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Friday, July 31, 2015

Only a "Potential" Person?

Meme via Live Action
[Today's guest post by Acyutananda is part of our paid blogging program.]

“A woman is an actual, living, breathing person, and a zygote/embryo/ fetus is only a potential person.”

This statement is a staple feature of discussions about abortion, and the meaning is always that the woman can rightfully abort the “zef” if she finds it to be of any benefit to her to do so.

But let’s look at a woman’s objective when she gets an abortion. No sane woman does it for the sake of the immediate abortion experience. She does not expect it to be fun to go to the clinic, fill out forms, pay $350, lie on an operating table, and perhaps experience significant pain. She is always thinking of benefits, perhaps the benefits of freedom from pregnancy, at least a few hours in the future.

And if she is getting an abortion in order to avoid problems for herself after the birth of the child, she is thinking still farther in the future. And if she feels an abortion will make it easier for her to finish grad school, she is thinking of benefits years down the road. In every single case, she is thinking of her future – that is, her potential.

So those who say that we don’t need to think of the child’s welfare or interests because “a woman is an actual person and a zef only a potential person” are essentially saying:
  1. The woman’s potential should be taken into account, and therefore she has a right to kill her unborn child 
  2. It’s okay to kill an unborn child, because its potential should not be taken into account.
Actually, the morality or immorality of any action must always be related to the future. The real scientific present (not to be confused with a person’s experience of the present, and the possible value of “living in” that present) has no duration. It is just a dividing line between past and future. Nothing we can do that affects another person or oneself only for a moment of no duration will have any consequence for the other person’s or one’s own well-being or suffering. And no action we might take can alter anyone else’s past, nor our own past.

If I have already reached the moment of my death for reasons unrelated to you, it does no harm to me if you shoot me. It may harm bystanders in terms of shock, but only if they, unlike me, have enough future left to be able to feel shock. It does no harm to me if you shoot me, and it does no good to me if you serve me a cappuccino.

Someone may point out that the pro-choicer’s “only a potential person” refers to the ontological status of the unborn, whereas their position about the “potential” of the woman and unborn refers to future life events. That is true in terms of the pro-choicer’s literal words; literally the pro-choicer only mentions the ontological status. But the practical consequence of the unborn’s ontological status, according to the pro-choicer (which is his or her only reason for mentioning that ontological status), is that the potential, or future, life events of the unborn can and should be disregarded, while the woman’s potential life events are taken into account.

Since personhood is a subjective concept, it can legitimately be at least argued that the unborn right now is only a potential person. But though “only a potential person” literally refers only to the ontological status, those who say “a woman is an actual person and a zygote/embryo/fetus only a potential person” are in fact also making points 1 and 2 above: that the unborn’s potential life events should not be taken into account, while the woman’s should. So the inconsistent treatment and unfairness remain. And they remain regardless of whether the zygote/embryo/fetus is in fact a person. Whether it is presently a person or not, the fact that the unborn has some future of life events ahead of it (if only it is not subjected now to violent death) cannot be denied.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dark humor and the pro-life movement

Open question for our readers: what do you think of dark humor about abortion?

A Secular Pro-Life supporter poses the question in reaction to this meme which is making the rounds on facebook (along with several similar ones):


New Wave Feminists' parody videos riffing on the Planned Parenthood baby parts scandal push the envelope even further.

Abortion workers have used gallows humor for decades. Pioneering abortionist-turned-pro-lifer Bernard Nathanson shared the lyrics of an industry song, "There's a Fortune in Abortion," in the 1970s. A few years ago, former Planned Parenthood affiliate director Abby Johnson revealed that abortion workers referred to the freezer where aborted children's remains were temporarily stored before disposal as the "nursery" (among other macabre jokes).

But as far as I can tell, the pro-life side doesn't have a long history of dark humor. It appears to be a relatively recent development, probably attributable to the irreverent tendencies of the Millennial generation.

I can appreciate the arguments for and against pro-life dark humor. On the one hand, humor can reach people who aren't listening to the mainstream debate. It can also be a coping mechanism for pro-life advocates who are burdened by the millions of helpless lives lost. We need to vent somehow.

On the other hand, our whole goal here is to respect life, and the boundary between gallows humor and disrespect is extremely subjective. I happened to like the "arm and a leg" line. But I winced the other day when I saw someone tweet "If Hillary Clinton didn't support Planned Parenthood, Chelsea would have hundreds of half siblings, LOL."


What say you? Where do you draw the line, if you draw it at all?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How I left the pro-choice movement and found true liberation

Above: pro-choice counter-protesters hold altered signs denying post-abortive parents' pain

[Today's guest author writes anonymously.]

I was atheist, feminist, left, libertarian and pro-choice since conception. My mother was an English woman who had a weekend affair with my African American father, and then raised me on her own. She was independent, liberal and proud. She had abortions before conceiving me, and several abortions after conceiving me. So I was her choice. I was the child she chose to keep.

I had my own abortions, for varying reasons. If I said I didn’t regret them, I would be lying, but liberated women aren’t allowed to feel regret over a clump of cells that would ruin their lifestyle. We couldn’t show other women our tears, because then they might not be able to kill their clump of cells, and then their lifestyle would be ruined.

My friends had abortions too. Some of their reasons were very similar to my own. I had a friend who was raped; she had an abortion, and went on to live a loveless life because the rape had scared her away from men indefinitely. I had a friend who lived in poverty; she had an abortion and went on to live a life of poverty. I had a friend who lived with domestic violence; she had an abortion and went on to be beaten by her partner for the next five years, until she met another partner who also beats her. I don’t know what would have happened if they kept the children. I guess we never know what happens with a life unless we let it live.

I also had friends who had abortions for reasons very different from mine. I had friends who didn’t like using condoms because it didn’t feel as good, and didn’t like the side effects of the other contraceptive methods, so they used abortion as their contraception. Although I didn’t really agree with their choices, who was I to judge? Just because it’s not something that I would do, why should I have an opinion? It was their body, they could do what they wanted with it; why should they give up their lifestyle for a clump of cells?

I had friends who didn’t have abortions too. I had one friend who was very young, living in poverty, had an abusive partner and was a drug user. When she told me she was pregnant, I immediately suggested abortion to her. I was such a supportive friend that I even offered to pay for the abortion and drive her there. I was even willing to help her hide the after abortion grief that she was not supposed to have.

She disappeared for a few months, returning with a pregnancy that was far too far along to terminate. She gave birth and kept her child. She loved that child so much that she got rid of the abusive boyfriend, stopped taking drugs, and is now an amazing mother with a reason not only to live, but to live a productive life. I don’t know what would have happened if she had an abortion. I guess we never know what happens with a life unless we let it live.

So as you can see I was very pro-choice; freedom, social justice, logic, women’s rights, it was all there in one neat little package.

Until it wasn’t…

The first little cracks started showing with my second pregnancy, but only the first pregnancy I considered keeping. My first scan was at 12 weeks. I thought I knew what I was going to see, because I had been 12 weeks pregnant before. And my doctors, teachers and mother had all told me the same thing; it was just a clump of cells. That’s why it had seemed perfectly logical to terminate it, because liberated women don’t let clumps of cells ruin their lifestyle.

I went in there expecting to see no more than a blob on the screen, but what I saw chilled me to the core. It wasn’t a clump of cells, it was a little human with a functioning heart and a functioning brain, arms and legs, and a little body, which was flipping around doing somersaults over and over again, just like a child playing in the park.

That should’ve been enough to make me change my pro-choice views, but it wasn’t. I thought maybe a fetus wasn’t a clump of cells, but an embryo pretty much was, and pro-choice rhetoric told me that abortions rarely happened after the embryonic stage anyway. Pro-choice rhetoric also told me it’s still okay if you do have an abortion after that time, because women who have abortions after that time only do it because it’s the best choice; because they don’t want to live in poverty, or with domestic violence, or have a reminder of rape, or to bring an unwanted child into the world. Even if it did kill little humans, it was for logical, leftist, libertarian, feminist reasons.

I was still pro-choice enough to go on and have a second abortion, suffering far less regret this time. It was an easy choice now. It was easy to hide your pain away. And I was doing it for all the right reasons; all those reasons the pro-choice movement had given me.

I got a double major in education and psychology, and pro-choice rhetoric told me this was because I chose when to have children. If I had have kept my children then there is no chance I could have gotten my double major. None at all.

I taught young people, I counselled young people. I did both paid and volunteer work at education centres, victims of crime centres, and also in child protection. I was a true humanitarian, and I thought all life deserved a chance to be great… at least, all born life. My pro-choice beliefs remained strong.

The second lot of much deeper cracks began to show some years later when my ability to hide the pain of my abortion wavered after a miscarriage, and I made an attempt on my life.

Once I had made a recovery, and managed to hide my pain once more, the humanitarian in me said I had to help other women hide their abortion pain too, because if they couldn’t hide it well enough, they might attempt suicide too, and life was precious to me. All born life, anyway.

I had two options: a pro-life Christian support group that I assumed would shame women and condemn them for their choice, or a pro-choice family planning group that would help women accept abortion as the right choice. Despite the pain abortion had caused me, I was still pro-choice, so of course, I chose the latter.

I participated in online support, talking to women I would never meet, and knew nothing about. Coaching them on how to hide their feelings like I did. Telling them to look to the future instead of the past—that’s what we were trained to say. We were trained to put all the focus on the woman, because she was important. We were trained to focus on all the positive things that come out of abortion, a child saved from poverty, a child saved from abuse, women given their liberty. We were trained to lie—no, avoid the truth. We had to avoid the truth, because if women knew the truth, they might not have abortions, and if women didn’t have abortions, they would be slaves to their clumps of cells. And hiding the truth would help them with their own pain, because it had helped me with my pain…

That was when the cracks grew so deep, I knew there would be no repair. Hiding the truth had not helped me with my pain. It had just made me bury it deep down inside, and take the risk that it might explode to the surface every now and then, and maybe one day be fatal. Obviously it wasn’t working at all. Yet the pro-choice movement had been hiding the truth for years now, for at least as long as I had been involved.

Why were we hiding the truth from women, if they were still being hurt anyway? Women should be able to make choices based on all the facts. We are not delicate little flowers that need to have the truth hidden from us. Even if the truth is hidden from us, we are smart enough to figure it out eventually.

This made me take pause and think; what other truths were the pro-choice movement hiding? It already seemed they thought women delicate and stupid, so was it a possibility they lied about being feminist? They did tell women that their own natural bodily functions would deprive them of liberty. This seemed to suggest that a woman’s body was abnormal and needed to be corrected. Women accepting that they were wrong, and society was right—that their bodies needed changing, not society—that didn’t seem very feminist. To add to this they were fighting against legislation that protected women, and supporting legislation that put women’s health at risk. It didn’t matter if the abortionists weren’t properly trained, or if the clinics didn’t meet safety and hygiene standards. They wanted abortion clinics to be open so women could fix their “abnormalities” at any cost. 

The pro-choice movement was beginning to sound more and more misogynistic, and if they were misogynistic, how could they be feminist?

I thought maybe they weren’t feminist, but they were still leftists, right? They still cared about social justice. They still wanted every child to be wanted and loved, fed and homed. They still cared about the weak and needy... except the weakest and neediest among us. They were okay with them not being loved or wanted. They were okay with them not being fed or homed. They were okay with them losing their lives, so that the strong and powerful could live their lifestyle.

So if the pro-choice movement was supporting the powerful, by denying services to the weak, how could they be Leftist?

Maybe they weren’t feminists, and they weren’t leftists, but they must be libertarians, right? That was what we were always told, a woman’s liberty to do as she chooses is more important than a clump of cells... except a woman is only more important than the clump of cells, because the clump of cells is undeveloped and non-sentient, and hasn’t given anything to society. But a newborn baby is also undeveloped, non-sentient, and hasn’t given anything to society, and we still value its life. We value it because it has potential. And if we value a baby because it has potential, then we must value a clump of cells because it has potential too. So if a clump of cells has the same value as a baby, shouldn’t it have the same rights? And if it should have the same rights, shouldn’t it have the right to life? And does its right to life trump the mother’s right to bodily autonomy? Did it even violate the mother’s bodily autonomy in the first place? It was forced inside her body by the actions of others, who did have freedom of choice. So that means killing it would be condemning it for the actions of others, and violating its personal liberty.

So if pro-choice said that the freedom of one group of people meant taking away the freedom of another group of people, how could they be libertarian?

It seemed obvious the pro-choice movement were not feminist, they were not leftists and they were not libertarians. But they were definitely logical and scientific, like atheists, and they did not rely on a fallible belief system to support their claims.. except they do hold the belief that personhood is judged by the law, even though history has shown us over and over again that the law can get personhood wrong. And they do hold the belief that a life in the womb isn’t valuable unless its mother says it is, and she can change her mind about its value at any time prior to 24 weeks gestation. And they do hold the belief that birth turns a clump of cells into a human, even if it has only gestated for 22 weeks, and can’t breathe on its own, but only if they want it, and it is born alive. If they don’t want it and its born dead, then it is still just a clump of cells. So if they hold beliefs that have no physical evidence and no scientific basis, and have been disproven before, then how can they be logical and scientific like atheists?

If the pro-choice movement uses fallible belief systems to justify the strong taking life from the weak, tell women their bodies need to be fixed, and do this all in the name of freedom, then it goes against everything I believe in. If it goes against everything I believe in, how could I possibly support them?

I am still an atheist, feminist, left, libertarian, but I am no longer pro-choice.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Women Betrayed rallies across the US tomorrow

Rallies against Planned Parenthood will take place in 49 65+ American cities tomorrow. Times vary but most are taking place in the mid-day. Find your closest rally and get all the details at WomenBetrayed.com.

Special shout-outs for two rallies being organized by friends of SPL: The Pittsburgh rally is led by Aimee Murphy of the Life Matters Journal, a consistent life ethic webzine that regularly publishes SPL commentaries. And the Rochester, NY rally is organized by Feminists for Nonviolent Choices.

Here are some sign ideas from Aimee (click to enlarge):




Friday, July 24, 2015

House bill targets same-sex marriage, hits single parenthood


Via the Huffington Post:
In wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage, Republicans are pushing legislation that aims to protect Americans who oppose these unions on religious grounds. But critics say the language is so broad, the bill creates a license to discriminate that would let employers fire women for getting pregnant outside of wedlock.
The First Amendment Defense Act prohibits the federal government from taking discriminatory action against a person -- which is defined to include for-profit corporations -- acting in accordance with a religious belief that favors so-called traditional marriage. This means the feds can't revoke a nonprofit's tax-exempt status or end a company's federal contract over this issue.
The bill specifically protects those who believe that marriage is between "one man and one woman" or that "sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage." Ian Thompson, a legislative representative at the American Civil Liberties Union, said that in addition to targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the bill "clearly encompasses discrimination against single mothers" and would hobble the ability of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal body that protects women from sex-based discrimination, to act.
Lauren Nelson of the Friendly Atheist points out that "[e]ven if the GOP can push it through Congress, there’s approximately zero chance that President Obama signs the bill into law." That's undoubtedly true, and explains why the story has elicited relatively little reaction apart from the usual Republicans-are-stupid-and-evil commentary.

But Nelson missteps when she suggests that state-level versions of this law are likely to succeed because anti-abortion state laws have succeeded. In fact, the same groups that have pushed hard for state-level pro-life laws are also staunch opponents of pregnancy discrimination.

That became abundantly evident last year, when the Supreme Court heard Young v. UPS. Numerous pro-life organizations petitioned the Supreme Court to rule in favor of strong workplace protections for pregnant mothers. Among them? Americans United for Life and the Susan B. Anthony List, two of the biggest forces for pro-life state legislation.

If opponents of same-sex marriage want to pass anything like the First Amendment Defense Act at the state level, they have two choices: either narrow the language considerably, or go up against the heavyweights of the pro-life movement. And so continues the divorce.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

No, men aren't 77% of anti-abortion leaders

Above: the front of the line at the 2015 March for Life in Washington, D.C.
You've probably seen the black-and-white poster that boldly proclaims: "77% of anti-abortion leaders are men. 100% of them will never be pregnant."

The 77% figure has always struck me as high. I've been active in the pro-life movement for about eight years. In my experience, the gender balance is pretty even; if anything there tend to be slightly more women.

The poster was created by a group called the Pro-Choice Public Education Project. Their website doesn't contain a source. So I emailed them over the weekend, asking: "Can you provide a source for the statistic that 77% of anti-abortion leaders are men? People are challenging me on it and pointing me to anti-choice orgs that are led by women. Thanks."

No response.

So I thought I'd try putting the data together for myself. But I immediately ran into a problem: who is a "leader," exactly?

Do you have to lead an organization, or would a pro-life journalist, politician, or other public figure count? If we're talking about organizations, does that include any and all organizations that take a pro-life stance, like the Republican Party and its various state and local affiliates, or just organizations that exist for the primary purpose of advancing the right to life?

How big does the pro-life organization have to be? Do local/regional pregnancy resource centers count? (If so, the number of female pro-life leaders skyrockets.) Or should the organization have to be statewide, national, or international? What about organizations like Secular Pro-Life, which has active members nationwide but is not "big" in terms of budget?

Drawing the line is completely subjective, which explains the 77% figure. I'm quite sure I could manipulate the definition of "leader" to produce any result I please.

But I won't. The pro-life movement is better than that. Instead, I encourage you to get involved and see the diversity of our movement for yourself!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Women in pro-life states use better contraception


Abortion advocates like to argue that if the right to life is restored, women will just turn to illegal abortions and harm themselves. I've previously pointed out why that argument is silly and condescending:
[Abortion advocates who make that argument] 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."
At the time, I failed to mention another possibility: that restoration of the right to life will cause women who don't want a baby to be more careful about their contraception and thus avoid the crisis pregnancy in the first place.

I don't remember exactly why I left that out, but it probably had something to do with not wanting to accuse anyone of currently using abortion in lieu of birth control. After all, even if you think abortion is morally acceptable, it's not a pleasant experience. It's also pricier than avoiding unplanned pregnancy in the first place. So why would anyone deliberately choose abortion over contraception?

I stand corrected. As it turns out, women do indeed respond to abortion restrictions by obtaining better birth control. A recent study shows that this is already happening in the United States.

I'm a bit late to the party; the study was published last month. But better late than never.

The Guttmacher Institute, which strongly supports abortion, had this to say:
In the past decade in particular, there have been substantial increases in the proportion of women of reproductive age living in states with highly restrictive abortion policies. Against that backdrop, the authors sought to understand how women’s contraceptive behavior is related to restrictions on abortion access in the state where they live. To do so, they analyzed data from 14,523 women aged 15–44 from the 1995 and 2010 cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth in conjunction with information on state-level abortion context.
The analysis suggests that women living in states with more restrictive abortion contexts tend to use highly effective contraceptives. However, increases in states’ restrictiveness during the study period did not appear to be associated with increased use of highly effective methods. The authors propose a likely explanation: that states introducing restrictive legislation already had significant restrictions in place, and women living in these states had previously adjusted their behaviors. Additionally, the authors note that contraceptive choice seems to be most strongly influenced by individual characteristics, irrespective of the larger abortion context.
The authors propose that the best way to prevent unintended pregnancies is to ensure access to highly effective contraceptive methods for all women, particularly in contexts where access to abortion is limited.
In fact, these results aren't terribly surprising, because earlier research (of which I was previously unaware) reached a similar conclusion:
We find restrictions on abortion availability (through abortion legislation mandating parental consent or notification) induce women to seek a reliable form of birth control to avoid unwanted pregnancies, while pro-choice sentiments in the legislature may have the opposite effect.
"Pro-choice sentiments in the legislature may have the opposite effect" is the closest anybody comes to acknowledging the obvious implication that women are currently using abortion as birth control in states with few protections for the preborn.

In conclusion: when the right to life is restored, the sky won't fall. Instead of using abortion as birth control, women will use birth control as birth control.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Volunteers needed for Planned Parenthood protests on July 28


Students for Life of America (SFLA) and its companion alumni organization Pro-Life Future are coordinating anti-Planned Parenthood rallies around the country and are seeking volunteer rally captains to expand the protests into as many cities as possible. The rallies will take place on July 28, a week from tomorrow.

Under the banner #WomenBetrayed, the rallies will call for an end to taxpayer subsidies of the abortion giant. The campaign was perhaps spurred by the recent "baby parts" exposé, but is not focused on that issue. There is no shortage good reasons to defund Planned Parenthood and redirect reproductive health funding to more worthy organizations. As SFLA puts it:
The abortion giant claims they care about women but they don’t – just look at their actions. Planned Parenthood gets over $500 million a year in our taxpayer money and makes more than $100 million in profit, all while having abortion quotas. The organization has been caught covering up statutory rape, double-billing taxpayers, aiding and abetting sex traffickers, scheduling sex-selective abortions and accepting money to abort African American children.
Women have been betrayed by Planned Parenthood. Families have been deceived. And the smallest among us have been the ultimate victims of Planned Parenthood's horrific business schemes. Quite frankly, we've had enough. It’s time to relieve Planned Parenthood of our taxpayer dollars.
As of this writing, volunteers have signed up to lead rallies in Lansing, Los Angeles, Denver, St. Paul, Lexington, Washington, St. Louis, Chicago, Des Moines, Houston, Dallas, Bloomington, Columbus, Little Rock, Indianapolis, Rochester, Trenton, and Fort Wayne.

If your city isn't on the list, sign up to be a rally captain! The application is simple, you'll get an answer within 24 hours, and SFLA will support you with "sample press advisories, media talking points, step-by-step rally planning directions, at least 1 hour of one-on-one coaching, social media graphics, legal support, training conference calls, and even professionally-printed rally signs!" There is no religious requirement and I would love to see some rallies led by non-Christian pro-lifers.

Get all the details and apply ASAP at WomenBetrayed.com.

Friday, July 17, 2015

On dealing with pro-choicers who openly defend killing humans


 Abby S. wrote to Secular Pro-Life for advice:
This is a six-year-old article, and I assume most of you have already read it. However, I wanted to mention that it brought me to a sickening epiphany: It's not that the abortion advocates don't know that a fetus is a human being, with arms, legs, brain activity, etc. They do know it; they just don't care. I'm incredibly disheartened. How can you have a reasonable discussion with someone who already knows the facts, but simply chooses to ignore them? 
The article linked to is very disturbing. To summarize it for our purposes, it is about a pregnant abortionist who kills a preborn baby the same age as the one she is carrying.

Our response:
Many abortion advocates are ignorant about prenatal development, or are grieved by abortion but believe that it is a necessary evil. In such cases, we can find common ground, educate, and propose alternatives to abortion. But as you point out, the most die-hard abortion advocates know full well that abortion is killing and simply do not care. They reject the fundamental idea that all human beings are equal. That is the mentality that produces, for instance, the Salon article that famously asked "So what if abortion ends life?"

For your own sanity, you have to know when someone is a lost cause and walk away. I take some comfort in the fact that these extremists shine a light on abortion for those who are on the fence. We can use their extremism against them in this way. Be the sane one in the conversation, make your points for the benefit of others who may be reading, and then respectfully leave.

There is no instant gratification in social movements. History is pretty clear about that. The pro-life movement is no exception; even after the right to life is restored, it will no doubt take several generations for anti-prenatal attitudes to die out. Yes, that is disheartening. But focus on the here and now. Focus on the reasonable people who are open to discussion. Focus on the families who you can aid financially. The pro-life movement is roughly half the United States population; collectively, we can do more than we can imagine.
Readers, please add your thoughts for Abby in the comments section.

Got your own question for Secular Pro-Life? Send it to us here and we may feature it in a future blog post. You can remain anonymous.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The pro-life movement and support for born children

Support for preborn children and born children aren't mutually exclusive

When someone asks me what I'm doing about resources for born children, my initial reaction is often anger and defensiveness, for two reasons:

1) Because nobody ever says "If you oppose infanticide, you'd better be out there advocating for free and universal day care!" Freedom from violence is a basic human right. We all want the best for children, and that involves a broad intersection of issues. No one person can tackle them all at the same time. Advocating for the right to life doesn't mean opposing quality of life, and outside of the abortion context, nobody argues that it does. The double standard applied to pro-lifers is galling.

2) Because we do provide resources for born children—we just don't do it under a loud pro-life banner. Roughly half the U.S. population is pro-life. Do you really believe we aren't involved in charitable work helping people in poverty? We're out there doing good as individuals. I don't think NARAL is hypocritical for, say, not organizing pro-choice-branded back-to-school drives for underprivileged kids. In fact, I think that to do so would be highly crass. And if pro-lifers branded all of our charitable work as pro-life charitable work, I'm sure our loyal opposition would find that off-putting too.

But anger and defensiveness, however justified, are rarely productive. Instead, I have decided from here on out to respond to the "what are you doing for born kids?" question in one of two ways, depending on who's asking it.

If it's being asked by an obnoxious abortion advocate who doesn't actually care about my answer, I'm going to walk away.

But if it's being asked by someone in good faith, I am going to talk about what I am personally doing and (this is key) invite that person to join me.

This means having one or two upcoming charitable events on my calendar at all times. They don't have to be major—like I said before, nobody can do everything—but community involvement is important. For example, at the moment I'd say "That reminds me: Youth Haven is having a fundraising party on August 14. Want to come with?"*

Obviously, this system works better for local friends than for internet conversations; I'm still working out that kink. Suggestions are welcome in the comments.


*Youth Haven is a children's agency in my hometown of Naples, FL.  I know most our readers aren't from that area, but it's a fantastic charity, and if you want to give you can do so here

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

BREAKING: Planned Parenthood uses partial-birth abortions to harvest fetal organs for sale

Above: People who have no idea what they're really standing for
This is probably the most gut-wrenching story I have ever had to report on in my eight years of pro-life advocacy. It is not for anyone with a weak stomach. If you choose not to read any further, know that it is worse than you think.

A three-year undercover investigation by the Center for Medical Progress reveals that Planned Parenthood is selling organs from late-term babies to medical researchers. And to get the best "product" possible, Planned Parenthood abortionists are putting targeted unborn children in a breech position—the hallmark of the illegal partial-birth abortion method.

Back when partial-birth abortion was front and center in the right-to-life debate, abortion advocates swore that the method could in some cases be the safest for women. But it's not women's needs that are dictating the method; it's medical research companies' needs. These organs are pre-ordered, and it is not until later that Planned Parenthood sells the abortions and kills the children for their parts.

As Dr. Deborah Nucatola, the head of Planned Parenthood's Medical Services division and herself a late-term abortionist, says in the undercover video (thinking that she is talking to buyers from a medical biologics firm):
I’d say a lot of people want liver. And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps.
The kind of rate-limiting step of the procedure is calvarium. Calvarium—the head—is basically the biggest part. ...
We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact. And with the calvarium, in general, some people will actually try to change the presentation so that it’s not vertex. ...
So if you do it starting from the breech presentation, there’s dilation that happens as the case goes on, and often, the last step, you can evacuate an intact calvarium at the end.
By "calvarium," she means the helpless child's skull. And just in case you thought it couldn't get creepier, she says all of this while she's eating.

You can verify Nucatola's comments by watching the initial video footage at CenterForMedicalProgress.org. I understand there will be more videos and documentation released in the near future.

Nucatola is no outlier. She is a top Planned Parenthood official, praised by CEO Cecile Richards herself. There is no possible way that the entire Planned Parenthood enterprise isn't complicit.

Your tax dollars are propping up this horror, to the tune of $536 million a year.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Should Men Be Able to Back Out of Pregnancy?

I'd like to take a moment to respond to a meme that I have seen floating around Facebook:


Essentially, this meme is stating that if women can't back out of pregnancy, then men shouldn't be able to, either. This is one of those arguments that pro-choice people should be able to immediately recognize as a bad argument, but it still gets traction anyway.

The reality is that already, men can't "back out" of pregnancy. Child support laws apply to men as well as women. A father who does not want to stick around is legally required to provide financially for his child. In most cases, courts review such matters using the standard of "the best interests of the child." The law recognizes that the needs and rights of the child outweigh the desires of the parents. There have even been cases in which a man whose sperm was stolen and used to conceive a child, who clearly did not intend to be a father, was still legally required to pay child support.

This meme wants to paint pro-life people as inconsistent, but any pro-life advocate worth his/her weight in gold-pressed latinum would agree that men should not able to back out of pregnancy, any more than women should be able to.

Perhaps they mean that a man shouldn't even be able to leave the relationship, since the woman can't leave. However, this ignores two key issues. First, if the woman "backs out" of pregnancy through abortion, she kills her child. Second, if the woman waits nine months, she can terminate the relationship, but not the life of her child, through adoption. By not aborting, she is not required to raise the child herself.

Setting aside the law concerning financial support, I do believe that a man is doing something morally wrong if he impregnates a woman and leaves her. He should take responsibility for his actions, to say nothing of the fact that a sizable number of women likely would not abort if they have the support of their partners.

Despite the motivations of whoever created this meme, it actually underscores the inconsistency of legalized abortion: a woman can back out of her pregnancy, but a man can't. A woman can have her child killed, but if she decides to raise the child, the man is on the hook for 18 years of child support with no option of backing out.

This meme attempts to paint pro-life people in an inconsistent light, but I don't know of any pro-life advocates who would say that a man should not take responsibility for the child that he creates. But since the situation we have now is that a man can't back out of a pregnancy because the child's needs and rights must be respected, maybe we should think twice about whether the child's needs should prevail when a woman wants to back out too.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Hyde Amendment repeal effort spits in the faces of 1,147,000 young Americans

Photo taken at last January's March for Life in Washington, D.C.
On Wednesday, abortion advocates introduced a bill to pay for elective abortions with federal taxpayer funds.

The bill "targets the Hyde Amendment, a 1976 provision that blocks federal money from going to pay for abortions, with exceptions for cases of rape or incest or when a pregnant woman's life is in danger. Hyde Amendment language is frequently included on spending legislation and is attached to the annual bill paying for Medicaid."

According to a 2010 statement from the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights, the Hyde Amendment has prevented over a million abortions. Five years have passed since that statement, making the current estimate 1,147,000. In their words, "more than a million women have been denied the ability to make their own decisions." In English, approximately 1,147,000 Americans are alive today who would be dead if not for the Hyde Amendment. That's one out of every 280 Americans, roughly a third of a percent of the U.S. population.*

Proposing legislation that essentially tells one out of every 280 Americans that you wish they were dead is not normally a smart political move, particularly in the year before a presidential election. But they think they can get away with it because of the demographics of that third of a percent: all are under the age of 40, a significant number of them are too young to vote, and by definition, all were born into economically disadvantaged households.

All of those factors suggest a population that has limited political power, certainly far more limited than that of the abortion industry. Compare that to the demographics of the 70 co-sponsors of the Hyde Amendment repeal bill: their average age is 61 and their average net worth is $4.3 million.** Only three were conceived after the Hyde Amendment was first passed in 1976. (The Cognitive Dissonance Awards go to Ruben Gallego of Arizona, Joseph P. Kennedy, III of Massachusetts, and Eric Swalwell of California.)

The bill to repeal the Hyde Amendment will never make it past the pro-life House of Representatives. In fact, the House already passed a polar-opposite bill that would make the Hyde Amendment permanent (instead of an annual rider). The primary purpose of the anti-Hyde bill, from my vantage point, is to provide pro-abortion organizations with a nice talking point for fundraising. Their donors are getting discouraged by right-to-life gains and love the idea of "being on the offensive," a common theme in the media coverage.

Still, it's important for us to note their strategy. A project that spits in the face of 1,147,000 young people is pretty brazen.

_____________________________

* Another way to think about this is to imagine that one of your facebook friends was killed; the average facebook user has 245 friends.

** Here is the data for those who wish to check my math. Ages are taken from Wikipedia and net worth figures are taken from the Center for Responsive Politics as of 2013:

Alma Adams, 69 years old, net worth unknown (listed as $0)
Karen Bass, 61 years old, net worth $348,003
Donald Beyer, Jr., 65 years old, net worth $50,000,000
Earl Blumenauer, 66 years old, net worth $6,828,015 
Suzanne Bonamici, 60 years old, net worth $4,603,520
Corrine Brown, 68 years old, net worth $3,501
Julia Brownley, 62 years old, net worth $1,788,517
Michael Capuano, 63 years old, net worth $1,744,519
Tony Cardenas, 52 years old, net worth $221,006 
Kathy Castor, 48 years old, net worth $3,549,023
Steve Cohen, 66 years old, net worth $4,154,053
John Conyers, 86 years old, net worth -$187,501
Judy Chu, 62 years old, net worth $3,111,021
Katherine Clark, 51 years old, net worth $6,828,006
Yvette Clarke, 50 years old, net worth $115,502
Bonnie Watson Coleman, 70 years old, net worth appx. $1,000,000
Gerald Connolly, 65 years old, net worth $2,211,023
Elijah Cummings, 64 years old, net worth $902,505
Diana DeGette, 57 years old, net worth $2,199,017
Rosa DeLauro, 72 years old, net worth $15,492,505
Mark DeSaulnier, 63 years old, net worth appx. $250,000
Theodore Deutch, 49 years old, net worth $871,018
Donna Edwards, 57 years old, net worth $56,504
Keith Ellison, 51 years old, net worth $25,503
Eliot Engel, 58 years old, net worth $64,503
Sam Farr, 74 years old, net worth $2,900,517
Lois Frankel, 67 years old, net worth $2,537,139
Marcia Fudge, 62 years old, net worth $1,023,006
Ruben Gallego, 35 years old, net worth appx. $800,000
Michelle Lujan Grisham, 55 years old, net worth $435,001
Raul Grijalva, 67 years old, net worth $235,011
Luis Gutierrez, 61 years old, net worth $1,690,012
Michael Honda, 74 years old, net worth $964,005
Steve Israel, 57 years old, net worth -$75,001
Eddie Bernice Johnson, 79 years old, net worth $8,501
Henry "Hank" Johnson, Jr., 60 years old, net worth $8,001
Robin Kelly, 59 years old, net worth $123,502
Joseph P. Kennedy, III, 34 years old, net worth $46,201,618 
Derek Kilmer, 41 years old, net worth $522,518
Brenda Lawrence, 60 years old, net worth appx. $500,000
Sheila Jackson Lee, 65 years old, net worth $1,238,508
Ted Lieu, 46 years old, net worth appx. $500,000
Nita Lowey, 78 years old, net worth $31,965,012
Carolyn Maloney, 69 years old, net worth $22,162,009
Betty McCollum, 60 years old, net worth $137,006
Jim McDermott, 78 years old, net worth $829,829
Gwen Moore, 64 years old, net worth unknown (listed as $0)
Jerrold Nadler, 68 years old, net worth $28,001
Donald Norcross, 56 years old, net worth $365,004
Eleanor Norton, 78 years old, net worth $1,996,521
Beto O'Rourke, 42 years old, net worth $7,910,546
Frank Pallone, Jr., 63 years old, net worth $4,081,580
Chellie Pingree, 60 years old, net worth $39,960,546
Mark Pocan, 50 years old, net worth -$65,001
David Price, 74 years old, net worth $3,202,041
Mike Quigley, 56 years old, net worth -$65,001
Charles Rangel, 85 years old, net worth $1,741,510
Tim Ryan, 41 years old, net worth $199,503
Linda Sanchez, 46 years old, net worth $248,011
Adam Schiff, 55 years old, net worth $1,003,014
Jose Serrano, 71 years old, net worth $75,001
Jan Shakowsky, 71 years old, net worth $241,011
Louise Slaughter, 85 years old, net worth $3,121,511
Jackie Speier, 65 years old, net worth $10,339,537
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, 48 years old, net worth $138,009
Eric Swalwell, 34 years old, net worth -$26,499
Paul Tonko, 66 years old, net worth unknown (listed as $0)
Chris Van Hollen, 56 years old, net worth $114,003
Peter Welch, 68 years old, net worth $5,686,554
Frederica Wilson, 72 years old, net worth $954,006

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Face it, abortion advoates: Pro-choice is not pro-life

As we draw closer to another presidential election, and amid a new Gallup poll indicating a decline in American’s who consider themselves pro-life, the so called “abortion war” is heating up. The pro-choice side has taken to social media, and opinion columns responding to the nations tightening restrictions on abortion, by claiming that being pro-choice is in fact pro-life and pro-life is actually pro-death. Huh?

Well, let’s look at it a bit closer. In a recent opinion article penned by Mary Elizabeth Williams for Salon, titled “Face it, anti-abortion advocates: Pro-choice is pro-life,” the author chronicles the story of Buzzfeed contributor Paola Dragnic’s abortion. Paola’s story is complicated, and tragic, and takes place in Chile, a country where abortion is illegal. In her case, her unborn child was found to have severe life-threatening chromosomal disorder that also threatened Dragnic’s life. Williams’ retelling of the story slams pro-lifers as, of course, willing to sacrifice the mother for the dying embryo or fetus, and goes further to suggest that this is the ideal that the American pro-life position strives for: an all-out ban on abortions regardless of the circumstances.

There have been other notable women who have come forward with abortion stories that are easy to sympathize with. Wendy Davis, for example, the unofficial poster woman for the pro-choice position, wrote about her "two abortions" in her memoir “Forgetting to be Afraid”. In the memoir she describes her first abortion as an ectopic pregnancy (although an ectopic pregnancy is not generally considered to be an abortion, unless you are a pro-choicer trying to make the case that, ehem, pro-choice is pro-life) and the second due to a severe fetal brain abnormality. Now we can disagree about the level of justification for each of these scenarios, but is that really the point? I don't think so.

The point of these stories is to help the public sympathize with those situations where abortion is, or seems to be the more moral approach. How many times have you heard the heartbreaking story of Savita Halappanavar, the young woman in Ireland who was denied an abortion, and died of septicemia when doctors failed to prescribe timely antibiotics? This extremely rare and devastating example has been a primary focus for pro-choice advocates since its occurrence in 2012, and continues to be used as a tool for misleading the public into the idea that ultra strict right-to-life policies that allowed such a tragedy to occur, are what pro-lifers want and what pro-choicers exclusively fight against.



A woman mourning the death of Savita Halappanavar

But this is a complete misrepresentation of both the pro-life position, and the reality of the abortion industry in America. This opinion refuses to acknowledge that according to Gallup, the vast majority of pro-lifers in America support a women’s right to an abortion to save her life. And whether or not you personally support the rape exception, the majority of those who identify as pro-life, do. It’s absurd to suggest that American pro-lifers by and large would support an all-out ban on all abortions, regardless of the special circumstances involved.

Choosing to highlight these rare, nuanced, and tragic stories of developing humans sacrificed for the sake of the mother’s life completely turns a blind eye to the approximately 55,214,295 abortions since Roe v. Wade, the overwhelming majority induced for purely elective reasons. It totally ignores the human beings that are brutally poisoned or dismembered in the womb, by the millions, for reasons that the majority of pro-lifers feel are beyond justification, and yet are supported 100% by the pro-choice platform. So, I have to say to Ms. Williams, nice try but no, not even close. Pro-abortion is not pro-life, no matter how badly you want it to be. #sorrynotsorry

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Advice for a budding pro-life advocate

The above tips were created in the context of racial justice advocacy post-Ferguson
but apply well to activists in any movement, including the pro-life movement.
Below is a lightly edited version of an email exchange I had with a budding pro-lifer earlier this week. Got a question for Secular Pro-Life? Contact us here.

Q: I've been following you and reading your posts for a long time. I write to you searching for advice. I live in Europe, and in my country, is abortion a subject you don't talk about. Or if you do tal about it, it's just to mention how it's a woman's right to choose and all that rhetoric you and I know. The pro-life groups are few and Christian. I don't have anything against Christianity, but it helps the typical "Christian radicals are against women" crap. We know it's BS, but still.

I've come to a point in my life in which I've realized I can't keep living with myself without fighting for the unborn. I somehow feel the weight of all those lives been taken unjustly and myself not doing anything against it on my conscience. But I really don't know where or how to start. And taking into consideration that I don't speak the language as a native makes it even harder to put myself out there.

So as general and broad this question might be I ask you... what can I do? Where should I start?

Another thing I would like to ask you is: where do you get your motivation and endurance? And by that I mean, as non-religious people, why or how to keep going? The Christians pro-lifers I know have that at least, you know. They have their god who they believe will ensure ultimate justice. But from a non-believer's point of view I feel hopeless, because no matter what the unborn are still going to be killed.

A: I'm so glad you found us. Great questions!

I am not European, so I don't have first-hand knowledge of what you are experiencing. I know that the pro-life movement is not as strong in Europe as it in the United States, with the exception of Ireland, Malta, and Poland; I assume you're from somewhere else. But on the other hand, Europe on average has better legal protections for unborn children (for instance, many European countries at least recognize the right to life after the first trimester) and much lower abortion rates. So in some ways, you're at an advantage.

But the questions you ask are universal: what can I do, and how can I keep myself sane while I do it?

As to the first part, your situation is somewhat unique since you don't speak the language of your place of residence. Normally I would suggest starting a secular pro-life group in your community, but that may not be feasible for you. But there is still a lot you can do. You've already found one outlet: the internet! Sharing pro-life memes on social media is an easy way to get started. Mind you, online pro-life work isn't just for armchair activists; there are ways you can directly help women in need via your computer, which we've written about here. That way you can reach out to people who speak your native language, anywhere in the world.

You also don't need to speak the language to donate new or gently used baby and maternity items to pro-life pregnancy centers in your community. Pregnancy centers exist all over the world, even in nations that steadfastly support abortion. If your town doesn't have a pregnancy center, you can achieve a similar effect by giving pregnancy-related items to homeless shelters, rape crisis centers, and other places where pregnant mothers in need of support may congregate.

You don't mention your financial situation, but if you have the means, you could donate money to a pro-life organization. If you aren't comfortable donating with the faith-based pro-life groups in your country, you can donate to Secular Pro-Life or any other pro-life organization you like, perhaps one in your country of origin. (Even if your home country is pro-life, groups need support to aid pregnant mothers and to defend against international abortion advocacy mega-groups.) After all, a child saved is a child saved, regardless of the nation in which he or she is conceived.

On to the second part of your question: where to get your endurance as a secular person? For starters, I think you'll begin to feel a lot better by diving into the kind of activities I described above right away. I find great comfort in knowing that I am doing what I can to make the world better in the time I have here.

And the more involved you become in the pro-life movement, the more you will network with people and build mutually supportive friendships. I've gotten to know birthmothers and adoptees, single moms and abortion survivors, longtime pro-life workers and emerging college-aged leaders. All of these people give me the strength to keep going when I'm depressed.

I also find encouragement from history. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Taking the long view, the world grows more egalitarian each century. Admittedly, past performance is no guarantee of future returns, so it does take some sense of faith to believe that the we'll continue on that track (albeit not necessarily supernatural faith). It isn't inevitable; we do have to work! But I do believe that the right to life will be restored.

And don't envy our Christian counterparts too much. I used to be a Christian. For some, religion is an oasis of hope. But for others, believing in a god who would sit back while millions of children die before they even have a chance to take their first breath can cause great emotional angst of its own.

Readers, do you have any other advice to pass along?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Abortion as Problem-Solving through Might Makes Right

The one person who can't fight back.
[Today's guest post by Acyutananda is part of our paid blogging program.]

Let’s look at abortion in terms of problem-solving. What is the problem? Unwanted pregnancies. (Unwanted by someone – the pregnant woman often, but not always, being one of those persons.)

Next we have to ask, what makes an unwanted pregnancy a problem? Naturally the reasons vary, but let us look at the most common themes identified by researchers: most often the child is seen as unaffordable, an impediment to educational goals, or an impediment to career goals.

Abortion is not the sole solution to these problems, or necessarily to other problems. Thousands of pregnancy centers around the country work with women to brainstorm alternatives tailored to her situation, from training for a better job, to exploring online education, to placing the child for adoption, to legal action for child support, and a million other options. In fact, in the United States, there are more pro-life pregnancy help centers working to fashion these solutions than there are abortion businesses!

Why is abortion so often the chosen solution? What stands out is this: of all the range of solutions to all the problems, abortion has one completely irresistible appeal – it solves all the problems at the expense of the only person involved who has no friends and is guaranteed not to fight back, scream, or complain to Amnesty International (which would sell them out if they did).

Essentially, abortion on demand is the most perfect example that has ever been seen of might makes right. It socially institutionalizes a philosophy of take-advantage-of-the-smallest, when perhaps the first justification for society’s having institutions at all is to protect against violence those who need protecting.

I don’t mean to say that aborting parents are sadistic bullies. There is perhaps no class of people in the world as desperate and scared as many pregnant women, and no class as resourceless except their unborn babies themselves. All involved may be victims of the situation. But no matter how justified the parents are, they and the abortionist always take advantage of the baby’s helplessness. It is only the weakness and voicelessness and vulnerability of those little children that allows abortion to be business as usual in our society.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Argumentum ad delectio: "But you CHOSE not to have an abortion."


Have you ever encountered a conversation that goes, roughly, like this?
Pro-lifer: When I was pregnant, everyone told me I should have an abortion. But today, my child is the light of my life.
Pro-choicer: You made a CHOICE about your pregnancy. You're a hypocrite for trying to take CHOICE away from other women.
Of course you have.

We've written before about logical fallacies in general, and how they play out in the abortion debate. But this particular fallacy doesn't seem to arise in any other context. I don't think it even has a name. So I'm naming it now: the argumentum ad delectio fallacy, from the Latin for "appeal to choice" or "appeal to choosing."*

I've chosen not to kill any endangered species today. Am I a hypocrite for insisting that others make the same choice?

To give another example, I happen to believe that marijuana should be legal. I have never smoked marijuana and never plan to. It would never occur to me to point to my own experience and say "Look, I exercised a CHOICE not to smoke marijuana and it's worked out well, so therefore it's wrong to deprive others of that CHOICE." I would be embarrassed to make such a completely substance-less statement.

Every decision anyone ever makes—legal or illegal, harmful or beneficial—is an exercise of choice. That's just how the world works. It tells us absolutely nothing about what our national abortion policy should be.

Let me make this abundantly clear for any abortion advocates who are reading: If a person who opposes abortion refuses to have an abortion, that is not a point in your column. 

That should be self-explanatory. Evidently, it isn't. So from here on out, when you encounter the argumentum ad delectio fallacy, identify it as such and direct people to this post.


*Special thanks to Clinton Wilcox for brainstorming the name.