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Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 Year in Review

Hoo boy. 2016. This year was a rough one for a lot of us, for a lot of reasons.

January brought a snowstorm that prevented many people from attending the March for Life and caused the Students for Life of America east coast conference to be cancelled. Then, of course, we had a brutal election season featuring the two most unpopular and untrustworthy presidential candidates in recent memory. Donald Trump's statements about sexual assault were especially awful. The Democratic Party added an anti-Hyde Amendment plank to its platform, effectively telling two million Americans that it wishes they were dead. The Supreme Court gifted the abortion industry with an exemption from the health and safety regulations that apply to other outpatient surgeries.

But through it all, Secular Pro-Life persevered. Here are a few highlights from our 2016 programs:
  • We organized the #HelloHyde campaign to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment (September 30) and advocate its preservation and expansion. The campaign brought together Medicaid kids, pro-life advocates, and researchers to illustrate
    #HelloHyde organizers at the Pro-Life
    Women's Conference
    the life-saving impact of the Hyde Amendment. As a result of our efforts, numerous organizations and media outlets publicized the fact that the Hyde Amendment has saved the lives of over two million low-income children
  • We had a great year for media outreach, including a front-page appearance in Slate about the future of the pro-life movement.
  • We co-sponsored, and presented at, the first annual Pro-Life Women's Conference in Dallas, TX.
  • We had numerous other speaking engagements, including the National Right to Life Committee annual convention, two Life/Peace/Justice conferences, and presentations to college and youth groups.
  • We organized the #NoReliance tweetfest, pushing back against the insulting pseudo-feminist argument that women must rely on abortion to accomplish our professional goals.
  • We participated in Students for Life of America's "Election Whine" debate and showed that pro-lifers with differing political opinions can still get along and work together.
  • This blog had over half a million views, and our facebook page grew to over 15,000 likes.
2017 is going to be even better. We're kicking it off with a host of events marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade—including marches, fundraisers for families in need, and activism training—in both D.C. and San Francisco. Check out our full itinerary and join us! The #HelloHyde campaign has a very bright future, as we expect the next Congress to take up legislation making the Hyde Amendment a permanent fixture of the federal budget; stay tuned. The Pro-Life Women's Conference is coming to Orlando in June. And there's more in the pipeline we can't yet divulge.

If you like what we're doing and want to help us build on these accomplishments, please donate. Secular Pro-Life is volunteer-run and we rely on supporters like you to make it all happen. Thank you, and happy new year!

For Life,
Kelsey, Monica, Terrisa, and Ellen

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Top Ten Articles of 2016

The most-read articles on this blog for 2016 are...

10. The Canadian March for Life, Tomatoes, and Progress. Guest blogger Alan Trahan reports from the Canadian March for Life, where he carried his "We're Here, We're Queer, We're Pro-Life" sign. He says: "It was an amazing crowd, with an opening address by an Algonquin elder and attendees including both robed brothers of the Missionaires del'Evangile and the president of the Pro-Life Humanists." Unfortunately, the counter-protesters weren't so welcoming...

9. Bad Abortion-Choice Science. This guest post by Clinton Wilcox was only posted last week, but still managed to make the list. Nice job!

8. To My Daughter's First Parents. Guest blogger Crystal Kupper hits us in the feels with her family's international adoption story. "You did the hard thing and chose to give this daughter life, fully knowing your country could not provide for her medically. Even with all those 'What ifs...' and 'I don't knows' looming over your future. You gave your body and love to a child whom you knew could never share your home or your last name.

7. "Just Don't Have Sex." Jessica Valenti thinks male abstinence doesn't have a role in the pro-life movement. Au contraire. While SPL embraces contraception as part of the abortion reduction toolkit, abstinence belongs in the toolkit too, and not just for women. "Surely, if we can insist that men abstain in the absence of mutual consent to avoid the trauma of rape, we can also insist that men abstain in the absence of readiness to parent or make an adoption plan to avoid the destruction of human life."

6. Scientists discover "flash of light" at conception, immediately use it to decide which embryos to kill. UGH, seriously?

5. Four Terrible, Yet Common, Pro-Life Arguments. You might only get one chance to persuade someone. Don't waste it with a bad argument.

4. Racist creeps reject the pro-life message. Yay! 2016 saw renewed attention to white supremacist groups (some of which adopted the "alt-right" label). The potential that these groups could have any influence in the next presidential administration is extraordinarily disturbing. Their racism carries over into strong support for abortion, in the name of "racial hygiene." Be on the lookout in 2017.

3. 7 things pro-lifers wish our pro-choice friends understood about us. Pro-lifers come in every race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion (and lack thereof), and political persuasion. And that's just the first thing! This is a great introduction for people who are unfamiliar with the pro-life movement and have only heard the stereotypes.

2. More evidence that most late-term abortions are elective. This was a follow-up to our #1 post of the year, which was...

1. No, most late-term abortions are not medically necessary. They may not be a large percentage of abortions, but tens of thousands of late-term abortions still take place every year—many on babies who have the ability to feel pain. With multiple states considering 20-week abortion limits, this was a hot topic in 2016. It turns out that the same socioeconomic factors driving early abortions drive late-term abortions too.

Several of our top 2016 articles came from guest authors. Want to get in on that in 2017? Review our submission guidelines here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Bad Abortion-Choice Science

One of the most frustrating assertions from abortion-choice advocates are that pro-life advocates are "anti-science" or "don't understand science," which is why they are pro-life. The problem, apart from the fact that science is decidedly on the side of the pro-life advocate, is that abortion-choice arguments usually incorporate bad science. For a recent example, see this meme that an abortion-choice advocate shared on facebook:


This image is incredibly misleading. It relies not only on bad science, but on false definitions of common words.

First, let's look at the definition it gives for "a baby", a.k.a. a "human being": "Fully sentient and conscious," "biologically autonomous," "measurable EEG waves." It is a "human being," as opposed to a "human life." The first issue with this definition is glaringly obvious: under this definition, my pet dog is a human being. She is fully sentient and conscious, she is biologically autonomous, and she has measurable EEG waves. So my dog should be considered a human being.

The second glaring issue with this definition is that it doesn't get at the essential property of human beings. As shown in my dog example, if this is the definition of human beings, then all animals that fit these criteria should be considered human life. But while humans are the kinds of things that develop sentience, consciousness, biological autonomy, and measurable EEG waves, this is not what it means to be human. To be human is to have a rational nature, something fetuses have as well as everyone who reads this image has. Having a rational nature is what sets us apart from animals and is what distinguishes us from other animals in the animal kingdom.

Third, there is simple equivocation going on here. Equivocation is an informal logical fallacy in which you prove a conclusion by using a word in two different senses in your argument. The pro-life position is not simply that the fetus is "a human life." The pro-life argument contests that there is something intrinsically different between a human fetus, a human life in one sense, and a human skin cell, which is human life in a completely different sense. Calling the fetus "a human life" is no argument against the pro-life position. Second, there is an equivocation on the word "being," since a "being" is merely something that exists. Under the usual definition of "being," the human fetus counts as a human being.

Fourth, their definitions are simply absurd.

1) "No sentience" -- sentience is simply understood as the capacity to feel and experience sensations, such as pain. But the fetus is able to experience sensations (fetuses have been observed sucking their thumb, fighting with a twin, and even responding to their mother's voice), and though this is a bit of a controversial point, they are also able to feel pain (due to having a functioning nervous system, at least late in pregnancy). This is all beside the obvious point that they have this capacity inherently, if not presently. I cease to be conscious every night when I fall asleep, yet I do not cease to be a human being. I also cease to be sentient, for the most part, when I fall asleep. While something extremely painful could rouse me from my sleep, something mildly painful, such as a pinprick, will not.

2) "Not biologically autonomous" -- of course, they fail to explain what they mean by "biologically autonomous." If they mean simply "can move around outside the womb," then this point is trivial. If they mean "is a part of the mother's body before birth," then this point is incorrect.

3) "No measurable EEG waves" -- this argument amounts to obfuscation on the part of the person who created the meme. EEG waves definitely begin in the womb, before the fetus is born, yet the image is not specific as to how old the fetus in the womb they are pointing to is. The baby they are pointing to on the right had EEG waves for a while before being born. The time that measurable EEG waves develop is hotly debated. Some pro-life people place brainwaves around six weeks in utero (pointing to H. Hamlin's article "Life or Death by EEG," JAMA, Oct. 12, 1964, p. 120 as evidence), and abortion-choice people, such as David Boonin in A Defense of Abortion, point to late in the pregnancy, around 22-27 weeks. At any rate, whether or not the fetus has measurable EEG waves, as I already mentioned, does not determine whether or not the fetus is a human being.

 H. Hamlin, "Life or Death by EEG," JAMA, Oct. 12, 1964, p. 120

The final point to be made is regarding the chart on the bottom. The bottom chart is simply incorrect about human development.

1) The "zygote" stage is considered part of the "embryonic" stage. It is not a separate stage in development. The embryonic stage is the stage from fertilization until about two months, then the fetus stage is from two months up until birth. What sets the fetus stage apart from the embryo stage is that all of the fetus' organs and organ systems, at least at a rudimentary level, have developed and are in place. All it needs now is time to develop these faculties further and to grow to be able to survive outside the womb.

2) The "zygote" stage is only the single cell stage, but the image has "zygote" at the two-cell stage and at a further multi-cell stage. The single cell that develops from fertilization is known as the zygote, and once the zygote cell divides, the two cells are called blastomeres. At the multicellular stage in the second image, that is known as the morula stage. Those two pictures do not represent zygotes.

It is clear that many abortion-choice advocates don't really understand science when they want to try and criticize the pro-life position. Unfortunately, ideology can often blind a person to reality.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A survey of infanticide after attemped abortion

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

In June 2015, the European Centre for Law and Justice released a report that compiled first-hand accounts of babies born alive after abortions who were then killed by doctors. The report, which can be found in its entirety here, has a number of stories from European doctors, midwives, and medical students.

One of the doctors who was quoted is identified only by the initials X.B. He gives two troubling accounts of things he witnessed during his internship. The hospital he interned at performed abortions by induction. This type of abortion is usually done by poisoning the baby inside the womb and then inducing labor. The woman, in effect, “gives birth” to what is supposed to be a dead child. 

X.B. says:
It’s been over 10 years but these are scenes that we do not forget. In a multidisciplinary meeting in “video-conference” between the main Hospital and different obstetrical services of peripheral hospitals, I saw the geneticist of the Hospital make very sharp and scathing reproaches to an obstetrician in a peripheral hospital. The latter had not been able to obtain histological diagnosis on the brain of a fetus after an abortion on medical grounds in the 3rd trimester because the expulsion was too long and the brain tissue was not histologically interpretable. The geneticist had entered a kind of fury, asking how often he should say that we should not commit feticides in utero, but to kill the baby after it was born (those are of course not the words that were used, but I do not remember the euphemism). 
It seems that this geneticist wanted doctors to kill infants born after abortions as a general practice, in order to make his post-mortem examinations easier. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter if a third trimester baby is killed inside or outside of the womb; the baby is dead regardless. But the geneticist’s view is alarming in its callousness. It takes a certain kind of person to champion killing a fully born, kicking, crying baby.

The second event X.B. speaks of took place later:
At the end of my internship of three months, during the validation, I was invited by the clinician who looked after me to give my impressions about the internship. I then said that despite all the wonderful things that can be seen in a maternity hospital, I was shocked by some things I had seen, especially feticide. She then told me that it was true that it was sometimes difficult. And I again see this young woman gaze into space, saying: “It is true that sometimes there’s a little murder among friends” (these are the words that she said). She then tells me a case where the baby had time to scream before being hastily brought into the next room. These cases are not uncommon, and are dramatic because the mother hears her child, and the moment she realizes that he is alive, the child is being killed. But in the case told by the head of my clinic, what made her uncomfortable is that three doctors (an anesthesiologist, an obstetrician and a pediatrician) took an hour to kill a newborn. Because as it was alive, the child struggled vigorously and they could not give him the lethal injection. Unfortunately I have many friends who could bring you more stories, some may be direct witnesses. 
Although the doctor did not witness the killing of the baby himself, there doesn’t seem to be any reason why the clinician would concoct such a story. It’s hard to estimate exactly how many times “not uncommon” means, but it is clear that babies were being born alive after attempted abortions, then murdered, on a semi-regular basis at this hospital.

One can only wonder about the emotional state of a woman who hears her baby cry after delivering him in an abortion procedure. The cries of her murdered baby could haunt that woman for the rest of her life.

The account does not say how far along the pregnancy was or how old the baby was when he or she was born. Could the baby have survived if doctors wanted to save him/her and gave him/her medical care instead of a lethal injection? The fact that the child survived for a whole hour while doctors tried to kill him seems to indicate that the baby was healthy and may have survived, although there is no way to tell.

It is horrible and tragic that babies who survive abortion are being killed outside the womb. Sadly, this also takes place in the United States. There have been numerous first-hand accounts by American doctors, nurses, and clinic workers of babies born alive in this country.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Our plans for the anniversary of Roe v. Wade


January 22, 2017 is the 44th anniversary of the Supreme Court's disastrous Roe v. Wade decision. We will mark the occasion with two consecutive weekends of activism, including protest marches, fundraisers for mothers in need (featuring karaoke!), and training for student pro-life leaders.

We'll be in San Francisco on the weekend of January 21 and in Washington, D.C. on the weekend of January 28. Our full itinerary is available now. The next month will fly by, so start making your plans to join us!

Friday, December 16, 2016

More evidence that most late-term abortions are elective

Two months ago I wrote the post “No, most late-term abortions are not medically necessary,” in which I used Guttmacher data to show that at least 75% of 13+ week abortions are elective (that is, they are not performed due to fetal or maternal health concerns). I said:
One could argue that the proportion of medically necessary abortions after 16 weeks would be higher. And it probably would be. However there’s no indication it would be so high as to constitute even a majority of late-term abortions, much less “nearly all” late-term abortions.
Apparently since 2012 Arizona has been publishing more detailed information on their late-term abortions than most states provide. Specifically Arizona has documented reasons for 14-20 week abortions and reasons for 21+ week abortions. The bottom line?

In Arizona, since 2012,
91% of 14-20 week abortions &
80% of 21+ week abortions 
have been elective.


So at least in Arizona, no, the proportion of medically necessary abortions did not increase later in the pregnancy compared to the data from Guttmacher.  

Similarly I found some Florida data. Unfortunately they lump together 13-24 weeks. They also have some pretty broad definitions of "non-elective." In addition to life endangering conditions to the mother and serious fetal medical conditions, Florida considers abortions for the following reasons "non-elective""
  • Emotional/psychological health of the mother
  • Incest
  • Rape
  • Physical health of the mother that is not life endangering 
  • Social or economic reasons
Including "economic reasons" in the definition of "non-elective" doesn't mesh at all with the pro-choice claim that late-term abortions are all medically necessary. But let's just pretend it does. Even if we include all these reasons in the "non-elective" category, the numbers still don't support the pro-choice claim.

In Florida, since 2013, 
87% of 13-24 week abortions 
have been elective.   

While this information comes from only two states, the point remains that wherever there is actual data (where states can't hide behind non-reporting), it's clear most late-term abortions are not medically necessary. If any pro-choicer has evidence (beyond anecdotes) to suggest otherwise, please bring it forward.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ohio made abortion advocates tell the truth

Ohio's heartbeat bill—which prohibited abortions on any unborn human individual with a detectable heartbeat—was vetoed by Governor Kasich. He exercised the veto not on pro-abortion grounds, but out of concern that the legislation would be tied up in court and never go into effect. You're all having fun debating the wisdom of that decision on our facebook page, and I encourage you to continue. But let me take this opportunity to highlight a victory that should not go unnoticed.

You may have heard this referred to as the "6 week ban." But interestingly, the phrase "six weeks" appears nowhere in the bill. Six weeks happens to be when a baby's heartbeat is typically detected, but the legislation was based on heartbeat, not age. What that means is that when abortion advocates consistently referred to it as the "6 week ban," they were admitting a fact about early prenatal development. Moreover, they made "before most women even know they're pregnant" their rallying cry: an admission that most abortions occur when the unborn child is not a clump of cells.

A Google News search for "heartbeat doesn't know she's pregnant" brings up over 56,000 results, largely from sources that oppose the right to life. Among them:
  • Vox: "Ohio got a lot of attention last week for passing an extreme 'heartbeat' bill that would ban all abortion after a fetal pulse can be detected — or at around six weeks of pregnancy, which is before many women know they’re pregnant." 
  • CNN: "This law is nicknamed a 'Heartbeat Law' because it states that abortion is prohibited as soon as a heartbeat can be detected in utero. That's typically at around 6 weeks, depending on the woman in question and/or available technology. ... At that point, many women don't even know they are pregnant."
  • NPR: "Ohio's Legislature has passed a bill that would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is typically around six weeks after conception — before many women even realize they're pregnant."
  • Samantha Bee: "What the hell, Ohio? At six weeks, most women won’t even know they’re pregnant." 
Can you imagine if pro-life groups tried to buy advertising from those outlets with the message "Abortion stops a beating heart"? Most probably would have refused on ideological grounds, and even for those that didn't, the expense would have been significant.

Instead, this legislation got notoriously pro-abortion media outlets to tell the truth about prenatal development, directly to their readers.

Nice job, Ohio legislature. As ever, the legal, cultural, and educational arenas build upon one another.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

On Unchosen Responsibility

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

A common argument made by pro-choice advocates is that women who did not choose to get pregnant or to have unprotected sex should not have to carry a child to term because they did not choose to take on the responsibility of motherhood. It’s just not fair! But this idea is problematic because it implies that parenthood is a responsibility only when it is chosen. In reality, the fetus and the mother have an inextricable bond which is formed at conception and which exists independently of the mother’s actions or intentions.

At the moment of conception, the zygote comes into existence as a human creature living in and living from their mother’s body. Throughout development, a fetus is 100% dependent on their mother for their survival and health. Everything the mother does affects the fetus. Since the fetus is dependent on the mother to survive in this unique and inimitable way, it is her responsibility to protect the fetus—at least until birth, at which point she can transfer that responsibility to another individual through adoption. But does this responsibility still hold when the mother did not invite the fetus into her care?

Yes. Responsibility exists independently of the actions one has taken. In many situations, it can be created by circumstance. For example, let’s say your neighbor is a dog owner. You are spending time at your neighbor’s house one day and he says “I’ll be right back. I’m going to pick up some snacks for us.” You never agreed to dog sit or to take on any responsibility for the dog. While your neighbor is gone, you step outside and notice that the dog has gotten its head trapped between two slats of a fence. Don’t you have a moral obligation to help the dog? You are the only person who can help it survive. You never volunteered to be responsible for this dog’s life, yet here we are. If you do not rise to the occasion and take responsibility to help the dog, you are acting immorally. You can’t just shrug it off and say “that’s not my responsibility.”

Thus, a woman who used a contraceptive that failed and even a woman who was raped still has responsibility to keep her child safe (there are additional issues to consider in the case of rape and many cogent arguments to be made in favor of right to abortion for rape survivors, but responsibility is not one of them). This woman is now in a situation in which another human being relies on her for survival. It doesn’t matter whether she chose to be in that situation or not. Here we are. She can make one choice that leads to the child’s death, or make another that allows it to continue life. She must rise to the occasion and accept the responsibility that she now has to this child.

Responsibility is not necessarily a burden that one can choose to take on. Often, life circumstances hoist responsibility upon an individual. Pregnancy is one of the these circumstances, creating a situation in which a woman is responsible to protect the life growing inside her.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Kennedy (R) wins Louisiana Senate race


The final U.S. Senate race has concluded, with John Kennedy (R) prevailing over Foster Campbell (D) to give the GOP a slim 52-48 majority in the Senate. The GOP will also enjoy a solid majority in the House of Representatives.

As we previously reported, both Kennedy and Campbell campaigned on pro-life platforms. Louisiana is a bright spot for pro-life Democrats, including its current governor. The New York Times notes that Campbell unsuccessfully "attacked his opponent's Democratic and pro-choice past." While that's not a particularly strong argument—many of the pro-life movement's greatest heroes and heroines are former abortion advocates—I don't mind the pressure on Kennedy to prove his pro-life bona fides. We're going to need all the help we can get.

A GOP majority in the Senate is not a blank slate. The traditional filibuster still applies to many votes, requiring 60 Senators to move forward. (Budget reconciliation is an exception to that rule; you may recall that last year, pro-life Senators used it to redirect Planned Parenthood funding to federally qualified health centers, but Obama vetoed the measure.) Note, too, that not all Republican Senators are reliably pro-life.

Nevertheless, we're in a much better position than we were some months ago, when pro-life leaders (myself included) feared that the Access Hollywood video and various other Trump escapades would hand the Senate to abortion supporters.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Recap: Pro-Life Demonstration in San Francisco

Monday night, Cecile Richards, CEO of Planned Parenthood, delivered a message entitled "The Future of Choice" in San Francisco.  Pro-Life Future of San Francisco was on the scene that night to protest.  It was a very cold in the city, and I wasn't sure what to expect.  Mostly I pictured a long line of people waiting to get in while they shouted at us. Beforehand, I had prepared a couple hundred copies of just one of the contracts between Stem Express and Planned Parenthood, specifically the Marmonte location (on pink paper), in the hopes that it would land in the lap of the Medical Director whose signature was highlighted on the agreement!

Upon arrival it was apparent that there was not a line at all, simply people entering and leaving the building.  There were about 15 of us already there, including several members of our chapter, as well as a Students For Life group from Southern California, and members of the community.  West Coast Regional Coordinator Camille Rodriguez was already engaged in a very intense conversation with some of the attendees.  I was later told from the other members that the woman originally approached Camille with agitation, but that the woman was moved to tears by the empathy, understanding, and clarity with which Camille spoke. She wanted to talk more after the show and said she had never had such a conversation about abortion from "the other side". They hugged as they said goodbye.

Why are we so dope?
The majority of the crowd was millennial women, and some men.  There were some of the older generations there as well, far less then I'd expected. Most of them would walk by the protesters and quietly read the signs as they entered the building.  Members of PLFSF handed out the pink contracts saying "Would you like some information on Planned Parenthood"?  Many of them took the pink paper without a second thought.  Some refused it.  One girl took one and then kindly came back outside and said "I'm sorry I don't want your propaganda".  There were also two counter protesters.  The two women simply stood on the other side of the entry way holding their signs too.  The lack of hostility from everyone was almost alarming.  Most were totally polite.  There weren't any weird tense moments.  Just real conversations, and quiet stares.

A woman approached us who immediately let us know that she supported our right to be there, and believed strongly in the right of free speech.  She said that she had had "many" abortions, but that allowed her to attend Harvard to study neurology. Learning about brain development in utero made her sometimes question the morality of abortion.  She also mentioned concerns about the fetal tissue donation program, and what she felt were the racist intentions behind the founding of the organization.  I offered her a copy of the contract and she freely took it.

When the counter protesters decided to leave I said "I appreciate your passion, have a good night", and one of the women was totally surprised and immediately said "Thank you for saying that, I appreciate yours too!"  It was so genuine that it caught me off guard as well!  We saw the humanity in each other and didn't reduce each other to the signs we were holding.

Kickin It
Several of us waited around until the end in order to make the biggest impact we could.  The entire crowd was greeted by us once again and there were several other conversations to be had.

Overall I felt like the crowd was able see the person behind the protester.  San Franciscans are raised up protesting.  Many of them know what it's like to fight for a cause and it's much harder for them to dismiss us, since they know the personal sacrifice it takes to get out there in the cold in the hopes of reaching just one person. I'd like to think we we reached a few.

Thank you to everyone who came out or tweeted along with the live stream.  Our efforts combined can turn the tide against the one organization truly exploiting women and unborn children for their own financial gains.  #ShutItDown

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Tomorrow: we're on the radio!

Tomorrow at 1:30 pm Eastern/12:30 pm Central/11:30 am Mountain/10:30 am Pacific, SPL president Kelsey Hazzard will be interviewed on the Culture of Life radio show, hosted by Laura Rosecrans and Monte Harms. We'll be talking SPL's ongoing projects, our plans for 2017, and how religious and non-religious people can work together in the fight against abortion. It should last about half an hour.

Culture of Life is a program of HUB, a Christian radio station in New Mexico. Outside of New Mexico, you can listen live here. Afterward, you'll find a recording on Monte Harms' website (bottom right).

Monday, December 5, 2016

Response to the Argument from Investigation


Increasingly, I have encountered an argument in favor of abortion that goes something like this:
If an embryo or fetus has a right to life, that means every death of an embryo or fetus has to be investigated as a possible murder. Parents grieving their miscarriages will have their grief compounded when cops show up at their door. That possibility is horrific and must be avoided at all costs. Therefore, if you support treating embryos and fetuses as human beings, you must hate grieving parents, you monster.
For shorthand, I will call this the "Argument from Investigation."

Is it rich to see the same people who use degrading language like "clump of cells" and "parasite" suddenly care deeply about the sensitive grieving process of people who have suffered a miscarriage? Yes. Is the Argument from Investigation a blatant appeal to emotion? You betcha. But it's a damn good one; even attempting to respond opens me to instant condemnation.

Nevertheless, I have two responses.

The first is simply to note that the factual premise is wrong. The right to life does not necessarily contain within it a guarantee that your death will be investigated by police. Currently in the United States, all human beings outside the womb and not on death row have the right to life. But most of our deaths will not be investigated. Death is a part of life, and police resources are limited, so deaths typically go uninvestigated unless there is a specific reason to suspect that they are unnatural or that foul play is involved.

I have lost many family members to natural causes over the years; no police investigations resulted. On the flip side of the coin, when my friend's mother died in a nursing home, my friend valiantly tried to convince police to investigate, because he was sure that the nursing home's subpar care was a factor; no police investigation resulted. Older people die in nursing homes all the time, and without concrete evidence that the nursing home was to blame, the police wouldn't even go there.

Treating every fetal death as a possible abortion is akin to treating every adult's death as a possible homicide. It's not going to happen—not because we don't value the rights and lives of the deceased, but simply because it's wildly inefficient. There's a better way.

Prior to Roe v. Wade, laws against abortion were enforced against abortionists, not against mothers. When the right to life is restored, we can use the same investigative techniques as before, like undercover sting operations on those advertising abortions and abortion drugs. We will also finally be able to respond appropriately when abortionists injure or kill their customers; today, many of those abortionists freely continue to practice their trade, but when abortion is again illegal, their poor treatment of women will be their downfall.

Second, I wonder if people invoking the Argument from Investigation are aware that a strongly analogous situation is happening right now. Consider this account of "Dorian," a father whose baby died from what was eventually classified as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Dorian walked in to find his five-month-old son lying dead underneath a blanket on the couch. Then the police arrived, and the worst day of Dorian's life was somehow about to get even worse.
"As soon as a detective showed up, everything shut down. It stopped being a place of mourning, and started being a crime scene. I was forced to leave my own home while they performed an investigation. I was not allowed to touch or hold the corpse of my son. I was not allowed to console my wife. You see, the detective had to ask her questions in private."
While they were being questioned, the coroner unexpectedly took the baby's body away. "She had promised me that I could hold him one last time before she took him. The detective made her break that promise."
They were, of course, collecting evidence. ... They have to make sure that, for example, the infant wasn't poisoned.
It turned out that Dorian and his wife were completely innocent and the investigation only served to traumatize them. That is an incredibly messed up scenario. Sadly, I'm not sure how it could have been avoided. Dorian himself says he "understood" law enforcement officers' decision to confiscate his son's body for autopsy, adding that "it's a complex emotion." I can't begin to imagine.

Suffice to say, I have yet to see anyone suggest that the infant's right to life is the problem and that we should legalize infanticide for the sake of parents whose children die of SIDS. Like most pro-choice arguments, the Argument from Investigation is only invoked to serve the narrow purpose of justifying abortion and ceases to apply in any other context.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Cecile Richards Visits San Francisco - Protest Planned Parenthood

Calling all Bay Area Pro-Lifers! Monday, December 5th, 2016, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards is scheduled to deliver a speech entitled "The Future of Choice" in San Francisco, California. Join Secular Pro-Life Representative and President of Pro-Life Future San Francisco, Terrisa Bukovinac, in peaceful protest against Planned Parenthood and the destruction of millions of innocent human lives in the name of "choice."

Terrisa asks that you refrain from using any graphic images and kindly requests that secular language is used for all messaging efforts. For those that cannot be there in person, be sure to tune into the talk which will be streamed live on Facebook. All are encouraged to use the hashtag #PPSELLSBABYPARTS.

Your voice is needed in our quest to abolish elective abortion and restore the inherent right of all humans to life.The event will be hosted by the Commonwealth Club whose motto is "Find the truth, and turn it loose in the world." We intend to do just that.

Protesting will begin at 6:30 PM near the main entrance of the Herbst Theater. Police will be patrolling the area to ensure the safety of all participants.

Let Planned Parenthood, and the Bay Area, know that even in one of the most pro-choice places on the planet, there is a pro-life presence representing the strength of the pro-life position. We look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

CDC: Gruesome Late-Term Abortion Methods Still Being Used

Last week, the CDC released its annual abortion surveillance report (for 2013, because it's always behind). The big story the media picked up from it was that the American abortion rate has once again hit a record low. Of course, that's welcome news. But dig deeper, and the report also contains some extremely disturbing findings.

If you have a weak stomach, stop reading and just trust me when I tell you it's worse than you think.

Scroll to the bottom, where you'll find Table 22 (click to enlarge):


First of all, note that this table only includes data from 36 states, so every number I'm about to mention comes with the huge caveat "at least." The true numbers are higher.
 
"Intrauterine instillation" is also known as saline abortion. Also known as the method survived by such notable pro-life advocates as Melissa Ohden and Gianna Jessen. Also known as the method abortion apologists will tell you "doesn't happen anymore" whenever you mention Melissa Ohden or Gianna Jessen.

Well, it happens. It happened at least 113 times in 2013, mostly on older fetuses. It happened 45 times to babies older than 21 weeks, who could have lived outside the womb. Babies old enough to feel the pain of the saline solution burning their lungs. Babies the size of famous preemie Amillia Taylor when she was born:


Horrific. And they wonder why those cuckoo anti-choicers won't just shut up.

The next row is abortions committed by "Hysterectomy/Hysterotomy." A hysterectomy, of course, is the surgical removal of the uterus—in this case, a uterus with a child inside. A hysterotomy is an incision of the uterus, of the kind used in C-sections. The difference between a C-section and a hysterotomy abortion is whether the attending physician intends for the baby to live or to die.

Hey, remember when Donald Trump was asked about abortion during a debate, and he said Hillary Clinton's extreme position would allow abortionists to "rip the baby out of the mother," and liberal media types pointed and laughed and wrote think pieces declaring that that's totally not how abortion works, right guys? In 2013, forty-five babies became victims of abortion by hysterectomy or hysterotomy methods. Nine of them were 21 weeks gestation or older.

My unfavorable opinion of Trump is well-known, but I'll concede he got that one right.

Late-term abortions are only "rare" in relationship to the many more abortions that occur by common methods in the first half of pregnancy. They are not rare in absolute terms. Even a single child's death in such a horrific manner is completely unacceptable.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Donate to Secular Pro-Life for Giving Tuesday

Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard here. Today is Giving Tuesday, and in the spirit of generosity, I ask you to join me in donating to Secular Pro-Life.

We don't often ask for money. We're a shoestring operation, with no physical offices or paid staff. We keep our costs down so your donations can have the maximum possible impact.

Above: A Yale student examines our
"Why Should Non-Christians Care
About Abortion?" brochure
We are now entering into the most expensive time of year: preparing for the January anniversary of Roe v. Wade, when the Students for Life of America (SFLA) national conferences are held in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, California.

Secular Pro-Life was founded by students, and supporting the pro-life youth movement is a key part of our mission. Polls show that Millennials are both more pro-life and less religious than older generations. Young adults drive the demand for secular pro-life resources. The SFLA conferences are our best opportunity to equip pro-life student leaders to make the secular case against abortion on their campuses.

Our policy has always been to offer materials to student groups completely free of charge. We would hate for non-Christians to go unreached on a campus just because the pro-life student organization couldn't afford secular pamphlets! That's why we'll be at the SFLA conferences with materials galore for student leaders to take back to their schools.

Here's a testimonial from University of Michigan student Chrissy Healy:
University of Michigan is an extremely secularized community, and so it was of the utmost importance that our Students for Life group approached discussions about abortion from a non-religious perspective if we were ever going to reach the individuals on our campus. It was extremely important for our group (especially those members who came from religious backgrounds, but were against abortion for non-religious reasons) to be able to refer pro-choice students to resources like those provided by Secular Pro-Life. Without these, we would quickly lose our audience’s attention.
As just one example, one of our monthly events was centered on the “Why Should Non-Christians Care About Abortion?” brochures that we had received from Secular Pro-life. We made a sign and handed out the brochures to everyone who walked by, and it proved to be a valuable platform for beginning dialogues about abortion. That day, we even caught the attention of some of the Students for Choice members who were hosting their own event just down the hallway. They walked over to check out our information, which evidently took them by surprise, and left with a few of the pamphlets. Resources like these brochures and others from Secular Pro-life laid the groundwork to us diversifying our pro-life group, which is larger now than ever and includes some non-religious members.
In larger organizations, the cost of conference giveaways is barely noticed. But for Secular Pro-Life, it's a substantial component of our annual budget.

I don't believe in asking people to do anything I wouldn't do. Accordingly, I have personally donated $100 to Secular Pro-Life for Giving Tuesday. Please join me in giving as you are able.

Thank you for your support!

For Life,
Kelsey Hazzard

P.S.—Our donation page also allows you to set up a monthly gift. If you are able to donate regularly, we'd greatly appreciate it! Just check the "Repeat Monthly Payment" box.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Election Isn't Over Yet

Foster Campbell, left, and John Kennedy, right

I have terrible news for you: the election isn't over. No, I'm not talking about Jill Stein's recount. I'm talking about the runoff election for Louisiana's next Senator, pitting State Treasurer John Kennedy (R) against Public Service Commissioner and former state senator Foster Campbell (D).

The good news? Mr. Kennedy has the endorsement of National Right to Life, while Mr. Campbell has the endorsement of Democrats for Life of America.

Louisiana is a bright spot for those of us who want a bipartisan pro-life movement. The state is so strongly pro-life that it's practically impossible for abortion supporters to successfully run for office. Its current governor, John Bel Edwards, is a pro-life Democrat. (It's also the state where Democratic legislator Katrina Jackson, who is black, championed an abortion facility regulation bill; Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Melissa Fournoy responded with threatening and borderline racist comments about her, because of course.)

How nice it must be to be able to vote based on a wide range of economic and social concerns, without having to immediately exclude a major candidate for condoning mass slaughter!

Indeed, abortion doesn't seem to be a focal point in this election. Neither candidate features it on their website. Mr. Kennedy's website doesn't even have an "Issues" page, only a hard-to-search blog; Mr. Campbell's issues page contains no mention of abortion, but does devote space to disability rights, which is promising. Less promising: Mr. Campbell apparently failed to respond to Louisiana Right to Life's questionnaire.

Mr. Kennedy is favored to win, but we've seen how little that counts for. Early voting has begun and the race will conclude on December 10.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Pro-Life Resource for Prematurity Awareness Month


November is Prematurity Awareness Month, and a great opportunity for pro-life advocates to extend our compassion to babies born too soon. Although modern medicine has made great strides and the age of viability outside the womb is lower than ever before, preterm birth remains a serious health concern.

Premature birth can strike anyone; in many cases, the cause is unknown. However, research has uncovered some risk factors. Among them: tobacco use, lack of prenatal care, and previous induced abortions. 

That last factor is, of course, a political lightening rod. But women deserve to know the truth. 

The evidence for the abortion-preterm birth link is overwhelming. It appears in countries with vastly disparate cultural attitudes about abortion, in data uncovered in the course of exploring other hypotheses, and in meta-analyses. The abortion lobby can't dismiss the body of research as the work of one or two random scientists with a political agenda. 

To publicize this information, Secular Pro-Life created the Prevent Preterm campaign at PreventPreterm.org. There, you'll find an easy-to-understand summary of the medical literature on abortion and preterm birth, as well as information on other preventable risk factors and where to find affordable care in your community. You can also learn from the stories of mothers who have experienced preterm birth after abortion. 

Secular Pro-Life is very proud of our work on Prevent Preterm, and we hope you will use it as a valuable resource to prevent both abortions and premature births. One very simple way you can help is to share Prevent Preterm graphics on social media. Who knows? You could save a life!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"Kill your baby, or kill your career" is not a true choice

Above: Demonstrators outside the Supreme Court during Young v. UPS.

[Today's guest post is by Christina Reagan.]

Back in 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed with the intention to protect women from being fired or discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy.

Why then does it not seem uncommon that vulnerable pregnant women are told they have to "get rid of it" to move forward in their careers? And why is this an acceptable reason to end a pregnancy, even if the pregnancy is desired?

It doesn’t take much sleuthing the internet to find many painful abortion stories of women who felt they needed to have an abortion to advance their careers. As I read some of these stories—where some women experience painful, haunting dreams due to making a choice they really didn’t want to make—I keep on wondering, why it is socially acceptable for women to be told they must choose between child and career?

I personally know someone who was told by her superior to "terminate," after she told this person she was pregnant. She chose to keep the child and had to then switch jobs.

Why must a vulnerable pregnant woman feel she must choose between a child and a career? This is a horrible spot to put a woman in, particularly if she is single and depends on that income for survival. Many women are just starting out and are hoping to advance in their careers. They may be advised by well-meaning superiors, colleagues, family, and friends that having a baby (especially if there is no husband involved) will stall their progress or will destroy their careers irreparably. They will never be that person they want to be or have that career they aim to have. What is worse is that they are led to believe they won’t be able to feed and provide for that child should they choose to keep the pregnancy.

As feminists, fighting for women’s rights, don’t we have a duty to protect the vulnerable from being coerced? Don’t we have a duty to ensure that a woman is not hampered in her career progress by her choice to have a child, whether she is single or not and whether the pregnancy was planned or unplanned? Why is abortion encouraged as a solution to a mistimed pregnancy in a young woman’s career? Why can’t we change this system?

In order to guarantee equality for women in the workforce, instead of viewing children as an impediment to a woman’s career, we must view them as a normal part of a woman’s life. Many women work as mothers and are amazing leaders. I have been through a difficult pregnancy, and the encouragement of those around me helped immensely. I had never been more vulnerable than I was at that time in my life, yet because I was so enveloped in love and support towards continuing to pursue my career and education, I did not lose hope. I was strengthened and empowered by those around me, who supported my pursuit of education and career despite the difficult circumstances I was enduring.

It is my hope that we can create these kind of environments for the vulnerable pregnant women in our midst. That they can be encouraged that motherhood and career success are not mutually exclusive. That they don’t have to choose between pursuing a career and having a child.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Want a free pro-life speaker?

Above: SPL speaker Monica Snyder addresses a pro-life youth rally

Secular Pro-Life has long recognized the importance of student outreach. As a result, we have never charged an honorarium to campus groups. However, for financial reasons, we have required student organizations to cover cost of travel for SPL speakers. Also, since SPL is entirely volunteer-run and our speakers have day jobs, scheduling has been an issue.

Recently, a few groups have gotten around these hurdles that by hosting SPL presentations via Skype, making it absolutely 100% free. We're excited to do more Skype talks in the future!

In our experience so far, this works best with smaller audiences. For larger groups, it's tricky to coordinate Skype and other visuals like a powerpoint at the same time. But we will continue to learn by doing and work out the kinks. Even with smaller presentations, you can magnify the impact by inviting your student newspaper to cover it, like Tigers for Life did at Trinity University in San Antonio. (Good job, guys!)

If you are a leader of a student pro-life organization and you're interested in having a free Secular Pro-Life speaker, you can email us at info@secularprolife.org and/or come by the SPL exhibit booth at the Students for Life of America national conferences in January.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Election Reflection


In some ways, nothing has changed.

Regardless of who is in office, all pro-life people have an obligation to advocate for policies that will reduce abortion. Priorities will include confirming a pro-life replacement for Justice Scalia, and preserving the Hyde Amendment (which has saved the lives of over two million Americans) against attacks from the abortion industry. During campaign season, an apparent bipartisan consensus emerged on paid maternity leave; we'd like to see that bear fruit.

For our part, Secular Pro-Life will continue to make the science- and human-rights-based case for the right to life. We'll continue to work with student groups to expand their reach across religious divides. We will continue to do our part to prevent unplanned pregnancies, and to support those who face challenging pregnancies. We'll keep doing what we've been doing, outside the political arena, for the past seven years.

In some ways, everything has changed.

In his victory speech, President-elect Trump pledged to be "president for all Americans" and called for unity among Americans "from all races, backgrounds, and beliefs." I hope, for everyone's sake, that Trump's presidency adheres to that vision. But that is, to put it mildly, a very different vision from the one I have seen Trump espouse for the last year and a half.

The pro-life leaders and organizations that endorsed Trump are now in a position of power and responsibility. They will have the President's ear. I hope that they do not take that for granted, because they won't be the only ones seeking influence. I hope they not only encourage him to pass anti-abortion laws, but guide him toward a pro-life, pro-woman path, emphasizing the need for genuine respect of every human life. And yes, that includes the lives of people of color, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault, Muslims, Mexicans, and so on. It may get uncomfortable. I hope these leaders appreciate that our movement (particularly our youth movement) is largely made up of marginalized people, who identify with preborn children for that very reason.

One final thought: I have definitely been guilty of failing to look outside my college-educated social-media echo chamber. I thought Clinton was sure to win. Trump's victory took me completely by surprise. It should not have. I am going to make a concerted effort to expand my horizons, and suggest that we all do the same.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Brief statement on Trump's presidential victory

Our dislike for Donald Trump is no secret. He is the next President of the United States; the American people have spoken and we accept the outcome. We will have a more in-depth analysis in the coming days. Until then (to paraphrase the great President Lincoln): With malice toward none, with charity for all, let us strive on to finish the work we are in.

No matter who our president is, we will always work alongside pro-life advocates of all political stripes. Women and babies come first.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Today's the Day: Vote Pro-Life Down-Ballot!


Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard here. Last week, as many of you know, I participated in a friendly debate with fellow pro-life activist Lauren Muzyka. The debate was hosted by Students for Life of America. I took the #NeverTrump position, arguing that a Trump presidency would hurt the pro-life cause more than it helps. Lauren took the position that Trump's promise to nominate pro-life Justices to the Supreme Court outweighs his flaws. There was also wine. It was a lot of fun.

I hope you'll watch the debate in its entirety if you haven't already. But if you don't have time, let me leave you with a key passage from my opening statement:
So here’s what I propose. First: Whatever your view on the presidency, vote pro-life down-ballot. Don’t let the negativity of the presidential election discourage you from showing up to vote for your members of Congress and state and local officials. The odds are overwhelming that Hillary Clinton will be our next president, but her approval numbers are too low to give her a true mandate. With strong pro-life majorities in Congress, we can preserve the Hyde Amendment and stop her extreme pro-abortion agenda.
And second: we take a hard look at our movement, at ourselves, we have some painful conversations, and together, we do everything in our power to not only make Hillary Clinton a one-term president, but to replace her with a pro-life leader we can actually be proud of.
And from my closing statement:
I’d like to reiterate what I said toward the end of my opening statement, which is that if you agree with me that there’s no good pro-life candidate for president, please don’t let that stop you from going to the polls. There’s so much more on the ballot. The President of the United States doesn’t decide if your state will have an informed consent law. The President of the United States doesn’t decide if your school district’s sex ed curriculum will include accurate information about prenatal development. The President of the United States doesn’t decide if the lot across the street from the middle school will be zoned for a Planned Parenthood. YOU decide that, by voting in your state and local races.
This election has put the pro-life movement through the wringer. Tomorrow is a new day. Whatever results are announced tonight,* we will never stop fighting for the most vulnerable members of the human family.


*In the name of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, please let them be announced tonight. Let this not be a repeat of Bush v. Gore. Ramen.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Answers to your debate questions


Last week, Students for Life of America hosted "Election Whine," a friendly live-streamed debate between yours truly, SPL president Kelsey Hazzard (representing the #NeverTrump position) and Lauren Muzyka of Sidewalk Advocates for Life (arguing in favor of a Trump vote). Both of us spoke individually, not on behalf of our organizations. Also, there was wine. It was a lot of fun, and you can watch the replay here.

Viewers could submit questions to us during the broadcast, and you did not disappoint. We had great audience questions. Unfortunately, due to time limitations, we didn't get to all of them. As Mik'aela Raymond commented, "This was a good idea but way too short." (In our defense, we had planned it for just 45 minutes, and wound up going close to an hour.)

So here are a few more questions, and my answers.

Alejandro Capote asks: "Would you support pro-life candidates regardless of party affiliation?"

Absolutely! I'm an independent myself, and I want to see pro-life candidates in every party.

Janelle Wanzek asks: "Why is it believed that a third party candidate isn't a viable vote? Does Kelsey agree with this? Does she believe her vote won't make a difference?"

My third-party vote is not a vote for Hillary Clinton. My third-party vote is not a vote for Donald Trump. My third-party vote is a third-party vote, full stop. (I find Trump and Clinton so unacceptable that if I couldn't vote third party, I wouldn't vote at all.) As I said in my opening statement, it's a way of maintaining accountability. A vote that tells the major parties that there is a voting bloc up for grabs, that we want an authentic pro-life candidate, and that they can't take us for granted, is not a wasted vote. It is a long-term-thinking vote.

My friend Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, of New Wave Feminists, tried to throw me a softball question (which was not asked): "Kelsey, doesn't a Trump victory show all elected officials to come that the pro-life movement will not hold their ground and WILL compromise in the future?" I think she has it exactly right.

Justin Buskmiller asks: "Question for Kelsey: if single issue pro-lifers abstain from voting for Donald and he wins without us, what is the plan going forward? Wouldn't we essentially exile ourselves from both parties?"

This is a fantastic question, and a hard one. Thank you for asking it nicely.

It's clear that not all pro-life voters are abstaining. Larger, well-established pro-life organizations like NRLC and the Susan B. Anthony List have endorsed Trump. If he wins, they will be in the drivers' seat, and Millennial upstarts like myself will not. I've accepted that. I'm hopeful we can all get along regardless, just as I hope to continue working with reluctant Trump supporters like Lauren in the event of a Trump loss. (That said, I think the odds of a President Trump are very low.)

But your core point, if I understand you correctly, is that if Trump wins, the pro-lifers who have publicly opposed him will be politically homeless. You are correct. I would say not that we have "exiled ourselves," but that we have been exiled by forces outside of our control. On the bright side, we'll have plenty of company in exile—perhaps enough company to start our own party, or to take the GOP back in 2020 or 2024.

Thad Crouch asks: "To what extent, if any, do other life issues such as war, death penalty, assisted suicide, etc, play into your decision-making?"

On war, both Trump and Clinton have proposed foreign policies I find morally abhorrent, and I think they are both likely to get us (further) into war. So it's a wash, which reinforces my decision to vote third party.

As for the death penalty and assisted suicide, while it would be nice to have a president that spoke out on those issues, they seem to be predominantly state-level fights at this point, with minimal federal involvement. Regardless, I place a higher priority on abortion, purely because of the number of human lives at stake. I would not vote for a "pro-choice" candidate solely because he or she campaigned against capital punishment or assisted suicide.

C.J. Williams asks: "This is a wicked good discussion. Why aren't these two women our presidential candidates?"

You're too kind, C.J.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

TONIGHT: "Election Whine" featuring SPL president Kelsey Hazzard


Tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern (8:00 p.m. Central, 7:00 p.m. Mountain, 6:00 p.m. Pacific), SPL president Kelsey Hazzard will appear on Election Whine, hosted by Students for Life of America:
It’s no secret that this 2016 election season has been horrible, with both presidential candidates vying for the lowest favorability ratings in history and doctors prescribing prescription drugs to deal with all the nonsense. It’s also vastly divided the pro-life movement. So we are livestreaming on Facebook a friendly debate called “Election Whine” between two pro-lifers: one Never Trump and the other pro-Trump.
Lauren Muzyka of Sidewalk Advocates for Life will represent the pro-Trump position and Kelsey Hazzard of Secular Pro-Life will represent the Never Trump position.
Lauren and Kelsey, both likely holding glasses of their favorite wine, will talk about their positions and SFLA will moderate the discussion and take viewer questions on Facebook during the 45-minute debate.
(Please note that each leader will discuss in their individual capacity and will not be representing any opinion of their organization.)
The livestream will take place on the Students for Life of America facebook page. If you are unable to tune in live, a recording will be available soon after.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Is an elective abortion "self-defense"?

Image via Feminists for Life

[Today's guest post is by Mary Jensen.]

No matter what side of the abortion debate a person is on, they often fail to recognize that in the case of abortion there are at least two people involved. Many pro-choicers argue that unborn children should have no personhood status, while many pro-lifers are so focused on the rights of the unborn child that they are unable to make a decent counterargument against "my body, my choice."

One variation of the "my body, my choice" argument is that an unborn baby, by its very existence, is a threat to the mother's right to bodily autonomy. Since it is sometimes acceptable to use violence in defense of one's bodily autonomy—for example, fighting off a rapist—pro-choicers treat abortion as a matter of self-defense.

However, there are things that make abortion unique. Abortion does not simply terminate an unwanted pregnancy; it takes away a life in a very brutal way. The goal of self-defense is to stop the person from attacking you, not to brutally murder them. It is also important to consider the cases in which self-defense happens. Obviously, if there is a possibility that a person could be injured or killed, self-defense would be morally acceptable. Self-defense is also acceptable when the attacker is intentionally trying to take away a person's bodily autonomy, even if the act would not be considered harmful had it been done with the other person's consent. In the case of abortion, the unborn child is innocent. Their intent is not to violate the pregnant person's bodily autonomy, so the unborn child cannot be considered an aggressor. In most cases, the pregnant person's life isn't in danger, either. Therefore, killing would not be acceptable in the case of elective abortion.

Although people can choose not to have children, it is important to consider that, when a parent has custody over a child, they are obligated to take care of them. In most cases, parents can place their children for adoption if they cannot care for them. In the case of pregnancy, the pregnant person is the only one who can keep the child alive. This isn't about forcing pregnancy or parenthood; it's about the well-being of an already-existing unborn child. If a parent has custody over a child, they have no right to neglect or abandon them. They certainly have no right to abuse them, which is what abortion is. People have the right to abstain from sexual activity or use contraception in order to prevent pregnancy. They do not have the right to harm or neglect an already-existing child. It's fine to not have children, but it is wrong to abuse or neglect a child who has already come into existence.

When I say abortion is a competing rights issue, I am not implying that the unborn child has more rights than the pregnant person. I am saying that, while bodily autonomy is a right, it does not justify aggression.