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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"Evidence-based" pro-choice atheist uses emotional appeals for abortion

A friend asked us to rebut this 2015 pro-choice video. Better late than never!


The interviewee, atheist and science communicator Cara Santa Maria, says that she is "evidence-based thinker" who "listen[s] to the science first, and then make my political decisions based on that." So far, so good. But when asked why she supports abortion, she offers no scientific support whatsoever. Instead, she relies exclusively on emotional arguments and how she feels about how "complicated" pregnancy is. This disconnect is so painfully obvious that I feel embarrassed for her, watching it.

She begins by saying that the pro-life viewpoint comes "purely from religion," which of course isn't true. Then she clarifies that her definition of "pro-choice" includes opposition to coerced abortion, which I'm certainly glad to hear, but which tells me nothing at all about the ethics of abortion in general.

And then begins the stream of emotional appeals in favor of late-term abortion. What if a woman doesn't find out she's pregnant right away? What if a pro-lifer talks her into keeping the baby (or "pressures" her), and later she "realizes she has these options"? What if her financial situation suddenly becomes precarious? What if she finds out the baby has a genetic abnormality? (It wouldn't be a pro-choice "ethics" session without a dose of ableism!)

Not a word about prenatal development. Not a word about how legislation impacts abortion rates. Not a word about anything that could possibly be construed as evidence-based. I have a science-based comment, though: if you turn this video into a drinking game in which you take a shot every time she says "complicated" or "nuanced," you will get alcohol poisoning. Don't do it.

She adds that "maybe this is easy for me to say because I don't have kids," and since her argument is based entirely on emotion, that may well be true. I do hope, if Ms. Maria becomes pregnant, that she will recognize the humanity of her own child and follow that path where it leads. But I would much prefer that Ms. Maria evaluate the evidence today. I am confident that if she sets aside her emotional preconceptions (no pun intended), she will come over to the side of equality. Secular Pro-Life is here to welcome her with open arms.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Abstinence-obsessed Christian schools incentivize abortion


On Saturday, the New York Times published an article about the hypocrisy of "pro-life" Christian schools that incentivize abortion for pregnant students. Appropriately titled Pregnant at 18. Hailed by Abortion Foes. Punished By Christian School., the article begins:
Maddi Runkles has never been a disciplinary problem.
She has a 4.0 average at Heritage Academy, the small private Christian school she attends; played on the soccer team; and served as president of the student council. But when her fellow seniors don blue caps and gowns at graduation early next month, Ms. Runkles, 18, will not be among them.
The reason? She is pregnant.
The decision by school officials to bar Ms. Runkles from "walking" at graduation — and to remove her from her student council position — would have remained private, but for her family's decision to seek help from Students for Life. The anti-abortion group, which took her to a recent rally in Washington, argues that she should be lauded, not punished, for her decision to keep her baby.
"She made the courageous decision to choose life, and she definitely should not be shamed," said Kristan Hawkins, the Students for Life president, who tried unsuccessfully to persuade the administrator of Heritage Academy to reverse the decision. "There has got to be a way to treat a young woman who becomes pregnant in a graceful and loving way."   
Kristan Hawkins is absolutely right, and I applaud Students for Life for taking up Ms. Runkles' cause. Let's be real: if you penalize premarital sex, all you're actually doing is punishing people who get caught having premarital sex. And thanks to the quirks of human biology, those who are caught will (1) almost exclusively be women, and (2) almost exclusively be pro-life. (I say "almost" to allow for those students who, say, have sex in an unlocked room on campus — but I have never heard of a young father being punished the way Ms. Runkles was.)

I know Kristan Hawkins personally, so I know that she is a Christian. I'm sure it isn't easy for her to fight a public relations battle against an organization that shares her faith. But it is the right thing to do. I'm glad that there are Christians like her working within their own communities to reform attitudes toward young mothers. The Times article also mentions a Christian group called "Embrace Grace" that does some work on this front.

I also think that this incident highlights the need for secular advocacy. When Heritage Academy was asked for comment, an administrator told the Times that the staff had engaged in "much prayer" about Ms. Runkle's pregnancy. That's not a real answer. When you're working from religious premises, just saying that you've prayed about it is apparently enough to excuse devastating school policies. It ends the conversation. From a secular point of view, that is unacceptable.

Then there's this facepalm-worthy comment by Rick Kempton of the Association of Christian Schools International:
She's making the right choice. But you don't want to create a celebration that makes other young ladies feel like, "Well, that seems like a pretty good option."
Not killing your unborn child should be seen as a pretty good option! If you honestly believe that seeing a pregnant classmate walk at graduation is going to cause young women to get pregnant on purpose, you do not give teens enough credit and you have no business being an educator. Also, Ms. Runkles is not trying to celebrate her pregnancy; she is trying to celebrate her graduation. Shockingly, becoming visibly pregnant did not erase every other aspect of her life! What does it say about these Christian school administrators' view of women that they treat the very presence of an unwed pregnant belly as an insurmountable distraction?

No one is saying you can't promote abstinence. No one is saying you should expect all your students to have sex, tell them "everyone is doing it," and shame virgins. All we are saying is that when your students fall short of your sexual expectations, be there to catch them. Don't push them to kill a child to cover up their "sin."


P.S. — There is one bright spot to this story. Somehow, someone got the New York Times to refer to Ms. Runkle's unborn son as a "baby." That's a refreshing change from the Grey Lady's usual practice of using dehumanizing language to protect abortion.

P.P.S. — Check out additional comments from Pro-Life Humanists here and here.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Pro-Life Women's Conference approaches!


The second annual Pro-Life Women's Conference is just five weeks away! It will run from Friday, June 23 through Sunday, June 25 in Orlando, Florida. Secular Pro-Life is pleased to co-sponsor this conference and engage pro-life women from around the nation at our exhibit booth.

Since the last time I talked about the conference on this blog, the organizers have announced more details about the lineup. My dear friend Aimee Murphy of Rehumanize International (formerly known as Life Matters Journal) will speak on "Why Consistency Matters in the Pro-Life Movement." There will be breakout sessions on the topics of sex trafficking, sidewalk counseling, and adverse prenatal diagnosis.

Several prominent pro-life physicians will discuss developments in the medical arena. A panel on "Engaging the Black Community" includes one of my favorite people: Christina Bennett, who you may remember from our insightful and hilarious (and humble) joint presentation at the Students for Life of America national conferences last January. And abortion survivor Melissa Ohden, a longtime friend of Secular Pro-Life, will give a speech and sign copies of her book.

Last year's conference was awesome, and I can't wait to reconnect with this fantastic nationwide sisterhood next month. (Pro-life men, a handful of you attended last year, and you were great sports. You're welcome too!)

If you're on the fence about attending: DO IT. Register now and join us in Orlando. I'm excited to see you!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Celebrate National Women's Health Week


May 14 to 20 is National Women's Health Week! So naturally, we are renewing our focus on the Fund Women's Health campaign that Secular Pro-Life and several like-minded organizations launched last month. Fund Women's Health is a pro-life feminist effort to raise money for community clinics that serve low-income women in need, without destroying human life in abortions.

We've made progress, but this week especially, we encourage you to give! Here's where our beneficiaries stand, starting with those who are most in need of your support:

Wyoming Health Council, WY: $110 raised
The Wyoming Health Council is a Title X provider with clinics throughout the state. Its family planning services include pregnancy testing, contraception, counseling, STD testing and treatment, and services for people trying to conceive. It also administers special programs for HIV-positive Wyoming residents.

Swope Health Services, MO/KS: $135 raised
With nine locations plus a mobile health unit, Swope serves low-income patients throughout the Kansas City region. It offers complete women’s health care – pregnancy, routine gynecologic care or addressing health issues – from adolescence to maturity. Services include family planning, prenatal care, HIV/AIDS treatment, and WIC.

Tampa Family Health Centers, FL: $215 raised
Tampa Family Health Centers is a comprehensive medical provider serving the needs of low-income families. It recently opened its 17th Federally Qualified Health Center location, and also has a mobile unit. Its women’s health services include family planning, obstetric care, well woman exams, pap smears, and HIV testing.

Gila River Health Care, AZ:  $225 raised

Gila River Health Care exists to provide a broad range of clinical services for the Gila River and Ak-Chin Indian communities. Its comprehensive care includes cancer screenings, gynecological care, prenatal services for both routine and high-risk pregnancies, and a family planning mobile unit.

La Clinica, OR: $230 raised
La Clinica provides comprehensive care to a primarily low-income, Hispanic population. Its Family and Women’s Health Center specializes in women’s health from puberty through a woman’s child-bearing years and into menopause and beyond. Offerings include prenatal care, midwifery, general gynecological care, and family planning.

Health Imperatives, MA: $280 raised
With locations throughout southeast Massachusetts, Health Imperatives offers contraception, reproductive health exams for women and men, STD testing and treatment, and specialized services for at-risk populations such as LGBTQ youth and people fleeing domestic violence. Health Imperatives is also a WIC provider.

ODA Primary Health Care Network, NY: $340 raised
ODA is a federally qualified health center offering care 7 days a week, 365 days a year, with on-call availability 24 hours a day. Its Brooklyn, NY health center locations provide a wide range of care to people in need, including a women's facility dedicated to affordable obstetrical and gynecological services.


Los Barrios Unidos Community Clinic, TX: $410 raised
Los Barrios Unidos offers affordable bilingual healthcare to low-income families in the Dallas area. Its women's health services include family planning, clinical breast exams, screening mammograms, pap smears STD testing and treatment, well-woman care, prenatal exams, and birth and postpartum care. It is also a WIC provider.

We are grateful to everyone who has donated so far. Our goal is to raise at least $500 for each of the above charities. So if you haven't already, please go to FundWomensHealth.com and make a difference for women today!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Tale of Two Reality Shows

Full disclosure: I have never watched Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I just never got the concept of people "being famous for being famous." The series' 2.8 out of 10 stars on IMDB suggests I'm not alone.

So when the Kardashians did an Instagram promotion in support of Planned Parenthood, which is also likely to feature on the show itself, I shrugged. Celebrities do sponsored social media posts all the time, and Planned Parenthood certainly has the P.R. budget to get in front of the Kardashians' audience (in yet another example of why they don't need taxpayer funding). It's mildly disappointing, but not a huge surprise. Planned Parenthood has long pursued a celebrity-centric marketing strategy. And look how well that turned out for them in the presidential election!

But I do have pro-life friends who are big Kardashian fans, and this news hit them hard. Maybe that's the real purpose of Planned Parenthood's Hollywood campaign—to demoralize pro-lifers with a parade of beloved celebrities endorsing the nation's largest abortion chain.

So allow me to suggest a better reality TV show you could be watching instead. Oddly, it's produced by the same company as Keeping Up with the Kardashians, but it couldn't be more different. It has 8.5 stars on IMBD. It won an Emmy last season. And its stars are the last people the abortion industry wants you paying any attention to.

Also, its third season premiere happens to be tonight at 9pm EST on A&E.

Born This Way follows seven young adults—John, Rachel, Steven, Megan, Cristina, Sean, and Elena—who have Down Syndrome. The very premise of the show is a blow against ableist arguments for abortion. These seven amazing people are living their best lives. Last season, among many other things: John recorded a rap single (available on iTunes, by the way), Cristina placed in a ballroom dance competition, and Sean vacationed in Vegas. Previews for the coming season indicate a romantic relationship between Steven and Megan (finally!), Cristina getting her own apartment, and Elena learning to surf.

Only rarely do the Born This Way cast members make explicit statements about abortion. But they don't have to. Just by watching them in action, the message is abundantly clear: people with disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, can do wonderful things when given the chance. They deserve that chance at life, just like anyone else.

So, which reality show will you be watching this week?


Monday, May 15, 2017

Gosnell, Four Years Later


This past Saturday marked the anniversary of Kermit Gosnell's 2013 murder conviction. Although Gosnell had countless victims, only four were the subject of the conviction. Three were newborn infants who died when Gosnell "snipped" their necks. One was Karnamaya Mongar, a 41-year-old Bhutanese refugee who Gosnell killed in a botched abortion.

The Susan B. Anthony List writes:
Four years ago today, abortionist Kermit Gosnell was convicted on 3 counts of murder of babies who he was attempting to abort. Even though the media tried to ignore the case, pro-lifers ensured it got national attention, opening America's eyes to the barbarism of late-term abortion-on-demand.
By the way - what was the only difference between these 3 babies and the thousands of others Gosnell killed? They were on the *outside* of the womb when he killed them. Think about that for a minute.
The Gosnell case galvanized support for two key abortion reforms: increased facility regulations, and bans on abortion after 20 weeks.

On facility regulations, the Supreme Court tragically prioritized abortion industry profits over women's safety in Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt. Pro-life organizations continue to sound the alarm and make the case that the abortion industry cannot police itself; if you haven't already, read over Americans United for Life's incredibly thorough Unsafe report. Until we have a better Supreme Court makeup, we will do the best we can to close dangerous abortion businesses with the few regulations we do have. Thankfully, some of the worst facilities shut down while strict regulations were in effect, and have yet to reopen.

Twenty-week bans have been more successful. Just last week, Tennessee became the twenty-first state to enact one. Of those twenty-one states, ten passed their legislation after Gosnell's conviction. No pro-abortion group has brought a Supreme Court challenge on 20-week bans yet, probably for fear that they will lose and establish a pro-life precedent, as happened with partial-birth abortion bans. Instead, they've brought challenges only in jurisdictions with judges who are known to support abortion, with the result that three states (Idaho, Georgia, and Arizona) cannot enforce their laws. That still leaves eighteen states where medically unnecessary, barbaric late-term abortion procedures are illegal.

We have made progress. But we have a long way to go. May the memory of Gosnell's victims compel us to work harder!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What do you call the embryos conceived through IVF, then destroyed?


Above: Then-President Bush cradles a snowflake baby

You've probably seen the story that went ridiculously viral last week. You know—the one about embryos conceived in vitro, then killed, and their tiny bodies preserved and incorporated into jewelry for their parents to wear.

That was a mouthful. But what else can we call these young victims?

The original article called them "extra IVF embryos." LifeNews described them as "human embryos left over from IVF." On the other end of the political spectrum, Slate also went with "extra," but added that women in online forums sometimes call them "snowbabies" or "frosties." I also saw the phrase "unused embryos" in some media outlets.

None of these descriptors are adequate.

What does it mean to be an "extra" person? I think of China, where being "extra" carries a terrible weight. I also think of Bill Nye, who last month was rightly criticized for suggesting that parents should be penalized for having "extra" children. Calling someone "extra" defines the person negatively, in contrast to people who are just enough, whatever the hell that means. It's dehumanizing.

LifeNews' phrasing comes closer to giving these embryos some measure of dignity, but "left over" has some of the same connotations as "extra," and has the added problem of making me think of food in my fridge.

"Snowbabies" and "frosties" reminds me of "snowflake children"—the term pro-lifers and others have used to describe babies born alive after IVF, cryogenic storage, and embryo donation. I have no real problem with this language from a moral standpoint, but as a practical matter, most people will not know what you are talking about when you say that jewelry is being made from snowbabies. In this day and age, they might think you're talking about overly sensitive college students!

And then there is the word "unused," which certainly captures the commodification of the embryos in question. As with "extra," I worry that the language we employ might support the very dehumanization we are denouncing. I also object that the descriptor "unused" is not accurate; the embryos were, tragically, used in the end.

I mean no disrespect to LifeNews or any of the many other journalists who covered this disturbing story. My point is that we don't have humanizing, concise, familiar language to describe the victims of this practice. And that's a problem. How can we humanize someone, when we don't even have the words to call them to light?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt's Arraignment in San Francisco

On Wednesday, May 3rd 2017, members of the Center for Medical Progress, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, were arraigned in San Francisco at the Hall of Justice. Prior to the check-in I was standing outside the hall with my standard sign I bring to all pro-life events in San Francisco, bearing the slogan for the organization which I represent, Secular Pro-Life. It reads “Call me an extremist, but I think dismemberment is wrong – Pro-Life Atheist”. The very first person I encountered was Sandra herself!  She seemed in good spirits and was excited to see some support. She wanted to know right away about the secular point of view and insisted we exchange numbers so that we could talk more about secular outreach! She explained that she was prepared to be taken into custody that morning and was ready for whatever happened.  We took a selfie together and I gave her a hug of support.  


Then more of our group began to arrive. We had about 10-15 young people holding pro-life signs in a matter of minutes on the steps of the hall. Thanks to the efforts of SFLA’s Camille Rodriguez we had attracted young people from all over California. Their signs read “PP buys Becerra”, a reference to the California Attorney General who has charged David and Sandra, and who has publically accepted thousands of dollars in donations from Planned Parenthood. Other signs included “Planned Parenthood Literally Sells Baby Parts” with a copy of the actual contract between PP Mar Monte and Stem Express. Also “We Stand with David”, “We Stand with Sandra”, and the ever popular “We are the pro-life generation”. We had quite a presence by the time David arrived and he seemed pleased and optimistic about the day, despite the seriousness of it all. 


Shortly after the check-in at 8:30, David was released and Sandra was taken into custody. David had been booked previously in Los Angeles and posted bail at that time. The arraignment was set for 1:30PM that afternoon. We agreed to reconvene at that time.

By 1:00 PM almost our entire initial group, including some additions, gathered again on the steps of the Hall to ensure a display of support for David as he arrived once again. We were quite the spectacle and I was pleased with the turn-out.

We entered two separate courts where we were asked to proceed to another room. Finally, the third being the charm, the arraignment began. The courtroom was small, but we filled it completely. It was a satisfying display of support.  

Sandra’s counsel argued for her release based on the unlikelihood that she might flee. He pointed out that she was faced with similar charges in Texas and flew to the state to face those charges. She does not have  a passport, the case is not new (dating back to 2015), and the fact that she is a grandmother living with her daughters were all highlighted by her attorney. The Deputy District Attorney arguing on behalf of Attorney General Becerra argued that although Sandra was not a flight risk, there were 15 “victims” (meaning those individuals recorded without their consent-in public spaces!) bail should remain at $75,000. The judge agreed with the Deputy District Attorney. 

David and Sandra’s new hearing was set for June 8th, 2017. Likely arguments will be heard at that time so mark your calendars now!

After the hearing Pro-Life Future of San Francisco, of which I am the President, arranged a press conference outside the hall. Words were shared from David, myself, Jonathan Keller of California Family Council, as well as others.  




Please continue to support David and Sandra by donating to their defense, and spreading the news that they are innocent and Planned Parenthood and their paid-for-prosecutors are guilty!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Abortion workers share their stories with Feminists for Life


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

In the latest issue of Feminists for Life’s The American Feminist magazine, a number of former abortion workers told their stories for an article entitled “An Insider’s Look Into the Abortion Industry”. I recommend reading the full article. One thing that stood out for me was how frequently former abortion workers admitted to lying to the women who came in for abortions.

Clinic worker Julie explained how clinic workers kept women from seeing their aborted children. Most first trimester abortions are done by suction aspiration. (At this time, only 22% of abortions are done using the chemical method, sometimes known as RU-486.) In a suction aspiration abortion, a tube attached to an instrument called a cannula is inserted into the woman’s uterus. The tube is also attached to a suction machine and a small jar. When the suction machine is turned on, the force of the suction tears apart the preborn child and pulls the pieces into the clear glass jar.

In Julie’s clinic, the workers wanted to prevent women from seeing the contents of that jar. They didn’t want the women to catch a glimpse of the baby’s remains. In order to hide the blood and body parts from women, the clinic covered the jar with a “cute calico cover.” This way, a woman would not catch a glimpse of a dismembered arm or leg.  The clinic could maintain the deception that an unborn baby is only an unformed mass of tissue.

A former abortion worker at a different clinic spoke about another lie clinic workers told women: “We would lie to them! We lied to patients all the time!… People asked, “What’s going to happen to my baby [after the abortion]?” We were told to tell them whatever made sense, that it’s like if someone is in a bad car accident and lost a leg. It’s medical waste and it goes into an incinerator… We didn’t use biohazard bags back then.”

Instead, they ground up the remains and sent them down the sewer.

Women do ask clinic workers what they do with the bodies of the babies. In the book Pregnancy and Abortion Counseling, a manual for abortion workers, it says that “How do they get rid of it, it is burnt?” is one of the “difficult” questions a woman might ask (p.94).

Margo also commented on the guilt she felt at being involved in abortion for so long. She laments that she participated in “tens of thousands” of abortions and says, “It literally took my breath away… I helped murder almost a football stadium of people.”

It is very valuable when abortion workers tell their stories. Due to the emotional trauma of coming to terms with their actions, many abortion workers have a hard time discussing what went on in their clinics. Those who do speak out should be supported by the pro-life movement and lauded for their courage.

Pro-lifers need to keep educating people about abortion and what it does to preborn babies and their mothers. The abortion business will not tell women the truth.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

"Is it possible to be pro-choice and feminist?"


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

So far as I know, the recent “Why Can’t a Feminist Be Pro-Life?” panel at the Catholic University of America marked the first time that pro-choice feminists, who are the feminist mainstream, entered a formal setting where they found undeniable confirmation of the existence of pro-life feminists, and had to grapple with pro-life feminist minds. If “the winning future for the pro-life movement is . . . young, feminist, and disproportionately people of color,” as Prof. Charles Camosy has written, that event may have had an importance that is hard to estimate. But here I will simply outline most of the arguments on each side, while attempting an evaluation of only a few of them. Then I will try to identify a few of the highlights and illuminating moments.

The arguments really concerned not just one, but three issues:
  1. whether a feminist should be pro-choice or pro-life
  2. whether abortion can be moral
  3. whether abortion should be legal.
In looking at the arguments, I would like to focus first on two that came up, one from the pro-life side and one from the pro-choice side, that I would like to see all of us phase out:

In relation to issue 3 above, pro-lifers often point out that legal abortion is called “pro-choice,” and then proceed to object (as at 15:43 in the video) “It’s not pro-choice when we feel like we have no choice.” This quip does make a good point about social conditions, but it is framed as if it demolishes either the term “pro-choice” or the pro-choice policy; and does it really succeed in doing either? I think that all this argument really does is to play on two different meanings of the word “choice.” There is no real inconsistency here in pro-choicers’ position.

Then from the pro-choice side we regularly hear a guilt-by-association argument that could be called the “pro-birth argument.” The argument goes, in effect, “Because many who identify as pro-life on abortion hold obnoxious positions and harm women’s interests on other issues, the pro-life position on abortion must also be obnoxious and harmful to women’s interests.” On the panel, this was the argument on which Pamela Merritt mainly relied (though she did refer, more briefly, to some other arguments).

Merritt certainly argued convincingly and memorably that many pro-life politicians are destructive in many ways to the well-being of the female gender (and everyone else). But what does that really prove in terms of whether abortion is moral, whether abortion should be legal, or whether a feminist should be pro-choice or pro-life? As an argument against the pro-life positions even of the Missouri politicians she focused on, hers was an ad hominem, and against the pro-life positions of three of her fellow panelists, it was a strawman as well.

Differences of perception about the moral value of the unborn are the single main source of the big divide in the abortion debate overall, and those differences were key to understanding the divide between the two groups of panelists at CUA also. (Though bodily-rights arguments normally accept the personhood of the unborn in a nominal way, I contend that even in such arguments, pro-choicers’ particular perception about the humanity of the unborn, or rather their perception that the unborn lack humanity, is the real subtext.) “. . . when life begins [is a] question with no answers that can be proven” came up (at 11:25) in the first presentation, that of Megan Klein-Hattori, and was echoed by the other two on the pro-choice side. Robin Marty put her finger on that question as the key, saying at 50:31 “We’re not disagreeing on the definition of ‘equality,’ and we’re not disagreeing on the definition of ‘feminism.’ We’re disagreeing on the definition of ‘people’.”

And when she said that, things came to a head. Aimee Murphy suggested that the word “person” could be dispensed with, since “if we’re talking human rights” what we want to know is who is a human. “At the moment of fertilization you have two human gametes; they fuse; it’s a member of the same species.” Merritt tried to dismiss that with “We’ve got science on one side, we’ve got science on the other side,” but Murphy shot back, “Do you have an embryology textbook that can back that up?” Merritt replied, “For every textbook that you have, there has been a textbook produced on the other side.” The two were not in a situation where they could immediately produce their documentation, so that discussion ended there. But I think that anyone who does delve into the documentation will decide that Murphy won that debate.

Marty’s above input had come in response to Murphy’s main argument for issues 1, 2 and 3 above. Murphy had said in her opening presentation (29:18) that she is “dedicated to . . . the core principles of feminism: equality, non-discrimination, and non-violence.” She had also said, “I push for . . . the abolition of the social construct that holds the wombless male body as normative. . . . if the male body is seen as the norm, then pregnancy is seen as a disease condition.” This last point is not an argument in relation to issue 2 or 3 above, but it is an argument in relation to 1. The institution of legal abortion, to the extent that it seems designed as a crutch without which women cannot be equal to men, helps perpetuate a negative perception of femaleness, and thus denigrates femaleness.

That presentation of Murphy’s ended with: “If feminism is truly in support of equality of human beings, then my question is actually ‘Is it possible to be pro-choice and feminist?’ ”

At 18:13 Merritt said, “Feminism is an action agenda to secure the social, economic and political equality of women. The pro-life movement seeks to deny women access to abortion . . .” She clearly meant that lack of access to abortion will undermine women’s equality. But this contains a big assumption – the assumption that being equal often requires being unpregnant, and that there are not ways to be both pregnant and equal. See “Next Steps for the Pro-Life Feminist Movement.”

At 37:37 Merritt offered the common argument that abortion can’t be prevented and that therefore the only issue is whether it will be done safely. At another point Klein-Hattori said the same. But I’m convinced it’s not true that laws cannot save unborn lives; see “A Pro-Life Feminist Balance Sheet.”

At 37:43 Merritt said, “Women have been controlling their reproductive lives since the dawn of women.” See Herndon-De La Rosa’s reply below.

Though the bodily-rights argument is the strongest pro-choice argument in relation to issues 2 and 3 above, and also important in relation to 1, the pro-choicers on the panel mentioned it surprisingly little. I have discussed it elsewhere and will not try to evaluate it here. As another pro-choice argument that I won’t try to evaluate here, but that clearly leaves some things unexplained, Klein-Hattori said (at 9:20) that “all reproductive rights, including to abortion. . . . are central to feminist politics . . .” At 39:37 Merritt suggested that access to abortion results in “communities that are free from violence and oppression.” Beyond observing that this sounds awfully ironic, I won’t try to evaluate it here. And as a pro-life argument that resonates with my intuition but might not with everyone’s, see Cessilye Smith’s remark below about “barbaric.”

The highlights, for me:

Aimee Murphy at 91:22: “I am 100% for restricting abortion and making it illegal in all cases, as with all forms of aggressive violence.”

Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa and Cessilye Smith do not advocate legal restrictions on abortion as many pro-lifers do, but with their clear-eyed grip on the humanity of the unborn and their passion that the right choice be made, no one could be more pro-life than they. At 41:00 Herndon-De La Rosa said (in reply to Merritt), “. . . there’s a lot of horrible atrocities that have been around since the dawn of time. We exploit people. We objectify others. We have slaves and human trafficking. . . . there’s all these things that we see for the evil that they are. But any time in history that we have had one group . . . and said this group . . . is less than human, we always look back with horror that we have done that. . . . And I think that in the future, we will look back and say the same thing about the unborn.”

At 24:17 Cessilye Smith said of abortion, “We put a pretty bow on it and we call it empowerment. . . . We have taken something completely barbaric and attempted to normalize it . . . . we’ve made abortion . . . a pillar of feminism. Something is wrong with that.”

Other illuminating moments:

Klein-Hattori and Merritt found their stereotypes of pro-lifers exploded. Merritt said at 90:20 “What you’re describing is not pro-life that I experience and that millions of people experience . . . [it] is really blowing my mind.” Klein-Hattori said at 67:40 “One of the things that has me most excited is to hear the way that the pro-life women up here are talking.”

Merritt said at 47:34: “I don’t view abortion as evil at all. I think abortion is a really important social good.”

At 9:28 Klein-Hattori said, “I’m proud to donate to Planned Parenthood.” (Attention Congress: Planned Parenthood does not need tax money.)

The discussion was more than civil, it was very friendly. All seemed to feel that hearts were in the right place. Seeing that some pro-lifers I admired felt the pro-choicers’ hearts were in the right place, I was forced to try that attitude myself!

What’s the answer?
So is it possible to be pro-choice and feminist? In the discussion we saw a mixture of principle-based arguments and utilitarian arguments. (One does not need to be a utilitarian to feel that utilitarian outcomes should not be ignored.) Smith’s “barbaric” is a principle-based argument. Merritt’s argument about better communities is a utilitarian argument. Personally I feel that the pro-life side wins with either philosophical approach, and wins both in the moral dimension and the legal dimension.

Those who find it inconceivable that American women could benefit in a utilitarian way from making abortion illegal are usually overlooking, first and foremost, one simple thing: the fact that most American women, if faced with an unplanned pregnancy, would not choose to get an abortion even if it is legal. So right off the bat, most American women have nothing to gain from the institution of legal abortion; while that group of women win in several ways, though perhaps not obvious ways, if it is illegal. Let’s start with that reality and go on and do the math.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Upcoming events

"Life Empowers Women" is the theme for next month's Pro-Life Women's Conference
It is shaping up to be a busy summer for Secular Pro-Life! Here's where you'll find us.

Wednesday, May 3 (tomorrow!) in San Francisco
David Daleiden, head of the Center for Medical Progress, will be arraigned at the San Francisco Superior Court (400 McAllister Street) San Francisco Hall of Justice, 850 Bryant Street; sorry for the last-minute change! Prosecutors claim that his undercover investigation of the Planned Parenthood "baby parts" scandal violated California privacy laws. His attorneys say that's nonsense; the videos were recorded at conferences and restaurants where anyone could overhear the abortion workers' damning statements. Although the exact time of David's arraignment is still uncertain, he will need to be at the courthouse by 8:30 am. His supporters are gathering outside the building at that time to show him moral support. Our very own Terrisa Bukovinac, who is also the president of Pro-Life Future of San Francisco, will make a statement to the press. Then everyone will join David inside once the court is in session.

Friday, June 23 through Sunday, June 25 in Orlando
We are thrilled to co-sponsor the second annual Pro-Life Women's Conference. Last year's event in Dallas was so inspiring and informative. Come by the Secular Pro-Life exhibit booth and say hello!

Saturday, July 1, in Milwaukee
Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard will once again present at the National Right to Life Convention on making the secular case against abortion. This annual convention brings people together from all fifty states. The convention will begin on Thursday, June 29, with Kelsey's presentation on the final day.

Saturday, August 5, in St. Davids, PA (just outside Philadelphia)
The Consistent Life Network will hold its 30th anniversary conference at Eastern University from Friday, August 4 through Sunday, August 6. Kelsey will speak in a Saturday afternoon session opposite Catholic advocate Tony Magiano. Other workshop topics include sex trafficking, restorative justice, messaging, pacifism, and the just war theory.

Saturday, October 21 in Pittsburgh
Life/Peace/Justice is back! This wonderful conference is organized by our dear friends at Rehumanize International (a.k.a. the organization formerly known as Life Matters Journal). Kelsey will be among the speakers; the full list has not been finalized, but like Consistent Life, this conference typically covers a wide range of threats to human life and dignity. This year, the pro-life student organizations from Pitt and Duquesne will co-host.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Abortion to save the planet?


On Saturday, thousands of people from all walks of life participated in marches to combat climate change. The flagship march was in Washington, D.C., and most of the marchers carried on-message signs like "There is no Planet B" and "Climate change is real," and my personal favorite:


With both the pro-life movement and the movement against climate change being so concerned about future generations, you'd think we could get along. Instead, this happened:
At 15th Street, where the march began to turn north to begin the loop around the White House, the movement encountered a pro-life protester with a bullhorn. “Abortion is destroying human life,” he said.
The protesters sat on the concrete and began clapping as they steadily chanted, “My body, my choice.”
The ideological reflexes being demonstrated here are very disturbing. The pro-life movement has long been distrustful of the environmentalist movement, going back to the time of Roe v. Wade, when abortion campaigners used incorrect (and frequently racist) claims about impending overpopulation as a scare tactic. More recently, not-a-scientist-but-plays-one-on-TV personality Bill Nye, whose unscientific approach to the abortion issue is well-known, was once again in the hot seat for suggesting that parents should be penalized for having "extra" children.

But there surely were pro-lifers at the climate march too, who did not receive press coverage. Abortion and renewable energy are clearly separate issues. I care about keeping the earth habitable for future generations and I know many of our readers do too. If you believe that fossil fuel use and other human activities pose a threat to the environment, it doesn't follow that killing humans is the appropriate solution! We desire to improve the planet for future generations; therefore, instead of resorting to violence against children in the womb, we should seek to change behavior.

I fear that politics are becoming ever more tribal, with the "tribe" determining all of a person's positions on a wide range of issues that, once upon a time, could each be evaluated on their own merits. True, this has always been a problem (there's a reason we have political parties), but the election of Donald Trump to the White House has intensified matters significantly. That's bad news for the pro-life movement, the environmentalist movement, and the country as a whole. Just as our national discourse suffers when abortion is tied to same-sex marriage, it suffers when any policy debate is primarily governed by distrust of "them" on the "other side."

Save babies. Save the planet. There is no good reason the two can't go hand in hand.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Protests against Planned Parenthood happening today and tomorrow

Building on the excellent momentum generated by Wednesday's #SockIt2PP demonstration on Capital Hill, pro-life advocates across the nation are rallying this weekend to demand an end to taxpayer subsidies for the country's largest abortion chain, Planned Parenthood. Every year, Planned Parenthood gobbles up half a billion dollars in government funding. We want every penny redirected to the many wonderful community health centers that offer compassionate women's healthcare regardless of ability to pay—and that don't kill unborn children.

In some cities, the protests are today; in others, it's tomorrow. Find your location here.

Note: some locations are more prayer-oriented, while others are secular rallies. If you are atheist or agnostic, we recommend that you bring your own secular sign. Here's some inspiration:



One final note: in discussing Planned Parenthood defunding with people who are pro-choice or on the fence, I've often been told personal stories of how Planned Parenthood genuinely helped the person or someone in their family... and those stories are always from ten or fifteen years ago. That's not a coincidence, and I have to explain that Planned Parenthood has morphed over the last decade and is now basically an abortion business. Live Action just released a video that does an excellent job capturing that transformation, using data from Planned Parenthood's own annual reports:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Teen Mom Speaks: Your Life Isn't Over!

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

There you’re waking up in the morning just like any other morning, but this morning turns different quickly. This morning you are stuck with an overwhelming feeling that you are about to vomit and you don’t know why. The smell of the eggs you’re cooking for breakfast, that never bothered you before, is now seeming to hit you so strong, it’s like a skunk sprayed you directly in your face. The next thing you notice is your period is a week late and you don’t know why, so you opt to take a pregnancy test.

As you take that test there are so many things running through your mind. I can’t be pregnant. I’m only 16. I have no money to raise a baby, I have no one to support me, and I can’t handle giving up my youth. You wait the next two minutes and nervously pick up the test to see the result, and bam you see two lines—you're pregnant! Now you’re thinking what can I do? I must have an abortion; I’m not ready to become a mom.

Like many young adults and teens I have found myself in the same situation or similar situation you’re in. I want you to know that you’re not alone and someone out there is going through the same thing.

The author, at 16, with her baby
My story started when I was in high school; I was in 11th grade and had so many dreams before me. When I took my pregnancy test, I had many of the same thoughts in my head, but for me my biggest one was: how was I going to tell my parents? I found myself going to school sick as a dog, worrying about what all the other students said about me. Furthermore, I was worried about what my grandmother was going to say about me. My story was slightly unique in that my grandmother had mainly raised me from when I was a year old. My grandmother had her first child when she was just 15, and had dropped out of school in the 8th grade, so as you can imagine she had high hopes for me to do better in life.

I will never forget the day when she asked me if I was pregnant, while I was sitting on her living room couch; I bet if you were there you could probably hear my heart beating from across the room. I was honest with her and told her I was indeed pregnant, but as I told her she began to fall on her knees and cry. It took my grandmother 9 months to speak to me again, because after that day she disowned me.

I also was told numerous times: Well, you ruined your life, basically no hope for you now. It was hard not to sketch that in my brain, because I too was down about my future. I had plans to go to college for a least 4 years to be a nurse, then eventually become a doctor. I also realized I’m pregnant and may never finish high school, so now what do I do? Although this story seams glum now, it does have a happy ending.

Erica's daughter now
I was told by counselors at school about a program to help me graduate faster. I went to a program that allowed you to get your credits you needed to graduate online. I could work at my own pace, have a small classroom setting with people just like me, and still have help from instructors. I ended up graduating early; in fact, I finished up before my baby was even born. At the time, I also received help from a local organization called the Pregnancy Resource Center. The program allowed pregnant families to watch parenting videos in exchange for mommy dollars. Mommy dollars was a blessing because you could use the mommy dollars to purchase diapers, clothes, strollers and bottles for your baby. The program even did free medical visits, so you could have ultrasounds even if you didn’t have insurance. In addition, I had help from WIC which is a program that pays for free healthy food for you and your baby.

I’m now 23 with three children, I’m married and have a rewarding job. No matter what the obstacle is you're going through, you can get through it without abortion!

According to the CDC, 22 out of a 1000 births are born by girls ages 15-18, and the total births in 2015 where around four million. As the statistics show, there's an abundance of young people having babies, so please don’t feel alone. Along with births, there also comes assistance. I personally want to introduce you to some helpful links and programs:


In closing, there are so many resources for pregnancies: you can talk to guidance counselors at school, go to your local social services, or even just join a mom support group like Baby Center online. I know you feel like your life is over or you’ve been told your life is over but it’s not, your life is just beginning. You have a choice to have a beautiful bundle of joy, but also still thrive in your life. Take it from experience nothing compares to hearing that babies heart beat inside you, feeling those little feet kick you, and kissing the head of the one you made!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tomorrow: Pro-Life Students Deliver Baby Socks to Congress

Above: Maryland students participate in a #SockIt2PP state-level rally.               Tomorrow, we go national.

Thanks to Students for Life of America, federal lawmakers will soon be confronted by a powerful symbol of the helpless lives destroyed by Planned Parenthood.

Tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. EST, pro-life advocates from across the country will gather on Capitol Hill to display over 160,000 baby socks, representing just a fraction of the abortions committed by Planned Parenthood every year. The socks were gathered through the #SockIt2PP campaign that has been going on for the past month. Together, the collected socks weigh five tons!


In the words of Students for Life of America:
When we launched our #Sockit2PP campaign in March, we knew we could make a significant visual impact when we brought our socks to Congress – and that time has finally come!
On Wednesday, April 26th, we are going to bring over 160,000 baby socks to the lawn of the Capitol for a stunning display of Planned Parenthood’s callous disregard for human life.
And we want you to join us.
We’ve collected over half of our goal of baby socks and while our campaign continues, Congress needs a wake-up call right now. They need to see the devastation that Planned Parenthood wrecks on the lives of preborn babies and their mothers every single day. Every day that Planned Parenthood remains taxpayer-funded is another day that 888 little lives are lost to abortion.
The pro-life movement's number-one priority right now is to redirect Planned Parenthood's federal funding—a jaw-dropping half-billion dollars a year—to the nonviolent women's health clinics that deserve our support. Tomorrow's rally will bring some much-needed attention to the urgency of this cause.

Can't make it to D.C. tomorrow? Consider making a donation to the Fund Women's Health campaign, a fabulous pro-life feminist effort (led by Secular Pro-Life!) to raise money for better alternatives to Planned Parenthood.

And don't forget that your local #ProtestPP event is happening this weekend—Friday the 28th in some locations, Saturday the 29th in others. Find your information here.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Book Review: "You Carried Me" by Melissa Ohden

Melissa Ohden
You Carried Me is an autobiographical memoir by Melissa Ohden, who is best known in the pro-life community as a vocal abortion survivor. She was subjected to a saline abortion in 1977, and was born alive, at 31 weeks gestation.

I have met Melissa many times at pro-life conferences, but the book still held surprises for me. Her story is much more complex than a typical banquet speech can cover. While the basics of her story are of course well known, the multitude of ways that being an abortion survivor affects a person over the course of a lifetime never occurred to me. Dealing with pro-choice classmates who ostracize you because your existence makes them uncomfortable; wondering how much to tell prospective boyfriends, and when; horror upon learning that your birth control provider also does abortions; trepidation at giving birth in the same hospital (St. Luke's) where you almost died; random internet trolls, the Washington Post, and even a psychologist denying the truth of your origins—Melissa has faced all of that and much more.

But take note, pro-choice readers: through all of this, Melissa has always been thankful to be alive. The solution to her problems was not a "successful" abortion. It was no abortion.

I can't give away too much, of course, because you really should buy the book. But I will share one passage that impacted me. At this point in the story, Melissa knew a few basic facts about her birth mother, but not yet enough to make contact with her. As she began to share her story in public speaking engagements, post-abortive women came out of the woodwork, hoping to be Melissa's birth mother:
I received an email one day from a woman who wrote that she had an abortion at St. Luke's in 1977. She thought that I might be her child, because she was sure she had heard her baby cry after the abortion procedure. She had read about me in a flier distributed in her church and tracked me down. I had to tell her that I wasn't her child . . .
In the years since, I've received many messages like hers from people who are grieving over a child lost to abortion, often hoping against hope that, like me, their child is alive. One woman was haunted by the memory of an abortion she was coerced into by her mother. She was five months pregnant at the time of the procedure and was convinced that she had heard her baby boy cry before he was taken away. She begged me to help her find him. Another woman wrote to me about being taken to Mexico by her mother at the age of eighteen for a saline abortion of the twin boys she was carrying. She was in labor for twenty-four hours before she delivered her dead babies. "For decades I sobbed every time I recalled what I did" she wrote.
Abortion's devastating effects ripple out to mothers, fathers, family members, and society at large, and Melissa has had a front-row seat. As she puts it: "Each time I spoke, I met people who had been directly hurt by abortion and suffered in silence. I knew how it felt to be marginalized and stifled and disbelieved. It takes tremendous courage for women, and men, to share their abortion experience; each needs to do it in their own time, in a way that feels safe for them. I felt increasingly called to be a voice not for myself, but for others." And Melissa, who is a former social worker, does a masterful job demonstrating how pro-life concerns, women's empowerment, child advocacy, and other causes are forever interconnected.

One final note. Melissa's Christian faith, particularly its emphasis on forgiveness, is a source of strength for her, and that comes through in the memoir. The Christian references in the book might annoy some non-Christian readers, although they are not proselytizing. I encourage you to read You Carried Me anyway. It's a biography, after all, and it's entirely appropriate for a biography to explore the role that religion plays in the subject's life. More important, Melissa has spent most of her adult life in a struggle against those who would silence her. If anyone deserves a platform to tell her story exactly how she wants to tell it, it's Melissa Ohden.

You Carried Me is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Friday, April 21, 2017

A unique reward for our donors

Above: where I'm not going

A while back, I hid out in a cabin and wrote a screenplay, because I am a shameless clichĂ©.  

Only Human follows Maya Sonder, a sidewalk counselor in her early 20s whose convictions are put to the test; Nathan, Maya's justice-driven fiancé; Yesenia, a young woman with an unplanned pregnancy who takes shelter in Maya's apartment; and Dr. Andrew Zef, the town's elderly abortionist, who faces a health crisis that shatters his autonomy. The story is chock-full of obscure references that only pro-life activists will appreciate. (For example, if you noticed the irony of an abortionist with the surname Zef, congratulations! You are part of the comically small audience for this film.) It passes the Bechdel test with flying colors. And naturally, there's a pro-life moral. Actually, several pro-life morals.

In other words, there is no way in hell this movie is ever going to be produced.

But that's OK! Because you can see Only Human on the best screen of all:


In all seriousness: if you use this link to make a donation to Secular Pro-Life, we'll give you a copy of the screenplay. You can donate any amount you like, as long as it is through that link.

Secular Pro-Life is a small, volunteer-run organization. With no paid staff or office rent to pay, we keep our expenses to a minimum and don't have to ask for money very often. But we do need your financial support from time to time; after all, pamphlets don't print themselves.

So if you like what we're doing, I hope you'll take this opportunity to give, and to get a story in return. Here's that link again. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

March for Science this Saturday!

This Saturday, the March for Science will be held in communities around the world:
The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest. 
The March for Science is a celebration of science. It's not only about scientists and politicians; it is about the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world.
Nevertheless, the march has generated a great deal of conversation around whether or not scientists should involve themselves in politics. In the face of an alarming trend toward discrediting scientific consensus and restricting scientific discovery, we might ask instead: can we afford not to speak out in its defense?
There is no Planet B. Join the #MarchForScience.
Saturday is also Earth Day, and many Marchers for Science are emphasizing their support for environmental and climate science. That's unsurprising in light of President Trump's stances on those subjects. But science can inform (and pseudoscience can misinform) countless areas of public policy—including, of course, abortion.

Prenatal development denialism ("it's just a clump of cells," "it's not human until it's born," etc.) has poisoned rational discourse for decades. Widespread reliance on bad/outdated data on "back-alley abortion" obscures the lessons we can learn from pro-life nations like Chile and Ireland that have achieved lower maternal mortality rates than their pro-choice neighbors. And politically motivated failure to hold abortion to the regulatory standards applied to other surgical procedures has cost women their health, and sometimes even their lives.

In short, the pro-life movement has a strong stake in robust, adequately funded scientific inquiry. So let's get out there and march! You can find your nearest march here.

Our friends at Rehumanize International have prepared March for Science pro-life activism kits, including signs and brochures, which you can get below cost for just $10. Order today to make sure you receive your kit in time!


Monday, April 17, 2017

One week, two abortion businesses disrupted

Above: Abortion advocates demonstrate in support of Heritage Clinic, an abortion business operated by domestic abuser Thomas Gordon. This photo was taken in April of 2014. In April of 2017, Gordon's medical license was suspended.

Last week, two abortionists found themselves out of work, at least temporarily.

Michigan abortionist Thomas Gordon has had his medical license suspended for 60 to 180 days for his failure to report several criminal convictions to the state Department of Licensing and Medical Affairs. Gordon is the sole abortionist at a Grand Rapids abortion business named Heritage Clinic.

The suspension is a start, but not enough. Gordon's criminal past is extremely troubling, and he has no business practicing medicine whatsoever, let alone having intimate access to women in crisis situations:
Gordon was not complying with the state's Public Health Code by not reporting convictions for aggravated assault, domestic violence, disorderly person and operating while intoxicated.
In 2010, Gordon's wife, Shelly, claimed he had beaten her and put a gun to her head in seeking a personal protection order.
In the 2012 domestic violence incident that involved the criminal conviction, police reports indicated Gordon said to his then wife, "I'll shoot you and any one that ________ with me."
Always remember: the abortion industry IS. NOT. FEMINIST. Sadly, as is too often the case, Michigan officials are letting Gordon off with a slap on the wrist, requiring him to undergo "independent mental health and chemical dependency/substance abuse evaluations."

Also last week, the Louisiana Right to Life Foundation (LRTLF) learned that a Shreveport abortion business has closed its doors:
The LRTLF obtained a letter from attorney David Brown with the Center for Reproductive Rights, addressed to Federal Judge John W. deGravelles on April 3. The letter stated that the Bossier City Medical Suite, a plaintiff in June Medical Services LLC vs. Rebekah Gee, closed on or around March 30.
Bossier City Medical Suite “ceased business and returned its license, by mail, to the Louisiana Department of Health,” Brown wrote.
The letter also stated that Bossier’s physician, identified only as John Doe 3, M.D., “intends to continue providing abortion care to Louisiana women at a clinic yet to be determined.”
Bossier City Medical Suite was staffed by abortionist James C. Degueurce III. He previously worked at Causeway Medical Suite, another now-defunct Louisiana abortion center; according to a 2011 state inspection report, Causeway failed to adopt appropriate protocols to report sexual abuse of minors.

In a statement, the Center for Reproductive Rights claimed: "Bossier City Medical provided high-quality, safe, legal care to women in Louisiana for decades and we are saddened that they have closed their doors."

Friday, April 14, 2017

Advice: How do I meet like-minded people?

 "M" writes Secular Pro-Life for advice, saying:
I haven't made any new friends in ten years because I'm afraid that if I get close to anyone, they'll find out that I'm bisexual and pro-life, and one of those things will lead them to dump me as a friend. Back in college I had more than one friend find out I was pro-life and tell me they couldn't be friends with me anymore - not because I was trying to proselytize to them or even talking with them about the topic, but just because they found out we had different views about abortion and I guess they weren't tolerant of that. I haven't had pro-life friends cut ties with me because I'm bisexual, so I suppose I could try to make friends through a pro-life organization, but it seems like the ones in my area mostly consist of older and more outwardly religious people. (I'm in my early thirties and, while I'm religious, I'm also an introverted, private person who has never been comfortable around exuberant displays of faith.)
My sexual orientation and views on abortion aren't things that would necessarily come up in the course of making friends, but they probably will eventually if I get close to someone. All the polarization around the last presidential election has left me even more pessimistic than usual about most people's ability to be friends with someone who has different beliefs than they do. It's been years since I've had someone I could call and make plans to see a movie with, much less a really good friend. I'm very lonely and would be unbearably so if it weren't for my husband and my parents. I've talked with two different mental health professionals about this and neither one really had any useful ideas. Any advice you have would be very appreciated.
Dear M,

I'm sorry you're going through this. I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that there are tons of pro-lifers who are also LGBT, and even more who (like myself) are straight but accepting of LGBT people. I will be very pleased to introduce you to the squad!

Above: some of your future friends
The bad news is that these relationships are best cultivated through social media, because we are scattered all over the place geographically. Local friendships are a taller order.

I live in a retirement town where befriending anyone my age is a challenge, let alone finding the people my age who also happen to agree with all of my idiosyncratic sociopolitical views. My solution, which I now recommend to you, is bifurcation.

I joined a local young woman's club that is apolitical and strongly focuses on philanthropy; think fundraising for scholarships, volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, etc. Through that, I've met wonderful people in my area with at least some shared values, and when I want to go out for a glass of wine, they're my tribe. When I want to talk religion and politics and abortion and all those other "volatile" topics, I have my facebook tribe. I'll only see members of the facebook tribe in person 2-3 times a year, like at the March for Life or at certain conferences. (Next one is the Pro-Life Women's Conference in Orlando in June—I hope you can come!) But we talk all the time and support one another.

Of course, over time, some of my local philanthropy friends have friended me on facebook. As a result, I'm sure most are aware of my pro-life views. I neither keep them a secret nor bring them up unprompted. So far, I haven't lost any friends over it. In fact, a couple have mentioned to me that they're pro-life too. I know other members of the philanthropy group to be pro-choice; I don't reject them for it, and they don't reject me, because we're all adults.

It sounds like you had the misfortune of meeting some incredibly lame people in college, and that sucks. Now that you are in your 30s, and people in your age cohort have had the opportunity to mature, I hope you'll give humanity another chance. There is no shortage of people on both sides of the aisle who are sick of the political polarization and do not have friendship litmus tests. Again, I think the place where you are most likely to meet those people is in a civic or volunteerism-oriented group.

I hope that helps. Readers, if you have any further advice, please share!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Fund Women's Health update


It's now been a week since we launched the Fund Women's Health campaign to raise money for community health centers across the country that put Planned Parenthood to shame. And in that short time, our amazing pro-life feminist supporters have already donated $1,365!

Here's where our beneficiaries stand, starting with those who are most in need of your support:

Swope Health Services, MO/KS: $35 raised
With nine locations plus a mobile health unit, Swope serves low-income patients throughout the Kansas City region. It offers complete women’s health care – pregnancy, routine gynecologic care or addressing health issues – from adolescence to maturity. Services include family planning, prenatal care, HIV/AIDS treatment, and WIC.

Wyoming Health Council, WY: $110 raised
The Wyoming Health Council is a Title X provider with clinics throughout the state. Its family planning services include pregnancy testing, contraception, counseling, STD testing and treatment, and services for people trying to conceive. It also administers special programs for HIV-positive Wyoming residents.

Tampa Family Health Centers, FL: $155 raised
Tampa Family Health Centers is a comprehensive medical provider serving the needs of low-income families. It recently opened its 17th Federally Qualified Health Center location, and also has a mobile unit. Its women’s health services include family planning, obstetric care, well woman exams, pap smears, and HIV testing.

ODA Primary Health Care Network, NY: $155 raised
ODA is a federally qualified health center offering care 7 days a week, 365 days a year, with on-call availability 24 hours a day. Its Brooklyn, NY health center locations provide a wide range of care to people in need, including a women's facility dedicated to affordable obstetrical and gynecological services.

Gila River Health Care, AZ:  $175 raised
Gila River Health Care exists to provide a broad range of clinical services for the Gila River and Ak-Chin Indian communities. Its comprehensive care includes cancer screenings, gynecological care, prenatal services for both routine and high-risk pregnancies, and a family planning mobile unit.

La Clinica, OR: $180 raised
La Clinica provides comprehensive care to a primarily low-income, Hispanic population. Its Family and Women’s Health Center specializes in women’s health from puberty through a woman’s child-bearing years and into menopause and beyond. Offerings include prenatal care, midwifery, general gynecological care, and family planning.

Los Barrios Unidos Community Clinic, TX: $275 raised
Los Barrios Unidos offers affordable bilingual healthcare to low-income families in the Dallas area. Its women's health services include family planning, clinical breast exams, screening mammograms, pap smears STD testing and treatment, well-woman care, prenatal exams, and birth and postpartum care. It is also a WIC provider.

Health Imperatives, MA: $280 raised
With locations throughout southeast Massachusetts, Health Imperatives offers contraception, reproductive health exams for women and men, STD testing and treatment, and specialized services for at-risk populations such as LGBTQ youth and people fleeing domestic violence. Health Imperatives is also a WIC provider.

Of course, we're not stopping there. We want to raise as much money for women's health as humanly possible. So if you haven't already, go to FundWomensHealth.com and make a difference today!