Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Christopher Hitchens Wound Up Opposing Abortion Choice

[Today's guest post is by Acyutananda.]

During his lifetime, Christopher Hitchens seems to have been consistent always in perceiving the rightful place of the unborn as members of our human family; yet he seems to have been “all over the map” regarding public policy on abortion. He said different things about law and policy at different times. And that inconsistency seems to have been partly because he never made the ethics of abortion his main focus; he never became determined to get to the bottom of it. Nevertheless, because of his brilliance and because of his unsurpassed credentials as an atheist, in a world where the abortion-rights position owes a lot of its present ascendance to having succeeded in painting the pro-life cause as purely religious, anything that he said in support of the pro-life cause is understood to matter. In a debate last month, Dinesh D’Souza claimed that Hitchens had been “pro-life,” while Matt Dillahunty responded that Hitchens “wasn’t in favor of making [abortion] illegal.” So what is the reality?

If Hitchens is known to have said different things about abortion policy at different times in his life, what should clearly matter most is the last position he is known to have taken. His last position should reasonably be taken as his most mature and most definitive position. The last statement of his that I have been able to discover came in a debate with Frank Turek on September 9, 2008.* At 00:19 Turek says that Hitchens, in a book of his, advocated the termination of pregnancy in some cases. At 1:37 Hitchens replies:
I do as a humanist feel that the concept “unborn child” is a real one. . . . And I feel a responsibility to see the occupant of the womb as a candidate member of society in the future, and thus to say that it cannot be only the responsibility of the woman to decide upon it. It’s a social question, and an ethical and a moral one. And I say that as someone who has no supernatural beliefs. . . . The presumption is that the unborn entity has a right on its side, and that every effort should be made to see if it can be preserved . . . 
It seems clear that “it cannot be only the responsibility of the woman to decide upon it” aims squarely at some existing contention – that he is disagreeing with something – and that that existing contention is the one that says a woman should have a legal right to choose abortion. Hitchens definitely does not want that (“cannot be”). So when an abortion is proposed, clearly the outcome finally decided will in some cases not be the one the woman wanted, and the change would have been brought about by society exercising its responsibility. Society should sometimes overrule her. Hitchens opposed the policy of abortion choice.

Here some dissection of the word “responsibility” is in order. Normally we speak of a woman's legal “right” to abort, and also of the possible “right” of the state to intervene. But the only possible justification for intervention by the state is a responsibility to protect its members. (Hitchens somehow feels obliged to call them “candidate members,” but he does not discard the clear idea of social responsibility – which in Roe v. Wade was termed “interest.”) Hitchens insists that parties other than the woman bear responsibility, and clearly those parties are society. “Responsibility” can only mean society’s responsibility to intervene in some cases. I cannot hear what he says in any other way.

So the last position that Christopher Hitchens is known to have taken was that in some cases society should overrule the woman. If no later statement of his comes to light, he should go down in history as a pro-lifer in the most common sense of the word; that is, he ended up opposing legal abortion choice. People generally become more pro-life the longer they live, and Hitchens seems to have been no exception.

In 2015, a pro-choice blogger took up the same question – the question of Hitchens’s definitive position on abortion – and came to the conclusion “Hitchens was not anti-choice.” The blogger compiled nine quotes by Hitchens that I recommend reading, six of them from a 2003 article by Hitchens. However, she did not include the above “responsibility” quote. She included a quote that she calls a “smoking gun” justifying her conclusion. In that quote, Hitchens says, “Everything in one revolts against [saying, ‘We will force you to carry a child to term.’]”

That is a strong statement of the strongest argument for abortion rights. There is no denying that. It is the kind of moving statement that Hitchens was capable of. However, it dates to 1991, so by the time of his “responsibility” statement, Hitchens had had seventeen years to mature; and he had had five years to mature and deepen his thinking since his 2003 article.

Some sources claim that Hitchens opposed overturning Roe v. Wade, but such sources as I have seen either offer no support for the claim, or refer to Hitchens’s God Is Not Great. I do not find any support in the e-edition I have of that book, but in any case Hitchens wrote that book earlier than his debate with Turek.

In a couple of talks that, from Hitchens’s appearance, must have taken place subsequent to 2008, he offered a recipe for ending poverty that included “allow women control over – some control over – their cycle of reproduction . . .” Pro-lifers completely agree that no woman should have to conceive against her will. There is no reason to understand that statement as advocacy for abortion rights.

Hitchens seems to have been against legal abortion before he was for it (his above 1991 position) before he was again against it. In a 1988 interview he said:
Margaret Thatcher voted . . . for the abortion bill [liberalizing abortion]. I gather that she’s since changed her position on the latter. My own vote would have been, as so often, exactly the reverse of hers. 
Also worth quoting from that interview (though not all these quotes are on the topic of legal policy):
Nobody on the left can avoid noticing that the so-called “prolife” forces are overwhelmingly female and from income groups that traditionally voted Democratic. Yet this simple rebellion by what one might dare to term humble people has been written off as reactionary by people who can’t or won’t see the essential dignity of the right-to-life position. . . . . . . once you allow that the occupant of the womb is even potentially a life, it cuts athwart any glib invocation of “the woman’s right to choose.” If the unborn is a candidate member of the next generation, it means that it is society’s responsibility. I used to argue that if this is denied, you might as well permit abortion in the third trimester. I wasn’t as surprised as perhaps I ought to have been when some feminists—only some, and partly to annoy—said yes to that. They at least were prepared to accept their own logic, and say that the unborn is nobody’s business but theirs. That is a very reactionary and selfish position, and it stems from this original evasion about the fetus being “merely” an appendage. . . .
We need a new compact between society and the woman. It’s a progressive compact because it is aimed at the future generation. It would restrict abortion in most circumstances. . . .
. . . there is a debased compassion at work. It tends to be one-sided, exclusively focused on the female condemned, as they say, to domestic serfdom. We should recognize that there are proper concerns and aspirations behind this. Women have been kept down for too long. Their struggle for greater autonomy is, in general, a just one. But its simplistic extension to abortion, I think, has aspects of neurosis and over-reaction. I think some women are trying to take revenge in part for centuries of being told by men precisely how they should live. The prolife movement, if it is to be successful, must understand these sentiments. You cannot conduct any intelligent combat if you do not understand the impulses you oppose. 
And in the recent debate with Dillahunty, D’Souza said (at 11:00):
I interviewed Hitchens years ago for a magazine, and we talked about this issue, and he made what I thought was an interesting point coming from an atheist perspective: . . . “Look, it’s one thing if you say that you believe in Hindu reincarnation, [in] which we have many different lives , or if you believe that there is a life to come in which if you happen to be terminated in the womb, you’re going to go to life everlasting. . . . I don’t believe any of that. I believe we have one life – this is it, this is the only one, and so ultimately it’s the only value. And if you have a life that’s coming into being, and it’s snuffed out, all its choices interrupted at the outset . . . you got to think before you do that.” 

* The relevant segment is linked above; to watch the entire debate, click here

Monday, April 6, 2020

Secular Pro-Life March Recap

[Editor's note: After a long while of letting our email list gather dust, we've finally gotten in the good habit of sending a monthly recap. If you'd like to subscribe, click here.]

Each of our co-leaders had in-person events scheduled this month, but not all of us made it before social distancing became the norm.
  • Monica's 3/23 presentation was (temporarily) cancelled. She was going to deconstruct three pro-choice myths at Oregon Right to Life's pro-life youth training camp, but the camp has been postponed until further notice. 
  • Kelsey's 3/28 talk went from in-person to online. She was scheduled to discuss effective education to reach nonreligious people at SFLA's 2020 Florida Leadership Workshop; when SFLA converted the workshop to an online event, Kelsey was still able to speak to student leaders virtually. Watch here
  • Terrisa's 3/4 speech still happened, and it was fantastic. She made her voice heard (like she does) on the steps of the Supreme Court in defense of pro-life Democrat Katrina Jackson's Lousiana bill requiring abortion providers to be held to the same standards as other outpatient surgical centers. Transcript here, video here.
Photo of Terrisa Bukovinac speaking at rally
"The abortion industry cannot police itself! Every time they try, they put profits first and women last!" - Terrisa Bukovinac, Secular Pro-Life

We gained 190 Twitter followers, bringing us to 11,457 total. We sent 119 tweets which were viewed 311,700 times, including thoughts about why pro-choice people seem to know so little about us and how the media blatantly promotes pro-choice narratives. One of our most popular tweets was this quote from Lord Shinkwin regarding abortion and disability:

I utterly reject this medical mindset that clings to the idea that a disabled baby is a medical failure to be eradicated through abortion. I beg no one for my equality. I know I have as much right as anyone to be alive.

In March we gained 235 followers, bringing us to 32,448 total. Our content was viewed over 325,000 times, including nearly 33,000 views of our "They can hear you" photo series. This is an album where we collect testimonials from people who have disabilities, have grown up in foster care, or have otherwise endured particular hardships and reject the suggestion that they would have been better off aborted. For example:

(See Dee's full thread here)

Last year we had a collection of similar testimonials that went viral.

Our three most-read blog posts for March, in increasing order:
  • Progressive polling firm tries, and fails, to conduct neutral survey on abortion policy Polling outfit Data for Progress had questions regarding abortion clinic regulations. The firm's questions neglected to mention the major concern of providers having admitting privileges at local hospitals, but did suggest there's concern about the air temperature of patient areas. Even with this biased content, far more poll respondents supported regulation than opposed it.
  • We asked, you answered: wishing you hadn't had the "choice" A polite Twitter user asked whether post-abortive pro-life women wish they hadn't even had the legal option to get an abortion. We posed the question to our FB followers and collected their responses in this blog post. In addition to post-abortive women, women who chose to carry their pregnancies also spoke up about how the legal option of abortion made their pregnancies much more difficult.
  • Pregnancy resource centers need your support now more than ever If you have the ability, now is the time to donate to pregnancy resource centers. Nearly 3 out of 4 women who have abortions say financial strain contributed to their decision, and social distancing and shelter-in-place guidelines push centers to postpone their fundraising events.
If you don't have the financial ability to donate during these uncertain economic times, there are other ways you can continue pro-life work while staying home. Check out our list of book and movie recommendations to increase your knowledge or expand your view. And consider sending us guest blog posts! Guest bloggers help us get a more diverse range of perspectives, opinions and experiences. If you have an idea for a piece you'd like to submit, please email us at to discuss.

Thank you to our supporters
Thank you to those of you who donate to help support our work. SPL is run by dedicated volunteers, and we would not be able to devote the time and energy without the help of donors like you.

That said, we are in a better position to weather this storm than many orgs, so if you do have the ability to donate, we recommend contacting your local pregnancy resource centers. We are particularly fond of Abide Women's Health, which had its grand brick-and-mortar opening just before coronavirus really hit. You can check out their Amazon Wish List for in-kind donation ideas, or donate to them directly here.

If you do want to donate to us anyway, here is our PayPal. If you don't use PayPal, you can also go to our Facebook page and click the blue "Donate" button under our cover photo on the right. 

And if you haven't already, come find us on social media:
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Friday, April 3, 2020

New Fellowship for Pro-Life Creatives

Building off its successful Wilberforce Fellowship (for college and graduate leadership) and Stevens Fellowship (for high school leadership), Students for Life of America is launching the Hildegard Art Fellowship:
The Hildegard Art Fellowship is about engaging young artists to use their artistry to change hearts and minds on abortion by becoming artist activists.
Art in its multitude of forms has a unique way to speak to and impact our culture. At Students for Life, we seek to abolish abortion on many platforms including politics, education, and service. The Hildegard Art Fellows don’t just encounter culture; they captivate culture.
The inaugural class will consist of visual artists, five writers, and five performing artists. If you meet the criteria, I encourage you to apply! Speaking as a former Wilberforce Fellow (and current mentor), if the Hildegard Art Fellowship is anything like SFLA's other fellowships, it will be an incredibly valuable experience. The application deadline is May 1. 

And speaking of the arts, a friendly reminder that submissions are open for the Create | Encounter pro-life art contest; you can read more about that here. It's a great time to be a pro-life artist activist!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Video: Effective Pro-Life Education on Campus

Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard here. Last weekend, I was scheduled to speak at a Florida leadership summit for pro-life high school and college students, organized by Students for Life of America. The original venue was shut down due to the coronavirus, but the show must go on, so I presented over Zoom. The video recording is now up on our facebook page. Although my presentation is geared toward students, it contains information that I hope will be helpful to pro-life advocates of all ages.

If you'd like to skip around, here are topic timestamps:

1:32 - 5:22, why outreach to non-religious people is important
5:22 - 9:30, dialogue tips
9:30 - 14:1, the abortion industry's religious strategy
14:12 - 15:45, building a secular organization on campus
15:45 - end, Q&A

Side note: the young woman in the purple shirt who speaks during the Q&A is Gabrielle Gabbard. You might recognize that name because when she started her pro-life club at Gulf Coast High School, the administration wasn't thrilled, and she had to threaten legal action to get the club approved. In a wild coincidence, I am a graduate of Gulf Coast High School. We'll be sure to meet in person once it's safe to do so!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Pro-life work while sheltering in place

If you find yourself with more time and less mobility than usual, here are some ways you can keep doing pro-life work:

1. Increase our own knowledge. We asked our followers what books and film/TV shows—whether giving a pro-life or pro-choice perspective—have informed their perspectives of the abortion debate. Below are partial lists, but you can read all of the book suggestions here and film/TV suggestions here.

Books/other reading:
  1. Abortion Rites: A Social History of Abortion in America - Marvin Olasky
  2. Bearing Right - Will Saletan
  3. Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-Life Movement before Roe v. Wade - Daniel Williams
  4. The Ethics of Abortion - Christopher Kaczor
  5. Our Bodies, Our Souls - Naomi Wolf
  6. Roe v. Wade - text of the Court's decision
  7. Stuck: A Complete Guide To Answering Questions About Abortion - Justina van Manen
  8. The Unaborted Socrates - Peter Kreeft
  9. The Walls Are Talking - Abby Johnson
  10. Why Pro-Life - Randy Alcorn
Film/TV shows:
  1. Arrival
  2. Bella
  3. Call the Midwife
  4. The Giver
  5. Gosnell
  6. Juno
  7. October Baby
  8. A Quiet Place
  9. The Silent Scream
  10. Unplanned
  11. Waitress
(You might get more ideas from the many pro-life movie quotes we've collected.)

2. Donate to organizations on the front lines. We asked our followers which organizations can directly help pregnant and newly parenting people. If you prefer to go local, quick online searching should turn up pregnancy resource centers in your area. Meanwhile below is a partial list of follower suggestions, and here are the full responses. (Note: as of 3/27/20 all of the following orgs were still open.)
  1. Abide Women's Health Services (Texas) — They have a COVID-19-based Amazon wish list.
  2. Ava Care of Harrisonburg (Virginia)
  3. The Crossing of Manitowoc County (Wisconsin)
  4. Diaper Bank of the Ozarks (Missouri)
  5. Expect Hope (New York City)
  6. Good Counsel Homes (New Jersey) 
  7. The Life House (Nebraska)
  8. Safe Families for Children (multiple locations)
  9. Sisters of Life (New York City) — Amazon baby registry

3. Do online work. We asked our followers for other ways to help while sheltering in place. Read the full responses here but below are some ideas:
  1. Promote pro-life content on social media (like, comment, and share)
  2. Write a guest blog post for Secular Pro-Life!
  3. Educate yourself on local resources for mothers (assistance with rent or utilities, food, diapers, access to health care and education, etc.) Keep a list for reference.
  4. Contact your favorite pro-life orgs and ask them if they have any online volunteer opportunities. You never know who needs a translator, editor, web designer, graphic artist, database manager, etc.

Read more:

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Pro-Life Status Report from Germany

[Editor's note: Today's guest article by German pro-life advocate Andreas Düren was written before the coronavirus outbreak.]

In Germany, abortion is generally illegal under Section 218 of the criminal code. The only exceptions are the so-called "medical indication" (danger to the life of or the threat of grave impairment to the pregnant woman's physical or mental health" as well as "criminal indication" (the termination of pregnancies which are the result of rape or incest).

The "medical indication" abortions are almost exclusively abortions because of disabilities of the child: almost 4.000 cases a year.

The German Federal Constitutional Court has ruled twice that even pre-born children have human dignity and the right to life. Unfortunately, that said, there are over 100,000 abortions in Germany every year. That means 6.1 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 (compared to 13.5 in the United States).

The vast majority of abortions (96%) are performed illegally. Those are abortions that are not indication-based, but instead based on a landmark decision of the Constitutional Court. In 1993, it decided that it is not possible to protect the unborn child without their mothers. To dissuade women from choosing an abortion, all participants go unpunished if:
  • the woman visits a state-certified pregnancy consultation center; 
  • she follows a three-day-waiting period to reconsider; and  
  • the decision to abort is solely hers (pressuring someone into an abortion is a criminal offense). 
These abortions are still illegal, but they are not punished. They are provided by doctors and abortion facilities. This ruling created a strange situation, where it says that abortions are generally wrong because every human has dignity and the right to life and, at the same time, opened the door for technically illegal but practically legal abortions.

The state acknowledges that abortions are a problem and says that we need to reduce the number of abortions, but does not do anything to actually achieve this goal. For example, the federal republic of Germany publishes a roughly 300-page annual report on the condition of the forests in Germany, including proposals on how to improve the situation. There is no such thing for abortions. In a way, a German tree enjoys better protection than a pre-born child. 

Even though the counselor is required to write a report of the counseling, it does not include, for example, the reasons stated for wanting an abortion (the woman is not obliged to say a single word during the counseling). With this crucial information missing, there is no way to remove the reasons for an abortion. The counseling is – at least according to the law – required to persuade the woman to carry her child to term. In practice, however, counseling is geared to an "open outcome" and can even be performed on the phone. 

Over 100,000 children aborted every year is an astronomical amount. The number of unreported cases might be much higher, though. Doctors are obliged to report the numbers of abortions performed but are not financially compensated for this work – meaning no incentive to actually report correct numbers. It also doesn't account for mothers who travel to neighboring countries for their abortions. 

German society views the topic of abortion with hesitation, with the majority seemingly being personally pro-life but politically pro-choice. But most people will not talk about the issue, even in family circles. It is considered to be something taboo. Most people do see there being something wrong with abortion but are too afraid to go against the mainstream view and not knowledgeable enough to actually form a well-informed decision. Even the majority of people who firmly believe that abortion is wrong under all circumstances are often too afraid to leave their comfort zone and to engage in debates on the issue, mostly out of fear of being seen as anti-women. 

Unfortunately, here as in many countries, abortion is almost seen as a more "humane" way of dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. An adoption is seldom an option for many of these women because it is seen as being more emotionally damaging for the mother than the abortion. Five to ten times as many couples are waiting to adopt, as children up for adoption exist. 

One of the leading groups that are openly fighting for abortion is the "Coalition for Sexual Autonomy." Among other things they call for unrestricted access to legal abortion up to birth, mandatory teaching of abortion procedures during medical school, and elimination of Section 219a of the criminal code which prohibits the promotion of abortion for financial gain. These people find it necessary to scream, insult, and disrupt any pro-life event; they have even stalked pro-life activists, vandalized churches, destroyed pro-life counseling offices, and set cars on fire

A young woman holds a Sundays for Life sign
In the face of this hostile situation towards life-affirming institutions, my wife and I decided to start a pro-life non-profit to break the taboo, inform the general public and do general public relations/marketing for the pro-life message. The name of our organization is Sundays for Life. We have taken to being incredibly blunt in our presence in the downtown of our city. Our color is fuchsia pink, and the banner and signs are hard to miss. We want people to leave their comfort zone. Because let's face it: death is not comfortable, especially not the deaths of millions of babies. 

Over the last few weeks, we have taken to Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. We have shared two of the many videos we hope to produce. The videos that we created are personal stories of people affected by abortion: one woman's crisis pregnancy and how she chose life for her child, and a man's account of his role in his wife's abortion. These personal testimonies are virtually non-existent here in Germany and Europe in general, and we hope to reach people by these captivating, challenging, and personal stories. So far, we have reached thousands with our videos, and there are more videos to come soon. We want to engage the general public on social media with humorous and thought-provoking content. We want debates to take place. Because when people talk about abortion, they have to think about abortion.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Submissions open for Create | Encounter pro-life art contest

Rehumanize International has opened submissions for its annual Create | Encounter contest. With large gatherings cancelled for the foreseeable future, why not use that time to create meaningful art?

Rehumanize International is a consistent life ethic (CLE) organization, promoting respect for human life at all ages. Create | Encounter is for pieces that "explore subjects of aggressive violence against human life, dehumanization, and human dignity surrounding such issues as abortion, abuse, capital punishment, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, human trafficking, physician assisted suicide, poverty issues, racism, suicide, torture, and unjust war." That's not a comprehensive list; your art can address a wide variety of social ills. And speaking of variety, Create | Encounter is open to many types of media, from poetry to visual art to music to short stories and more.

Above: "Dilation and Evacuation," SPL president Kelsey Hazzard's mixed media piece from the 2018 Create | Encounter contest. Sopher forceps, a common tool in second-trimester abortions, are juxtaposed with damaged photo negatives.

Not to brag, but historically, members of the Secular Pro-Life community have been well represented among the winners and honorable mentions (and yes, artwork is judged anonymously). So click here for full submission guidelines, and get creative! The deadline is July 1.

Friday, March 20, 2020

What changed an abortion counselor's mind

Linda Couri worked at Planned Parenthood but left and became pro-life. She gave an interview on the WeDignify podcast where she spoke about her experiences working for the largest abortion provider in America.

Couri believed in Planned Parenthood's mission, which she saw as educating young people about sex and providing health care. In retrospect, she thinks one reason she worked at Planned Parenthood was the affirmation they gave her about her own abortion. Couri was strongly pro-choice but had never been able to convince herself that abortion was not killing a baby. When she had her own abortion, she says she just “tucked it away into a little spot far, far away for a long time” and tried not to think about it.

Workers at the Planned Parenthood facility affirmed her choice and eased any lingering sense of guilt:
[I] could surround myself with a lot of really good, caring women, self-sacrificial women working at Planned Parenthood, who would surround me and say, "yeah, it's okay. It's okay that you did this. It was your right. Not only that, it was probably better for the whole world." And so, it helped to keep the psychological distress of the abortion at bay. 
While working at Planned Parenthood, Couri struggled with the issue of abortion:
What did cause me distress was the issue of abortion, merely because although I was pro-choice, i.e., you shouldn't take away the right of a woman to control her own body – I was highly convinced of that – but I also knew that something really bad was happening, like killing very small people. So that had always made me uncomfortable. But the dissonance that that created, I often was able to avoid. Avoid, and just not deal with it. 
Couri mainly worked in sex education, but she was sometimes asked to counsel women considering abortion. One day, she was asked to talk to a pregnant 16-year-old. Couri says:
She's crying and scared. My job was to go through her options, and after comforting her and letting her know it would be okay, I said, "Well, you have three options. The first is, you can keep the baby. That will be difficult, but we can help you through that.… And I said, "you could give up your baby for adoption. That too will be hard, but we can help you with that." Because we did have connections with adoption agencies, and to help girls through their pregnancy. And then I said, "or you can have an abortion." 
Although Couri attempted to be neutral, she was convinced that abortion was the best choice for the girl:
[I]n my mind, at the time, I really, truly, from the bottom of my heart, believed that abortion was the best option for her. I saw her carrying the baby and keeping the baby as really ruining her life. For making her life way too difficult. And I saw her, quote, “giving the baby up” for adoption … But I also saw that option as being very difficult. So, in my mind, abortion really was the best option. After all, I had had an abortion, and it [had] seemed like the best option to me – I was unscathed, right? But I saw it as her choice, so I presented these three options. 
The girl asked Couri, “Please tell me one thing. If I have an abortion, am I killing my baby?" Couri describes her response:
It was hard, because I knew that she was. But I decided to answer by saying, "Well, you will be terminating the product of your conception." Which was meant to deflect the question. And I knew it. And she looked at me kind of confused, and she scheduled an abortion. Which I really thought was the best option for her, but I was really stressed out, because I didn't answer her question. [I] rhetorically tricked her. 
Couri felt guilty for being dishonest. She went to her supervisor:
I went to go talk to my supervisor. Who was really great. I said, "I just lied to her." And she and I – we didn't play the semantics game, like, oh, it's not a life, it's not life – we both kind of just went straight to the issue, which was like, this is the best option for her. Abortion's the best option. This is a hard job that we have, and it's a hard choice, but [it's] the best choice for her and for her life. That's what we believed. But still, there was, like, this fuzzy dissonance. It was like static in my head. 
This was not the last difficult conversation Couri had with other staff. One day, a nurse who worked at the facility came into Couri’s office, upset and on the verge of tears. Couri explains:
She came into my office, and she seemed to be upset, and she shut my door. And she said, "I don't understand why I'm so upset, Linda. I've been doing this for a long time, but for some reason it's really getting to me because I just saw a little hand, during an abortion procedure." And, she and I sat, knee to knee – two women that were being paid very little to do the work that they do, feeling like we had a mission – sitting knee to knee holding each other's hands. And being really sad, kind of weeping a little bit, and saying, "Are we doing the right thing?" And spending a bunch of time convincing each other that we were. Hugging each other and saying "Carry on. Onward and upward! Let's go do the right thing."
These incidents unsettled Couri, but then she discovered something else. Couri was thinking of doing an academic research project on women’s responses to abortion. In the past, the abortion facility had left journals in the recovery room for women to write down their feelings after abortion. Couri decided to look at them for her research. Couri had always believed that she was helping women by providing abortions. But she was in for a shock:
I noticed that in the abortion clinic that there were stacks and stacks of journals down there... So, I was like, oh wow this is great. I have untainted, qualitative research in terms of how women feel right after their abortion. So, in my mind it would've been a fabulous research study. So I went down to the clinic one day when nobody was there, and was just like, I'm going to peek through them and kind of see what they say. And some of them said things like, "I'm so relieved, everyone here has been so kind," but as I started flipping through the journals there were entries like, "Oh my God, what have I done? I killed my baby." Like, panicked writing. 
These entries had a profound effect on her:
And I can remember the feeling I had where I was literally confused. I was like, wait what? I couldn't believe it. I had fully expected that people would [be] relieved. You know, projecting myself onto them – that they would be relieved. But it was all these other reactions and they were written down. It caused me to double take, and I was like, wait what? People – and then I started thinking, where do these people go? Some of them are young. What did they do? They're leaving here. What kind of support systems do they have? They feel this way – it really messed with my world.… It did not match up with what I thought reality was, and I couldn't deny it, because it was written down. There was no agenda behind these people writing it down. It was just pure unadulterated reaction to how they felt after an abortion. 
The journals caused Couri to reconsider what she was doing. It began to dawn on her that abortion was not helping women. At first, she tried to set up a post-abortion support group in the facility. But she had trouble attracting women to it. Many women seemed to want to forget their abortions happened. They did not want to return to the abortion facility or talk to Couri.

Shortly after gaining this new perspective, Couri left the abortion industry.

[Today's guest post is by Sarah Terzo.]

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

We asked, you answered: Wishing you hadn't had the "choice"

We recently asked our facebook followers for their take on the following question, which had been posed politely and in good faith by a pro-choicer on twitter:
Whenever I hear someone say they became pro-life after an abortion or crisis pregnancy, it seems like they're saying "I wish I didn't have the *choice* to have an abortion." This is a thought I can't really comprehend. Can someone please explain this thought process and what goes into it? Maybe post-abortive pro-lifers aren't actually thinking this, but something else?
Many people who regret their abortions responded. Interestingly, many who chose life also shared how the availability of legal abortion made their situations more difficult. As Feminists for Life of America has aptly put it: "It's your body, it's your choice, it's your problem!"

In no particular order, here are a few of our favorite comments:

Renee F.:  The biggest regret for me was that I didn't know to ask to see the ultrasound screen. They turned it away from me and for some reason, I didn't ask to see it. Maybe because I was so deliriously sick from HG that I could barely keep my eyes open. (My mother wouldn’t take me to the hospital for it because she wanted the abortion.) Being a mother now, and seeing my first ultrasound with my baby I have now, I know I wouldn’t have gone through with it if I had that opportunity. Also, the emotional toll it takes on you. It’s been 6 years since mine and I still think about it every day and regret it every day. I very much wish it wasn't an available option for myself or anyone.

Nikki H.: If the "choice" didn't exist, I probably would have told my parents sooner, because I'd have known they would have to find out eventually. That part would have been out of the way, and I could have enjoyed my pregnancy, instead of trying to hide it for the first four months. I also wouldn't have to live with the knowledge that I almost killed my son. Yes, I DO wish I hadn't had a "choice."

Lori B.: I definitely wish I did not have the choice! When I found out I was pregnant I immediately wanted to keep my baby. I had no idea my high school sweetheart would react the way he did and would leave me if I had the baby... then my previously "pro-life" parents scolded me for getting pregnant before marriage and pretty much pushed me to have an abortion (I was still a teen living at home and they said "You're on your own if you keep a baby"). Then the doctor told us my baby was "Not a baby... just tissue." Back in the 80's I had no idea HE WAS LYING and just saying what my parents wanted to hear! I BELIEVE HAD ABORTION BEEN ILLEGAL, my parents would not have pushed me to get one and I would have my child!

Julia S.: I regrettably had two abortions. My mother forced me to have my first one in 1976. So yes, I profoundly regret that the option was available then. I chose to have my second abortion, but ONLY because by then, a year and a half later, I was so completely numb due to coping with the first abortion through copious amounts of drugs and alcohol, I didn't even care anymore. But I knew I was killing my first child. I was crushed but powerless to do anything different. And I was just dead inside by the time I had my second one. I most definitely regret it was even an option!! I'm glad you asked.

Darci P.: I was pregnant while in high school with my now 12-year-old. If it wasn’t a choice, I wouldn't have had to defend my choice to keep my daughter. I wouldn’t have been told that my life was over or been given a lot of unsolicited advice... I would likely have been given encouragement and felt empowered to take on the world.

Anonymous (via private message): I am post-abortive and pro-life. I wasn't given a choice by my parents as a teen. I was kicked out of the house when my dad found out I was pregnant because he didn't want a "whore" living in his house. I was taken to stay with family and told I couldn't go home until I had the abortion and I was told I could not stay with the family for very long. I would be a bad influence to younger siblings and cousins being a pregnant teen. I hate the phrase "pro-choice." Like me, many other teens (and adult women!) are not given a choice and are coerced and pressured into abortion.

Becky M.: If it hadn't been an option, I wouldn't have even considered it. I believed the lie that women can't achieve their goals if they have children, especially as a single teenage mom. I thought I'd be doomed to poverty, struggle, and failure forever. My family held an intervention (still the most awkward, uncomfortable experience of my life, but in hindsight I'm incredibly grateful for) and I didn't go through with it. It took 10 years for me to finally admit that I almost killed my son and become strongly pro-life. But I realized it wasn't just my child's life that was saved—it was also mine. Saved from a lifetime of despair and regret. If I can prevent other women from experiencing that, I will. (And, by the way, I still accomplished my goal of earning my bachelors degree and becoming a teacher. My firstborn is now a Marine, and I’ve committed myself to living a pro-life life by adopting, sponsoring, donating, and advocating.)

Bonnie T.: I wish I didn’t have the "choice" to have an abortion, because I never wanted one. Then my mother wouldn’t have had the option of forcing me to get one or be kicked out on the street at 16. Then there would have been access to more help to parent my child as I wanted to. Then my doctor and the therapist my mother hired to coerce me into it wouldn’t have had the option to refer her to a serial killer who gladly performed the abortion against my will.

Ellie M.: When you put tempting choices before people who are vulnerable, YES they will want that choice taken away. People on diets want certain foods removed from easy access and choices all the time. They take soda machines out of schools. This isn't a complicated concept.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Interview: How Gabriela became a sidewalk counselor outside the clinic where she had her abortion

I met Gabriela recently through Secular Pro-Life. I asked her if she had always been pro-life, and when she said no, I asked her what brought her to our side. Her story moved me, and she gave me permission to share it through an interview. - Monica

How long were you pro-choice? What were the main reasons you were pro-choice? I was pro-choice for as long as I can remember. It's funny: I don't remember the exact moment I first heard the word "abortion" or learned what it was; I just remember always supporting it. Even though I grew up Catholic and went to a Catholic high school, I don't remember it ever really being mentioned. But honestly I was pro-choice mainly because I never wanted children. And it just seemed logical to me that if you don't want kids, you would support abortion. It didn't make sense to be pregnant for nine months only to give the kid to someone else.

Tell me about your abortion. What led you to that decision? The part that gets me most about my abortion is that I had an IUD (intrauterine device), so none of this was supposed to happen. I had a Paragard (copper) IUD, which is supposedly 99.7% effective, and yet approximately six months after the IUD was inserted, I got pregnant. My ultrasound appointment showed that the IUD was exactly where it was supposed to be—it didn't fall out or embed in the uterus; it just didn't work. I decided to have an abortion out of pure panic: I was terrified. I had intended to prevent pregnancy, and I wasn't planning on this, so an abortion just seemed like the logical choice.

How did you feel about it after? The moment after my abortion, I felt relief. The day after, I felt a despair and hopelessness and horror at what I had done unlike anything I had ever experienced in my life. It's still hard to talk about.

What did you do to try to get support and heal? In order to try and heal, I named my child. I also participated in a retreat with Rachel's Vineyard, a Catholic post-abortion recovery group that I found through my church bulletin. I tried therapy for a couple sessions, and then I joined a local sidewalk advocate group, which I found out about through a nearby crisis pregnancy center. After that, I was able to get a copy of my ultrasound picture, which I framed.

All of these methods helped in some way, and I basically did them one after the other. Naming my child and framing his ultrasound picture were important because those gestures acknowledged his humanity. Though it was too early to determine the gender of my unborn child, I just knew he was a boy. The retreat helped because it made me realize I wasn't alone, and it provided the participants little mementos to honor our unborn children. Therapy kind of helped, but I needed something more. 

Being a sidewalk advocate really helped because I could actually do something useful, rather than just wallow in regret. Sidewalk advocacy has helped me process my abortion by providing me an opportunity to use my story for good. I wish, more than anything, that someone had been on the sidewalk when I went to get my abortion. I now want to be that person for others, and hopefully prevent other women and unborn babies from going through what I and my unborn child went through. A couple of months after I started, a young woman told me that years ago she was about about to get an abortion but someone was on the sidewalk so she changed her mind. Her baby is now 3 years old.

Did you know the sidewalk counselors before you started working alongside them? Before I joined the group, I didn't know anything about them, but I wanted to join a group that I knew valued unborn children and shared my newfound pro-life beliefs.

Did you tell them your story? If so, what were their reactions? I have told them and they are very supportive of me. They think it can really change people's hearts to hear about my regret, particularly because I am now an advocate outside the abortion facility where I received my abortion.

Are you close to people who are pro-choice (friends, family, etc.)? What are those relationships like? I am close with people who are pro-choice, and the relationships are fine because we just don't talk about my abortion. Only a few people know, and they responded without judgment. But overall I just don't really talk about it much with those I know.

If you could say anything to yourself years ago, what advice would you give? If I could say something to my younger self, I'm telling you she would not have listened! In all seriousness, I think the best way to change a pro-choicer's mindset is to ask some simple questions: If a pregnant woman is murdered, should the perpetrator be charged with one murder or two, and why? If you're in a burning building and have to choose between saving a pregnant woman or saving a woman who isn't pregnant,  who would you save and why? If it's the woman's choice, is it okay for a woman to use abortion as birth control? If not, what's not okay about it? These pointed questions might have made me question my pro-choice stance a lot earlier, which in turn could have saved my child's life.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Pregnancy resource centers need your support now more than ever

If you have the financial ability to donate to a pregnancy center, now is the time to do so. Pregnancy centers and their clients face tremendous challenges from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash
Nearly three out of four people who have abortions say that financial strain contributed to the abortion decision ("I can't afford a baby now."). Pregnancy centers exist to provide the support necessary to make choosing life easier, including free baby and maternity supplies, job training, prenatal care, and direct financial assistance.

As the coronavirus causes major disruptions to the tourism, entertainment, sports, and service industries, with the effects reverberating to other sectors, the number of families needing financial help is growing. The situation will get worse before it gets better.

Making matters worse, many non-profits, including pregnancy centers, have been forced to cancel or postpone fundraising galas. And on top of that, as universities close and elderly Americans are advised to stay home for their own safety, pregnancy centers could lose two major sources of volunteers: college students and retirees. It's a perfect storm.

Please donate to your local pregnancy center. If you don't have a local center, consider giving to a center in a hard-hit area, like Washington state. Your generosity can make a world of difference for a struggling family.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

On this day in pro-life history: Harlan Drake convicted of murdering abortion protester Jim Pouillon

Today marks the ten-year anniversary of Harlan Drake's conviction for first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of abortion protester Jim Pouillon and businessman Mike Fuoss. The murders took place in Owosso, Michigan on September 11, 2009. A jury convicted Drake six months later on March 11, 2010.

Harlan Drake's mugshot
Drake testified that he murdered Pouillon for displaying a sign which reportedly "featured a picture of an aborted fetus on one side." Drake "said he pulled up beside Pouillon, shot him and then, because Pouillon was still moving, shot him again before driving away." Pouillon, who was 63 years old and used an oxygen tank, didn't stand a chance. The murder was premeditated; Drake confessed "he told his family the day before the killings that he would 'take care of' Pouillon after his mother expressed her disgust with Pouillon's protests." Authorities believe that Pouillon's pro-life activity was Drake's sole motive for the murder, as Drake and Pouillon did not know each other personally.

The Flint Journal described the immediate aftermath of the murder:
A black car can be seen parked at the corner of North and Whitehaven streets, where a portable oxygen tank is lying in a front yard next to a large sign bearing the image of a baby and the word "Life."
After killing Pouillon, Drake drove to the Fuoss Gravel Company and murdered its owner, Mike Fuoss. The motive for this second murder was apparently unrelated to abortion. Fuoss and Drake's mother were former business partners whose relationship had soured years earlier. Horrifically, Drake shot Fuoss seventeen times.

Drake is currently serving a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Join us for the Students for Life of America Florida Leadership Workshop

UPDATE 3/12/2020: We have been advised that this event will be held virtually due to the coronavirus. Contact your SFLA regional coordinator for the latest details.

ORIGINAL POST: Attention Florida pro-life students! Students for Life of America is holding a regional conference later this month, and we are pleased to announce that Kelsey Hazzard, the founder and president of Secular Pro-Life, will speak at the event.

The 2020 Florida Leadership Workshop is for pro-life high school and college students anywhere in the state who want to take their campus advocacy to the next level. It will take place on Saturday, March 28 at Southeastern University in Lakeland. In addition to Kelsey, participants will also hear from representatives of Students for Life of America, Florida Right to Life, and area pregnancy resource centers. The ticket price is only $15, including meals, and scholarships are available.

Students for Life says:
At this year’s Florida Leadership Workshop, Students for Life of America is preparing you for a Post Roe America. The beginning to the end of abortion is HERE and we need to be prepared in our schools and communities now more than ever. Join us for a day of training from professionals in the field as well as networking with fellow student leaders in your region. With personalized, hands-on training and preparation, the SFLA Leadership Workshop will leave you confident in your goals and activities, and better equipped to change your campuses for life!
Register now to reserve your seat. See you there!

Friday, March 6, 2020

Progressive polling firm tries, and fails, to conduct neutral survey on abortion policy

Vox recently published an article entitled "These are the popular ideas progressives can win with (and some unpopular ones to avoid)," by Matthew Yglesias. The piece profiles a polling outfit called Data for Progress, which recently conducted a nationwide survey on 56 policy questions. Yglesias wrote:
Each one was tested with explicit partisan framing and pro-and-con arguments to avoid the typical problem with issue polling where all kinds of things can easily be made to sound nice. (You can see all the questions with pro and con arguments here and a table of the poll results here.) The group also aimed to be credible, sharing the full results, including the finding that several ideas the organization is associated with — including abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ending money bail, and cutting military spending — poll quite poorly.
This reported approach to framing survey questions dovetails nicely with my colleague Monica Snyder's recent tweet that "If we can't describe the other side's position in a way that they would say 'Yes, that's what I think,' then we can't really claim to understand their position." (Admittedly, that's not an original observation; Equal Rights Institute, and many others, have long made a similar point.)

But when I dug into the source material looking for abortion questions, I found that Data for Progress's attempt to describe the pro-life position was... well, see for yourself:
Some Republicans in Congress are proposing a policy that would require doctors who perform abortions to to be board certified or eligible in obstetrics and gynecology and that air temperature must be maintained at between 72 and 76 degrees in patient areas.
Republicans supporting this proposal say these rules are necessary to protect the health of the mother and to ensure abortions are conducted in a safe manner.
Democrats opposing this proposal say these rules are not medically necessary and are actually designed to restrict abortion access through limiting the quantity of doctors and hospitals capable of providing a legal service.
Do you support or oppose the proposal?
That is a laughably bad description that comes nowhere close to neutrality. I have been a pro-life activist for over a decade. I have observed coalition meetings of pro-life leaders discussing legislative strategies. And I have never, not once, heard anyone talk about the temperature of abortion facilities.

Image description: A young person
stands outside the Supreme Court
holding a sign that says "Patients
Before Profits." The sign is shaped
like Louisiana and features the
silhouette of a pregnant woman.
Source: Louisiana Right to Life on Facebook
The basic idea behind pro-life legislation in this area is that abortion facilities should be held to the same legal standards as clinics where outpatient procedures other than abortion are performed, i.e., ambulatory surgical centers. Since I haven't reviewed every state's regulations of ambulatory surgical centers, I'll grant that it's possible some of them mandate temperatures; after all, nobody likes to have cold A/C blasting on them while wearing a thin surgical gown. But it's hardly a focal point of the abortion debate. If you're looking for a prime example of abortion facility regulations, might I suggest the requirement of admitting privileges, which was argued at the United States Supreme Court just this week? Or perhaps you could discuss hallway width, which pro-life advocates maintain is necessary to accommodate stretchers and pro-choice advocates dismiss as unnecessary.

Here's the best part: even with their biased question, only 27% of respondents opposed the abortion facility regulation proposal! (A 45% plurality supported it, while the rest were unsure.) Good luck getting a majority to rally against pro-life regulations as they actually are.

Still, points to Data for Progress for their transparency. In that spirit, I would have worded the question something like this:
Some legislators are proposing a bill that would expand regulations of outpatient surgical facilities to include abortion clinics. These regulations include a requirement that hallways be wide enough to accommodate stretchers and that doctors have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Supporters of the bill argue that these regulations promote women's health. Opponents of the bill argue that compliance with the regulations is too expensive, and as a result, abortion clinics will close and abortion prices will rise out of poor women's reach. 
Pro-choice readers, please let me know if I have accurately represented your stance.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Today's Speech at the United States Supreme Court

Today, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a challenge to Louisiana's pro-life law which requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Pro-life advocates will rally outside the Supreme Court building in support of the law. One of the rally speakers is Secular Pro-Life's very own Terrisa Bukovinac (pictured). A transcript of her prepared remarks is below, and we will try to have video for you soon.

* * *

Kevin Work is a disgraced doctor who’s had multiple run-ins with medical regulators. His license was suspended four times. Eventually his license was reinstated with strict limits: the only type of medicine he was allowed to practice was wound care. 

Where does a quack like that go to find an employer who will look the other way? Where else but two abortion centers in Louisiana.

If he’d been screened by a hospital for admitting privileges, the problem could have been uncovered immediately. Instead it fell to pro-life advocates on the ground to investigate who he was and lobby state health authorities to intervene. Who knows how many patients he put at risk in the meantime?

We’ve seen it over and over and over again. The abortion industry cannot police itself. Every time they try, they put profits first and women last.

As an atheist, I am proud to support this pro-science law – which holds abortion to the same high standards as other medical procedures.

As a Democrat, I am proud to support this bipartisan law – which was championed by one of my personal heroines, Democratic state senator Katrina Jackson, and signed into law by pro-life Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards.

And as a feminist, I am proud to support this pro-woman law. Honorable Justices of the United States Supreme Court, do the right thing and uphold Louisiana’s law!

Monday, March 2, 2020

Your Kinship Caregiving Stories

Last week's article on kinship caregiving prompted a fantastic discussion on facebook, and many readers shared their personal experiences. In no particular order, here are a few of our favorites.

Cecilia B.: My family is an example of kinship care. I have temporary custody of my grandson because my daughter was unable to care for him. Of course it took me a few years to get that temporary custody even though he has lived with me since birth because we could not afford a lawyer. I had to do the research myself and do the paperwork and represent him myself. He is now 14 and he is still in my care. She was going to give him up for adoption to a family friend but when in Florida at the time we had what was called the scarlet letter law. She could not put him up for adoption without the father's approval. The problem is that she didn't know who the father was.

Misty P.: My sister-in-law became a teen mom; abortion was never on the table for her. My husband and I were initially going to adopt her baby, but at the last minute she saw some examples of that going very wrong, and the father was back in the picture, so she decided to try keeping the baby. They also went on to have a second one. Unfortunately that relationship was not very stable, and she has had a lot of trauma to work through. So we are now guardians of her two little ones until she's healed and in a stable enough situation to take over care again. I think it's going well, though it is challenging on several fronts!

Jenn Y.: My "sister" moved in one day when she was 16 from an abusive family foster house and she never left until graduation. She needed us for sure and we had the ability, so we responded.

Nicole T.: Me and my best friend were the products of teen pregnancy. My mom kept me, though most of my raising fell to my grandmother (kinship care). My best friend was adopted at birth. While I agree with some of the issues you have raised here for both the child and the birth mother and think that closed adoption, in particular, induces trauma for both, I assure you that I have the same "abandonment issues" as she did. Plus, the instability of being shuffled back and forth made me feel like my grandmother didn’t really want me either though, ultimately, her goal was to keep the mother-child bond intact. She recently reconnected with her birth mom and both she and her birth mom are happy functional and successful adults now. My mom is still floundering. So, kinship care has its own set of issues and no one answer will be right for anyone.

Annie G.: Polynesian culture embraces this. There is a word, "hānai," for when someone has a baby and isn’t ready to parent, and so allows the baby to be raised by relatives until they get it together. There is absolutely no stigma, and all the kids, "keiki," refer to all adults as "aunti" and "uncle." I LOVED this aspect of living in Hawaii.

Marilyn M.: Years ago I remember that a neighbor took her friend's child for several months as her friend was going through postpartum depression issues and would not even hold the baby. Over the course of 3-4 months, the mother and father visited the baby and the mother gradually began to bond with her baby. Eventually the mother was able to take care of the child more & more and then the child went home to live. My friend had bonded with the baby during this time and it was hard to let her go, but she always hoped her friend would heal and be the mother. I think years ago, families often times did help one another. Now we are all too often apart in actual miles, or emotional connections.

Beth H.: My daughter was pregnant at 17, so we are raising her daughter together. It saddens me that this is not the go-to solution for most families. BTW, all my my pro-choice acquaintances and family members said that I should kick her out. All my pro-life friends and family members offered to help.

Sarah T.: I’ve seen two foster family situations happen in exactly this way, and it’s beautiful. And the children—now back with their mothers—have two families that love and value them.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash. Image description: Black-and-white photograph of an infant being bottle-fed. The faces of the baby and caregiver are obscured. 

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Sources for “Deconstructing Three Pro-Choice Myths”

Today Oregon Right to Life is hosting the "Together We Advocate" Conference, the largest pro-life conference in the Pacific northwest. Monica Snyder, SPL co-leader, will be giving a slightly updated version of her presentation "Deconstructing Three Pro-Choice Myths," including where those myths come from and the research that undermines the myths' claims. Here are the sources used to create the presentation.

Myth #1: We don’t know when human life begins.


Biology and embryology textbooks and relevant quotes:
  • Scott Gilbert, Developmental Biology, 11th Edition. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 2016: “Fertilization accomplishes two separate ends: sex (the combining of genes derived from two parents) and reproduction (the generation of a new organism).”
  • T.W. Sadler, Langman's Medical Embryology, 10th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006:"Development begins with fertilization, the process by which the male gamete, the sperm, and the female gamete, the oocyte, unite to give rise to a zygote."
  • Erich Blechschmidt, Brian Freeman, The Ontogenetic Basis of Human Anatomy: The Biodynamic Approach to Development from Conception to Adulthood, North Atlantic Books, June 2004: "We talk of human development not because a jumble of cells, which is perhaps initially atypical, gradually turns more and more into a human, but rather because the human being develops from a uniquely human cell. There is no state in human development prior to which one could claim that a being exists with not-yet-human individuality. On the basis of anatomical studies, we know today that no developmental phase exists that constitutes a transition from the not-yet-human to the human." & "In short, a fertilized egg (conceptus) is already a human being."
  • Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2003: "Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoon development) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual." And "A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo)."
  • Scott Gilbert, Developmental Biology, 6th Edition. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 2001:“When we consider a dog, for instance, we usually picture an adult. But the dog is a “dog” from the moment of fertilization of a dog egg by a dog sperm. It remains a dog even as a senescent dying hound. Therefore, the dog is actually the entire life cycle of the animal, from fertilization through death.”
  • Ronan R. O'Rahilly and Fabiola Müller, Human Embryology & Teratology, 3rd Edition, New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001: "Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte."
  • Ida G. Dox, B. John Melloni, Gilbert Eisner, The HarperCollins Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 2001: “An Embryo is an organism in the earliest stages of development.”
  • Human Embryology, William J Larsen, 3rd Edition, 2001: “In this text, we begin our description of the developing human with the formation and differentiation of the male and female sex cells or gametes, which will unite at fertilization to initiate the embryonic development of a new individual.”
  • William J. Larsen, Essentials of Human Embryology. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1998: "Human embryos begin development following the fusion of definitive male and female gametes during fertilization... This moment of zygote formation may be taken as the beginning or zero time point of embryonic development."
  • Bruce M. Carlson, Patten's Foundations of Embryology. 6th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996: "Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote)... The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual."
  • Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud. Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects. 4th edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1993: "Zygote. This cell, formed by the union of an ovum and a sperm (Gr. zyg tos, yoked together), represents the beginning of a human being. The common expression 'fertilized ovum' refers to the zygote."
  • Clark Edward Corliss, Patten's Human Embryology: Elements of Clinical Development. New York: McGraw Hill, 1976. "It is the penetration of the ovum by a spermatozoan and resultant mingling of the nuclear material each brings to the union that constitutes the culmination of the process of fertilization and marks the initiation of the life of a new individual."
  • E.L. Potter and J.M. Craig, Pathology of the Fetus and the Infant, 3rd edition. Chicago: Year Book Medical Publishers, 1975: "Every time a sperm cell and ovum unite a new being is created which is alive and will continue to live unless its death is brought about by some specific condition."
  • J.P. Greenhill and E.A. Friedman, Biological Principles and Modern Practice of Obstetrics. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 1974: "The term conception refers to the union of the male and female pronuclear elements of procreation from which a new living being develops. It is synonymous with the terms fecundation, impregnation, and fertilization."
  • Leslie Brainerd Arey, Developmental Anatomy, 7th Edition. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1974: “The formation, maturation and meeting of a male and female sex cell are all preliminary to their actual union into a combined cell, or zygote, which definitely marks the beginning of a new individual. The penetration of the ovum by the spermatozoon, and the coming together and pooling of their respective nuclei, constitutes the process of fertilization.”
"Biologists' Consensus on 'When Life Begins'," Steven Andrew Jacobs, Social Science Research Network, July 25 2018

Relevant Secular Pro-Life posts:

Myth #2: Most or all late-term abortions are medically necessary.




Interviews of late-term abortion doctors:

Relevant Secular Pro-Life posts:
Myth #3: Abortion restrictions don’t stop abortions.


Data (Worldwide):

Data (National):

American studies:

Relevant Secular Pro-Life posts: