant violation of First Amendment rights off, then nothing will stop them from adding abortion to the list of “preventative services”.

We are on the edge of what could become a full on abortion mandate in our country. I am not okay with this and you shouldn’t be either. I challenge you to take action now with millions of others from across the country who are saying NO to this HHS mandate that violates the moral consciences and rights of millions of citizens.

Take Action:

  1. URGENT: Tell Your Senators to Vote YES on the Blunt-Rubio-Ayotte Amendment to Protect Conscience
  2. Participate in awareness events: http://standupforreligiousfreedom.com/

For the Dignity of the Born and Unborn,

Timmerie

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Video: A Religion-free Discussion of Abortion

Last week's presentation to the Virginia Atheists and Agnostics is below.

I realize that the video is long (and it would have been even longer if the camera hadn't run out of battery).  If you want the short version, Jameson Graber, a UVA student in the audience, has some thoughts about the presentation on his blog.

And I know you're all dying to have the "Unscientific Bullshit Montage" from the powerpoint. It's on YouTube.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

In Defense of HB 1


[Today's post is by SPL member Nathaniel.]

A lot of people are outraged, disgusted and alarmed at the recent passage of HB1: a Virginia bill that grants personhood to all human beings from the moment of conception.  As depicted by the media, the whole personhood notion is just a fabricated excuse to ban abortions.  For example:

“A Republican supermajority has muscled two of the most restrictive anti-abortion bills in years through the Virginia House…” – Washington Post

“Virginia lawmakers took a step toward outlawing abortion on Tuesday by approving "personhood" legislation that grants individual rights to an embryo from the moment of conception.” - Reuters

“A bill written to outlaw abortion by granting legal rights to fertilized eggs passed the Virginia House yesterday…” – Florida Independent

The assumption in all these articles is that personhood isn’t a legitimate issue.  It’s just a tool to attack abortion.  This is like saying that animal rights activists concocted notions of animal suffering out of thin air just because they really wanted an excuse to protest fur. 

Most people probably agree that PETA’s lawsuit against SeaWorld (they argued that orcas are protected under the 13th Amendment) is a little silly, but I don’t think anyone accuses PETA of making up the whole idea that whales have rights just to cover a secret hatred of large aquariums.  When Dr. Sylvia Earle says “I wouldn't deliberately eat a grouper any more than I'd eat a cocker spaniel,” the consensus is that she’s eccentric but sincere.  No one thinks she’s a closeted anti-fishermen bigot.  No one thinks she says fish are good-natured, curious, sensitive, and have personalities just because she secretly wants to stick it to anglers.

You don’t have to believe that we should treat tuna like people to understand that PETA does, and that they act out of that sincere belief.  So why is it so hard for people who think that a fetus is no more a person than a seahorse to grasp that—right or wrong—that is what pro-life people believe.  Let’s be real clear: Personhood is not an excuse to oppose abortion.  It is the reason to oppose abortion.

I understand that PETA may get something of a pass because the stakes are lower when we’re talking about a decision between faux leather and genuine cowhide.  And I don’t want to let anyone think I’m implying a woman’s right to control her own body is on the same level as a man’s right to buy genuine snakeskin boots.  Laws regulating abortion interfere with the most personal aspects of a woman’s life, and nothing in the world could possibly convince me such laws could ever be justified if it weren’t for the fact that on the other side of the scale is another human life.  (About ½ the time that life is female.)

If you ignore what the pro-life movement actually believes—if you assume our reasoning is just a smoke-screen—then you have to fill in with something made up.  And this is where we get weird ideas that the pro-life movement is motivated by a theocratic conspiracy or unvarnished misogyny.  The reality is simpler: The foundation of the pro-life movement is the proposition that all human lives have an equal right to life.

Although there’s a lot of religion in the pro-life movement, this isn’t a theological assertion.  The science is crystal clear and unambiguous: at fertilization / conception a new human being is created.  Don’t take my word for it.  Here are quotes from embryology textbooks:

"Fertilization is a sequence of events that begins with the contact of a sperm (spermatozoon) with a secondary oocyte (ovum) and ends with the fusion of their pronuclei (the haploid nuclei of the sperm and ovum) and the mingling of their chromosomes to form a new cell. This fertilized ovum, known as a zygote, is a large diploid cell that is the beginning, or primordium, of a human being."
[Moore, Keith L. Essentials of Human Embryology. Toronto: B.C. Decker Inc, 1988, p.2]

"Embryo: An organism in the earliest stage of development; in a man, from the time of conception to the end of the second month in the uterus."
[Dox, Ida G. et al. The Harper Collins Illustrated Medical Dictionary. New York: Harper Perennial, 1993, p. 146]

"The development of a human begins with fertilization, a process by which the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, thezygote."
[Sadler, T.W. Langman's Medical Embryology. 7th edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins 1995, p. 3]

"Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed.... The combination of 23 chromosomes present in each pronucleus results in 46 chromosomes in the zygote. Thus the diploid number is restored and the embryonic genome is formed. The embryo now exists as a genetic unity."
[O'Rahilly, Ronan and Müller, Fabiola. Human Embryology & Teratology. 3rd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001, pp. 8.]

And some scientists too:

"It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive...It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception." - Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth (Harvard University Medical School)

"After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. [It] is no longer a matter of taste or opinion...it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception." - Dr. Jerome LeJeune (Professor of Genetics, University of Descartes)

"The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter – the beginning is conception." - Dr. Watson A. Bowes (University of Colorado Medical School)

The science is clear: we’re dealing with a human life.  All that’s left is the philosophical questions.  Are all human lives equal?  And, if they are equal, can we infringe on a woman’s right to bodily autonomy in the name of protecting the right to life of the unborn human being within her?

There’s plenty of room left for debate here.  I’m not trying to twist anybody’s arm into implicitly accepting my position.  On the one hand you have Judith Thompson’s famous “A Defense of Abortion” where she created the well-known thought experiment of a woman who finds herself mysteriously attached to a concert violinist.  Does she have a moral or legal obligation to keep him alive for 9 months?  Camille Paglia goes much farther than this, stating:

As an atheist and libertarian, I believe that government must stay completely out of the sphere of personal choice. Every individual has an absolute right to control his or her body… Hence I have always frankly admitted that abortion is murder, the extermination of the powerless by the powerful. Liberals for the most part have shrunk from facing the ethical consequences of their embrace of abortion, which results in the annihilation of concrete individuals and not just clumps of insensate tissue. The state in my view has no authority whatever to intervene in the biological processes of any woman’s body, which nature has implanted there before birth and hence before that woman’s entrance into society and citizenship.
Peter Singer offers yet another alternative pro-choice argument that doesn’t require denial of the humanity of the unborn human being:

[The argument that a fetus is not alive] is a resort to a convenient fiction that turns an evidently living being into one that legally is not alive. Instead of accepting such fictions, we should recognise that the fact that a being is human, and alive, does not in itself tell us whether it is wrong to take that being's life.
He went on to argue for not only abortion, but also for infanticide on the basis that “Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons… the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.”  Philosophy Michael Tooley made a similar case with his philosophical definition of personhood, stating that a human being “possess[es] a serious right to life only if it possesses the concept of a self as a continuing subject of experiences and other mental states, and believes that it is itself such a continuing entity.”  Thus, unborn human beings are not persons.  Neither are newborns.  There are many ways in which a pro-choice position can be made without rejecting the scientific humanity of the unborn human being: either by rejecting the personhood of the unborn or by accepting it and then stating that the right to life doesn’t trump the right of (born) women to self-determination.

In short: there is no need for pro-choicers to pretend that the pro-life position has to boil down to religious fanaticism or woman-hating.  There is no reason not to accept that pro-life people sincerely view this issue as one of civil rights and then reject their viewpoint, just as you might reject PETA’s viewpoint.  The only thing you cannot do, however, is pretend to be having an honest discussion about abortion if your first assumption is that the pro-life movement can’t possibly be serious and honest when it makes a law based on personhood.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Susan G. Komen is still listening

Susan G. Komen for the Cure recently emailed me a link to a survey, which reveals some interesting clues to Komen's thought process.  The survey is only available to those who received an email, but I took plenty of screenshots.  The questions indicate that, while Planned Parenthood rejoices that they've won the battle, Susan G. Komen is still weighing its options.

For starters, Komen is finally doing what it should have done long ago: measuring support for Planned Parenthood.

They're also asking for opinions about news coverage:

But what I found most interesting were the requests for feedback on proposed statements.  For each, they asked "How believable is this statement?" "Does this statement make you more or less favorable toward Susan G. Komen for the Cure?" and "Based on this statement, how much more or less likely are you to donate to Susan G. Komen for the Cure?" The statements indicate that they are weighing several options.

Option #1: Pretend that the real issue is that Susan G. Komen has been unscientific.
Option #2: Throw Karen Handel under the bus.
Option #3: Unequivocally restore funding to Planned Parenthood.  
Option #4: Try to rise above the fray by focusing on the "true victims"-- women who will be harmed by the reduction in donations to Komen.
Option #5: More vague platitudes about how mistakes were made.  But what was the mistake?  Defunding Planned Parenthood?  Caving and re-funding Planned Parenthood?  Not being clear?  Partnering with Planned Parenthood in the first place?
Option #6: Grow a pair.
 
Unfortunately, "Clarify that Planned Parenthood remains ineligible for grants" was not an option.  Given Planned Parenthood's mafia-style tactics, I can hardly blame Komen for that.  But the truth is that until they sever their ties with the nation's largest abortion chain, they will never be able to fully focus on their mission.  

This survey shows that Komen is still listening.  We must reach out and let them know that we will be there for them if and when they finally get the courage to break free. 

SBA List Endorses Santorum

The pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List has endorsed Rick Santorum for President. Why this is bigger news is that SBA List has never endorsed a candidate for President in the past. Here's an excerpt from their presser:

“Among the field of strong pro-life candidates in the GOP primary, one stands out as a proven leader in this great human and civil rights cause of our time. Rick Santorum communicates the vision and has exhibited the strategic and tactical prowess the pro-life movement must have in order to succeed. Women and children deserve his leadership, grounded as it is in affirming the dignity of every person. At this inflection point in the primary process and a tipping point in history on the abortion issue, the Susan B. Anthony List endorses Rick Santorum for the Republican nomination for President,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of SBA List.


“Each one of the candidates in the Republican presidential field have made a commitment to be a pro-life president. However, none of them have the record of consistent leadership that Rick Santorum has demonstrated. At this critical moment in the race, our Board of Directors unanimously decided that we must stand with Rick Santorum, the candidate who throughout his career has stood so strongly for Life,” said Jane Abraham, Chairman of the SBA List Board of Directors.
EDIT 11:59 AM 2/17/12: More on the endorsement. I just received this email from SBA List in my inbox:

Dear Matthew,

Among the field of strong pro-life candidates in the GOP primary, one stands out as a proven leader in this great human and civil rights cause of our time.

Rick Santorum communicates the vision and has exhibited the strategic and tactical prowess the pro-life movement must have in order to succeed. Women and children deserve his leadership, grounded as it is in affirming the dignity of every person.

At this inflection point in the primary process and a tipping point in history on the abortion issue, the Susan B. Anthony List endorses Rick Santorum for the Republican nomination for President.

Rick Santorum has spent his entire political career aggressively advancing the rights of unborn children. While he was in the U.S. Senate, Santorum led the fight to ban partial-birth abortion and was a co-sponsor of every major piece of pro-life legislation. On the presidential campaign trail, he has spoken eloquently and consistently against President Obama's attacks on innocent human life.

All the candidates in the Republican presidential field have made a commitment to be a pro-life president, but none of them have the record of consistent leadership that Rick Santorum has demonstrated.

At this pivotal moment in the race, our Board of Directors unanimously decided that we must stand with the candidate who throughout his career has stood so strongly for Life.

It is only through the hard work of each of you, who are members of the SBA List, that we are blessed to have candidates who have made the greatest commitment to Life in the history of Republican presidential politics.

We thank you and ask for your continued prayers and support.

For Life,

Marjorie Dannenfelser
President, Susan B. Anthony List
www.sba-list.org

Cross-posted from Race42012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

AbortionSafety.com launch party

AbortionSafety.com, our website warning at-risk women about abortion clinics with a history of medical malpractice, will go live in April.  To celebrate, we are having a launch party on the evening of April 14 in Charlottesville, VA.

If you are willing and able to attend, but have not received an invitation, email info@secularprolife.org to request an invitation.  Those who have been active in Secular Pro-Life get priority.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Get Your Vending Machine Abortion

Shippensburg University (SU) in Pennsylvania now offers Plan B abortion pill (also known as the morning after pill) in campus vending machines for $25.

A couple of years ago the FDA approved over the counter sales of Plan B which is essentially a very high dosage of birth control that either stops ovulation or ends (aborts) the already created person in the womb. Normally to obtain birth control a woman must consult a doctor and be given a prescription, but not now! All you have to do it put in $25 and press a couple buttons.

Is providing this pill through a vending machine in the best interest of the safety or health of woman? Know the risks and contraindications of Plan B. Be informed and take action.

Take Action:

Contact Shippensburg University’s
Call (717) 477-1301
Email President, Dr. William Ruud wnruud@ship.edu

Action: Demand Plan B be removed from vending machines and encourage Dr. Ruud to keep the health of women in mind first before providing abortions on campus, because Plan B via a vending machine provides women with neither counsel nor options.

Learn About Plan B


For the Dignity of the Born and Unborn,

Timmerie



Sunday, February 12, 2012

Share your pro-life writing, artwork, or film

Attention all creative types! It's time to put your talents to use for a good cause.

Our friends at the Life Matters Journal are preparing their third issue. They're looking for op-eds, essays, news items, artwork, poems, fiction, and more. If it's connected to any life issue, it will be considered! Email your piece to lifemattersjournal@gmail.com by February 26. Student pro-life groups are encouraged to share pieces about their campus activism for the Life Matters Journal "Make it history" campaign.

The LifeFest Film Festival is accepting submissions for pro-life films of all lengths, from 30-second commercials to feature films. There is also a script competition. LifeFest is non-sectarian, and anything that "expresses or respects the dignity of each and every individual human life" qualifies for submission. The best entries will be screened at the festival, which will be held May 4-6 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The online skirmish pro-life activists won

[Today's post is by Phil, the Northeast Regional Coordinator of Students for Life of America.]

The recent online “war” between pro-life activists and abortion advocates over Susan G Komen for the Cure and Planned Parenthood had me thinking a lot about a previous electronic skirmish that didn’t make the news…

Last May, NARAL Pro-Choice America (yes, they actually call themselves that) thought it would be fun to get their supporters to take pictures of themselves holding signs showcasing their support for the mission of NARAL – i.e. legal abortion on demand through all nine months and for any reason.  They created a Flickr photostream where individuals could upload their photos, and the photostream could then be embedded on other websites.  They put out alerts to their members, telling them to join in what some were referring to as an online photo-petition to Congress.

Then we showed up.

LifeSiteNews, Jill Stanek, SFLA, and other pro-life outlets began encouraging their supporters to flood NARAL’s Flickr photostream with pro-life images and signs.  That flood grew throughout the day and continued into the night, and by the next morning, NARAL employees awoke to find THOUSANDS of pages (not photos, but pages of photos) filled with pro-life images.  Some images were sad (post-abortive women holding signs, graphics of aborted children), some were funny (photoshopped NARAL signs with ridiculous messages, a Darth Vader doll identifying himself as an abortion advocate, etc), and some were rocks (I kid you not, some folks just uploaded random images that had nothing to do with abortion whatsoever, all in an effort to flood the photostream).

It may not have done much in the large scheme of things, but it did accomplish two primary things:
  • Pro-lifers from across the spectrum were united in a simple online action, and had fun doing it – something that is essential to avoiding burnout among long-term activists.
  • Abortion advocates were forced to recognize that we too have an extensive online community of e-activists that are capable of making out voices heard – or in this case, visualized.

The notion that pro-lifers are a motley crew of technologically-inept fools has been gradually worn down over the past few years, and we’re now at the point where life-affirming organizations are not only embracing new technology and social media, but excelling at their use of it in advocacy efforts (I’m looking at you, AbolishAbortion.com and Live Action!)

Last week, we saw Planned Parenthood supporters unleash a massive Internet-based campaign to punish Susan K Komen for the Cure after they decided to not renew any funding contracts with PP.  It was somewhat successful, and SGK reversed course (sort of….some wonder if they themselves even realize what their stance is, now).  The “We-love-Planned-Parenthood-and-can’t-stand-pro-lifers” sentiment that many in the mainstream media hold was evident, and PP received not only glowing coverage and kid-glove treatment, but also a flood of donations - $3 million, according to a recent press release.

But most (if not all) of the approximately $3 million Planned Parenthood raised last week went into their Breast Health Fund, and not to a general fund that could be used for advocacy efforts.  If PP decides to use that money for something other than breast exams, it could damage their integrity in the eyes of many donors.
And according to the most recent data available, PP had seen a HUGE drop in private contributions – over $84 million in one year alone!  So fine, they raised $3 million…they’ve still got $81 million to go in order to make up the loss!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tonight: presentation at UVA

Tonight at 7pm, SPL presents "A Religion-free Discussion of Abortion."  It will be held on the University of Virginia campus, in New Cabell Hall room 411.  All are invited.  Hope to see you there!

We will try to get a recording for those who can't make it.

Update: Just got back from the presentation.  It went well.  As far as the recording goes, though, my camcorder died partway through.  Someone picked up the rest with his cell phone.  He's going to try to stitch the two recordings together, but I can't make any promises.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Put your money where your mouth is

Kelsey here.  Earlier today, I proposed a friendly wager to a facebook friend who supports Planned Parenthood and abortion:
Planned Parenthood says it has raised over $3 million for its emergency breast health fund, to replace the ~$600,000 it got from Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  I wager you $100 that Planned Parenthood will NOT perform more breast health services in 2012 than it did in 2011, but that its abortion numbers will rise.  What do you say?  
So far, my friend hasn't taken the bet. Smart.  According to Planned Parenthood's most recent annual report (page 6), in 2009, Planned Parenthood affiliates performed 830,312 services classified as "Breast Exams/Breast Care."  In 2010, that number dropped to 747,607, a decrease of almost 10%.  By contrast, from 2009 to 2010 the number of abortions dropped only 7/10ths of a percent.  That's an anomaly in the long-standing pattern of annual abortion increases at Planned Parenthood.

If you truly believe from the bottom of your heart that Planned Parenthood is a wonderful women's health organization that doesn't have an abortion-first mentality, then by all means, take me up on the offer.  (But first, make sure you live in a state where social gambling is legal.)  Since I don't know what my income will be when the 2011-2012 annual report comes out in 2013, I'm limiting this to ten people.  Stake your claim by commenting on this post, then email info@secularprolife.org with a way for me to contact you.  You must do both of these things to get in on the bet.  Deadline is Friday.

Be warned: I plan to donate my winnings to a pro-life organization.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Komen Giving to Planned Parenthood?

At the beginning of last week Susan G. Komen, the largest breast cancer organization, announced their decision to cease funding to Planned Parenthood through donations or grants. A few days later Susan G. Komen's president Nancy Brinker made the following announcement which appeared to retract Komen's decision to defund Planned Parenthood. Here is part of Brinker's announcement:
We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives. 
The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not. 
Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair. 
Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer. Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process. We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.
The bottom line is that Komen needs to do what is best for the organization's mission and not cave to politically correct pressures. Given that abortion has scientifically been proven to greatly increase a woman's risk of breast cancer the decision should be unquestionable. Learn about the scientifically proven fact of how abortion causes breast cancer from the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute.

Immediately after Komen made the original announcement to defund Planned Parenthood an all out war began. Planned Parenthood immediately started to attack Komen's reputation and funding. Many people are calling what Planned Parenthood did a "Mafia shakedown". I empathize with Komen for caving to Planned Parenthood's effort to destroy the Komen foundation.

The big question now is: Are they going to continue funding Planned Parenthood or not? The announcement is rather unclear given Planned Parenthood is under multiple criminal investigations; therefore, Komen cannot fund Planned Parenthood at this time. However, Komen could fund individual Planned Parenthood's affiliates that are not underst criminal investigation. Needless to say, there are loopholes.

While whether or not Komen will continue to fund Planned Parenthood is unclear, pro-lifers are encouraged to not support Komen until funding decisions are clear. However, I ask you to please email news@komen.org and tell them you support them in defunding Planned Parenthood and not to give in to Planned Parenthood's bullying.

For the Dignity of the Born and Unborn,

Timmerie

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Warning: possible graphic images during Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is tomorrow, and if you're anything like me, you're only watching for the commercials.

Jill Stanek reports that anti-abortion activist Randall Terry has plans to air graphic images of abortion during the Super Bowl in certain markets.  (He is technically running for president, to exploit a loophole that requires networks to air campaign ads unedited.)  Due to the obvious potential for backlash, the markets for the advertisement have not been announced.

Unlike the Tim Tebow pro-life Super Bowl commercial, which was so bland and unoffensive as to be almost funny-- abortion advocates looked ridiculous for having made such a scene over it-- this is NOT going to be pretty.  The 30-second piece begins with the a voice saying "Warning: Graphic Images Follow."

Jill appears to be in favor of the ad, while comments on the blog are mixed.  I have to politely disagree with Jill; I think this is a terrible idea.  It will absolutely do more harm than good.  There may be a time and place for graphic images, but the Super Bowl is not it.  On top of the concern that young children and post-abortive women will be traumatized-- and no, the ad does not include a hotline for post-abortion counseling-- the ad is full of fire-and-brimstone religious rhetoric (e.g. if we don't criminalize abortion, "heaven will judge America.").

Seeing the ad will only make abortion supporters get angry and defensive.  If you are unlucky enough to be in one of Terry's chosen geographic markets, and are watching the Super Bowl with a mixed pro- and anti-abortion group, I recommend that you turn the TV off the moment you hear the warning.  You can explain to your pro-choice friends why you are doing it, and let that begin a kind, thoughtful conversation of the type that actually changes people's minds.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hazzard to speak at University of Virginia

The Virginia Atheists and Agnostics, a student organization at the University of Virginia, will host a talk by Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard next week.  The presentation is free and open to the public.

Date: Thursday, February 9th
Time: 7:00-8:00pm
Location: New Cabell Hall Room 411 (view campus map here)
Charlottesville, VA

Secular Pro-Life is committed to increasing atheist and agnostic involvement in the pro-life movement.  This presentation will be a great lead-up to our outreach at the American Atheists convention in March.  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

TV commercials for abortion in the UK?

As American pro-lifers continue to follow the Susan G. Komen story (which, frankly, has mushroomed beyond all reason at this point), I want to make sure you don't miss this important development in the United Kingdom. Due to a reform that opens the airwaves to for-profit commercials, the United Kingdom's thirty-five abortion businesses may soon begin advertising abortion on television:
“This is an extremely disappointing decision,” said Mark Bhagwandin, of the pro-life charity Life. “The abortion industry has a lot of money behind it and these companies will have the means to run prime time television and radio advertising campaigns. This will trivialise and commercialise the decision to terminate a baby, putting it on the same footing as choosing other products advertised on television. I have no doubt that we will see a rise in abortions as a result of this.”
The article notes that there is no guarantee that the abortion businesses will take advantage of the change. There is, after all, a good chance of negative publicity. That's a fair point, but it seems to me that once one abortion business breaks that barrier, they'll all start advertising in order to stay competitive. At the end of the day, it all boils down to money.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the UK's premiere pro-life advocacy group, has expressed concern that the new law will be applied in a discriminatory fashion, so that abortion businesses will be free to advertise but pro-life abortion alternative centers will not.  SPUC is urging pro-lifers to contact their members of Parliament. Abortion centers can be blocked from advertising, but only if Jeremy Hunt MP, who is responsible for a media-related statutory regulatory body, is moved to act. Hunt is reportedly pro-life, but is reluctant to act without a clear mandate from the people. Pro-life Brits need to speak up and be heard!

We're very protective of free speech here in the good old U. S. of A., but there are limits.  For instance, while tobacco products are legal, television advertisements for them are not. This is because we recognize that tobacco is inherently harmful, and that sellers of tobacco must rely on deception to market their lethal product. It's time for nations on both sides of the pond to come to the same conclusion about abortion.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Quick International Pro-Life News Items

Russia - Statistics show that 2-2.5 million women receive abortions annually in Russia. In 2010, the number of live births was 1.7 million - meaning? Assuming one abortion per woman, there are approximately 30% more abortions performed than children being born. Pro-life legislators have been pushing for further restrictions on abortion in Russia and last year won a minor battle when President Medvedev signed legislation requiring abortion clinics to devote 10% of any advertising to describe the dangers abortions pose to a woman's health as well as making it illegal to describe abortions as a safe procedure.

Australia - The only clinic in Australia performing abortions after 24 weeks, will no longer be performing late term abortions. Management at the clinic said the procedure was "incredibly demanding" and this was an operational decision to stop offering the procedure. Pro-abortion are outraged at the end of the procedure, fearing this will lead to "back alley late term abortions."