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Friday, March 29, 2019

Unplanned in Theaters Today!


Unplanned, the film based on Abby Johnson's memoir of the same name, hits theaters tonight. Abby was once a local Planned Parenthood director; today, she is a vocal pro-life advocate and the head of And Then There Were None, which helps abortion workers leave the industry. Such a dramatic turnaround makes great raw material for a script—and now, nearly ten years after Abby's life-changing departure from Planned Parenthood, her story is finally coming to the big screen.



I have not had an opportunity to watch it yet, so here are some reviews from folks who have:

Maria Oswalt, Rehumanize International: "It is one of the most frank and realistic pro-life movies I've ever seen. It spares no details in its truthful retelling of Johnson's journey, and in my opinion, it fairly represents the motivations that lead people to work in the abortion industry — which is extremely important for pro-life activists to understand if they hope to convince pro-choicers to switch sides. It's an intense, poignant, must-see for anyone involved in the pro-life movement."

Rachel Crawford, Equal Rights Institute: "This film takes abortion from being an abstract idea and puts it in a concrete situation. The reality of abortion is not pretty, but it is important to understand."

Terry Schilling, The Federalist: "All in all, Unplanned is a very persuasive movie. It’s not enjoyable in the traditional sense—it’s an emotional rollercoaster that will upset you repeatedly—but it is an incredibly powerful film that deliberately seeks a dialogue with people outside of the pro-life movement. This is what makes it so valuable and so important. Go see it this weekend, but don’t just go by yourself. Take your family. Take your friends. Heck, take your accountant. No more euphemisms. No more ignoring the issue. It’s time for us all to see what abortion really is."

The movie is rated R for its accurate portrayal of the violence of abortion. Secular viewers should also be aware that there will be Christian content—but I hope that doesn't dissuade you from giving the movie a chance. This is Abby's personal story. From reading her memoir, I can tell you that Abby's Christian faith has a significant impact on her journey. Erasing that aspect of her story would make the film inauthentic.

So go see it, and see it as soon as you can. Opening weekend statistics are critical. Producers and writers are paying attention. A strong showing will demonstrate that pro-life audiences are hungry for films that expose abortion for the violation of human rights that it is.

A full list of theaters carrying Unplanned can be found here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Abortion: The Greater of Two Evils


Every person with bit of sense knows that morality is indissoluble from conscience and that something intrinsic in us will condemn burglary, homicide, and other iniquities. Regardless, often in life, we find ourselves forced to make a decision in which either alternative is wrong. Abortion poses such a problem. While it is true that no human being of standard moral aptitude desires for women to bear unwanted or inconvenient children, it is also true that those same human beings could not be apathetic to a woman being struck in the abdomen and would be far more furious if the woman were pregnant.

Ever since Lady Reason has sat on her throne, I have held the notion that the ‘unborn child’ is an undisputable description of a portion of the material world. Clearly, the fetus is alive, thus the conflict of whether it counts as ‘a life’ or not is nothing if it isn’t pure idiocy. I think those who vehemently argue the contrary are either plainly wrong or are implicitly arguing that the fetus is not sentient life. Yet, even those of the latter mindset should acknowledge that, if left to its natural devices, in a short time the fetus will become so. As to whether this ‘life’ is ‘human’ or not, the same reasoning applies. What else could it be? It is clearly evident the fetus isn’t a conglomerate of Neisseria gonorrhoeae or an asinine polyp. In fact, if it were anything but human, there would be no controversy. As for being ‘dependent,’ – as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists so often cites in defense of the barbaric practice – this has never struck me as a highly profound critique of any assortment of human cells in any condition. Medicine – at least not yet – doesn’t advocate for the ending of the dependent toddler’s life for the sake of the mother.

Alas, despite how I wish for it to do so, philosophizing endlessly would not address how I would act in such a scenario and, to be certain, the argument for a lesser evil is one that I dislike, because it has one certain effect; it ensures thereafter that the choice will be between grander evils. Nonetheless, I have a difficult time with the obviously dangerous philosophy of permitting the taking of innocent life to solely allow for another’s liberty. It is unfortunate that women alone must carry the burden of bearing children and, with regards to equity, I think a highly interesting argument could take place with a (perhaps non-existent) God on such a matter. In the end though one must be pragmatic. Therefore, until one convinces his Maker that He made a mistake and has the error corrected, I am in favor of the higher virtue and allowing infants to live … regrettably, even in defiance of mothers’ wishes.

[Today's guest post by Austin Clark is part of our paid blogging program. The author credits the late Christopher Hitchens for inspiration.]

Monday, March 25, 2019

Baby Chris was conceived today!

Secular Pro-Life and a coalition of national pro-life groups have embarked on a unique project to highlight the humanity of the child in the womb and educate the public about prenatal development.

Thousands of unique, unrepeatable babies have been conceived today and are due to be born around Christmas. We've named one of them Chris. Every Monday for the next nine months, we will update you on Baby Chris's progress. You can follow along by downloading the See Baby Pregnancy Guide app. Use the hashtag #BabyChris and check out BabyChris.org for additional resources.  

In addition to Secular Pro-Life, participating organizations include Anglicans for Life, Brimstone Services, Care Net, Center for Bioethical Reform, Charismatic Episcopal Church for Life, Children First Foundation, Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, Created Equal, Expectant Mother Care-EMC FrontLine Pregnancy Center, Human Life Alliance, Human Life International, Issues4Life Foundation, Arizona Right to Life, The Justice Foundation, Life Chain Florida, Life Issues Institute, The Moral Outcry, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), National Pro-life Religious Council, One More Soul, Operation Outcry, Presbyterians Protecting Life, Priests for Life, Pro-Life Action Ministries, Red Rose Rescue, Students for Life of America, Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, Susan B. Anthony List, and Unborn.com.

DAY ONE: Developmental Milestones
The life of Baby Chris has begun! You, me, and every person you’ve ever met: we all began life as a single cell, when egg and sperm combined in the process known as fertilization. The correct developmental term for this new individual organism is "human zygote."

Baby Chris is just one cell big today—about 4/1000ths of an inch long—but will grow very quickly over the next nine months. Genetic traits from eye color to double-jointedness are already determined. Chromosomal sex (typically XX for females and XY for males) is also established at fertilization; however, the expression of Chris's sexual traits may also be influenced by other genes and by exposure to hormones later in pregnancy.

A one-cell human zygote, via the Endowment for Human Development
Note that although Baby Chris has been alive for less than a day, he or she is considered two weeks old under the "LMP" (last menstrual period) method of pregnancy dating. The LMP system has some usefulness in a clinical context, where the exact date of conception can be hard to pinpoint, but for this project will we use the more accurate approach of measuring weeks from fertilization.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

How to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Pro-Life Laws


Pro-lifers are often puzzled at the notion that someone could believe that abortion is morally wrong or bad, perhaps even seriously morally wrong or bad, and yet also believe that abortion should not be criminalized. Along similar lines, pro-lifers are often puzzled by the notion that someone could desire that abortion be rare, and yet also hold that abortion should be legal. It’s one thing to think that abortion is morally acceptable or neutral, and so should be legal on that basis. But it’s another thing altogether to think that abortion is (seriously?) morally problematic, and yet also that it should be legal. How can these beliefs fit together?

Perhaps the most common way to reconcile these two beliefs is to argue that abortion restrictions don’t work. Instead of lowering the rate of abortion, they simply replace safe, legal abortions with unsafe, back-alley-style abortions. If we assume that laws can only be justified by the net value of their consequences—in particular, by whether they lower the rate of the problematic activity without too many countervailing costs—then abortion laws that make abortion less safe without lowering the rate of abortion will not be justified. If all of these assumptions hold true, I think one can consistently hold that abortion is morally wrong or bad (and thus hope that abortion rates go down for that reason), and yet also hold that abortion should not be criminalized.

Indeed, it is safe to say that this is the moderate pro-choicer’s most popular gambit.

The assumption that laws can only be justified on instrumental grounds is bound to be controversial. Some might hold that we have an obligation to prohibit certain evils whenever we can, even if, somehow, prohibiting such evils does not reduce the rate at which those evils occur, and even if there are additional costs attached to doing so. Of course, the only way that successfully prohibiting an evil wouldn’t reduce the rate at which that evil occurs is if the very act of prohibiting it causes more of it to occur. And it is very hard to see why this would be the case when it comes to laws that restrict abortion. At any rate, the point is that some people accept justifications for laws that are rooted in something besides their utility.

For the sake of argument, I will grant the assumption that laws can only be justified by the net value of their consequences. More specifically, I will grant that abortion restrictions are justified only if they reduce the target behavior enough to offset any harms that are likely to result from enacting those restrictions. Indeed, for my part, I’m inclined to accept such a view of how laws are justified.

But is it true that abortion restrictions don’t work? Rather than trying to answer this question in this post, I want to explore the more fundamental question of what it would take in principle to show that abortion laws don’t lower the rate of abortion. It might not be as easy as you think. Much of what passes for good reasoning on the question of the effectiveness of abortion laws is anything but.

By my lights, there are two basic ways to evaluate the efficacy of a law: by careful empirical reasoning based on correlative data on abortion laws and abortion rates, and by an accurate assessment of the psychology of incentives of human behavior. In this post, I will discuss the former.

Note that the question before us is whether abortion restrictions lower abortion rates, not whether they eliminate abortion altogether. This is important, because almost no one thinks that laws are justified only if they eliminate the target behavior altogether. Stealing still happens, despite it being illegal, and no one thinks that this constitutes a sufficient reason to overturn laws against stealing. Exactly how much a law must reduce the target behavior in order to be justified, especially if there are costs attached, is an interesting question, but it is beyond the scope of this post.

Since the question is whether abortion restrictions lower the abortion rate, it will not do simply to show that abortion still happens in places where it is illegal. This tells us nothing about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of abortion laws. This is so even if abortion is relatively common in regions where it is illegal. This is because, for all we know, the abortion rate could be higher were those laws not in place. All such facts would show is that abortion restrictions don’t eliminate abortion in those regions.

Further, it will not do to simply point out that regions with more liberal abortion laws have similar (or lower) rates of abortion than regions with stricter abortion laws. These are mere correlations, and more is required to justify the dreaded leap from correlation to causation. More specifically, making that leap at this stage completely ignores the possibility of confounding factors. If there are other factors present in regions with stricter or looser restrictions that are likely to have an impact on the rates of abortion, those must be taken into account when evaluating the impact that abortion restrictions have on abortion rates. This can be done either by applying what we already know about the effects of such factors on abortion rates and adjusting accordingly, or by finding regions that are already comparable with respect to those factors.

If, for example, regions with stricter abortion laws tend to have higher poverty rates than regions with looser abortion laws, and economic pressures are a plausible motivating reason why many women seek abortions, then one must adjust for the likely impact of the confounding factor of poverty when interpreting the relevant correlations. It may turn out that economic pressures are sufficient to bring the rates of abortion in regions with tighter restrictions in line with the rates of abortion in wealthier regions that have fewer or no restrictions. But it would not follow that the relevant abortion restrictions make no difference in the rate of abortion. In order to show this, the effects of poverty and wealth on the rates of abortion, as well as every other potentially confounding factor, would first have to be screened off. Then, if the rates of abortion are comparable, it will have been shown that the relevant restrictions make no difference on the rate of abortion.

The same principles of good causal reasoning apply when we compare rates of abortion across time in the same region. In this case, you have to be sure to account for possible changes in potentially confounding factors. For example, if there is rapid economic decline around the same time that more restrictive abortion laws are enacted, and the abortion rate stays the same after the restrictions are enacted, one should not conclude that the relevant laws are having no effect. Again, one would first have to control for changes in the rate of poverty, as well as every other potentially confounding factor, before one can conclude that the relevant laws are not making abortion less common than it otherwise would be without those laws.

This leads us right to the moral of the story. What we want to know is whether the abortion rate would be higher were it not for the restrictions in question. Unless and until the moderate pro-choicer makes good on this counterfactual claim, there is no reason to believe that abortion restrictions don’t lower abortion rates.

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

Monday, March 18, 2019

Help Us Get to the Pro-Life Women's Conference!

The fourth annual Pro-Life Women's Conference is three short months away! The 2019 conference will be held June 21-23 in New Orleans, and we can't wait.

Secular Pro-Life volunteers at the
2016 Pro-Life Women's Conference
Secular Pro-Life has been a proud sponsor of the first three conferences, and we are thrilled to be part of this incredible event once again. This year's theme is "When Women Lead," and the speaker lineup includes ob/gyns, women who have had abortions, sidewalk counselors, adoption specialists, pregnancy center leaders, and attorneys.

The networking opportunities are absolutely outstanding. Women from every part of the political and religious spectrum participate. The atmosphere is hard to put into words (but we've tried). I firmly believe that Secular Pro-Life's presence at the Pro-Life Women's Conference is well worth the cost.

Speaking of which... we need some money. The cost to sponsor an exhibit booth is $1,500, and thankfully, we do have that in our bank account. But when you add in the cost of flights, a hotel room, literature and goodies to hand out at our booth, etc., the budget starts to look pretty tight.

Our goal is to raise $1,000 this week. Whatever you are able to contribute, we greatly appreciate it! You can donate via our website or on facebook. Thank you so much for your support.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Legal Abortion Does Not Save Women's Lives. Here's Proof.


Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen recently made the following claim in an interview with a TV station in Dallas: 
We face a real situation where Roe could be overturned and if it is overturned then one in three women over reproductive age, which is 25 million women, could be living in states, including Texas, where they do not have the right to safe, legal abortion and we know what will happen.
Women will die. Thousands of women died every year pre-Roe
Before we get to the actual statistics, let’s look at what Planned Parenthood was saying back in the 1960s, before Roe.

Mary S. Calderone, then medical director of Planned Parenthood, discussed illegal abortions in a 1960 article in the American Journal of Public Health:
Abortion is no longer a dangerous procedure. This applies not just to therapeutic abortions as performed in hospitals but also to so-called illegal abortions as done by physicians. In 1957 there were only 260 deaths in the whole country attributed to abortions of any kind. In New York City in 1921 there were 144 abortion deaths. In 1951 there were only 15; and, while the abortion death rate was going down so strikingly in that 30-year period, we know what happened to the population and the birth rate. Two corollary factors must be mentioned here: first, chemotherapy and antibiotics have come in, benefiting all surgical procedures as well as abortion. Second, and even more important, the conference estimated that 90 percent of all illegal abortions are presently being done by physicians. Call them what you will, abortionists or anything else, they are still physicians, trained as such; and many of them are in good standing in their communities. They must do a pretty good job if the death rate is as low as it is... abortion, whether therapeutic or illegal, is in the main no longer dangerous. [1]
Then Planned Parenthood president Dr. Alan Guttmacher, in his 1960 book Babies by Choice or Chance, wrote:
The technique of the well–accredited criminal abortionist is usually good. They have to be good to stay in business, since otherwise they would be extremely vulnerable to police action. [2]
So we see that before Roe, Planned Parenthood officials knew perfectly well that illegal abortion was not killing thousands of women. Planned Parenthood’s current president is either grossly uninformed, or, more likely, simply lying.

Where did the stories of thousands of abortion deaths a year originate? Pro-choicers started lying about these statistics during the push to make abortion legal in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson was a former abortionist turned pro-life activist who co-founded NARAL, a pro-abortion organization that is still active today. He helped come up with pro-abortion talking points. In his 1977 book Aborting America, he wrote about the way NARAL lied about illegal abortion deaths:
How many deaths were we talking about when abortion was illegal? In NARAL., we generally emphasized the drama of the individual case, not the mass statistics, but when we spoke of the latter it was always "5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year." I confess that I knew the figures were totally false, and I suppose the others did too if they stopped to think of it. But in the "morality" of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics? The overriding concern was to get the laws eliminated, and anything within reason that had to be done was permissible. [3]
Malcolm Potts was medical director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), who helped promote abortion throughout the world. He wrote in 1977:
Those who want the [abortion] law to be liberalized will stress the hazards of illegal abortion and claim that hundreds, or thousands, of women die unnecessarily each year – when the actual number is far lower. [4] 
Courtesy of Carole Novielli and Live Action News, here are the actual official numbers on mothers' deaths from illegal abortion before Roe:
  • 1959: less than 300 deaths (Source: Guttmacher Institute)
  • 1964: 264 deaths (Source: Department of Health Education and Welfare)
  • 1964: 267 deaths (Source: Statistician Dr. Christopher Tietze)
  • 1965: just under 200 deaths (Source: Guttmacher Institute) 
  • 1965: 193 deaths (Source: Planned Parenthood) 
  • 1966: 189 deaths (Source: National Center for Health Statistics, reported by CDC)
  • 1972: 39 deaths (Source: Centers for Disease Control CDC)
  • 1973: 19 deaths (Source: Centers for Disease Control CDC)
There were nowhere near thousands of women dying before Roe. The year before Roe vs. Wade was decided, there were only 39 deaths. 

But even though the numbers are small, we still see the numbers going down. Did Roe save some women's lives? There were, indeed, fewer maternal deaths in 1973 than there were in 1959. So, were fewer women dying? 

Sadly, no. Deaths from illegal abortions simply started being replaced by deaths from legal abortions. In 1978, in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, one of the oldest and most respected peer reviewed medical journals in the world, researcher Dennis Cavanaugh wrote: 
There has been no major impact on the number of women dying from abortion in the United States since liberalized abortion was introduced… It really makes no difference whether a woman dies from legal or illegal abortion, she is dead nonetheless. I find no comfort in the fact that legal abortion is now the leading cause of abortion related maternal deaths in the US. [5] 
Researchers Thomas W. Hilgers, M.D. and Dennis O’Hare conducted a study in 1981 that determined a high number of legal abortion deaths since Roe. They wrote: 
As a result [of deaths by legal abortion], there has been no detectable change in the relative frequency of abortion-related maternal death due to induced abortion in the United States in the last 30 years. It is extremely important that there has been no significant impact on the relative frequency of abortion related maternal death due to induced abortion in the United States since the legalization of abortion.
The reason for this appears to be quite simple. While maternal death due to criminal abortion appear to be decreasing, they have been replaced, almost one for one, by maternal deaths due to legal abortion. [6] 
There were not thousands of women dying before Roe, and Roe v. Wade did not stop women from dying of botched abortions. Despite the common argument that overturning Roe would lead to massive numbers of women dying, there is no historical evidence to back this up. 

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

Footnotes
[1] Mary Calderone, “Illegal Abortions” American Journal of Public Health July 1960, p. 949
[2] Quoted in Kevin Sherlock The Scarlet Survey (Akron, Ohio: Brennyman Books, 1997) 5 
[3] Bernard N. Nathanson, M.D. Aborting America (New York: Pinnacle Books, 1979) 193 
[4] Malcolm Potts, Peter Diggory and John Peel Abortion (Cambridge University Press 1977) 529 
[5] Dennis Cavanaugh “Effect of Liberalized Abortion on Maternal Mortality Rates” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology February 1978, p. 375
[6] Thomas W. Hilgers, M.D. and Dennis O’Hare “Abortion Related Maternal Mortality: An In-Depth Analysis” in New Perspectives on Human Abortion, ed. By Thomas W. Hilgers, M.D. Dennis J. Horan, and David Mall (Frederick, Maryland: University Publications of America, 1981) 84

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Safe, Legal, and Celebrated: Where Do We Go From Here?

Above: an abortion activist attempts to
erase women who regret their abortions
With the chipper “Shout Your Abortion” movement now an established staple in the pro-choice arsenal, the idea of abortion as a necessary evil has given way to celebration of it. As recently as 2008, Hillary Clinton declared that abortion should be "safe, legal and rare, and by rare, I mean rare." One decade later, the concept of shouting one’s abortion has become so en vogue that enough women submitted stories to complete an entire book about it (with the Amazon description unironically heralding the women who “breathed life” into the movement).

What happened? How did the abortion industry successfully rebrand a life-altering, and life-ending, action into a peppy display of feminine empowerment?

The Abortion Lobby’s Guide to Rebranding 

He presumably wasn’t foreseeing Michelle Wolf’s cringe-inducing “Salute to Abortion,” but consider the relevance of Alexander Pope’s cautionary words:

“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”

In other words, the abortion business has smoothly inserted the issue into casual conversation for so many years that it ceased to be shocking and became downright comfortable, then finally laudable. Instead of feeling motivation to avoid it, some women now see it as a mere rite of passage. Or worse, they view it as a badge of honor to be won in the fight for female autonomy (see Lena Dunham bemoaning the fact that she has not had one).

Taking Back the Conversation 

So, as we watch the abortion folks twisting the popular narrative to ensure maximum success for themselves, how do we untangle it? How do we make the “Silent No More” campaign more persuasive than the “Shout Your Abortion” movement is pervasive?

Broaden Our Platform. Despite writing frequently on the subject of abortion, I have rarely spoken about post-abortion regret. Why? Because I have felt that these women’s stories are their own and that I am not entitled to share on their behalf. It sounds absurd now, and I realize that if their stories are to reach a larger audience, we all have to spread them on the unique platform to which each of us access. I can’t count the number of friends I have seen post erroneous articles touting the “benefits” of abortion, and I know I personally need to work harder to counter the false with equal doses of truth.

Be There from the Beginning. I have read numerous pieces of advice from post-abortive women who have eventually found their way to the pro-life side, and one of their most frequent tips is a don’t: Don’t treat them differently while they are still on the pro-choice side. Attacking will not change their hearts in the first place, and it will render them silent about their past abortions if they do come to regret them. Women have complex reasons for choosing abortion (get some insight into them here) and they need compassion, not condemnation.

Donate What You Can. The pro-life lobby does not have Planned Parenthood money, and we rely on grassroots support. By bringing cute baby clothes to the local pregnancy resource center or donating time to volunteer for a fun pro-life event, we are helping women to see that joy comes along with any trials of pregnancy. Show them that life, with all its beautiful surprises, is the choice to celebrate.

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

Monday, March 11, 2019

Whose Body Is It, Anyway?

There's an argument I see pretty often by pro-life people that completely misses the point of the pro-choice objection. It is represented in the following meme:

Now, the irony here is that whoever made the image is making a logical mistake while accusing pro-choice people of being "logic-impaired". They have erected a strawman to attack rather than attacking the actual argument.

Now, I have encountered pro-choice people who are ignorant of the science of human reproduction. But when someone is making a bodily rights argument, that's not the argument they're making. There are at least four things a person who says "it's my body" might actually mean, which is why it's so important to ask a clarification question of that person to make sure you are responding to their actual argument and not attacking a strawman, as in this meme. These four things might possibly be:
  • "It's inside my body. It's not even in the world yet. It clearly can't be a person." (a "location"-type argument)
  • "It's a part of my body, like my kidney or liver. Having an abortion is no different than having your appendix taken out." (a "medical necessity"-type argument)
  • "It's inside my body, and I have the right to determine what happens to everything inside my body." (a "sovereign zone"-type argument)
  • "It's attached to my body, and no woman should be legally compelled to remain as life support to anyone, person or not." (a "right to refuse"-type argument)
This meme assumes that the second kind of argument is always being made. The argument "the fetus is my body, therefore I can have an abortion if I want to" is the specific argument that this meme responds to. However, of all four of these arguments, the second argument is the rarest one. I've encountered a number of people who don't think the unborn entity is a human being. They think it is merely a clump of cells, but they don't think it's a clump of cells that are literally a part of their body, like an appendage. More often, they think of the unborn entity as an intruder, as a rapist or a parasite. Something that is unwanted occupying their womb. That is why they have the abortion in the first place.

So yes, it's theoretically possible you may encounter someone making the second argument. But that kind of person is an absolute rarity. While I've encountered a couple of people who made the first, the latter two arguments are the ones you are most likely going to hear. If someone makes one of the former two arguments, all it takes is a brief bit of education to let them know why their understanding of human reproduction is mistaken. Then they'll usually realize their argument is bad and take refuge in one of the stronger bodily rights arguments, anyway. Sharing a meme like this (and making the argument in the meme) is just going to reinforce the pro-choice opinion that pro-life people don't have good arguments for their position.

Edit: Timothy Brahm of Equal Rights Institute wrote a similar piece a couple of years ago called Fellow Pro-Lifers: Please Stop Sharing This Strawman Meme, in which he goes into greater detail about why we should avoid sharing it.

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

Friday, March 8, 2019

I Used to Be Religiously Pro-Life

I used to be religiously pro-life.

Or rather, I used to be pro-life because I am religious.

I’m still pro-life. And I’m still devoutly Catholic. I just don’t necessarily believe the former is dependent on the latter.

Being pro-life merely because your religion dictates it puts you in a dangerously tempting position – a position to say “abortion is wrong for me, but not everyone shares my beliefs, so it is not wrong for everyone” much as you would say “It is wrong for me to miss Sunday Mass, but not everyone shares my beliefs, so it is not wrong for everyone.”

Many people I know acknowledge the tragedy of abortion and would never choose it for themselves, but simply do not feel that it is their place to make that decision for others. Of course, this “personally pro-life” position is basically the definition of pro-choice. I understand the appeal of this position. It is a comfortable position to be in (moral relativism usually is), but you can only remain in this position if you don’t think too deeply about whether or not abortion is a victimless action.

Greg Koukl proposed that “If the unborn is not a human being, no justification for abortion is necessary. However, if the unborn is a human being, no justification for abortion is adequate.” 

Because of my religion, but also because of biology and logic, I believe the unborn are human. Deep down, I think most people know this to be true and just need to follow this knowledge to its logical conclusion.

If you think abortion is sad, horrible, difficult, and/or serious, you are already halfway there.

If you think there should be some limits on abortion, regardless of what those limits are, you are already halfway there.

If you are “personally pro-life,” you are already halfway there.

If you think abortion is “a necessary evil” or should remain “legal, safe, and rare,” you are already halfway there.

If you’ve ever treasured an ultrasound image of your child, you are halfway there.

Why should abortion be rare? Why is the decision so difficult? Why would you never have an abortion? Why don’t you like it?

Why? 

Because abortion destroys something that has intrinsic value.

Why do we say it’s okay for you to “choose” to destroy this, but we need laws to prevent you from destroying that?

What determines our humanity? Is it size? Location? Age? Independence? Circumstance? Being wanted?

Is a teenager’s life worth more than a toddler’s because the teenager is bigger?

Is a newborn’s life worth less than that of a 10-year-old’s life because the 10-year-old is more independent?

Is a professional athlete’s right to life greater than that of a woman in a wheelchair?

Is the child of wealthy parents more worthy of legal protection than a child who frequently goes hungry?

Can a mother kill her son because as he grows he resembles and reminds her of an abusive ex-husband?

If a young girl wanders into your house uninvited, are you allowed to kill her? What if asking her to leave would endanger her life? What if you called the police and they told you it would take them nine hours to come collect the child? What if it took nine months? Could you kill her then?

We cannot draw arbitrary lines at points in human development or changes in circumstance where we go from “I don’t know if you can hurt him. That’s up to you” to “No. You do not have the freedom to intentionally cause harm to an innocent human.” A person’s value does not increase by degrees. It is inherent, intrinsic, and not up for each of us to determine according to our opinion.

This is why my pro-life position is not determined solely by my faith. My faith does inspire and embolden me to speak on this difficult topic where I am usually a very non-confrontational person, but I believe abortion is as much a human rights issue as it is a religious one.

My hope is that in the future we will think about legal abortion they way we think about slavery today. So rather than accusing me of imposing my view, instead understand that I am proposing that you think about it. I can’t change a law, but maybe I can change a heart.

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


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

We Need Your Ultrasounds!


Secular Pro-Life is leading a coalition project to educate the public on prenatal development. The project will launch on March 25, and you'll hear more as that date approaches. For now, though, the number one way you can help is to send us your family ultrasound pictures! Scans from any gestation, single or multiple, current pregnancies or children born years ago, we want them all.

By submitting your pictures, you give us the right to distribute them freely. You acknowledge that the picture is a donation and that you are not seeking compensation of any kind. We will censor any personal information (names, phone numbers, etc.) on the scans.

To submit an ultrasound, email it to info@secularprolife.org with the subject line "Ultrasound Donation" In the body of the email, please tell us the week in pregnancy that the scan was taken, and specify if that's in gestational weeks or LMP. You are welcome to share any additional information you please.

Thank you, and we look forward to seeing your photos!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

We asked, you answered: how would you respond if your daughter were abortion-minded?

Prompted by an anonymous suggestion, we asked our facebook followers: "What would you do if your daughter told you she wanted an (elective) abortion?" Much discussion ensued, with many readers sharing deeply personal stories. Here are a few of our favorite responses:

Megan R.: I would remind her of the pain and anguish that MY abortion planted in my life... remind her of her lost sibling... remind her of the shame I carried around for years...remind her of the grave consequences of my actions... and then remind her that her family (including me of course) will help her and support her 100%... that she is loved and adored... and that we will work together to walk through this.

Sarah K.: I think the discussion starts long before a girl finds herself pregnant. I can't imagine my daughter coming to me and saying this because I know her views. I also have always made it clear that she can come to me, and she will ALWAYS receive support and guidance, not judgment.
 
Missy W.: I’d make sure she knew she was loved and supported and that abortion didn’t need to be an option. My daughter saw me carry a baby with a fatal anomaly too and was the first to want to hold her baby sister despite knowing she passed away after birth. In our family we live out our pro-life values every day so I hope my daughter and sons keep the same perspective they have now.

Nicole P.: Let her know she comes from a lineage of strong women. Great-great grandmother had 22, great- grandmother had 7, grandmother had 6, and mom had 2 including her. Let her know there is nothing about having this baby too hard for her that we cannot do together. I would try to plant seeds years before this is an option. I will show her the value of life. I would show her how people used to devalue blacks the same way. [Editor's note: Nicole P. is black.]

Rebecca K.: I would remind her that her birthmother chose to not abort her (she is adopted) and I would adopt her child as well.

Jena Q.: Take away EVERY single hurdle. Remind her that strong women refuse to victimize others. Stand by her side every step of the way. Love her. Call her tribe to stand with her. 

Emily S.: My oldest daughter is only 6, but when we start having "the talks" I plan to tell her if she ever gets pregnant before she's married to come to me and we'll figure it out together. I don't ever want my kids to think an abortion is the answer to cover anything up or feel like they have to deal with stuff alone. I think for too long in Christian circles we've pushed kids to abortion because we've made sex outside of marriage the unforgivable sin.

Kristina F.: I would ask someone I know who has had an abortion to speak with her after speaking to her about where she is at emotionally/mentally with the concept of being pregnant. I’d also support helping raise the child, and adoption. No matter if my child is 15 or 35, adoption will be discussed. There is no shame in that.

Bryna B.: Give her a big hug and try to empathize with how she’s feeling and get her to talk about exactly what she is afraid of or thinking will happen. Then gently try and talk her off that ledge based on where her thoughts are at to address those fears, reminding her of our love and support.

And judging by all the likes it got, far and away the best response was...

Beth H.: I will tell you what I did. I explained to her that she would get whatever support she needed to bring the the child to term and gave her names of 3 couples I knew who would love to raise her. My daughter chose to raise her daughter with us.

[Editor's note: Beth also included a lovely photo; that's her daughter and granddaughter at the top of this article!]

Monday, March 4, 2019

TOMORROW: #ResistInfanticide Rallies at Senate Offices


Students for Life of America recently launched a 501(c)4 action arm, and it is exposing politicians who voted against providing equal medical treatment to preemies born alive in abortion procedures. Starting tomorrow, Students for Life Action (together with local/regional partners) will hold a series of #ResistInfanticide rallies in Minneapolis (against Sen. Klobuchar), Los Angeles (Sen. Harris), Cincinnati and Columbus (Sen. Brown), and Camden, NJ (Sen. Booker; note that this one will take place on Wednesday). Here are all the details you need to participate:

Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s Minneapolis Office
Time & Date: Tuesday, March 5th at 11:00 AM CST
1200 Washington Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN
RSVP here 

Sen. Kamala Harris’ Los Angeles Office
Time & Date: Tuesday, March 5th at 12:00 PM PST
11845 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
RSVP here

Sen. Sherrod Brown’s Columbus Office
Time & Date: Tuesday, March 5th at 6:00 PM EST
200 N. High Street, Columbus, OH
RSVP here

Sen. Sherrod Brown’s Cincinnati Office
Time & Date: Tuesday, March 5th at 6:30 PM EST
425 Walnut St, Cincinnati, OH
RSVP here

Sen. Cory Booker’s Camden Office
Time & Date: Wednesday, March 6th at 4:00 PM EST
One Port Center 2 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ
RSVP here

Friday, March 1, 2019

Google Trends: Interest in Abortion Highest in 15 Years

A tip of the hat to my buddy Benjamin Kraft of Life Advancement Group for today's topic. Life Advancement Group helps pregnancy resource centers with Google search advertising, so it's no surprise that Benjamin would be on top of Google Trends. And wouldn't you know it: abortion is a very hot topic in the U.S. right now:


I've added a few labels for ease of reference. Point A is the most recent data: January-February 2019. What could have caused a surge in searches for abortion? I can think of no better explanation than the extreme New York and Virginia legislation easing restrictions on late-term abortions, and the federal infanticide vote that followed.

Point B is the next most recent significant spike: January 22-28, 2017. That coincided with President Trump delivering a video message to the March for Life as one of his first acts in office; Vice President Pence delivering a speech to the March for Life in person; and the controversial decision by the inaugural Women's March to give pro-life sponsors like New Wave Feminists the boot, which was pilloried by Saturday Night Live, of all things.

We have to go all the way back to October 2008 (Point C) to find a similar level of interest in abortion. That was just before the Obama/McCain contest, and there were also several state-level ballot initiatives on life issues in that election.

But to see abortion trend higher than it did at the start of 2019, we have to go even further back, to November 2004. That, too, was almost certainly election-driven; George W. Bush defeated John Kerry, and I'm told that the federal partial-birth abortion ban, passed the previous year, was still a big topic of conversation. (Bear in mind that I was a high school student in November 2004, so it's entirely possible that I'm missing something. If so, let me know in the comments.)

The bottom line is that, at least by Google Trends' reckoning, interest in abortion is at a 15-year high. The debate over late-term abortion is clearly engaging people. That's a great sign for the pro-life movement. If I were part of the abortion lobby, I would be worried.