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Monday, December 30, 2019

2019 Year in Review


What an incredible year 2019 has been! The U.S. abortion rate hit a record low, the Supreme Court is widely believed to have a pro-life majority, and Secular Pro-Life has been hard at work.

Winter: Secular Pro-Life marked its tenth anniversary in January. We took to the streets in Washington, D.C. (March for Life) and San Francisco (Walk for Life West Coast) in support of prenatal rights. The 2019 March for Life theme—Unique From Day One: Pro-Life is Pro-Science—was just perfect. The New York Times released an explosive report that Planned Parenthood discriminates against its pregnant employees. Late-term abortion took center stage as New York passed, and Virginia attempted to pass, extreme pro-abortion and even pro-infanticide laws. SPL president Kelsey Hazzard had an op-ed in the New York Daily News. On this blog, SPL co-leader Monica Snyder demonstrated that most late-term abortions are not medically necessary and debunked eight pro-choice talking points. Interest in abortion reached a record high, as shown in Google trends.

Spring: "Baby Chris" was conceived in March, taking our blog readers along the nine-month journey from fertilization to birth. Monica gave a presentation to pro-life youth in Oregon on how to debunk three major pro-choice myths. Unplanned hit U.S. theaters on March 29. In April, Monica testified before the California legislature against the horrific bill to turn public college health centers into chemical abortion vendors. She also presented the case against abortion to public health students at UC Berkeley. The "Strange Planet" webcomic briefly became a pro-life issue, because 2019 is a bizarre timeline. In May, we sounded the alarm at pro-choice advocacy for DIY chemical abortions, which will put women at risk of the very "back-alley" problems they claim we need legal abortion to avoid. SPL co-leader Terrisa Bukovinac attended a Senate symposium on sex trafficking and its impact on women's reproductive health. 

Summer: Kelsey and Terrisa attended the Pro-Life Women's Conference (where we recruited volunteers for a project you will hear more about in 2020); meanwhile, Monica had to school everybody on what a heartbeat is. We reported again that Google Trends showed a record level of interest in the abortion debate, beating the prior record set only a few months earlier. Kelsey brought the secular pro-life message to youth activists at the Louisiana Right to Life PULSE summer camp. Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens died at age 99, leaving a tragic abortion legacy. Kelsey challenged the pro-choice contention that we're out to control women's bodies with a thought experiment, and participated in a live debate on YouTube. Terrisa spoke at the Democrats for Life of America conference. And Monica gave birth to her son!

Autumn: We took part in the "Let There Be Life" conference at UC Berkeley (which Terrisa led while wearing her other hat: president of Pro-Life San Francisco), and the annual Rehumanize conference. At Rehumanize, Kelsey presented the secular case for life, and for the first time, SPL also organized a workshop on secular resources for healing, which was very well-received. On the blog, we responded to Slate's criticism of the phrase "except in the womb" and examined abortion's perverse effect on families suffering after miscarriage. Our facebook page grew to 30,000 fans—a massive 40% leap from the beginning of the year. And of course, we turned our attention to January 2020, preparing for the next March for Life season! If you like what we're doing, please donate as you are able

President's message: Every year, I prepare the year in review and marvel at how much this community has been able to accomplish with a shoestring budget and no paid staff. 2019 was particularly challenging because I have taken on additional pro-life activities outside of SPL; most notably, a mom who chose life under difficult circumstances has been staying at my house, and I am also writing a pro-life novel which I expect to have available for your reading pleasure in 2020. (The title is No Right To Be Here and I promise to keep you posted.) None of this would have been possible without Monica, Terrisa, all our guest authors, and the many other volunteers who have helped SPL in myriad ways over the past year. Thank you all so much!

Friday, December 27, 2019

Top 10 Stories of 2019


The most-read articles on the Secular Pro-Life blog in 2019 are...

10. Are Human Embryos Human From the Beginning?—Spoiler alert: Yes. 

9. I Used to be Religiously Pro-Life—Guest author Laura Vilaro describes her shift from opposing abortion purely because of her Catholic upbringing, to reaching a fuller understanding of abortion as a human rights violation. 

8. The people whose lives you suggest aren't worth living? They can hear you.The Good Place actress and walking social media disaster Jameela Jamil attempted to exploit children in foster care to justify killing her child in an abortion. People who grew up in foster care weren't having it. Their responses are amazing.

7. It's not about bodily autonomy. Here's how we know.—SPL president Kelsey Hazzard refutes the bodily autonomy argument for abortion, noting that it doesn't explain pro-choice lawmakers' opposition to protecting infants who survive attempted abortions. 

6. My visit to Planned Parenthood—Guest author Annaliese Corace shares the story of going to Planned Parenthood for an abortion. They misdiagnosed her with an ectopic pregnancy and did not go through with the abortion, which fortunately gave her the chance to see another doctor and reconsider her decision. It turned out that her pregnancy was perfectly healthy, and she chose life for her daughter.

5. Legal Abortion Does Not Save Women's Lives. Here's Proof.—Sarah Terzo debunks the myth, peddled by Planned Parenthood's then-president Leana Wen, that "thousands of women" died each year before Roe v. Wade and will again after it is overturned. (The Washington Post recently named Wen's statement one of its biggest lies of 2019.)

4. How #ShoutYourAbortion Changed My Mind—Guest author Laura Elkins believed that the pro-choice movement was on the right side of history. Then the callousness of #ShoutYourAbortion prompted her to take a closer look.

3. Master post: 21+ week abortions usually aren't medically necessary—Late-term abortion was a major topic this year, with unsubstantiated claims that they are only done for medical reasons dominating the pro-abortion narrative. SPL co-leader Monica Snyder summarizes the available data (including pro-abortion sources) and concludes that most late-term abortions are in fact elective. 

2. When we say "heartbeat" we don't mean "fetal pole cardiac activity." We mean "heartbeat."—The weirdest pro-choice talking point to debut in 2019 has to be this new insistence that embryonic and fetal heartbeats aren't "real" heartbeats. Monica breaks down the nonsense. 

And the most-read blog post of 2019... congratulations, Monica, for writing all three top articles... is:

1. Responding to 8 common pro-choice claims about late-term abortion.—Bookmark this is as a reference, because I guarantee you will see all eight claims resurface in the context of the 2020 elections.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Top 10 Graphics of 2019

Here are the most reacted-to, commented-upon, and shared Secular Pro-Life graphics of 2019! You guys sure do like screenshots and corrections to pro-choice nonsense.

10. For every two Catholic pro-lifers, there is one secular pro-lifer! (Check out this blog post for the underlying data.)


9 (Several images tied). Numerous people who grew up in foster care (and with other challenges) came forward to defend their lives in response to Jameela Jamil's callous tweet suggesting they should have been aborted. It's appalling that their existence and value were ever questioned, but boy did they rise to the occasion! Check out the full collection of screenshots here.




8. Watch out, pro-choicers: Monica is wielding her red pen!


7. These bad Handmaid's Tale analogies are really getting out of hand.

Yes, we screenshot our own tweets and post them to Facebook. Don't judge. 

6. Stop erasing pro-life women!


5. Oh no! Now Monica has a BLUE pen!


4. We will ALWAYS amplify people targeted by the abortion industry.



3. If you don't like human rights violations, don't commit human rights violations!


2. Heartbreaking

And for the top graphic of 2019... Monica strikes again!

1. Tapeworms? Seriously?!


Monday, December 23, 2019

Happy Birthday, Baby Chris!

Photo by Alex Hockett on Unsplash

Just in time for Christmas, Baby Chris has been born! The Endowment for Human Development explains:
The fetus initiates labor resulting in the transition from fetus to newborn. Powerful contractions of the uterus result in childbirth and the expulsion of the placenta, which now weighs about 1/6th as much as the newborn. At birth, the oxygen received through the placenta is suddenly replaced by the onset of air breathing.
Over the past nine months, Baby Chris has grown from a single-celled organism, to a tiny embryo with brainwaves and a beating heart, to a first trimester fetus, to a second trimester fetus, to being capable of surviving outside the womb, to finally being a third trimester fetus. Baby Chris has been the same person all along, and is no more human now than yesterday.

We have documented this beautiful continuum of humanity for educational purposes, and all Baby Chris-related posts are archived here. You can also get prenatal development information at your fingertips (for debates, sidewalk counseling, etc.) by downloading the free See Baby app on your smartphone.

Although "Baby Chris" is a fictional name, one of the coolest aspects of this project was hearing from SPL supporters who happened to conceive in late March and were thus able to follow their own children's progress along with the progress of Baby Chris. We wish you all safe, healthy births and share in your excitement!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Baby Chris is 38 Weeks Old

Image via BabyCenter.com

[This is part 39 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

38 weeks after fertilization (40 weeks LMP), Baby Chris 20 ¼ inches long and weighs 7 ¾ pounds—about the size of a small pumpkin. Baby Chris will be born very soon! Their lungs are ready for life on the outside and should not require special medical assistance.

Shamefully, it is still legal for Baby Chris to be electively aborted in the final week before birth. While Roe v. Wade and Supreme Court's other abortion cases allow states to restrict third-trimester abortions, not all states have done so, and abortion lobbyists are pushing for even fewer restrictions. In no state does Baby Chris enjoy legal recognition as a person with the right to life.

Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of doctors have a conscience and will not perform such a late-term abortion, despite its legality. As a practical matter it is extremely difficult to obtain an abortion at this stage. In medical emergencies where continued pregnancy threatens the mother's life or health, the sensible course of action is to immediately perform a C-section or induce labor; this not only gives the baby a chance to live, but also provides a quicker resolution for the mother than a 9-month abortion procedure would.

To learn more about prenatal development, download the free See Baby app!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Reader Question: What About the Right to Privacy?


We recently received an email from Josephine C., asking: "How do you respond to those people who maintain that prohibiting abortion is an invasion of privacy?" Unfortunately, when I tried to reply, I got an automated error message. Hopefully this blog post will reach Josephine, but even if it doesn't, it's an important issue for all our readers.

I respond that the right to privacy, while legitimate, is not broad enough to encompass acts of violence. For example, domestic abuse is not a "private" matter just because it occurs within the confines of one's home. Because abortion is also an act of violence against another person, it is distinct from the non-violent behaviors—such as sending one's children to private schools, maintaining confidential membership in the NAACP, and using contraception—which originally caused the Supreme Court to recognize a right to privacy in the Constitution.

In addition, a right like privacy, which is merely implied from the Constitution, should not take precedence over the right to life, which is explicitly stated in the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment provides: "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Laws permitting abortion are discriminatory and unconstitutional, because they deprive unborn children of life without due process of law.

We welcome reader questions! If you have a topic you'd like to see on the blog, email us at info@secularprolife.org.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Baby Chris is 37 Weeks Old

Illustration via BabyCenter.com

[This is part 38 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

37 weeks after fertilization (39 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 20 inches long and weighs 7 ¼ pounds—about the size of a mini watermelon. He or she is full term and could be born any day! The Endowment for Human Development reports that "[t]he eye of the full-term fetus or newborn has achieved roughly 75% of its adult size and about two-thirds its adult weight."

Although we've been using averages to educate our readers about prenatal development, it's important to keep in mind that every person is different and grows on their own timeline. Many babies are born before 37 weeks or weighing less than 7 pounds; this is perfectly healthy and normal. I myself was not born until three weeks after my due date (an early sign of my bad tendency to procrastinate) at 9 pounds, 3 ounces. My brother was right on time yet weighed in at 10 pounds, 12 ounces!

To learn more about the incredible journey we have all taken from conception to birth, download the free See Baby app.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Please support Secular Pro-Life on Giving Tuesday


We appreciate that you're probably being bombarded by fundraisers, so we'll keep this short and sweet: an anonymous donor will match the first $1000 we raise through Giving Tuesday. If you like the work we do, now is the perfect time to donate! You can give via Facebook or PayPal. Thanks to the generous support of donors like you, we are already more than a third of the way to our goal. Thank you, and have a great day!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Baby Chris is 36 Weeks Old

Image via BabyCenter
[This is part 37 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

36 weeks after fertilization (38 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 19 ½ inches long and weighs 6 ¾ pounds—about the size of a leek. The brain has developed "deep, convoluted grooves — extra surface area for neurons." The Endowment for Human Development notes that brain weight doubles during the last nine weeks of pregnancy:
Much of the brain’s weight gain is due to the thickening of the myelin sheath around the nerves. By the end of pregnancy, the fetal brain is about a quarter of its eventual size and contains nearly all the neurons it will ever have: perhaps 100 billion. Each of these neurons will eventually synapse with as many as 200,000 other neurons, creating an electrical network of almost incalculable complexity.
For more prenatal development info, download the free See Baby app on your device.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Book Review: "Pro-Life Kids"

Above: Preview page of Pro-Life Kids. Text reads: "It doesn't matter your size or your age. You have equal value whatever the stage." It is accompanied by cartoon illustrations of many people, forming a line from youngest to oldest.

Pro-Life Kids, written by Bethany Bomberger and illustrated by Ed Koehler, is a rhyming picture book that introduces children to the concept that all humans are people: at every age, no matter where they live, and even before they are born. This concept is conveyed clearly and illustrated beautifully, including children of all races and abilities.

This book is best read aloud by a trusted adult who is prepared to spend a good amount of time on the subject. Although the book's overall tone is upbeat and positive, it is impossible to be honest about abortion without bringing up death. Pro-Life Kids forthrightly describes abortion as taking a baby's life away. It also contains references to other upsetting situations when some humans have not been recognized as persons (slavery and the Holocaust), as well as the successes of the civil rights movement. These topics will likely prompt difficult questions from young children who lack the historical education. The story also assumes a prior knowledge of concepts like adoption and pregnancy care centers, which the reader may need to pause to explain.

The author, a Christian, included one religious passage: "God made you unique. You have no clone. Your fingerprints are yours. Yes, yours alone. He knit you together one cell at a time... with love and attention—a plan so divine." Secular households could modify this page (but I recommend against skipping it entirely, as it contains a lovely fetal illustration).

Pro-Life Kids also contains significant back-page material, including photos and biographies of real pro-life kids, a "Pro-Life Kids Pledge," and kid-friendly action items.

Pro-Life Kids is available for purchase here.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Baby Chris is 35 Weeks Old

Above: Depiction and ultrasound of 35-week-old unborn baby via the Endowment for Human Development

[This is part 36 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

35 weeks after fertilization (37 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 19 ¼ inches long and weighs 6 ¼ pounds—about the size of a bunch of Swiss chard.

If you've ever interacted with a newborn, you've probably done the adorable "grab my finger, oh no the baby's got me I can't escape!" trick. The Endowment for Human Development reports that this grasping reflex has developed by 35 weeks.

For more information on life in the womb, download the free See Baby app!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Confronting the Pro-Choice Stance, Honestly

Above: Pro-life youth demonstrate outside the Supreme Court; in the
background, a sign reads "Keep abortion safe and legal."

Last week, The Atlantic published an article by Caitlin Flanagan entitled "The Dishonesty of the Abortion Debate: Why we need to face the best arguments from the other side." I encourage you to read the whole thing. Flanagan, who is pro-choice, did an admirable job of identifying the best arguments on each side of the abortion debate.

For the pro-life side, she gave a heartfelt defense of children in the womb. While there are many other ways to arrive at the pro-life position—such as abortion's harm to mothers, fathers, abortion survivors, people with disabilities, and society at large—I agree that the harm to the unborn child is paramount. And boy, does she write it well. No one can accuse her of failing to understand the opposing position:
What I can’t face about abortion is the reality of it: that these are human beings, the most vulnerable among us, and we have no care for them. How terrible to know that in the space of an hour, a baby could be alive—his heart beating, his kidneys creating the urine that becomes the amniotic fluid of his safe home—and then be dead, his heart stopped, his body soon to be discarded.
For the pro-choice side, she selected the fear of "back-alley" abortion as the strongest argument. This is apparently the argument that most convinces her personally. She tells the tragic stories of three mothers in the 1950's who died after attempting to abort their babies with Lysol (which had a different formula than it does today). She concludes:
Women have been willing to risk death to get an abortion. When we made abortion legal, we decided we weren’t going to let that happen anymore. We were not going to let one more woman arrive at a hospital with her organs rotting inside of her. We accepted that we might lose that growing baby, but we were not also going to lose that woman.
It's the best available argument for abortion. And it's wrong, for at least three reasons.

(1) Roe v. Wade didn't reduce the maternal death rate from illegal abortion. 

Flanagan assumes that making abortion legal made it safer, but doesn't offer any evidence for that assumption beyond a correlation-is-causation argument; since women are no longer showing up in hospitals after surreptitious Lysol abortions, Roe must have been the answer! That's a weak case, and the data just don't back it up.

Whenever I give presentations on college campuses, I share this graph from the National Center for Health Statistics, showing maternal deaths from illegal abortions by year—but with the x-axis, the year, erased.


I then ask a brave audience volunteer to guess where 1973, the year of Roe v. Wade, falls on the graph. Most select a peak, in line with the narrative that Roe v. Wade caused maternal deaths to plummet. Invariably, they guess wrong:


Roe v. Wade isn't even a blip on the graph. Forget "correlation doesn't equal causation"—they don't even have correlation! The real savior of women's lives? Advances in antibiotics.

(2) A lot has changed since the 1950's.

And not just antibiotics. Flanagan herself acknowledges that it "was illegal to advertise contraception nationally until 1977," four years after Roe; today, you can pick up condoms at any corner drugstore, and prescription contraceptives are widely available. Pregnancy discrimination was perfectly legal at the time of Roe; today, it's prohibited by federal law. Women couldn't get credit cards in their own name at the time of Roe; today, it's unquestioned. Marital rape wasn't criminalized in all 50 states until two decades after Roe. And I haven't even mentioned that today, pro-life pregnancy centers outnumber abortion businesses. Using the 1950's to predict a post-Roe future is wildly unrealistic.

(3) Legal abortion is still killing women.  

Tonya Reaves. Jennifer Morbelli. Maria Santiago. Lakisha Wilson. Christin Gilbert. The list goes on. The pro-life movement can tell stories just as tragic as the "back-alley" stories Flanagan shares. The fact that their abortions were legal doesn't make them any less dead.

I appreciate Flanagan's attempt to engage the pro-life position honestly. It's the best article from an abortion supporter I've seen since Shawna Kay Rodenberg's piece in Salon two years ago. I hope Flanagan will keep digging, keep following her conscience, and become the next convert to the pro-life cause.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Baby Chris is 34 Weeks Old

Diagram of a mother and 34-week-old baby in the womb via BabyCenter
[This is part 35 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

34 weeks after fertilization (36 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 18 ¾ inches long and weighs 5 ¾ pounds—about the size of a head of romaine lettuce.

Baby Chris isn't just growing; he or she is also learning. The Endowment for Human Development reports:
Studies suggest that towards the end of prenatal development, the fetus has been developing preferences and tastes based on prenatal experience. For instance, fetuses whose mothers consumed anise, the substance which gives licorice candy its flavor, showed a preference for anise after birth. Newborns without this fetal exposure disliked anise.
The fetus hears numerous sounds before birth, with the mother’s voice and heartbeat dominating other sounds. Studies show that after months of listening to the mother’s voice, the newborn prefers her voice to any other. The newborn also prefers female voices to male voices and familiar lullabies heard before birth to new lullabies after birth. Newborns can distinguish prose passages heard during the last 6 weeks of pregnancy from new passages, providing additional evidence of in utero memory formation and learning.
For more information about prenatal development, check out the free See Baby app!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Book Review: "Sex Ed for Everyone"

Above: A free sample panel from the "Sex Ed for Everyone"
comic by Sophie LaBelle. Click to enlarge.

Sophie LaBelle, best known as the artist behind Assigned Male Comics, recently came out with a new comic book entitled "Sex Ed For Everyone." Featuring many of the same characters as her regular Assigned Male series, "Sex Ed for Everyone" is aimed at teenagers who are dissatisfied with the scope of sex education they are receiving in school.

It's important to note that "Sex Ed for Everyone" is not a substitute for comprehensive sex education. Pregnancy is not covered, so you will not find adorable cartoon depictions of prenatal development (I know, I was disappointed too). There's also not much in the way of contraceptive knowledge or STI prevention, beyond a brief mention of male and female condoms.

But it was clearly never LaBelle's intent to be a one-stop shop for sexual health information. Instead, "Sex Ed for Everyone" is best thought of as a supplement to sex education, particularly on matters of sexual identity, sexual orientation, and gender expression.

Judged on that metric, the book does an admirable job. To give you a sense of its tone, here are a few points I particularly appreciated:
  • "I think it's a shame that we don't hear much about the variety of bodies out there. It's one thing to tell us that the majority of people aren't trans, intersex, or disabled. It's another to tell us that we don't need to learn about them."
  • Speaking about queer teens making the decision not to have sex, one character notes: "The need for belonging might pressure people into situations they don't actually want."
  • And then there's this fantastic dialogue: "I'm scared to get pressured into having sex. When do you know you're ready?" "It's true that it can feel overwhelming, but it's totally OK to take your time. Maybe you'll never 'be ready' and that's also fine."
These messages are especially important for LaBelle's trans and queer audience, because sexual minority youth are actually more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy than their cis, straight peers. That might seem like a paradox, but when you consider the cultural pressure that some lesbians and bisexuals are under to "appear straight," the risk of reluctant sexual intercourse is apparent. In fact, when I was a student at the University of Miami, our pro-life student group hosted a speaker who had been in that very situation — twice. (Her first pregnancy tragically ended in abortion after she received deceptive counseling; for her second, she chose life.)

"Sex Ed for Everyone" is available on Etsy.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Baby Chris is 33 Weeks Old

Above: Image of a 33-week-old baby in the womb. Their hand covers their face. Graphic via the Endowment for Human Development.

[This is part 34 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

33 weeks after fertilization (35 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 18 ¼ inches and weighs 5 ¼ pounds—about the size of a honeydew melon. Baby Chris has doubled in weight compared to just six weeks ago!

Organ development is mostly completed at this point. The Endowment for Human Development reports that "[t]he digestive system further develops as the lower esophageal sphincter, a valve leading to the stomach, begins functioning by 32 weeks. Blood-filtering groups of capillaries called glomeruli have completed their formation in the kidneys."

Learn more about Baby Chris's journey from conception to birth by downloading the free See Baby app!


Thursday, November 7, 2019

Tonight: Secular Pro-Life at Seton Hall University


Secular Pro-Life representative Terrisa Bukovinac, who you may also know as the head of Pro-Life San Francisco, will give a presentation tonight at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ. The event begins at 8:00 p.m. EST and will take place in the University Center, Main Lounge. There is no charge to attend.

We're excited for this opportunity to educate Catholic university students about the secular reasons to oppose abortion! Lest you worry that we're just preaching to the choir, remember that 48% of American Catholics support legal abortion in spite of the official position of their church. (Besides, 30% of Seton Hall students aren't Catholic.)

Not in the New Jersey area? Not a problem. The lecture will be recorded and we will post video on our social media as soon as it is available. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

What do yesterday's election results mean for unborn babies?

Yesterday's off-year elections were largely seen as a referendum on President Trump, but the short-term consequences for human beings in the womb are substantial.

In Virginia, pro-life advocates sought to win GOP majorities of the House of Delegates and State Senate—with the goal of keeping Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, of infanticide and blackface fame, from doing too much damage. (His term lasts until 2022.) Volunteers from the Susan B. Anthony List, Students for Life Action, and other organizations knocked on tens of thousands of doors. It was not enough. Democrats now outnumber Republicans in both chambers.

In the race to succeed the term-limited Mississippi governor, both major candidates ran on pro-life platforms. Republican Tate Reeves and Democrat Jim Hood have each advanced the legal rights of unborn children in their roles as Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, respectively. Hood courageously defied his party to support life (much like neighboring Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, who runs for re-election on November 16). The natural result was that abortion did not play a significant role in the Mississippi contest. Voters selected Reeves by a margin of 5.8 points. 

Finally, in Kentucky, GOP incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin (0% Planned Parenthood rating) faced off against Democratic challenger Andy Beshear (100% Planned Parenthood rating). The result was extremely close: Beshear won by just 5,150 votes. For context, Libertarian candidate John Hicks received 28,426 votes.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Baby Chris is 32 Weeks Old

Above: an unborn baby at 8 months (32 weeks).
Graphic via the Endowment for Human Development

[This is part 33 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

32 weeks after fertilization (34 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 17 ¾ inches long and weighs 4 ¾ pounds—about the size of a cantaloupe.

Lung development is particularly important this week. According to the Endowment for Human Development: "Starting at 32 weeks, true alveoli (al-ve’o-li), or air “pocket” cells, begin forming from alveolar ducts. Development of alveoli continues through birth and until about 8 years of age."

Download the free "See Baby" app for week-by-week prenatal development facts!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Why Abortions Are Still Wrong and Should be Illegal (Part Three)

I recently began a series looking at a new article/book released by pro-choice philosophers Nathan Nobis and Kristina Grob (hereafter NG). You can read part one here and part two here. And if you'd like to read the book before you read my responses to it, you can read it for free online here. This next section is quite lengthy, so I'll split it in half.

5. Better Arguments 

Now we get to the portion of NG’s book where they set out to justify the subtitle and show why most abortions are not immoral and why all of them should be legal. I will begin by defending the pro-life arguments they criticize and finish with criticizing the pro-choice arguments they defend.

Pro-Life Argument #1: Fetuses are human. NG begin by attacking an argument that fetuses are human and are, therefore, wrong to kill. NG are right to criticize this argument as easy to find counterexamples to. After all, not everything that is human (in the adjective sense) is wrong to kill. Tumors are human but are not wrong to kill, nor are human cells or tissue in a petri dish. The problem with NG’s rebuttal, though, is that no one actually makes the argument they criticize. Pointing out that fetuses are human is only one step in a cumulative case of showing that fetuses are wrong to kill. Human fetuses and embryos are living, independent organisms of the human species. All of this goes in to show why it is wrong to kill them because fundamentally, a human embryo is no different than the adult that he eventually becomes. So NG have subtly erected a strawman to attack and knocked it down.

Instead, let’s take this argument from Scott Klusendorf’s book The Case for Life, which makes a better, stronger argument against abortion based on the humanity of the fetus:

  • It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being. 
  • Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being. 
  • Therefore, 
  • Abortion is wrong. 

This argument better explains why humanity is so important to pro-life advocates and weighs so heavily in their arguments. If it is wrong to kill an innocent human being in uncontroversial cases, such as adults and children, in which even NG have expressed agreement in the preface to their book, then if it turns out that human fetuses and embryos fit the definition of “innocent human being,” it would be wrong to kill them, too. Of course, such a claim needs to be defended but the pro-life advocate will do so. That’s why even the humanity argument is, itself, used in a cumulative case against abortion. That case goes something like this: 1) All human fetuses are human organisms, 2) all human organisms are persons, 3) all persons have fundamental rights such as the right to life, so 4) human fetuses have fundamental rights such as the right to life.

Before moving on, NG try to address the concept of human rights and how they think pro-life people have gotten the concept of “rights” wrong. But all this discussion does is show how NG have fundamentally misunderstood this basic pro-life argument. No, cells in a petri dish don’t have human rights, but that’s because they are not human beings—they are parts of humans, not a full human on their own. My individual parts don’t have rights but I do, as a whole, complete, individual human. So while they are right that simply being biologically human does not grant a thing rights, neither is the pro-life person making this claim. Our rights are “human” rights, but other ways of saying this are “fundamental” rights or even “basic human rights.” This is because the claim is not that we have rights because we are biologically human, but we have rights because our rights inhere in us based on the kind of thing we are. As Patrick Lee argues in his book Abortion and Unborn Human Life, being “human” is not merely a biological category. There is much more that comes with being human, such as our human nature. There are metaphysical realities to being human; our unborn share in our fundamental human nature, so they also have fundamental, basic human rights.

So it’s not our psychological characteristics which are important, as there is much more to the person than our psychology. Our bodies are just as important to us as persons. Our bodies are how we interact with the world around us, and our minds are how we interpret those experiences. Plus, the fact that we are biologically continuous with ourselves throughout our entire lives is certainly significant. So while I do agree in some sense that calling them “human” rights isn’t accurate enough (after all, intelligent extraterrestrials would certainly have rights, as would spiritual beings, if they exist), I don’t agree that we should start calling them “person rights” or “conscious-being rights” because not all conscious beings are rights-bearing entities (and again, NG haven’t exactly defined consciousness for us to know what other kinds of beings would be included or just when, exactly, humans become persons). Dogs, for example, are conscious entities, and while they should be protected, killing a dog, even accidentally, is not the same kind of act as killing a human, even accidentally. Killing the human brings with it stricter punishments than killing the dog. So while I agree with them, I think calling them “fundamental rights” is perfectly fine because that term does show how our rights belong to us: fundamentally. They do not come and go when I gain or cease to have some property. They are always there.

Pro-Life Argument #2: Fetuses are human beings. NG have anticipated much of the response I gave above, since pro-life advocates respond similarly when presented with the charge NG have given. NG’s responses, though, don’t fare much better than their original criticism.

NG begin by reiterating that it’s not always wrong to kill a human being (e.g. you can kill in self-defense). So the question is, what is it about fetuses that makes it wrong to kill them if it is wrong to kill them? NG prefer their depiction of why it is wrong to kill adults and children, because they are conscious and feeling, and if we were in a permanent coma, death wouldn’t make us any worse off. But I already showed in section three why their depiction of the wrongness of killing is inadequate.

They also argue that their depiction shows why it is wrong to kill in a simple, common-sense way. But of course, the pro-life depiction of why it is wrong is also simple and common-sensical. If someone asks me why it's wrong to kill me, my answer will be something like this: “it is wrong to kill me because I am a human being," and if you stop and think about it without any prior philosophical reflection and no prior commitment to the morality of abortion, that may be the conclusion you immediately draw. Where it gets more complex is why it is wrong to kill me because I am a human being, but the same problem arises for their view. It may be simple and common-sensical, to them, to claim it’s wrong to kill me because I have experiences, I can feel, etc., but answering the question of why that makes it wrong to kill me requires more work. And their statements about why rocks, plants, etc., don’t have rights fails for the reason I showed in section three: they are making a simple category error and comparing things (rocks, plants, etc.) with things which are not relevantly like them (human embryos and fetuses).

NG turn to reasons that pro-life people give for why it is wrong to kill human fetuses despite their never having been conscious or having any feeling or awareness. The first supporting argument they look at is that human fetuses develop continually into the adult so it is the same being at all points in its development, which should seem familiar as it is a supporting statement I used in my defense above. However, they reply, this can’t be the explanation since we adults have different physical, cognitive, emotional, and moral characteristics than we had as fetuses (and as children). So even if we were the same being over time, that doesn’t show that fetuses have the same moral rights we do, as rights change over time. NG actually make two errors in reasoning here. First, they confuse the concepts of accidental and essential properties. It’s true that I am now 5’11”, have gotten bigger (and rounder) since I was a fetus, I can now recite the English alphabet, engage in higher levels of thinking, etc. But all of these are accidental properties—they are true things about me but are not what make me, me. I would be the same person, for example, if I grew up speaking German instead of English or if I peaked physically at 5’6” instead of 5’11”. However, the essential property I have now, my human nature, was present in me as a fetus, which means since that essential property never changed, “I” never changed from anything non-human into something human. I was human from the beginning and had my rights from the beginning. In fact, NG even admit they have different characteristics now than they did as children, so they can’t use their argument to show that they are different than they were as fetuses unless they also think they were not the same numerically identical person as children than they are now. That seems to be a bridge too far.

Second, NG make the error of confusing fundamental rights with legal rights. It’s true that some of my rights have changed since I was younger. I can drive a car now and I couldn’t as a fetus. I can vote in Californian and American elections and I couldn’t as a fetus. But these are all legal rights. Legal rights are granted to us by the government and often come to us through maturity. I couldn’t drive or vote as a fetus because I had not reached the proper level of maturity. Fundamental rights are not granted by the government and, therefore, every government is obligated to respect them even if I’m not a citizen. These rights include (but are not limited to) the right to life, the right to freedom, the right to self-defense, etc. These rights do not come and go. The right to life is a fundamental right, so if fundamental rights inhere in us based on what we are, not on what functions we can perform, and if human fetuses and embryos have the same fundamental nature adults do, as pro-life people argue, then human embryos and fetuses have the right to life, even if some of their other rights haven’t yet been granted due to immaturity.

The second argument that NG look at actually follows from my previous response: the argument that human beings have rights essentially and not accidentally. In contrast, NG view rights as accidental to the body but essential to the mind. It doesn’t seem clear, though, how one can be a “conscious being” without also being an “embodied being.” The idea that your mind can have essential rights but your body can’t seems incoherent to me, as both parts of me go in to make up the same human person. If they don’t believe they are identical to the body, then they have some explaining to do about what happens to that fetus they later came to occupy. As Alexander Pruss argued, either that fetus lived or died. But any changes the fetus went through were changes that were within its internal programming to undergo, and things don’t die by undergoing changes that are within their internal programming to undergo. So clearly the fetus didn’t die. So is it still alive? If it is, there are only two possibilities. It is still alive but separate from you or it is still alive but identical to you. If it is still alive but separate from you, this leads to absurdities. It violates a plausible law of physics since two physical objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. It also leads to other absurdities, such as that rape is not a crime against a person but is a mere property crime against one’s body, and that you have never actually kissed your significant other. Since the fetus cannot be dead, and the fetus cannot be alive but separate from you, the fetus must be alive and identical to you (Alexander Pruss, "I Was Once a Fetus: That is Why Abortion is Wrong").

Regarding the claim that rights inhere in us because of the kind of thing we are, rational beings, NG state that the argument seems to be question-begging. It is not, of course. In fact, many books and articles have been written regarding the defense of things like natures and how rights interact with us as human beings. It is, at least, abstract, as NG state, but lots of things are abstract that we take for granted. Rights, themselves, are abstract, so no matter how you account for them, your reasoning will be abstract. NG go on to claim if you define human beings as rational, even though only some human beings are rational while others are not, then why not simply define human beings as non-rational, since some human beings are not rational while others are. After all, why is it that the rational human beings get to define what being human is for all human beings, the ones who are not rational and the ones who are?

This profoundly misses the whole point, though. As I have argued above, fetuses are not “not rational,” like rocks and fish, they are “pre-rational.” Part of being a human being is development—you start out with a single cell (and other parts, such as the zona pellucida), and through development which is self-directed, you develop your body parts: your organs, your blood, your limbs, etc. Humans are on a path of development, which means that fetuses are not simply non-rational humans—they are humans which have the inherent capacity for rationality which just takes time to develop to be able to exercise it. So human embryos and fetuses are every bit the rational animal that human toddlers and adults are, they just don’t have the present means by which to exercise it. So this isn’t a case of rational humans defining what rationality is for all humans, even non-rational ones. It’s to look at human nature and say, “what is it that makes humans uniquely human?” In other words, what is the essence of being human? As the ancient Greeks taught, the way you determine something’s essence is by asking what sets it apart from other similar things. Human beings are animals, but what sets them apart from other animals is that we are rational. So the essence of humanity is to be a rational animal. This means that all human beings qualify as rational animals because under ordinary circumstances, all human beings are on a path to become more and more rational as they develop. This is not simply a path that only some humans are on, it is a path that all humans are on, even though some, tragically through disease, injury, or genetics, fail to become rational and are unable to fully flourish as human beings. This is what it means to say that it is in the nature of humans to be rational.

So then the question becomes, why does that rationality determine our rights? The answer is because with rights come duties. If I expect my right to life be respected, I have a duty to respect the right to life of others. Animals have no such duties because they don’t have the rationality to understand them, and since animals have no such duties, they also have no rights which we are obligated to respect.

So contrary to NG’s claim, this does not mean that rights “trickle down” regressively from our future rational state to our present non-rational state. That would be absurd. What it means is that since human nature entails rationality, and human embryos/fetuses are on a self-directed path of human development which includes eventually developing the ability to be rational, human embryos/fetuses are inherently rational beings who just need time to develop that rationality; and they will, all things being equal.

Also contrary to NG, this does not entail that we must never allow a comatose person to die. We are morally obligated not to kill such a person, but this doesn’t mean that we are always obligated to preserve life when it becomes more harmful to the person than to allow nature to take its course. We must never kill a human being, but if keeping him on life support or otherwise providing care is futile, then it would be more harmful to continue providing that futile care than to simply allow nature to take its course.

Furthermore, the existence of anencephalic fetuses does not refute this idea. Again, letting an anencephalic fetus die is not impermissible (especially since it is not possible at our present level of medical expertise to save him), but to kill him through abortion would be impermissible. This doesn’t show that anencephalic fetuses are a different kind of being than us. Anencephalic fetuses are still human beings who have tragically failed to fully flourish as humans should. To consider them non-human (which is what saying they’re a different “kind” of being than we are is to say) is ableist. A human does not become a non-human just because their disability to too severe.

Pro-Life Argument #3: Fetuses are persons. Here NG address the pro-life argument that the unborn are wrong to kill because they are persons, and persons are wrong to kill. They, of course, disagree with this argument. But what are their reasons for doing so?

Well, first, they say we should think about what it means to be a person and whether we ever cease to be persons. Many people think our personhood ends when you die or go into a permanent coma. And if some religions are right, that there is a life after death, presumably the person would continue on without their body in some sense. This seems to imply that personhood is defined by a “rough and vague set of psychological or mental, rational and emotional characteristics: consciousness, knowledge, memories, and ways of communicating, all psychologically unified by a unique personality.”

Second, they say we should think about the kinds of things we accept as persons and as non-persons: we readily think of ourselves and other adults as being persons and we readily think of fictional characters, like Luke Skywalker, as persons. We generally think of non-conscious entities, like rocks and carrots, as non-persons. Conscious and feeling animals tend to be closer to persons than not. Unconscious, unfeeling fetuses would definitely not be persons, as consciousness sets in later in pregnancy than the first trimester, where most abortions occur.

These are the only arguments leveled against the claim that fetuses are wrong to kill because they are persons, and it should be obvious that these arguments are severely lacking in persuasiveness. The first argument is simply based on what someone believes, and beliefs can be mistaken. I see myself as a person, but I also retroactively see myself as a person when I was a fetus. This is because of my prior belief that fetuses are persons. NG reject this claim and see fetuses as non-persons because of their prior commitment to supporting abortion. So this argument ultimately begs the question.

The second argument, that we should think about the things we accept as persons or non-persons, is question-begging for the same reason. You’ll accept certain things as persons or non-persons based on your prior metaphysical view of personhood. I don’t think conscious or feeling animals are “close” to being persons because I don’t think personhood is something that comes in degrees. You are either a person or you are not a person, and “conscious, feeling” animals don’t make the cut.

NG have not offered any good reasons for accepting their view of personhood, especially when there is good reason to believe personhood is established at fertilization.

Pro-Life Argument #4: Fetuses are potential persons. This is an argument that some have defended in the literature. It is not an argument I defend, as I think the critics of this argument (such as NG, as well as Michael Tooley and Peter Singer) are generally correct. If fetuses are merely potential persons, this does not, then, grant them personhood rights. However, this is not the argument that most pro-life advocates make. The argument is that fetuses are actual persons with great potential, and that potential matters in the consideration of personhood. It is true that fetuses are not yet rational, but they are rational by nature, and since one does not cease to be by undergoing changes that are within one’s internal programming, fetuses are persons now despite not yet being able to exercise their rational capacity since they are the same individual through all the changes they undergo. So I’m not very interested in defending this argument, but this is an important caveat to consider when trying to critique pro-life arguments.

In my next article, I'll look at one last pro-life argument and address the pro-choice arguments NG defend.

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

Monday, October 28, 2019

Baby Chris is 31 Weeks Old

Above: A 31-week-old unborn baby sticks out their tongue.
Graphic via the Endowment for Human Development.

[This is part 32 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

31 weeks after fertilization (33 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 17 ¼ inches long and weighs 4 ⅓ pounds—about the size of a pineapple. BabyCenter reports:
Skull flexibility
The bones in your baby's skull aren't fused together, which allows them to move and slightly overlap, making it easier for her to fit through the birth canal. (The pressure on the head during birth is so intense that many babies are born with a cone-head-like appearance.) These bones don't entirely fuse until early adulthood, so they can grow as the brain and other tissue expands during infancy and childhood.
Skin smoothing
Your baby is rapidly losing that wrinkled, alien look, and her skin is less red and transparent. It's becoming soft and smooth as she plumps up in preparation for birth.
Lots of movement
It's getting snug in your womb, so your baby isn't doing as many somersaults, but the amount of kicking should remain about the same.
For more information on Baby Chris's journey from conception to birth, download the free See Baby app!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Recap: Rehumanize Conference 2019

Last weekend, Secular Pro-Life volunteers took to New Orleans for Rehumanize Conference 2019. The event was a great success! Be sure to check out our photo album here.

Kelsey Hazzard and
Michaelene Fredenberg
Secular Pro-Life led two breakout sessions: SPL president Kelsey Hazzard delivered her classic "Secular Case Against Abortion" presentation, and for the first time, we moderated a workshop on secular resources for abortion healing. Although that landscape is dominated by faith-based organizations like Rachel's Vineyard and Silent No More, there are also some wonderful secular options like Abortion Changes You — whose leader, Michaelene Fredenberg, graciously joined us. Our dear friend Nora had her wallet stolen the day before her flight and was unable to board the plane to New Orleans without ID, but that didn't stop us! She shared her personal story of abortion and secular healing with the group over Skype.

The discussion was very open, with topics including secular rituals; healing for fathers; dealing with unsupportive therapists who deny that there is any death to be grieved; and do's and don'ts for being a good friend to people suffering after abortion. (The basics: thank them for their trust in sharing something so personal, maintain confidentiality, don't minimize their pain, and LISTEN.) Due to the sensitive and vulnerable conversations that took place, we will not be posting a recording of this workshop, but we hope to replicate it at future events.

With the caveat that this may be an artifact of which breakout sessions I got to attend, and that I'm sure I missed some great presentations, I felt that the disability rights programming was especially strong this year. I encourage you to watch the keynote panel on "Countering Ableism in Medicine." Pro-life atheist Sarah Terzo, who occasionally contributes to this blog, is among the panelists.

With another successful Rehumanize Conference behind us, we turn our attention to preparing for the March for Life in January. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Baby Chris is 30 Weeks Old

Above: Image of a 30-week-old fetus yawning, via the Endowment for Human Development

[This is part 31 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

30 weeks after fertilization (32 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 16 ¾ inches long and weighs 3 ¾ pounds. He or she is rapidly gaining weight, and their hair is growing. About 30% to 40% of Baby Chris's day is spent practicing breathing movements.

Want more prenatal development info? Download the free See Baby app on your mobile device.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

March for Life announces 2020 theme


Yesterday, the March for Life announced that the theme for January's gathering will be "Life Empowers: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman." The theme was selected to coincide with the centennial celebration of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which recognized women's right to vote. Accompanying the announcement, the March for Life released this spoken word video honoring our pro-life feminist foremothers, including those in the suffragist movement:



The March for Life will take place in Washington, D.C. on Friday, January 24, 2020. As always, we will be there with our giant blue banner. Stay tuned for details of our meet-up. The following day, we will exhibit at the National Pro-Life Summit (formerly the Students for Life of America conference).

Also, local and regional marches for life will take place across the country throughout the month of January. Secular Pro-Life will have a presence at the Chicago march on January 11. Want more meet-ups? We're open to your suggestions!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Baby Chris is 29 Weeks Old

Image via BabyCenter.com
[This is part 30 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

29 weeks after fertilization (31 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 16 ¼ inches long and weighs 3 ¼ pounds—about the size of a coconut. His or her full-term due date is just nine weeks away!

A baby's average weight at birth is 7 and a half pounds (although anything from 5.8 to 10 pounds is considered normal). That means Baby Chris is getting ready to essentially double his or her weight in only two months. The Endowment for Human Development reports that:
Each day, the adrenal glands produce large amounts of steroid products. The adrenal glands have doubled in size since week 20, and will double again before the end of pregnancy.
For more information on Baby Chris's nine-month journey from conception to birth, download the free See Baby app.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Women who've had abortions don't owe loyalty to the abortion industry


Since Roe v. Wade, there have been over 60 million abortions committed in the United States. Even if 40% of those were repeat abortions (statistics vary by year), about 36 million women have had at least one legal abortion in the past 40 years.

Some current and former abortion workers have wondered where all these women are. Why aren’t more of them active in the pro-choice movement? Certainly, there are many who are. But there has been no massive uprising of post-abortive women fighting for abortion rights. Despite high profile campaigns like Shout your Abortion, most post-abortive women keep their abortions to themselves. The fact that the pro-life movement is so powerful, even when such a large number of women have had abortions and would seem to have every reason to support that right, is telling.

Jeannie Jones counseled women and helped them get abortions both before and after Roe. She says:
I became convinced within a year or two of doing abortion counseling to great numbers at Amherst Medical that the whole thing – society's condemnatory attitude toward abortion – was going to change so dramatically because there were all these women of all ages who had abortions and members of their families who knew about it. They had this experience of making this tough decision. I thought that was going to change the political landscape and I can't believe [that opposition to legal abortion] is still going on. There's this enormous number of women having abortions still, but it's like you had one and you don't have any sympathy or concern for anyone else. Where is this enormous population of people who personally had this experience? Where are their families?
[Source: David P Cline Creating Choice: A Community Responds to the Need for Abortion and Birth Control, 1961 – 1973 (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006) 206]

Abortion is highly stigmatized despite many women having abortions. Former abortion worker Robin Dizard is so frustrated that more post-abortive women haven’t been fighting for abortion rights that she contemplated “outing” her former patients. The fact that many post-abortive women just want to go on with their lives, and others join the pro-life movement, angers her. She writes about exposing women’s secret abortions in order to shame them into being pro-choice, or to discredit their pro-life activism:
[I]t’s something that has been used very effectively in outing [of gay people], for example. I'm not in favor of it but look what it does. And look what happens when the hypocrites who are holding elected office get found out: "Oh, Senator whoever you are, your office is full of pornography, that's very interesting," and then the guy pipes down a little bit.
[Source: Ibid. 207]

Ironically and perhaps unintentionally, Dizard compares having an abortion to looking at pornography. This comparison acknowledges the stigma surrounding abortion.

Many pro-life post-abortive women are in fact open about their abortions; they see them as tragic events in their lives. Often, it is the abortion experience that motivates post-abortive pro-life women, whether they feel comfortable talking about their abortions or not.

Abortion worker Steph Herold also expresses her frustration:
We need our patients, who we do everything for, to stand up for us. We don’t need them to tell their abortion stories to everyone they know, although of course that would be great. We need them to fight for abortion access in whatever way makes sense to them. If one in three US women has an abortion by age 45, where are these women? Why don’t they stand up for us?
[Source: Sarah Erdreich Generation Roe: Inside the Future of the Pro-Choice Movement (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2013) 175]

Herold's fake "one in three" statistic has been debunked.

Herold isn’t seeing the women who had abortions at her facility on the pro-choice picket line.

Abortion facility owner Maggie Cage ran a full-page newspaper ad during Operation Rescue’s campaign. While pro-lifers staged sit ins in front of the facility door, Cage called for her former patients to come and “defend” the facility:
Where are you? Where are all the people we’ve helped over the years? We need you now. When you needed us, we were there. We held your hand and supported you. We see you in restaurants and at the grocery store, at PTA meetings and softball games. You are the businesspeople, the school officials, the politicians, the voters. We kept you safe. We held your secrets. But now we need help. Where are you?
[Source: Susan Wicklund This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor (New York: Public Affairs Perseus Books Group, 2007) 160]

All the current and former abortion workers quoted here avoid coming to an obvious conclusion: many women don’t consider their abortion experience empowering. At "best," they want to forget about it. At "worst," they actively work against abortion.

What about the numbers? How many women who have had abortions are active in the pro-life movement vs. the pro-choice movement?

Unfortunately, current statistics aren’t available. But there is an older study, done in 1981, which found that more post-abortive women were involved in National Right to Life than in NARAL (one of the most prominent pro-abortion groups, then and now).

[Source: Donald Granberg, “The Abortion Activists” Family Planning Perspectives July – August 1981]

The study was done by pro-choice researcher Donald Granberg and published in the journal of the Alan Guttmacher Institute. It found that 3% of women in National Right to Life and 36% of women in NARAL had had abortions. At first glance, it seems like women who have abortions are far more likely to join NARAL and be pro-choice. But when you actually count the numbers up, you find that more post-abortive women were members of National Right to Life.

At the time of the study, there were 12 million women in National Right to Life and 156,000 in NARAL. This means that 39,000 women in NARAL had abortions. In National Right to Life, the number was 245,000.

What this translates to, if you do the math, is that there were six times more post-abortive women in National Right to Life than in NARAL.

Of course, there is only so much we can determine from the study. It only includes two organizations (though at the time, they were the largest), and it is from decades ago. So, we don’t know how much it can be applied to today. But it is seems clear that the majority of the 36 million American women who have had abortions are not pro-abortion activists.

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