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Monday, November 19, 2018

Thanksgiving Hiatus

Traffic to the Secular Pro-Life blog tends to dip this time of year, as people travel and prioritize spending time with their families. Therefore, we will not have any blog posts this week. We wish a very happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and we are very thankful that each and every one of our readers was born!

For those of you who are participating in Giving Tuesday, please consider a donation to our fundraiser for youth outreach at the March for Life.

Friday, November 16, 2018

March for Life Itinerary!


We are just two months away from the March for Life! Every January, the pro-life community gathers in Washington, D.C. to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It is a time for mourning, as we remember the many lives lost to abortion since 1973. It is also a time for organizing, as we strategize to save lives in the coming year. In particular, Secular Pro-Life takes this opportunity to (1) draw media attention to secular arguments against abortion, and (2) connect with pro-life youth activists and equip them to engage with people of any faith or none.

The March for Life and associated events are can’t-miss for Secular Pro-Life—and you can’t miss us either, as we carry our 14-foot-tall bright blue banner down the National Mall! We would love for you to join us. A tentative itinerary is below. However, our schedule is not finalized, as we still have some funding needs. You can help us meet those needs by making a donation.


Geaux Forth Youth Rally
Date: Thursday, January 17, 2019
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Location: Warner Theater
Description: The Geaux Forth Youth Rally is a gathering of pro-life teens and young adults sponsored by Louisiana Right to Life
Funding Needs: $175 for exhibit booth

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.
Funding Needs: Covered

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.
Funding Needs: Covered

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.
Funding Needs: Covered

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!
Funding Needs: $2,000 for exhibit booth

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!
Funding Needs: $200 for exhibit booth

January is the most expensive time of the year for us. In total, we need to raise $2,375. Any additional funds raised will be invested in extra pamphlets and other educational materials which we distribute to students for free. Please contribute as you are able. Your support for Secular Pro-Life is greatly appreciated.

For Life,
Kelsey Hazzard
President of Secular Pro-Life


P.S. – If you happen to live in the D.C. area and would like to open your home to Secular Pro-Life, please contact us! Every dollar we do not have to spend on a hotel is a dollar we can put toward our other March for Life expenses. Thank you for your generosity.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Responding to "My Body Is My Own" Video

Imagine a video featuring various people talking about how happy they were to be alive. They shared how they had narrowly survived car accidents, cancer, attempted murder by an abusive partner, and other near-death experiences. They danced and sang and declared their intention to make every moment count, while upbeat music played in the background. And at the very end of the video, there's a logo for... an anti-abortion group.

What would you make of such an ad? The most generous thing you might say is that while it conveys a positive message about the value of life generally, it misses some pretty key elements of the abortion debate. Less generously, you might denounce it as manipulative, and as shamelessly exploiting good causes to draw attention to something else entirely.

The reason I ask is because Planned Parenthood recently came out with the pro-choice version of that hypothetical video, entitled "My Body Is My Own."



For those of you who can't watch the video, it features people of various ages, races, abilities, and gender identities (primarily women and girls) responding to the prompt "My body is my own when..." Answers include "when I can embrace my imperfections," "when people say I'm a good friend," "when I'm boxing," "when I'm dancing," and my personal favorite, because it is a goal I have yet to achieve, "when I can parallel park really fast." Interview segments touch on such worthwhile topics as gender stereotyping, body image, and bullying.

And at the very end, there is the Planned Parenthood logo.

No mention of contraception. No mention of pregnancy. No mention of sexual health. And of course, no mention of the lethal practice of abortion, beyond a vague reference to "making decisions."

Four years ago, I wrote:
If not "pro-choice" (and not, they vehemently protest, "pro-abortion"), what do they want to be called? The answers vary, but there's a common theme: they want to ride on the coattails of genuine good causes. In an Alternet piece, Planned Parenthood talks about supporting "economic security," while abortion advocate Monica Simpson, whose efforts are focused on the Black community, wants to link abortion to a "safe and healthy environment" for children and freedom from domestic violence. And of course, there's the time-tested method of hiding abortion in the tent of "women's health." 
... Based on the signals we're getting from pro-choice media commentators, we need to be particularly vigilant in our charitable endeavors. Pro-lifers are as active in charitable organizations as anybody else, so we have the ability to impede the pro-choice strategy here. Whatever causes you are involved in, be on the lookout for activists looking to co-opt them in the name of abortion—and when it happens, speak out against it, quickly and loudly!
With this video, Planned Parenthood's co-opt strategy has officially jumped the shark.

Friday, November 9, 2018

New Project (You Can Volunteer From Home!)

Secular Pro-Life is launching a new volunteer project. Helping out is incredibly easy: all you need is a positive attitude and an internet connection. You do not have to donate money or leave your house. It doesn't even take more than five minutes—but if we get enough participants, we could have a significant impact on the abortion industry.

I can't share more than that in a public setting, so if you're interested, request to join this closed facebook group.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Election Highlights


Ballot Measures
Alabama voted to enshrine the right to life for unborn children in the state constitution. Abortion will continue to be legal there under federal law, but the amendment could become relevant when Roe v. Wade is overturned. Also, in some cases, abortion activist judges have used state constitutions to invalidate federally approved abortion limits like waiting periods and informed consent; that avenue is closed off in Alabama.

West Virginia also passed an amendment designed to combat the activist-judge problem: "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion." This overturns a state supreme court decision that required taxpayer funds to support abortion of babies conceived to mothers on Medicaid.

Oregon, being Oregon, rejected a measure that would have ended taxpayer funding of abortion.

House of Representatives
Democrats needed to pick up at least 23 seats to take control of the House. As of this writing, they have gained 26, with an additional 23 races too close to call. Sadly, these new Democratic Representatives are all expected to vote in line with abortion industry interests. (A few pro-life Democratic incumbents won re-election, such as Dan Lipinski of Illinois.)

Senate
As of this writing, the GOP has gained two Senate seats, for a total of 51. This secures the Republicans' majority in the 100-person body, making it less likely that the GOP will need to use Vice President Pence as a tie-breaking vote. Pro-life political groups prioritized the Senate, knowing that Republican Senators are likely to make life-friendly judicial appointments. Three Senate races are too close to call:
  • Arizona, where Martha McSally (R) leads Kyrsten Simena (D)  
  • Florida, where Rick Scott (R) leads Bill Nelson (D)
  • Montana, where Matt Rosendale (R) leads Jon Tester (D)
Mississippi presents one final opportunity, as no candidate won a majority of the votes cast. The two leading candidates, Cindy Hyde-Smith (R, 41.5%) and Mike Espy (D, 40.6%) will proceed to a run-off.

Governors
Democrats gained, and Republicans lost, the governor's mansion in seven states: Illinois (where the incumbent Republican was pro-abortion), Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin. Alaska (Republican leading), Connecticut (Democrat leading), and Georgia (Republican leading) have not been called.

Monday, November 5, 2018

November 6 is Election Day

Unless you're one of the estimated 20 million Americans who have participated in early voting, tomorrow (November 6) is the big day. If you are eligible to vote, Secular Pro-Life encourages you to research your candidates and cast an informed vote. Voters in Alabama, Oregon, and West Virginia will also have an opportunity to vote on abortion-related ballot measures.

Secular Pro-Life is a 501(c)(3), which means we cannot endorse candidates. (Even before we obtained 501(c)(3) status, we refrained from political endorsements for various reasons; long story short, it's not our wheelhouse.) However, we can share information and advocate on issues.

In particular, we feel it's important to note that anti-abortion legislation has a proven track record. Abortion advocates sometimes claim that pro-life laws don't actually prevent abortions, in an effort to demoralize us, but the more honest among them acknowledge that pro-life laws do work. Research has established the efficacy of informed consent, parental consent, and other common abortion limits. A single pro-life law—the Hyde Amendment, a limitation on federal funding of abortion first established in 1976 and renewed as a budget rider every year since—has saved the lives of more than two million Americans.

To find out where your candidates stand on abortion-related legislation, check out these resources:
Those who are the most impacted by abortion are too young to vote. Remember them as you cast your ballot.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Unique From Day One: Pro-Life is Pro-Science

For decades, the abortion industry has depicted the pro-life cause as a narrow, out-of-touch religious crusade. As an atheist pro-life advocate, I know better. I am proud to work alongside compassionate people of every faith and none. We are a human rights movement, protecting human beings in the womb from senseless destruction and offering their parents empowering, peaceful solutions.

That is why I was so thrilled when the March for Life announced that the 2019 theme is Unique From Day One: Pro-Life is Pro-Science.

You’ve probably heard the slogan “facts don’t care about your feelings.” It’s meant to be a bit snarky, but I find it beautiful. If facts don’t care about your feelings, they also don’t care who you are, where you’re from, how much money you make, what color your skin is, or whether or how you pray. Scientific facts have the power to transcend political and theological differences. The scientific method is radically inclusive, giving everyone the ability to discover truth.

You were once a zygote. Every person you have ever met and will ever meet was once a zygote. The birth canal does not magically confer humanity. Abortion stops a beating heart. These are the facts, and we proclaim them confidently!

Sadly, pseudoscientific notions like eugenics are still with us. The abortion industry still takes advantage of uneducated people with lies about “clumps of cells” and “balls of tissue.” Scientific progress does not reach everyone instantaneously. It is up to us spread the truth, until the day abortion is unthinkable for everyone.

I’ll be in Washington, D.C. to support the pro-life, pro-science message on January 18. Won’t you join me?

[This piece by Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard was originally published on the March for Life blog.]

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

We asked, you answered: How to avoid burnout?


A Secular Pro-Life supporter wrote to us seeking the community's advice. On her behalf, we shared:
One of our followers is very involved in the pro-life movement, including working for a pregnancy resource center. Sometimes she feels worn out and discouraged by the abortion issue. What advice do you have for pro-life activists when they feel overwhelmed?
Our facebook fans gave many excellent responses. Here are a few of our favorites:

Kim G.: When you’re getting info out there, whether written or spoken, remember all the silent individuals greatly moved by your message. There are more of them than the loud-mouthed haters. You are strong enough to stand up to them where others may not be. But a strong, silent group of supporters are there in the shadows.

Rebecca G.: Listen to positive music (I have found that music is highly transformative for the mood, in whatever direction you choose, good or bad), and surround yourself with friends. A night out talking about something else, a pedicure, or some other kind of self- pamper. Let some steam out of the pot so you can get back at it when the time comes. And know you aren’t alone!! We’re all here rooting for the same cause, and for compassionate workers like yourself!!

Lauren E.: I watch a movie or do something that takes my mind off of it for a few hours. But sometimes there are seasons where I just feel EXHAUSTED and you have to push through it. I think part of ending the genocide is being the side that doesn't give up no matter how hard it gets.

Tanya S.: Take care of someone else who may also be discouraged in the pro-life movement. Send a card or a gift card. Send their organization a donation and a thoughtful word. Make it a habit, and do it double time in moments of discouragement. If we all do this, we're all going to be cared for.

Nora B.: When you feel bad emotionally, take care of your body first. Eat, sleep, exercise, breathe. If the problem is still there, you’ll be in a much better frame of mind to address it.

Lydia R.: So I’m in the field of science and medicine, and you probably know how they feel when they lose patients. It’s hard to see the good we’ve done when we’re surrounded by evil. Evil is natural, and everything you do to combat it is unnatural and wears you out. So you can’t focus on the evil. Instead, focus on how you’ve held evil back — how many people you’ve helped. Not how many you’ve lost.

Krista R.: Self-care is necessary in the pro-life movement! For me, that includes time with loved ones, doing what I love, sleeping and eating well, and taking introverted time for myself when needed!!

Monday, October 29, 2018

We asked, you answered: What would you do to save lives if you won the lottery?

During the lottery hoopla last week, which concluded after the winning Mega Millions ticket was purchased in South Carolina and winning Powerball tickets were purchased in Iowa and New York, we asked our facebook fans: "What would you do to save and improve human lives with $1 billion?" Here are a few of our favorite answers.

[Note: Secular Pro-Life does not take a position on the morality or wisdom of state-run lotteries; we were just being topical. If you struggle with compulsive gambling, we encourage you to seek help.]

Destiny H.: Build a pro-life full service women’s healthcare version of Planned Parenthood, that offers everything but abortion. Plant one in every major city across the United States.

Nora B.: Start a progressive whole-life super PAC. Also, give a pile of money to Secular Pro-Life, New Wave Feminists, Rehumanize International, Abide Women's Health Services and any other pro-woman, pro-life organization I could find.

Clare F.: Open homes for young single mothers where they can live in community, share childcare and household responsibilities, while each works and/or goes to school. A self-sufficient community of single mothers.

Shannon L.: I would support my local pregnancy center really well. It would be nice to see them turn into a full-scale OB/GYN clinic attached to a good hospital. Beyond anything else, I think pregnancy centers having their own OB/GYNs on staff that can provide the full range of care would be one of the best ways to improve the lives of pregnant women in crisis pregnancies. If a pregnant woman could develop a doctor/patient relationship with a good physician that will see her through the pregnancy, postpartum, and even beyond into regular care she could always feel connected to the pregnancy center as long as she needs them, even if it means calling them for assistance with finding daycare, preschool, and other early childhood needs. 

Though not as blatantly pro-life, I would also want to be a strong supporter of ag education. I think learning to raise and care for animals and plants is a good way to safely introduce young children to how delicate life is in a controlled environment. It is vital for kids to understand why being a good caregiver is important no matter what you may be caring for. A child cannot be in charge of human life, but learning responsibility for plants and animals is developmentally appropriate.

Noreen T.: Put a blue bus (mobile pregnancy center) outside every abortion clinic in Texas.

Linda P.: Start a college that caters exclusively to struggling parents that is completely not-for-profit, with all internship credits being earned through entry-level paid positions, so kind of a staffing company/college/home for unwed mothers/family counseling thing.

Rachel E.: I honestly thought about it and thought I’d give a fair bit to Secular Pro-Life.

Amanda C.: Create jobs. Financial difficulties are often cited as the reason for an abortion.

Beth T.: Labor and postpartum doulas for all mothers who can’t afford them, especially mothers pregnant with their first. It’s a huge transition that requires certain education/skills, assistance, and is associated with a million and one questions of all kinds.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Thoughts on Oregon Measure 106


There are many pro-choicers who I have heard accusing pro-lifers of incrementalism—saying that they can’t give into something like a national third trimester ban, because pro-lifers wouldn’t stop at that. Once pro-lifers attained that, they would keep pushing for more and more, until the right to end the life of a fetus was completely lost. I do think that if this country could attain European-style limits on abortion (i.e. a limit somewhere mid-second trimester) the pro-life movement would lose its critical mass to be effective; mild pro-lifers just don’t get as riled up when the humans in question for extermination don’t look very much like a baby. But I don’t think these accusations are without merit. I certainly would still be politically anti-abortion, and I know many other activists would be as well.

But I think what doesn’t get talked about so much is the incrementalism of pro-choicers as well. The conversation among pro-choicers is often cast in the veneer of protecting Roe v. Wade, but that’s not all it is about these days. It is about pushing for more and more on the side of being able to kill your offspring in fetus form. Nowhere was this more evident in the recent decision by the Democratic Party to include in its platform, an effort to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortions.

I feel like this incrementalism is apparent even more so on the state level. In some states, we see forces like planned parenthood decrying “anti-choice” for requiring clinic regulations that would ultimately likely result in the closure of those non-complying clinics. A common refrain from pro-choicers is that it’s not like the government pays for abortions, so the pro-life movement should just back down and let people do what they want.

But that is not what is being said in my state of residence. Oregon, one of the few states to allow abortion up to the moment of birth, also has the distinction that state funds most certainly can be used to pay for these abortions. For whatever reason.

Enter Measure 106. This measure would put an end to all state funding of elective abortions. (Medical allowances would remain.) It’s been tried before and failed. Twice.

In this extreme pro-abortion rights state, this is what counts as where the battle line is drawn. Not requirements of hospital access. Not term limits. Not parental consent. There are none of those laws here. The battle line is drawn about whether or not a person should be compelled to pay for the killing of someone else’s unborn child.

Dear pro-choicers, of whom, I feel so many do mean well,

Not forcing your opposition to pay for the thing they are so strongly against, I feel like, is the tiniest, most basic of bones you could toss them. It is the very least you could do to try to get over this huge rift in our country and get to something to quell the useless moralistic outrage on both sides. The people against Measure 106 are my friends and neighbors of course, so it kills me when I can chat with them about how we don’t want to fund the next blood-for-oil war, and that it is unjust that we should do so, only to then have them later justify their opposition of 106 with a shrug and an “everyone has to pay for things they don’t believe in”. It so completely demonstrates to me how pro-choice activism ratchets up to pro-abortion through incrementalism.

So to me, I have come to a new frame of mind as a result of this local conversation. While I to believe it to be unjust, I personally have less political will to fight policy about RU-486, or super early term abortions. But I know we in the pro-life movement must treat those causes with as much seriousness as elective third trimester abortions. Because once the pro-choice side wins on that, they won’t clap their hands and go home. Next up, they will be demanding abortion up to birth in every state, then that every tax payer pay on demand for anyone to kill their child for any reason.

[Today's guest post by KB is par of our paid blogging program.]

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Is Gosnell America's "Biggest Serial Killer"?

This post contains quotes, summaries, and descriptions from the grand jury report regarding Kermit Gosnell. Much of this information is very disturbing, including graphic descriptions of violence.

NBC published a review of the Gosnell movie by Robin Marty. She didn't like the film. In particular she took exception to the moniker "America's Biggest Serial Killer," saying:
In the film and in real life, Gosnell was tried on eight charges of murder and convicted on three. That’s a large number to be sure, but a small fraction in comparison to, say, Gary Ridgway (pleaded guilty to 48 counts of murder) John Wayne Gacy (convicted of 33 murders), Ted Bundy (confessed to 28 murders, and was convicted of two) or Jeffrey Dahmer (confessed to 17 murders and was convicted on 15 counts). Since Gosnell was only convicted of three counts of first degree murder, the "America's Biggest" moniker is a bit of a stretch.
If we're going by convictions alone, then I agree with Marty. Gosnell clearly isn't up there (although then neither is infamous murderer Ted Bundy). But if we're going by how many people the person is believed to have killed, almost no one can even touch Gosnell.

And I don't mean because he performed abortions. Marty erroneously assumes people who think of Gosnell as a serial killer do so only because they think of every abortion as murder. No doubt there are plenty of people who think that, but that's not the issue here. I suspect Marty would understand the distinction if she had read the grand jury report (warning: not for the faint of heart, includes photographs and very graphic descriptions). Even if you view abortion as an amoral action, and certainly not as murder, Gosnell still contends for the title "serial killer," and one with an almost unprecedented death toll.

The grand jury report details Gosnell's practice of infanticide in "Section IV: The Intentional Killing of Viable Babies." As if anticipating how people will try to say this was just a sensationalized way to describe late-term abortion, the report explicitly describes "the untold numbers of babies--not fetuses in the womb, but live babies, born outside their mothers--whose brief lives ended in Gosnell's filthy facility." [Emphasis added.] The report also has the bolded subsection "Gosnell and his staff severed the spinal cords of viable, moving, breathing babies who were born alive." Talk about redundant. It's like they couldn't overemphasize the point that we are not talking about late-term abortion.

(click to enlarge)

But sure, Marty, he's a serial killer only because anti-abortion folk "aren't really talking about the kinds of crimes most people associate with serial killers." I guess murderers are only serial killers if they kill adults or at least big kids. Infanticide doesn't count.

The grand jury report goes on to detail how Gosnell had to have known he would often have to kill viable babies based on his "standard procedure" for illegal late-term abortions.

(click to enlarge)

Gosnell would cut the child's spinal cord; then he would suction out the brains after delivery, a step which serves zero medical purpose. The grand jury expected Gosnell did so to make it look like he had performed a legal abortion procedure (in some late-term abortions the fetus' skull is collapsed to ease removal from the woman). One of Gosnell's former employees testified that she witnessed Gosnell do this "hundreds" of times. Another employee acknowledged that late-term fetuses nearly always had their spinal cords cut after "precipitating" (Gosnell's vocabulary for birth). A third employee testified similarly:

(click to enlarge)
The report continues:
Gosnell’s staff testified that killing large, late-term babies who had been observed breathing and moving was a regular occurrence. Massof said that Gosnell cut the spinal cord “100 percent of the time” in second-trimester (and, presumably, third-trimester) procedures, and that he did so after the baby was delivered.

Massof testified that he saw signs of life in some of these babies. He recalled seeing a heartbeat in one baby and observed a “respiratory excursion” (meaning a breath) in another. On other occasions, he observed “pulsation.” Gosnell dismissed these observations as “spontaneous movement.” “That was his answer for if we ever saw anything that was out of the ordinary, it was always a spontaneous movement.”
There's reason to believe that babies born after 24 weeks could survive. In fact, as the report points out, a doctor is required to provide assistance to preterm born babies, and failure to provide assistance is infanticide under Pennsylvania law.

(click to enlarge)

There's a whole lot more in Section IV of the grand jury report. Testimony about fetal parts clogging plumbing when women delivered in the toilet; one case in which a fetus looked like she was swimming before staff cut her neck; a teenager who delivered a stillborn 30-week fetus at a hospital when Gosnell's clinic was unreachable mid-procedure; a neonatologist testifying that Gosnell's method would cause the baby a "tremendous amount of pain"; and Gosnell describing one writhing child as "chicken with its head cut off." If you think the film portrayal was unbelievable, you should try reading the actual testimony. It's a real life horror story and, in my opinion, overwhelmingly heartbreaking, enraging, and exhausting. The section concludes by stating Gosnell most likely "killed the vast majority of babies" from illegal late-term abortions [emphasis added].

(click to enlarge)

This is all terrible, but where does it leave us regarding the original question? If we assume newborns should be included in serial killer body counts (crazy, I know!), what are Gosnell's metrics compared to other serial killers?

The grand jury estimated Gosnell performed at least 4-5 illegal abortions (that is, abortions after 24 weeks) every week, and had been doing this for years. To be conservative, let's assume (1) only 3 illegal abortions per week, (2) for only 40 weeks per year, and (3) only for 2 years. That would be 240 illegal late-term abortions. (Let me emphasize there's no reason to make these conservative estimates except to illustrate my "yep he's a serial killer" point. If instead we assumed 4 illegal abortions per week for say 50 weeks a year for more like 5 years, it could be as high as 1,000 illegal late-term abortions. But whatever, let's go with only 240.)

The grand jury believes, based on the evidence and corroborating testimony, that Gosnell killed viable born children in the "vast majority" of his attempts at illegal late-term abortion. But let's say it wasn't the vast majority. Let's say it was only 20% of the time. So even assuming only 240 illegal abortions and even assuming only 20% of them were actually infanticide, that still would mean Gosnell killed 48 babies. That already puts him right up there with the highest number Robin Marty quoted, which was Gary Ridgeway pleading guilty to 48 counts of murder. To be fair, though, Ridgeway is thought to have killed up to 71 people. So if we make some extremely conservative and unwarranted estimates about Gosnell's body count, he'd only be America's 2nd biggest serial killer. No big deal, right?

On the other hand, if we go with what the grand jury actually reported, Gosnell was performing 4-5 illegal abortions per week. Call it 4.5 per week. Even if we still say only 40 weeks and only 2 years (again, no reason to do that really), if we take "vast majority" to mean even just 51%, that puts Gosnell at 183 infanticides, easily dwarfing any other serial killer in American history and, actually, putting him in the top 3 slots for serial killers throughout the world.

Calling Gosnell "America's Biggest Serial Killer" is only a "stretch" if Marty doesn't think there's any significant difference between late-term abortion and infanticide or (more likely) if she just hasn't really looked into this case she opines on. But we can hardly blame her for that. She's only a journalist.


Further Reading:
We've forgotten what belongs on Page One, Kristen Powers, USA Today, April 11, 2013
Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell's Trial Should Be a Front-Page Story, Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, April 12, 2013
Why I Didn't Write About Gosnell's Trial--And Why I Should Have, Megan McArdle, The Daily Beast, April 12, 2013
Gosnell and Abortion (summarizing the media silence), Nathaniel Givens, Secular Pro-Life Perspectives, April 17, 2013


Post-publication edit: Wikipedia lists Gosnell as a serial killer under "Medical professionals and pseudo-medical professionals" which it categorizes separately because of "their ability to kill simply and in plain sight." Gosnell is listed for 4 proven victims and "100+" possible victims. Interestingly one of Gosnell's employees, Steven Massof, is listed as the third biggest medical professional serial killers in the world because he confessed to snipping the spines of more than 100 babies.

Anyway, if we count medical professionals and look at possible (not only proven) victims, using the still-conservative estimate of 183 infanticides for Gosnell would make him the 5th biggest serial killer in the world and the 2nd biggest in America after Charles Cullen (a nurse thought to have killed up to 400 people).

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Life is Non-Binary

A recent Maclean’s magazine article entitled I Regret Having Children interviews women who love their children but feel like their lives would have been better off without them. The reality of what it means to be a parent, particularly what it means to be a mother, is explored and many women are frankly saying that if they had to do it over again, they wouldn’t.

I find myself reflecting on my own experience of parenthood which, due to a non-ideal marriage that eventually ended and other pressures, internal and external, has often been difficult. Would I say that I regret having children? Well these days I am rocking the teenage years so that answer could change by the hour. When my kid wakes up grumpy and blames me for something because I wasn’t a mind-reader or I get into a 15 minute argument because someone doesn’t want to grate cheese, I start to think that tying my tubes the moment I hit puberty would have been a good plan. Then those same kids will be the ones to cuddle up for an hour and watch Jeopardy or wrap their skinny adolescent arms around me and call me the best mom ever and suddenly it does seem like I have valuable relationships after all. Never mind the teenage hormones, I am navigating these experiences while going through perimenopause. Every day that ends with everybody’s lives and limbs intact is success in my books.

The trouble with a word like regret when we think of relationships is that it is binary; it gives us two options. We either regret or we don’t. We either want our kids or we don’t want them. We’re either glad we have them or we wish we didn’t. But motherhood is really complicated. It’s full of ups and downs, there are moments of celebrations and heartaches, there is pain and there is love. In all of that how would I even know what my life would be without these kids? While I actually think it’s great that magazines like Maclean’s give voice to all kinds of parenting experiences, including hard and challenging ones, framing it in either/or language may not be helpful.

Awhile back a study made its rounds in the media saying that most women don’t regret their abortions. I have no doubt that if you ask women shortly after they have the procedure and give them those two, binary choices, regret or no-regret, they will choose no regret. Because when they think of the reasons they chose abortion, such as their boyfriend may have threatened to break up with them, or it may not have seemed possible to continue their schooling, or their financial situation seemed bleak, the choice that might make the most sense to them in that moment is abortion, and they can reason that they do not regret that. But did the research ask about all emotional effects? Did it ask about sadness and guilt and loss? Did it ask if they ever think about their baby and what might have been? Did the research ask if they are crying more or drinking more or using drugs to cope? Those things are not captured in binary choices.

Ethics is also an area where binary thinking can be seen. Ethical principles often back into each other in specific situations and ethics training usually helps people to think through options with critical thinking, particularly when one person’s rights seem to contradict another’s. This approach is often cast aside for pregnancy concerns and we hear the mantra of “A woman’s right to choose” repeated over and over. Instead of thinking about the rights of both parties, and solutions that minimize harm to either, we look at it like a zero-sum game that someone must win. Here, too we become binary. But I’m not sure anyone really wins.

I recently heard someone talking about how our minds look for the binary, two choices, and then we choose one over the other, and value one more highly. It takes mental and emotional work to not go to the binary, but to know and understand nuance. I takes maturity not to organize people and experiences into simplistic categories but to appreciate all the fullness of life.

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

Monday, October 22, 2018

Planned Parenthood doesn't require sonographer certification; pregnancy centers do



Not long ago, there was a strong push by abortion rights groups to “expose” crisis pregnancy centers, or pregnancy centers that do not provide or refer for abortions, as “fake clinics.” These advocates goal was to educate women about a service NOT offered at places that offered a multitude of other services for FREE. Whatever the faults of pregnancy centers, I have never heard of a pregnancy center EVER charging a client for ANY services received no matter what choice that woman ends up making after she leaves that center. With “comprehensive” clinics that provide or refer for abortions, it is the complete opposite. Sure, many clinics have sliding scale fees, relief scholarships, or fundraisers to help defray the cost of SOME women’s abortions, but not every woman seeking abortion services receives free or reduced cost services (most don’t).

I have volunteered, or attempted to volunteer for, various pregnancy centers throughout Ohio for over five years. I have run the gamut of experiences visiting, touring, and learning about facilities offering help for women facing unplanned pregnancies. As someone who actually knows what it’s like being involved with these entities, let me educate you on what they are and what they offer.

Pregnancy centers run by private, often faith-based organizations are of two types: medical models or aid-based models. Aid models provide options counseling, basic testing (urine over the counter pregnancy testing), adoption agency referrals, government social services resource lists, and in house resources in the form of parenting classes or tangible goods needed for caring for a baby, usually up to one year in age (this is not an exhaustive list of all services offered by aid based clinics). Medical models provide many or all of the options of aid models, but also usually provide a free basic viability/dating ultrasound, free referral to an OB/GYN doctor, free consultation with a nurse, and sometimes medical model clinics offer free STD testing.

Medical model pregnancy clinics employ counselors, nurses, doctors, and sonographers to provide the medical care clients receive, free of charge. Sometimes these medical professionals are volunteering their services for free, sometimes they take a reduced rate of pay from the center, and sometimes these professionals get special training to be able to perform multiple job functions to save pregnancy centers money. Often medical model pregnancy centers will get nurses to take classes from REGISTERED DIAGNOSTIC MEDICAL SONOGRAPHERS or other credentialed medical professionals so that they can learn to perform limited OB viability/dating scans. These nurses are supervised by a person who holds a registry in ultrasound and are trained to perform limited protocol scans on pregnant women.

The important thing to know about medical model pregnancy centers is that they have medical professionals doing these services. Either a doctor, nurse with ultrasound training, or a REGISTERED DIAGNOSTIC MEDICAL SONOGRAPHER is, and should be performing all medical services.

In America, there are laws pertaining to who can practice medicine, how they are trained, how they are licensed or certified, and how they maintain that license or certification. The legitimacy of doctors and nurses is more secure and trusted because of these measures put in place to protect the public. What is less widely known is that the person doing ultrasound scans is not regulated with the same vigor. Without the extra push of legislation, there is no requirement for who provides ultrasound scans to be licensed or certified in any way.

In the United States there are two bodies that provide credentialing for people who have received specialized training in performing ultrasounds: the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), and the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). Before anyone can sit for the tests that each of these organizations offers, their educational background is scrutinized and confirmed. Their academic and hands on clinical hours scanning real patients under supervision are verified, and there are minimum clock hours for both requirements. Once confirmed, someone who has studied ultrasound can take an academic knowledge test and become registered.

According to the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, a professional trade organization for those in the field of sonography, there are only four states that require a sonographer to be licensed at this time; they are New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Oregon. What these state licensure requirements are trying to do is standardize the level of education needed to perform ultrasounds that are diagnostic. All four states accept the requirements set forth by national accrediting agencies for sonographers as an adequate minimum qualification for the state license, meaning if you are registered through ARDMS OR ARRT, then you will be able to get a state license. For all other states, this means that anyone with any training could be doing your ultrasound, with the only repercussion being retroactive lawsuits filed by patients hurt after a medical procedure.

The general public does not know about this lack of requirements for people running ultrasound machines. The people who work in radiology giving CT scans, MRI scans, doing X-rays or doing nuclear medicine studies all have to be trained, educated, and registered, just like nurses and doctors. Sonographers too must be registered to work in hospitals and outpatient clinics, and the majority of medical facilities recognize and hold professional medical support staff to this standard for the safety of all patients. The fact that there are no laws mandating this level of training isn’t much of a problem in the medical professional community, until you run in to an organization that puts profit before patients best interests and safety.

The campaign by abortions rights activists to “expose” fake clinics was amplified by many mainstream media news sources. Many of the pieces I have read covering this push to expose facilities were very clearly biased and agenda driven. As someone who sits on the fringes of the pro-life movement, I have a unique position and ability to provide commentary on some unique factors related to a clinic's legitimacy and/or bottom line. Allow me to educate you; this is a REAL job listing for a “real” clinic that provides “comprehensive” reproductive options (right-click and select "open image in new tab" to enlarge). Currently there are no laws requiring licensure of sonographers in Ohio.









Notice the first two essential duties and responsibilities listed: perform ultrasound imaging procedure of clients for the purposes of pregnancy dating, identification of the presence or absence of cardiac activity, and fetal number. The ability to recognize when findings require evaluation by an APN or a physician. Since in this entire application there is no explicit requirement that the person doing this job be registered through the ARDMS or ARRT, there are several concerns about these job requirements. Unless you are trained in anatomy and physiology, ultrasound, and the unique conditions that can sometimes occur surrounding pregnancy, how can you properly date a pregnancy? Anyone can place measurement calipers on to a fetal pole to estimate how far along the pregnancy is, but can they do that accurately? It can sometimes be hard to do. Bowel gas can make the ultrasound image less clear. If a woman is very overweight, the ultrasound beam cannot penetrate the tissue very well to see in to the uterus, and that can make the image unclear. Knowing ways to work around these limitations is WHY having standards of training is so important. Also there is a condition called heterotopic pregnancy that can happen. It is rare, but again without training, you wouldn’t know to look for this condition. In a heterotopic pregnancy, there is a fetus in the uterus and a fetus in an ectopic location (somewhere outside of the uterus, like on an ovary). Unless you are trained, you might not know where to look to visualize the ovary, or you might THINK you visualized an ovary, but in actuality did not. So how would you know to look for this condition or notify the nurse or physician about a suspected ectopic if you’ve not been trained? And just because a nurse or doctor comes in to look at the screen doesn’t mean they’ve been trained to interpret ultrasound scans unless they have received additional training for interpreting those images. Usually a radiologist specializes in reading all types of medical imaging studies and knows the subtle things to look for that can indicate a more serious problem. The room for error in not using a registered sonographer is much greater, and you’ll notice in this entire job listing that there is no requirement to be registered to work at this abortion facility.

Pregnancy centers use trained nurses or sonographers when doing limited OB scans. The goal of pregnancy centers is to support women and help them feel like they can keep their pregnancies. Pregnancy centers get no money for any decision a woman makes. Planned Parenthood uses anyone with a Bachelors degree in the medical field or a minimum of 4 years of related work experience will be considered in lieu of degree. The goal of Planned Parenthood is to support women and help them feel like they don’t need to keep their pregnancies. Planned Parenthood get money from women who decide to get abortions.

When you look at the two clinics objectively, it is clear that one of them is motivated by profit and when given the choice will choose the less credentialed person in favor of making more profit. Of course, the registered sonographer will want more money, the process of school and getting registered is not cheap. If there’s no law saying you need to be registered, then they won’t explicitly ask for the highest level of training, and this put patients at risk. Registered sonographers have a minimum of training and are tested to know about the intricacies of doing ultrasound. Anyone else scanning you as a patient is a risk, but how would you know to ask?

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

Friday, October 19, 2018

NWF attends "Abortion Stories" panel at The Women's Conference


About a year ago, Destiny of New Wave Feminists attended The Women's Convention in Detroit. Recently she created a video (FB, Youtube) talking about attending the "Abortion Stories" breakout session. We've transcribed the video below. Phrases in italics signify thoughts not spoken out loud.

*****

Okay so I don’t have a ton of time but I want to tell you guys real quick about something that happened last year at the women’s conference in Detroit. This was a conference that was put on by Planned Parenthood—that was one of the big sponsors—and the Women’s March. So the people who had removed us from the Women’s March. They had a conference and I registered with my full name and everything and they accepted it. And so I was able to go, and it was a fascinating experience.

Obviously I was surrounded by a lot of very pro-choice women. I did not go there in any way to protest them or start trouble. I really kind of just wanted to be in dialogue with them, and to talk to these people who I think so many of us in the pro-life community maybe even without realizing we’re doing it, we have dehumanized them. You know, we made them the enemy. So I thought it would be a great opportunity to just go and sit and hear them. And listen to them, listen to why it is that they think abortion is such a necessary quintessential part of feminism.

Abby Johnson also went with a couple people from her organization. So I was not planning going to this one particular panel, but at the last minute I decided to go. And it was called “Abortion Stories.” And I walk in, and Abby was there with her people, and of course Abby’s very recognizable. So she’s sitting a little bit away from me. I saw people kind of pointing at her. They knew who she was. So at the beginning of this session, somebody went to the front and said “We know that we have some people in here who disagree with this. And we want to make it very clear that if anyone disrupts, you will be removed immediately.” And Abby was like What? Me? Nooo. It was really funny because we really weren’t there to disrupt! We just kind of wanted to listen. Luckily I was sitting far enough away I don’t think anyone realized that I was also like a “pro-life spy” or whatever. [Laughs] Is that what they thought was going on?

So I listened to this panel. It was 4 or 5 women. A couple of them had had multiple abortions. One of the more outgoing women on it, she was hilarious, but she kept talking about how she had had this Etsy shop where she posted abortion related stuff. So she had this flask that she takes with her to all her speaking engagements and it says “I love my abobo.” And she says “I’m going to sell these on my thing.” As someone in recovery myself, I kept thinking Why do you take a flask to all your speaking engagements? That—I don’t know—that’s a signal to me that maybe something isn’t resolved with you about your abortion.

So anyway I listened to them tell their stories and answer all the questions. They started doing a Q&A. And there was a young woman who stood up. She said her name was Coco and she was with a Planned Parenthood actually here in Texas. “How come Planned Parenthood is constantly saying ‘It’s only 3%, it’s only 3%’?” Because a big part of what they had talked about during their presentation was how we stigmatize abortion and how there’s a stigma around it. So she said “Aren’t they in turn actually adding stigma to abortion by saying ‘It’s only 3%’?” And everyone in the room agreed. The outspoken woman on the panel said “That’s why I say go work for a small, independent abortion provider.” And everyone starts cheering, like they were kind of anti-Planned Parenthood. And all of a sudden I’m like Am I in on some weird pro-choice secret? Like people don’t actually love Planned Parenthood as much as Planned Parenthood would like us to think they do? And so the woman was like “Okay, okay” and she sits down.

So at this point there was a reporter who had said she wanted to come with me if I was going to ask any questions or anything. And she said “If I can’t be at the session with you, if you could just record it.” So I had literally just turned my phone on to record and caught the Coco thing. Because I thought I don’t know if I’m going to ask a question. Again, I didn’t go to this to start trouble. But before Coco’s question they had said “Does anybody have any questions?” And it was just kind of a long silence, nobody in the room did, and so I almost asked at that point. And then Coco got up. And so then it was my turn because now the same thing happened: they were like “Do we have any questions? Any questions?” And it’s kind of silence. And I thought You know what? I might as well. So I raised my hand. All the stories we were hearing were very positive abortion stories. And I said, “What if a woman’s abortion story is not positive? What if she was coerced into an abortion? One that she didn’t want. Is she allowed to be a part of your campaign as well? Or would that be considered stigmatizing abortion?”

And I remember the outspoken woman who had called on me looks at me, straight in the face, and she says “Do we have any other questions?” And starts looking around the room. And the coolest thing happened at that moment. A woman right in the front row—her hand shoots up—and she says “No. That’s a good question. Answer it.” And so I’m assuming this woman in the front row is probably post-abortive and definitely pro-choice, and here she was advocating for my voice to be heard, which I thought was just kind of beautiful. 

So the woman looks at her and she goes, “Well I guess I really just didn’t understand the question.” And the woman behind that lady says my question! Explains it. Which was also really cool. Here these women were saying “No, we want an answer to this.” So she says, “She’s asking if a woman had a bad experience and was coerced into an abortion, can she tell her story as part of your campaign?” And the lady goes, “Well, first of all, if a woman comes to us and she wants to have her baby, we send her on her way with a pack of prenatal vitamins and a picture of her sonogram and we say ‘Go be a mom.’ This does not happen. There are not coerced abortions.” And of course she thinks she’s putting it to rest with that.

Another hand shoots up from a third woman in this room who says “No. She’s saying if a woman was coerced, can she tell her story?” And at this point, somebody else on the panel who’s a little better at PR jumped in and says “Well we wouldn’t want to be hurting a woman. We wouldn’t want her—if she has unresolved issues with her abortion—we wouldn’t want to be re-wounding her by having her share that story. We would want to get her into a healthy place before she shared her story.” And I was like, That’s kind of a cop out, but that was a much better answer.

So then this session wraps up and nobody was escorted out. None of us started any trouble, right? And the next day I’m meeting with that reporter. So we’re down at the little hotel coffee shop and she had her recorder on because she was interviewing me. And all of a sudden Coco walks up. And she says, “Hey, I hate to interrupt you guys. I’m so sorry. But I just wanted to say thank you so much for asking your question yesterday. I get that question all the time and I never know how to answer it. Thank you for doing that.” And I’m just like, “Of course!” Clearly she has no idea who I am or she would not be thanking me for doing this.

And I said, “You know, at the end of the day, I am a feminist. And I hate women’s voices being used as propaganda. And I think there’s a much larger conversation we need to be having about the nuance within abortion and the fact that there are women who are pro-choice out there who feel like it was the right decision for them to make. But they still have these wounds. And I know this because they’re my friends. I have many pro-choice friends who don’t necessarily regret their abortions, but they still know exactly how old their child would be today. They still think about it. They still wonder what their life would have been like if they would have had that child.”

“And when we don’t allow women the ability to express that because we label them as ‘stigmatizing abortion,’ I think that’s incredibly cruel. And I think, especially as a feminist, I don’t believe we should be in any type of bondage. I don’t think we should be chained barefoot and pregnant to a stove, but I also don’t think that we should be in emotional bondage from an abortion that we’re not allowed to talk about unless we put a smile on and say it was the best thing we ever did. Because for so many women, it’s a very complex multifaceted issue, and we have to let them talk about it. We have to hear their stories.”

So with that, I’m really excited to see these new groups cropping up that do after-care, you know, abortion healing, that’s not religious, and is more wide-ranging. I spoke to a woman on the phone today that I’m just really encouraged by, because she was saying she has pro-choice friends who are post-abortive, and they want to be able to talk about their abortions. And she’s pro-life but she wants to be able to offer them a safe space to do that as well. And I think that is just one of these ways that we can really break down this divide between the pro-life and the pro-choice side, where it’s constantly dehumanizing the other side and not looking at them fully, but then expecting them to understand the humanity of the unborn person when so often we disregard their humanity.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Sorites Paradox as it Pertains to Personhood

My friend and pro-life mentor Steve Wagner introduced me to an article by Lee F. Kerckhove and Sara Waller (hereafter, K&W) called "Fetal Personhood and the Sorites Paradox." [1] It's not an argument I've seen very often but it was recently expounded by Kate Greasley in her book Arguments About Abortion: Personhood, Morality, and the Law. However, K&W and Greasley actually argue in different ways, so I will address both of their respective arguments in turn and I will show how the pro-life concept of personhood avoids falling into the trap of the sorites paradox that each respective thinker charges it with. As my first response here has gotten sort of lengthy, I will respond to K&W's arguments in this article and respond to Greasley in a future article.

The word "sorites" comes from the Greek word for "heap," so-called because it comes from an ancient philosophical puzzle. Suppose you have a heap of sand in front of you. That heap could be made up of 2,000 grains of sand. If you take one grain of sand away, then you are left with 1,999 grains of sand -- but the pile of sand is still a heap. Suppose you keep taking grains of sand away. At what point does the heap of sand become a non-heap? Or looked at from the opposite direction, one grain of sand is not a heap. If you add another grain of sand to have two grains of sand, you still would not have a heap. Now suppose you keep adding grains of sand. At what point did the grains of sand go from non-heap to heap? Is there any point at which we could plausibly point to and say, "there. That grain of sand turned it into a heap?" It doesn't seem we can.

There is also a well-known fallacy called the continuum fallacy (alternatively, the fallacy of the heap or fallacy of the beard). This fallacy is committed when one looks at a vague continuum of states and argues that because there is such a continuum, that one cannot plausibly choose a point at which the vagueness is resolved. For example, a man growing a beard goes through a continuum of stages. He starts off clean-shaven, develops stubble, and eventually a beard develops. But even though there is a continuum of beard growth, that does not mean that we can't recognize the difference between a clean-shaven and a bearded face. There is one common pro-life argument that commits the continuum fallacy. Choosing a starting point such a birth, assuming the person you're talking to believes the human to be a person at birth, then pushing the threshold back a day and asking "how about the day before birth? The day before that? etc." This argument commits the continuum fallacy because it assumes that just because there is a continuum of development that the pro-choice person could not conceivably find a non-arbitrary point along that human's development and argue that it is definitely a person there. Here's an article written by Tim Brahm at Equal Rights Institute that goes into more detail regarding this fallacious argument.

Of course, there is a non-fallacious way to argue that pro-choice arguments are arbitrary whereas pro-life arguments are not, and the fatal flaw of Greasley's argument in her book and K&W's argument in their paper is they fail to understand the pro-life view of personhood. K&W begin their paper with a discussion of the concept of personhood, asserting that being a person is a vague predicate; in fact, it is so vague that it falls under a particularly pernicious form of vagueness called the sorites paradox (or, as Greasley calls it, "sorites-susceptibility"). But after looking at K&W's overarching argument, I will show how, exactly, pro-life arguments about personhood avoid the charge of sorites-susceptibility.

1 -- Kerckhove and Waller

After expounding the sorites paradox in their paper, K&W then take a look at two separate sorites-based arguments for and against personhood. They argue that the concept of personhood, being vague, leads to a contradiction. Personhood is a vague concept, they argue, because "many competent speakers also disagree about when the predicate 'is a person' can be correctly applied." Personhood could plausibly be grounded in any of one's properties, but she uses temporal development as an example. This leads to a paradox, because there can be two reasonable arguments made:

1. X is a person at age T (e.g. 21 years old)
2. If X is a person at age T, then X is a person at T-1 second.
Therefore,
3. X is a person at T-1 second.
Repeat steps 2-3.

1. X is not a person at age T (e.g. conception)
2. If X is not a person at age T, then X is not a person at T+1 second.
Therefore,
3. X is not a person at age T+1 second.
Repeat steps 2-3.

These are both logical arguments in the form of modus ponens, so they are both plausible arguments. But they cannot both be true; hence, the contradiction and hence, a paradox.

There are two ways to avoid this paradox, argue K&W: you can solve the sorites paradox (which seems unlikely), or define personhood in such a way that avoids such vagueness. They also consider this unlikely because they believe that any property you ground personhood in must be vague because it would appeal either to some physical property, or set of physical properties, or to some non-physical property, or set of non-physical properties. Some possibilities for grounding personhood in physical properties are: viability, quickening, consciousness, birth, number of cells, etc. But each of these are vague in the same way: viability is vague because it relies on advancing technology, number of cells would fall victim to asking "what would happen if one more cell was added or removed?" etc.

Some possibilities for grounding personhood in non-physical properties are: the possession of conscious, intrinsic human dignity, a future like ours, etc. However, they don't believe that these will do the trick, either. They write:
The pressing issue is how any of these crucial properties might be measured. How can we determine the point at which a fetus attains consciousness, or a possible future like ours? If the terms of the measurement are physical, then a continuum develops, and with it develops a sorites paradox. If the terms of the measurement are not physical, then any judgment as to whether or not a fetus possesses the property cannot be confirmed or disconfirmed by appeal to facts. Considerations such as these lead to Macklin’s conclusion that an ascription of personhood may be little more than a reflection of moral prejudice. Appeals to non-physical properties will not resolve the debate over the morality of abortion because, to a large extent, the debate is a disagreement over whether or not a fetus possesses such non-physical properties.
So because these properties can't be measured physically, K&W believe that these properties should be disqualified from the discussion.

2 -- Responding to Kerckhove and Waller

It should be fairly obvious that K&W's response to the non-physical attributes that one might ground personhood in is clearly question-begging. They assume that there is no possible way to know when an individual attains these things because they can't be measured physically, but this is a false view of how knowledge is attained, commonly called scientism. It's a self-defeating idea because the idea that you can only find truth through physical investigation is not a claim that can be investigated physically. So non-physical properties are not exempt from the discussion just because they can't be measured physically.

However, K&W's response really just misses the point. The pro-life concept of personhood is that one's personhood is grounded in one's nature. Nature is an all-or-nothing property; it doesn't come in degrees. So K&W fail to consider a third alternative to the sorites paradox. We don't need to solve the sorites paradox. We don't need to find some property to ground personhood in that avoids vagueness. The third alternative is that we simply need to find some property that doesn't admit of degrees. If we can find a property that personhood is grounded in that doesn't admit of degrees, then we can avoid the charge of sorites-susceptibility altogether.

The reason that we place your personhood in your nature is because your nature is the most fundamental thing about you. It grounds your personal identity through time and it grounds the various properties that you have and will have as you continue to develop. The reason that you walk around upright and converse through spoken language rather than walking on all fours, howling at the moon is because you have a human nature, not a canine nature. This is also why severely disabled human beings are still persons and deserving as respect of persons -- although they are not a "perfect instantiation" of human, they are still human beings and have intrinsic worth as humans. To say they are not a "perfect instantiation" is not an insulting term (and really, I don't know if anyone actually lives up to the perfect ideal of humanity -- I certainly don't). It simply means that they are not able to flourish fully as human beings should. If you draw a triangle on a piece of paper, as long as it has three lines on it, it is a triangle. If the lines are crooked, it is still a triangle, just not a perfect instantiation of a triangle. But it is a triangle, none-the-less. And a severely disabled human being is still a human person because being a person is about the kind of thing you are, not the kinds of things you can do.

Now, of course the concept of "nature" is a controversial one among atheists, even though I think it can be rationally demonstrated philosophically. However, if you would prefer, just think of your human DNA in place of your human nature (I tend to think of DNA as the physical expression of one's metaphysical nature). Having human DNA is also an all-or-nothing property, rather than a degreed property. Either you have human DNA or you don't, and scientists can tell the difference between DNA of various species. But whether you accept the concept of nature or not, the underlying point is that an argument can be made from the pro-life position that your personhood is grounded in an all-or-nothing property and is not susceptible to charges of being a sorites paradox.

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


[1] Kerckhove, Lee F. and Sara Waller. "Fetal Personhood and the Sorites Paradox," The Journal of Value Inquiry, 32: 175-189, 1998. All quotations from Kerckhove and Waller will be from this article.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Planned Parenthood is Pro-Abortion, Not Pro-Choice


Those in favor of abortion, including the abortion giant Planned Parenthood, will sometimes say they are “pro-choice, not pro-abortion.” This rhetoric is meant to give the impression they value both choices a pregnant mother may make with her pregnancy, those being birth and abortion. However, when we investigate Planned Parenthood more closely, we find the “pro-abortion” title is what they truly deserve.

If Planned Parenthood was truly “pro-choice,” they would provide support and services for all pregnant mothers, regardless of which choice they made. However, this is not the case. Last year, Live Action called 97 Planned Parenthood facilities all across America, and only five of them offered prenatal care. This lack of prenatal care is also reflected in Planned Parenthood’s annual report.

Planned Parenthood has repeatedly claimed abortion is only 3% of what they do. Interestingly, by that same metric, prenatal care accounts for only 0.08% of what they do. One of the services Planned Parenthood offers even fewer of is adoption referrals, which account for a mere 0.04% of their services. Planned Parenthood calls themselves “pro-choice,” but only 0.12% of their services support pregnant mothers who want to choose life for their child.

Additionally, Planned Parenthood offers nothing to help women who have recently given birth to a child. Planned Parenthood does not help pregnant women deliver healthy babies. They also do not offer any kind of parenting prep classes, and they do not offer any resources for babies such as diapers, car seats, baby food, or anything else.

If you look at the “Our Services” page on Planned Parenthood’s website, the words “baby,” “parent,” and “child” are nowhere to be found. The word “birth” can only be found when preceding the word “control.” Planned Parenthood claims to be “pro-choice,” but they clearly offer nothing for mothers who want to choose life for their babies. Planned Parenthood claims to be a champion of women’s health care, yet they do essentially nothing to help women with childbirth, which is the single most distinguishing feature of women’s health care.

Furthermore, Planned Parenthood does not offer abortion pill reversal treatment, which can reverse the effects of first-trimester medication abortions and save the preborn child. In fact, Planned Parenthood is so pro-abortion they refuse to offer abortion pill reversal treatment even though they could make more money if they did. Planned Parenthood is so committed to abortion that even the almighty dollar cannot persuade them to provide other options for pregnant mothers.

After reviewing their records, it is clear Planned Parenthood is not simply “pro-choice.” They are pro-abortion. Planned Parenthood refuses to offer comprehensive women’s healthcare. Additionally, Planned Parenthood fails to offer any services for women who want to choose life for their child. Planned Parenthood pushes the idea that women must reject their fertility to be empowered, and that women must give their money to Planned Parenthood in order to grasp this empowerment. Even pro-choice advocates should acknowledge that Planned Parenthood is a failure when it comes to providing basic women’s health care.

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

Monday, October 8, 2018

Abortionist compared himself to Holocaust perpetrators

German pro-life activist Klaus Guenter Annen recently lost a case in the European Court of Human Rights. He was appealing an injunction placed on him that censored him for inflammatory speech against abortion.

Annen had described abortion as “aggravated murder” and compared it to the German Holocaust on his personal website. He was given an injunction by the government for speech the court said "had not only been very serious but might also have incited hatred and aggression."

The few American pro-lifers who have compared abortion to the Holocaust have been subjected to extreme criticism, but as yet no one has tried to ban pro-lifers from making the comparison. Indeed, there are some very important differences between the Holocaust and the mass killing of abortion. It is not a comparison I myself would make.

However, it may surprise you that one person who made the comparison was not a pro-lifer, but a practicing abortionist.

Dr. William Rashbaum, now deceased, committed abortions for many years. He did both early and late-term abortions. In an interview with a reporter from the New York Times Magazine that took place early in his abortion career, he said that each time he did an abortion, he was troubled by a fantasy, an image in his mind. He would think of the tiny preborn baby clinging to the walls of the uterus, desperately fighting the suction or the forceps as he pulled her from the womb.

The reporter asked Rashbaum how he dealt with this haunting image that intruded on his thoughts. How did he manage to do abortions despite this fantasy? Rashbaum replied: “Learned to live with it. Like people in concentration camps.”

The reporter, perhaps taken aback by this statement, asked if Rashbaum really meant that metaphor. Rashbaum responded:
I think it’s apt – destruction of life. Look! I’m a person, I’m entitled to my feelings. And my feelings are who gave me or anybody the right to terminate a pregnancy? I’m entitled to that feeling, but I also have no right communicating it to the patient who desperately wants that abortion. I don’t get paid for my feelings. I get paid for my skills… I’ll be frank. I began to do abortions in large numbers at the time of my divorce when I needed money. But I also believe in the woman’s right to control their biological destiny. I spent a lot of years learning to deliver babies. Sure, it sometimes hurts to end life instead of bringing it into the world.
Rashbaum freely admitted that he was ending life. Yet this did not compel him to stop doing abortions. As of 2003 (over 20 years after the interview) he had done 20,000 of them.

He continued to do abortions until shortly before his death in 2005.

It’s interesting that an abortionist would see a connection between abortion clinics and concentration camps. Why did he make a career out of doing abortions despite the fact that he felt like a Nazi? It may have been a combination of the amount of money he was able to make and a genuine belief he was helping women. Regardless, this abortionist clearly knew that he was killing babies.

One wonders what the European Court of Human Rights would have done if, instead of making the comparison himself, Annen had quoted Rashbaum on his website. Would the abortionist’s words have been taken as inciting “hatred and aggression” towards himself and other abortionists?

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