Pages

Friday, June 23, 2017

Join us at the Pro-Life Women's Conference THIS WEEKEND!


Tonight's the night! The second annual Pro-Life Women's Conference kicks off with a reception at the Orlando World Center Marriott. The keynote speaker is Abby Johnson, famous for leaving her job as a Planned Parenthood facility manager and blowing the whistle on Planned Parenthood's Medicaid fraud and other misdeeds.

The conference will continue tomorrow and Sunday with a wide array of panels and breakout sessions. This year's theme is "Life Empowers Women." Topics will include adverse prenatal diagnosis, race relations, adoption, sex trafficking, the consistent life ethic, and sidewalk advocacy. Secular Pro-Life has an exhibit booth, and we encourage you to come say hello! There will be many other familiar faces, including: our dear friend Aimee Murphy of Rehumanize International; Christina Bennett, who you'll recognize from our Students for Life of America conference presentation back in January; SPL blog contributor Sarah Terzo; and Gina Mallica of the #HelloHyde campaign.

Registration is required. If you ask me, the ticket price is well worth it. Get all the information you need and sign up ASAP at ProLifeWomen.com. See you soon!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

SPL at the Californians for Life Summit 2017

[Today's guest post is by Michelle R.]


I’ll admit I was a little nervous when Terrisa invited me to the Californians for Life Summit. Despite being pro-life for several years, I didn’t feel comfortable attending pro-life events. In 2016, I went to OneLife LA with a secular friend who was pro-choice but open to learning more. I invited her to the event with hopes that she would see a welcoming, productive movement. At the event, we were surrounded by literature about political topics not related to abortion and signs that read “RESPECT GOD’S LAW” and “REPENT” in bold, red letters. One women angrily interrogated us when I told her that we don’t pray.  What I thought would be a great opportunity to show my friend an inviting, loving community ended up being an apology for the uncomfortable treatment by my fellow pro-lifers.  

Fast forward to last Saturday and I am now at the Summit three hours away from my warm bed about to introduce myself to a group of statewide pro-life leaders. As I rehearsed what I was going to say, I got the idea to introduce myself as a former pro-choicer.
It was a great idea, because it encouraged the start of important dialogue. People approached me to ask what made me change my mind. The focus of the majority of the conversations were about how we can create a more comprehensive movement and naturally they wanted input from non-traditional pro-lifers. Many of these groups were enthusiastic to share new projects aimed at diversifying their message.

The interactions were mostly positive, but demonstrated that there was still progress to be made. One PRC director talked to me about how important it is to have a welcoming community. I felt that we were reaching an understanding, so I asked if non-Christians were allowed to volunteer at her center. She responded, “no, because we do things in a way that Christ would and atheists cannot replicate that,” I was running out of time, but this would have been a perfect opportunity to explain ways in which we can assist pregnancy centers that do not interfere with their mission. How many other atheists like me have skills to contribute but are dismissed because we can’t do things “the Christ way”? I thought about this particular conversation on the drive home and wondered if anyone has ever previously asked her that question.  

Overall, I was taken by surprise with the amount of gratitude that people had for us several secularists at the event. I got so many hugs, handshakes, and even shared tears with some of the guests. I strongly encourage all nonconventional pro-lifers to go out there and share your ideas. Leaders in the community want to hear from us and learn from us.  The larger our presence, the more revolutionary our impact will be. 


I was thanked for being so open-minded, but what is considered to be tolerant is just common sense to me. I’ll admit I had preconceived notions prior to attending, and I’m sure that there were opinions about my blue hair and piercings long before I said anything. Stereotypes get shattered when you have real conversations. Breaking down misconceptions, even of each other, is lifesaving work in action.

Monday, June 19, 2017

What's in store for pro-life politics? Watch Georgia to find out.

Congressional candidate Karen Handel
Tomorrow, residents of Georgia's 6th Congressional district will hold an election to replace their previous representative, Tom Price, who left the position to become the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Price, who has a strong anti-abortion record, carried the district with ease for over a decade. But the current race is too close to call.

The Republican candidate is Karen Handel, Georgia's former Secretary of State. But pro-lifers will know from her past service as Senior Vice President of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. During her tenure, Komen decided to end its relationship with Planned Parenthood, both because of Planned Parenthood's many scandals and because, for the millionth time, Planned Parenthood does not do mammograms. Planned Parenthood responded with a disgusting campaign to turn its supporters against Komen; sadly, Komen caved and agreed to divert breast cancer funds to Planned Parenthood, at which point Handel resigned. (This is a very truncated summary of what happened; Handel wrote a whole book about it if you're interested.)

Karen Handel practically embodies the idea that standing up for women's health means standing against Planned Parenthood. Her pro-life, pro-woman credentials have won her the support of every major right to life organization.

The Democratic candidate is Jon Ossoff, whose campaign website equates Planned Parenthood with women's health. It's a stark contrast, to be sure. But Ossoff isn't so much running against Handel as he is against Donald Trump. Ossoff's campaign slogan is "Make Trump Furious." That sentiment has raised millions of dollars, mostly from outside the state. As a result, the Handel-Ossoff race is set to become the most expensive House seat election in U.S. history—and there is a real chance that the seat, which Republicans have held since 1978, will turn blue.

Ossoff was initially a long-shot candidate. A February article by local news station WSB-TV described him as "a documentary filmmaker who was until recently unknown to even veteran Georgia strategists," but noted that he had "quickly captured the imagination of Democrats hoping to notch an early victory against Donald Trump."

It is difficult to imagine a 30-year-old Republican winning a 2008 special election in a deep blue district on a "Make Obama Furious" platform, or a 30-year-old Democrat winning a 2000 special election in a deep red district on a "Make Bush Furious" platform—especially against someone as experienced as Karen Handel. But we are living in different times, and Donald Trump is a uniquely hated figure in American politics. There is no evidence to indicate that Georgia voters have suddenly embraced abortion. Rather, this has become a referendum on Trump, and unborn children are caught in the political crossfire.

Secular Pro-Life predicted that the election of Donald Trump would be "a disaster" for the pro-life cause and that the pro-life movement's response to Trump's nomination would have "years-long, life or death consequences." Tomorrow's results will tell us just how damaging the consequences of President Trump can be.

Friday, June 16, 2017

New Study Sheds Light on Prenatal Cognition

[Today's guest post by Caitlin Fikes is part of Secular Pro-Life's paid blogging program.]


I believe that there is a common and insidious cultural misconception with regards to fetuses: the subtle idea that birth is the true beginning of a human’s life, not only because that is when he or she is first socially acknowledged and welcomed by the rest of the species, but also because deep down we assume that birth is when the young humans themselves first experience anything of significance in the world. After all, what could fetuses be doing in there if not sleepily kicking around in the womb, waiting for life to begin? We seem to have this perception that a fetus is utterly unaware of anything, pending the moment of awakening.

By contrast, infants from the very second they emerge are perceived as awake and alert. We marvel that a baby is constantly seeing, hearing, observing, learning, developing, experiencing. It is as if we believe that birth is the moment when a young human is switched from OFF to ON, sort of like a machine you just finished constructing and are now ready to plug in for the first time.

But the truth is rarely so simple, and in actual fact scientific studies are repeatedly demonstrating that there is very little infants do that fetuses haven’t done first (and that the womb may be a more stimulating and interesting place than we thought).

For example, scientific studies have confirmed that fetuses can hear voices and distinguish between unique speech patterns, allowing them to recognize (and prefer) their mother’s voice over any other’s. It has also been shown that a fetus will learn to recognize a song or story repeatedly played/read to them, retaining a familiarity with that tune or story post-birth. This is referred to by scientists as “preconscious learning.” A fetus’s brain will even notice when a familiar song is played slightly incorrectly, requiring some basic ability to remember what the song ought to sound like and then compare the two.

Adding to this list is the latest discovery, and this one’s on the level of groundbreaking: new research out of Lancaster University in the United Kingdom demonstrates that fetuses will react to face-like shapes in the same way infants do. Researchers shone different collections of red dots to fetuses while observing their responses via ultrasound, and the fetuses displayed particular interest in face-like clusters. As the researchers themselves point out, “This tells us that the fetus isn’t a passive processor of environmental information. It’s an active responder.”

This paper is trailblazing because it’s the first real study on what fetuses see, and confirms that they do have visual experiences while in utero. The womb is not pitch-black like many assume (and nor is it silent either). One of the paper’s authors describes what fetuses likely experience as similar to being in a room with the lights turned off and the curtains drawn over the windows, yet it’s very bright outside. Fetuses are thought to begin to see as early as 20-24 weeks gestation, so they’ll have quite a while to watch shadowy shapes pass by before they are even born.

This study is also important because even though it’s been known for a long time that infants are particularly interested in face-like shapes, scientists often speculated if maybe infants prefer those shapes because human faces are what infants see first and most often—almost like imprinting. This study indicates that preference may run deeper than that.

Most important of all, the implications of this successful attempt to visually communicate something to a fetus in a simple way will almost certainly lead to new and extremely exciting studies of fetal cognition—for example, exploring if fetuses can distinguish numbers and quantities, as newborns do.

And once we know more about not only how fetuses are developing physically, but also their cognitive abilities, well… I suspect that it will become harder and harder for some people to insist that a fetus and an infant are worlds apart, or that a fetus doesn’t even count as human at all. And now we come to the crux of the matter: beyond the scientific curiosity of it all, what do studies like these tell us about the topic of abortion?

The fact is, no matter how many of these incredible studies emerge, they can’t definitively answer the ethical and legal questions our society has raised surrounded abortion. Science doesn’t dictate morality. It is absolutely, 100% possible for two reasonable, intelligent, and compassionate people to both read the same studies of fetal development with wonder and fascination, and still reach vastly opposing conclusions about whether causing the intentional death of a human fetus should be illegal.

So if you do draw a line between a human worthy of rights and protection vs a clump of cells that is not—and since the majority of Americans support abortion restrictions at some stage of development, it’s clear many Americans believe a line should be drawn somewhere—how do you decide where? When the heartbeat begins? After the first trimester? Viability? Birth?

Science can answer many of the questions we raise in order to navigate the murky waters of morality, and it can shine a light on crucial truths. Study after study is constantly showing us that human fetuses are hitting many milestones far earlier than previously believed, which ultimately makes it more difficult to argue that society’s insistence of relying upon any of those developmental milestones to tell us when a human life earns acknowledgement is not completely arbitrary.

This most recent study of what fetuses are capable of is yet further indication that as monumental as birth is, it is not the beginning of a human being’s life, learning, or experiences, or the start of anything that wasn’t already happening before. The physical movement of a baby from within the womb to outside the womb does not really endow it with all that many new abilities or change anything intrinsically about it, biologically speaking, so why should that change its worth? A question worth pondering.


References:
 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Upcoming Events

Secular Pro-Life supporters at a past Life/Peace/Justice conference
It's hard to believe we're almost halfway through 2017 already. We have a very busy schedule for the remainder of this year, and we would love to see you!

Friday, June 16 and Saturday, June 17 in Bakersfield, CA
Join us at the Californians for Life Summit this weekendPro-life supporters from throughout the state, from all areas of expertise, will come together, meet one another, share ideas, learn about what is being done successfully, participate in strategic planning, find ways to overcome challenges, be inspired, and be encouraged. SPL's Terrisa Bukovinac, who is also the president of Pro-Life Future of San Francisco, will give a presentation on secular messaging

Thursday, June 22 in San Francisco - 9:30 a.m.
There will be a public hearing on the motion to disqualify Judge Orrick from presiding over the case against David Daleiden and Sandra Merrit of the Center for Medical Progress for going undercover to expose Planned Parenthood. Judge Orrick and his wife have strong ties to Planned Parenthood that they failed to disclose to the defendants, and this bias makes it impossible for Judge Orrick to give David and Sandra a fair day in court. Pro-life advocates led by Terrisa Bukovinac will attend the hearing to give their encouragement to David and Sandra during this difficult time.

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, July 1, in Dublin
The All Ireland Rally for Life takes place in a few short weeks! Secular Pro-Life sadly won't be able to make it, but we strongly support this crucial event for our friends across the pond. Ireland has shown that it's possible to have pro-life laws and excellent women's health outcomes (including a lower maternal mortality rate than neighboring pro-choice countries). The abortion industry can't stand that chink in its narrative armor, so it is putting tremendous pressure on Ireland to "get with the times" and revoke the right to life from its constitution. Please rally if you're able; Irish babies need your support!

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.

And it's not too early to be thinking about the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in January:
  • The March for Life will take place in Washington, D.C. on Friday, January 19, 2018.
  • The Students for Life of America east coast national conference will be held in Maryland (D.C. metro area) on Saturday, January 20, 2018.
  • The Cardinal O'Connor Conference on Life will also be held on January 20. This is a Catholic conference hosted by students at Georgetown University; we've never been before, but this year's theme is "The Future of the Pro-Life Movement in a Secular World," and Kelsey has accepted an invitation to speak. (Astute readers have noticed that Secular Pro-Life will be in two places at once. We will need volunteers!)
  • The Walk for Life West Coast will take place in San Francisco on Friday, January 27, 2018.
  • The Students for Life of America west coast conference will be held in San Francisco on Saturday, January 28, 2018.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

#SockIt2PP is going on the road

Students for Life of America has collected over 200,000 baby socks for its #SockIt2PP campaign. Each sock represents one of the many lives taken by Planned Parenthood each year. The incredible display, which SFLA brought to Washington, D.C. in April, turns heads. Says SFLA president Kristan Hawkins:
There are few presentations I’ve seen as effective at getting young people to rethink their stance – whether they’re self-described as “pro-choice,” or just haven’t fully developed their beliefs on the life issue – as seeing our #SockIt2PP display.
That’s because when they see a mountain of baby socks, it’s easy to envision the little baby feet that should be wearing them if not for Planned Parenthood abortionists.
Before our April press conference, we were carrying boxes of the socks from our moving truck to the location on Capitol Hill. I told every person who walked by what we were doing. And no matter what their political affiliation, age, skin color, or gender, every single person was shocked.

But that mountain of baby socks, as gut-wrenching as it is, actually under-depicts the tragedy. According to its recently released annual report, Planned Parenthood committed 328,348 abortions in 2015. That means the #SockIt2PP display is short by 127,805 socks.

SFLA will continue to collect baby socks until they reach 328,348 or until Planned Parenthood is defunded. (Upon the conclusion of the campaign, they'll be donated to families in need.) But the sooner you can send a sock the better, because SFLA just announced that #SockIt2PP is going on tour in the fall!

They're taking #SockIt2PP to college campuses across the country. The locations haven't been announced yet, but if past tours are any indication, this will reach tens or even hundreds of thousands of students. If you want viewers to understand the full scale of Planned Parenthood's devastating abortion business, take the time to send a sock! You can also donate to the campaign.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Two years without justice for victim of Dayton, OH abortion business

The Women's Med Center waiting room

On June 11, 2015, Women's Med Center in Dayton, Ohio committed an abortion on a woman who was unable to consent. According to a state report—which did not become public until last year—the woman (identified only as "Patient #1") was unable to hold a coherent conversation or even lift her head. Her speech was slurred, and according to the person who gave her a ride to the center, she "took two Soma and several Percocet and probably both Suboxone and perhaps some heroin on the way in." She was described as "semi-conscious with low blood pressure."

Women's Med Center dutifully noted her all of this on her chart, then aborted her baby anyway. Their excuse? If they didn't act quickly, the child might have been born alive. The horror.

If anyone other than an abortionist did what Women's Med Center did—if anyone approached a woman who was too high on recreational drugs to function, either ordered her to undress or personally undressed her, then stuck metal instruments up her vagina and manipulated her cervix—feminist groups would rightly and without hesitation call it rape. Instead, NARAL defended Women's Med Center, calling the health department investigation a "political witch hunt."

When this story first broke last year, Secular Pro-Life drew attention to the cause using the hashtag #AbortRapeCulture. Sadly, only pro-lifers cared. Not a single pro-choice twitter user spoke out against Women's Med Center's abuse.

It's now been two years. Has Women's Med Center suffered any consequences?

The investigation into the medical rape has apparently stalled. Six months ago, Women's Med Center lost its operating license for an unrelated reason, namely, its failure to obtain a transfer agreement with a local hospital, as required by law. Unfortunately, Women's Med Center is allowed to keep doing abortions while it challenges that ruling in court. The legal proceeding remains pending.

We mourn two years without justice for Patient #1 and her baby. To mark this sad anniversary, and to remind Ohio officials of their duty to protect the public from Women's Med Center, we ask that you once again use the hashtag #AbortRapeCulture.

The medical rape of Patient #1 makes a mockery of the claim that the abortion industry is about "choice" and "women's health." Whatever happens, we will not forget.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Secular Pro-Life radio interview transcript

Californians for Life will hold its 2017 summit in Bakersfield one week from today (Friday, June 17 and Saturday, June 18). Pro-life advocate and atheist Terrisa Bukovinac, who is a longtime Secular Pro-Life leader and also heads up the San Francisco chapter of Pro-Life Future, will give a presentation on reaching secular audiences with the pro-life message.

To promote the upcoming summit, Terrisa appeared on a Catholic radio program earlier this week. You can listen to her interview at this link, starting around the 46-minute mark. It is also transcribed below.

Terrisa at last January's Walk for Life in San Francisco

Host: We are going to the city of San Francisco, the city of St. Francis, where we are joined by Terrisa Bukovinac, from Secular Pro-Life. Terrisa, good morning.

Terrisa: Hi, good morning! Thanks for having me on.

Host: Good to have you with us. You're going to be at this wonderful conference in Bakersfield?

Terrisa: Yes, absolutely. Very much looking forward to this year's summit. We have been there for the last four years, and have had significantly more involvement each year, so this year we're really excited about what we have planned and we really hope everybody can make it.

Host: Tell us a little bit about Secular Pro-Life.

Terrisa: Sure! So, Secular Pro-Life is an organization that primarily creates a safe space for pro-life atheists and agnostics, and other non-traditional pro-lifers. But it's also an organization dedicated to helping the pro-life movement as a whole, using secular arguments, secular reasoning, and ways that we can connect with people using a shared basis of understanding when it comes to the abortion issue.

Host: So, you know, I've been pro-life my whole life, or at least since I first heard about this issue, because it really wasn't much of an issue when I was growing up, or at least an issue that was talked about. I certainly wasn't aware of it. And people have said to me, people on the other side of the issue have said "Well, it's just because you're Catholic, it's just because you're Christian, it's just because that's been drummed into your head since you were a little kid," and I go "No, you know, we didn't talk about it when I was a little kid."

Terrisa: Right.

Host: I was a child of the fifties, you know, it was a different era. And I've always felt, and told people, even if I had no belief in God, I would still be pro-life.

Terrisa: Right, absolutely!

Host: You know, I believe in the Constitution of this country, I believe in the moral foundation of this country—as many problems as we've had, like any other country—I believe in basic human rights, and the right to life, the right to breathe the air, is the most basic of those rights. And then many other rights obviously are very important too, but as we've heard many times, if you don't have the right to life, the rest of your rights don't matter.

Terrisa: Yes.

Host: And it kind of, I guess it kind of hurts and it feels a little bit too dismissive for somebody to say "Well, that's just, that's just because of your religion." Not that having a religious reason would be wrong, but it's... everybody should be pro-life.

Terrisa: Exactly. And there is an effort from our opposition to frame the issue as a religious issue so that it can be dismissed. Those efforts have been made since the very beginning. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who was a co-founder of NARAL, who eventually became pro-life as an atheist, he talked extensively about how pro-life opinions from atheists or pro-life opinions from Protestants were purposefully suppressed in order to frame this as a religious issue. So it's been set up that way by our opposition. It's such an important stereotype to work against, because like you said, it's not based on a religious belief necessarily, unless you consider the belief in human rights to be a religious belief.

Host: Sure.

Terrisa: I think we would agree that most secularists or people of varying religions, for the most part are going to believe in what we would call human rights, and the human right to life. I think that there's ways we can help get around that stereotype, and part of it is doing what you're doing today, by inviting an atheist to speak on your radio show. I think it's really important that we magnify voices of non-traditional pro-lifers, so that other non-traditional people, or people don't traditionally fall into a pro-life category, will feel comfortable identifying as being pro-life. I know I personally did not say that I was pro-life, even though I had pro-life opinions, for years until I actually found Secular Pro-Life and thought oh, there are people like me out there, I can express this openly. So unless we are going to keep the movement 100% Christian, and primarily Catholic, it's going to be really important for us to continue to magnify the voices of non-traditional pro-lifers in order to fight that stereotype that you mentioned.

Host: Yeah, you know it cuts—it should cut across all demographics, this right to life. And obviously I know there's great opposition to the way we stand, but it is certainly not... I mean, I remember being part of the civil rights movement in the sixties, and a number of people, even though so much of it was founded in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference—people forget, people call him Dr. King, I call him Reverend King—

Terrisa: Right.

Host: There were a lot of ministers in there, but there were also a lot of atheists in the civil rights movement, and of course they were welcome! Nobody thought there was something, "Well why is an atheist in favor of civil rights?"

Terrisa: (Laughs)

Host: Nobody found that to be unusual.

Terrisa: Exactly. And their messaging reflected that. Their messaging was "I am a man," they didn't—

Host: Right.

Terrisa: They were very cohesive in keeping their messaging accessible to everyone, and they used a shared basis of understanding, and the foundation of human rights.

Host: Right, absolutely. So is there any conflict within the pro-life movement in terms of that? I would think it's, everybody's welcoming everybody, we need all hands on deck!

Terrisa: Yeah, I think that we know that that's the case, that we do need all hands on deck, but I think that there's a disconnect in how we can achieve that. I think it's really important that... There's other positions that people hold in the pro-life movement that are often linked to a pro-life position, such as religious liberty, marriage, opposition to marriage equality, thoughts about chastity, and things like that. And I think that it's fine that people hold those positions, I mean certainly I believe in the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion, so I think that it's... people are welcome to pursue those passions that they may have. But I think that when we do them in the context of a conversation about being pro-life, we're really missing out, because we will initially alienate the people who we are actually trying to convince that this is a human rights violation. So if we're throwing in other political ideas or we're just trying to say that all "Leftists," quote-unquote, are, you know, "of the devil" and "they're doing the devil's work," and things like that; if we fall into that kind of rhetoric, then we're just going to lose.

Host: No, I agree.

Terrisa: We have to embrace everyone.

Host: I say many, many times on this program, obviously this is a Catholic program, we're not Republicans, Democrats, we're not conservatives or liberals, we're Catholic and we're pro-life. And I get frustrated too sometimes when I go to some allegedly pro-life websites and—not the ones that are famous, but some of the ones that are a little bit out there—and you're right, they've got, they're talking about global warming! And all these other issues. I say don't dilute the message, you know?

Terrisa: Right, this is about killing innocent human beings.

Host: Yes, yes.

Terrisa: This isn't about all of these other outlying issues. If we're going to be cohesive in our efforts, if we're going to make the most of these events, like the summit, we have to stay laser-focused on this violation of a fundamental human right, and leave all the other issues aside for our spare time.

Host: (Laughs) For our spare time, that's right.

Terrisa: (Laughs)

Host: Well Terrisa, thanks so much for all you do, thanks for taking the time to be with us this morning.

Terrisa: My pleasure.

Host: And may the good Lord bless your work.

Terrisa: (Laughs) Thank you so much, it was a pleasure being here.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Pro-lifers raise $16K for young mom Maddi Runkles

Students for Life of America staffers present high school graduate and pregnant mom Maddi Runkles with $16,000 to further her dreams.

As every liberal pundit knows, right-to-lifers hate women and hate premarital sex... which explains why they gave $16,000 to a woman who had premarital sex.

That's sarcasm, obviously, but the second half is true. Pro-life advocates raised $16,000 to assist Maddi Runkles, who made headlines last month when her private Christian high school banned her from her own graduation ceremony to punish her for having sex and becoming pregnant outside of marriage. The school's actions incensed pro-lifers, who pointed out that Maddi was really being punished for staying pregnant. If she had obtained a secret abortion, she would have graduated alongside the rest of her class. The school was making an example of her, effectively encouraging students who find themselves in the same situation in the future to kill their babies, for the sake of the school's sexually conservative reputation.

Students for Life of America led the charge, and while the school stubbornly refused to let Maddi walk at graduation, the pro-life movement stepped up big time. Last week, Maddi not only received her high school diploma—she also received a check for $16,000, funded by pro-life donors.

This is obviously great news for Maddi and her son, but it's not only about them. Students for Life of America deserves massive credit for drawing media attention to this issue, demonstrating to young mothers everywhere that the pro-life movement will stand with them against oppressive school administrations. The next time something like this happens, more young women will know that abortion is not their only, or best, option. Maddi Runkles has indeed become an example—but not the example that her high school intended.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Last-in-state abortion businesses have poor safety records


Recently, Vice published a puff piece on seven abortion businesses that have the distinction of being the only (and, we hope, last) one operating in their respective states. The article consists entirely of quotes from the owners/staffers of these facilities, with no fact checking or context whatsoever. I can't even call it journalism.

Most egregiously, Vice failed to include any information about the health and safety records of these final facilities. So we've done the work for them.

EMW Women's Surgical Center, Kentucky
Abortionist Quote: "We’ve remained open because of dedication — dedication to the cause. It’s been part of my life’s work to work on women’s reproductive freedom. And I will keep doing it. Every day my patients say they appreciate what we do for them. That’s what people don’t get to hear."
Reality Check: EMW was caught on undercover video lying to women about the extent of prenatal brain development.

Women's Health Center, West Virginia
Abortion Center Director Quote: "The majority of our services are what we call in-clinic procedures; the trend is to get away from calling it surgery. It’s not really surgery. We’re not cutting people."
Reality Check: Women's Health Center has been sued for malpractice numerous times, most gruesomely for leaving a baby's decapitated head inside the mother's body in a botched abortion.

Planned Parenthood, Missouri
Abortion Center CEO Quote: "When we moved into our new building in 1998, we designed it according to the ambulatory regulations so that we could provide care according to the law. We worked with a state architect to ensure that all of our rooms were the proper sizes, that they had the right ventilation systems, that they had everything we needed in order [to comply]. We get inspected each year, and these are the types of things they look at."
Reality Check: The St. Louis, MO Planned Parenthood is one of the most notoriously dangerous abortion facilities in the country. It has had 64 known ambulance calls in recent years: an average of one emergency every six weeks since 2009. (Ambulance calls are the best metric we have because a state law requiring complications to be reported to the Department of Health has gone unenforced, but that is about to change.) Planned Parenthood's Missouri abortion center has also failed multiple inspections — not for the construction of the building, but for basic measures like sanitation.

Emerg-A-Care, Wyoming
Abortionist Quote: "There are people who won’t come to our family practice because we provide termination services. And that’s one of the things I’m willing to accept."
Reality Check: According to Americans United for Life, Wyoming law does not mandate minimum health and safety standards for abortion facilities. Absent such standards and the inspections that would accompany them, it is impossible to know whether patients at EMW are receiving appropriate care.

Planned Parenthood, South Dakota
Abortion Center CEO Quote: "None of our physicians are from Sioux Falls; we’ve never been able to hire a doctor from the area. So we have four doctors who fly in on rotation. It’s a tremendous waste of resources and it’s very expensive to keep this practice up."
Reality Check: Fly-by-night abortionists are by definition unable to provide adequate follow-up care, especially in emergencies. This is a major reason pro-life advocates have pursued legislation to require local hospital admitting privileges.

Red River Women's Clinic, North Dakota
Abortion Center Owner Quote: "On the first day we opened, three women walked in. One woman was too far along, but we provided two abortions that day. The scales slowly started tipping; we started seeing more and more patients."
Reality Check: This past March, an ambulance was summoned to Red River, where "paramedics discovered that the gurney they used could not fit in the front door. Instead, they went around to the back door and brought the patient out into an alley filled with trash dumpsters." Red River also came under fire in 2010 for having an unlicensed doctor on staff, but ultimately was not brought to justice.

Jackson Women's Health Organization, Mississippi
Abortion Center Director Quote: "I don’t know why we’ve managed to stay around. We just do everything by the book and we just try to stay on top of everything they’re trying to get passed. We don’t just lie back and let them do what they want, to play these games with these TRAP laws."
Reality Check: Jackson Women's Health Organization has a long, sordid history that includes numerous failed inspections and a $600,000 verdict in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

May these seven facilities close quickly, and may these states and the whole nation one day be abortion-free.

Abortion "counseling" is really a sales pitch


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

Nurse Brenda Pratt-Shafer worked for three days at a late-term abortion center that did partial-birth abortions. Although pro-choice when she was hired, she was so horrified by the graphic nature of the abortion procedures she witnessed that she went on to testify before Congress in favor of the partial-birth abortion ban. Partial-birth abortions were banned nationwide in 2003; the Supreme Court initially struck down the ban, only to reverse itself in 2007.

The procedure consisted of first delivering a late second trimester or early third trimester preborn baby partially out of the mother’s womb. Then, when only the head was left inside, the abortionist punctured the skull and drained out the brain matter, finally removing the dead child with a crushed head from the woman’s body.

Witnessing several of these abortions was enough to turn Brenda-Pratt Shafer into a pro-lifer. In her book, What the Nurse Saw, she describes in detail both partial-birth abortions and D&E (dismemberment) abortions that she saw.

But another thing Pratt-Shafer discussed in her book was the way abortion clinic workers were told to interact with women coming in for abortions. They were supposed to validate the woman’s reasons for wanting an abortion, regardless of what they were. The abortion facility wanted everything to run smoothly; the abortionist did not want women to change their minds at the last minute. Therefore, he instructed Pratt-Shafer and his other clinic workers to emphasize the choice of abortion and encourage women to go through with it. Pratt-Shafer says:
I was told in no uncertain terms to always validate the mother’s reasons for having the abortion.
If the mother was still in school, we’d tell her she didn’t need to be a mother right now; rather she needed to finish school and then start her family. If she was having financial problems, we would not offer her other solutions; we would just tell her that she could not afford a baby and that she was doing the best thing. If she was young, we would tell her she was too young to have a baby and it would probably ruin her life. Having this abortion was the right thing to do; then she could get on with the rest of her life. We also told the women that abortion was a simple procedure, and it was the answer to their problems and that they would be relieved afterward. After all, this abortion clinic was in the business to make money from abortions, not to offer solutions for crisis pregnancies. Any excuse the mother had to want an abortion, we were in agreement and supportive of that reason.
The clinic workers were also under strict orders not to promote abortion alternatives or tell women the details of the abortion procedures:
Options like adoption or even carrying the baby to full-term were never discussed. ... I was told if they asked me if it was a baby to tell them no, that it was just a mass of tissue and at this stage, it was not a baby. Many women that came in those three days were already showing at the time. But we still continued to tell these lies the entire time I was there. It was just part of how business was conducted.
Women who did not already know the facts of fetal development would not learn them at the abortion facility. Rather, they would be encouraged to abort, and told that their preborn baby was not developed. Those running the abortion center knew that if women were told their babies had arms, legs, fingers and toes, and that by the late second trimester babies reacted to pain, some of them would back out. This would decrease clinic revenue and slow things down.

A woman who was having an abortion out of fear would have her fear reinforced. Even if the woman was reluctant to go through with her abortion, the clinic workers would not offer her other options. While some women no doubt came to the clinic with their minds firmly made up, dedicated to having an abortion, others may not have been so sure.

David Reardon conducted a study where he interviewed women who regretted their abortions. He determined that 44% of the women he interviewed had been “actively hoping to find an option other than abortion” when they arrived at the clinic. 66% of these women said that their abortion counselor was biased in favor of abortion, and 90% said they did not receive enough information to make an informed decision.

If such a large of the women in David Reardon’s sample came to abortion clinics hoping for a better answer, the fact that abortion counselors do not explore options and give unbiased information could definitely sway them towards having an abortion.

Of course, the 44% statistic comes from a group of women who regretted their abortions, and might not be representative of all women seeking abortion. But other abortion workers have revealed that some women change their minds about having abortions, even at the last minute. For example, in a May 2000 piece for the Ottawa Star, Leonard Stern interviewed an abortion center director who stated that 20% of women scheduled for abortions at her location did not show up for their appointments. Another abortion counselor told an interviewer:
Maybe 30 percent [of the women] are kind of talking through doubts, maybe 5 percent go away. 
Another abortionist, who complained about having to give women state-mandated information about fetal development and abortion’s risks, told the New York Times in that one in 10 women left the clinic without aborting after receiving the information. And in yet another article, in the Christian Science Monitor, an abortionist also discussed the phenomenon of women turning away from abortion after watching an educational video that the abortion clinic was forced to show by law.

So some women do change their minds. Even if women willing to change their minds and consider options are in the minority, lives could’ve been saved if the abortion workers had told the truth. Of course, this would work against the clinic’s bottom line.

As more abortion workers come forward with their stories, there are more examples of biased or dishonest abortion counseling. There are many similar stories from abortion workers, as well as testimonies from women about this that can be found here. Until abortion workers are willing to be honest, pro-lifers need to spread the truth about abortion so that women know exactly what will happen to them and their preborn babies if they abort. The abortion businesses cannot be relied upon to tell the truth, and pro-lifers need to step into the gap and educate the public about abortion.

Friday, June 2, 2017

A hard-won birthday

The author celebrates her 30th birthday
[Today's guest post by Feleica Langdon is part of our paid blogging program. Feleica is a provincial pro-life speaker in Newfoundland and the regional coordinator in NL of Campaign Life Coalition working alongside the provincial coordinator, Margaret Hynes.]

Today I turn 30! At 3:30 AM on June 2, 1987 (my due date), I made my grand entrance into the outside world.

Upon birth, the doctors knew something was wrong with me. My mom said all she could hear was the doctors saying "Your baby is very sick." I was having seizures, my lungs almost collapsed, and I had fluid on the brain.

Through genetic testing, the doctors presented my parents with the diagnosis of Turner Syndrome. Given the statistics surrounding this diagnosis, the odds that people with Turners would make it to see outside of the womb is stacked against us. 99% of babies with my condition die in utero, and 76% of those diagnosed prenatally are aborted—but thankfully, my parents didn't know until I was born that something was wrong.

The doctors didn't know I would even survive the night, and gave a grim outlook on my life if I did. But here I am, 30 years old, healthy and thriving. I am a honour roll college graduate; a valued Home Care Worker; a wife of 6 years and counting; a writer; a fur mom to 4 furry blessings; a hiker; a challenger of popular thought; etc. I have proven doctors wrong on countless occasions.

If my parents had known I had Turners—and like many others, had chosen abortion—I would have missed out on the wonderful life I am enjoying today.❤️

Instead of turning 30 reminding me that I'm getting old, it reminds me I'm living—and it's a wonderful feeling. I will wear every grey hair and every wrinkle as a badge of honour. I get to enjoy a life that's all too often left to "choice" and deemed "not worth living"—without even being given a chance.

My mom is "pro-choice" and believes it should have been up to her whether or not to abort me if she had known. I'm so thankful that my diagnosis was safe with me in the womb and that I'm alive—instead of my life being reduced to a statistic.

I am here and I get to join in the fight for the lives of the preborn. The pro-life community fought for me, now I get to pay it forward! I am an active member of the pro-life community with a strong social media presence. I have founded a page called Life Defenders. Life Defenders is an activist support page that focuses on: unity within the movement; responding in love; finding your place within the movement; tough issues such as the "exceptions" (i.e: rape, fetal abnormalities, etc); ways you can get connected to and engage with your community; etc. Through my social networking I have connect to and become friends with some amazing people from all over the world. We have encouraged , challenged and helped grow one another. The unique perspectives we bring to the movement as individuals is so beautiful and to be celebrated.

[One of my niches is creating thought provoking memes. In our fast-paced society these memes allow for hard-hitting messages and information without having to take the time to read long articles. I like giving people thoughts to chew on.]

I am also active in my province being involved with Campaign Life Coalition and it is such a pleasure to play a role in speeding up the momentum of LIFE in Newfoundland,Canada. My husband and I have gotten to meet some passionate people for life in our province and it's an honour to stand beside them in bringing the life message to our province.

Life is such a precious gift and should not be treated as disposable. I call upon non-vocal pro-lifers stop pressing the snooze button and get out of bed. Now is not the time to crumble under the pressure; now is not the time to say "I'm too old for this" or "I'm too young for this." Now is not the time to say "I don't have time for this."

The time to BREAK your SILENCE is NOW.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Planned Parenthood's latest report: more abortions, less health care

Student activists at a #SockIt2PP rally
Planned Parenthood just released its 2015-2016 annual report. Since its annual report is usually released in January, countless pro-life leaders publicly predicted that Planned Parenthood's numbers wouldn't support its political narrative. And what do you know? The pro-life movement was absolutely right.

Here's the 2015-2016 report, the 2014-2015 report, and a breakdown of key statistics:
  • 2.4 million patients, a decline of 100,000 over last year.
  • 321,700 breast exams (NOT mammograms) performed, a decline of 42,103 over last year.
  • 2,808,815 contraceptive services, a decline of 136,244 over last year.
  • 9,419 prenatal care services, a decline of 8,000 over last year.
  • 328,348 abortions, an increase of 4,349 over last year.
  • In addition, there is a new line item this year, "miscarriage care" (2,073 provided), which may be a covert reference to abortion.
One last number, with a huge caveat: I don't trust the number of unintended pregnancies Planned Parenthood claims to prevent, because it doesn't disclose its formula for calculating this and historically the number has had no discernable relationship to Planned Parenthood's provision of contraceptives. However, it's worth noting that Planned Parenthood claims to have prevented 557,672 unplanned pregnancies in 2015, which is a decline of 21,009 from the 578,681 unplanned pregnancies it claimed to have prevented in 2014.

As expected, Planned Parenthood continues to follow the same pattern we've seen over the past decade: a decline in legitimate health care, and an increased focus on abortion. The rise in abortions from 2014 to 2015 may seem modest, but it comes against the backdrop of a plummeting abortion rate. Planned Parenthood is maximizing its share of the abortion market. Meanwhile, as Planned Parenthood backs away from responding to low-income women's real needs, regional charitable healthcare providers like the ones featured at FundWomensHealth.com are forced to pick up the slack.

Other highlights from the latest report:
  • Planned Parenthood obtained 41% of its revenue from "government health services reimbursements and grants." Its total annual revenue was $1.14 billion dollars.
  • The 2015-2016 report works very, very hard to whitewash the organization's racist roots, beginning with a section entitled "History of Our Movement" which claims that Margaret Sanger opened a clinic in Harlem "in response to many black women being denied access to health and social services" (ignoring her well-documented eugenicist motives); highlights its first president of color in 1989; and claims that "women of color ignite[d] the reproductive justice movement" in 1994. There is also a section of the report, "Fueling the Movement" (beginning on page 17), devoted to "combating ... anti-abortion tactics that target Black women" and infiltrating the strongly pro-life Latinx community.
  • Planned Parenthood brags about having 300 campus groups—paling in comparison to 1,140 Students for Life of America campus groups!
  • It spent about $4 million on efforts to "refresh our brand."

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

When pro-life politicians behave badly


Last Thursday, Montana held a special election to fill its sole seat in the House of Representatives (because its prior representative, Ryan Zinke, left to become Secretary of the Interior). The top candidates for the position were Republican Greg Gianforte and Democrat Rob Quist.

Going into the election, pro-life organizations had a lot of reasons to like Gianforte. As the Susan B. Anthony List pointed out, "Greg and his wife Susan are both pro-life champions who have long supported Montana’s network of pregnancy resources centers serving mothers in need." His pro-life commitment wasn't just talk. In stark contrast, Quist took the extremist (but today, sadly, standard Democratic) position of supporting abortion on demand, subsidized by taxpayers. The Susan B. Anthony List knocked on more than 31,000 doors, urging voters to elect Gianforte.

And then, the day before the election, Gianforte got into a physical altercation with a reporter. Police investigated the matter and quickly concluded that Gianforte was the aggressor, charging him with misdemeanor assault. The New York Times reports:
Three of the state's largest newspapers, The Billings Gazette, The Missoulian and The Independent Record, quickly rescinded their endorsements of Mr. Gianforte. But prospects that the altercation could tip the race to the Democrat, Rob Quist, were complicated by Montana's early-voting tradition: Over half the estimated total ballots in the contest had been returned by Wednesday.
Unlike the newspapers, pro-life groups did not rescind their endorsements. And when Gianforte won the election as predicted, they issued standard celebratory press releases containing no comment on the assault charge. In response to the National Right to Life Committee's tweet congratulating Gianforte on his win, professor and author Charlie Camosy (who is pro-life) quipped, "Hey @NRLC, I think @NARAL has hacked your account. Better change your password." He certainly was not the only one to comment on the bad optics of the situation.

But what was the alternative? NRLC, the Susan B. Anthony List, and others had already done the vast majority of their work for Gianforte during the early voting period. Seventy percent of ballots had already been cast. Neither pro-life groups nor voters could have foreseen what would happen. And when the assault occurred, what were pro-life groups supposed to do, encourage people to vote for an abortion advocate? That would have been a disgrace to their mission and a betrayal of preborn children.

Perhaps there's a middle ground to be found, like: "We are pleased that the people of Montana rejected Rob Quist's extreme pro-abortion stance. At the same time, we acknowledge that Congressman Gianforte's alleged violent conduct on the eve of his election is disturbing and inexcusable. The pro-life movement rejects violence against people of all ages, and in the event that Congressman Gianforte is convicted and removed from office, we will work to replace him with a peaceful pro-life advocate."

But my cynical side says that the days of such political nuance are behind us. After all, the above statement wouldn't fit in a tweet. And given the public relations nightmare currently occupying the White House, maybe we should just count our blessings that Greg Gianforte didn't grab anyone by the pussy.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Your Stories: Unwed Pregnancy and the Church


On Monday, Secular Pro-Life published an article about Maddi Runkles, a high school senior whose private Christian school has banned her from her graduation ceremony because she is pregnant. We joined a chorus of pro-life organizations, led by Students for Life of America, condemning the school's action and pointing out that penalizing women for being pregnant is a surefire way to encourage abortions.

Maddi's story generated a lot of social media attention and discussions within the pro-life community, and our article was no exception. Numerous current and former Christians took to our facebook page to share stories from their schools and churches. While far from being a comprehensive scientific survey, these comments do offer up an interesting qualitative picture. Here's what you had to say:

Holly M.—My mother went to Catholic school and was forced to drop out of her high school when she got pregnant with my brother at 16. She was punished. She had to get her GED and did not get to graduate with her class at the school she went to her whole life. I went to that same Catholic school. They have since changed that rule and don't force pregnant teens to drop out but the fact that they once did and they did it to my mother is very upsetting to me. It IS definitely making abortion an incentive by "punishing" pregnant young girls like that.

Christi R.—I am a Christian. This is an issue that does need to be addressed in the Christian community. I teach my children abstinence only, but still inform them of birth control. Abstinence is the only way to avoid pregnancy, but if they make poor choices they need to know what protection there is to prevent pregnancy even if the protection isn't 100%. In many Christian communities, the idea is of you teach options you are encouraging options. Sex is still a sensitive subject that is avoided and left to parents. Meanwhile, the Christian schools have an abstinence only stance. If you have a prominent student who has obviously broken that rule, it is a hard decision on how to handle it in the fact broken rules cannot be rewarded. If they appear to sanction the behavior of premarital sex, they risk losing families who send their children to these schools in hopes of surrounding them with like-minded families. It can be destructive to a school's population. I don't support the actions they chose, but I can understand it was a difficult one.

Kali F.—I walked pregnant at graduation (at a public school). The gowns are so loose that you couldn't tell I was pregnant, even though I was about 6 or 7 months. This isn't about what the other students would think; they just want to punish her for going against their morals.

Barbara S.—I went to a Catholic university and I remember a couple of pregnant students; a girl used to bring her baby to class sometimes, another spoke in class about initially wanting an abortion and then changing her mind... nobody judged them or anything.

Tiffany M.—My parents got pregnant with me while attending Bob Jones University. You can imagine the chaos that ensued.

SheriLynn H.—A classmate of my son's graduated with him yesterday from a Catholic high school in the most conservative diocese in the US, cap, gown, shook the bishop's hand, etc., and she is about 6 months pregnant. Another graduate had a 10-month-old baby in the audience. I am happy that pro-life really means pro-life around here.

Kaitlyn V. (in reply to SheriLynn)—I knew we must be from the same area when I read "most conservative diocese in the US"! And I was right :-) My high school treated a similar situation very differently when I attended. Just makes me happy to hear that another local Catholic school is focusing on what truly matters.

Nicole P.—A lot of churches need a heavy dose of grace. Before I joined my church I asked about their pro life views. They said when there were pregnant teens they embraced them & gave them showers just like they would married women.

Abigail G.—My sister was not allowed to attend our church's senior banquet because she was pregnant. I was enraged at the way they treated us (I say "us" because I had a child outside of marriage, and I could sense the judgment from some of the other church goers).