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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The year's top stories

Without further ado, the most-read stories on our blog in 2014 were...

#10: Watch out for this disingenuous "pro-choice" tactic: The "pro-choice" movement no longer wants to be called that. Their next move? To ride on the coattails of genuine good causes by stealing the language of "economic security," a "safe and healthy environment" for children, and of course, "women's health."

#9: The feminist movement cannot afford to ignore pro-life concerns: Emma Watson seriously undermined her UN "HeForShe" speech by alluding to support for abortion without any mention of the damage caused by sex-selective abortions. Sadly, gender inequity begins in the womb.

#8: Abortion, Sex Positivity, and the Non-Aggression Principle: Guest blogger Kris Skul argues that pro-lifers need not take an abstinence-first approach.

Above: the greying abortionists
of "After Tiller"
#7: The Imago Dei, or "Why should secularists care about human life?": If you're new here, this article is an excellent introduction to what Secular Pro-Life is all about.

#6: 8 Things "After Tiller" Left Out: This biased documentary about late-term abortionists omitted its protagonists' unsavory histories.

#5: No, I am not interested in "punishing" women for having sex: This was published back in April. The conversation in the comments kept going strong through September.

#4: Debating abortion with other secularists: Highlights from the reactions to Kristine Kruzselnicki's pro-life piece on the Friendly Atheist blog.

#3: Confronting the Gruesome Reality of Abortion: This is why we fight.

#2: A letter from your president: I'm not linking to this because it was the announcement of last year's SPL schedule for the March for Life and Walk for Life West Coast. For our upcoming Roe anniversary plans (less than a month away!), click here.

And finally, the most-read post of the year,
with over 200,000 views, is...

#1: Child Support: Monica explains the contradiction in how our legal system treats women and men:
When arguing about abortion, I’ve seen a lot of people claim "sex isn’t a contract." Other variations of this idea include:
• Consent to A doesn't mean consent to B (that is, consent to sex doesn't mean consent to reproduction).
• You clearly don't consent to reproduce if you use birth control.
• Sex is not a crime and shouldn’t be punished / Rights cannot be restricted unless there is a crime.
The problem is, when it comes to reproduction, these arguments only apply to women.
If a man gets a woman pregnant--be it his wife, girlfriend, affair, or one night stand--he is legally bound to provide support for that child. In other words, because the man participated in the child’s conception (because the man had sex), his rights are altered. It doesn't matter if the man was only consenting to sex, and not to reproduction. It doesn't matter if he used birth control. It doesn’t matter that sex isn’t a crime. He fathered the kid, so the law considers him responsible for the kid. 
Thank you for your loyal readership, and we'll see you next year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The year's top graphics

It's hard to believe that 2014 is coming to an end. What a year it's been for the pro-life movement! As we've done for the past few years, we review 2014 with the year's most liked and shared graphics (today) and most-read blog articles (tomorrow).

#10: Who are you calling a prude?
I'm so glad this made the cut, because it's a personal favorite.

#9: This ridiculous argument needs to die.

#8: Welcome home, Deanna.
Promoting this article

#7: Abortion advocates don't own feminism.
Related to this article

#6: The fact that something rhymes does not make it a strong argument.
Why yes, you can purchase this bumper sticker, with proceeds benefiting SPL.

#5: Good ol' Hitch.
No, he was not consistently pro-life on all issues, or even for all unborn
children. But he challenged orthodoxy and acknowledged the possibility
of a secular pro-life ethic, and that means a lot to us.

#4: Hooray science!
Sources? Of course.

#3: And more science!

#2: So. Effing. Frustrating.

And our #1 graphic of the year, posted on the third anniversary of Dr. Bernard Nathanson's death:

If you aren't familiar with Dr. Nathanson, take the time to do some research. A former abortionist turned pro-life leader, he was a pro-life atheist before it was cool. I deeply regret that I never got to meet him.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Racism, reproductive justice, and the right to life

Indeed it shouldn't.
Nearly a month ago, Reuters published "Racism is also a reproductive rights issue" by Chloe Angyal. I just came across it recently, and feel that it's important enough to merit a response despite the passage of time.

The article is worth reading in its entirety, but the thesis is:
Where black children are denied the right to a childhood, it stands to reason that black parents are denied the right to parenthood. Indeed, many in the reproductive rights community have begun to talk about police brutality as a reproductive rights issue.
The argument is a compelling one: that all of us have the right to bring children into the world, and to raise them, without fear that they are disproportionately likely to be killed by the police, or by vigilantes, or by strangers when they’re asking for help. That parents shouldn’t have to worry that their children will be stopped and frisked on the street, or kicked out of school for minor offenses, or harassed while they’re trying to learn. 
In short, proponents of this view argue that parents should be allowed to bring children into the world worrying that their children will be denied a childhood – or being forced to watch as it happens before their very eyes.
She notes that major abortion advocacy groups such as NARAL have taken this position, but that the argument "has been denied the mainstream attention it deserves."

The reproductive rights framing isn't necessarily wrong. When (disproportionately black, male, and young) people are killed by police, and the police are never held accountable, the victims' parents are horribly violated. Families' suffering is too often drowned out by louder, larger debates about race and police brutality, so I'm glad Ms. Angyal raised it.

That said, a right to life framing is far, far more intuitive. Black lives matter. Period, end of sentence. Black children have the right to a childhood. There is no need for further justification.

Ms. Angyal's reproductive rights framing requires a focus on the victims' parents as the primary victims.* But of course, the primary victims are the young black men whose lives were ended by police bullets, in violation of the right to life. Making this about the victims' parents' reproductive rights, when the right to life framing is so obvious, just comes across as a desperate attempt to reimagine "reproductive rights" as anything other than the latest in the long line of euphemisms for abortion.

Is Ms. Angyal merely being cynical? Is she trying to "ride on the coattails of genuine good causes," as I predicted the abortion movement would do? Does she consciously want to avoid any mention of a right to life, for fear that someone will demand to know when that right begins?

I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt and say no.** I think it's more likely that she's already embedded in the world of abortion advocacy, and so naturally her perspective on current events is colored by her worldview. Pro-life activists are guilty of this too; Josh Brahm put it better than I can when he coined the phrase "fetus tunnel vision," which he defines as "the inability to see and/or acknowledge human rights injustices without equating or comparing them to abortion." Ms. Angyal is suffering from a case of reproduction tunnel vision.

That is why "racism as a reproductive rights issue" isn't taking off. Most people, whether pro-life or pro-choice, don't think that way. They aren't seeking out connections to abortion. They simply see yet another young black man whose life was ripped away from him.


*Alternatively, you could make a reproductive rights argument based on the fact that (to take but one example) Tamir Rice will never have the opportunity to become an adult and father children. Notably, however, he also lost the opportunity to vote, to practice a religion or reject religion, and so on. This is because the right to life is fundamental; without it, all other rights are lost. Thus a victim-focused reproductive rights framing would ultimately collapse on itself and become the right-to-life argument. 

**I am not extending that benefit to NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the other abortion-supporting organizations that have grabbed hold of this talking point. They are absolutely being cynical.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Hiatus


Christmas is fast approaching, and much of our audience—yes, including secular folks—will be busy traveling to see family, shopping for gifts, etc. this week. Accordingly the blog is going on a hiatus. Have a very happy holiday, and we'll see you back on December 29.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

March with us in January

'Tis the season for March for Life/Walk for Life planning! If you're going to be in D.C. or San Francisco next month, be sure to meet up with Secular Pro-Life in person.

Washington, D.C.
The March for Life takes place on Thursday, January 22, 2015. Meet us in front of the Smithsonian "Castle" on the National Mall between 11:00 a.m. and 11:50 a.m. The Castle is a landmark, but if you have trouble finding us, just look for the 14-foot-tall, bright blue, can't-miss teardrop banner! We'll be marching together with such awesome youth-led, forward-thinking groups as the Life Matters Journal, New Wave Feminists, Feminists for Nonviolent Choices, and more. All the details you need are in this facebook event

There are no concrete plans for after the March, but more than likely we will end up going to a restaurant. (You should definitely eat beforehand, though; there's nothing worse than being cold and hungry.)

The next day, Friday the 23rd, is the Students for Life of America East Coast National Conference. Secular Pro-Life will have an exhibition booth, where you can pick up a FREE secular outreach kit for your school! Registration is required, and the conference is known to sell out, so go to sflalive.org for all the details and to sign up.

San Francisco
It's deja vu all over again: a march and an SFLA conference, this time on the west coast!

The West Coast Walk for Life is on Saturday, January 24th, and the gathering of awesome groups (technically it's called the #LifeMatters Meetup) will begin at 11:30 a.m. in front of the Asian Art Museum. Here's the facebook event. Our West Coast coordinator, Monica, will be there carrying 1) her preborn daughter Clara, and 2) everybody's favorite banner message:


The next day, Sunday, January 25th, is the Students for Life of America West Coast National Conference. Again, use sflalive.org to register, and visit our table to get in-person tips from real live non-religious pro-lifers. (We exist!

Can't make it?
You can still help make this commemoration of Roe v. Wade count. This is the most expensive time of the year for SPL, as the costs of purchasing booth space and educational materials for thousands of pro-life campus advocates add up quickly. Please consider donating to Secular Pro-Life. We really appreciate it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What to do if you face pregnancy discrimination at work


[Today's guest post is by Chris Perez.]

Working women of childbearing age and the public at large have taken quite an interest in the recent story of Peggy Young, a former UPS employee who alleges that she was discriminated against for being pregnant. This case has gone all the way to the Supreme Court and has inspired strong feelings on both sides.

If you are pregnant and believe that you have been fired, demoted, or otherwise mistreated by your employer because of it, there are several steps you can take to protect your rights.

Don't settle immediately: Your employer may assure you that "cuts were coming anyway," to avoid the appearance of discrimination. Your employer may even offer a severance package. And maybe cuts were coming anyway. But you need time to evaluate the situation fully. Don't simply to take an offered severance package and disappear into the night. Don't allow yourself to be pressured; tell your employer you need time to weigh the offer. Not jumping all over a severance offer will enable you to be the one in control. More important, it will give you the opportunity to...

Consult a lawyer: Gather any relevant memos, emails, and other paperwork and then get to an attorney who deals in employment issues. It's important to get a lawyer's outside perspective; he or she can give a realistic assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and offer valuable advice. Many attorneys offer free initial consultations. If you are unable to afford a lawyer, and the lawyer believes that you have a strong case, you may be able to make a contingent fee arrangement.

Keep your cool: It's understandable to feel rage toward your former employer if you have experienced discrimination. That can be a good thing; it can motivate you as you navigate the slow, frustrating aspects of the legal process. But be careful about directing your vitriol toward specific people, like a former supervisor or co-worker. You may never know who is just towing the company line and who really believes the things that they are saying. You need to keep your emotions out of the equation and focus on getting the greatest possible recovery from the company.

Pregnancy discrimination is illegal, and women have every right to be both mothers and wage earners. Procreation is a natural part of life, and no mom should have to give up her job simply because she conceived a child.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Attention students: "Pregnant on Campus" initiative needs your help!


When I first became involved in the pro-life movement, as a student at the University of Miami, our Respect Life club created UMiamiPregnancy.org. At the time, it was a pretty basic site (it looks much better now, thanks to a new class of students), but we were proud of it because we knew that it would help women in need. We were also proud because our organization was one of the first students for life groups in the country to start such a project.

Today I'm 26 years old, practically a dinosaur in pro-life years, and such websites are commonplace. I felt really old when I learned that students at the University of New Mexico had opened a pregnancy resource center on their campus. It just gets better and better!

But of course, these resources are useless if they aren't advertised properly. That's why Students for Life of America (SFLA), building upon these student initiatives, launched PregnantOnCampus.org. The aim of the site is to provide local, campus-specific information for students at hundreds of schools across the nation. It will also allow for a greater degree of continuity, so that students don't have to worry about website maintenance after they graduate.

SFLA is counting on pro-life students to crowdsource the information. Right now, because the site is brand new, most of the campus pages contain only generic information about nationwide resources (e.g., the WIC program). To really make PregnantOnCampus shine, SFLA needs you to step up and submit information about local resources that can help mothers at your school.*

Many students for life groups already have this information, from having done projects like UMiamiPregnancy.org, from sidewalk counseling, or from participating in Feminists for Life's "Perception is Reality" audit. This is entirely doable.

And it's incredibly necessary:
“Becoming unexpectedly pregnant while in college can be a scary situation for so many women. Over half of abortions are done on women under the age of 25 and many of these students have no idea about the resources available to them on their college campuses to help them stay in school and parent their children, which is why this website is so unique and needed,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of SFLA. “Instead of running to the nearest Planned Parenthood, this website will help pregnant women find resources that are available on their campus right now.” ...

“SFLA’s own research shows that nearly 80% of Planned Parenthood facilities are located within five miles of a college or university. College students are prime targets for the largest abortion provider in the country,” said Hawkins. “No woman should have to choose between continuing her education or having a child, even it was unplanned and unexpected. SFLA has worked with universities across the country to help provide pregnant students on campus a one-stop-shop with all the information they need to keep their child and continue their education.”
*Trolls, the information is screened before it's added, so don't bother. Desperate women are going to rely on this site and SFLA won't tolerate your shenanigans.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The "abortions" that weren't


By now, you've probably heard about the arrest of Oklahoma abortionist Nareshkumar Patel. He "is being accused of fraud, telling women they were pregnant when they weren’t and then giving them abortion-inducing drugs."

Nothing about the abortion industry truly surprises me anymore, but this did strike me as a little odd. Are there not enough real crisis pregnancies to keep all the abortion centers in business? Or did he just get greedy?

Interestingly, Patel isn't the first to pad his clientele this way. In fact, his scam is over three decades old.

In 1978, Chicago Sun-Times reporters went undercover and got enough dirt for a twelve-part series, The Abortion Profiteers. They found that "abortions" on women who weren't pregnant were a regular occurrence. Mind you, that was long before the era of RU-486; they were doing surgical procedures on women who weren't pregnant. Patel merely updated the practice.

Without regular undercover investigations, it's impossible to say how common this is. It certainly raises some questions:
  • Activists on both sides of the aisle generally treat the Guttmacher Institute's abortion statistics as the most reliable, but those figures originate with reports from the abortionists themselves. Are non-lethal "abortions" being counted? 
  • Have any women been injured or killed by complications from fake abortions? 
  • And how many women are beating themselves up for having killed their children... who didn't?
I don't have any answers to those questions, but I hope to see more undercover investigations of this nature.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A salute to the pro-lifers of the internet

[Today's guest writer is anonymous.]

It’s easy to dismiss online pro-life work as slacktivism. Sure, you might say, sharing your opinion on the internet will expose you to ad hominem attacks and insults—but if you really want to make a difference, go volunteer in the real world, reaching out to abortion-minded women. And of course reaching out to families in need is a great thing. But I want to challenge the assumption that internet activism is solely about the realm of ideas, while real-life activism is about actually helping people. It’s entirely possible for pro-lifers to assist pregnant mothers in need, without even leaving their homes.

There are numerous websites out there which (inadvertently) provide pro-lifers with the ability to dissuade individuals from seeking abortions. Simply Googling such sites (including forums, message boards, and blogs) will return a litany of locations where people are asking for advice about whether or not they should make a destructive, tragic decision about their unborn child. Yahoo! Answers often features such sad questions in sections regarding Women's Health, Pregnancy, and Adolescent. If people are directly asking for internet opinions about whether their unborn children should live or die, pro-lifers have a duty to speak up—and to go further by sharing local resources that can provide material assistance.

Yahoo! Answers is uncensored. Other forums are unfortunately run by administrators who want to prevent women from hearing the pro-life perspective. Ironically, one of the worst offenders is BabyCenter.com. You’d think that a site called BabyCenter would have no involvement in the end of babies’ lives, but you’d be wrong. On that site, there are two forums dedicated to encouraging abortions: one for abortions for socioeconomic reasons, and one for abortions done because the baby has been diagnosed with a disability, such as Down Syndrome. BabyCenter.com actually does provide extensive information about prenatal development, revealing the humanity of the unborn child—but keeps that information segregated from the forums where they are most desperately needed. The admins block pro-lifers on both of the abortion boards; abortion is never discussed in less-than-positive terms, and the unborn child is dehumanized to the point of obscurity. It's truly troubling and deeply depressing stuff, especially when one considers how many lives those two forums have taken in the span of roughly six years.

And yet, despite this, the censors haven’t won: BabyCenter’s direct messaging system remains available for pro-lifers to share the truth to women considering abortion. On BabyCenter, Yahoo! Answers, and a plethora of other sites, a compassionate, understanding pro-life advocate—taking a religiously neutral position, of course—can indeed provide a lifeline to women who are struggling.

I understand people feeling discouraged. Some days you look at the internet and see little more than pro-abortion trolling. But the internet is an incredibly valuable asset to the pro-life movement. It provides pro-life individuals with practical outlets to make their visions of peace and nonviolence into a reality. So hook up your laptop and get to it!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What's up with the pro-choice anger over abortion pill reversal?

I'd like to think that if I were pro-choice, I wouldn't be freaking out about abortion pill reversal. In a nutshell: a mother who takes the first pill (mifepristone) of the chemical abortion, then regrets it, is prescribed the pregnancy hormone progesterone to prevent the embryo's death. While nobody's suggesting it will work 100% of the time—obviously if the mifepristone has already killed the embryo, there's nothing you can do—early intervention could provide women with the ability to affect their choice for life. That's both pro-life and pro-choice, right?

Of course, Amanda Marcotte begs to differ. And she really ties herself in knots doing it.

First there's the issue of whether mifepristone is actually effective. She initially says that it's an important component of the two-pill procedure:
Misoprostol can work on its own—many black-market abortion pills are just misoprostol—but, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, taking the mifepristone improves the likelihood of a safe, complete abortion.
Then Marcotte quotes Dr. Daniel Grossman from Ibis Reproductive Health (which supports abortion). In his account, the second pill (misoprostol) is the key and mifepristone alone does basically nothing,* to the point that an abortion pill reversal amounts to a placebo:
Mifepristone "by itself is not an effective abortion regimen," he said, and so many women who just take the first pill will not miscarry if they simply don't take the second. If he had a patient who changed her mind halfway through, he explained, he would recommend doing nothing and monitoring the pregnancy to make sure it's continuing normally.
Marcotte also can't decide where she stands on the safety of the progesterone injections. In one breath, she denounces it as a dangerous "experiment."** (Of course, when abortionists deviate from the FDA protocol for the abortion pills themselves, killing eight women in the process, the correct term is "making it easier on the patient.") In the next, she returns to Dr. Grossman, who "says that the progesterone probably won't hurt a woman if she’s under medical supervision." Which she would be, because shockingly, pro-life doctors are doctors too.

With all these contradictions it's hard to figure out what Marcotte's really getting at... until the piece's final quote. Dr. Grossman is
concerned that the advertising of this procedure could mislead the public about the prevalence of abortion regret. "In my experience caring for women seeking abortion, they don’t go into this lightly. They’re very clear about their decision..."
Can't have women running wild through your carefully manicured narrative.

*EDIT, 9:20 AM EST: Dr. Grossman's characterization of mifepristone's role contradicts Planned Parenthood's educational materials, which state that mifepristone "works by blocking the hormone progesterone. Without progesterone, the lining of the uterus breaks down, and pregnancy cannot continue." 

**The reversal protocol is only two years old, so published research is scant. I'd certainly like to see more. So far, though, there's nothing to suggest that progesterone is harmful to pregnant women who have taken mifepristone. That's unsurprising, since progesterone is naturally present in a pregnant woman's body. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Which came first, the atheism or the support for abortion?

Polls consistently show that a strong majority of self-identified non-religious Americans call themselves pro-choice. That's in stark contrast to the American public at large, which is roughly 50-50, though leaning pro-life in recent years.

Some pro-choice atheists use this polling data as evidence that the pro-choice position is correct. The argument, in a nutshell, is that atheists become atheists because they are logical thinkers, and then become pro-choice for the same reason. Pro-life atheists are explained away as being still, partially, under the influence of religion.

While some people do become atheist and then become pro-choice, atheist author and Pitzer college professor Phil Zuckerman suggests that it's more commonly the other way around:
With an emphasis on seeking to make abortion illegal . . . conservative Christians have found a warm welcome within the Republican Party, which has been clear about its openness to the conservative Christian agenda. . . . What all of this has done is alienate a lot of left-leaning or politically moderate Americans from Christianity. Sociologists Michael Hout and Claude Fischer have published compelling research indicating that much of the growth of “nones” in America is largely attributable to a reaction against this increased, overt mixing of Christianity and conservative politics. The rise of irreligion has been partially related to the fact that lots of people who had weak or limited attachments to religion and were either moderate or liberal politically found themselves at odds with the conservative political agenda of the Christian right and thus reacted by severing their already somewhat weak attachment to religion.
The key here is to understand that while people on the fringes are the loudest, most people don't take their religion all that seriously. People don't necessarily take their churches as authorities on moral and political issues, and where church teachings deviate from their personal views, they may leave one religion in favor of another or of none at all. (Zuckerman focuses on liberals, but I note that this works for conservatives as well; in recent years, reconsideration of same-sex marriage by church leaders has threatened schisms in the Episcopal, Methodist, and Presbyterian denominations.)

That's not to say that logical reasoning doesn't play a role in what people believe; it absolutely does. I am an atheist myself, and Christianity's unanswered questions had a lot to do with that. But the decision to publicly identify as an atheist—to lose your church community, expose yourself to scorn from the general public, and possibly damage family relationships—is a highly emotional one. And it's a lot easier to do if you already disagree with your church about abortion.

Conversely, if you've lost your faith in God but remain pro-life, and are part of a pro-life denomination,* there's less reason to publicly identify as an atheist. You might as well just remain another doubter in the pews, invisible to the pollsters.

*My own secular identification was made easier by the fact that I belonged to the Methodist Church, which disagreed with me both on abortion (pro-choice) and same-sex marriage (opposed).

Friday, December 5, 2014

Notes on the Supreme Court pregnancy discrimination case


On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Young v. UPS, which concerns the interpretation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The interpretation being advocated by the defendant would seriously undermine protections for pregnant mothers in the workplace—creating increased pressure to abort. As a result, the case attracted numerous amicus briefs, including one signed by 23 pro-life organizations. While Secular Pro-Life was not among the groups tapped for the amicus brief, we fully support those efforts and would like to take this opportunity to share excerpts of statements from a few of those groups.

All Our Lives and Feminists for Nonviolent Choices (joint press release):
“Our society claims to value children and motherhood so highly, and yet we don’t value them enough to put them before the maximization of profit,” said Jennifer Roth of All Our Lives. “Without reasonable accommodations, a pregnant worker might have to choose between protecting her health and her baby’s on the one hand, and supporting her family on the other. If their lives really matter, they’re worth the cost of a few extra water breaks or a light duty assignment.”
Americans United for Life:
As the Supreme Court hears oral arguments today in Young v. UPS, “the need for society to respect a woman’s choice for LIFE will be front and center,” said Americans United for Life President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest. The case involves the 36-year-old Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and whether it offers any real protection to women who choose life for their unborn children. “Pro-life and pro-abortion advocates agree: This case is about protecting pregnant mothers from employment discrimination,” noted Dr. Yoest. “Women should not suffer physical hardship at work or lose their jobs because they are having a baby. Most especially, pregnant mothers should not be refused the same accommodation offered others with similar work challenges.”
Democrats for Life of America:
With oral argument approaching in the Supreme Court pregnancy discrimination case of Young v. United Parcel Service, UPS has announced that (as the Washington Post reports), “[S]tarting January 1, the company will offer temporary light duty positions not just to workers injured on the job, which is current policy, but to pregnant workers who need it as well.” The change in policy was announced to employees and in UPS’s brief filed in the Court.
This is great news for UPS’s female workers, those who are and those who will become pregnant. It also sends a high-profile message that accommodating pregnant workers is the just thing to do, especially when similar physical conditions stemming from (e.g.) on-the-job injuries are accommodated.
Susan B. Anthony List:
The Women’s Law Project and Legal Momentum argued that the previous ruling in favor of UPS was incorrect on the basis of “misconceiving gender stereotypes in pregnancy discrimination.” Americans United for Life has filed an amicus brief, which the Susan B. Anthony List, among other pro-life groups have signed on to, coming from a different approach, standing up for the unborn and women. The brief argues that in creating the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Congress was trying to “protect women from economic pressure to abort their children because of pregnancy discrimination.”
So what's next? The wheels of justice move slowly, and it will be months before a decision is reached. Dahlia Lithwick's analysis suggests that the Supreme Court might kick the case back down to the District Court so that the record can be developed more fully; if that happens, the issue may not be wholly resolved for years. In the meantime, there's always the possibility that Congress could step in to strengthen the language of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A review of pro-life short film "The Appointment"



I'm curious for pro-life and pro-choice feedback on the above video. (Watch it first; spoilers ahead.)

First the criticism: I do find it kind of annoying when pro-life authors make unborn babies "speak." I see it all the time, especially in poems, and it just comes across as... kinda cheesy. Pro-choicers would probably attack it as dishonest, and I can kind of see where they're coming from; on the other hand I note that nobody gets up in arms about, say, talking infants in eTrade commercials. Yes, it's artistic license... but since it's so easily discredited, why go there?

But I'm willing to make an exception in this case, mainly because it's framed as something like a dream sequence, within the mother's own mind. I find that much more tolerable than all those god-awful, first-person, mommy-please-don't-kill-me poems/songs/videos.

And I've got to give the filmmaker credit for absolutely nailing current trends in pro-choice rhetoric. "The only significance he has is what you decide to give him." Ultrasounds "only complicate things." "He is draining you, physically and emotionally."

Yes, pro-choicers: this is how we pro-lifers hear you.

I especially love the line "I am not someone to fear." It reminds me of the "face of the enemy" series of posters Feminists for Life put out several years ago (example at right).

Readers, what are your impressions?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I'm thankful for my maternity home


[Today's guest post is by Heather Crandall. We briefly mentioned her last week during our Thanksgiving series, but her whole story is worth the read.]

Having kids is hard. Having a child out of wedlock and alone feels like a running a marathon with a boulder attached to your foot.

I had gotten pregnant, after my marriage ended, by an ex-boyfriend/roommate in May of 2013. I was already a mother to a little boy with autism. My life was going in all directions, and the pregnancy forced me to pause. My family and I don't always see eye to eye; they were pretty much done with me, and with this new baby on the way. Bad circumstances with the father led me to move to Clearwater, FL, where my cousin's family lives.

Needing more resources, I started searching for programs for pregnant women in the area. Online, I found several maternity homes: all of them run by private, church-funded ministries, with a Bible study component. I didn't find any state-funded ones. I'm not especially religious but I applied anyway and was accepted into a program called Manasota Solve, out of Bradenton, FL. There was just one opening in Solve's second house in Englewood, FL.

It was exactly what I needed. The home was a safe place that catered to the needs of pregnant women. In addition to the Bible studies there were volunteers who came by to teach skills like sewing baby clothes. Lots of baby clothes and maternity items were always coming in. There was also mandatory counseling, provided by a counselor who came down from Sarasota.

After my daughter Ivory was born, I moved to Sarasota feeling like a new person. Being around pro-life, pro-mother people gave me hope to be a mom again, but mostly they helped me to see myself as the new, strong woman I am!

I would like to thank several people. First would be Rose Ann, the "house mom," for letting me know there was nothing wrong with my looks and that it was okay to be me. Second would be April, the volunteer photographer who takes pregnancy and baby pictures for the home residents. She took amazing photos of me and Ivory on the beach (see the photo at the top), and was there in the delivery room too. I cherish those pictures. Third, I thank "Mr. Bill," the counselor. The sessions I had with him went deep, resolving emotional issues that stretched back to my childhood. Because of him, I now feel that I can live my life like I did before my depression and bad marriage. Fourth, I thank "Miss Carol," a volunteer who often brought food and gifts for the residents. And finally I thank my pro-life friend Kelsey, who knew that my family wouldn't be at the hospital and drove to Sarasota the day after Ivory was born to spend time with us.

My three months at the maternity home changed my life. I had no idea that pro-life maternity housing programs even existed, until I needed one. I used to think that pro-lifers just stood outside of abortion centers without really doing anything to address the situations young women are facing. I was wrong. There are people out there who see the root problems and actually do something about them. Those dedicated people have a powerful influence.

As for the rest, it may seem like most people are too apathetic to do anything, but I think a lot of people would help when presented with the opportunity. Now that I've returned to the Roanoke, VA area, my dream is to see a program like Manasota Solve to help girls here.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Make an impact this World AIDS Day

Although treatment options have progressed substantially, so that HIV-positive people are now able to live long and healthy lives, it's still important to be knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS. Here are some things you can do as a pro-life advocate to commemorate World AIDS Day.
  1. Educate your social media network about HIV/AIDS prevention. You're probably used to sharing memes and articles about pregnancy and prenatal development. Take this opportunity to expand beyond that and become a peer educator about sexual health in general. Two links you can share to get you started: 
  2. Get tested. If you're sexually active and/or have had contact with another person's blood, get tested. Get tested even if your sexual partner(s) believe that they are HIV-negative. According to the CDC, one-sixth of HIV-positive Americans are unaware that they carry the virus.
  3. Definitely steer clear of Planned Parenthood, though, and advise your friends to do the same. Not just because they're an abortion business: they've also demonstrated some serious skeeviness when it comes to HIV prevention. They were caught on tape advising someone who wanted an STD test to donate blood instead—horrible advice, for reasons that should be obvious. And a few years ago, Planned Parenthood put out an "educational" pamphlet for HIV-positive people that suggested that it's totally fine to have sex with someone without disclosing your HIV-positive status. Thankfully, Planned Parenthood is not your only option for HIV testing. HIVtest.org is a good place to start, or try your local health department or regular physician.
  4. Donate to an HIV/AIDS charity. Having lived in the D.C. area, which has one of the worst HIV/AIDS rates in the nation, I'm partial to Whitman-Walker Health; they do great work. But there are many, many other great non-profits for you to choose from.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday notes

The Thanksgiving holiday has passed, but there is still much to be thankful for. Here are a few more individuals who have written SPL with messages of thanks:
  • Heather Crandall wishes to thank Shirley Joslin, the sidewalk counselor who saved the life of Heather's son Judah. Heather also thanks the volunteers and staff of the Sarasota, FL maternity home where she stayed during her second pregnancy: daughter Ivory, born this past Valentine's Day.
  • Catherine Wettengel wishes to thank Anne Franczek for being a sidewalk counseling mentor.
  • Susi O. Fannaba wishes to thank her mother for opening up to the family about a past abortion, and also thanks the various post-abortive siblings she has connected with in an online support group.
Changing the subject somewhat, today is Black Friday. I've never seen the appeal of camping outside a Wal-Mart at 4 in the morning, but I definitely see the appeal of $5 for your ticket to the Students for Life of America conference! Get that deal at sflalive.org using the discount code BLKFRIDAY, good through December 1.

And as you begin your holiday shopping, you can support Secular Pro-Life by checking out coupons on Goodshop; be sure to designate SPL as your charity. 

You can also support a pro-life organization through Amazon Smile. SPL is not on Amazon Smile, but quite a few other groups are, including Feminists for Life of America, Students for Life of America, And Then There Were None (supporting former abortion workers in their transition out of the industry), Americans United for Life, National Right to Life Committee, and many state and local organizations.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I thank the pro-lifers who persuaded me with compassion

[Today's guest post is by Jewels Green. This Thanksgiving week, Secular Pro-Life is giving guests a public platform to thank the pro-life heroes in their lives.] 

For much of my life, I was so entrenched in the pro-choice worldview that I would completely shut down conversations that invited me to examine or question my position. Even with my history of being pressured into an abortion at 17 and surviving my subsequent suicide attempt, I remained a vehement and vocal advocate for abortion. I even worked at an abortion facility for five years. College, grad school, marriage, giving birth to three babies—nothing swayed me from my myopic view of a "woman's right to choose" abortion.

Four Novembers ago that began to change.

While discussing abortion and surrogacy in an online forum with a group of women I knew from a natural childbirth support group, the topic of in-vitro fertilization came up. I held fast to the standard pro-abortion rights theorizing that a "bunch of cells" could not possibly be as worthy of our respect and protection as an adult woman. I was baffled (but intrigued) by two voices speaking clearly, consistently, and compassionately (against the tide of a dozen opponents) in support of the right of these microscopic humans to live to maturation.

The author wearing a consistent life
ethic hat: Life matters, no matter what.
In the ensuing conversations neither Lindsey nor Lauren ever berated, belittled, or otherwise bashed those of us who disagreed with them—but they also never backed down. Their unshakable belief and eloquent defense of the value of all human life put a chink in the armor I'd spent decades carefully constructing. What was life if not a continuum from conception to death? Wasn't I once a tiny collection of cells? I finally began thinking about these issues of life in a new way.

As the forum expanded to discussions about surrogacy, I was primed for further interior examination of my long-held, never-before-questioned position... and I slowly began to consider that a child in womb just might be, in fact, a child. Then I learned of a surrogate who was paid her full contract price to abort the baby she was carrying after the biological parents were disappointed by an in-utero diagnosis of Down syndrome. The chink in the armor became a chasm and the truth was blindingly clear: abortion is wrong. Abortion kills a living, growing member of the human family. And to quote Feminists for Life, women deserve better than abortion.

Only as I look back do I see the blinders. My willful ignorance, my avoidance of true introspection, my stubbornness. I can never thank Lindsey and Lauren enough for their unwavering witness to the sanctity of life. These two remarkable women (unknowingly at the time) set me on a path of discovery that culminated in my wholehearted acceptance of the right to life from conception to natural death and of a life devoted to furthering the cause of LIFE.

Thank you, Lindsey.

Thank you, Lauren.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I Thank My Birth Team

[Today's guest post is by Crystal Kupper. This Thanksgiving week, Secular Pro-Life is giving guests a public platform to thank the pro-life heroes in their lives.]

I was filling out my grad school applications the day I found out I was pregnant. I was surprised, and put my education on hold. But even more surprising than the pregnancy was the shocking way my military hospital treated me during labor and delivery.

Without going into too many traumatic details, I wound up giving birth in a janitor's closet, and that was about the best thing to happen to me that night. It all went downhill from there. I came away from that hospital with a beautiful son, but also a torn, broken body and an even more deeply-scarred psyche.

For the next year I didn't recognize myself. A cheerleader, classical pianist and scholarship winner, I have always had a happy disposition and a determined attitude. Yet suddenly, even sleep eluded me, let alone the ability to be a good mother or wife. On the rare night I did fall asleep for five minutes, I woke up screaming from nightmares of knife-wielding, camo-clad doctors. During the day, I had random flashbacks of the birth that left me paralyzed. I purposefully avoided the hospital at all costs. I could barely walk across a room, let alone run a marathon like I was used to. I told no one of what happened that night, not even my journal or mother. I cried for no reason, felt no love for my son -- just pure, numbing fear when my Air Force husband deployed when our boy was six months old.

Yet the worst part was the people. "At least you got a healthy baby!" they would chirp when they sensed I wasn't loving life. And when I tentatively told my OB what was happening, she actually laughed in my face. "Welcome to being a mom!" That was it, I decided. My firstborn would be an only; if this was motherhood, I wanted no part in it.

Then we moved, thankfully to an assignment far away from the nearest military facility. I had to go to midwives for standard care, and after one look at that area, she goes, "So, do you want to tell me what happened to you?" The whole story came spilling out, three years later. I almost made her cry. "It can be different, you know," she told me. She was right.

Bolstered by stories of women-centered healthcare, I worked up the courage to become pregnant again. I hired a doula who listened in shock to my story ("Um, I'm pretty sure what they did to you was illegal") and promised to support me in my wishes throughout the pregnancy, labor, delivery and recovery. And so she did. Referred to a women's physical therapist, I spent months in the pool getting to know my body in ways I had never dreamed. She promised me that this birth would be an empowering physical experience, a chance to watch what my body could do. And so it was.

Today, I am a mother of three who is passionate about a previously unknown and uncared-for subject. I am in an awesome marriage of a decade. And I am forever grateful to a birth team of professionals who gave me my body, motherhood, mental health and marriage back. They cared not only about birthing a baby but guiding a woman with both scientific facts and empathy-based guidance and support. That, to me, is the ultimate expression of pro-life values.

Above: the author with her doula and newborn son

Monday, November 24, 2014

I thank everyone who supported me and my baby

This Thanksgiving week, Secular Pro-Life is giving a few guests the opportunity to thank the pro-life heroes in their lives.

First up is Valerie Lopez, a Texas A & M University student who got a huge shock in January: she was pregnant, and for added drama, she didn't find out until she was already 23 weeks along! A late-term abortion was never an option for Valerie, whose dedication to the pro-life cause included a leadership role at TAMU's pro-life student organization and an internship with SPL. But Valerie still needed support as she navigated the special challenges of parenting as a student... with just four months to prepare.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I'd add that the village gets involved long before the child is born! Valerie thanks:
  • her mom, who was strongly supportive,
  • her friends, "who never delivered an ounce of judgment and threw me a surprise baby shower,"
  • her family, "who made big changes and lots of room for an extra person in their lives," and last but certainly not least
  • her partner Ervin, the baby's father, to whom Valerie is now engaged. "Instead of being worried about himself and everything going on in his life, he showed pure joy throughout the entire pregnancy and is now a great father," Valerie says. "I am so thankful because I know how much my son is loved, especially by his parents."
Baby Noah was born six months ago, and I have to agree: while his conception wasn't planned, there's no question he's very much loved! 

Above: the family of scallywags at Halloween

Friday, November 21, 2014

Abby Johnson urges Texas to spare mentally ill death row inmate

Everything's bigger in Texas... including, unfortunately, hypocrisy. In the past year, Texas has seen major progress in its laws protecting the lives of preborn children. But it has made no analogous progress on the death penalty, and as a result, the inconsistency in Texas' treatment of the right to life has grown larger.
Scott Panetti

We've written before about anti-abortion support for the death penalty. While I disagree with that position, I grant that the distinction they're making—that abortion ends innocent lives—isn't ridiculous.

But here's what is ridiculous, and unconscionable: Texas is scheduled to execute Scott Panetti, a man who almost certainly should have been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

The Dallas Morning News recently published an editorial on the subject by none other than Abby Johnson. Johnson, as you probably know, is a former Planned Parenthood abortion worker who famously quit her job and blew the whistle on a range of misdeeds, including Medicaid fraud and abortion quotas. Her memoir, Unplanned, is on many a pro-lifer's bookshelf (including mine!). She now runs an organization dedicated to helping abortion workers leave the industry. And while I realize that what I'm about to say isn't really measurable, I'm going to just go ahead and declare that Abby Johnson is the most famous pro-lifer in Texas.

And she's using her powerful voice to speak out on Mr. Panetti's behalf, calling for his death sentence to be commuted to life in prison:
Leading mental health experts have said that, if the execution of Panetti goes forward, it would be “a miserable spectacle.” I could not agree more. Panetti does not even understand why he is being executed. He believes that Satan, using the state of Texas as his agent, is trying to execute him for preaching the Gospel while in prison. 
The execution of Panetti would be more than an embarrassment to our state. It would undermine our commitment to protecting life, especially the most vulnerable, by extinguishing the life of someone clearly suffering from mental illness.
The editorial is worth reading in its entirety. And while Johnson doesn't name names, I will. Panetti's fate is initially held in the hands of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, appointed by the governor. If the Board recommends commuting the sentence, Panetti's fate will then be in the hands of the governor himself: presidential hopeful Rick Perry.

Gov. Perry, the pro-life community is watching.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Follow Up: Working it Out

A while ago, I started an audience participation post entitled "Working It Out", the first in a series of posts putting forth basic questions to both sides of the abortion debate. And we certainly got audience participation! We received over 700 comments on our blog page alone, and the question was discussed in various other forums.

For details about how the series of posts work, please visit here for the original post.

Here I will discuss some good points that were presented, as well as my thoughts. In this post, there will be follow-up questions that I would love if you addressed! Here is the statement we discussed:

Scientific information about fetal development does not answer the question of the worth of the fetus.

Now one thing that quickly became apparent to me was that people--especially on the internet and while talking about controversial issues--do not naturally take things at face value. A large number of comments read the statement as "science can't dictate morality" and began commenting on that premise. I found that so many people leaped to this interpretation to be fascinating. However, I took care to not use the word "morality" while crafting the post. So many people began talking about science and morality, in fact, that I was convinced I must had accidentally dropped the "m-word" accidentally somewhere in the post. But I didn't!

Follow up question: is there a difference between asking if science can determine a worth of a fetus and if science can determine the morality of abortion?

In my opinion, "value of the fetus" and "morality of abortion" are two completely different things--but I could be the only one thinking this.

Commenter "ignorance_is_curable" on the blog made the point (edited heavily for the sake of room):
It doesn't matter in the least if you think human beings have "innate worth", if you can't actually prove such a thing truly exists...that is, the whole concept of "innate worth" should be proven to exist, before anyone can say, "this entity has innate worth"... So far as I've seen, no one has offered any evidence that innate worth exists for anything. And do remember, the claim that it exists is the sort of "positive claim" that puts the Burden of Proof on the claimant.
This strikes me as a reasonable point, and one that matches well with my atheist sensibilities. What do my fellow atheists think about this?

Of course, don't pro-choicers ascribe innate value to adults, and particularly to women? Indeed, isn't their value of pregnant women so high that they believe it's acceptable to abort the fetus with no say from anyone else but herself? What about in the case where an unborn fetus is wanted? That strikes me as quite a large amount of value, however undefined "value" may be. Secular people often stand up for various human rights causes--aren't we putting value on people then?

EdinburghEye (another pro-choicer), said the following (again, edited for the sake of space):
That prolifers think the morality of abortion is determined by how much "worth" can be allotted to a fetus, and literally don't understand that for most normal people the morality of abortion is determined by the effect of the pregnancy on the human being who is pregnant...for human rights activists, obviously, the ethics of abortion are around the right of each human being not to be forced, used, enslaved, or harmed at the will of another.
But you don't have to be a human rights activist, just a normal person who knows women are human, to see that pregnancy is an action undertaken by a human that can permanently change her health, her wellbeing, her life.
Yet for prolifers, human health, human wellbeing, human life, are never discussed except with regard to fetuses. The girls and women they want to force do not exist.
The points this person brings up here I think raise a large concern that I and many other pro-lifers have about our own movement. Pro-life advocates who are heavily involved in the movement, and particularly those who are involved in the pregnancy resource and/or post-abortion aspects of the movement, clearly do not have an attitude that women "do not exist." But what about the "average" pro-lifers who are less involved? Are we giving them an adequate feminist education? While I think that EdinburghEye is painting with a rather large, broad brush, it's still an important point to bear in mind. Pro-life advocates should always be careful not to dehumanize the woman due to a bias toward the fetus.

However, on the other hand, pro-lifers think that abortion always ends a human life. I simply cannot see how a pro-choicer can deny that, if we take out any never-ending discussion of "personhood". It's a human life, and it is ended, for a variety of reasons that range from inconvenience to risk of severe quality-of-life impacts on the woman. I'm not saying that this fact ends debate or even puts pro-lifers in the right, but if this is how pro-lifers view the act of abortion, is it not unreasonable that they would at least favor the side of the fetus a little? Again, understanding how pro-lifers see the issue, do pro-choicers really see it as an intentional dehumanization rather than a step in logic on the part of the pro-life position?

The question is, do pro-lifers take it too far? I would have to say that at times yes, we do. Black and white thinking about the act of abortion and our reason for being pro-life can make us blind to the reasons why women seek not only abortion but control over their bodies. I know that for myself, despite having done almost a decade of pro-life work, it took a worldview change and feminist theory to actually make me understand the severity of situations that women face, not only around the world but right here in our own country, and thus for me to pause at my rather large assertion, "Abortion is always wrong."

And, sadly, this post is already getting long! Was there a comment from someone on the other side that you found insightful and thought-provoking? Share it in the comments!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Announcing a new website


As a resource for all of you internet debaters out there, Secular Pro-Life is proud to introduce Not1in3.com!

Abortion activist groups are making increased use of the claim that one out of every three American women will have an abortion, and many well-meaning people on both sides of the fence repeat the statistic without knowing its deceptive origins. Not1in3.com sets the record straight: the study cited for the 1 in 3 claim actually contradicts that claim, and in any event, the dramatic drop in the American abortion rate since 2008 has completely altered the landscape.

Thanks to a decrease in unplanned pregnancies and better resources for young women who do become pregnant, there's just no feasible way that the lifetime abortion rate is anywhere close to 1 in 3. And that's worth celebrating! Today's girls and young women have much better things to look forward to than abortion.

Abortion advocates plan to push the false "1 in 3" theme on social media this Thursday beginning at 1pm. Hashtags will include #1in3speaks and #1in3. Your job is simple: when you see it, respond with a link to Not1in3.com. Don't be accusatory or feel obligated to engage in a protracted debate. Remember, most rank-and-file pro-choicers are not being deliberately deceptive; they're merely repeating what they've heard from what they believe is a reliable source. Gentle correction is all that's called for here.

While I'd like to close with something like "let's nip this myth in the bud," that's overly optimistic. Abortion advocacy groups will no doubt continue to peddle the myth for as long as they can get away with it. So don't stop after Thursday! After all, it's an easy website to remember. Link to it wherever you see the 1 in 3 claim, for as long as it takes.

And P.S.: If you lead a pro-life organization and would like to endorse this effort, please email your logo to info@secularprolife.org.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dismemberment is not an act of love

[Today's guest post by Sarah Terzo is part of our paid blogging program. Sarah is a pro-life atheist, a frequent contributor to Live Action News, a board member of the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, and the force behind ClinicQuotes.com.]

Sometimes when talking to pro-choice leaders and reading what they write, one is reminded of George Orwell’s novel 1984. Words have their opposite meanings; black is white, slavery is freedom, and abortion is a social good and moral choice instead of a brutal act that kills a baby and, quite often, scars a woman.
Above: Gloria Feldt

Gloria Feldt, former President of Planned Parenthood, says the following in her book The War on Choice:*
I have spoken and read letters from hundreds of women about their experiences with abortion, and one thing I know is that abortion is almost always a profoundly moral choice. Women and men plan their families because they have respect and reverence for human life. Women who choose abortions do so because they love children…
It is not an act of love to kill a baby. Choosing to give birth to an unwanted pregnancy leads to a living, intact, usually healthy child. Abortion leads to a baby poisoned or torn apart and extracted in bloody pieces. Statistics on when in pregnancy abortions take place are notoriously unreliable, but evidence suggests that most abortions take place between the sixth and tenth week of pregnancy.  By seven weeks after conception, the baby already has fully developed hands and feet—hands and feet that are torn from her body in the most commonly used suction abortion procedure.

Former clinic worker Catherine Anthony Adair described first trimester abortions as follows:
I was a medical assistant in the room for hundreds of abortions. I witnessed the baby being suctioned out of the uterus and watched blood and tissue work it’s [sic] way through the tube into a metal bowl. The baby was dismembered during the process. The nurse would account for the baby parts and put it into a baggy, which I then put in a box with the other aborted babies. We then had to count them at the end of the day to ensure we had all of them to go to the lab. 
Dismemberment is not an act of love or kindness. We don’t brutally murder our loved ones. Criminals do not commit their violent crimes out of love and concern for either their victims or society as a whole. These statements seem so obvious that it’s absurd to make them, and yet we have to bring it up because of extreme comments from pro-choicers like Gloria Feldt.

Too many Americans are ignorant as to what abortion actually does to a baby. Oh, on some intellectual level, they may be aware that abortion ends a life or potential life—but they have no idea how developed the babies are, how brutal and bloody abortion really is. They have not thought about the life of the child, the unseen victim who is growing within his mother’s womb, secure and safe, with a beating heart and developing brain, only to be suddenly, brutally killed.

Pro-lifers must educate the American public. The fact that Gloria Feldt was able to make such a statement to her supporters and be taken seriously shows the ignorance and denial that is epidemic in the United States when it comes to the abortion issue. We have our work cut out for us. But if we continue to state the truth on the Internet and in other uncensored forums, perhaps one day statements like Feldt’s will be seen for the absurdities they are.

*Gloria Feldt. The War on Choice: the Right-Wing Attack on Women’s Rights and How to Fight Back (New York: Bantam Books, 2004) 103

Friday, November 14, 2014

Are you thankful for a pro-life hero? Tell us about it!

Do you want to publicly thank a pro-life person who saved your life or the life of a loved one? We want to hear from you! Throughout the Thanksgiving week, we will be running articles about your stories. We're looking for titles like these (in no particular order):
  • I give thanks to my mom
  • I give thanks to my birthmom
  • I give thanks to my child's birthmom
  • I give thanks to my sidewalk counselor
  • I give thanks to my pregnancy resource center
  • I give thanks to my supportive partner and/or family
  • I give thanks to my pro-life student organization
  • I give thanks to my pro-life obstetrician
  • I give thanks to my maternity home
The possibilities are endless, and we'd like to publish at least five pieces. If you are interested in writing, email info@secularprolife.org with the subject line "Thanksgiving" and include your name and a short version of your story. Please send this initial email no later than Wednesday, November 19. If we like it, we'll work with you to prepare a longer version for publication.

We look forward to hearing from you and amplifying your voice of thanks!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

When Democracy Wins, Abortion Loses

Despite the very common misconception that the US is mostly pro-choice, the US is in fact majority pro-life (48% pro-life, 45% pro-choice). And probably most shocking to your average American: the youngest generation (you know, the one that just started voting) is most likely to say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. Young people don't just call themselves "pro-life," a phrase which can have an array of meanings; they explicitly support making abortion illegal.  

Click to enlarge

So it should come as no surprise that the nation leaned more pro-life on November 4th. Most notably, the people of Tennessee removed the right to an abortion from the state's constitution, finally allowing a democratic approach to abortion legality.

Now Tennessee has three proposals up to bat:
  1. Mandatory waiting period for women seeking abortion
  2. Mandatory counseling (informed consent)
  3. Inspection requirements for abortion facilities
According to Gallup:
  • 60% of pro-choicers and 79% of pro-lifers support waiting periods
  • 86% of pro-choicers and 87% of pro-lifers support informed consent
If Tennessee is anything like the overall nation, these proposals will pass. The fact that TN needed a constitutional "right to abortion" to prevent restrictions from passing may remind you of a similar, yet larger-scale case of short-circuiting democracy: Roe v. Wade. For the past 40 years, the ruling of 7 justices has allowed the killing of preborn human beings at any stage of development based on privacy (oddly, though, women cannot murder their toddlers using the same rationale). And this overreach has not jived with the vast majority of Americans. For example, 79% of pro-choicers and 94% of pro-lifers want third-trimester abortions banned.

Americans have skewed views of how their fellow citizens stand on abortion. Even now, most probably see Tennessee as extremist and unusual. But in truth, TN is fairly representative. It is my hope that young people entering the voting population continue to be strongly pro-life and vote to protect unborn children, and that the population as a whole can understand and embrace the (secret) pro-life norm. 

What do you think: could knowledge of the status quo position affect the extent to which people (particularly political moderates) accept pro-life views?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Abortion, Sterilization, and Regret: A Double Standard

A few weeks ago, the Huffington Post ran an article about the obstacles encountered by young women interested in permanent surgical sterilization (e.g. tubal ligation):
The first time Bri Seeley told her doctor she wanted to be sterilized, she was 24 years old. ... Motherhood, she knew deep in her bones, was not for her. But the naturopath whom Seeley saw for her annual exam told her that because of her age, she was not a good candidate for permanent sterilization. The following year, Seeley asked again -- and was rebuffed again. Next year, the same thing.
"Every single year she would say to me, 'You will never find a doctor to do that for you,'" said Seeley, who is now 31 and lives in Los Angeles, and who has blogged for The Huffington Post about her experience. Though her desire for the procedure only grew, she said, the anger she felt after her initial rejection gradually gave way to a kind of numbed resignation.
The issue is that doctors are concerned that women, and particularly younger women who have never given birth, will regret being sterilized:
A major area of focus for ACOG, and the OB-GYNs it seeks to counsel, is the question of regret. A comprehensive 2008 review looking at sterilization in the United States found that patient regret is the most common lasting complication of sterilization, and one that disproportionately affects women: Up to 26 percent of female patients say later that they regret the procedure, according to statistics cited in the study, compared to less than 5 percent of men who have a vasectomy. And age, the researchers concluded, is the top predictor of regret. Women who were under 30 when they were sterilized were twice as likely as their older counterparts to say they had later misgivings.
As one ob/gyn put it, "In some ways, it's very difficult to see a 22-year old make a decision for the 35-year-old she will be someday and not have major concerns that she might regret that decision."

Naturally, as I read this, my mind immediately went to the topic of post-abortion regret. Abortion, obviously, is also permanent. A 2008 meta-analysis in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that abortion is associated with an 81% increased risk of mental health problems. And I realize that this is a matter of intense ideologically-driven debate, but even if you disagree with the meta-analysis and refuse to accept that abortion is associated with mental illness, it is absolutely, at minimum, associated with regret. (Witness the explosion of women-led support programs that have emerged in the vacuum of official silence/reluctance/opposition.) If regret is a "complication" of sterilization, there is no defensible reason not to treat it as a complication of abortion as well.

Where is the concern from physicians that the 22-year-old obtaining an abortion is "making a decision for the 35-year-old she will be someday"—the woman wondering about the child who would have been on the cusp of his or her teen years?

If a childfree young woman wants a tubal ligation, and she has been fully informed of the one-in-four chance that she may later regret it (along with the obvious risks attendant to surgery), she should be able to obtain a tubal ligation. In addition to helping the majority of patients, a policy of open access to sterilization would also have the happy side effect of preventing unintended pregnancies and abortions.

Conversely, ob/gyns and women's health advocates should not be so cavalier about the chances that a woman will one day say that she regrets her abortion. (Often, as with sterilization, the regret won't come until years later, which is why I'm thoroughly unimpressed by research emphasizing that relief is the most common immediate reaction to an abortion.)

I don't wish to diminish the experiences of women who regret their tubal ligations. But they at least have options: some tubal ligations can be surgically reversed, sterilized women can become mothers through adoption, and one of the women quoted in the HuffPo piece was a stepmom. In contrast, there is nothing that can replace the unique daughter or son lost in an abortion.

The medical community has this completely ass-backwards.