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Friday, March 30, 2012

Atheists don't believe in us.

This past weekend was both the Reason Rally and the American Atheists Convention. SPL spends a lot of time advocating for secularism in the pro-life movement; last weekend was a great opportunity to advocate for pro-life positions in the secular movement. SPL arranged to have a table at the convention in the hopes of reaching other “in the closet” pro-life atheists and engaging in thoughtful debate with the opposition. I was delighted to hear that both of these goals were accomplished.

But of course, not all parties were pleased. Apparently SPL’s presence bothered some people.  Like…really bothered some people.  It bothered some people so much, in fact, that, rather than try to hear our arguments and engage in rational debate, they’ve not only run madly to the “you all hate women!” blinders, they’ve also added on a “and you’re all secretly Christian!” bonus.* 

I have to say, that second part caught me by surprise. I didn’t realize that acknowledging some of the most basic facts of human development meant that I believe in an all-knowing all-loving all-powerful Being.  Weird, right?

If anything, this knee-jerk reaction to any pro-life perspective further emphasizes the need for groups like Secular Pro-life.  It seems religious affiliations have become so intertwined with the pro-life movement that some people refuse to believe pro-life secularists exist at all!

A rare photograph of the Pro-life Atheist.

*To be fair, the linked blog post didn't specifically claim we are Christians.  It just said we “weren’t entirely atheist or secular” and “lied about being atheist,” and was followed by an extended conversation about excluding “religious organizations” such as Secular Pro-life from secular events. I suppose they could be implying that we are a bunch of closet pro-life Hindus or something. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

NH House Bans Abortions Post-20 Weeks

New Hampshire's House has banned abortions after 20 weeks. The Republican dominated legislature voted 190-109 to approve the measure. The fate of this bill now rests in the State Senate. It's unclear of Governor Lynch (D) would sign the legislation if it were to pass the Senate. Here's more from Boston.com:
For the fifth time in two weeks, the House passed a bill intended to restrict abortions in New Hampshire, voting Thursday to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.


Abortion providers would face felony charges punishable by up to 15 years in prison for violating the proposed law, although the mother would not be prosecuted. The House voted 190-109 to send the bill to the Senate. The fate of the bill and four others sent to the Senate is uncertain.



Laura Thibault, interim executive director of the local NARAL Pro-Choice America group, says no elective abortions are provided in New Hampshire now beyond 20 weeks.



The bill would exempt later-term abortions under certain circumstances: to save the life of the mother and the fetus, or to avert the serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.



NARAL says six states have bans in place for abortions beyond 20 weeks and nine, including New Hampshire, introduced bills this year.



The Legislature traditionally had rejected limits on abortion before Republicans took control in 2010 with one exception -- enactment of a parental notification law for minors in 2003 that was never implemented and was later repealed by Democrats. Republicans overrode Democratic Gov. John Lynch's veto of a similar bill last year and it took effect in January. Lynch, who supports abortion rights, has not said if he would veto the latest bills.



Besides the 20-week ban, the House voted over the past two weeks to ban partial-birth abortions, require women to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion, approve a study to recommend a process to collect statistics on abortion and to change the timing given judges to rule on whether a minor can have an abortion when she does not want to notify her parents in advance.



In January, the House also voted to ban publicly funded contracts with organizations that provide elective abortions even if private money is used to pay for the service. State officials say the bill could jeopardize New Hampshire's $1.4 billion annual Medicaid program. The Senate has a hearing scheduled on the bill April 5.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A personal note

This is Kelsey speaking.  I want to address some comments about my personal religious beliefs, or lack thereof.  I haven't talked much about this publicly, since it's my position that we should evaluate abortion arguments on their own merits, rather than on the personal characteristics of whoever's making the argument. But since this has become a bit of a distraction, I want to clarify where I stand.

I grew up in a Methodist church.  It's not a gay-bashing, hellfire-and-brimstone kind of place, and it does a lot of good in the community.  I have nothing against that church, and when I visit my parents, I don't mind attending services there.  But I know that I no longer have a "relationship with God," so it would be inappropriate for me to call myself a Christian.

All theists go through ups and downs in their faith.  About a year ago, I went from a major high to a major low.  And at that time, I realized that in each circumstance, my personal moral code was exactly the same.  My faith or non-faith wasn't making any difference in how I actually lived.

So I just stopped caring.

I don't know how you'd label that.  Agnostic?  Apathetic?  As a day-to-day matter, I live like an atheist humanist; I don't pray or worship, but I do try to make the world a better place.

Tonight: Presentation at UNC-Chapel Hill

Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard will present "Secular Arguments Against Abortion" tonight at 7:00 pm.

The presentation will take place in room 104 of the Howell building at UNC-Chapel Hill. This event, hosted by Carolina Students for Life, is free and open to the public.  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Through the Looking Glass.


I frequently find myself in abortion arguments with people who just cannot wrap their minds around the idea that I think the fetus deserves human rights. It’s like they believe I just bring up fetal rights as a red herring to distract from my supposed hatred of women. They do not believe the fetus deserves human rights, but moreso, they cannot bring themselves to believe that anyone truly believes the fetus deserves human rights. It’s really irritating.

But it got me thinking: what if roles were reversed?  Often my debate opponents seem to have no comprehension of the world from a pro-life perspective.  What about us pro-lifers?  Have you ever considered how you would see things if you were pro-choice? If you truly saw the fetus as a tumor, a parasite, a blob, a Nothing—how would pro-lifers look to you? How would the abortion debate look to you?

I imagine it would look a lot like this.  The link is a post from a blog created by so-called “Abortioneers”--people who are incredibly motivated to provide access to abortion.  The authors of the blog strike me in their obvious deep care for the women that come to them.

I know the fetus is a human being.  I can’t assign the fetus so little value as to justify elective abortions.  When I consider the average waiting periods for adoption, when I consider how people scoff at even the notion of a free, 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy (or, hey, sexual acts that don’t involve a risk of pregnancy), my empathy is rapidly replaced by intense frustration.

Even so, it was interesting briefly stepping through the looking glass to see abortion from the other side.  I could only hope to write so compellingly as to inspire pro-choicers, however fleetingly, to comprehend my perspective as well.

Monday, March 26, 2012

American Atheists convention: day 2

Kristine: A comment on yesterday’s blog pointed out that “being an atheist does not automatically make one open minded.”  In my experience at the rally and atheist convention I would agree wholeheartedly with that statement.  Despite the many great and reasoned conversations that we had, there were sadly some who simply refused to form a reasoned argument.

It’s what I call “putting down a roof and calling it a house” or in rhetorical terms “begging the question.”  An assertion is not an argument.  A conclusion is not a reason. 

“It’s my choice, it’s my body!” declared one woman.  No matter how many times I tried to engage her with questions about how location is morally relevant, again and again she repeated “Because – it’s my body. So it’s my choice.”

A similar response came from a woman who asked me how many children I had and walked away with a smug look after I told her I had none. Our table-mate Micheal faced similar attacks when it was pointed out that he could not get pregnant.  I was saddened by this.  At an event that claims to live by reason and rational thought, how is attacking the character of the person making the argument the least bit valid?  Even if I’m a bigoted, sexist, horrible person who enjoys kicking children and eating human flesh – you still need to address my arguments on their own merit.

Kelsey: We had a few fun debates. A couple of people said that they would “draw the line” when the heartbeat or brain waves begin. I smiled and informed them that those events happen so early that if you think abortion is wrong after that point, you are in effect pro-life.  They didn't seem to mind.  But it makes no difference to me whether or not they adopt a certain label.

Kristine:   Yesthankfully there were many who took the time to think about the issues and to engage in a mutual challenge of ideas.  “I’m pro-choice but I’m glad you guys are here,” said another young man, after a lengthy discussion between a pro-life couple and a pro-choice couple broke out next to our table.  “It takes courage to voice a minority view in an atmosphere like this.”

Indeed, we will continue to be a voice. Atheists are diverse, and some of us believe that women’s rights can be had without sacrificing the lives of the smallest members of our species.

Kelsey
: Today was a bit more low-key in the exhibitors' room than yesterday, so I got the chance to attend a session in the main ballroom entitled “The Image of the Atheist Community.” It was presented by well-known author and radio host Jamila Bey. She had a number of suggestions for improving secular activism, including 1) fostering a sense of community, 2) “starting them young” by encouraging children to develop an interest in science, and 3) refusing to become complacent. These steps would be helpful for the pro-life movement as well-- or any other social movement, for that matter. Excellent advice.

Kristine: Finally, we're now famous!  Well, sort of.  I was interviewed for not one but two documentaries.

Kelsey: Such an overachiever ;-)

Kristine: One documentary producer was "personally pro-life" and engaged me in a very good dialog about secular pro-life arguments.  The second documentary maker was so impressed with my speaking and ability to articulate my position that he told me he'd like to have me as a spokesperson for American Atheists.   I wonder how well that would go over in the atheist community! :-)

Kelsey: Thanks everyone for your support and encouragement this weekend.  We're psyched to have had the chance to engage in this vital outreach.

October Baby Opening Weekend


New independent film October Baby hit theaters this weekend. This film shares the story of a young lady who finds out she is adopted after her mother tried to abort her. . . Despite the film being in a limited number of theaters it ranked 9th in top 10 films during its weekend release.


I encourage you to checkout the film over the next couple weeks while it is in theaters across the country and share your thoughts! 

For the Dignity of the Born and Unborn,

Timmerie




Sunday, March 25, 2012

American Atheists convention: day 1

[Today's post is by Kelsey and Kristine!]


Kristine: Being a pro-lifer at an atheist event is a little like walking around with three heads. On the one hand, the moment I arrived at the Reason Rally I  felt myself at home with those who think as little of religion as I currently do.  And yet as I found myself cheering and laughing along to the speakers, who ranged from the famous Richard Dawkins to youtube celebrity vloggers, I was jerked back to an awareness of my three heads with shouts like “A woman’s womb is not property.  We need to stop those misogynist bigots who seek to enslave women and occupy vaginas!” 

Kelsey: I got in last night, and American Atheists had a party to celebrate the success of the Reason Rally earlier that day.  I was introduced to the music of Australian artist Shelley Seagal, who I would later learn is pro-choice but very open-minded and friendly.  This afternoon, the two of us wound up discussing abortion and the right to life for a good half an hour, after which we took a photo together.

This morning, before Kristine arrived, Michael and I were interviewed by an abortion advocate for Citizen Radio.  All was fine at first-- the usual debate about hypothetical scenarios-- but went downhill toward the end. The interviewer said that she had been accosted by some anti-abortion activists (who called her a whore) while she was getting her birth control, and essentially wanted us to apologize for the actions of these strangers. I told her that I found the protesters' behavior unacceptable, and Michael replied in no uncertain terms that "Calling you a whore is wrong," but she just would not let up.  She shut off the recorder and informed me that I'm a horrible person.  I'm sure there's a heavily edited version out on the internet somewhere.  But hey, you win some, you lose some-- and we definitely won some today.

Kristine: A particularly productive conversation resulted after I helped one couple recognize that abortion is in fact ageism and discrimination. After all, why draw an arbitrary line that says that we will only grant person to beings who have achived a certain point of function and development?  They would not concede that abortion ought to be outlawed, but were willing to grant that society's current approach to the problem is arbitrary. 

Kelsey: One elderly woman looked me in the eye and said "I don't understand how women could be so hateful to other women."  I was upset by the attack, but calmly responded: "I do not hate women.  No woman wants to have an abortion.  No woman wakes up and says, 'I'm going to have unprotected sex today, so that I can get pregnant and have some doctor put sharp objects up my privates.'  No one wants that.  And we want to make sure women don't end up in that situation."  That settled her down a bit and she walked away.

Kristine: Responses were varied as people passed by our table. Some dirty looks, some shrugs, and the occasional double-turn as though they were’t quite sure they’d read correctly. Some were convinced that we were in fact a front for a religious group and demanded to know who was funding us.

Kelsey: "Students giving twenty bucks at a time" is not a terribly exciting answer.

Kristine: It was a thrill to be able to give secular arguments to those who'd only ever heard Christian pro-life arguments. "I disagree with you but I’m impressed with you," said one young man.  "This is the first time I’ve ever heard some defend [the pro-life] view with reason and rational arguments."   Another young man stated after a lengthy discussion that while he still disagreed with me "It’s nice to be able to talk to someone who can articulate their position without throwing baby Jesus in your face."  


Kelsey: Our email list grew considerably today.  Most prefaced their sign-up with "I thought I was the only one."  That's why we're here!  

Kristine: One grandfatherly man with a most friendly smile politely informed us that one day when we realize we are wrong, they would forgive us.  He left me almost as dumbfounded as the woman who insisted that "religion ought to be kept out of my panties."  I smiled and asked her whether it was okay to put science in her panties.

Kelsey: That cracked me up.  But my favorite debate moment came toward the end of the day.  A pro-choice guy had been chatting with us, earnestly trying to understand our position, when a woman angrily walked up and thrust an "I'm pro-choice and I vote" bumper sticker at us.  The guy we had just been debating turned around and debated her for us, using many of the arguments we'd just used on him!

Kristine: The adventure continues tomorrow!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Update on Drexel and Call for Action

Last Friday, Secular Pro-Life reported that the Earl Macke School of Law at Drexel University was encouraging its students to participate in pro-abortion "public service" projects.  One of these projects demonstrated an incredible ignorance of First Amendment law.

The same day the story broke, I wrote an email to Karen Pearlman Raab, the school's Director for Pro Bono and Public Interest Programs:
Dear Ms. Raab,
I was very disappointed to see that Drexel's pro bono program encourages students to participate in the "Abortion Clinic Escort Service," run by Law Students for Reproductive Justice.  On your website, students responsibilities in this program are described as follows: "Should a protester violate the First Amendment, the student escort will take a full report and file his or her notes of the incident with the Court" (emphasis added).  That is a legal impossibility, as only state actors can violate the First Amendment.  This baseless legal threat can only serve to intimidate lawful pro-life protesters.  The Abortion Clinic Escort Service project reflects poorly on Drexel's ability to teach constitutional law, as well as on its commitment to serve the public good. 
In addition, I want to make you aware that the Planned Parenthood on Locust Street (located less than 10 minutes from the law school) failed a 2010 health inspection for its failure to provide adequate follow-up care to abortion patients.  The Judicial Bypass Intake project, also run by Law Students for Reproductive Justice, facilitates abortions by minors without their parents' knowledge.  If one of those minors were to visit the Locust Street Planned Parenthood, she could find herself in need of emergency care-- at which point her parents would certainly need to be involved.  The Judicial Bypass Intake project could expose Drexel to significant liability. 
I respectfully request that the pro bono program cease referring law students to these two projects, on the ground that they do not serve the public good and are harmful to Drexel's reputation.
It has been almost a week and I have received no direct response from Ms. Raab.  Drexel has, however, made a change to the "Abortion Clinic Escort Service" project on its website, deleting the reference to the bogus constitutional argument.  It now reads "Should a student escort perceive a potential violation of a woman's safe and lawful access to services, he or she will take a full report of the incident and file his or her notes with appropriate officials."

Needless to say, this response is completely inadequate.  There is no indication whatsoever that Drexel has taken steps to avoid interfering with pro-lifers' First Amendment right to protest.  Nor is there any indication that they have taken steps to avoid involvement with the Locust Street Planned Parenthood through the Judicial Bypass Intake Project.

Ms. Raab, a slight change to the website with no further communication or action is NOT the kind of meaningful reform that Drexel's pro bono program needs.  It's time to go up the ladder.

Please sign this petition urging Drexel to end its complicity with abortion and censorship.  We will keep the petition open until next Thursday, and then send it to the Dean and Law School Board on Friday, March 30th.  With twenty board members-- including several federal judges with considerable experience in constitutional law-- at least some of them are bound to be disturbed by the current state of Drexel's pro bono program.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Meet Ryan

[Today's post is by SPL member Megan Hamrick.]

It's World Down Syndrome Day!  9 out of 10 of these beautiful children are never born because of abortion. And even after birth, there are those who believe they are better off dead; that they are drains on our society, that they are not real living people.

Today, I ask that you stand up and speak out for these vulnerable kids who can't speak for themselves. This picture, for those not in the know, is my little brother Ryan. He is 18, he plays football in a special needs league, his favorite movie is Toy Story, his favorite artist is Sugarland, he loves his pets & parents (Sissy is okay at times), he really enjoys going to Mass and listening to the Choir or Life Teen Band-- and he has Down Syndrome, severe mental retardation, autism, and epilepsy.  I wouldn't change the brat for all the world. I love my little brother, and anyone who wants to use his picture can. 

 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What do Americans mean when they say "pro-choice"?

While the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice” are clearly open for interpretation, I’ve had the impression that, generally, “pro-life” people think abortion should be illegal except in cases that threaten the mother’s life (and perhaps in cases of rape*) and “pro-choice” people generally think abortion should be legal throughout pregnancy.  My impressions are due partially to my countless conversations with passionate pro-choicers (who, yes, are sometimes pro-abortion) and due partially to the heated public debates that ensue with nearly every attempt at abortion restriction. 

The combination of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton effectively made abortion legal at any stage in pregnancy.  Most attempts to limit this liberal standard are met with strong resistance.  I’m not just talking about sweeping changes, like declaring personhood begins at conception.  Even more mild restrictions, such as parental notification requirements, are greatly contested.

It seems to me there are two possible reasons for this defense of some of the most permissive abortion standards in the world:

1)      The pro-choice movement genuinely believes abortion should be legal at any time for any reason.
2)      A fair amount of pro-choicers don’t realize exactly what standard they’re defending.

This Gallup poll suggests the latter.  While 46% of respondents described themselves as “pro-choice,” only 38% said abortion should be legal in “any” or “most” circumstances.  Additionally, of self-described pro-choicers:

  • 60% think minors should be required to get parental consent.
  • 60% think women should be required to wait 24 hours before obtaining an abortion.
  • 63% think partial-birth abortion should be illegal.
  • 52% think abortion should be illegal in the 2nd trimester.
  • 79% think abortion should be illegal in the 3rd trimester.
It’s also worth noting that only 90% of self-described pro-lifers think abortion should be illegal in the 2nd trimester.  Even so, if:

  • 90% of the 48% of Americans who describe themselves as “pro-life” (43.2%) and
  • 52% of the 46% who describe themselves as “pro-choice” (23.92%)
believe abortion should be illegal by the 2nd trimester, then 68% of Americans think abortion should be illegal after the 1st trimester.

The majority of Americans don’t agree with our current abortion law.  Why, then, has it been so difficult to unify and enact meaningful change?

*According to the same Gallup poll, 59% of self-described pro-lifers believe abortion should be legal in cases of rape.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Slippery Slope . . . Are We there?


Last month Health and Human Services (HHS) mandated birth control, sterilization, and abortion inducing drugs in President Obama’s healthcare reform. The issue at hand does not only consist of whether or not we believe any of the three above “preventative services’ are okay, the larger issue at hand is that the HHS mandate also forces individuals and institutions to violate their consciences by forcing them to provide these services for their employees.

For some, this mandate was perfectly okay, while others have passionately opposed this mandate as a violation of their First Amendment Right to religious liberty.

For weeks, the fear has been that mandated birth control, sterilization, and abortion inducing drugs would be the first service to be provided, and that they would become the slippery slope to mandated abortion coverage if we did not oppose the HHS mandate.

Well, last week the Obama administration wowed us again with the so called “$1 abortions” ruling. Here’s what’s up:

  • Most health plans will include elective abortion (federally subsidized).
  • Everyone who enrolls in a plan will have to pay for those elective abortions through their insurance premiums, whether or not they themselves are seeking abortions or are opposed to abortion.
  • You might not ever know you are paying for abortion coverage because the government does not allow the insurer to give any warning of abortion coverage.
  • In abortion plans:
    • Every enrollee is charged for abortion.
    • You will not know how much you’re paying for the abortions (Minimum is $1 a month).


We are NOW riding the slippery slope. Some thought that being quiet would be the best thing to do, but we are talking about our constitutional rights, and silence has lead us to tyrrany. Now is the time to go outside of our personal comfort zones. Now is the the time for all of us to engage and speak out. If we don’t speak now, we assign away our rights to religious liberty in the future. SPEAK NOW AGAINST THE HHS MANDATE WHICH VIOLATES YOUR, AND MY, 1ST AMENDMENT RIGHT TO RELIGIOUS LIBERTY.


Timmerie

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Must-see video


Backstory here.  Josiah is affiliated with the Christian group Abolitionist Society of Oklahoma.  You've probably seen their "Abolish Human Abortion" graphics on Facebook; they're excellent with social media.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Drexel needs a civics lesson

Kelsey speaking.  It's hard to believe that my graduation from the University of Virginia School of Law is just two months away!  In light of this approaching milestone, I decided to revisit an issue from early in my law school career: namely, whether or not the Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University in Philadelphia still fails to grasp basic concepts of constitutional law.  The answer, sadly, is yes.

Way back in the fall of 2009, when I was a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed first-year law student, I noticed that Drexel Law encouraged students to be abortion center escorts as part of its pro bono (volunteer) program.  The school website noted the possibility that pro-life sidewalk counselors and protesters might "violate the First Amendment."  There's just one problem: it is legally impossible for a private party to violate the First Amendment! Even then, I knew (and my past two and a half years of legal education have confirmed) that the Bill of Rights limits actions by state officials.  For example, the First Amendment is violated when police officers arrest pro-lifers who are engaged in peaceful protests.  Sidewalk counselors talking to abortion-minded women?  Not a First Amendment violation by any stretch of the imagination.

Almost three years later, Drexel still hasn't learned this basic civics lesson (click to enlarge):
Abortion Clinic Escort Sevice--LSRJ Run Project
Students are trained in First Amendment Law and observe protestors
outside of abortion clinics to make sure they do not overstep their bounds.
Students will escort the women to the clinic, keeping track of protesters
action (sic).  Should a protester violate the First Amendment, the student
escort will take a full report of the incident and file his or her notes of the
incident with the Court.  If you are interested in participating in this project,
please contact LSRJ or Karen Pearlman Raab for specific requirements and 
time commitments.












Interestingly, another Drexel pro bono project-- the "NLG Legal Observer Program"-- has a much better grasp of the First Amendment.  That project encourages students to observe public demonstrations and record "any behavior on the part of law enforcement that appears to restrict demonstrators' ability to express their political views."  Just so long as it isn't a pro-life demonstration, apparently.

But getting back to the "Abortion Clinic Escort Service" project: you may have noticed that it is run by LSRJ.  "LSRJ" is "Law Students for Reproductive Justice," a pro-abortion advocacy group.  Drexel's chapter of LSRJ also encourages law students to help children get abortions behind their parents' backs, through the "Judicial Bypass Intake" project (click to enlarge):
Judicial Bypass Intake--LSRJ Run Project
Some young women decide they cannot tell their parents about their
pregnancy.  A judicial bypass is an order from a judge that allows a minor
to have an abortion without telling or receiving consent from her parent
or legal guardian.  Assist these girls seeking attorney representation at
their judicial bypass hearing by conducting in depth intake review and
filing out the Petitions to File with the Court.  If you are interested in
participating in this project, please contact LSRJ or Karen Pearlman
Raab for specific requirements and time commitments.












"Pro bono" is short for pro bono publico, which in Latin means "for the public good."  Facilitating the deaths of unborn children, intimidating pro-life sidewalk counselors with bogus legal threats, and misinforming students about constitutional law is a far cry from the public good!  And it gets worse: a 2010 health inspection found that the Philadelphia Planned Parenthood on Locust Street, which is less than 10 minutes away from the law school, failed to give adequate follow-up care to abortion patients.  I wonder: will LSRJ be there for the 15-year-old girl they assisted in getting a secret abortion, when she's in pain and alone in the Planned Parenthood recovery room? 

I suggest that we exercise our First Amendment rights by sending polite emails to Karen Pearlman Raab, the law school's Director for Pro Bono and Public Interest Programs, asking her to reform the pro bono program so that it truly advances the public good.  Her email address is karen.a.pearlman@drexel.edu.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Don't like abortion?

So it’s pretty ridiculous how many times I’ve heard this:
                                              

If you want to understand a pro-lifer’s perspective, take any argument about abortion and substitute “fetus” with “3-year-old.”  Try this with me:

“If you don’t like killing 3-year-olds, then don’t kill any.  But don’t try to impose your beliefs on me!”

See what happens there?  

The fetus is a human being, and pro-lifer's consider the fetus worthy of human rights/protection.  The "don't like one, don't get one" sound bite ignores this fundamental pro-life belief. It makes no sense to tell people who believe human rights are being violated to mind their own business.

(From Zazzle.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Quick Pro-Life News Bites

New Hampshire - The New Hampshire House has passed legislation requiring a 24 hour waiting period before an abortion and also requires doctors to inform patient's about the link between abortion and breast cancer. Here is the actual language in the legislation regarding said link:
e) Materials that inform the pregnant woman that there is a direct link between abortion and breast cancer. It is scientifically undisputed that full-term pregnancy reduces a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer. It is also undisputed that the earlier a woman has a first full-term pregnancy, the lower her risk of breast cancer becomes, because following a full-term pregnancy the breast tissue exposed to estrogen through the menstrual cycle is more mature and cancer resistant. In fact, for each year that a woman’s first full-term pregnancy is delayed, her risk of breast cancer rises 3.5 percent. The theory that there is a direct link between abortion and breast cancer builds upon this undisputed foundation. During the first and second trimesters of pregnancy the breasts develop merely by duplicating immature tissues. Once a woman passes the thirty-second week of pregnancy (third trimester), the immature cells develop into mature cancer resistant cells. When an abortion ends a normal pregnancy, the woman is left with more immature breast tissue than she had before she was pregnant. In short, the amount of immature breast tissue is increased and this tissue is exposed to significantly greater amounts of estrogen—a known cause of breast cancer. Women facing an abortion decision have a right to know that such medical data exists. At the very least, women must be informed that it is undisputed that pregnancy provides a protective effect against the later development of breast cancer.
This battle now makes its way to the State Senate. Governor Lynch (D) has not said whether he would veto the legislation or not.


Argentina - A Supreme Court decision in Argentina has legalized abortion in cases of rape. Here's more from CNN:

Abortion is illegal in Argentina. As interpreted, in addition to cases of mental incapacity, the law only permitted abortions in some instances in which the mother's life was at risk.


The original case involved a 15-year-old girl who became pregnant after being raped by her stepfather. A lower court ruled in March 2010 that an abortion was permissible in cases of rape, but that decision was appealed to the nation's highest court.



In its ruling, the Supreme Court clarified that Argentina's Constitution and human rights treaties would not allow such a prohibition in cases of rape.



"On the contrary, they forbid punishing all victims of rape in accordance to the principles of equality, personal dignity, and legality," the country's center for judicial information reported.



The ruling also specified that judicial authorization is not needed before performing an abortion. The only necessary declaration is the patient's statement that she was raped, the court ruled.



Despite the country's tough anti-abortion laws, the health ministry estimates that some 460,000 abortions are performed each year in Argentina. The ministry estimated that about 100 women die each year because the procedures were not carried out with the required medical expertise.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Crossed Lines


I am not, by any stretch, the first pro-lifer to draw parallels between abortion and infanticide.  Many before me have tried to explain our concern that society could adapt the pro-choice mentality to apply to newborns.

Pro-choicers usually respond with flat denial, and sometimes disgust.  Killing newborns, after all, cannot be justified by bodily integrity. This is a crucial difference between abortion and infanticide. Is it the only difference?

Some people seem to think so. On February 23, 2012, ethicists Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva published a paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics entitled, “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?”  The abstract:
“Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”
The paper has been met with outrage. The authors have received death threats. People are reacting to the rationalization of homicide as you’d expect society to react. Amongst the vehement rejection, though, some are giving this suggestion a hard look. William Saletan of Slate.com writes,
“It isn’t pro-lifers who should worry about the Giubilini-Minerva proposal. It’s pro-choicers. The case for ‘after-birth abortion’ draws a logical path from common pro-choice assumptions to infanticide. It challenges us, implicitly and explicitly, to explain why, if abortion is permissible, infanticide isn’t.”
I’m glad Saletan, like most pro-choicers I know, thinks infanticide is something worth worrying about. It’s good for society to be on the same page when it comes to killing babies. The options seem to be:

1) See the parallel between abortion and infanticide and deplore both practices.
2) See no parallel between abortion and infanticide, and defend abortion while condemning infanticide.
3) See the parallel between abortion and infanticide and accept both practices.

I believe the great majority of society sticks with Options 1 and 2. Still, I feel a weary horror every time someone chooses Option 3.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cool stuff

SPL member Ward Ricker has produced a couple of useful tools.  The first is a quiz that tests your general knowledge of abortion in the United States; it uses neutral language, so both pro- and anti-abortion people can use it and learn something.  (I confess that I got one of the questions wrong.)

The second is a pdf file that shows how many abortions are performed at or after various stages of pregnancy, with (non-graphic) prenatal images. It's an eye-opener for the uneducated, and a dose of inspiration for the weary pro-life activist.

Thanks for the resources, Ward!  If you have something that you would like to be featured on the SPL blog, email info[at]secularprolife.org.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bodily Integrity

In my opinion, bodily integrity—the idea that no person has the right to use another person’s body against their will--is the strongest pro-choice argument.

Consider the court case McFall v Shimp: McFall suffered from a life-threatening bone marrow disease and his cousin, Shimp, was a compatible bone marrow donor.  Shimp refused to donate bone marrow. McFall requested Shimp be compelled to donate. The Court considered Shimp’s refusal “morally indefensible,” but still ruled in Shimp’s favor, explaining, 
“For a society which respects the rights of one individual, to sink its teeth into the jugular vein or neck of one of its members and suck from it sustenance for another member, is revolting to our hard-wrought concepts of jurisprudence. Forcible extraction of living body tissue causes revulsion to the judicial mind.” 
Judith Jarvis Thomson tackles the issues of bodily integrity and moral obligations in her essay, “A Defense of Abortion.”  Thomson asks us to imagine a famous violinist with a fatal kidney ailment.  One day a bunch of music lovers kidnap you and hook your kidneys up to the violinist’s circulatory system.  In nine months the violinist will have recovered, but if you disconnect yourself prematurely the violinist will die.  Thomson asks, “Is it morally incumbent on you to accede to this situation?”

I’ve often seen car crashes used as another analogy.  When you drive (have sex), you know there’s a possibility you could crash into someone (conceive).  Even when you drive very cautiously (use contraception), there is still a chance of a car accident.  Should you be in a car crash in which the victim’s life is at stake, the law does not compel you to donate blood or organs to save the victim. While it would be admirable for you to donate, you are not required to do so.

These analogies attempt to illustrate not only the importance of bodily integrity, but that bodily integrity is so essential it cannot be usurped by even the morally and physically complex circumstances of pregnancy.  Yet in the context of abortion each of the above examples fails to account for one or more of the following important factors:

1)   Roughly 99% of abortions are performed for pregnancies in which sex was consensual. Two people willingly participated in an action that carried the risk of making another life dependent on the woman’s body.  This is distinct from being kidnapped and forcibly attached to someone. How would Thomson’s thought experiment change if you caused the violinist’s kidney ailment, connected your kidneys to his circulatory system, and then wanted to unplug?

2)   Once pregnant, the woman is already donating her body to the fetus.  It is not a question of whether she can be compelled to donate, but whether she can rescind the donation.  This may seem a meaningless distinction until we reconsider Shimp v. McFall.  How would the Court react if Shimp had already donated bone marrow to McFall and now wanted to have it back?

3)   Unintended pregnancies occur at a far greater rate than comparable bodily donation situations. About 1-9% of women who use birth control pills and 2-18% of couples who use condoms experience unplanned pregnancies. Even the most effective form of female sterilization has a 0.3% chance of an unplanned pregnancy.  For those of us who drive daily, that’s the equivalent of causing at least one life-threatening car crash every year.

4)   For most of the pregnancy, the expectant mother is the only person who can keep the fetus alive.  Imagine if our country had no infrastructure of blood banks and organ donors.  Imagine that, during your annual life-threatening car crash, you were the only person who could save the life of whomever you’d hit.  I doubt our laws would be unaffected by such frequent, extreme situations.

And none of this even touches on the particular circumstances of parental responsibility.

I know analogies are not meant to exactly mirror the circumstances they represent, and yet here I’ve spent a blog post nitpicking analogies.  But that’s sort of the point, isn’t it?  While bodily integrity is an important right, the frequency, physical circumstances, and moral implications of pregnancy are so unique that even in deciding Roe v.Wade, the Court specifically avoided using bodily integrity as a basis for its reasoning: 
“…appellant and some amici argue that the woman's right is absolute and that she is entitled to terminate her pregnancy at whatever time, in whatever way, and for whatever reason she alone chooses. With this we do not agree. … In fact, it is not clear to us that the claim asserted by some amici that one has an unlimited right to do with one's body as one pleases bears a close relationship to the right of privacy previously articulated in the Court's decisions. The Court has refused to recognize an unlimited right of this kind in the past.”
I empathize with people who find abortion troubling but find an incursion on bodily rights at least as troubling.  Bodily integrity should not be debated trivially.  However, given the millions of times a year people willingly take the risk that someone’s life will depend exclusively on their bodies, and given the hundreds of thousands of times a year that risk becomes a reality, these circumstances are anything but trivial.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Announcement: AbortionSafety.com launch date

Thanks for bearing with us during the blog hiatus.  Secular Pro-Life has an exciting announcement: AbortionSafety.com will launch on April 3rd! This project has been over a year in the making, and we are thrilled to be able to reach out to women and babies in crisis.  On this International Women's Day, we affirm that women have the right to know about abortion providers who have maimed or killed patients.  We cannot allow this malpractice to be swept under the rug for political reasons.

We are still seeking donations to pay for advertisements on Google.  When a pregnant woman searches for "abortion clinic," what will she see first-- an ad for an abortion center with a history of negligent care, or an ad for AbortionSafety.com, warning her about that center?  The answer depends upon you!  Gifts of any size are greatly appreciated.  On behalf of the women and babies who will benefit from AbortionSafety.com, thank you for your support.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Keeping Abortion Clinics Closed


This morning, Operation Rescue shared an article that the LA Times published.  The article is about an abortionist from Wichita named Mila Means who has attempted to open a new abortion clinic in Wichita, but has been unable to thanks to peaceful but persistent pro-life protesting. A few days ago, Shawn Carney of 40 Days for Life reported his return from celebrating the closing of two Planned Parenthood clinics in Iowa.

My thoughts? These abortion clinics are closing and new ones are not being opened. They are closing because people are doing something to make it happen. Are you willing to do what it takes to create a world that is abortion free? Sometimes all it can take is you making your opinion known to your peers.

We can make it happen if those who believe abortion is wrong say so and do something about it. I am not telling you to stand on your rooftop and yell it out, but I am telling you to not be silent or pull the "I'm personally pro-life, but . . ." argument.

How can we change hearts if we are silent or do not live by example?


Timmerie






Thursday, March 1, 2012