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Friday, May 30, 2014

Last chance! Join the "You are not alone" campaign

You are not alone (urxalone) is a wonderful campaign in support of post-abortive women. It's been going on for the past month or so, and it ends tomorrow. So make sure you participate!

1) Go to urxalone.com.

2) Sign the open letter to people who are struggling with a past abortion.

2) Submit a photo to show you care! Feminists for Non-Violent Choices has some great examples:





Let's make sure that when a post-abortive woman goes online looking for help, she finds love. Not condemnation; not offensive rationalizations about how she must have been crazy before the abortion. Just a community of people who care.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

When access and choice collide

Although it's always been a minor theme in pro-abortion advocacy, abortion "access" has been front and center lately, particularly when it comes to state requirements that abortionists have admitting privileges at local hospitals. The goal of this legislation is to stop the practice of (literal) fly-by-night abortionists, who come into town for abortions, fly back to their homes out of state, and leave the local ER to deal with any complications that arise. (In the non-abortion context, this is known as patient abandonment.) Abortion advocates see this legislation as a bad thing, of course, because they believe that a fly-by-night abortionist is better than no abortionist at all.

But look below the surface, and the pro-life legislation is only part of their complaint.

In states like New York and California, which have a long tradition of supporting abortion much more strongly than the American population as a whole, an admitting privileges law would have little or no effect (not that it would ever pass). It would be pointless because the abortionists there are local and plentiful.

It's only in states that are already culturally pro-life that this legislation matters at all: states where most of the medical profession upholds the Hippocratic oath, and where the only abortion "services" come from fly-by-nighters who are attracted to the area by the very fact that there's no competition.

But that competition is starting to get steep everywhere. The abortion rate in the United States is at a low point, as fewer women experience unplanned pregnancies, and more of those who do choose life. The trend is the same for teenagers. (These trends actually appeared before the recent surge in pro-life legislation; the statistics are always several years behind. The true rates today are surely even lower.)

In North Dakota, the owner of the state's only abortion business freely admits that, pro-life legislation aside, it just wouldn't make financial sense for a second business to open there. North Dakota has a population of roughly 723,000 people. Let's compare it to the District of Columbia, which has a population of about 646,000. Care to guess how many abortion business D.C. has? Five. (That's not counting Maryland and northern Virginia, which have its own.) Why? Because North Dakota has a pro-life culture, and a very low abortion rate to match. In contrast, D.C. has one of the highest abortion rates in the nation.

So what happens as pro-lifers win the cultural battle, and the country as a whole becomes less like D.C. and more like North Dakota? Fewer unplanned pregnancies and fewer abortions are, we're told, what pro-choice advocates want... or at least it was, before they stopped saying "rare."

The hard truth (for them) is that we could have the beginnings of a virtuous cycle on our hands. As people use more effective contraception and the pro-life view wins more hearts and minds, abortion businesses will have to either close or hike up their prices. As a result, abortions will decline even further. Eventually, even medical school graduates who are sympathetic to abortion will focus their talents elsewhere because there's just not enough money in it. And the abortions will decline even further...

So what happens when the end of abortion "access" is caused not by legislation, but by the natural ebb and flow of culture? How, in that circumstance, can you defend abortion as a constitutional right?

The "right" to abortion is somewhat unique in that it requires another participant to "exercise" it. The only possible analogy I can think of, if I were to assume for the sake of argument that abortion were a constitutional right, is a hypothetical (and, admittedly, extremely unlikely) world in which guns have become so unpopular that it's difficult for Second Amendment enthusiasts to find sellers of firearms.

How important is it to abortion supporters that a woman in a pro-life region has "access" to abortion? Would they be willing to conscript doctors? Willing to encourage unplanned pregnancies to drum up sufficient business? These questions may seem ridiculous now, and I'll admit I've allowed my imagination to run a bit free in this article. But if current trends continue, these are the questions that the abortion movement will have to confront in the next ten or fifteen years. There is a kernel of fundamental tension between the movement for "choice" and the movement for "access." They can coexist while there are a million abortions a year. But in the long run, in order to have access, a critical mass of women have to make the "right" choice.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

There's something unusual about this photograph


On the right is me, Kelsey Hazzard, the president of Secular Pro-Life. On the left is Monica Snyder, SPL's West Coast Coordinator. For years, Monica has led the SPL contingent at the Walk for Life West Coast. Last year, she had the honor of addressing the entire Walk for Life crowd!

But it's more than that. Monica is pretty much my right-hand woman. We are in constant communication about Secular Pro-Life projects. I bounce ideas off of her and she filters what's feasible from what's not. She's played a crucial role in updating our literature. She represents Secular Pro-Life when we receive speaking requests from West Coast students. And on top of all that, she's also a frequent contributor to the blog.

The above photo depicts the first time we met in person... yesterday!

I live in Florida, and prior to that, lived in Virginia for law school. Monica is a proud resident of California. We divided up SPL's work by geography. Until yesterday, we never physically crossed paths. We just communicated via facebook (where we met), phone calls, texts, and Skype. Finally, Monica got married and we met each other half-way to celebrate in her family hometown in Missouri.

Why am I telling you this? Because it's a powerful illustration of what the pro-life movement can do with today's technology. An organization like Secular Pro-Life couldn't have existed in the early days of the pro-life movement. The pro-lifers of 1973, frantically organizing their response to the injustice that had just been handed down by the Supreme Court, would not have believed you if you told them how interconnected we'd become. (At least, I imagine that they wouldn't have believed it; that was well over a decade before I was alive!) But indeed we have become interconnected, and that has enabled us to make local, regional, national, and international progress for the rights of the preborn.

I also hope that this story offers a glimmer of hope to the many pro-life atheists who believe they're alone. ("I thought I was the only one!" is a common theme in the emails SPL receives.) Even if there isn't a fellow atheist in your Southern town, even if there isn't a fellow pro-lifer in your liberal New England metropolis, you can cultivate friendships with non-religious pro-lifers. Our facebook page is a great place to start.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Five secular pro-life arguments to avoid

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

We already know that religious arguments against abortion are ineffective at reaching a general audience—that’s why Secular Pro-Life exists. But not every secular defense is airtight, either. Many common pro-life arguments are readily refuted by abortion supporters, even if they make no reference to God. Below I list five to avoid.

1. “If your mom had chosen abortion, you wouldn’t be here.”

Reasonable pro-choice response: “Then I wouldn’t be here to care.”

Your opponent knows everybody starts out in the womb. If they are intellectually honest, they will recognize that their position means they believe their own mother should have been able to end their life during that stage. That may seem unfathomable to someone who understands identity as inseparable from physical existence, but pro-choice people just don’t think that way. In the words of abortion-rights advocate Frances Kissling, “the ‘I’ who stands before [pro-life challengers] is not the ‘I’ that was once a fetus.”

Similarly, Slate’s Jessica Winter writes:

In different circumstances, with different women, perhaps neither my husband nor I would be here. And that’s fine, or rather, we wouldn’t be around to declare it fine or not-fine . . . To me, the pro-lifer position is I love my mother, and I’m so grateful she had me. The pro-choice position is I love my mother, and I’m so grateful she had the right to choose what was best for her and her family. Both positions are honorable in their way. But only one of them imagines my mother as more than my mother—as a person autonomous of me, and certainly autonomous of the blastocyst that turned into me.

When you say “If your mom had chosen abortion, you wouldn’t be here,” what you’re really doing is asking “Aren’t you glad she didn’t?” This approach hinges on the assumption that the answer is always “yes.” But is it?

If faced with death, I’d imagine most people would prefer to live. I know I would. The issue here, however, is not a choice between existing and ceasing to exist but rather between existing and never having been born—that is, between existing and ceasing to exist before one is aware one exists. That’s a far more complicated question, and it’s one I’m not sure I can answer.

Death means a lot of different things to different people, but we can probably all agree that premature death, at the very least, means I can no longer fulfill my ambitions or do the things I enjoy. I’d rather keep living than die because I have some idea of what death means—enough to conclude that life is the better option, anyway. But what about never having been born? By virtue of my existence, I can’t possibly comprehend non-existence. And I can’t make a judgment, one way or another, about something I can never know.

2. “Think of the siblings or friends you could have had if it wasn’t for abortion.”

Reasonable pro-choice response: “I can’t miss someone I’ve never met.”

Let’s say you went to college in New York, and that’s where you met the majority of your friends. Now suppose you’d chosen a school in California instead. Would you still have made friends? Probably. But they wouldn’t have been the same ones.

Now imagine somebody told you that going to college in New York was a mistake—because by going to college in New York, you missed out on the friends you would have made in California. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense! Yet that’s effectively what you’re saying if you insist abortion is wrong because it robs the living of relationships that could have been.

Closely related is the “What if Einstein had been aborted?” argument. The problem with this one—besides the obvious rejoinder of “What if Hitler had been aborted?”—is that it suggests that the right to life is earned. But a future criminal has no less of a right to live than a future philanthropist. The human fetus does not have value because of what it may one day accomplish; it has value because it is human.

3. “Life is a beautiful thing. Nobody should be denied the opportunity to experience everything life has to offer!”

Reasonable pro-choice response: “I’m glad you like your life, but life isn’t beautiful for everyone.”

Unfortunately, not every life is beautiful. Some people struggle with poverty or abusive families. Some, by the happenstance of where they were born, live in oppressive societies that offer them little mobility. For those of us who enjoy a comfortable standard of living, it can be easy to forget that not everyone has the same luxury.

Regardless, if we affirm life as the most basic human right, then to kill a developing human because (s)he is likely to struggle later on is morally unjustifiable. What we should really be saying is not that every life is wonderful (and certainly not that every life is wonderful at every point in a lifetime), but that every person deserves a chance to make a good life for themselves, as they define that good. To decide that an individual’s life will not be worth living before that individual has even been born is the height of arrogance.

4. “How can you call yourself a feminist if you advocate for the killing of unborn women?”

Reasonable pro-choice response: “A fetus with two X chromosomes is not a woman.”

The primary purpose of feminism is to affirm the rights of women and girls as relevant to the power dynamic between the sexes. Feminism aims to address practical situations in which men and women are given unequal opportunity, as in education, employment, or politics. It also combats cultural perceptions of women that suggest they have comparatively lesser worth.

But here’s the kicker: Modern pro-choice feminists are concerned with the rights of born persons—or, more specifically, born persons whose autonomy is at stake. It is not their goal to defend every human female in every situation.

It’s not inconsistent for a self-proclaimed feminist to support abortion access if (s)he views it as integral to a woman’s ability to maintain control over her life. To the pro-choice feminist, the only party worthy of consideration is the pregnant woman: the independent moral agent whose freedom is threatened by the prospect of carrying to term. Under this view the fetus is an aggressor, and so its sex is irrelevant.

Consider an analogy: if I’m attacked by a female assailant and defend myself using physical force, do I lose the right to call myself a feminist? Obviously, that’s an exaggeration—and I personally don’t think unplanned pregnancy and criminal assault are even remotely comparable. But I do believe the “unborn women” appeal is a gross misrepresentation of feminism. Both questions are likely to elicit the same incredulity from someone who is a feminist and pro-choice.

Historically, feminism has been opposed to all forms of discrimination and violence. It’s fair to point out how abortion contradicts those values. But that argument does not rely on the sex of the abortion victim.

5. “A woman who gets an abortion will regret it.”

Reasonable pro-choice response: “Not always.”

While some women do suffer emotionally after their abortions, many do not. Precise numbers are hard to establish because the existing studies are at odds, but I can say one thing with confidence: it is impossible to know how any given woman will react without knowing her circumstances. Suggesting that she will regret her decision just because some women do is patronizing and unlikely to be well-received.

The “women regret abortion” argument generally assumes that women possess an innate desire to be mothers, and that therefore no woman could willingly choose abortion. Granted, many women who abort are driven by external pressures, like financial hardship or coercion from partners or relatives. Pro-lifers are absolutely right to concern themselves with these pressures. Yet others decide to abort because they just don’t want kids. Amanda Marcotte addressed this point in a widely-circulated piece from March 2014:

I like my life how it is, with my ability to do what I want when I want without having to arrange for a babysitter. I like being able to watch True Detective right now and not wait until baby is in bed. I like sex in any room of the house I please. I don’t want a baby. I’ve heard your pro-baby arguments. Glad those work for you, but they are unconvincing to me. Nothing will make me want a baby.

We need to be honest with ourselves: carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term is almost always an inconvenience for the woman. Even if she chooses adoption, she must still endure the physical and emotional effects of pregnancy for several months. That’s no small task, especially if she has reasons for wanting to hide her pregnancy from others—I’m thinking of a teenager from a strict family or a woman who conceived during an affair, to name two examples. I can certainly understand why abortion might be a tempting option in these cases.

But I still don’t think it should be legal.

To explain, it is necessary to compare the degree of harm suffered by the woman (should she carry to term) with the degree of harm suffered by the fetus (should she choose to abort). In the absence of medical complications, the consequence of continuing a pregnancy—though it may vary with regard to its severity—boils down to inconvenience: a disturbance in one’s way of life. The consequence of abortion is nothing less than death; that is, the complete elimination of life. This is not a matter of valuing the rights of the fetus over the rights of the woman, as critics have charged. Rather, it is a matter of valuing the right to life over the right to comfort—if indeed such a right exists.

I am thankful, of course, for campaigns like Project Rachel, Silent No More, and You Are Not Alone, which offer support to post-abortive women who regret their decision. I likewise appreciate resources such as Aid for Women in Chicago, which provide assistance up to and including housing for mothers in need. And I have absolutely no problem with cautioning women considering abortion that some have reported negative psychological consequences following the procedure. But that isn’t a guarantee—and to use it as the foundation for your pro-life advocacy is ethically and intellectually problematic.

Remember that while some or all of the above arguments may bolster your own resolve in fighting abortion (like religion does for many people), they are not necessarily convincing to others. Because they rely heavily on emotional appeals, they are only useful when conversing with someone who feels the same way as you. In that sense, appealing to emotion is just about as effective as appealing to religion.

More importantly, each of these, though undoubtedly well-intentioned, takes away from the crux of the issue—namely, that abortion is the legal killing of a member of the human species. Any approach that fails to emphasize this, even if it resonates with you personally, is limited in its utility.

If we accept that it’s wrong to kill a human with no say in the matter, then we cannot accept elective abortion. That doesn’t change, even if our hypothetical opponent supports their own mother’s ability to have chosen it. Not even if the fetus will be born into less-than-ideal circumstances. Not even if every woman were to approach the topic in the manner of Amanda Marcotte. 

It’s simple, really. I’m not against abortion because it’s deprived me of a friendship I may or may not have had. I’m not against abortion because “life is beautiful,” whatever that means. I’m not against abortion because it’s “anti-feminist,” or even because some women deeply regret choosing it. I’m against abortion because it ends a human life. And that’s all the reason I’ve ever needed.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

NARAL applauds censorship of abortion alternatives leader

Brat Fest is an annual festival that takes place in Madison, Wisconsin every year to raise money for charity. One of the speakers invited to this year's festival was Bob Lenz.

I do not know Bob Lenz, but apparently he's a Christian who is involved in suicide prevention work. Good for him. Seems like an appropriate person to feature at a charity event.

But he's also involved in a pro-life group called Save the Storks, and for that reason, NARAL campaigned to have him removed from the Brat Fest program. Brat Fest caved.

Save the Storks "sponsors 'Stork Buses,' vehicles which park in front of abortion clinics offering ultrasound exams in an effort to divert women from terminating pregnancies." Save the Storks is actually one of several pro-life groups that offer free mobile ultrasounds. NARAL's characterization of this practice is ridiculous:
In an interview on Monday, [Lisa] Subeck, a former executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, said that Lenz's promise not to address abortion was irrelevant. Giving him a prime speaking slot at the event would still serve as a tacit endorsement of his activities with the Stork Bus, she said.

She compared it to inviting prominent anti-gay activist Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church to speak on a topic besides homosexuality.

“Bob Lenz not only speaks out about his personal beliefs, but as a leader in the Save the Storks bus tour program, he participates directly in the interference of access to women's health care,” she wrote in the letter [calling for Lenz's removal].
Mobile ultrasound impedes women's access to health care?! Only if "access to women's health care" is a euphemism for "an abortion center's bottom line." Back in reality-land, mobile ultrasound increases women's access to health care. (And the idea that people offering abortion alternatives are the equivalent of funeral-protesting bigots is not even worthy of rebuttal.)

Lest you're inclined to be charitable and suppose that Subeck is only a former NARAL executive and doesn't necessarily represent NARAL's views, here's what NARAL had to say on facebook:
And what about the neighbors who wanted to hear him? Abortion advocates once again fail to embrace actual choice.

I'll close with one of my favorite quotes, which NARAL would do well to heed:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Which side is extreme?

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

In the United States, the courts treat abortion as a constitutional right through all nine months, for any reason, and that has been the law since 1973. It’s shocking how many defenders of the Supreme Court’s abortion decisions do not know this.

Either by design or by accident, our law is confusing in the extreme. The Supreme Court in Roe vs. Wade made it seem as if it was only talking about abortions before viability, saying that the states, if they wished, could make late abortion illegal. But in Roe vs. Wade’s companion case, Doe vs. Bolton, the High Court created a “health” loophole that effectively crushed the states’ ability to make third trimester abortions illegal.  (Pro-life policymakers hang their hats on language in Gonzales v. Carhart, the partial-birth abortion case, to defend 20-week bans—but the Supreme Court has not yet addressed the issue directly.)

When I debate pro-choicers, I always make a point of clarifying the current state of the law right off the bat. Often, they won’t believe me! I then follow up with some questions: “If that was the law and you did not know it, would that prove that the media and educational systems are not doing their job?” “If I did show you that abortion is legal through all nine months, for any reason, and has been since 1973, would you oppose that law?” (These questions usually elicit a lame “no comment.”)

Pointing out the extremism of our current law is important because it frames the debate. Rarely do people support the law as it is; polling consistently shows that those who believe abortion should be “legal in all cases” are in the minority. But people are more likely to condemn the law if I explain it to them after they have said what their desired law is.

But the supposed “middle-of-the-road” position—that some abortions should be legal, but not others—is very difficult to defend. To successfully oppose any abortion and advocate for at least some unborn babies, you have to abandon arguments that demand nine-month abortion under all circumstances. Consider the following common pro-choice arguments:
  • The government has no right to make abortion illegal.
  • A woman’s right to control her body grants her the right to abort.
  • The fetus is not a person until birth.
  • Criminalizing abortion will lead to the deaths of women in “back-alley” abortions.
  • Only the woman and her doctor get to decide.
  • Children are expensive and burdensome to the woman, family, and society.
The six contentions above make up the entire core pro-choice argument.  If you don’t believe them, you’re not really pro-choice, and if you do, you are a nine-month pro-choicer.  But often, when people use these arguments, they are unwittingly insisting upon abortions they themselves don’t even support! Where many anti-abortion people will try to disprove the core arguments, I will simply point out that the pro-choicer I’ve debating does not actually believe them (unless I’m talking to a nine-month extremist).

A person who opposes the legalization of some abortions believes that:
  • The government has the right and obligation to legally protect at least some unborn children from abortion.
  • A woman’s right to control her body does not necessarily grant her the right to abort and kill her child.
  • The unborn is a baby with rights before he or she is born.The threat of back-alley abortions is not serious, or if it is, it’s less important than the protection of at least some unborn children.
  • Men like me and people like you sometimes have the right and obligation, through the government, to prevent women from aborting.
  • The fact that an unborn child is expensive and burdensome does not necessarily justify killing him or her.
There are obvious practical problems with drawing a line, with trying to protect some unborn children while killing others.  Third month, fourth month, fifth month, sixth … can the killing be contained?  Are we to have nurses stand by with calendars and stopwatches saying, “Kill the fetus now, Doctor, while you still have time.  You have ten seconds … five, four, three, two, one … Murder!”

The “middle-of-the-road” pro-choicer must say to his or her peers, “You do not have the right to kill these unborn children”… which is rather difficult to do while he or she is also saying, “I have the right to kill these other unborn children.” 

Friday, May 16, 2014

"40" Film Review

[Today's article by Kelsey Hazzard was originally published earlier this week, in the latest issue of the Life Matters Journal. You should definitely read the whole thing. It has a recap of the Life/Peace/Justice conference, a piece by frequent SPL contributor Sarah Terzo, and much more. And it's free!]

The 40 film is a documentary that examines the pro-life movement forty years after Roe v. Wade. It features interviews with dozens of pro-life leaders, including yours truly. But in case that isn’t enough to persuade you to see it, here are four more reasons (and I’ll try to be as objective as possible!): 

1. You can bring your pro-choice friends to see this movie. 
Does 40 have an agenda? Well, it’s distributed by an outfit called Pro-Life Champions, so obviously the answer is yes. But that agenda does not saddle the film with cheesy narratives. Nor does the film caricature pro-choicers. And the many post-abortive women featured in the film are portrayed with great respect and compassion. (40 both begins and ends with Yvonne Florczak-Seeman, who has had five abortions.)

2. This movie busts all the stereotypes. 
Pro-life women? Check. Pro-lifers of color? Check. Non-Christian pro-lifers? Check. Young pro-lifers? BIG check. Rebecca Kiessling of Save the 1 remarked that “40 is destined to become the premiere film for educating youth on abortion.” I agree, and would add that youth are also doing a great deal of the educating. 

3. This movie makes the case for life compassionately and effectively. 
The 40 film is equal parts historical documentary—where the pro-life movement has been, where we are, and where we’re going—and abortion debate primer. Everything from “my body, my choice” to the rape exception to “safe, legal, and rare” is addressed. Not bad for a film that runs less than 90 minutes!

4. This movie is going to save lives. 
Throughout the film, various interview subjects speak directly to any pregnant women who may be watching. Whoever is speaking, the message is consistent: “The pro-life movement is here for you. We can help.” This message is reinforced by the many non-activist mothers who share their personal stories of choosing life. When I attended the screening of 40 in Washington, D.C. after the 2014 March for Life, director John Morales said that if the film saved just one life, all his hard work would be worth it. I’ll be shocked if it’s just one.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

What Makes a Person a Person?

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

I have written several articles already giving a robust defense of what a person is. But now I'd like to talk about what I see as a key component to a person.

My preferred definition of "person" comes from medieval philosopher Boethius, that a person is an individual substance of a rational nature. There are many things we think of when we think of persons, and various philosophers like Mary Anne Warren and Peter Singer have identified: the capacity for rational thought, the ability to express oneself through language, the ability to form concepts, etc. And of course, I have argued in the past that it's not our present capacities that ground our personhood, but our inherent capacities. This is why the unborn qualify as persons.

It's simply counterintuitive to refer to anything other than humans as persons. Even pro-choice writers use the terms "human" and "person" interchangeably... until they want to justify abortion. Then they suddenly want to make a distinction between the two. Even in liberal movies or television shows, in which they're generally pro-choice, they'll still refer to a wanted unborn child as a "little person." Granted, intuitions are not always reliable in determining truth, but we are generally justified in trusting our intuitions unless someone gives us good reason otherwise.

Now all of the criteria I listed earlier are definitely things that persons can do. But there is one very important factor that goes into whether or not something should be considered a person: its inherent capacity for morality. A person is someone who can recognize a moral code and act accordingly. This is why human beings are persons and animals are not. If there were other animals that could determine the moral code and act accordingly, they could be considered people. But I don't think this will happen, since the differences between humanity and the rest of the animal kingdom are vast (e.g. humans have the unique ability to form concepts, and animal sounds are not "true" language).

Consider this: it is wrong for me to kill a human being (a discussion of why is irrelevant to this conversation). I can recognize that it is wrong for me to kill a human being, so if I kill a human being I must be captured, tried, and punished. However, our courts recognize that someone must be in their right mind in order to be punished for a crime, because if you do not understand that it's a crime, then you can't be held accountable for it. This is why the insanity defense is allowed, if it can be proven. Bear in mind that they are still a person because the inherent capacity is still there even if it's due to a permanent illness; it is just not presently-exercisable. See this article for more on capacities. I am just saying that they are not held responsible for their action because they were not in their right mind.

Additionally, we do not hold animals responsible for committing moral crimes. If I wander into a bear cave, I am responsible if I get mauled by a bear. But if someone wanders onto my property and I kill them without giving them a chance to leave, I am held responsible. Murder, rape, cannibalism, and all sorts of moral crimes occur in nature, yet the animals are not responsible for them because they can't recognize right from wrong. This is the way of things, and it also shows that we simply don't need to recognize animals as persons, because these things happen in nature, in the wild, anyway. It's the ecosystem and the circle of life.

Now, obviously animals do feel pain and many of them are conscious. So not recognizing animals as persons does not mean we can treat them however we want. I am morally opposed to hunting for sport. But it does mean that animals are not intrinsically valuable like humans are. An example my friend Josh Brahm uses is also helpful here: rounding up a group of dolphins and killing them is not morally the same as rounding up a group of human children and killing them, even though killing a group of dolphins probably still deserves some punishment. But to consider animals as persons is an illegitimate move by those who would try to deny that very same personhood to human unborn children.

One final word on the matter. Without delving into an off-topic discussion about whether morality is objective, I am not saying that you must agree with us on morality to be considered a person. Peter Singer is still a person, even though he believes that infanticide is morally permissible. But he is a rational entity, capable of recognizing morality, even if some of the moral conclusions he draws are reprehensible. This is why your rational nature is essential to your personhood. As human beings with rational minds, not only can we recognize that certain things are right and wrong, but we can also, through argumentation and logic, come closer to the truth on matters of morality.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Unproductive responses to the Emily Letts abortion video

[Today's guest post by Rachel Enders is part of our paid blogging program. Get more thoughts from Rachel at her Pro-Life For All tumblr. She also blogs about sexual health at Birds, Bees, and Other Things, which is not remotely safe for work.]

Emily Letts is a woman from New Jersey, and she is pro-choice. She participates in abortion-related activism, and she is an abortion counselor at the Cherry Hill Women’s Center. In November, she decided to have an abortion. This choice has sparked an onslaught of respect and condemnation from people on all sides of the abortion issue.

Why is Emily’s abortion different than the fifty-five million other abortions that have taken place since 1973? Emily Lett filmed her abortion… and it went viral.

Miss Lett entered her video into the Abortion Stigma-Busting Competition sponsored by the Abortion Care Network in an attempt to dissipate the shame that many women feel after an abortion. She says:
I know there are women who feel great remorse. I have seen the tears. Grieving is an important part of a woman's process, but what I really wanted to address in my video is guilt… Our society breeds this guilt. We inhale it from all directions… I had one woman who messaged me saying she’d had an abortion that week, and she was plagued with guilt. Her boyfriend called her a killer…
Unfortunately, these sorts of reactions to post-abortive women are far too common in some facets of the pro-life movement. When I was perusing facebook looking for information about this case, the amount of pure vitriol coming from the peanut gallery was simply terrible. I’ll share a few (adjusted for privacy).

Some were slut-shaming:

Others wished her infertility:

Some even wished her death:

And some were simply a bit stupid:

All of these examples are very, very sad.

I’m writing this in the early hours of Mother’s Day, and I’m appalled by so many aspects of this case. On one hand, there is a woman who has bought into the lies that support abortion. On the other hand, there are people who supposedly support life that are wishing another person violent death.

I understand the anger of the commenters. I really do. It makes me mad that this woman chose to end her child’s life. I am disappointed that in her sexual activity she was not using any form of birth control, by her own admission. It also makes me angry to see fellow pro-lifers spit this sort of hatred at a woman they’ve never met. I am even more livid that high-profile pro-life websites have allowed this sort of commenting to go unchecked on their Facebook pages.

I’ve drawn one conclusion about this story: Nothing has occurred so far that’s positive.

However, we do have the opportunity to improve the situation. Many women who are considering abortion or are post-abortive feel a great deal of shame and condemnation from society and the people around them. Unfortunately, too much of that comes from people who claim to be pro-life.

We can change this. Bringing positivity to the abortion dialogue does a lot. Firstly, it decreases the amount of totally unnecessary stress to someone who is facing an unwanted pregnancy or has just lost a child. In any circumstance that’s difficult and nobody needs to be called a whore when their lives are going to be changed forever. Secondly, if a woman has had or is seeking an abortion, do you think this sort of trash talking will convince her to choose life? I don’t think so. Lastly, it’s just the kind thing to do. That factor is enough for me to use only productive language in any circumstance. The list goes on and on, but I’ve picked out the highlights.

I truly believe that with some hard work, the pro-life movement will ultimately triumph over abortion. It’s a firm conviction of mine. For this to occur, we have to stay productive and open. We can let our anger drive us to action, but we can’t let it consume us. Overall, I believe that we can change hearts and minds, but hatred only hurts our cause.

Calling someone scum doesn’t save the unborn – it only hurts people.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The "back-alley" argument, repurposed

Yesterday, Slate published an article by Boer Deng and Dahlia Lithwick entitled Liberal Guilt: In the push to abolish the capital punishment, opponents of the death penalty have made it less safe. 

Let us first take a moment to ponder the lunacy of that headline. What, exactly, is a "safe" death penalty? Safe for whom?

It's clear from the article itself that what the authors really mean is that executions are becoming less humane. Not that it makes a whole lot of difference from the inmate's point of view. (In fairness, I suspect that the authors didn't write the headline; that task is usually left to editors.)

But that's all beside the point. I bring this article to your attention because it's a fascinating re-tooling of an old pro-abortion argument.

Here's the crux:
Lethal injection was supposed to be the humane alternative to firing squads and hangings. But as American physicians sideline themselves and European pharmaceutical firms (and American ones with global ties) decline to supply the most known and efficacious lethal injection drugs, corrections officials have been pushed to use inferior methods and substandard providers. In other words—and painful though it is to admit—the real culprit in the death of Clayton Lockett is opposition to the death penalty. In pushing for outright abolition of capital punishment, we have undermined the countervailing effort to make it as clean and painless as possible.
Raise your hand if this sounds really familiar.

Those naive, stupid right-to-life activists, discouraging physicians from performing a lawful procedure and restricting access. They're just pushing it all underground... right? Whether you're talking about the death penalty or abortion, it's the exact same argument.

And it's utter nonsense.

Nobody is "pushing corrections officers to use inferior methods and substandard providers." Incredibly, the article elsewhere says that death penalty states have been "forced"—yes, forced—to use questionable sources of lethal drugs.

In the context of abortion, we have already addressed the bizarre idea that people are "forced" to create an underground system of killing people:
[T]he pro-choice argument about "back-alley" abortions assumes that women are stupid and/or without meaningful agency.
Women will be forced to avail themselves of illegal abortion procedures, abortion advocates say. They'll have to. It's inevitable. The idea that they might choose life instead? Preposterous.
In short, they are saying that the average American woman, living after the reversal of Roe, would be completely incapable of the following train of thought: "This pregnancy hasn't come at a good time. There's a pregnancy center a couple miles from here that might be able to help me out, but will that be enough? I suppose I could take a semester off. Or maybe I could take online classes instead. Will I have to take out a loan? Move back in with my parents? Get a second job? Go on welfare? Place my baby with an adoptive family? I'm not thrilled about any of these options. On the other hand, they are much better than the option of sticking a sharp object up my privates and hoping for the best."
Likewise, in the death penalty context, the available alternatives are quite obvious. Even if a state isn't yet prepared to take the death penalty off its books, it can declare a moratorium. They just don't want to, because they've decided that they value the death of particular people over safety considerations. (Whose fault is that?)

Sadly, that should sound really familiar, too.

I realize that not all Secular Pro-Life members oppose the death penalty. And you don't have to; it isn't an official SPL stance (although I personally am opposed, obviously). But the parallels here are pretty striking. Clearly, the movement to abolish abortion and the movement to abolish capital punishment can learn a lot from one another.

And if you oppose the death penalty, and you find the Slate article absurd, but you've never given much thought to abortion... may this be your introduction.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Live-stream pro-life event tomorrow at 2pm

Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of Kermit Gosnell's conviction. The pro-life policy gurus at Americans United for Life are marking the occasion with a special event that afternoon. They've put together a really promising panel of medical and legal experts to discuss Gosnell's impact, abortion risks in general, and the legislative response.

Secular Pro-Life is not a sponsor of this event, but based on my knowledge of the organizers, I do not expect strong religious themes.

The panel discussion will take place in Washington, D.C., but you can watch live on your computer here. (You can also use that link ahead of time to set up an email reminder.)

Friday, May 9, 2014

A global movement for life

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

The "One of Us" campaign for prenatal rights
encompasses the entire European Union.
Last Friday, Politico published an article about the momentum pro-life groups are enjoying in the European Union (EU). The EU is made up of 28 different countries; there are efforts being spearheaded in the individual countries, as well as in the courts and commissions of the EU which impact the continent in a more unified manner.

In the United States, abortion is legal up until birth, for any reason. (Many states limit late-term abortions to health reasons. But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Doe v. Bolton that abortions for "health" reasons essentially means whatever the mother and doctor want it to mean. There is strong evidence to suggest that most late-term abortions in the United States are not done for actual medical reasons.)

The situation in Europe is certainly significantly different. The legal status of abortion varies by country, but there is generally more protection for unborn life. For instance, in France, although abortions are taxpayer-funded, the procedure is also only allowed up until 12 weeks (except in the case of a serious health risk to the mother, or if the child will suffer an incurable disease.) On the less pro-life end, Sweden allows abortion up to 18 weeks, and the United Kingdom up to 24 weeks, although not on demand for the latter.

Politico mentions that some American groups also conduct their pro-life efforts in Europe; it also discusses why some groups, like National Right to Life, focus their efforts here rather than abroad. For those groups which do engage with individuals and organizations in Europe, there is great potential to save lives. As the first two paragraphs of the article show, with added emphasis:
U.S. abortion opponents are giving new life to the movement abroad, where once-stagnant European allies are pushing changes that could affect the whole continent. 
A younger generation of anti-abortion activists has turned to the United States for legal advice, strategic training and transatlantic inspiration. They credit a distinctly American approach with forcing abortion, long a deeply private issue in Europe, into the public conversation. And for the Americans who travel overseas to assist, strengthening their cause internationally also strengthens their position at home. 
Such news is good for any movement. But this isn't just the revival of any old cause. For "giving new life" is not just metaphorical phrasing here but becomes a literal statement for women, their children and their families, when pro-life success is to be had. 

Young Europeans are inspired by the United States because the American pro-life movement has embraced youth involvement. American millennials are "the pro-life generation." We can see our young cousins, siblings and friends through the power of ultrasound images. And perhaps we are also passionate because each of us born after 1973 is a survivor of legalized abortion.

Sex and pregnancy may be private issues, but the killing of the innocent should never be. And it need not be a private issue to change hearts and minds, to offer advice and help to pregnant women or families in need.

Europe is more secular than the United States. Politico notes that European supporters of abortion have tried to dismiss pro-life campaigns as "a bid by the Catholic Church and American evangelical 'extremists' to bring abortion fights to Brussels." A continent of secular nations embracing the pro-life movement shows not only that abortion supporters who make such claims as the one above are woefully ignorant, but that the right to life transcends faith.

Let enemies of life, especially those who ignorantly try to stereotype the pro-life movement, beware. The tragedy of abortion and its true nature will come to light wherever abortion occurs. The love for life and the dedication to defending it transcends borders and languages.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

It's about life AND about women's safety

The abortion advocates at the ACLU had this to say in a blog post earlier this week:
During the current legislative session, more than 300 provisions were introduced across the country to prevent access to abortion, including some of the most severe abortion restrictions we've ever seen. For months, we have been lamenting that these extremist politicians must think we're stupid if they think we won't realize that their legislative maneuvering is part of a coordinated, national plan to outlaw women's health clinics and cut off access to abortion care.
Well at least one former political operative is willing to come out and say the truth – abortion opponents' true goal is not to make abortion clinics safer, but to close all abortion clinics. ...
[Former Alabama gubernatorial press secretary J. Peppar Bryars stated]: "Our goal should remain, as Williams said, to make all abortion illegal and inaccessible in Alabama. And our strategy and arguments should always support that long-term goal…"

Bryars' cool and clear admission of the true goals of the anti-abortion strategy stands in stark contrast to misleading public arguments abortion opponents often make. For example, when Dan McConchie, vice president for legislative affairs of Americans United for Life, is quoted saying: "stricter regulations of doctors and facilities represented a genuine effort to ensure that if clinics are going to operate, they operate to high standards that protect women's health and safety," we can infer that their true concern is less about women's safety and more about returning us to a time when abortion was inaccessible in this country.
First of all, I had to laugh at the allegation that we want to "outlaw women's health clinics," appearing in an article accusing us of being deceptive. News flash: gynecologists existed before Roe v. Wade, and will continue to exist after the right to life is restored. Women's health offerings like pap smears, mammograms, STD testing and treatment, etc. simply are not at issue here. "Women's health" is not synonymous with abortion!

And of course, those gynecologists who offer other surgical procedures (tubal ligation, for example) are subject to state safety regulations; abortion is the unjustified exception. The ACLU wants abortion to be called health care, but not be regulated like health care. Not gonna happen.

All that said, I don't think Dan McConchie's quote is at all incompatible with AUL's openly pro-life aims. (Disclosure: I know Dan personally.) His statement, again, was that if clinics are going to operate, we should hold them to high standards.

This is a basic argument from common ground. We may have different ideas about the morality of abortion, but surely we can agree that something must be done about the Douglas Karpens, Steven Chase Brighams, James Pendergrafts, etc. of the world... right?

I guess not.

The bottom line is that abortion advocacy groups are not willing to deal with the subpar abortionists in their midst. (And why should they be? The media didn't blame them for Kermit Gosnell, in spite of the grand jury's clear findings; they know they can get away with it.) So the task is left to us. It's our responsibility. And we will take it on.

The ACLU obsesses over what our "real" goal is, but there's no good reason why we should limit ourselves to a single goal. This is about life and about women's safety.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The "Invisibles"

[Today's guest post by Susi O. Fanabba is part of our paid blogging program.]

A few weeks ago, we celebrated National Sibling Day. This Sunday, we will celebrate Mother's Day. And next month, we have Father's Day. For many people, including many pro-lifers, these holidays are a cause for joy. But I implore you to be sensitive; many people have come to dread this time of year. Children who have lost parents are an obvious example. Let us also remember the "invisible" sufferers:

Those "only" children whose siblings have died.

Those, like me, who have lost a sibling to abortion.

Those parents who have lost their only children, and are therefore unlikely to receive any recognition on the days set aside for mothers and fathers.

Those post-abortive women who relive their pain each Mother's Day.

Those single parents who are raising children on their own due to the loss of a partner. (My mom is in this category, having been widowed at a young age with four kids. While it's been almost 20 years, it's still painful for us on Father's Day.)

We as a movement should do more to acknowledge these "invisible" victims. If you know someone who may find Mother's Day or Father's Day difficult, please consider sending them a message to check up on them, etc. Many of my friends who have lost children have been so touched to know that their babies are remembered.

They thought they'd go unchallenged

Last week, the abortion advocacy group NARAL announced a victory. They boasted that they had pressured Google into removing certain advertisements for pro-life pregnancy centers that appeared when people entered abortion-related search terms. NARAL claimed that offering alternatives to abortion to those most in need of them is "deceptive."

It's not clear whether NARAL's claim is true, or just pro-choice fundraising bluster. Several pregnancy resource centers have stated that their ads are in fact still running.

But NARAL's aim is very clear: silence the abortion lobby's competition. And they thought they'd go unchallenged.

They were wrong.

We have just completed a major update of AbortionSafety.com. Through this site, Secular Pro-Life warns women about abortion centers with a history of health code violations and malpractice lawsuits. We empower them with the information they need to secure their health and the health of their unborn children. 

AbortionSafety.com now contains data on over 150 abortion centers across the United States!

When a woman searches for "abortion" on Google, what will appear? If NARAL gets its way, she'll see nothing but sales pitches. But with your help, she can know the truth.

Please help us run Google advertisements for AbortionSafety.com by making a donation today.

Thank you for your support!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Unhealthy advice in Planned Parenthood's "Happy, Healthy, and Hot"

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

If someone with the AIDS virus was about to have sex with you, should they have to tell you about their HIV-positive status first? Planned Parenthood doesn’t think so. In a brochure entitled Happy, Healthy, and Hot, which Planned Parenthood describes as a "guide for young people living with HIV to help them understand their sexual rights, and live healthy, fun, happy and sexually fulfilling lives," the giant of the abortion advocacy world proclaims:
You have the right to decide if, when, and how to disclose your HIV status...
You know best if and when it is safe to disclose your [HIV] status...
There is no right or wrong way to have sex. Just have fun, explore and be yourself!...
It is not always possible to talk about to your partner(s) or to practice safer sex...
There is no if, and there is no question of when. The only appropriate time to disclose one's HIV status is before having sex with your partner. That is the "right way." An organization that really cared about sexual health would not need me to explain this.

I'm hardly the first to write about this problem with Happy, Healthy, and Hot. It got a fair amount of coverage when the brochure first came to light in 2010. But if you read the whole thing, it turns out that there's enough baffling propaganda for several articles.

For example:
Some people have sex after they have been drinking alcohol or using drugs. This is your choice.
That's alarming, especially given that Healthy, Happy and Hot is directed to young people who may not be of drinking age. Also, illicit drug use is a major factor in the spread of AIDS. And, above all, people who are drunk or high are in no position to consent to sexual activity.
If you want to have sex and think you might get drunk or high, plan ahead by bringing condoms and lube or putting them close to where you usually have sex. That way you won’t forget them in the heat of the moment.
Apparently Planned Parenthood does have some concept of consent...
Your partner must be able to freely consent to sexual activity. It is not okay to have sex with someone who is so drunk or high that they are staggering, incoherent or have passed out.
...but it needs to reevaluate its standards. (Also, "not okay" wins the understatement of the day award.)

Then there are statements so bizarre as to be unintentionally funny. “Sex is often a social activity.” “Do you know about the clitoris and prostate?” Uh, all right.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Planned Parenthood brochure without a plug for its most important "service":
Your local family planning clinic can help you create a plan—whether it is for having children safely, terminating or preventing unplanned pregnancies, or figuring out how to start a family if you are single or in a same-sex relationship.
That's a little puzzling at first—what is abortion doing in a brochure about maintaining your health as an HIV-positive person?—but it starts to make sense when you look at the long-term history of Planned Parenthood. For decades, Planned Parenthood has had a tendency to treat pregnancy as a type of sexually transmitted disease. Planned Parenthood board member Dr. James Irwin stated: “In a girl under 18, we consider pregnancy a disease.” This sentiment has been so prevalent in some circles that the prestigious textbook Williams Obstetrics states: “[F]or some women, pregnancy is a venereal disease.” At a meeting of Planned Parenthood physicians back in 1973, Dr. Willard Cates presented a paper entitled “Abortion as a Treatment for Unwanted Pregnancy: the Number Two Sexually Transmitted Disease.” (Gonorrhea was considered the number one STD.)  Cates wrote that abortion is “ten times more effective for treating unplanned pregnancy than is penicillin for treating gonorrhea.”

We, the American taxpaying public, fund Planned Parenthood's outrageous agenda to the tune of a million dollars a day.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The JFA Seminar: "Sometimes religion happens."

In yesterday’s post I wrote about the Justice For All (JFA) training seminar. I enjoyed the seminar because I appreciate JFA’s relational approach and substantial arguments. In today’s post I’ll explain one more reason I enjoyed the seminar: the people running the seminar made a clear effort to be religiously inclusive. That means a lot to me.

JFA is a Christian organization. When Ellen and I were originally invited to attend the training, we were told that there would be some religious aspects to the day. A few days before the training, JFA sent brief reminder emails to everyone registered for the seminar. The emails explained that the purpose of the seminar was to have “participants learn conversational and intellectual tools to engage pro-choice ideas while being effective ambassadors for Christ.” (Emphasis in original.)

I want to make an important distinction here. I wrote a blog post in February trying to explain the alienation and mental exhaustion I felt after what I considered a highly religious SFLA conference. I think part of my frustration with that aspect of the (otherwise excellent) conference was that I had the wrong expectations heading into the conference. To my knowledge, SFLA doesn’t present itself as a religious organization, and even that day conference leaders said the conference was not a Christian event. So I attended the conference thinking it would be a religiously-neutral event (neither religious nor anti-religious), and I wasn’t prepared for the level of religiousness I experienced there.

In contrast, JFA was upfront about being a Christian organization putting on a Christian event. Ideally (for me) there would be a non-religious pro-life training seminar I could attend. Absent that possibility, I suppose I’m left with (a) attending a religious event knowing in advance that it’s a religious event and choosing to attend anyway or (b) attending a religious event not realizing what I’m getting into and feeling caught off-guard and out-of-place once I’m there. Of those two options, I’d rather go with the first, so it helps that JFA is clear about where they’re coming from.

Plus, despite being explicitly Christian-based, the seminar was conducted in a way that welcomed Ellen and me (and, I hope, any other non-Christians anonymous among the attendees). In my blog post “Everyone Welcome” I compiled 10 suggestions for increasing pro-life religious diversity. For example, fellow pro-lifers can (1) talk about diversity, (2) use inclusive language, (3) refrain from evangelizing, and (4) strengthen the voices of pro-life minorities. Josh Brahm, who lead the seminar, and other conference leaders and attendees put each one of these suggestions into practice throughout the day.

Josh began the seminar by talking about diversity. He welcomed everyone in attendance but made a point of welcoming certain specific groups. First he welcomed any pro-choicers who may have attended out of curiosity. Then he welcomed any non-Christians, explaining that the seminar would be primarily secular pro-life apologetics but that, as Josh put it, “sometimes religion happens.”

Mere moments later, Josh introduced the first speaker, Clinton. Josh listed some of Clinton’s experience in the pro-life movement and said he believed Clinton’s talk would make the conference attendees “feel really blessed.” Then he paused, chuckled, and exclaimed, “See! Religion just happened!” and a lot of people, including me, laughed pretty hard. Josh made the same joke a few other times throughout the day, to laughter each time.

It may seem like a very small gesture, but even a comment like that (“Religion just happened!”) is a way of using inclusive language. There would be no need to point out when religion happens if Josh were in a group composed exclusively of fellow Christians. Instead, the comment acknowledges the presence and feelings of people who may not be 100% comfortable with religious language or practices. That acknowledgment makes a difference.

Later in the day, when Josh was explaining the Equal Rights Argument, he talked about how some people ask why we should value any human beings at all. Josh explained that he, personally, believes human beings have value because we are created in the image of God. He then pointed out that this is not the only explanation for valuing human beings. He specifically said there are plenty of non-religious people who value human beings for totally different reasons (“two of which are sitting in this room right now”).

Another JFA speaker, Clinton, also used inclusive language. Twice during the conference Clinton began prayers by saying “Pray with me if you follow Christ.” To me, the words “if you follow Christ” make a big difference! The phrase acknowledges the presence of non-Christians by showing Clinton isn’t simply assuming everyone in the room follows Christ. It also shows Clinton isn’t entreating people who don’t follow Christ to pray or pretend to pray. With those four little words, Clinton showed that he isn’t ignoring non-Christians and he isn’t asking us to hide our secularism. It’s a small but important gesture.

Also early on during the seminar, Josh (with our permission) introduced Ellen and me to the rest of the conference as representatives of Secular Pro-Life. That meant everyone in attendance knew Ellen and I are secularists. Sometimes that foreknowledge leads to awkward conversations; I’ve had people tell me, unprompted, why they believe Christianity is true or how they think I’m great/nice/smart/whatever and they’ll pray for me to come around to their truth. If you’re a Christian reading this and you’re not sure why those conversations might bother me, imagine the reverse scenario. Imagine you’re in a group of people you’ve just met who happen to know you’re a Christian, and, unprompted, people come up to you and start telling you why they think Christianity is false and how they hope you’ll leave Christianity soon. Their intentions may be good, but can you see how that might be awkward, or downright irritating?

Happily, that didn’t happen even once during Saturday. No one evangelized to me or Ellen. In general people were friendly, and we exchanged stories about our different experiences in the pro-life movement. And it’s not that people felt they had to hide their faith either. I spoke with other attendees who talked openly about how their beliefs gave them hope and encouragement, and I’m glad for them. There’s a big distinction between people talking about how their faith affects them and people trying to get me to agree with their faith. Saturday had some of the former and none of the latter, and that was really nice.

Finally, once or twice during the seminar Josh also took opportunities to ask Ellen and me for our perspective. Really, this approach is part of Josh’s overall style. He was clearly aware of at least some of the experiences and perspectives of various conference attendees, and when appropriate he asked people for input based on their particular histories (for example some attendees were post-abortive or worked in pregnancy resource centers) or fields of interest (some attendees had particular knowledge about philosophy or biology). In this way Josh not only strengthened the voice of pro-life minorities (us secularists) but strengthened the voices of everyone. Maybe he’s good at being religiously inclusive because he just wants to be a generally inclusive guy.

SPL promotes religious diversity in the pro-life movement. Occasionally religious pro-lifers express concern that this goal implies they’re being asked to deny their faith for the sake of the abortion debate. Last Saturday, Josh and Clinton demonstrated how Christians can affirm their faith while still including non-Christians in the conversation. I still hope for an increasing secular presence in the pro-life movement, to the point where pro-lifers like me can have non-religious programs to learn through. However, if you’re a Christian pro-lifer looking to hit that balance between religious inclusiveness and your own faith, last Saturday’s JFA seminar was a great example of how to do it.


The author's interpretation of the JFA seminar.