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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Does aborting a girl bother you? Then aborting a child with a disability should too.


A gym teacher of mine once promised to “separate the men from the boys.” While I’m sure that would provoke a lawsuit today, the abortion industry is still separating the girls...

...from their arms, legs, and torsos.

By 16 weeks, a child’s sex is usually visible on an ultrasound, and for too many girls, that’s a death sentence. A cultural preference for sons fuels sex-selective abortion, and not just in far off places: the Canadian Medical Association Journal described Canada as “a haven” for those seeking to abort their daughters.

Planned Parenthood offers a haven of its own. In 2012, pregnant volunteers from the group Live Action brought hidden cameras to multiple Planned Parenthood facilities. On each visit, the investigator said she wanted an abortion if it turned out she was carrying a girl. As the resulting footage shows, staff were happy to help.

While some nations have tried to curb gender-selective abortion, Planned Parenthood doesn’t want the United States following suit: when Arizona made sex- and race-selective abortions a felony, the organization wasn’t happy. Most Americans feel differently.

A 2012 poll conducted by the Charlotte Lozier Institute found that 77% of Americans (including 80% of women) thought it should be illegal to abort “when the fact that the developing baby is a girl is the sole reason for seeking an abortion.” In fact, even some abortion advocates draw the line at gendercide.

By contrast, there isn’t nearly as much opposition to abortion in cases of disability. That’s curious when you look at the reasoning.

Last year, a Quebec mother sought an abortion at 35 weeks after doctors determined her son was small and had skeletal abnormalities. According to her lawyer, she “didn’t want her child to suffer the consequences of being physically different.” If social stigma is enough to justify abortion, then those pushing sex-selection have a good case. After all, there are a lot of cultures where women enjoy far fewer rights than men.

Others will argue that abortion is more humane than letting a child with disabilities suffer, but it’s not clear why that rationale shouldn’t apply to girls too. In some parts of the world, anti-female violence is rife. It can include honor killings, forced marriages, and genital mutilation—often done without anesthesia. One of my best friends has a disability, and her daily life involves far less suffering than that.

And then there's financial strains a special needs child can bring. Well, girls are frequently aborted in India because the dowries they require can wipe out a family’s finances. And unlike with disabled children in America, there's no public assistance to offset that cost.

If these reasons don’t justifying killing girls, then they don’t justify killing other children either; you can demand that our laws reflect that. Something else you can do? Tell Congress you want Planned Parenthood’s half billion dollars in annual taxpayer funding sent to federally qualified health centers and community health centers instead. They’re more accessible and offer services Planned Parenthood won’t.

Ana Carolina Caceres is a Brazilian journalist who was born with microcephaly. When some cited her condition as a reason for Brazil relax its abortion laws, Caceres pushed back, saything that “those who have abortions are not giving their children a chance to succeed.” Whether it’s because of their sex or their disability, a chance to live isn’t something children should be denied.


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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"Grassroots Defunding" Campaign Connects Women to PP Alternatives


Yesterday, the Consistent Life Network launched GrassrootsDefunding.org, a new initiative to advertise alternatives to Planned Parenthood. This is a great program, and much needed. While Congress still can't get its act together and redirect Planned Parenthood's tax funding, there is no shortage of work we can do on the ground to decrease Planned Parenthood's deadly influence and help women obtain authentic, non-violent healthcare.

You may be wondering how Grassroots Defunding differs from Get Your Care, the pro-life-sponsored database of federally qualified healthcare centers (FQHCs) and community health centers (CHCs) that serve patients regardless of ability to pay. Essentially, Grassroots Defunding has taken Get Your Care's excellent premise and tweaked it in two key ways.

First, rather than listing all FQHCs and CHCs in the nation, Grassroots Defunding specifically focuses on those that are located near a Planned Parenthood facility; look up your local PP, and you'll find the alternatives available in the region.

Second, and most crucially, FQHCs and CHCs are just the starting point; this is a crowdsourced project allowing local pro-lifers to add more information about the resources available in their communities. This will help the movement identify areas of need and direct our time and money to those places.

As Grassroots Defunding puts it:
We matched CHCs with PP centers based on what was on the web. But only people on the ground and in the location can really give us the information that will make this higher quality. ... Do you know of clerical errors or updates? Or that a PP center or a CHC no longer exists, or has moved, or changed names? Do you or your friends have personal experience with any of the CHCs, good or bad, that you can tell us about?
Grassroots Defunding has specific action items for regions with strong PP alternatives, those with alternatives needing improvement, and those few without nearby alternatives. Secular Pro-Life strongly encourages you to volunteer! This project has incredible potential to improve the lives of women, and save the lives of preborn children.

If you can't volunteer, please consider donating to one of the many clinics offering peaceful alternatives to Planned Parenthood. Our Fund Women's Health campaign is still accepting contributions.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Pro-life events in Champaign and Pittsburgh!

Tonight, I will be on an airplane, making my way to the Students for Life of Illinois conference at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign! I'm especially excited to meet some wonderful Chicago-area film students who are working to bring my pro-life screenplay to fruition. If you're at the conference, stop by the Secular Pro-Life exhibit booth to say hello and take some free goodies.

A week from today, I will be on yet another airplane, headed to Pittsburgh, PA for the fantastic Life/Peace/Justice conference, organized by our dear friends at Rehumanize International. SPL volunteer extraordinaire Terrisa Bukovinac will be there too!

You can stop by our booth, and also attend my presentation. I will be speaking at the 2:15 p.m. breakout session on Saturday, October 21, and my topic is "Maximizing the Pro-Life Reach: Pro-Life Apologetics from a Secular Perspective."

Izzy speaks at last year's LPJ conference
The speaker lineup this year is most impressive. My other breakout session picks will probably be Jennifer Allison on the Syrian refugee crisis, Cessilye Smith on racism in healthcare, and Ismail "Izzy" Smith Wade-El on poverty. But all the possibilities are incredible; you really can't go wrong.

On the evening of October 21, we will celebrate the launch of Create|Encounter, which is a new Rehumanize International initiative focused on giving artists of all stripes (poets, essayists, visual artists, you name it) a forum for works that elevate human rights and dignity. This is a unique opportunity to interact with creative pro-lifers! And not to brag, but one of the works being featured at the launch is an excerpt from the screenplay I previously mentioned; you can read the excerpt here and come prepared to ask me questions about the film.

Hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Love Was Louder Than My Rape


My name is Louise McLean and I’m a Newfoundland native who lived in Bishop Falls until I was 10 years old. It was at that age my dad got a job out of province and my family moved to British Columbia. I am also a mother from rape.

When I was 16, I got my first somewhat serious boyfriend. After only 3 months of dating, that boyfriend raped me. We had not been having sexual relations, but one night he forced himself on me in spite of much insistence and resistance to stop. A couple months later I went to the doctor and heard the words “You’re pregnant.” I was filled with immediate joy and a smile came across my face. I tried to contain how I was feeling, because in my head, I couldn’t comprehend how I could be happy about being pregnant from rape—but my heart won the battle. My doctor told me there was an option for abortion, but he would not perform one, and I told him that was fine because I didn’t want one anyway.

Back 40 years ago, unwed, teenage pregnancy, and rape had such stigmas attached to them. I didn’t want to tell my parents because I was afraid that they would think the precious little baby growing inside of me was something to be “taken care of.” My innocent daughter may have been conceived in rape, but was no less worthy of protection and love. So the best way I could figure to protect her was to hide the fact that I was pregnant and the circumstances surrounding her conception.

During that time I went to Planned Parenthood as suggested by my friend and school nurse. At first I didn’t want to go because I thought they only did abortions, but I was assured they would counsel me and help me decide what was best for me—so I went. 16 years old and petrified. I sat in the waiting room looking at their pamphlets to see what they had to offer; I didn't see anything that was promoting me to keep my baby. I went to the woman at the desk and told her that I came there to talk to someone about how to deal with my pregnancy, and that that I was told they have counselling to help girls in my situation.

To my shock she asked me if I was there for an abortion. I gasped it utter disbelief and said “No! I could never do that.” Knowing I wasn’t there for an abortion, she told me that they only do abortions, so if I wasn’t there to have one that they weren’t interested in talking to me. I left in utter disbelief.

My pregnancy remained a secret until I was 6 months pregnant, at which time my mother asked me what I wanted to do. To her surprise, I told her that my plan was to finish school and have my baby. It wasn't that easy for an unwed, pregnant, teenage girl to go about normal activities without getting nasty comments from strangers on the street about how I shouldn’t have been sleeping around; that I was a disgrace and a bad influence on young girls; that I should be embarrassed and ashamed, not walking around smiling. But what hurt the most was hearing people say that I should have an abortion. How people could hate me and my baby so much was beyond me.

My due date was November 26, 1976. Exactly two weeks before that day I was in school and my big belly did something amazing that caught me and my friends off guard. It was the end of lunch hour and in a panic someone walked me to my cooking class while someone else ran to get the teacher and school nurse. They both looked at my belly and told me the baby had dropped, explaining to me that in the next two weeks or so my baby would be born.

I could feel her contracting for the next few weeks. My regular doctor went on holiday. When I saw the new doctor, she didn’t believe my due date was November 26, saying to me that young girls like me didn't know when they got pregnant—even though I had told her that I knew the day, the hour and the minute. Back then you didn’t question doctors, so I listened to her instead of the school nurse who told me I could have the baby any day.

Finally, on Friday December 17th, I went to see another doctor who was in charge of delivery. He asked me if I could feel the baby contracting trying to get out. I said how long does that go on before the baby is born. He told me that it can be for a few days after the baby drops. Shocked, I informed him that it has been going on for weeks. He immediately ordered X-rays with bed rest and upon the results he admitted me Sunday for emergency C-section, explaining to me that I had placenta previa and I had not dilated at all. The doctor asked if something were to happen during delivery, who should I save: you, or the baby? To which I said, “The baby, of course.”

That Monday morning, 40 years ago, I welcomed my darling daughter, Dianalee into the world. According to the doctor my baby was born with her skin in a state of decay due to being long over due. He told me that he recorded my daughter’s birth in the medical book of records as “miracle birth, unexplained.”

In her 40 years of life, Dianalee has NEVER reminded me of the rape or my rapist. It has been such a pleasure watching her grow into the fine young woman she is today. She and her husband Brian are involved in charity work, using their testimonies to speak hope into the lives of others. They have also blessed me with two grandchildren, whom I can’t imagine my life without. I have seven grandchildren all together.

People need hope! They need to know they are not alone and it can be done. Many women have done it before them and many women are doing it today. I am just one of the 75-85% of women pregnant from rape who embrace the lives of their children either becoming parenting moms or birth-moms. I speak out to offer encouragement to pregnant rape victims. Your baby matters, but how he or she was conceived does not. Hang in there. You got this!


[Today's guest post is the personal story of Louise McLean as told to Feleica Langdon. It is part of our paid blogging program. Feleica is a provincial pro-life speaker in Newfoundland, founder of Life Defenders, and the regional coordinator in NL of Campaign Life Coalition working alongside the provincial coordinator, Margaret Hynes.]

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Disgraced Congressman Tim Murphy reminds us that a woman’s “choice” to abort is often due to pressure from a man


The pro-choice crowd has made great strides in their cause by framing their advocacy for legal abortion as synonymous with feminism or women’s rights. The wool has been pulled over our eyes so tightly that we forget the inherent absurdity in the claim that women require the ability to legally murder their own children in order to somehow achieve freedom or fulfillment in life. In fact, 46% of women describe themselves as pro-life, according to Gallup. Cases like that of supposedly pro-life Congressman Tim Murphy, who recently submitted a letter of resignation after it was revealed that he asked his mistress to have an abortion after a pregnancy scare, remind us all that abortion is a violent act that is often imposed on women by men who seek to control them.

Despite condemnation of Murphy from pro-life organizations (including Secular Pro-Life), pro-choicers are salivating at the chance to use this story to paint all pro-lifers as hypocritical opportunists. However, we must take the initiative to use Congressman Murphy’s despicable behavior as an illustration of the true reality of abortion and its relation to women’s rights and women’s independence. In terms of the numbers, it is extremely difficult to find unbiased statistics on coerced abortion, since most “unbiased” organizations refuse to even touch the subject. To be prudent, let’s look at what the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute has to say. In a 2012 study, the Institute found that 7% of women who had abortions—84,000 women—experienced physical or sexual abuse by the baby’s father in the year preceding her abortion, with the study concluding that “Women with abusive partners are substantially over-represented among abortion patients.” The pro-life Elliot Institute paints an even starker picture. According to their research, 64% of women reported feeling pressure to abort their babies.

Many of these women, who may be victims of abuse or incest, genuinely fear for their lives as they face threats of violence and murder from boyfriends, rapists, or family members. According to a 2010 Guttmacher study, 70% of women who experienced intimate partner violence had partners who exerted “reproductive control”—the act of forcibly impregnating a woman, forcing her to get an abortion, or both.

Sadly, the very real issue of forced or coerced abortion has been ignored by everyday citizens and elected officials alike who claim that this is a made-up issue by pro-lifers to mischaracterize the nature of abortion. But if the Guttmacher Institute admits this is a problem, why isn’t it being taken seriously by people who purport to care about women? According to USA Today, in a 2005 study, Guttmacher reported that 14% of women who had abortions stated that they did it because their “husband or partner wants me to have an abortion.” If abortion is inherently about women’s rights, why are women making the “choice” to abort on behalf of their male partners?

The fact is, coerced abortion and abortion made on the request or behalf of a male partner is the dirty little secret of the abortion and “pro-choice” industries—who don’t want you to know that the decision to abort may not be the “woman’s choice” after all. It ruins their feminist narrative completely. This is why we must take every opportunity to raise our voices about coerced abortion—both for the women who are affected by this abuse and for the unborn children who suffer the gravest consequence.

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

Monday, October 9, 2017

Killing your child with meth is a crime. Killing her with forceps? Nope.

This spring, a Canadian mom allegedly gave something to her baby. No, it wasn’t a rattle or a teddy bear.

It was meth.

Michelle Rice is accused of feeding a fatal dose of methamphetamine to her 11-day-old daughter, resulting in second-degree murder charges. What charges would Rice have face if she had acted 12 days earlier?

None.

Under Canadian law, a child isn’t recognized as a person until she’s been fully delivered. Jeff Durham learned that after his pregnant wife Cassie and their daughter Molly were murdered. Despite having a name, Molly had no rights, and the man who killed her faced no additional charges.

This is part of why Canada also has no rules governing late-term abortion. Some states don’t either; in New Mexico, Southwestern Women’s Options commits elective abortions through 28 weeks.



That isn't a pleasant thought; it gets worse when you learn what late-term abortions involve. Dr. Anthony Levatino is an obstetrician-gynecologist who committed over 1,200 abortions, and in the video below, he explains how a third trimester induction abortion is performed:


Day 1: To help ensure the baby will be delivered dead and not alive, the abortionist uses a large needle to inject digoxin or potassium chloride through the woman’s abdomen or vagina, targeting the baby’s heart, torso, or head. When the digoxin takes effect, the lethal dose causes a fatal cardiac arrest, and the baby’s life will end. (Even if the needle misses the baby, digoxin can still kill the baby when released into the amniotic sack, but will usually take longer to kill the child.) During the same visit, the abortionist inserts multiple laminaria sticks, or sterilized seaweed, to open up the woman’s cervix.
Day 2: The abortionist replaces the laminaria and may perform a second ultrasound to ensure that the baby is dead. If the child is still alive, the abortionist administers a second lethal dose of digoxin or potassium chloride. During this visit, the abortionist may administer labor-inducing drugs. The woman goes back to where she is staying while her cervix continues to dilate. The woman will usually wait a period of two to four days for her cervix to dilate enough for her to deliver the dead baby.
Day 3 or 4: The woman returns to the clinic to deliver her dead baby. If she goes into labor before she can make it to the abortion clinic in time, she will deliver her baby at home or in a hotel room. During this time, a woman may be advised to sit on a bathroom toilet until the abortionist arrives. If she can make it to the clinic, she will do so during her most heavy and severe contractions and deliver the dead baby. 
Babies in the late second trimester are killed via dilation and evacuation (D&E or dismemberment abortion) instead:

After the amniotic fluid is removed, the abortionist uses a sopher clamp — a grasping instrument with rows of sharp “teeth” — to grasp and pull the baby’s arms and legs, tearing the limbs from the child’s body. The abortionist continues to grasp intestines, spine, heart, lungs, and any other limbs or body parts. The most difficult part of the procedure is usually finding, grasping and crushing the baby’s head. After removing pieces of the child’s skull, the abortionist uses a curette to scrape the uterus and remove the placenta and any remaining parts of the baby.
As you read the words “teeth,” “grasp,” and “crush,” consider that there’s evidence a baby feels pain by 20 weeks. Some politicians have, which is why the House of Representatives recently passed legislation to protect pain-capable children. Tell your Senator you want it sent to the White House.

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

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Case of the Imaginary Violinist


Anyone who argues the pro-life position is likely to come across a series of logical fallacies about bodily autonomy. Often this is packaged in the form of a story about a fictional violinist. This illogical and highly implausible story was created by Judith Jarvis Thomson, an MIT professor, in her 1971 essay A Defense of Abortion. It involves asking someone to imagine that they are forcibly medically connected to a violinist with failing kidneys, so that their kidneys are doing the work for both of them for a period of nine months. Since in this fictional tale the violinist would otherwise die, the subject in question is not given a choice in the matter. Thompson’s point was that if someone has an ethical right to refuse such a scenario, they must surely also have the right to refuse to support their unborn child within their own body for nine months.

At its core this is nothing but a perfect illustration of the logical fallacy of false analogy. It is therefore rather dumbfounding how often it has been thrown around in supposedly serious argument. Let’s unpack this monstrosity and see where the argument falls apart in the case of abortion.

Firstly, this fictional story and the real world position of being a pregnant woman are intrinsically dissimilar situations. Note that in this story, the violinist is referred to with male pronouns. That he is both adult and male is clearly intentional. Most people strongly dislike the idea of being personally responsible for the support of an adult man. Were this an analogy about an adult being forcibly connected to a dying child, it would not have the same emotional appeal that Thomson intended. But in the case of abortion, we are in fact speaking of an adult being held responsible for the support of a very young child.

The violinist in the story is a stranger. Well, sadly, many of us don’t feel obligated to go out of our way to help strangers, so the use of a stranger in the story is intentional. But what if, instead, this were a story about a young child who is also a family member? What if it were, instead, one’s own biological child who lie dying? That scenario would cause this fable to lose so much of its emotional appeal as to be made entirely impotent as abortion propaganda. And yet, when we are speaking about abortion, that is exactly the scenario we are referring to: that of a parent providing life-sustaining support for their own child. We cannot compare a person’s obligation to a stranger to the unique nature and responsibility of the mother-child relationship.

We can further break this analogy down and see how it fails to make sense in other situations. For example, would someone be obligated to take a poor, out-of-luck adult violinist into their home to feed, clothe, and look after them for eighteen years? How about if they needed to be fed 8-12 times per day? How about if they were also incontinent and needed their diaper changed every 2-3 hours? Of course not. But that is exactly what a parent must do for their own child. Thus, in order to buy into this story, one would be left taking the absurd stance that a parent has no special obligation to support or sustain the life of their own child, which is actually exactly what abortion proponents are claiming.

We must also remember that abortion is a willful and unnatural act of destroying life. Abortion is not simply removing a child from their mother’s physical support. In most cases it is far more violent. If we wanted the case of the violinist who never was to be a more accurate analogy to pregnancy and abortion, we would have to insist not only have the right to choose to unplug from the violinist, but to have him torn limb from limb to make sure he is dead. Then, perhaps, we would also have to allow for his organs to be removed and sold. This is what is actually happening in many cases of abortion.

It is an entirely unethical and ridiculous position to take to say that someone has the right of bodily autonomy even when that autonomy willfully and intentionally takes away the life of one’s own child. And yet this story has become a perfect example of the “big lie technique,” which is yet another logical fallacy. This is the kind of argument they are relying on when abortion apologists make reference to a woman’s “basic right to bodily autonomy.” Although when examined closely it is both irrelevant and illogical as it concerns the issue of abortion; it has, by frequent repetition, been used as justification for an act which is in itself unjustifiable.

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

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Millions will die without abortion? Nope. Here's why.

Ever heard a fishing story? I’ve heard a few, and I’ve noticed something: the fish usually grows every time the story is told.

Of course, escaped fish aren’t the only things that constantly get bigger—so does the number of women predicted to die if abortion is outlawed. Estimates can climb to hundreds of thousands or even millions, and I’ve heard abortion advocates vouch for those figures.

The facts don’t.

CDC records show that in 1972 (the year before Roe v. Wade was decided), 39 women died from illegal abortions; another 24 died from legal ones. Given this, it seems unlikely that America’s maternal mortality rate would skyrocket following an abortion ban.

In Poland, it did the opposite. Poland offered abortion on demand in 1990, and its maternal mortality rate was 17 per 100,000. Shortly thereafter, the country began passing laws to protect children in the womb; instead of rising, its maternal mortality rate fell, dropping to 3 per 100,000 in 2015. The United States? Its rate stood at 14 per 100,000.

Poland isn’t the only country that bans abortion and does better on maternal mortality than the US—Ireland, Malta, Poland, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Lebanon do as well. Nor is it the only country to see its rate improve after restricting abortion; Chile’s continued to drop after pro-life legislation was implemented.

Generally speaking, I’ve found that abortion supporters don’t like to hear any of this. But what they really don’t like to hear? How the abortion industry puts women in danger.

Abortion is a great money saver; after all, child support gets expensive. That’s why some men grow accustomed to aborting their responsibilities, and they don’t always react well when a woman won’t cooperate.

Blackmail and financial coercion are common hazards, but they aren’t the only ones. Candace Pickens’ family discovered that after the 23-year-old was shot to death for refusing to abort (her 3-year-old son was wounded as well). Other women have faced stabbing, suffocation, explosions, and blunt force trauma for the same reason, helping to illustrate why homicide is now a bigger threat to pregnant women than hemorrhaging. Not that America’s largest abortion chain is helping to reduce it, as Planned Parenthood has opposed laws to protect women from violence and pressure.

But that’s not the only danger the abortion industry poses, as a study published in the British Medical Journal found abortion is associated with an elevated risk of suicide.

And then there’s how the abortion industry enables sexual abuse. Child predators like Timothy Smith, Edgar Ramirez, Cary Cross, John Blanks, Jr., Luis Gonzalez-Jose, Andrew King, John Haller, Adam Gault, and Grey David Woods all got help from Planned Parenthood. When Live Action investigators went to a Planned Parenthood facility while posing as human traffickers, the clinic manager offered to arrange abortions on child prostitutes who “can’t speak English” and “won’t know what’s going on.”

I’ll concede that there probably are things that the abortion industry is concerned about; the women and girls it profits from just aren’t among them.

It's true that an unexpected baby can bring serious challenges, and pro-lifers want to address them. That includes providing emotional and material support, helping you get health care, and offering the option of adoption.

What isn’t serious? The claim that millions of women will die without abortion.

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

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Walking with Silas


[Today's guest post is the personal story of Heather Iverson as told to Feleica Langdon. It is part of our paid blogging program. Feleica is a provincial pro-life speaker in Newfoundland, founder of Life Defenders, and the regional coordinator in NL of Campaign Life Coalition working alongside the provincial coordinator, Margaret Hynes.]

After three years of secondary infertility, Heather Iverson and her husband finally got to see two little lines. They were absolutely overjoyed, and so was their daughter, who was getting promoted to big sister. The Iversons went with a home birth and decided to leave the sex of their precious new addition a mystery until the birth. This is Heather's story.

* * *

"It’s a boy! Silas Lee!" I didn’t even notice he had clubfoot when he was born. We just snuggled, riding out the most amazing natural high of a med-free home birth and seeing our son for the first time.

After about an hour, the midwife brought him over to weigh and measure him and get his little footprints. That is when she told us that our son had clubfoot. Many would have been distressed but we were just happy our precious son was here and knew that we would get through this. We educated ourselves on what clubfoot was and visited specialists to start the correction process. Our paediatrician referred us to an orthopaedic specialist and at 6 weeks the process began. Due to growth, correction of clubfoot requires a series of casts. Each week you go in, they take one off and put another one on; each time stretching the foot a little more until it is in the correct position.

Eighty percent of babies with clubfoot need a minor procedure called a tenotomy. A tenotomy is a minor procedure where they snip the Achilles before they apply the last cast; that cast then stays on for three weeks while the Achilles reattaches with the proper stretch to it. Our son fell into the other twenty percent, which was great news. It only took four casts to get his foot where it needed to be.

The next step is the boots and bar. It is something that attaches to both feet and holds the clubfoot at the corrected angle to prevent it from relapsing. He had to wear that for twenty-three hours a day, seven days a week for three months. After that he went down to wearing it just at night and he will have to continue to do so until the age of five.

It breaks our heart every time we have to put those boots and bars on, but we will take that heartbreak over the kind that abortion leaves. Shockingly, every year, dozens of preborn babies who are diagnosed with fully treatable and correctable conditions like clubfoot and cleft lip are aborted.

When our boy was six months old we noticed that his toes were tucked on his clubfoot, so we went back to our doctor who attempted to correct it with two more casts. She was happy with the progress, but we were not. We decided to go to Dr. Dobbs, one of the leading orthopaedic doctors in the U.S. We made weekly trips from Michigan to St. Louis, Missouri for more casting and an MRI.

Thankfully, Dr. Dobbs was able to help Silas' toes gain flexibility, but they will always be a little tucked. So after eight casts and the boots and bar, we have a 14-month-old boy who is fully capable. In spite of the casts, Silas has reached every milestone right along with his peers. His foot hasn’t slowed him down at all; he makes sure to remind us of that every day!

Has it been easy? No, it’s not an easy journey having an infant in casts or foot braces, but it’s worth every doctor visit and brace application. All it requires is your time, love, and dedication. Isn’t that what being a parent is all about?

When your child receives a diagnosis—whether it’s prenatally or postnatally—knowledge is empowering and will equip you to be the best advocate you can be for your child. Instead of listening to doctors or loved ones telling you to abort, listen to the heartbeat of your growing baby who deserves a chance at life.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The impact of parental involvement laws on teen abortion rates

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

Recently I wrote a blog post showing evidence of the effectiveness of pro-life laws. In that post, one law I didn't mention was parental involvement laws. I chose to leave those laws out of my previous analysis because they only affect a minority of the population that may seek abortion. (Currently, women aged 17 and under make up only 3.6% of all abortion customers.)

However, I came across this paper by the Institute of Labor Economics which I thought was worth writing about. The paper analyses the effects of parental involvement laws (which includes both parental consent for abortion and mere notification of parents before abortion) on teenage birth rates.

Now as it is with most anti-abortion laws, the effectiveness of parental involvement laws on reducing teen abortions is controversial. For one, teens whose parents don't mind or who approve of their abortions aren't affected by these laws. For another, teens could travel to another state to obtain an abortion, or get a judicial bypass by claiming that telling their parents of the abortion would endanger them (even if it isn't true). Compared to many other pro-life laws, parental involvement laws are relatively easy to circumvent.

However, more and more states have been enforcing parental involvement laws, and the number of abortion facilities throughout the country has declined. The Institute of Labor Economics paper estimates that in the past 25 years (since Planned Parenthood v. Casey upheld a Pennsylvania parental consent law), 500,000 additional births to teens have occurred as a result of more states passing parental involvement regulations as well as increasing travel distance that teens must travel to reach an abortion center. Put more plainly: a paper written by authors unaffiliated with the pro-life cause has estimated that 500,000 lives were saved as a result of pro-life legal efforts.

Given that parental involvement laws affect a small percentage of women that seek abortions, half a million lives saved in 25 years (or 20,000 lives per year) is very impressive. This adds to the bundle of evidence that pro-life laws are effective in their goal of saving more lives.

Some more good news is that the absolute number of teenage births has declined by 67% from 1991 to 2016. Similarly, teen abortions have declined by 72% from 1991-2013 (see Table 1.1). Fewer teens are becoming pregnant, and among those who do conceive, fewer of them are choosing abortion compared with 30 years ago. According to Guttmacher data (see Table 1.2), the percentage of 15- to 17-year-olds who abort their pregnancies declined from a high of 50% in 1985 to 31% in 2013.

The exact reasons for the lower teen pregnancy rate are up for debate, and multiple causes are likely at play. Better contraceptive use and improved methods certainly play a role, but unfortunately, the percentage of high school students who report using no contraception at last intercourse has remained relatively steady since 1999. The recession probably contributed, but teen pregnancy continued to decrease even after the recession ended. Whatever the reason, fewer teens being put in the position that could lead them to choose abortion is a wonderful thing.

While all this is cause for celebration, I think this should also be cause to call on pro-lifers to reach out and support those teens who get pregnant and give birth to their babies even when they have been led to believe that abortion was the "right" choice for them. Students for Life set a great example by sticking up for pregnant teen Maddi Runkles when no one else was. Pro-lifers can make great progress in further reducing the teen abortion rate both by supporting pregnant teens and fighting for anti-abortion laws.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Illinois Governor kills life-saving ban on abortion funding through Medicaid


#HelloHyde, my name is Stargift.
Last year on September 30, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the life-saving Hyde Amendment with a social media photo campaign, using the hashtag #HelloHyde. Tomorrow is the 41st anniversary, and while 41 may not be as eye-catching, the Hyde Amendment remains a crucial tool to protect low-income children from abortion

Sadly, we mark this anniversary with tragic news: Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner just signed legislation that will destroy the Hyde Amendment in Illinois.

 #HelloHyde, my name is Gina.
First, some background: the Hyde Amendment is a limitation on taxpayer funding of abortion through the Medicaid program (which serves low-income families). The Hyde Amendment is an annual federal budget rider, first passed in 1976 and renewed every year since. A white paper issued on the 40th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment found that it has prevented over two million abortions. Of all the children born through the Medicaid program over the past 41 years, one in nine would be dead today without the Hyde Amendment.

Last year, our #HelloHyde campaign focused on Medicaid kids, presenting their photos (complete with #HelloHyde name tags) and challenging abortion supporters: who among these people should have died a taxpayer-subsidized death?

  #HelloHyde, my name is Noah. 
Though the Hyde Amendment is great a pro-life success, it isn't all-encompassing. The Medicaid program is jointly funded by both federal and state revenues; the Hyde Amendment only covers the federal portion. Most states have followed suit and instituted their own Hyde-like protections, but a handful have not.

Naturally, the abortion industrystruggling to stay afloat as the abortion rate plummetswants a government bailout, which means destroying the Hyde Amendment wherever possible. Subsidizing abortion will increase abortions, and therefore increase abortion profits; it's Econ 101. And they set their sights on preborn children in Illinois.

#HelloHyde, my name is Cateri.
The Illinois legislature recently passed a disastrous bill known as HB40 that would eviscerate Illinois' Hyde Amendment protections. The Charlotte Lozier Institute reported that the Hyde Amendment has saved the lives of over 144,000 low-income children in Illinois, and Illinois Right to Life projected that HB40 would, if enacted into law, cost the lives of 12,000 preborn babies annually.

A few days ago, HB40 landed on Governor Rauner's desk for signature. Governor Rauner had given mixed signals. He is a pro-choice Republican who at one point said that taxpayer funding of abortion was too extreme and promised that he would veto HB40. But he started wavering, and the abortion lobby put him under immense pressure to sign the bill.

#HelloHyde, my name is Jackie.
Of course, the pro-life movement pressured him too. I personally called his office, and so did many of you. But it was an uphill battle: he never respected preborn children for the human beings they are.

Yesterday, he signed a death sentence for approximately 24,000 babies.

I say 24,000 because that's 12,000 times two years; Governor Rauner is up for re-election in 2018, and we will defeat him. We must reverse this horrific decision as soon as possible. Not only Governor Raner, but every legislator who voted in favor of HB40, will face the full electoral wrath of the pro-life movement. These politicians have effectively told 144,000+ constituents that they should be dead! We are not going to let that slide. Let the attack ads begin. And let them feature Illinois residents born through Medicaid.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Not Your Grandmother’s Adoption: Modern Adoption and How the Pro-Life Community Keeps Up

Portrait of the author, Kelsey Vander Vliet

For the pro-life community, it often seems as though we are chasing after the changes in adoption, but never quite catching up to speed. We get caught up in tedious rhetoric that delays true education and action on the subject. Is adoption the alternative to parenting, or is it the alternative to abortion? For some, it is the first; for others, the latter. Would it shift your outlook if adoption was put on an even playing field? In 2017, modern adoptions can run with the big dogs. On average, two percent of women facing unexpected pregnancies choose adoption for their child. For many of these women, adoption may not be a last-minute backup plan. Adoption is a choice that a number of women believe to be their absolute best intuitive decision.

For myself, that is what adoption turned out to be. At 22 years old and fresh out of college, I found myself to be pregnant after a short-lived summer fling. That’s the mainstream culture in young America, and it has been that way for decades – publicized or not. With a bank account balance of about $1,000 and having no support from the father of my baby, I knew that pregnancy and single parenthood would be a long road of struggle and pain. The father told me we had no other option but to get an abortion, because he was now seeing someone new. I agreed to make the trip to Planned Parenthood, hoping that abortion would at least wash my hands of the heartbreak.

I was reluctant, but I didn't have the courage to storm out of the abortion center. Instead, I rushed through the stages of grief. There on the operating table, before the abortion began, I was bargaining – pleading with god to protect my child! Looking back, the cognitive dissonance of it seems absurd. But I believed that I was past the point of no return. I gave the okay for them to put me to sleep and perform a surgical abortion procedure.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up in the recovery room to a very apologetic nurse informing me that the abortion procedure did not work, but that I could come back tomorrow to “try again.” She explained that my cervix was so hardened, they just couldn’t get through. Later that day, I decided not to return, thus causing the father to be furious. I made the decision to move forward from termination and make an adoption plan. So, was my adoption decision an alternative to abortion? At the time, sure. However, had I known how modern adoption worked and had support from the very beginning, I believe I would have chosen adoption without giving abortion a second thought.

Fast forward to the current year. I now work as the Marketing Director at a reputable adoption agency in Indianapolis. I see birth mothers choose different kinds of adoptions… Every. Single. Day. The best part about this is that birth mothers are calling the shots when making their adoption plan; the power is in their hands. Open adoption is a relatively new concept, and has been continuously advancing through the years. Open adoption in 2017 does not bear much resemblance to the open adoptions of 1997. Furthermore, today’s adoptions certainly have progressed from the many coercive and forceful adoptions of the twentieth century. All too often, women were sent to homes for unwed mothers, their children were ripped from their arms shortly after birth, and they were told to go back to their lives pretending nothing had ever happened. Well, now it’s 2017, and as I often say when comparing modern adoption to the dark days of adoption coercion, “This ain’t that.” – and this is good news. Our sisters who came before us were treated as stains on society. We will no longer stand for such disgusting degradation.

There are certainly guidelines and standards for open adoptions. Many variables within the open adoption relationship are customizable, provided that the stability and safety of the child are guaranteed. In Indiana and many other states, open adoption agreements for infant adoptions are not legally enforceable. However, in several other states there is a rising trend in legal representation for the birth parents, which allows a post-adoption contact agreement to be enforced. For our Indianapolis agency, I am especially happy to report that adoptive parents are generally having positive responses to openness agreements, especially after receiving adoption education. We are seeing birth mothers request various combinations of pictures, phone calls, FaceTime, letters, and visits. In return, several adoptive families are also requesting that they be allowed to provide these updates and continue to build a relationship as well. Not only is open adoption proving to be advantageous for the bulk of birth mothers and adoptees, the adoptive parents are reporting positively as well. Adoption creates roles for everyone in the adoption triad; the openness of the adoption gives security to these roles.

Though there are definitive roles in an open adoption, negative perceptions of birth mothers still exist. It’s no secret that negative stigmas still remain for single mothers in general. For the typical birth mother, the negative stigma does not end with pregnancy. After she places her child, the general public questions every move she makes, as if it is society’s duty to match her choice with the life she is now living. During post-placement, a birth mother grieves over her child who is still alive, and tries to navigate through her new season of life. The grief process weighs heavily on these women as they try to move forward. Many birth mothers come home to their other children as well, and are left to answer an abundance of questions. During this vulnerable time, counseling and support groups are encouraged for healing by many agencies and firms, but unfortunately, not all. How can adoption be an option for all women when support isn’t guaranteed? Education is the key in reforming adoption across the board and offering support for post-placement healing.

As members of the pro-life community, what is our role in this and how do we keep up? Plain and simple: our role is to proudly stand beside these women. So maybe you’re still wondering, is adoption the alternative to abortion or is it the alternative to parenting? The answer to that ever-irritating question, is: who cares? Adoption is not a last resort. The role that pro-lifers have in adoption is to advocate for the women who choose it, support the positive advancements in the open adoption relationships and post-placement healing process, and talk about adoption in a positive light for the true choice that it is: a realistic and potentially rewarding opportunity for women facing an unexpected pregnancy. The best way to keep up with what’s going on in adoption is to ask. When the pro-life community starts asking women what they need instead of telling them, keeping up won’t leave us out of breath.

Today's guest post by Kelsey Vander Vliet is part of our paid blogging program. Kelsey is a birth mother living in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the Marketing Director at Adoption Support Center, an adoption agency, where she provides statewide education to mother and baby healthcare providers and pregnancy resource centers, and leads advertisement campaigns for the agency. She is the Indiana Birth Mother Mentor for Talk About Adoption and blogs at fromanothamotha.com. Kelsey hopes to help bridge the gap of understanding between adoptive families, adoptees, and birth parents, as well as advocate for the rights and support of birth mothers in her state.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Ohio Bill to Help Teen Moms Falls Short, Requires Amendment


One of the more disturbing articles I've read this week comes from an Ohio affiliate of National Public Radio, and it is entitled "Unaccompanied In Pain: Gaps In Ohio Law Hurt Teen Moms." It describes how pregnant teens who are estranged from their families are caught in a horrific legal loophole: without the consent of their absent parents or guardians, they cannot obtain epidurals or C-sections. That is, to put it mildly, incredibly troubling. But the article concludes on a hopeful note: there is a bill in the Ohio legislature to address this issue.

As a lawyer, I was interested to examine the approach the bill takes. Unfortunately, I found that House Bill 302 is a poorly drafted piece of legislation. It defines "health care" in a way that does not clearly include epidurals—but which very well could be interpreted to include abortions. All it takes is one activist judge. 

Here's the language in question:
(A) As used in this section, "health care" means only treatment or services intended to maintain the life or improve the health of either a pregnant minor or the unborn child she is carrying.
(B) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a minor may consent to receive prenatal health care, health care during delivery, and post-delivery health care. Such care includes family planning services. Such consent is not subject to disaffirmance because the minor has not reached the age of majority. The consent of any other person is not needed to authorize the provision of health care under this section...
"Health care" is defined, but "health" is not. Does an epidural "improve the health of ... a pregnant minor"? Or is short-term pain management a matter of personal preference rather than health? I have an opinion, and you probably do too, but it doesn't matter: as long as the bill is silent on the question, it's left to the case-by-case judgment of the doctor. The goal here is to allow all teen moms to obtain epidurals, including those who would be physically safe without one. This legislative drafting falls short of that goal and must be amended.

But the definition of "health" has a long history in another context: abortion. The Supreme Court has defined abortion for "health" reasons to include "all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age—relevant to the wellbeing of the patient." (In other words, an abortion for a legal "health" reason may be indistinguishable from an elective abortion for socioeconomic reasons.) If a judge uses this definition of "health" to interpret House Bill 302, Ohio's parental consent law on abortion would be totally eviscerated; remember, under this bill, a pregnant minor may obtain "health" services "notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary." 

The statement "Such care includes family planning services" is troubling for the same reason. There is a long history of abortion advocates trying to include abortion in the definition of "family planning," and the term "family planning" is not defined in the bill.

It's ironic that a bill which aims to support teen mothers, and which uses the phrase "unborn child" multiple times, could wind up having a pro-abortion effect. Happily, there's a simple fix. The bill already contains a paragraph which provides: "Nothing in this section abrogates or limits any person's responsibility under section 2151.421 of the Revised Code to report child abuse..." which is of course crucial. A similar paragraph could provide assurance that House Bill 302 does not abrogate or limit Ohio's parental consent law on abortion.

But this is where it gets dark. The bill has two primary sponsors and nine co-sponsors. Both primary sponsors and seven of the nine co-sponsors are endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. This raises the possibility that the bill is not poorly drafted at all, but a Trojan horse.

Capitalizing on pro-life compassion for teen moms in pain, and tricking pro-life legislators into thinking this is a fine bill by using the phrase "unborn child," would be a low blow indeed. But I can't put it past them; remember, this is the same NARAL affiliate that defended an abortion committed on a woman too high on drugs to consent.

I kind of have to admire the sick genius of it. Any pro-life opposition to this bill will result in an immediate "war on women" responsedespite the fact that the bill doesn't even guarantee teens access to epidurals like it's supposed to. They're counting on low-information voters to look no further. Therefore we must tread carefully. This bill requires amendment, not outright rejection. It is poorly drafted and more likely to result in abortions than in epidurals. Stay on message.

The Ohio legislature has a strong pro-life majority. If we are disciplined, we can transform House Bill 302 into the pro-life, pro-woman legislation it needs to be. Ohio's teen moms are counting on us.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Ewing Family's Story


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

When Jeannie Ewing was pregnant with Sarah—her second child with her husband Ben—everything seemed to be progressing normally. The Ewings opted out of the amniocentesis and nothing abnormal showed up on ultrasounds. When their daughter was born, it was discovered that she had Apert Syndrome.

Upon physician consultation they were told what Apert Syndrome was and the challenges they and their daughter would face.

Apert Syndrome is a condition that causes people's skull and facial bones to harden prematurely, which means they don't have the soft spot (fontanelle) as babies on their heads. Their skulls are already fused at particular sutures. These sutures need to be opened up in order to allow the growing brain room to expand. Because of this, people like Sarah have very distinct facial features and often misshapen heads. They have droopy eyes, a small nose, protruding forehead, and small mouth.

Throughout their lifetime, people with Apert Syndrome undergo on average between 20 and 60 surgeries. It's a very mysterious disease and there is still much research to be done. Some people with this condition die prematurely from complications of surgeries and undiagnosed secondary conditions, like seizures or heart ailments. It's a very sneaky disease.

The couple was shocked! They didn't know how long that they would have with Sarah or even what their lives would look like, but their love for her surpassed any prognosis they were given. They certainly didn't want a life full of surgeries and therapists and specialists, but she was their precious baby girl!

Sarah's life has taught them to never take time for granted and that every person has a special purpose in this word. No one on earth is guaranteed a long life.

The Ewings have gotten to know other families of children with Apert Syndrome; tragically, three of those children have died prematurely. The Ewings weep for those children taken far too young, and their parents who are left with unfathomable grief. They also reflect on their own daughter and are faced with the question of if the condition will cut their little girl's life short too.

Apert Syndrome is a fragile condition; it is like a sniper that attacks seemingly at random. As with many diagnoses, Apert Syndrome  doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care how old you are, how many loved ones will be left behind to grieve, or what great moments that will be missed out on. It is because of Sarah that her family hold their loved ones that much tighter!

Their big-hearted warrior has also taught them that we all have our own unique attributes, challenges and imperfections, all of which should be embraced. Every challenge we face has something beautiful to teach us and the world. Jeannie says:
Sarah, because she looks different, reminds people who encounter her that we are all fallen and broken in some way. She wears that on her face, while some people's brokenness is hidden. In her brokenness, there is beauty. There is joy. There is love. She is very social. She accepts everyone wholeheartedly and allows people to be comfortable in who they are around her. It is because of that I have had incredible conversations with perfect strangers when her and I are in public. Sarah gets to the heart of what matters to people.
Families who are faced with extra needs need extra support. The Ewings' hearts fill with gratitude for all of the help they have received. They had several friends who helped keep house, offered free babysitting, helped with fundraisers, sometimes made monetary or gift card donations, and prepared meals after surgeries. Jeannie's friend, Julie, has also been there for her personally:
I think, when you are a caregiver, it's easy to get lost in the person for whom you're caring. But my friend saw that and frequently came to our house to check on me, not Sarah. She asked if I was getting enough rest, if I needed anything, how I was coping, etc. She brought over "mommy" care packages with dark chocolate, nice lotions and soaps and local honey.
In addition to this, a gentleman named Brian Sapp made cherished videos of the Ewings. He is a professional videographer/photographer and teaches media to middle school students. He spent hours interviewing the family and putting together a video for their website.

If you have been given a prenatal or post-natal diagnosis, reach out to life-affirming and supportive resources around you. Get educated, connected to support groups, and accept help from your inner circle. Embracing life knowing you are supported EMPOWERS!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Rock you like a hurricane

Your president Kelsey Hazzard here with a quick personal note. I am in the path of Hurricane Irma and need to devote some time to prepping. Also, while I'm reasonably confident about my physical safety during the storm, reliable internet is probably too much to ask. Therefore I will be on hiatus for a bit. SPL's co-admins in California may have time to contribute a blog post or two, and they'll still be sharing items of interest on the SPL facebook page, but expect less activity. Your patience is appreciated.

Meanwhile, if you haven't already done so, I encourage you to contribute to the Hurricane Harvey recovery effort. Please give money, not stuff. Well-meaning people who give random items from their closets often make things worse. I'm aware of two pro-life organizations in Texas taking financial donations; they are on the ground and know what items are needed:
Thanks,
Kelsey

Being pressured to abort? Pro-lifers want to help.


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

The Supreme Court said there’s a right to abortion. However, it also said there’s a right not to have one, and that right applies to minors. Unfortunately, this is something many won’t accept: mothers often feel pressured to abort, and can face blackmail, financial coercion, and threats of violence when they refuse. If you're in this situation, then there's a lot to worry about. The good news? Pro-lifers want to help.

The Justice Foundation created its Center Against Forced Abortions “to provide legal resources to mothers who are being forced or coerced into an unwanted abortion.” It provides letters that can be given to partners, parents, and abortion staff detailing the potential legal consequences of a forced abortion. You can get additional information or contact an attorney by calling (210) 614-7157 or sending an email to info@txjf.org.

Similar organizations include Alliance Defending Freedom, the Thomas More Law Center, the ACLJ, Liberty Counsel, the American Freedom Law Center, Life Legal Defense Foundation, and The Foundation for Moral Law. Of course, if you or someone you know is in physical danger, call law enforcement immediately.

Legal assistance might not be the only support you require; for practical aid, try going to a pregnancy care center. Among the largest pregnancy center networks is Care Net; its local affiliates offer free pregnancy tests, pregnancy related information, adoption counseling, and material resources. Some locations also provide consultations with licensed medical professionals, ultrasounds for pregnancy confirmation, and testing for sexually transmitted infections. Information about other centers and maternal housing can be found at OptionLine.com or by texting the word “HELPLINE” to 313131.

Regardless of whether you're being pressured to abort, finding affordable health care can be tough. To help with that, a coalition of pro-life groups created GetYourCare.org. It's a website showing your nearest federally qualified health center, which accepts patients regardless of ability to pay.

And finally, even if you've already started a chemical abortion, you may still have options. For more information,visit AbortionPillReversal.com and call (877) 558-0333. The line is staffed 24 hours a day and can put you in touch with a doctor who's ready to help.

Sadly, the choice to have an abortion is frequently made under duress. That’s something pro-lifers want to fix.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Transcript: You call this reproductive justice?

[This is a video transcript. For the video, click here.]

Hey everybody, Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard here. I want to talk to you about an article, and normally this kind of thing would appear on our blog, but I just don't think that the written word can quite capture how I'm feeling about this.

But for those of you who are deaf or hard of hearing, or just watching this at work (naughty naughty), there is a link to the transcript in the description, as well as a link to the article that I'm talking about.

So there's this photojournalism piece with the journalism contributed by, I'm going to butcher this woman's last name sorry, Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje, with photos by Carolyn Van Houten. It appeared in the San Antonio Express News in late July, and more recently a version of it was published in the New York Times.

It's about abortion in Texas, and there's a lot to dislike about it; like, it's a very obviously biased pro-choice piece. Among other things, they refer to babies being "saved" from abortion, in scare quotes; like, are you suggesting they would have survived? I mean, that has happened, but it's extraordinarily rare, and I don't think that's what you were getting at. You were getting at... something weird.

Right out of the gate they've got their claim that one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, which is a blatant lie that has been debunked repeatedly, including by the Washington Post.

And they also found the most religious people they could possibly find, although to be fair, it is Texas.

But let's set all of that aside, because I want to talk about one aspect of this article that really leapt out at me, and it came from an interview with a young woman named Renee Rivas. Renee is described as being a student at the University of Texas where she is involved in a group called URGE, or Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity—which sort of like the pro-choice counterpart to Students for Life of America. #ProLifeGen

URGE is one of these "reproductive justice" organizations that tries to make abortion more palatable by attaching it to every other cause you can think of. So for instance, URGE has a parenting page on its website where it talks about the need for "affordable prenatal care, accessible child care, quality jobs and financial and moral support to continue their education," all of which sounds awesome.

Let's see how cynical you are. Let's see if you can guess where this is going.

We have a lovely picture of Renee, and it is captioned that she had an abortion because, without it, she would not have been able to pursue an internship with URGE.

If you really want to support mothers in the workplace, you might, I don't know, start with your own friggin' internship. Now, from the article, it's unclear whether she came to URGE with her unplanned pregnancy and they flat-out told her she needed to get an abortion—which would be illegal—or if she just, through her years of campus advocacy on behalf of the organization, knew that it wasn't worth asking... and actually, the latter is more damning.

Either way, she did have her internship this past summer, at the cost of one human life. Shame on you, URGE. Just... shame on you.

"Encounter Youniverse" launch party to feature sneak peek of "Only Human"

An excerpt from Only Human, the life-affirming screenplay by SPL president Kelsey Hazzard, will be displayed as part of the Encounter Youniverse launch party for Create|Encounter!

The event will take place during the Life/Peace/Justice conference on October 20-22 in Pittsburgh.

Encounter Youniverse is a project of Rehumanize International (which also organizes the L/P/J conference). Its mission is "to uphold human dignity by sharing human stories," building empathy and breaking down the barriers that cause dehumanization. Encounter Youniverse is throwing the launch party for its newest initiative, Create|Encounter, which (as you might guess) advances this mission through creative works.

Only Human is a perfect fit. It is a story about what a sidewalk counselor has in common with the abortionist she protests; about radical openness and love for women facing crisis pregnancies; and about a unique ethical dilemma highlighting the fundamental tension between compassion and justice.

It's early, so we can't be more specific than that just yet. For all the latest updates, like Only Human on facebook.

P.S.—The launch party will also feature other artistic works, selected from over 100 submissions to the Create|Encounter contest earlier this summer. A full list is not yet available, but keep your eyes open.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Parents should not be allowed to kill their obligations


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

Ever hear that consenting to sex doesn’t mean consenting to a baby? If you’re discussing abortion, then it’s likely to come up. When women invoke that principle, they’re often lauded for defending their “right to choose.” When a man does the same?

He's a deadbeat.

Non-custodial parents (the overwhelming majority of whom are men) are expected to pay child support. This responsibility stands regardless of if a man used a condom or even if he only had sex on the condition that his partner would abort. When you point that out, expect to hear how child support requirements don’t compare to pregnancy because they don’t limit bodily autonomy or carry physical risks. Many are adamant when they insist this.

They’re also wrong.

The money to pay child support is typically earned using one’s body, and if you don’t come up with it, your body gets put in jail. Incarceration carries a serious risk of sexual assault and other forms of violence, something Rafael Solis’ family knows all about. Solis went into custody for failing to pay child support.

He didn’t come out.

But incarceration isn’t the only consequence of not paying child support. Some states will suspend your driver’s license or revoke other certifications as well. These things clearly impact autonomy, and they last for eighteen years, not nine months. Nevertheless, most people don’t see this as unjust: they understand that helping to create a child also creates a responsibility to support said child.

What doesn’t make sense? That this principle is only applied following birth.

Now, some will respond that a fetus is actually part of her or his mother’s body. It’s a claim Neurobiologist Dr. Kawaljeet Anand’s research doesn’t support: his work suggests a fetus can feel pain at twenty weeks. Neither does the fact that a preborn girl can be observed sucking her thumb at fifteen weeks. Her fingerprints were visible at twelve weeks and her heartbeat became detectable at six. Her unique DNA profile? That goes back to conception. Saying that one person has two neural systems, two hearts, two sets of fingerprints, and two DNA profiles just doesn’t hold up.

Of course, having a baby doesn’t mean having to raise one. People hoping to adopt outnumber available infants, and they aren’t hard to find: the website Adoption.com allows those who’ve been vetted by a licensed adoption agency to create a profile, and they can be searched by location, age, religion, or other factors.

However, children do come with some expectations. The most basic? You can’t kill them to keep from providing support. That shouldn’t just start at delivery.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Whatever happened to PASS?


When I first got involved in the pro-life movement as a college student about ten years ago, I heard a lot about PASS: Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome (or sometimes PAS, for Post Abortion Syndrome). I've noticed that discussion of PASS has faded away in recent years. There are still plenty of active post-abortion groups out there, but the terminology has changed; they generally emphasize regret, grief, and healing rather than a syndrome.

I think this change in language is for the best, for two reasons.

PASS and the DSM
I am not a psychologist, but I did receive my bachelor's degree in psychology and know the basics, so bear with me. Psychological disorders are defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM. (The DSM is typically referred to by its edition, such as the current DSM-5, but since the time period I'm talking about involves multiple editions, I'm just going to say DSM.)

Importantly, DSM classifications are symptom-based. A patient presents with symptoms, which a psychologist or psychiatrist checks against possible conditions in the DSM. For example, the DSM will offer a list of ten symptoms and state that if seven out of the ten symptoms have been present for more than X amount of time, then the patient has Condition Y. It's not perfect—what possible catalog of the human mind and emotions could be?—but this standardization is well-suited for a clinical setting, where symptoms and their treatment are the central concern.

Contrast that with PASS, which is cause-based. One woman with PASS might present with PTSD-like symptoms, such as nightmares or panicked reactions to seeing babies. Another might present with clinical or subclinical depression. Still another might have symptoms consistent with generalized anxiety disorder. The only thing they have in common is the cause of their symptoms: abortion.

Since PASS is cause-based and the DSM is symptom-based, PASS was never going to make it into the DSM. This created an opening for abortion supporters to declare that PASS didn't really exist; it was just a fake disease made up by those unscientific anti-choice loons! Of course, the logical fallacy is easy enough to spot. Just because something isn't in the DSM (which has a narrow, clinical purpose) doesn't mean people don't experience it, and you must not have a high view of women's intelligence or honesty if you believe that tens of thousands of women created and joined support groups for a non-existent phenomenon. But with the help of the media, the "PASS is fake" narrative caught on and the damage was done.  

PASS and Pathology
The second reason I'm glad to see PASS go is that it pathologized women who should not be pathologized. Outside the womb, if a parent kills their child (whether deliberately or accidentally), grief is a common, normal, healthy reaction. Abortion kills a child too, so shouldn't negative reactions to abortion be considered normal?

Calling post-abortion grief a "syndrome" suggests that psychologically healthy women wouldn't experience it. From a pro-life perspective, that's totally backwards. If anything, I worry about the psychological health of women who celebrate their abortions.

Post-abortive healing is incredibly important, and I admire the work of organization like Abortion Changes You that help mothers through that process. I'm hopeful that abandoning the language of PASS for a more holistic view will allow the pro-life movement to reach many more post-abortive mothers in the years to come.