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Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Year in Review

Secular Pro-Life had a very busy 2018. Here are the highlights.

In January, we participated in both the March for Life in Washington, D.C. and the Walk for Life in San Francisco, CA. SPL president Kelsey Hazzard spoke at Georgetown University for a conference with the theme "(Ir)religiously Pro-Life: The Future of the Movement in a Secular World," and both Kelsey and SPL co-admin Terrisa Bukovinac spoke at the pre-March for Life meetup organized by Rehumanize International. Cecile Richards announced her retirement as the head of Planned Parenthood, and we sang her farewell. On this blog, we covered the flaws of international "unsafe abortion" studies, legal challenges to bans on abortion for Down Syndrome, and the relationship between abortion laws and abortion rates. Our blogging continued apace in February (this one is my favorite) as we recovered from our hectic January schedule. In March, pro-lifers rallied in front of the Supreme Court as it heard arguments in NIFLA vs. Becerra; the Court later ruled that California's attempt to force pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise abortion is unconstitutional. Terrisa recorded a video for Illinois Right to Life's "Heart2Heart" educational program. On the blog, we shared insights from undercover attendance at a NARAL training session and reported on a South Carolina abortion business caught taking human remains to a gas station.

In April, we rallied against SB320, the California bill that would have brought abortion pill vendors to college campuses; the governor ultimately vetoed it, but abortion extremists plan to introduce it again. In other news, a study on abortion pill reversal was published, as was a study proving that contrary to previous propaganda, defunding Planned Parenthood in Texas did not cause a spike in the maternal mortality rate. (The actual culprit? Changes to the death certificate form.) May was dominated by the tragic news that Ireland voted to remove the right to life for unborn children from its constitution. Stateside, SPL joined a coalition urging Title X reforms to prevent abortion businesses from exploiting funds intended for nonviolent family planning. We also got our 501(c)(3) status, and you can make your tax-deductible donation here! In June, we launched the #NextNominee campaign, petitioning the White House to nominate a pro-life woman to the Supreme Court... and boy would the nation have been spared a lot of headache and heartache if our advice had been heeded. That's all we'll say about that. Also in June, we exhibited at the Pro-Life Women's Conference.

In July, Kelsey spoke at the National Right to Life Convention, while Terrisa represented SPL at the Democrats for Life of America conference. July was also a big month for research-related blog posts, particularly on the relationship between pro-life laws and unplanned pregnancy and abortion rates. In August, we announced that the number of non-religious pro-life Americans has grown to 12.8 million, and released an updated version of our "Why Should Non-Christians Care About Abortion?" brochure. September brought the Let There Be Life Conference at UC Berkeley, where co-admin Monica Snyder brilliantly debunked three pro-choice myths. Kelsey spoke at Yale University about the intersection of law and science in the Supreme Court's abortion decisions. On the blog, we shared the evidence that even in the third trimester, babies are aborted for non-medical reasons.

In October, we presented at the Rehumanize conference in Pittsburgh. Kelsey also won an award in Rehumanize's Create | Encounter art contest for her piece "Dilation & Evacuation." In November, Monica was supposed to debate a pro-choice professor, but sadly, the event was cancelled at the last minute due to the California wildfires. We do hope to reschedule for early next year, and in the meantime, you can read the many blog posts arising from her debate preparation. 

And that brings us to now! We are hard at work preparing for January 2019. We hope you will join us at the March for Life and related activities. We also want to hear from you about your priorities for the coming year. What did you like about our work in 2018? What would you have us do differently? We're all ears. Thank you for your tremendous support, and happy new year!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Top 10 Stories of 2018

We won't keep you in suspense. The most-read posts on this blog for 2018 are...

10. “The People Want Roe to Stay”—Abortion polls produce bizarre results; people claim to support Roe v. Wade, but also favor abortion restrictions that aren't possible with Roe in place.

9. Pro-life agnostic running for Senate in Missouri—Austin Petersen did not take office (he lost the primary to pro-life Christian Josh Hawley, who went on to defeat abortion supporter Claire McCaskill), but his campaign brought visibility to pro-life secularism.

8. I Am a Pro-Life Progressive. Don’t Shun Me.—A Democrat pleads for tolerance of pro-lifers within his party.

7. Film Review: Pro-Life Feminist—If you haven't seen this documentary yet, you really should.

6. Pro-choice embryologist contradicts his own biology textbook—Classic.

5. Non-religious pro-life population grows to 12.8 million—More people are leaving religion, and the percentage of non-religious people who take an anti-abortion position has gone up at least 4 points since 2012.

4. How a militantly pro-choice young lady switched sides—"All it took to get me here was a single scientifically sound argument, logically constructed, and passionately stated. I am certain there are countless others like me, and it is our mission to reach them. We have science and logic on our side—now let’s go show the world our passion."

3. Mourning Ireland—The Emerald Isle was a beacon of hope for life in the United States. That hope was shattered, thanks in no small part to Irish voters' desire to exact retribution from the Catholic Church.

2. Supporting women with unplanned pregnancies: can we find common ground with the pro-choice side?—"The pro-choice side is quick to point out the many ways unplanned pregnancy can devastate a woman's life, but if the implication is that she is choosing abortion because of these external reasons—and not because she specifically doesn't want children—these are precisely the situations when even pro-choicers should see abortion as a travesty, not a panacea. If most women choose abortion because they feel they have to, then it's backwards and even a bit grotesque to model abortion as women's liberation."

1. Three Excellent Reasons Not to Execute Women Who Have Abortions—Kevin Williamson's fringe position is wrong, and the death penalty for abortion is a non-starter.

Friday, December 21, 2018

January 2019 Full Itinerary


Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have a very full schedule next month! You are welcome to join us as we connect with fellow activists and equip one another to save lives.

Want to volunteer? Email us at info@secularprolife.org.

Geaux Forth Youth Rally
Date: Thursday, January 17, 2019
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Location: Warner Theater, Washington, D.C.
Description: The Geaux Forth Youth Rally is a gathering of pro-life teens and young adults sponsored by Louisiana Right to Life

Rehumanize Meetup
Date: Friday, January 18, 2019
Time: 10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Location: Mall side of the Smithsonian Castle, Washington, D.C.
Description: Before the March for Life, join us for a mini-rally with various allied organizations, hosted by our friends at Rehumanize International. Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard will speak at the meetup.

March for Life
Date: Friday, January 18, 2019
Time: Noon
Location: National Mall, Washington, D.C.
Description: March with us down Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court to protest the injustice of abortion and demand the reversal of Roe v. Wade

Karaoke Fundraiser
Date: Friday, January 18, 2019
Time: 7:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Location: TBA
Description: Last year’s joint karaoke fundraiser with Rehumanize International was a hit, so we’re doing it again! Practice your song in the shower and get ready to belt it out for a great cause.

Students for Life of America National Conference
Date: Saturday, January 19, 2019
Time: All day
Location: Upper Marlboro, MD
Description: Approximately 2,700 students from colleges and high schools all over the country gather at this event to learn from seasoned activists—and, of course, take home materials they can use on their campuses!

Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life
Date: Saturday, January 19, 2019
Time: All day
Location: Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
Description: This Catholic-focused student conference has invited Secular Pro-Life to exhibit and offer attendees a different perspective. We want every pro-life person, including those who belong to a church, to know how to make the secular case against abortion!

Walk for Life
Date: Saturday, January 26, 2019
Time: 12:30 p.m.
Location: Civic Center Plaza, San Francisco, CA
Description: The west coast counterpart of the March for Life, the Walk for Life is a courageous voice of dissent in pro-abortion California.

Secular Pro-Life co-admin Terrisa Bukovinac also happens to be the head of Pro-Life San Francisco. Follow PLSF on Facebook to learn about additional activism events happening around the Walk for Life.


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The true secular side of the Irish abortion debate


On the 25th of May this year, when Ireland paved the way for legalized abortion through the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, many Repealers claimed that this was a final severing of the Catholic Church’s control in Ireland and real liberation for Irish women. Such shockingly ignorant remarks show how little the Repealers know about the modern global pro-life community and just how secular this movement has actually become.


It is worth examining the comments of NARAL co-founder and abortionist turned pro-lifer Bernard Nathanson on how he helped legalize abortion in the USA, because in 2018, Ireland fell victim to the very same methods that Nathanson utilized fifty years ago.


Nathanson: “The First Key Tactic was to capture the media”.


Over the last number of years, this clearly has been used to great effect in Ireland. The whole media, every newspaper and the national TV and radio station, RTÉ, were all in favor of Repeal, with just a couple of “token” journalists, Breda O’Brien and David Quinn, speaking in favor of the 8th Amendment. This has been the way for some years in Ireland and it has proven very difficult to infiltrate this media freeze-out. In 2015, The Prolife Campaign ran a 33-1 campaign, where they studied the Irish media for two weeks and observed that within that time frame, 33 pro-choice articles appeared, while only one pro-life article was published. The online group, Hear Both Sides has also given a number of examples on how Irish national taxpayer-funded broadcaster RTÉ has repeatedly shown bias against pro-life opinions.


Various Irish actors such as Saoirse Ronan and Cillian Murphy willingly added to the lies and misinformation, creating a video to encourage Irish citizens to vote for Repeal and during which the actors actually pause for the “women who had died from the 8th Amendment”. Not one woman has ever died due to this amendment but the media did nothing to challenge this blatant and shameless lie. Other mistruths were willingly spread, such as pregnant women in Ireland being denied life-saving treatment during cancer and the threat of imprisonment of fourteen years for procuring an illegal abortion. What the media failed to state was that it was the pro-abortion political party, Fine Gael, the group now pushing for abortion up to birth in Ireland, who were the ones to introduce this ridiculous prison threat through their Protection of Life During Pregnancy 2013 Act. It worked nicely and was cited as one of the reasons why many Irish citizens voted to repeal the 8th.


However, the real ace card for the Repealers was Savita Halappanavar, whose tragic death by undiagnosed sepsis in 2012 was shamelessly exploited in the Irish and international media. The result has been that most Irish people are now utterly convinced that Savita died from being denied an abortion, when in fact, Irish law already allowed for an abortion to save the mother’s life. Abortion advocate OB-GYN Peter Boylan regularly stated in the media that women's lives were in danger due to the Eighth Amendment, in response to which five top Irish obstetricians wrote an open letter, calling on Boylan to retract these claims. Boylan also gave an interview to Irish magazine, Hotpress, where he blatantly lied that four women had died from the 8th, including Halappanavar. ‘Save the 8th’ campaigners explained how each of these women had actually died and ran a petition for Boylan to resign but the media unquestioningly ran with Boylan’s version.


Despite previously claiming to be pro-life, the vast majority of Irish politicians also jumped onboard the Repeal side, including the Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister, Simon Harris. They used every opportunity to advance the Repeal side, participating in interviews where they were allowed to go unchallenged in their frequently outlandish remarks. Varadkar refused to debate the referendum in public, citing protocol, but that didn't stop him grinning regularly for the media while promoting the Repeal side and parroting vapid soundbites such as Hillary Clinton’s long-obsolete “safe, legal and rare”. Both men refused to meet with women who regretted their abortions and women whose children had been diagnosed with “fatal fetal anomalies” and went on to give birth to their children. These Irish politicians gave all their time and attention to women and abortion groups whose opinions tallied with their own and these were the only stories that the Irish media actively engaged in. I myself wrote to both Varadkar and Harris on a number of occasions and to date, neither has bothered to reply to me.


Nathanson: “The Second Key Tactic was to Play the Catholic Card”.


Even though Catholics kept a low profile in the Referendum, international media such as the Guardian cited Ireland as being “shrouded in shame”, even though such naiveté made it clear that none of these journalists had ever visited Ireland. The fact that 87% of 18 to 24-year-olds voted for Repeal demonstrated that the Catholic Church had not influenced them. Liam Neeson’s amalgamation with Amnesty (the “human rights” group who supports legalised prostitution and still hasn't returned illegal funds from George Soros) produced a ridiculous and outdated video, with eerie graveyards and crucifixes, insinuating (but never stating) that this is how [Catholic] Ireland looks and treats its womenfolk, due to the Eighth Amendment.


Irish GPs are going to be forced to participate in abortions or refer on women to other doctors, a violation of their right to conscientious objection; two-thirds don't want to engage in abortions. Even though the majority of Irish GPs don’t want to be involved in such procedures that are not a typical part of general practice, there is a presumption that this is due to religious reasons. This extreme opposition to pro-life doctors is very apparent in the vehemently pro-abortion newspaper, The Irish Times, where one journalist claimed that GPs who object to being involved in abortions are doing this “on personal religious grounds”. This muddled view is a sadly typical one amongst Irish journalists and indeed, in Ireland at large.


Nathanson: “The Third Key Tactic was the Denigration and Suppression of all Scientific Evidence that Life Begins at Conception”.


Fifty years of legalized abortion in the UK meant that the ‘Save the 8th’ campaigners had plenty of evidence to draw upon and stated these facts in their posters. Other posters stated correctly that abortion will be available in Ireland to six months for vague health reasons. Real-life experiences from nurses who had witnessed the horrors of legalized abortions in other countries were also cited. The Repealers panicked. First, they denied such details, “fact-checking” and tried to deny that 1 in 5 British pregnancies end in abortion, as miscarriages weren't included in these figures. They also tried to deny the fact that 90% of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted in the UK. When the Repealers couldn't protest the facts and stats on the posters dotted around Ireland, they did what frightened people often do. They tried to destroy the evidence. During the campaign, thousands of ‘Save the 8th’ posters were torn down around Ireland.


Journal.ie, an online Irish media forum claiming to give a non-biased guide to the Eighth Amendment stated that: “There is little consensus of when life begins”, which is absolute bunkum, of course, but went unchallenged. Embarrassingly, retired OB-GYN Peter Boylan stated on Irish national TV that the preborn child in the womb is not fully formed at 12 weeks and was corrected by pro-life OB-GYN, Dr. John Monaghan who informed Boylan that if he didn't know that basic fact, he should go back to school. Astoundingly, instead of challenging Boylan’s lack of basic scientific knowledge, the Irish media actually rushed to defend him, referring to his “expertise”, as cited by pro-abortion Irish Times journalist, Fintan O’Toole. And Boylan’s reward for scientific ignorance and blatant lies on national Irish TV? He was promoted by Irish Health Minister, Simon Harris to be Ireland’s first Abortion Doctor in Chief, to help usher in abortion to Ireland.


So who really ran the secular debate in the Irish referendum?


It was very obvious that the pro-life ‘Save the 8th’ campaigners were the true secular ones: to their utter credit and mostly women-led, they called out the media for their prejudice; avoided religious references and representatives and used lots of scientific facts, stats, and logic to back up their arguments. On the other hand, on the 26th of May, when the referendum results were announced, the pro-choice Repealers danced in a ritualistic manner at Dublin Castle, while Varadkar, Harris and other pro-abortion Irish politicians stood on a platform like “tin gods”, lapping up the attention and waving to their cult-like followers.

It has become very clear that many Irish citizens are sadly out of date with the international pro-life movement (including Secular Pro-Life) and are completely unaware that globally, the future of the pro-life movement is “young, female, secular and feminist.” Many people in Ireland are still convinced that a lack of legal abortion is an intrinsic part of Catholicism and without its legalization, women aren't truly “free”. This is the real way that Ireland is behind the times. Tragically, more than fifty years after Bernard Nathanson’s admitted lies to help legalize abortion in the USA, the Irish fell for exactly the same old tricks.

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



Tuesday, December 18, 2018

What I Learned from Volunteering at a Crisis Pregnancy Center

I started volunteering at my local secular crisis pregnancy center in the greater Seattle area, for 6 hours a week, in early September. It's been several months and I already feel like I have learned a lot, not only about how to fold baby clothes into bundles or how to take clients in, but also about humanity and charity, and how misogynistic, classist, and racist the pro-choice attack on these centers is.

To start off with, we provide all services for free. They are for low-income pregnant and parenting women. We have free baby clothes, toddler clothes, shoes, maternity clothes, pregnancy tests, breast pumps, nursing bras, diapers, baby wipes, bottles, baby/toddler dishes, formula, food, toys, books, car seats, strollers, cribs, cradles, jumpers, and any other pieces of furniture or big toys when we get them. I have seen pretty much anything you can think of that deals with pregnancy or parenting, come into the clinic. We also give referrals to various social services, such as WIC.

Almost everything is donated, other than car seats which are always new. Most people who work there are volunteers. To watch so many people donate their items, money, and time to this place, so that these low-income single parents and families can have the help they need, is truly wonderful. We had a dinner auction fundraiser, which is the only fundraiser event of the year, and it brought in $71,000 total. I almost wanted to cry with joy. I always wished I was rich enough to be able to afford to donate more money, but I have always been in the same boat as these women we service. If I were to get pregnant, I would probably have to go there to pick up supplies myself, because I have never had much money. So I do what I can with volunteering instead.

All we ask from the people coming in is ID, not finances or anything else (other than license, registration, and insurance for the car-seats). We don't make them pay a single cent, unlike places like Planned Parenthood. So we truly offer purely free items for struggling families. Taking clinics like this away from all the people we have serviced, or trying to make it harder for us to provide these free items, is a gross attack on lower class people, especially since places like Planned Parenthood don't bother to give *any* of these baby/toddler/maternity items to needy women. In fact you won't find baby clothes or diapers or strollers or anything like that at any abortion clinic. Planned Parenthood doesn't help you plan your parenthood at all, it just tries to eliminate it for you.

It takes a ton of privilege to be able to tell people that because you want every clinic that helps women to provide abortions, poor women aren't allowed to have free baby supplies. I have already seen so many people come in and get free supplies, and it saddens me to think of these people not having these free supplies anymore due to angry pro-choicers trying to control where we can get services and what types of services we can get. This is what misogyny and classist oppression looks like.

Our clinic is non-sectarian, so we welcome people of all faith and political backgrounds to volunteer. They know I am an Atheist and welcome me with open arms, even though we don't have the same beliefs on religion. They are truly loving and caring to all the clients, no matter their background. There are people who have dealt with CPS, people who have addiction issues, people who are divorced and people who are single in addition to those who are married; all are welcome with open arms and not judged. Everyone gets their free baby supplies and a friendly smile.

There is a lot of racial diversity in our clients as well. I have seen various people from all across the race and religion spectrum. People who are Pacific Islander, Arabic, Hispanic, Muslim, Ukrainian, Egyptian, African American, and so on and so forth. To take away free supplies from all these various minorities is racist and an injustice. They need help being able to afford these supplies and abortion clinics certainly aren't going to help them. Higher rates of infant mortality due to systematic racism mean that every affordable baby supply is truly needed for a person of color. It is a privileged position to take that away.

Every year that goes by truly shows me that pro-choicers are the ones oppressing pregnant women, even if they pretend to be pro-woman. If they want to take down these clinics, they are going to have a ton of needy people on their hands who don't have the ability to properly clothe, feed, and diaper their children....which makes them feel the pressure to abort, which is possibly the real reason as to why they fight these clinics, because they lose out on abortion dollars when people feel like they don't need abortion because they can get free baby supplies. This is one of the things we mean when we say that abortion is a tool of the patriarchy. So all we can do is fight this oppression until we win.

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

Monday, December 17, 2018

Roe v. Wade's Days are Numbered


With its recent addition of Justice Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court now has five Republican-appointed judges who may vote in favor of overturning or significantly compromising Roe v. Wade. Additionally, Justice Kavanaugh and his colleagues may have the opportunity to make this decision relatively soon.

Earlier this year, Iowa passed a “heartbeat bill” banning abortion after approximately six weeks gestation age. A temporary injunction has been placed on the law as abortion advocates fight it in the courts. This law may find itself before the Supreme Court in the coming years, and if the Supreme Court upholds Iowa’s law as constitutional, the pro-choice precedent established by Roe would be largely overturned.

But this is not the only reason pro-lifers should be hopeful. The two oldest judges on the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (85 years old) and Justice Stephen Breyer (80 years old), are both pro-choice. Ginsburg could retire any year now, with Breyer following shortly thereafter, meaning they could be replaced by pro-life judges, shifting the balance of the court further in favor of the pro-life position. Relatedly, the oldest pro-life judge, Justice Clarence Thomas, is only 70 years old, and likely has more than 10 years until retirement.

Though many pro-lifers understandably have issues with President Trump and the GOP establishment, the fact remains that Trump and the Republican Senate have been allies to the pro-life cause when it comes to confirming Supreme Court nominees who will likely overturn Roe. This is important because if either Ginsburg or Breyer retire within the next two years, President Trump and the Republican Senate would likely replace them with pro-life judges.

It is important to remind everyone that overturning Roe would not make abortion illegal nationwide. Overturning Roe would allow every state to pass its own abortion laws as it sees fit, and many pro-life states would be able to implement legislation they previously couldn’t. Overturning Roe is by no means the final battle; however, it would still be a tremendous pro-life win.

Today’s Supreme Court is the most pro-life Supreme Court modern America has seen, and for the next decade, the ideological composition of the court can only improve. Additionally, the Washington Post recently reported that abortion rates in America have hit an all-time low since Roe. In the post-Roe era, pro-life advocates have never had more reason to be optimistic, and the first of our inalienable rights, the right to life, is growing stronger every day.

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

Friday, December 14, 2018

Richard Ojeda's Loathsome Attacks on the Pro-Life Movement

Democratic presidential hopeful Richard Ojeda, who launched his campaign last month, recently eviscerated any hope that he’d represent a relatively moderate alternative to his party’s stance on abortion. Back in May, The Nation described Ojeda as “avowedly pro-life,” even though he opposed legal protections for the unborn as a West Virginia state senator. Now, in a statement “clarifying” his views on the topic, the failed congressional candidate declared that he “wholeheartedly [supports] a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her body.” Ojeda’s rant is unique, not just for its visceral contempt for pro-lifers (he calls us “pro-birth,” guys!) or its blatant hypocrisy (he condemns pro-life politicians who support foreign wars, even though he knocked Trump for failing to serve in Vietnam) but for the manner in which it uses poor people as a shield for advancing militantly pro-abortion policies.

Ojeda begins his poorly-reasoned diatribe by citing how “rich women have always had access to the care that they want or need.” But rather than argue that a morally informed social democrat ought to oppose legalized abortion and back programs intended to aid underprivileged women, Ojeda offers delusions about how “those in power have not trusted working class women to make their own decisions.” (He mentions the working class ten times in his statement and twice in the same sentence.) He even implies that pro-lifers are anti-abortion because of racial animus, even though the abortion rate among black women is nearly three times that of white women. Naturally, he pledges to gut the Hyde Amendment. But then, he takes his claptrap a step further by expressing his opposition to the Helms Amendment, which prohibits the use of American dollars to pay for abortions in foreign countries.

It isn’t enough that the United States plays host to over 630,000 abortions a year. The world is a battleground, and the scourge must spread to Third World countries, conscientious objectors be damned. Even the Obama administration was unable to “reinterpret” Helms, and while Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both vowed to support its reappraisal in 2016, Ojeda’s radical posturing on the issue this early on is uniquely concerning. If a candidate from West Virginia – which recently affirmed its commitment to the unborn – can’t challenge his party on abortion, then it’s safe to say that nobody in the 2020 Democratic primaries will run on even a moderate platform.

Regardless, a global abortion regimen underwritten by the United States reeks of neocolonial paternalism. The idea that women in developing countries must choose between economic prosperity or the lives of their children is hostage taking of the worst sort imaginable. Still, Ojeda deserves credit for delivering the twenty-first century’s answer to “The White Man’s Burden.” His singular lack of ethics or compassion will no doubt be praised by the very people who enjoy sermonizing loudly about the evils of privilege.

The most laughable aspect of Ojeda’s statement might be his insistence that he’s the true pro-lifer in the race: “I have always considered myself pro-life because I want to reduce the number of abortions by…quadrupling the funding for Planned Parenthood.” The notion that America’s largest abortion provider, which carried out over half of those procedures in 2016, needs more funding, and that such funding constitutes a genuine commitment to a pro-life agenda, is as sickening as it is ludicrous. 

While pro-lifers might be tempted to back pro-abortion-rights candidates who claim to support fewer abortions, there is no doubt that such leaders will back policies which ultimately have the effect of killing even more unborn children. Social programs will do little to reduce the nation’s abortion rate if they are offset by more abortion clinics, a major increase in taxpayer funding for abortion, a global regime that subsidizes the procedure, and heightened attacks on pro-life organizations and crisis pregnancy centers. Figures like Ojeda might claim to speak for the poor, but their agenda masks a detestable and unjustifiable willingness to force abortion on America’s most vulnerable populations.

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

Above: West Virginians rally for pro-life ballot measure

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

How You Can Support a Pregnant College Student


Every day, life is being put to an end before it even has the opportunity to begin. According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 3,000 abortions in America per day. One study by the Guttmacher Institute found that more than half of all U.S. abortion patients in 2014 were in their 20s: patients aged 20–24 obtained 34% of all abortions, and patients aged 25–29 obtained 27%. This means that if we want to put an end to abortion, we must reach out to the demographic it is affecting the most. We must reach out to pregnant college students.

As a woman who found herself to be pregnant while still in college, I can attest that it is a most vulnerable time for us. In a society that pushes a pro-choice agenda, we must be there to encourage college students to choose life. Here are some tips on how you can help pregnant and parenting college students.

1. Do Not Judge: This is important as some may be compelled to judge the pregnant college student. Instead of asking why she didn’t say no, or why she didn’t use birth control, ask her how she is feeling. She may reply that she is happy, disappointed, anxious, or scared. She may reply that she wants to parent, place the child up for adoption, or have an abortion. She may reply that she is not sure of how she is feeling and she doesn’t know what to do. However she replies, do not judge but instead reply with kindness, love and support. Share that there are people who care about her and her baby, and that there are people who are willing to help. By treating her with kindness and providing emotional support, she will be more willing to open up to you, and possibly listen to advice and your stance with regards to pro-life.

2. Provide Resources On Campus: On almost all college campuses there is the student organization, Students for Life. This group of students raises awareness about the dangers of abortion, and provide resources to pregnant and parenting students. During my pregnancy, the president of the organization at my college campus met with me on a weekly basis, and provided a huge amount of support to my baby and me. The organization hosted a baby shower for me, and was always willing to attend my prenatal visits with me, if I needed them to. This organization provides a great deal of help to students, and I know they are a part of my baby’s story of life.

3. Provide Resources Off Campus: Sometimes there are not resources available for pregnant or parenting students on campus. This is where OptionLine comes into play. OptionLine provides counseling and support to women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant. They have a 24 hour phone line you can call or text, and they also have a list of every crisis pregnancy center in the nation. Crisis pregnancy centers provide in person counseling to pregnant women and offer free pregnancy tests and free ultrasounds. They also provide more information about adoption, offer free parenting classes, and often provide free items for the baby including but not limited to, diapers, clothes, and formula. Simply have the woman enter her zipcode on the OptionLine website, and a list of pregnancy centers closest to her location will appear.

 4. Know the Law: Many pregnant college students may consider abortion simply because they think they do not have a choice. They think they have to choose the baby or school, and oftentimes school will be higher on their priority list. Some students may think they have to have an abortion due to their circumstances. They may fear being kicked out of their residence hall, losing their academic scholarship, or missing a final due to a prenatal appointment. What all of these students need to understand is that they are protected through title IX. The Pregnant Scholar website goes into more of the details of Title IX. Title IX states all of the protections that pregnant and parenting students have, including protection against discrimination. For example, a college student can not lose their sports scholarship just because they are pregnant. They can also not be forced out of their residence hall, and they are allowed to make up any assignment or test they may miss due to their pregnancy. By knowing the law, these women may be more likely to choose life, as they understand that they no longer have to choose their baby or their education. They can have both.

It is important to remember that pregnant college students are at a very vulnerable time in their lives. They are living in a society that is very pro choice, and they may think that they have no other options. By being a friend to them, and giving them hope and resources where there were previously none, you are saving a life, quite possibly you are saving two.

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

McFall v. Shimp and Thomson's Violinist don't justify the vast majority of abortions.

Many people argue that abortion is justified because of bodily rights. The idea is that it doesn’t matter if the fetus is a person or not, because no person can use your body against your will. If that principle is generally true and generally applies to abortion, it makes sense to be pro-choice regardless of whether or not you think the fetus is a valuable human.


McFall v. Shimp
People who argue that bodily rights are paramount sometimes point to the court case of McFall v. Shimp. This isn’t a huge court case—it wasn’t the Supreme Court, it was the Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania—but it’s an important case because of the unique case elements.

Robert McFall was an asbestos worker with anemia. He was given a 20% chance of surviving another year unless he got a bone marrow transplant. His relatives were tested and his cousin, David Shimp, was a likely match. Unfortunately Shimp didn’t want to donate his bone marrow. In desperation McFall took Shimp to court, hoping to compel Shimp to give this life-saving donation. However the court sided fairly quickly with Shimp. The judge stated,
Morally, this decision rests with the Defendant, and, in the view of the Court, the refusal of the Defendant is morally indefensible. For a law to compel the Defendant to submit to an intrusion of his body would change every concept and principle upon which our society is founded.
In other words, even though Robert McFall was clearly a person with as much moral worth as you and I, and even though he would die without this bodily donation, the Court would not compel Shimp to donate to McFall. And McFall did die shortly thereafter.

Article here.

So if we can’t compel someone to give of his body to save Robert McFall, how can we compel someone to give of her body to save a fetus?


The Violinist
Another example of this idea is a thought experiment by Judith Jarvis Thomson. She wrote an essay called “A Defense of Abortion” in which she argued that we need not debate whether the fetus is a person because abortion is justified anyway. To illustrate her point, she asks you to imagine you wake up one day in a hospital bed and your circulatory system is hooked up to a man in the bed next to you. You learn this man is a very talented and famous violinist with a fatal kidney ailment, and his fans--the Society of Music Lovers--have somehow reviewed all available medical records and learned that you are the only person with the right kidney or blood type to filter the poisons from the Violinist’s blood. So the Society of Music Lovers kidnaps you, knocks you out, and attaches you to the Violinist.


The hospital director enters the room and says he is terribly sorry—if he had realized what was happening he would have never allowed it. Nevertheless, you’re now attached to the Violinist and if you unplug, the man will die. But if you stay plugged in for nine months, the Violinist will be cured and you can each go on your way.

Thomson then asks if it is morally required of you to stay plugged in to the Violinist. And even if it is morally required, should it be legally required? Most people intuitively think it should not. They agree it would be a heroic act if you stayed hooked up to the Violinist, but they don’t think such an act should be legally required.


True Analogies
I agree with both the real life example of McFall v. Shimp and the hypothetical example of the Violinist. I don’t think Shimp should have been legally required to donate to McFall, and I don’t think you should be legally required to stay hooked up to the Violinist. And yet I still think most abortions should be illegal. Is that a contradiction?

No, it’s not.

McFall v. Shimp and The Violinist are not analogous to abortion; if they were I would think bodily donation should be required in those cases too.

In order for a bodily rights argument to be analogous to abortion, the hypothetical needs to include the following five elements:
  1. If you refuse bodily donation, someone else will die.
  2. You chose to risk making this person’s life depend on you.
  3. No one else can save this person.
  4. Your bodily donation is temporary.
  5. Your refusal means actively killing this person, not just neglecting to save him.
Some suggest that last factor is being too nitpicky. If the person is going to be dead either way, what difference does it make whether you neglect to save him versus actively kill him? 

It makes a great deal of difference. It’s the difference between watching someone drown while refusing to try to rescue him versus holding him underwater until he dies. It’s the difference between unplugging from the Violinist and letting him succumb to his kidney ailment versus shooting him in the head. We recognize both socially and legally a great difference between actively killing someone versus simply neglecting to save him. And the main point here is that most forms of abortion actively kill humans, rather than simply fail to save them.


McFall v. Shimp Revisited
McFall v. Shimp does not meet all five criteria. It does have the following two elements:
  • If you refuse bodily donation, someone else will die.
  • Your bodily donation is temporary.
Shimp refused to donate bone marrow, and McFall died. And bone marrow donations are temporary in the sense that you can regenerate bone marrow. 

But the case lacks the remaining three criteria:
  • You chose to risk making this person’s life depend on you.
  • No one else can save this person.
  • Your refusal means actively killing this person, not just neglecting to save him.
Shimp had nothing to do with the fact that McFall's life was in danger. (And even though Shimp was in no way responsible for McFall's condition, the court still found Shimp's refusal to donate "morally indefensible.") Additionally, in coming to a ruling, the Court discussed the fact that there could be an unrelated person out there who was a bone marrow match. (If you’re interested in potentially saving lives through bone marrow donation, please check out BeTheMatch.org.) Finally, Shimp neglected to save McFall; he didn't actively kill his cousin.
If McFall v. Shimp were truly analogous to abortion, it would involve Shimp making a decision that he knew could endanger McFall. Say there was some button Shimp could press that made him feel wonderful; he knew pushing the button involved the remote chance that McFall would contract a fatal ailment only Shimp could save him from. Still, Shimp figured the chance was too small to worry about, and so he pushed the button anyway. Then McFall did get a fatal illness, and he reached out to Shimp to save him. Shimp declined ...and then shot McFall in the head. That’s abortion.


The Violinist Revisited
The Violinist thought experiment suffers from similar limitations. It’s a bit closer to the proper analogy because Thomson includes the fact that you are the only person who can save the Violinist. So The Violinist has the three elements: 
  • If you refuse bodily donation, someone else will die.
  • No one else can save this person.
  • Your bodily donation is temporary.
But the thought experiment fails to meet the remaining two criteria:
  • You chose to risk making this person’s life depend on you.
  • Your refusal means actively killing this person, not just neglecting to save him.
In the thought experiment, you didn’t choose to risk the Violinist’s life, nor did you choose to hook yourself up to him. In fact a major aspect of the story is that you were kidnapped and hooked up to the Violinist against your will. You very specifically had no choice in the matter. Furthermore you don’t kill the Violinist. You are choosing whether or not to unplug from him and let him succumb to his ailment; you’re not choosing whether to smother him with a pillow.

When bodily rights arguments are adjusted to include all five criteria, they become pretty unpersuasive. At best the conclusion sounds incredibly immoral, and at worst it also sounds very illegal.


Roe v. Wade
It’s important to also understand what the Supreme Court case legalizing abortion, Roe v. Wade, had to say about bodily rights. During oral arguments they did argue that the woman should be able to get an abortion because it’s her body and thus her choice. However SCOTUS did not ground the right to abortion in bodily rights; instead they grounded it in a right to privacy and explicitly rejected the bodily rights argument:

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Roe v. Wade actually ruled that the government can outlaw abortion after a certain point in the pregnancy, meaning the government can compel bodily donation to keep another alive. In fact in an article analyzing McFall v. Shimp and whether we should always say bodily rights trump saving lives, FE Huffman cites Roe v. Wade as precedent for compulsory bodily donation.

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Huffman also notes that Roe v. Wade didn’t even consider the fetus a person and yet still allowed for compulsory bodily donation to keep another entity alive. How much stronger would the case be if the law recognized the fetus as a person?*

If your response to all this is that these analogies overstate the case because the fetus isn't a person, you're implicitly demonstrating my point: bodily rights arguments work only if the fetus isn't a person. If the fetus is a valuable human being, the "my body, my choice" train of thought isn't nearly strong enough to justify abortion.


We have now completed half of this cycle.

Consider the fact that most Americans believe abortion is justified only at earlier stages of pregnancy or only under more severe circumstances. If you believe elective abortion should be illegal at later stages of the pregnancy, your stance implies bodily right are not sacrosanct. For people who view the embryo and fetus as morally valuable humans from the beginning, bodily rights don’t even come close to justifying the vast majority of abortions.

*During oral arguments the justices and plaintiffs suggested that if we recognized the fetus as a person under the 14th amendment, it would be almost impossible to justify legal abortion. Remember that background when people claim Roe v. Wade remained neutral on the question of when life begins.


Further Reading
ERI Bodily Rights Materials - a whole collection of thoughtful articles by the Equal Rights Institute related to bodily rights arguments.
Misconceptions about the rape exception - Secular Pro-Life Perspectives, 7/19/14, post exploring the relationship between bodily rights arguments and the rape exception