Monday, September 16, 2019

Baby Chris is 25 Weeks Old

Graphic via the Endowment for Human Development

[This is part 26 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.] 

25 weeks after fertilization (27 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 14 and a half inches long and weighs 2 pounds—about the size of a head of cauliflower. Baby Chris experiences hiccups, which the mother can sometimes feel.

The lungs have started producing surfactant, an important component in respiration. The Endowment for Human Development notes:
The absence of [surfactant] is often a limiting factor in the viability of premature newborns, as its absence precludes successful breathing. Neonatologists, or doctors specializing in the care of newborns, can introduce a drug form of surfactant to the lungs of premature babies, stretching viability, or the age at which survival outside the womb becomes possible, even farther back in pregnancy. 
Eye development continues this week, with rods detecting low light and cones allowing color vision.

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Workshop on Secular Resources After Abortion

Our friends at Rehumanize International are organizing a conference to take place October 18-20 at Loyola University in New Orleans. Secular Pro-Life is pleased to participate as both sponsor and presenter. In fact, we are on the schedule twice; SPL president Kelsey Hazzard will reprise her "Secular Case Against Abortion" speech, and will also moderate a workshop entitled "In Search of Secular Abortion Recovery Resources."

We need your help to make the workshop successful! Most abortion healing resources currently available are explicitly Christian. The exceptions, such as the wonderful Abortion Changes You (who will have a representative in attendance at the workshop), are smaller and do not offer more costly programs like retreats. The reasons for this are numerous. A slim majority of abortions (54%) are obtained by self-identified Christian women. Church-based projects have a built-in source of financial support. And the doctrines of Christianity—promises of forgiveness and eternal reunification with the aborted child—are a strong source of comfort for many.

That said, 38% of women having abortions are religiously unaffiliated, and 8% belong to a religion other than Christianity. Conversion should not be a prerequisite to their healing. To that end, what can we do in our communities to make abortion recovery more accessible without regard to religion? That is the topic for discussion. 

If you (1) are not religious, (2) regret your abortion, and (3) are able to get off work and join us in New Orleans on Saturday, October 19, please contact us! Unfortunately, item (3) has been an issue for many of the people we have asked. We want to make sure your voices are heard and your experiences are centered. 

Monday, September 9, 2019

Baby Chris is 24 Weeks Old

Graphic via the Endowment for Human Development

[This is part 25 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

24 weeks after fertilization (26 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 14 inches long and weighs 1 and 3/4 pounds.

The major milestone this week is that Baby Chris has developed the ability to hear. Outside sounds are of course muffled, but Baby Chris can easily listen to sounds from within the mother's body, such as her speech and heartbeat. This is why newborns express a preference for their mother's voice over other people's voices.

Remember when Baby Chris's eyelids fused together back in week 9? They have finally un-fused, allowing Baby Chris to open his or her eyes. This also enables the "blink-startle response," as described by the Endowment for Human Development:
By 24 weeks, the eyelids reopen and the fetus exhibits a blink-startle response. This reaction to sudden, loud noises typically develops earlier in the female fetus. This response is very much like what adults and children exhibit in the same situation.

When exposed to a loud noise, the fetal heart rate increases, as does the rate of movement. Excessive fetal swallowing following exposure to loud noise may lead to a loss of amniotic fluid. Possible long-term consequences for fetuses are the same as consequences for children and adults: hearing loss and deafness.
The fetus also responds to pressure, movement, pain, hot and cold, taste, and light.
For more on Baby Chris's journey from conception to birth, download the free See Baby app!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

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

Nathan Nobis and Kristina Grob recently published a book called Thinking Critically About Abortion: Why Most Abortions Aren’t Wrong & Why All Abortions Should Be Legal. The book was designed to teach people on both sides of the aisle, pro-life and pro-choice, how to have better conversations on the topic by pointing out bad arguments, showing why they are bad, and then showing better arguments that should be focused on. The authors then expounded what they believe to be better arguments against abortion and argued against them, then used arguments for abortion and used them to show why they believe most abortions are not wrong and why all of them should be legal. In this article series, I intend to show 1) that the authors’ arguments fail to show why most abortions aren’t wrong and they all should be legal, 2) they fail to interact with some of the best arguments against abortion, and 3) even in the arguments they do give, they present strawman versions of some of the pro-life arguments they examine, and even then they don’t succeed in refuting any of the arguments. Nobis and Grob's book has been made available to read for free on-line here.

Nathan Nobis and Kristina Grob (hereafter NG) have done a service to the abortion debate. I consider any book or article which seeks to advance the discussion on abortion to do a service, but specifically books that help teach critical thinking skills are greatly needed. As such, I commend NG’s desire to want to help people think critically on the issue so we stop hearing the bad arguments and focus primarily on the good ones. Their book is relatively short (being based on an article they wrote together), so it could easily be read in one afternoon.

I want to start out by showing my appreciation to NG for helping elevate the conversation above simple slogans and talking points. It’s an enterprise I wholeheartedly endorse and engage in, myself. However, aside from wanting to elevate the conversation on abortion, NG also attempt to show why most abortions are not wrong and why all abortions should be legal. Their book really starts to come apart here because they don’t provide compelling arguments for their conclusion and they attack a strawman of some pro-life arguments while not looking at some of the strongest pro-life arguments. I am going to attempt to support these claims by going through their book as briefly as I can.

1. Preface

In the preface of NG’s book, they claim their support for abortion rests on less-controversial claims: “adults, children and babies are wrong to kill and wrong to kill, fundamentally, because they, we, are conscious, aware and have feelings.” But this is a seriously controversial claim. Of course, the claim that adults and children are wrong to kill is pretty uncontroversial, but to claim it’s because they are conscious, aware, and have feelings is very controversial. Pro-life people ground a person’s right to life in their biological humanity, personhood, and/or underlying rational nature, and pro-life people are not a small subset of humanity. And considering that many philosophers view infanticide as morally permissible, their claim that babies are wrong to kill may also not be as uncontroversial as they think it is (although it should be).

NG go on to claim that even if fetuses have a right to life, it does not entail they have a right to someone else’s body. In most cases I would probably agree with that. However, I would argue that there are mitigating factors in pregnancy that do grant the fetus the right to use the woman’s body. So I would define “right to life” as a negative right not to be unjustly killed. Abortion would be an unjust killing of the fetus. Unfortunately NG rely on their own understanding of “right to life” in the debate rather than relying on how pro-life people commonly define that term.

2. Introduction and Defining “Abortion”

NG start off the book proper by trying to find some criterion by which we might want to make an act illegal. They claim that it’s not easy to do, but I would disagree with that claim. I think it is easy to do. If we understand that the role of government is to protect the natural rights of its citizens, then that gives us a pretty clear baseline to begin. Now obviously, not every single act may be cut and dry. It obviously takes some philosophical reflection to determine what our natural rights are and what sorts of acts violate those rights. But this makes the question of abortion an easy one, at least as to the legality of abortion. Does abortion violate the natural rights of the unborn? If the answer is yes, then abortion, like murder, ought to be illegal. If the answer is no, then abortion ought to be legal since preventing it would plausibly violate the natural rights of the woman who wishes to procure it. While NG didn’t come to a clear conclusion on the role of government, they are arguing that abortion should be legal because it is not immoral, and the government does not make moral acts illegal (or at least it does not make illegal acts which are not seriously or extremely immoral). That would be a miscarriage of justice.

So I disagree with their conception of government, and I'm also not convinced by their claim that it is a miscarriage of justice to make acts which are generally moral illegal. For example, Thailand and India recently made commercial surrogacy illegal because too many children were conceived and then abandoned by their biological parents. Now I would argue that commercial surrogacy is highly immoral, but even if you think it to be a moral practice, I don't see how anyone could think Thailand or India to be wrong to outlaw it to protect children from being abandoned. But let's just say NG are correct about this. I’ll accept those terms for the sake of examining their arguments.

NG continue on by wanting to define the term “abortion.” I agree that it’s always a good thing to start off by defining our terms. They present three definitions:

  1. An abortion is the murder of an unborn baby or child.
  2. An abortion is the intentional termination of a fetus to end a pregnancy.
  3. An abortion is the intentional killing of a fetus to end a pregnancy.

They reject the first two definitions and accept the third as the best.

Definition 1. They reject definition one on the grounds that it is basically question-begging; murder is obviously wrong, so if abortion is murder then it is also obviously wrong. But whether or not abortion is an act of murder is what is up for debate, so calling it murder without arguing for it begs the question at issue. I agree with their assessment here, and so I, too, would reject this first definition as problematic.

However, their discussion about whether or not fetuses count as “babies” or “children” is also problematic, and results in their first real egregious error in the book. They have three basic arguments against fetuses being babies: 1) The beginnings of something are usually not that thing (they use the examples of a pile of lumber and supplies not being a house and fabric, buttons, and thread not being a shirt); 2) If you do a Google image search for “babies” and “children”, and then “fetal development” and “embryonic development”, you’ll see that babies don’t come up for the latter two searches. So clearly they are not the same thing; and 3) If someone says they want a baby, they aren’t saying they want a month-old fetus. All three of these arguments have major problems.

Regarding the “beginnings” argument, it’s true that lumber and the house it builds are not the same thing and that thread and the shirt are not the same things. But here NG are confusing the concepts of active with passive potential. It’s true that the lumber is not the same thing as the house, but this is because that lumber could become anything. It could become a desk or a bookshelf instead of a house. And even if it becomes a house, there is nothing intrinsic in the lumber that causes the lumber to become a house. It requires an outside builder. Living things are not like artifacts. While artifacts (e.g. the house and the shirt) must be acted upon from the outside to become what it will become, living things don’t. A living thing is what it is from the beginning. So a human being is a human being at all stages of its development.

Despite what NG allege, “child” and “baby” are not stages of development. Even if we consider “babies” or “children” to simply be young humans, these encompass several stages of development. Not just the embryo and fetus stage, but also the infant, toddler, adolescent, and teenage (or “young adult”) stages of development. So arguing that things are not what they are from the beginning, aside from being mistaken in the case of living things, is also irrelevant to whether or not fetuses count as children. “Baby” and “child” are emotional terms. An adult is still a baby or child to his parents. When someone refers to a baby or a child, they are simply referring to one’s offspring, and a human fetus is certainly the offspring of the mother and father who contributed genetic material to the embryo that becomes the fetus.

Regarding the “images” argument, no, a two-year-old toddler will not appear at the top of a fetal development chart. In fact, this argument begs the question by assuming that fetuses and embryos are not children (if they are, then babies and children do, in fact, appear at the top of the chart). What NG seems to mean is that infants and toddlers don’t appear at the top of the chart, but why would they? These are later stages in development than the embryo and fetus stages.

Regarding the “I want a baby” argument, this is, in fact, what they are saying. If a woman tells her husband “I want a baby,” unless the couple knows they are infertile, she is not saying “let’s go to the adoption center and adopt a child.” She is telling her husband “I want you to get me pregnant.” So no, she is not saying “I want a month-old fetus” any more than she is saying “I want a two-year-old toddler,” since toddlers eventually grow out of the toddler stage and get older.

So to sum up, I do agree with NG about rejecting this definition of abortion because it relies on emotional appeals, even though I think their view about what “babies” and “children” are is mistaken.

Definition 2. NG reject definition two because of the word “termination”. The word “termination” is not informative so does not work well as a definition of abortion. There is also an issue with calling abortions necessarily “intentional,” but I’ll touch on that more in my examination of the third definition. To their credit, NG reject this definition because the word “termination” simply means to “end it in some way,” which is technically correct as abortion does end the development of the fetus. But it obscures the fact that something is killed in an abortion, which is why there is an ethical debate over it. Not all acts of killing are wrong, so we need to have a discussion over whether or not abortion is an act of wrongful killing or permissible killing. So the definition doesn’t work because “termination” is too vague a term. I agree with their rejection of this definition, also.

Definition 3. The third definition is the one NG likes best because, they say, it is “accurate, informative, and morally-neutral.” I agree that it is informative and morally-neutral, but I take issue with it being called accurate.

To the medical community abortions are not necessarily intentional. That’s why they call miscarriages “spontaneous abortions.” A woman who miscarries obviously did not intend to lose the life of her fetus but nevertheless it prematurely ended. This is why I tend to make distinctions between spontaneous abortions, elective abortions, and therapeutic abortions. I think this is a more specific and accurate way to understand abortions, at least if we’re going to keep in line with the medical community’s understanding of abortion. Now granted, NG did state as a caveat that “spontaneous abortions” are not intentional actions that can be judged morally; they just happen. And this is true, so NG are using “intentional” to indicate that these are abortions specifically caused by the woman and her abortion provider, not accidental cases of embryo or fetus loss. But again, even if this is their intention, it is still not accurate because if miscarriages are a type of abortion (as the medical community considers them), then their definition excludes miscarriages from the set of abortions, which is inaccurate. Plus, as some pro-life people have argued, life-saving abortions are not really abortions at all; they are life-saving medical procedures. This is because they also view abortions as intentional acts (and think the medical community is wrong for considering miscarriages a type of abortion, even spontaneous ones), and since in life-saving abortions the intention is to save the mother’s life, not to kill the embryo or fetus, these life-saving procedures are not actually abortions because the intention is not to kill the fetus to end the pregnancy, it’s to save the mother’s life. However, NG earlier stated that pro-life people even think abortions can be justified sometimes to save the woman’s life if her life is threatened. NG would have to agree that there is no inconsistency here if they insist on using this definition, as life-saving abortions would not count as abortions under their definition, since life-saving abortions are not “the intentional killing of a fetus to end a pregnancy.” The intention is not to kill the fetus to end the pregnancy; it’s to remove the fetus to save the mother’s life, such as using salpingectomy to resolve an ectopic pregnancy, which avoids directly killing the embryo, although the embryo’s death is an unfortunate foreseen consequence of the procedure.

This is why I tend to define abortion as “premature termination of a pregnancy with the result of the fetus’ death.” I think this is a more accurate and informative definition than even NG give, since it covers all the bases. I also think this is what most people tend to have in mind when they actually talk about abortions, even if they’re not quite sure how to articulate it. And this way, if we have a distinction between spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), therapeutic abortion (to save the mother’s life), and elective abortion (a procedure that is not medically indicated to save her life), only elective abortions would be morally problematic. A woman obviously should not be held responsible for a miscarriage beyond her control, nor should a woman be held responsible for a life-saving abortion if her life is in immediate jeopardy. But if her life is not immediately threatened, then having an abortion for any other reason makes her culpable for the act, even if not as culpable as the abortion practitioner who performs the abortion.

In the next part of this series, I'll respond to NG's chapter on fetal consciousness and facts of fetal development, and their chapter on bad arguments, if it doesn't make the article too lengthy.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Baby Chris is 23 Weeks Old

[This is part 24 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

23 weeks after fertilization (25 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 13 and a half inches long and weighs a pound and a half—roughly the size of a rutabega.

Illustration via
At this stage, respiratory system development is crucial. Baby Chris practices breathing by drawing amniotic fluid into the lungs. According to the Endowment for Human Development:
The fetal respiratory rate can rise as high as 44 inhale/exhale cycles per minute at 22 to 26 weeks. This rate changes according to maternal carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, strongly suggesting that the respiratory center in the brainstem of the fetus already detects and responds to changes in CO2 levels in the blood. This respiratory response to CO2 levels is similar to that seen in newborns and adults.
For more fetal development facts, download the free "See Baby" app on your smartphone.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Does a New Poll Prove an Old Pro-Choice Claim?

With a new poll out from two organizations called Supermajority and PerryUndem, Jill Filipovic says she has come to the conclusion that pro-lifers are pro-life because they want to control women.

In order for that to be a valid conclusion, the following pieces all have to fit together in the way that Filipovic says they do:

  1. The polling results that she relies on have to be accurate and fair. 
  2. Those polling results (showing, for instance, that pro-lifers tend to be less favorable toward the #MeToo movement) have to translate into the attitude Filipovic claims they do, "[pro-lifers] do not want women to be equal players in society." 
  3. The "they do not want women to be equal players in society" attitude has to translate, as Filipovic claims it does, into the position "Abortion should be illegal in all or most cases."
Let’s look at that sequence.

1. The polling results that she relies on have to be accurate and fair. 

"The survey was conducted among a total of n = 1,912 likely 2020 voters nationwide from July 3 through 14, 2019 using YouGov’s panel," the poll says of its methods. "YouGov’s panel" is the pool from which the respondents came. In statistics, I am a layman. But it would seem that a lot of our trust in the results of this survey would have to depend on whether the respondents who thought "Abortion should be illegal in all or most cases" and thus became identified as pro-life were really representative of pro-lifers in terms of their answers to other questions in the poll (e.g., “Do you feel favorable toward the #MeToo movement?").

If in fact there was any room in the methods for any sleight of hand regarding that representativeness, then I would worry about accuracy and fairness, when I look at the make-up of Supermajority. Cecile Richards came to Supermajority fresh off a job at Planned Parenthood where she had overseen the killing of 3.8 million unborn babies in ten years. Another of the six women included in Supermajority’s leadership list is still a senior adviser of the PP Action Fund. If we wanted to psychoanalyze motivations for discrediting pro-lifers . . . but let’s leave it at that. Let’s have some pro-life or neutral organization try a similar poll and see if they can replicate those results.

2. Those polling results (showing, for instance, that pro-lifers tend to be less favorable toward the #MeToo movement) have to translate into (reveal) the attitude Filipovic claims they do, "[pro-lifers] do not want women to be equal players in society." 

The survey posed ten questions purportedly designed to expose "inegalitarian views." Let’s take the example that I have already used of those ten questions: "Do you feel favorable toward the #MeToo movement?" The survey shows a tendency for those who identify as pro-life to answer the question negatively. But I find it hard to translate that possible tendency into "they do not want women to be equal players in society." In other words, if anyone does not want women to be equal players in society, I think that would not likely be an important cause, and certainly would not be a necessary cause, for responding "I feel unfavorable toward the #MeToo movement." A more likely cause might be loyal viewership of a news outlet that harps on the excesses of the #MeToo movement. I would definitely go along with the idea that unfavorable responses would likely correlate with affiliation with the Republican Party. But in determining the cause of those unfavorable responses, I don’t think we should look seriously at "not wanting women to be equal players in society." We should mainly look elsewhere.

Pro-lifers' responses to some of the other nine questions, on the other hand, I find more worrisome. And to tell the truth, even without this survey I would have suspected there to be a little truth in the statement "In the population of those who identify as pro-life, there is a statistically significant tendency not to want women to be equal players in society" – at least if equality is defined entirely in terms of money and political office, as Filipovic seems to define it. A great many pro-lifers are Christians, and among some Christian denominations ideas such "Wives, submit to your husbands" are still alive.

Let’s keep in mind, however, a point made on the SPL blog by one commenter:
There’s no evidence listed that pro-choice people are less likely to abuse or discriminate against women (rather, they just know how to give the politically correct answers to the survey questions) or [more] likely to vote for a well-qualified female candidate with good ideas. 
I said above, "at least if equality is defined entirely in terms of money and political office, as Filipovic seems to define it." Much could be said, for which there is no space here, about what I would call the pro-choice side’s one-dimensional definition of equality, and quality of life.

3. The "they do not want women to be equal players in society" attitude has to translate into (cause), as Filipovic claims it does, the position “Abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.” 

I have conceded above the likelihood that "they do not want women to be equal players in society" correlates in some limited way with "Abortion should be illegal in all or most cases," but step 3 is a causal claim, and to get from correlation to causation requires positing some plausible causal mechanism.

Filipovic's argument for a causal mechanism is:
If women can’t decide for themselves when and whether to have children – if having sex can mean being forced into motherhood – women also won’t be able to decide our own futures. . . . [Thus] If you don’t want women to be equal, a great way to force that ideal is to strip women of our rights to our own bodies and reproductive decisions. 
So to Filipovic, what causes people who do not want women to be equal players in society to adopt a pro-life stance is those people's belief that their pro-life stance will force women into motherhood, which will in turn prevent them from deciding their own futures. Has Filipovic discovered what would have to be named "the mother of all conspiracies"?!

No. The problem is that "motherhood," as Filipovic has used the word (see the context), means raising a child. Yet "Abortion should be illegal in all or most cases" says nothing about raising a child. Forcing anyone to raise a child is not part of the pro-life agenda. Filipovic is assuming that abortion and parenthood are the only options, but the pro-life movement has been vocally promoting adoption for decades! Thus even if some religiously conservative pro-lifers do not want women to be equal players in society, almost the entirety of Filipovic's argument for this third of the three claims on which her case hinges is based on a serious misunderstanding that she harbors of the pro-life position. Thus that claim becomes implausible. And all of the claims must be true in order for her case to succeed.

There is nothing in the polling data or in known facts about the pro-life movement to indicate that pro-lifers want to increase the incidence of unwanted motherhood, in the sense of raising a child. 

Now, it is true that pro-lifers do insist that pregnant women complete their pregnancies (and then, most of us hope, become way more careful next time). And pregnancy certainly has some non-zero effect on women’s decisions about their futures. But nine months of pregnancy is not the equivalent of raising a child until the child is eighteen. One or two pregnancies in a woman’s lifetime would not have the supposedly-desired effect of preventing women from being equal players even in a patriarchal society. (And they would not have even a trace of such an effect in the pro-life feminist society that many pro-lifers are trying to build: a society in which pregnancy, and child-rearing as well, are given all the rewards and respect that are obtainable in any profession.)

I think Filipovic’s "motherhood" mistake, taken together with the possibility that some pro-choicers simply know how to give politically correct answers, largely invalidates her argument. But even if we could not put our finger on the flaws in her argument, I would still feel certain that something must be wrong somewhere. Because I know many pro-lifers. And even those pro-lifers I know who would not consider themselves feminists are not pro-life because they are misogynistic. They are pro-life because when they see an unborn baby about to be ripped into shreds by a team of highly-trained adults, armed with advanced weapons and talking about "I'm gonna crush above, crush below," they want to stand up and fight for that little child's life.

Now let’s get to some underlying stuff. Even if Filipovic were right about pro-lifers wanting to control women, why did she say it, exactly? Why did she write the article? Is she an academic psychologist, a student of attitudes? No. As whenever pro-choicers have claimed that pro-lifers want to control women, or are anti-sex or whatever, the subtext is obviously "The pro-life position is wrong and the pro-choice position is right."

But in relation to that claim, Filipovic’s piece is nothing but an ad hominem argument. To establish that the pro-life position is wrong and the pro-choice position is right, you have to deal with arguments, not personalities. And even if it were possible to show that the pro-life position is wrong by showing something about its proponents (i.e., even if there can be any validity in an ad hominem argument), what you would have to do would not be to establish something negative about pro-lifers as a population, but to establish something negative about the very purest person who advocates the pro-life position – you would have to successfully impugn the character of the Mildred Jeffersons, not of the Roy Moores.

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

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Protest UCSF: The Abortion Training Capital of the United States

Terrisa here with a very important national call to action! In addition to working with Secular Pro-Life I also run a grassroots activist organization in San Francisco, arguably the most pro-choice culture in our nation. The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is a real life American Horror Story and my organization, Pro-Life San Francisco, is shining a much needed spotlight on their role in promoting abortion across the globe. UCSF is the late-term abortion training capital of the US, the world’s most politically motivated medical institution on abortion expansion, and facilitator of some of the most grotesque experiments involving human fetal tissue on the planet.

For the past several years UCSF has engaged in performing late-term abortions and then using the victims' remains (between the ages of 18-24 weeks) for “medical research”—an age when many could be cared for in the NICU. Because the poison intended to ensure fetal demise would compromise the tissue quality, these abortions could only be done through a live dismemberment or medical induction likely resulting in infants born alive. They are a house of horrors and their crimes against humanity must be confronted. Even most Millennials and Democrats agree: Live dismemberment for medical research must end!

On Friday, September 6, join Pro-Life SF, Kern County Right to Life, Let Them Live, Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, and Students for Life of America as we rally to call up the Board of Regents, Chancellor Sam Hawgood, and OB/GYN Department Chair Amy Murtha to end the brutal and unjust destruction of the youngest and most vulnerable members of our community. Speakers include Marylee Shrider, SPL’s own Nick Reynosa, Emily Berning, Cheryl Conrad, and more!

For more information, see this recent op-ed I co-authored with the amazing White Coat Waste Project’s Alyssa Hackbarth.

The rally is free and family-friendly. We will have police escorts. All ages welcome! Register here. Also, check out our statewide pro-life activist conference at UC Berkeley the next day, September 7! Tickets are available here.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Baby Chris is 22 Weeks Old

Graphic via the Endowment for Human Development

[This is part 23 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

22 weeks after fertilization (24 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is about the size of an ear of corn.

Under United States law, 24 weeks LMP is the point at which a baby is considered "viable," i.e., able to live outside the womb. This is an arbitrary line. In some cases, infants younger than Baby Chris have survived premature birth. In other cases, a baby will not be capable of survival outside the womb until he or she is several weeks older. It varies depending on the child's pace of development, the family's access to cutting-edge neonatal care providers, and a host of other factors.

The real milestone this week is that finally, for the first time, Baby Chris has some minimal legal protection from the abortion industry. The Supreme Court held in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that a state is within its rights to ban abortion at this stage of pregnancy.

But I do mean minimal protection. Late-term abortion bans must have broad "health" exceptions (where "health" is defined to include "all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age—relevant to the well-being of the patient.") Moreover, many pro-abortion states have chosen not to impose even a post-viability limit. Several notorious abortionists, such as Leroy Carhart and Warren Hern, have made names for themselves committing third-trimester abortions—most of which are not for medical reasons. Bottom line: if Baby Chris's mother were determined to have an abortion, it could still be done.

To learn more about Baby Chris's journey from conception to birth, download the free "See Baby" app.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Assessing Theories of Pro-Life Motivations

A saying typically attributed to former President of the United States Dwight Eisenhower goes "Never question another man's motive. His wisdom, yes, but not his motives."

Unfortunately, it has become commonplace for defenders of abortion to ignore this concept. With the growing toxicity influencing our political discourse every day, bad ideas are given fertile ground to take root in.

One of these bad ideas relates to the motives of pro-life advocates. A number of pro-choice activists have begun calling into question the "real" motives behind pro-life advocacy; namely, claiming that the real desire behind pro-life advocacy is to control women. A variety of accusations based on this concept are routinely made on social media: pro-lifers want to control women's bodies, control fertility, punish women for having sex, etc.

Accusations are not arguments, and shouldn't be treated with the same weight as arguments. Unfortunately, they are still represented broadly in mainstream discourse, whether by hashtags such as "reproductive rights" or by The Handmaid's Tale cosplay clubs. Even more widespread is the assumption made by many pro-choice advocates that any inconsistency on the part of pro-lifers is proof of ulterior motives. For example, the alleged unwillingness of pro-life advocates to care for life after birth is touted as evidence that the real reason people oppose abortion is an underlying desire to control women, in any of the ways stated above. According to this view, defenders of abortion have "discovered" the true goals of the pro-life movement. It's not about saving babies, it's about controlling women. Hence the red cloaks and white bonnets.

Setting aside for the moment that this ignores nearly all pro-life discourse on the topic of abortion, the theory that all pro-life activists have wicked intent towards women is just plain silly.

And it's also something we can test empirically.

To borrow a concept from an earlier Secular Pro-Life piece, let's pursue a little thought experiment:
Suppose there were a bill on the table that would make it easy for women who have not been diagnosed with breast cancer, but who fear such a diagnosis in the future (due to family history, the BRCA gene, or any other reason), to obtain elective mastectomies on demand. Government budget authorities have confirmed that the proposal is financially sound. This is a law that would not cause a single human death, but that would undoubtedly increase a woman's control of her own body.
Can you imagine the National Right to Life Committee, Susan B. Anthony List, Americans United for Life, and so on lobbying against such a bill? I, for one, cannot. There would be no reason for them to do that. Likewise, I have a hard time picturing pro-life stalwarts in the House of Representatives voting it down multiple times and celebrating its defeat. A woman's exercise of bodily autonomy by itself doesn't fuel outrage; it is only when that exercise ends in the death of a human child that the pro-life movement rallies its troops. 
There's a very good explanation for why you will never see pro-life groups protesting tattoo parlors or breast enlargement clinics. You will never see someone sidewalk counseling outside of plastic surgery facilities. The number of pro-lifers devoting any time to these establishments is zero. The reason is very simple, actually: Pro-lifers really do believe abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being, and thus should be stopped, unlike any other elective surgery.

Let's look at it another way. Who has been leading the push against embryo destruction for bio-medical research? With few exceptions, it has been the pro-life movement. This casts further doubt on a conspiracy to control women's sex lives or fertility; destructive embryo research takes place in a laboratory, not in the womb. A woman's body is irrelevant here. It seems those darn pro-lifers actually do care about the prenatal being, even at that very early age.

One more example, to again borrow from my colleague’s earlier post, why exactly are those silly pro-lifers pushing for a born-alive infant protection law in the first place? (Setting aside the complaints the law isn't necessary; for a good breakdown of the law, see this report from the Heritage foundation, as well as Hadley Arkes' Natural Rights and the Right to Choose.)

If the "real motivation" of the pro-life movement is to punish women for having sex or to control their ovaries or uteruses, then why would pro-lifers concern themselves with the lives of children after they have left the womb? Pro-lifers fought to ensure the infanticidal tendencies of Kermit Gosnell have never faded from the public eye. The Born-Alive Bill is one way of ensuring it never happens again. Maybe we actually do care about the lives of babies after all.

To also address the similar claim that pro-lifers only care for fetuses, then stop caring at birth, ask yourself this question: If a bill legalizing infanticide up to, say, six months after birth was proposed, who would be the first to show up to oppose it? The pro-life movement. This isn't such a stretch, given that a growing number of philosophers have argued that infanticide may not be such a bad thing as we have been led to believe: Peter Singer, Francesca Minerva, Alberto Giubilini, Michael Tooley, and others have all either defended or acknowledged infanticide as amoral or morally acceptable.

These realities highlight just a few of the hurdles one must jump over in order to "prove" that the pro-life movement is one massive conspiracy to control women. It's an impossible task to begin with.

The notion that the pro-life movement is hiding its desires to control women is juvenile. Critics of the pro-life view need to do better than that. Pro-lifers argue that it's wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being. Elective abortion does that. Therefore, elective abortion is wrong.

In other words, our critics must take the time to answer our essential argument, instead of contriving silly conspiracy theories about why people oppose abortion.

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The euphemism du jour is "reproductive freedom"

Vice News reports that in response to recent focus group research, NARAL is now emphasizing the phrase "reproductive freedom" in support of killing defenseless unborn babies.

The euphemism is supposed to appeal to what they call "freedom first" voters, itself a new term for the "personally pro-life, politically pro-choice" segment of the population (which is dwindling). Vice draws the connection between NARAL's announcement and Planned Parenthood's recent messaging woes, in which CEO Leana Wen fired for treating abortion as a health concern rather than a political issue. (Vice's article was published before Planned Parenthood made its priorities even clearer by turning down $60 million in federal funding for legitimate women's healthcare that is no longer available to abortion vendors.)

Still, NARAL insists that the change is not intended as a rebuke to the shout your abortion/abortion is normal/no-ethical-debate-to-see-here-LALALALALA messaging that's become trendy of late. The messaging on messaging is that every abortion advocacy group has its own spin on things and everything is kumbaya.

Speaking of Shout Your Abortion, its founder Amelia Bonow is quoted extensively, and I hope you won't mind the upcoming NSFW language, because she has something important to say:
“This isn’t an indication that movement is fucked and it’s all discord,” Bonow said. 
The fact that she felt the need to say that, and that a friendly reporter published it, is a sure sign that the abortion movement is fucked and it's all discord. Their downfall can't come soon enough.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Baby Chris is 21 Weeks Old

[This is part 22 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

21 weeks after fertilization (23 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is almost a foot long and weighs one pound: the size of a large mango. According to the Endowment for Human Development, "[t]he structure of the fetal gastrointestinal tract has developed to approximate that of the newborn although full function is still weeks away."

Neurological development continues, with the two hemispheres of the brain showing distinct differences. And while there is no way to test whether babies dream or what they dream about, Baby Chris does exhibit the rapid eye movement (REM) typically associated with dreaming.

Download the free "See Baby" app to learn more about life in the womb!

Image description: Depictions of a 21-week-old unborn baby via the Endowment for Human Development. On the left, a diagram measures the baby in inches and millimeters. On the right, a 3D ultrasound shows the baby smiling, with eyes closed. The umbilical cord is visible across the baby's chest and neck.

Friday, August 16, 2019

In 3 Weeks: Let There Be Life Conference

Terrisa Bukovinac here. In addition to my work with Secular Pro-Life, helping to create an inclusive space for non-religious pro-lifers, many of you know that I also run Pro-Life San Francisco, a Millennial-led grassroots activist organization.

We are hosting a follow-up to last year’s groundbreaking Let There Be Life Conference with the 2019 version on September 6 and 7! It will once again be hosted at the prestigious University of California, Berkeley—home of the free speech movement. This event is intended to unite Californians from across the political, religious, age, and ideological spectrum for pro-life activism in our local communities. You will be inspired and equipped to make an impact! Also, there will be food and chocolate. Vegan options galore.

From my perspective, California is the most important state in America on this issue. We are the late-term abortion training capital of the world, home to Big Tech censorship, Pelosi, Feinstein, Harris, and home to the four Planned Parenthood affiliates selling baby body parts. California culture and politics shape progressive policy and thought across the globe.

California is also a place where revolutions are born, and I don’t think we can end abortion without one. As people who find purpose in pro-life work, we can come together to become activists by confronting the system to bring about justice for the most vulnerable among us. This year’s theme is the Hero’s Journey: Facing our fears, overcoming obstacles and discovering our personal worth to make a new path for California and to build a culture of life for all. Join us! All are welcome!

Friday 9/6 San Francisco 11 am: Secret Action-location TBA!!! This event is FREE

Saturday 9/7 UC Berkeley, Pauley Ballroom 8:30am-5pm: All your favorite speakers and exhibitors!!! Check out this line up!
Father Frank Pavone, Priests for Life
Terrisa Bukovinac, Pro-Life San Francisco
Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, New Wave Feminists
Catherine Glenn Foster, Americans United For Life
Walter Hoye, Issues4Life Foundation
Eric Cochran, Pro-Life San Francisco
Albany Rose, Post-Abortive Pro-Life
Herb Geraghty, Rehumanize International
Dr. Michael New, Charlotte Lozier Institute
Wynette Sills, Californians for Life
Robert Byrd, Pro-Life San Francisco
Jeff White, Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust
 Jazzi Milton, Pro-Life San Francisco
Elijah Thompson, Dank Pro-Life Memes
Bryan Kemper, Stand True/Priests for Life

Tickets: Early Bird Pricing!! Cost goes up $5 after 8/17!!!
$50 - Adults
$30 - Students and those under 18
FREE - 12 and under

Saturday 9/7 Berkeley, CA, Location TBA 7:30-10pm: Film Festival Hosted by Jason Jones. We will be screening Sing a Little Louder and Crescendo! He will also pitch his newest project. It is not to be missed! Free entry with conference ticket

Monday, August 12, 2019

Baby Chris is 20 Weeks Old

[This is part 21 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

20 weeks after fertilization (22 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 11 inches long and weighs 15 ounces; he or she is the size of a spaghetti squash. Baby Chris's cochlea is now fully developed, allowing him or her to hear the mother's heartbeat and other sounds.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 1.3% of abortions in the United States take place at 21 weeks LMP or later. With nearly a million abortions every year (although that number is thankfully declining), we can estimate that approximately 13,000 American children Baby Chris's age or older are killed in abortions annually. For context, 13,000 people would fill a small college football stadium.

For more information on Baby Chris's journey from conception to birth, download the free "See Baby" app.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Students for Life of America Annual Conference Announces Major Changes

Students for Life of America (SFLA) recently announced significant changes to its annual conference, which is held every year in the D.C. area after the March for Life. For starters, it is no longer the Student for Life of America annual conference; it has been rebranded as the National Pro-Life Summit, with SFLA as just one of four host organizations. This partnership will allow the conference to take place at the Marriott Marquis in the heart of our nation's capitol. (For the last several years, it's been held in Maryland as a cost-saving measure). And while the Summit will continue to have student-focused content, it will also be geared toward graduates.

This year's theme is "History Maker: Casting a Vision for a Post-Roe America." Wisely recognizing that the reversal of Roe will not be the end of the fight, the conference offers workshops in five critical tracks: "Leadership," "Changing Minds," "Bioethics and Battles Ahead," "Empowering Women," and "Winning Strategies." Attendees will learn how to achieve a lasting victory and preserve the right to life for generations to come.

The Event Formerly Known as the SFLA Conference will take place on Saturday, January 25, 2020. For the eleventh consecutive year, Secular Pro-Life will have an exhibit booth. Interacting with college-age activists is so important; today's young adults are the least religious generation in American history, and they must be equipped to make the secular case against abortion if the pro-life movement is to have any chance of success. The connections we make at these conferences reverberate, leading to campus speaking engagements, media coverage, and other opportunities to spread the message.

The cost of an exhibit booth is $2500. If you are able to contribute toward this expense, your generosity would be greatly appreciated. You can donate online here. Thank you!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Recap: SPL at the Democrats for Life of America Conference

Many of our followers know by now that SPL is run by three atheist women: Monica the conservative, Kelsey the independent, and me (Terrisa), the flaming liberal. Naturally, when Democrats for Life of America cleverly sought out a secular speaker for their national conference in Lansing, Michigan, I was happy to fulfill the role!

I work full-time in the pro-life movement and have been to countless pro-life conferences. The first thing that is noticeably different about the DFLA National Conference is just how much resistance it inspires from pro-choice groups. This year, a local groups took out three (yes three!) expensive billboards with the MSU specific message “Go Green, Go White, Go Home Dems for Life!'' Little did they know that DFLA Executive Director, Kristen Day, is MSU alumna! In addition, they dropped off flyers at the conference venue in the days leading up to the event. Similarly, last year at the 2018 conference in Denver, Colorado, a billboard was taken out exalting that “Abortion access is a Progressive Value” and NARAL hosted a press conference outside the venue to address the event!

I find these efforts kind of shocking considering what a relatively small pro-life effort we are. I’ve rarely if ever encountered anything similar at a more traditionally conservative event. Pro-life Dems are often referred to as unicorns, like we’re so rare were a myth. But it’s this effort to counter us that reminds me: Democrats who want to see abortion more restricted than it is today-contrary to the party platform-are actually in the majority. The abortion industry almost exclusively maintains political power through the financial relationship they have with our party. Pro-life Dems pose a unique threat to the future of that relationship.

The conference was lively, fun, diverse, and welcoming. Sure, it skewed a little older and more religious, but the topics and speakers were timely and engaged with topics relevant to us left-leaning types like protecting the life and dignity of immigrants, those who are incarcerated, death row inmates, the LGBT community, enemy combatants, and so much more. It’s pretty cool to be in a room full of people who align so closely in ideology to your own. Especially since being a pro-life activist alone can be so isolating. I presented a talk that Kelsey, Monica, and I developed together earlier this year, discussing the relationship between millennials, secularists, and leftists, why it matters, and what we can do about it to effectively win hearts and minds for life! Due to the nature of the conference it has a bit more of a left take on the concept but be assured, SPL is nonpartisan and welcome to all! Check it out here.

Then on Tuesday, DFLA hosted a press conference outside the Democratic Presidential debate in nearby Detroit, Michigan. They have created a political action committee to compel a qualified pro-life Democratic candidate to come forward and run for President of the United States in 2020! I spoke about the need for someone to represent the majority of Democrats and even Millennials by supporting abortion restrictions. Kristen Day urged the party not to ignore the 1 in 3 Democrats who are pro-life.

It’s an interesting time for being a pro-life Dem. Our party platform is as extreme as it gets, even calling for an end to the Hyde Amendment, which has saved more than 2 million lives. If you’re left-leaning and pro-life, now’s the time to be heard! Pro-life Dems are uniquely equipped to reach the next generation and replace the abortion influence with a culture of life. And together with our right leaning pro-life fam, we can end the abortion regime in America forever.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Baby Chris is 19 Weeks Old

[This is part 20 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.] 

19 weeks after fertilization (21 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 10.5 inches long and weighs just under 13 ounces; roughly the size of a large carrot. His or her movements are clearly felt by the mother, as "initial fluttering movements turn into full-fledged kicks and nudges."

If Baby Chris is biologically female, this week marks a significant reproductive milestone. According to the Endowment for Human Development:
By about 19 weeks, the number of oogonia within the ovaries of a female fetus peaks at approximately 7 million. From this point, not only does oogonia production end forever, but their numbers decrease to about 2 million by birth. These oogonia give rise to several thousand primary oocytes.
Learn more about how children grow in the womb by downloading the free "See Baby" app on your device!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

It's not about bodily autonomy. Here's how we know.

We've all heard the argument that begins "You must not really care about saving lives because you don't [fill in the blank with the policy preference du jour]. You're just about controlling women's bodies!" And when we're feeling uncharitable, we can always throw it right back at them: they don't really care about bodily autonomy, because if they did, they'd promote legalizing raw milk, or allowing minors to get tattoos, or whatever.

But I try to be charitable, so let's narrow the issues. "The debate about abortion is really a proxy battle in a war on women's right to control their bodies" is a testable hypothesis. It's thought experiment time.

Suppose there were a bill on the table that would make it easy for women who have not been diagnosed with breast cancer, but who fear such a diagnosis in the future (due to family history, the BRCA gene, or any other reason), to obtain elective mastectomies on demand. Government budget authorities have confirmed that the proposal is financially sound. This is a law that would not cause a single human death, but that would undoubtedly increase a woman's control of her own body.

Can you imagine the National Right to Life Committee, Susan B. Anthony List, Americans United for Life, and so on lobbying against such a bill? I, for one, cannot. There would be no reason for them to do that. Likewise, I have a hard time picturing pro-life stalwarts in the House of Representatives voting it down multiple times and celebrating its defeat. A woman's exercise of bodily autonomy by itself doesn't fuel outrage; it is only when that exercise ends in the death of a human child that the pro-life movement rallies its troops.

Now let's imagine the inverse: a bill that would save babies' lives, at no cost to women's bodily autonomy. Where would pro-choice lobbyists and politicians stand on that?

We don't have to imagine it. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 962) was introduced in the House of Representatives nearly six months ago. The legislation would require doctors to give infants who are born alive after abortion procedures—who are already outside of their mother's bodies—the same hospital care that their premature, wanted counterparts receive. It would not ban a single abortion.

At the behest of pro-choice groups, House Democrats have blocked a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act eighty times. That is not a typo. Eighty times.

It's not about bodily autonomy.

Photo Credit: Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

Monday, July 29, 2019

Baby Chris is 18 Weeks Old

[This is part 19 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.] 

18 weeks after conception (20 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is about the size of a banana at 10 inches long from head to toe and 10 1/2 ounces. Circadian rhythm—the daily cycle of wakefulness and rest—shows up in Baby Chris's movement and heart rate. You can also spot movement in Baby Chris's vocal chords as he or she practices the muscle movements that will be necessary to make noise in the outside world.

It's common for prenatal care providers to offer ultrasounds at this point in pregnancy, so we have an abundance of images this week. Here are just a few. Thank you to everyone who donated!

The 20-week ultrasound is a wonderful opportunity for family members to bond with the baby, and it is often when the baby's sex is revealed. Unfortunately, there is a darker side; this is also when parents may learn that their child has a disability, such as Down Syndrome, that is often accompanied by tremendous pressure from "pro-choice" medical professionals to abort. Hope Story is an excellent resource for families facing a prenatal diagnosis, where they can cut past the scaremongering and hear directly from other parents.

If you haven't already, download the free "See Baby" app for more information and resources on a child's development from conception to birth!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Pro-Life Events This Weekend and Next

If you're in Lansing for the Democrats for Life of America conference this weekend, be sure to catch Terrisa Bukovinac's speech! Terrisa is an atheist, SPL co-admin, and the president of Pro-Life San Francisco. More info here. For those who can't make it, we'll try to post video later.

Next Saturday, August 3, Students for Life of America is putting on its annual National Pro-Life Sidewalk Day. This is an invitation for pro-life advocates who don't normally go out to the sidewalk of their local abortion centers to take the leap and offer support for women in need. You can participate anywhere. More info here.

It's especially important to have students and other young people on the sidewalk. Often, sidewalk advocacy is dominated by retired folks who have the ability to be there during business hours. And don't get me wrong—their contribution is incredibly valuable! But where possible, a student presence is powerful; 45.5% of abortion clients are under the age of 25, and relating to a peer can have a life-saving impact.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

New Life: My Pro-Life Conversion Story

My name is Chris, and I’m an alcoholic. Thankfully, a recovering one – though I was not a first-time success story.

I got sober through Alcoholics Anonymous, and my most daunting obstacle to working the program’s Twelve Steps of Recovery was embracing a higher power. In trying (and failing) to quit drinking for some time, I’d seen many alcoholic atheists become quick converts to religion upon drying out.

I watched, with envy, as lost souls seemed to summon loving deities that sustained their sobriety. So I did what any hopeless drunk would do: I attempted to short-order one for myself.

It didn’t work. Spirituality isn’t a “fake it ‘til you make it” type of thing. Conjuring up a god I didn’t believe in was disingenuous and, in my experience, recovery requires brutal honesty. I was able to concoct no such deity, no interventionist god capable of personally arresting my alcoholism. I don’t buy the idea that God, in His or Her infinite wisdom, rescued a loser like me while leaving the schmuck on the next barstool to die. While other AA members were able to turn their will over to a capital-G God of their understanding, the best I could fathom is a lowercase one of my misunderstanding.

It was imperfect – but it was enough.

In the seven-plus years since my last drink, I have heard amazing stories of resilience – of people who were once hopelessly addicted and no longer are. So much of recovery is built on identification with other alcoholics, I believe, because few groups of people experience the sensation of being completely doomed… and then miraculously finding an escape hatch we never knew existed. We know both unsolvable compulsion and deus ex machina salvation.

One lesson I’ve learned in recovery is that people are incredibly durable. We can rise from near-total physical, financial and spiritual bankruptcy to become productive, even admirable members of society. Like microbes inexplicably living under the Antarctic ice shelves, or eyeless fish thriving in the lightless ocean depths, we adapt. We find a way.

Life finds a way. And when I realized that, I had found my Higher Power.

I had also found a heaping help of hypocrisy. Because once I realized life finds a way, a vociferously politically liberal like me had to come to terms with one simple fact: I could no longer support abortion rights without being a walking, talking contradiction.

That’s how recovery made me pro-life.

Second Chances, Second Thoughts 

Let me back up, because the term “pro-life” typically has ifs and buts. To state my position clearly: I believe in the right to abortion in instances of rape (including statutory rape), incest and serious threat to the mother’s health, as well as when the fetus is inviable or has debilitating birth defects. I also believe in contraception, including Plan B – which does not end pregnancy but rather prevents its likelihood.

Those circumstances aside, I believe that a woman’s rights to privacy and dominion over her own body, though indeed important, do not outweigh the right of a budding life to exist. It’s that simple.

Despite the recent uproar over length-of-pregnancy abortion limitations, my position has nothing to do with trimesters, or heartbeats, or out-of-womb viability. I believe that life begins at conception, meaning that if something is en route to becoming a human being, I value its right to continue along that path more than anyone’s right to terminate it.

That’s what pro-life means to me: All things being equal, I err on the side of life over the right, or choice, to end it.

And per my once-recovery-stunting struggles with God, this position has nothing to do with religion. In fact, my agnosticism only strengthens my conviction that life on this Earth is precious. If this is all we get, there better be a tremendously convincing reason to take it – to take everything – away from an innocent being.

Everything is exactly what my alcoholism nearly took from me. I was not only unemployed, but unemployable. I was a liar, a thief, a manipulator who used people to use, period. My wife had one foot (at least) out the door on numerous occasions.

Everyone deserves a second chance; what I got was third, fourth and fifth ones. In succession, I failed to stay sober following AA meetings, intensive outpatient therapy and, finally, inpatient rehab. I was running out of options and running out of hope.

And then, after a cathartic DUI, I was done. The principles of recovery – admitting defeat and powerlessness, taking stock of my shortcomings, making amends – started to stick to a shell-shocked man-child. My recovery is the closest thing to a miracle as I’ve ever witnessed. I was doomed… and then suddenly I wasn’t.

They say recovery and politics don’t mix; in fact, AA’s Preamble expressly says so. But recovery and morality certainly do. And it is this moral awakening that led me, despite my otherwise cookie-cutter liberal leanings, gradually to pro-life. This isn’t about politics. This is a principle – one I can’t see myself ever abdicating.

Life – even a lost life, like mine – finds a way. Every time I attend an AA meeting, I enter a room full of people who were granted a second chance at life. Considering this, the thought of denying someone a first chance runs counter to everything recovery has taught and bestowed.

Life is a precious gift. I know this because I was given it twice.

[Today's guest post by Christopher Dale is part of our paid blogging program. Photo credit: Louis Hansel on Unsplash.]