Friday, July 19, 2019

Justice John Paul Stevens Leaves Tragic Abortion Legacy

John Paul Stevens, who served on the United States Supreme Court from 1975 until his retirement in 2010, died earlier this week. He was 99 years old.

He had a major impact on numerous legal issues during his long tenure on the Court. Virtually every law student has read his opinion in Chevron, which established a doctrine for courts to defer to administrative agencies' interpretation of statutes in most cases. Many obituaries highlighted his famous dissents in Bush v. Gore and Citizens United. Church-state separation groups have rightly celebrated Justice Stevens' decisions requiring religious neutrality from public schools. Above all, journalists and pundits on both sides of the aisle are remembering Justice Stevens nostalgically, admiring him as a symbol of an era when the United States was less partisan and more genteel.

Justice Stevens is also directly responsible for the deaths of millions of human beings.

He was one of the five Justices who voted to uphold Roe v. Wade (albeit with modifications) in the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey. If Justice Stevens had mustered the conscience and courage to vote the other way, Roe would have been reversed 27 years ago. And when the Court considered the gruesome practice of partial-birth abortion in Gonzales v. Carhart and found the federal partial-birth abortion ban to be constitutional, Justice Stevens shamefully dissented.

I take no pleasure in speaking ill of the dead. I take even less in glossing over the truth. Society is undertaking a long-overdue reassessment of many historical figures, emphasizing racist and sexist behavior that was previously swept under the rug. A generation from now, what will the history books say about those who defended the slaughter of defenseless human beings in the womb?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Chicago-Area Volunteers Needed!

If you will be in the Chicago area on Saturday, January 11, 2020, this message is for you! Secular Pro-Life has been presented with an opportunity to exhibit at the March for Life Chicago Convention. We would love to participate in this event, but we need your help. I'll let this email from weDignify (formerly Students for Life of Illinois) sum it up:
I'm reaching out because, as you've probably heard, Illinois recently passed the most extreme statewide abortion legislation in the country—fully legalizing abortion through all nine months, for almost any reason, and no restrictions on the medical professionals performing abortions.
Now more than ever the pro-life movement needs to present a large, united front where it's needed most: Chicago.
That's why weDignify is working with the March for Life Chicago Board to expand the March for Life Chicago from one March to a unified, day-long endeavor: the March for Life Chicago Convention on Saturday, January 11th 2020.
Last year over 8,000 people came to March in Chicago—despite the cold—making this the largest pro-life event in the Midwest by far. And, with the new laws this year, we anticipate growing even larger.
And we want Secular Pro-Life to be a part of it—will you come to have a vendor table and help us promote the March for Life Chicago Convention? As a special offer, vendor booths are only $450 if reserved before August 20th!
The $450 vendor booth expense is within our budget. Unfortunately, the cost of travel and lodging is not. Most of our regular volunteers are on the coasts, and flying them to Chicago for a one-day event just doesn't make financial sense.

But if we can find two or three local supporters to run the Secular Pro-Life exhibit booth, this is totally doable! We'll train you, and send you a banner, pamphlet, stickers, and everything else you need.

According to the statistical information Facebook gives us about people who like our page, we have 252 supporters in Chicago—but we have no way of figuring out who you are, until you tell us! So please, reach out by emailing with the subject line "Chicago." Thank you!

Photo credit: Pedro Lastra on Unsplash

Monday, July 15, 2019

Baby Chris is 16 weeks old

Image via the Endowment for Human Development
[This is part 17 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.] 

Sixteen weeks after conception (18 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 5 and a half inches long and weighs almost 7 ounces—about the size of a bell pepper. The ears, previously low on the sides of the head, have migrated to their final positions. Lung development is ongoing, with bronchioles and respiratory sacs beginning to appear. In female babies, the uterus and fallopian tubes are established.

According to the Endowment for Human Development, "[t]he vast majority of neuron multiplication in the brain is complete by 16 weeks." The retina now has discrete layers. Beneath the gums, enamel is developing on Baby Chris's teeth.

Follow Baby Chris's growth from conception to birth by downloading the free See Baby app!

Friday, July 12, 2019

The religious diversity of the pro-life movement

Last week, we posted the above graphic to our social media pages with the caption "In the United States, 23% of abortion opponents are Catholic and 12% have no religious affiliation. We are proud to stand with our pro-life brothers and sisters of all faith backgrounds to end the violence of abortion!"

We got a ton of likes and shares, and also questions. Mostly, "Wait, what about the other 65%?" and "Where are all the Protestants?"

We did not, of course, mean to suggest that pro-life movement is made up entirely of Catholics and secular people. It's far more diverse than that. We simply found the two-to-one statistic interesting, in contrast to the oversized role that Catholicism has played in the pro-choice imagination (e.g. "Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!").

Our source is the Pew Research Center Forum on Religion and Public Life, and if you're as nerdy as I am, you could get lost in that data set for hours. But I won't keep you in suspense. The religious makeup of Americans who say abortion should be illegal in all or most circumstances* is:
  • 38% Evangelical Protestant
  • 23% Catholic
  • 12% Unaffiliated
  • 12% Mainline Protestant
  • 6% Historically Black Protestant
  • 3% Mormon
  • 1% Jewish
  • 1% Muslim
  • 1% Orthodox Christian
  • 1% Jehovah's Witness
  • 1% Other Faiths
It's not surprising that, in a largely Protestant nation, the pro-life movement is also largely Protestant. However, no one Protestant tradition commands a clear majority. Evangelical and Mainline Protestants would add up to exactly 50%, but speaking as someone who grew up in a mainline denomination (the United Methodist Church, which is officially pro-choice), Pew is right not to group those two together. And as for how Protestant denominations and Catholicism can clash... literal volumes have been written.

Ironically, the godless approach may offer the best chance to unite these disparate factions into a cohesive movement for the human rights of the smallest and most vulnerable humans among us.

*Note: These figures add up to only 99% due to rounding.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Baby Chris is 15 Weeks Old

[This is part 16 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

Fifteen weeks after conception (17 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is five inches long and weighs five ounces—about the size of a turnip.

Stem cells are multiplying in the bone marrow. Baby Chris's sweat glands are starting to develop. In the respiratory system, the bronchial tree is almost complete and the airways contain smooth muscle and nerve bundles.

Download the free See Baby app to learn more about the journey from conception to birth!

[P.S.—My apologies for the tardiness of this post; Baby Chris updates usually come on Mondays, but I was at a retreat center with unreliable internet for the Louisiana Right to Life PULSE leadership program for teens and young adults. Other than the internet issues, it was a wonderful experience! I expect great things from the next generation of pro-life advocates.]

Friday, July 5, 2019

We Asked, You Answered: Moderate Pro-Choice Positions

On our facebook page, Monica wrote: "I feel like I've been spending too much time reading the most ridiculous ideas from the pro-choice side. For contrast, tell me what you consider the most understandable or relatable aspects of the pro-choice position." Here are a few of our favorite responses from the Secular Pro-Life community:

Mandi S.: "I think many pro-choice individuals believe in their heart of hearts that their position helps women so we both are coming from a place of wanting to support women. We just see things differently."

Tiffany C.: "I do think there are grey areas. The pro-choicers I have the most respect for are the ones who don't like abortion but believe that it's a necessary evil."

Frank L.: "I have come across a few [pro-choicers] who acknowledge basic biology but claim that the mother's right not to be pregnant is more important than the child's right to live. And while I can't agree with their priorities, their position makes more sense than that of who deny science in this discussion."

Keri R.: "I just want to know when are the laws regarding delinquent child support payers going to become stricter? Takes two to make the problem, but somehow the sperm supplier isn't the one under attack."

Jenna C.: "That it's hypocritical for pro-life people to try and protect the unborn while actively opposing policies that would both prevent pregnancy and support children once they're born. It frustrates me that in part because of the Democratic party's systematic excision of any pro-life candidates, the most conservative people are the ones controlling the legislation and public narrative of the pro-life stance. We really DO need to be supporting comprehensive sex ed, free contraception, and any and all social supports that helps pregnant individuals and their children prosper."

Tanya S.: "Women fought long and hard for the right to be seen as more than mothers, caretakers, and homemakers. And I sympathize greatly with this because I know the pain that the oppressive culture that made women stay home and pop out as many kids as possible caused to generations of women."

Megan L.: "We're both fighting for human rights. They just only see one person whereas I see two."

Clinton W.: "Contrary to what pro-choice people think of pro-life men, I do understand that pregnancies are not easy and they can sometimes be dangerous. That's why I'm so adamant that men step up when they get someone pregnant and be there for her through every step of it. I think it's completely understandable that women don't always want to be pregnant (although many of them do), and if men are there to help them through it, it makes it more bearable."

Keely A.: "Thank you so much for this thread. I am pro-choice and I have spent the past few weeks in a constant state of upset and anxiety. ... I read these comments and I'm heartened. It is so easy to demonize those who don't agree with us. ... My position remains unchanged, but what I see in this group (FINALLY) is a willingness to discuss the nuances that are at play here. AND a willingness to do something that will actually reduce the number of abortions, which is really what it's all about, right? If we have fewer abortions, it means that women have access to the healthcare and support they need to prevent pregnancy in the first place or to take care of themselves and a child should they become pregnant."

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Google Trends Suggest Historic Moment in Abortion Debate

Four short months ago, we reported that according to Google Trends, interest in abortion was at a 15-year high. News about permissive late-term abortion laws in New York and (nearly) Virginia earlier this year, together with federal legislative efforts to ban infanticide when babies survive abortion, drove more abortion-related keyword searches than at any point since the 2004 election.

That record has already been shattered (click to enlarge). 

Pro-life legislative efforts in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and elsewhere; the possibility of Missouri becoming the first abortion-free state since Roe, if the courts allow it to close the dangerous St. Louis Planned Parenthood facility; Democratic candidates competing to out-abortion each other in the 2020 presidential primary... all of these things and more have combined to create a perfect storm of media coverage. People who normally prefer to sit out the debate are forced to take notice.

With the caveat that correlation is not causation, this could be related to the latest Gallup poll (taken May 1-12) showing a positive trend in favor of prenatal rights. "Pro-life" now holds a 3-point advantage over "pro-choice," and the percentage of Americans who say abortion should be "illegal in all circumstances" or "legal in only a few circumstances" is up 7 points since last year. This is in spite of Google's alleged manipulation of abortion-related search results to disadvantage grassroots pro-life organizations like Live Action.

I can't help but feel that we are living in a moment that will make the history books. But history is written by the victors. Are you prepared to contribute a chapter?

Monday, July 1, 2019

Baby Chris is 14 Weeks Old

[This is part 15 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]

Fourteen weeks after conception (16 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is about the size of an avocado: four and a half inches long and three and a half ounces. Baby Chris's heart pumps 25 quarts of blood every day.

Although Baby Chris has been moving for a long time, he or she has been too small for those movements to be felt by the mother—until now! Before modern science gave us a window into the womb, the start of prenatal life was often defined by when a mother can feel her unborn child's movement, sometimes called "quickening." That happens when the baby is around 14 weeks old.

Quickening no longer has the medical significance that it once did, but that doesn't mean that our legal system has gotten any better at protecting the right to life; on the contrary, Baby Chris can still be legally aborted anywhere in the United States. Of the approximately million abortions that take place in the U.S. every year, about 51,000 (5.1%) occur at Baby Chris's age or later.

Throughout the Baby Chris project, we've been illustrating our articles with ultrasound images donated by Secular Pro-Life supporters. This week, we have two unusual photos to share. Mother Aimee explains:
I suffered from preterm premature rupture of membranes at 13 weeks and my pregnancy was deemed terminal for the duration of it. I received an ultrasound weekly until I delivered at 32 weeks so needless to say I have several ultrasound pictures to choose from. That being said, my fluid levels were very low (0-1.6cm) so they don't look like a normal one. ... I've been meaning to catalogue them anyway so I can show my daughter some day. This medically impossible child is currently rolling around in her crib refusing to nap.
13 weeks and 6 days, with rupture of membranes

14 weeks 2 days, with rupture of membranes