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Friday, July 31, 2020

Introducing the Society for Ethical Research

The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) is the abortion training capital of the world. It is also a world leader in pro-abortion legislative advocacy. Most disturbingly, it is an essential link in the supply chain of human fetal organs used in experimentation, as revealed by the Center for Medical Progress undercover investigation.

UCSF is the largest practitioner of non-digoxin late-term abortions in the country. If you are part of the pro-life community, you may have heard advocates talk about "lethal injection abortions" or "heart attack abortions." Those are references to digoxin. Abortionists inject digoxin into their victims to cause death by heart attacks, after which the dead children’s bodies are removed. UCSF is unusual because it intentionally does not use digoxin, and their motive is appalling: they want to avoid poisoning the fetus and thus compromising the fetal tissue.

To kill a late-term baby without digoxin, UCSF has two alternatives. One is live dismemberment (also known as disarticulation and evacuation, or D&E), in which abortion is accomplished by severing the baby's arms, legs, and head; this leaves intact sections from which the desired organs can be harvested. The second option is to induce labor for an in vivo – literally meaning "in the living" – procedure. Dissection of the intact fetal organs occurs afterward. According to the Society for Family Planning, up to half of labor induction abortions without digoxin can result in the infant being born alive.

UCSF conducts these procedures on healthy fetuses from gestational ages of 18 to 24 weeks. Many of these fetuses are capable of feeling pain and also of surviving outside the womb. Even most pro-choice people, including a majority of women, Democrats, and independents, reject UCSF's pro-abortion extremism.

UCSF has failed to provide basic transparency concerning their fetal organ harvesting practices. In particular, it has utterly failed to comply with the local Freedom of Information Act. On July 3, 2019, Pro-Life San Francisco submitted a public records request to UCSF. The California Public Records Act states that "nothing in this chapter shall be construed to permit an agency to delay or obstruct the inspection or copying of public records," and communications with UCSF show they had until about the end of October to comply with the request. There has been zero response to their follow-up inquiry from November. Additionally, UCSF does not make their fetal death protocol public. Without this information, how can we know if UCSF is in compliance with the Born Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002?

Above: SER activists project a D&E abortion
procedure diagram onto a UCSF building
UCSF's continued stonewalling and obfuscation has led us to a critical impasse. We feel that this situation calls direct action. Accordingly, Bay Area advocates have founded a new organization known as the Society for Ethical Research. We are a non-violent direct action group committed to the defunding of UCSF's fetal harvesting program and the abolition of fetal organ harvesting nationwide.

Our work consists of applying daily pressure to UCSF and to their primary sources of funding, such as the University of California Board of Regents and the National Institutes of Health. We're demanding transparency, we're demanding safeguards, and we're demanding ethical research now. Our main legislative goals include the passage of the Protecting Life and Integrity in Research Act (H.R.573), the Safe RESEARCH Act (H.R.437) and the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 962). We also calling upon the Department of Health and Human Services to build on their previous cancellation of one UCSF fetal research contract, revoke all fetal experimentation funding nationwide, and replace these programs with ethical life-affirming alternatives.

The Society for Ethical Research has a special place in the pro-life movement as a whole. We draw inspiration from the heroes of the civil rights movement, who did their greatest work in the toughest, most unlikely of places—the Deep South. Likewise, for a movement that seeks to rehumanize the unborn, it is vital to we have a presence in the place they are most dehumanized—in the most pro-choice city in America, San Francisco.

We need all of your support in this important fight. If you’re interested in learning more please visit our website at sernow.org or follow our social media pages @ Society for Ethical Research on Facebook, @ s.e.r.now on Instagram, and @SERnow on Twitter. If you’re interested in joining our team, we are currently accepting new members. Our internship includes free room and board and a monthly stipend. If you’re interested, please fill out an application.

Five years ago, David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress brought the ghoulish sale of abortion victims' organs to the nation's attention. What started with David is now a growing chorus, expanding every day. I am David. You are David. We are all David. Together we can ensure that his courage was not in vain, and together we can see his work toward the abolition of fetal experimentation completed.

[Today's guest post is by Nick Reynosa. If you would like to contribute a guest post, email your submission to info@secularprolife.org for consideration.]

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Joe Biden's Prospective Running Mates: Part Four

The American flag flies outside a federal building

This article is the final installment in a four-part series examining the abortion records of Democratic vice presidential prospects. We are going in alphabetical order. Click here for part one, which featured Stacey Abrams, Tammy Baldwin, and Karen Bass. Click here for part two, which featured Keisha Lance Bottoms, Tammy Duckworth, and Michele Lujan Grishom. Click here for part three, which featured Kamala Harris, Laura Kelly, and Catherine Cortez Masto.

* * *

Susan Rice is a former national security advisor and former ambassador to the United Nations. She held both those roles under the Obama administration, which consistently promoted abortion in its foreign policy. After Sen. Susan Collins of Maine voted in favor of Justice Kavanaugh's ascension to the Supreme Court, Rice publicly contemplated running against Collins, with CBS News reporting that Rice's support for Roe v. Wade was a factor. Ultimately, however, Rice decided not to run for office.

Elizabeth Warren is a United States Senator representing Massachusetts. As our readers doubtless know, she competed against Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination. Sen. Warren's support for abortion is well-documented. She has a 100% rating from NARAL, having voted against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act, and every other pro-life measure to cross her desk. During her 2020 run, Sen. Warren campaigned on an extreme platform that included taxpayer subsidies to the abortion industry and federal preemption of state pro-life laws.

Gretchen Whitmer is the governor of Michigan. She rose to national prominence as a state legislator, when she gave a speech falsely characterizing a pro-life bill on abortion in health insurance premiums as requiring women to purchase "rape insurance." Since then, Gov. Whitmer has consistently opposed the right to life for children in the womb, even going to far as to advocate repeal of Michigan's 24-hour waiting period for abortion.


Photo credit: Brandon Mowinkel on Unsplash

Monday, July 27, 2020

Joe Biden's Prospective Running Mates: Part Three

An American flag

This article is the third in a four-part series examining the abortion records of Democratic vice presidential prospects. We are going in alphabetical order. Click here for part one, which featured Stacey Abrams, Tammy Baldwin, and Karen Bass. Click here for part two, which featured Keisha Lance Bottoms, Tammy Duckworth, and Michele Lujan Grishom.

* * *

Kamala Harris is a United States Senator representing California. Since joining the Senate in 2017, she has built up a reliably pro-abortion voting record — including votes for taxpayer subsidies to the abortion industry, and against protection for third-trimester babies — earning herself a 100% rating from NARAL. She also took unsurprisingly pro-abortion stances during her candidacy for president.

Many pro-life advocates, however, know Sen. Harris best from her prior role: Attorney General of California. As Attorney General, Harris pursued a legal vendetta against pro-life investigative journalist David Daleiden, even going so far as to authorize a baseless raid on his home. No one on Biden's shortlist respects the rights of unborn children. Sen. Harris, however, takes that disregard a step further by attacking the rights of adults who dare defend unborn children. That makes her, in my opinion, the worst-case scenario.

Laura Kelly is the Governor of Kansas and a former member of the Kansas state legislature. She has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood and EMILY's List. Gov. Kelly actively opposed a proposed amendment to the Kansas state constitution which would have affirmed that it does not contain a right to an abortion. (Such amendments are not a direct attack on Roe v. Wade; rather, they are used to prevent activist judges from "discovering" abortion rights in state constitutions that go beyond Roe.)  

Catherine Cortez Masto is a United States Senator representing Nevada. She is endorsed by Planned Parenthood and, like Sen. Harris, her voting record resulted in a 100% rating from NARAL. In 2016, she ran abortion-related attack ads against her opponent, pro-life physician Rep. Joe Heck, characterizing him as anti-women's health for voting to shift funds from Planned Parenthood to community health centers.


Photo credit: Paul Weaver on Unsplash

Friday, July 24, 2020

Joe Biden's Prospective Running Mates: Part Two

Voters in polling booths with curtains drawn

This article is the second in a four-part series examining the abortion records of Democratic vice presidential prospects. We are going in alphabetical order. Click here for part one, which featured Stacey Abrams, Tammy Baldwin, and Karen Bass.

* * *

Keisha Lance Bottoms is the mayor of Atlanta. As best as I can tell, her only significant foray into abortion came when Georgia enacted a law (currently enjoined) to prohibit killing unborn children once a heartbeat is detected. Abortion activists in the entertainment industry, which frequently uses Georgia as a filming location, threatened boycotts. 

Mayor Bottoms reportedly responded by joining forces with actress Alyssa Milano to create an app which would help film productions direct their funding away from pro-life Georgians and toward the state's abortion supporters. Mayor Bottoms was quoted as saying "A woman's health care decisions should remain between her, her doctor and her maker."

Tammy Duckworth is a United States Senator representing Illinois. She was elected to that position in 2017, previously serving in the House of Representatives. Prior to that, she served in the military, famously losing her legs in a grenade attack on the helicopter she was piloting in Iraq. Sen. Duckworth was also the first senator to give birth while in office. 

Sadly, her personal experiences with disability and motherhood have not led her to sympathize with vulnerable children in the womb. Sen. Duckworth opposed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, among others. She has been endorsed by EMILY's List (which exclusively supports pro-choice politicians) and has a 100% rating from NARAL.

Michele Lujan Grishom is the governor of New Mexico. She is also a former Representative for New Mexico's first congressional district. Gov. Grishom is an extreme abortion supporter. It's not good enough for her that her state ranks 42nd in the country for pro-life laws, lacking even such basic measures as informed consent. She took it a step further by demanding the repeal of New Mexico's pre-Roe law against abortion (which isn't even being enforced), calling legal protection for children in the womb an "embarrassment." 


Photo credit: Morning Brew on Unsplash

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Joe Biden's Prospective Running Mates: Part One

Who will join Joe Biden on the road to the White House?
Photo credit: David Everett Strickler on Unsplash

This article is the first in a four-part series. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is expected to announce his running mate sometime in early August. He has pledged to select a woman, but has otherwise been fairly tight-lipped about who he is considering. News reports have floated numerous names.

This series examines twelve candidates' records on abortion, three at a time, going in alphabetical order: Stacey Abrams, Tammy Baldwin, Karen Bass, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Tammy Duckworth, Michele Lujan Grishom, Kamala Harris, Laura Kelly, Catherine Cortez Masto, Susan Rice, Elizabeth Warren, and Gretchen Whitmer. Given Planned Parenthood's endorsement of Biden, and the abortion industry's financial grip on the Democratic Party, we do not expect a pro-life vice presidential candidate. Nevertheless, we feel that it is important to review each person's position individually.

* * *

Stacey Abrams is the former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, where she served for ten years. She is best known for her unsuccessful candidacy for governor of Georgia in 2018. Abrams earned her law degree from Yale and currently works as the chair of Fair Fight Action.

Although raised to oppose abortion, Abrams now dismisses that upbringing as an artifact of her parents' religion. Abrams' apparent inability to recognize the existence of 12.8 million secular pro-life Americans is a serious concern. Worse, she recorded a video for NowThis denouncing pro-life values; in the video, she asserted that there is no such thing as a "compromise position" on abortion and darkly declared that "anyone who seeks to interfere with [abortion] should be held accountable." She did not elaborate on what that "accountability" should consist of.

Tammy Baldwin is a United States Senator representing Wisconsin. She was elected to that position in 2012, previously serving in the House of Representatives.

In both houses of Congress, she has accumulated an extensive pro-abortion voting record. She voted against the ban partial-birth abortion, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act, and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. She also introduced the misleadingly named Women's Health Protection Act, which proposed federal nullification of state-level abortion regulations. (Thankfully, it didn't pass.) Not surprisingly, Sen. Baldwin has been a consistent vote in favor of taxpayer funding of abortion and has repeatedly won the endorsement of groups like Planned Parenthood and EMILY's List. 

Karen Bass is the United States Representative for the 37th District of California. Admirably, her official website contains an entire page on foster care and adoption issues; abortion does not receive that level of attention. Alas, a deeper dig reveals that Rep. Bass's support for vulnerable children does not begin until birth. She is deeply committed to abortion, voting against the Pain-Capable Child Protection Act, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, and the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act. Perhaps Rep. Bass decided not to highlight abortion on her website because her position is so extreme. 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Amy's Journey from Pro-Choice to Pro-Life

In 2005, I was pregnant with my first child. I was married to the love of my life, I was finished with college (a little later than most people), we had a modest home in Pittsburgh that we were in process of purchasing, and life couldn't have been more perfect.

Rewind back to my chaotic, sometimes abusive, neglectful and occasionally harmful, yet at the same time a-total-blast-childhood. I knew nothing about being a mother or becoming a mother or how a mother was even supposed to act. My mom died when I was five, so I was missing that certain something that only a mother can give. Not only was I missing it, I was always searching for it.

I was eight weeks pregnant with my first! EIGHT WEEKS! The midwife warned, "we don't always hear a heartbeat at this stage." The blood left my face. "But that won't mean something is wrong necessarily," she said reassuringly. Then she applied what I will officially name the "magic heart beat wand," and her heartbeat came through louder and stronger than any sound I had ever heard in my life! And in that moment, my missing connection as a mother, as a daughter, and as a sometimes flawed and damaged person was healed. I knew that I had a reason to be here; I knew that every bad and good moment that led up to this one was necessary because this little soul, this little person, wanted to be on this Earth at the very moment that we conceived her.

My first pregnancy progressed beautifully, and I was not high risk, therefore I had my first ultrasound at 18 weeks. They told me that sometimes babies will just sleep through an ultrasound. But, I decided to literally "juice up" my baby, so before the ultrasound we went to a little bakery and I had a bagel and an orange juice! During the ultrasound my daughter was playing with her umbilical cord, she was touching her face, sucking her thumb! I thought I had an especially genius child, of course, don’t we all?
Ultrasound of an 18-week-old child in the womb

I asked the technician, "They don't ALL do this, do they?"

She nonchalantly shrugged and said, "Yeah pretty much they do."

To which I answered, "Well she's so, so, HUMAN! At least at this age it would be illegal to abort her."

"Oh no." She looked at me like I was stupid. "We do abortions here many weeks past this stage."

I incredulously argued back, "BUT THIS IS CLEARLY A PERSON!" At this point my little baby is playing like Tarzan with the umbilical cord, like having literal fun in my uterus! I blocked it and thought that this was a special circumstance.

Before my pregnancy I was vehemently pro-choice. I had a degree in Women’s Studies from a well-regarded, left-leaning university. In return for my $50K in student loans, they had produced the most Marxist, group think, liberal, feminist, pro-choicer to walk the streets of America! I would become physically angry at pro-lifers. I didn't want to see their crazy signs, and I in no way identified with their religious persecutions. I am not proud to say that I was especially radically offended by the male pro-lifers.

During my first pregnancy and the young years of all of my children’s lives, I worked long hours as a caseworker for foster children; I first volunteered and then became employed by our local agency that advocated for rape victims; I worked tirelessly at all hours to empower and support victims of sexual assault, something that was all too dear to my heart. All the while I tucked that mental picture of my daughter in utero away. I put it in that little corner of my soul so that I could get angry, be fierce and "fight" for women's reproductive rights.

And then came a son, and then another daughter. I was a mother of three, browsing on Facebook during those fleeting moments on the toilet, mostly. And I saw all these people campaigning for Planned Parenthood and something struck me, and I felt the same anger that I felt for those men with their pro-life signs, only this time it was at pro-choicers. Friends of mine and family, educated women fighting like fiends for what? For the right to terminate a human life? For the right to damage and possibly do irreparable harm to their reproductive system? And I thought in that moment: “"Women, be careful what you fight for." Because this is not a fight I want my name attached to. This is no longer a fight I want to be a part of.

We had a heartfelt conversation the other night as a family. Of course my children are pro-life! What child wouldn't be? I admitted to my beautiful son that I was not only pro-choice at a time but that I specifically thought pro-life men were terrible. And we had a wonderful conversation about how as a boy now and a young man later that his opinion does matter, and that his choices on life and death matter too. Of course they do! Why wouldn't they? The minute you conceive it is no longer only your body; it is scientifically shared and both parents should have a say in the life they created together. Not just the woman. My husband is pro-life now too. Having shared my body with three really real lives I can say honestly that these three humans wanted to be here, were meant to be here and never, from day one, was it my "choice" to terminate any one of them.


[Today's guest post is by Amy McDonough. If you would like to contribute a guest post, email your submission to info@secularprolife.org for consideration.]

Friday, July 17, 2020

Poll: Pro-choicers support a lot more abortion restrictions than you'd expect.

When polls regarding abortion ask Americans about Roe v. Wade, most people say they want the Supreme Court decision upheld. But when the same polls ask people when they think abortion should be legal, most believe there should be more restrictions than Roe v. Wade actually allows. I've summarized these contradictory results before. Today I was reading a 2019 NPR/PBS Marist poll which captured the same phenomenon.

The poll asked: In 1973, the Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court established the constitutional right for women to legally obtain an abortion. Over time, other laws have expanded or restricted this ruling. Do you think the U.S. Supreme Court today should decide to:
  • Overturn Roe v. Wade
  • Keep Roe v. Wade but add more restrictions
  • Keep Roe v. Wade but reduce some of the restrictions
  • Expand Roe v. Wade establishing the right to abortion under any circumstance
  • Keep Roe v. Wade the way it is
  • Unsure
The poll found that 39% of respondents thought Roe v. Wade should either be overturned or have more restrictions compared to 51% who thought Roe v. Wade should either be kept as is or strengthened. Broken down by self-identified pro-life vs pro-choice labels, the results looked like this:

(Click to enlarge)

So
  • As you'd expect, pro-life people were more likely to say Roe v. Wade should be overturned or further restricted and pro-choice people were more likely to say the opposite.
  • Even so, 18% of self-described pro-lifers said Roe v. Wade should be kept as is or strengthened, and 21% of pro-choicers thought it should be further restricted or overturned.
The poll described Roe v. Wade as establishing a woman's constitutional right to abortion, but it did not explain the specifics. Roe v. Wadealong with Doe v. Bolton, made it difficult if not impossible to constitutionally limit abortion in the first two trimesters. (Planned Parenthood v. Casey moved the standard from trimesters to fetal viability, but the situation is largely the same: restrictions in the first or second trimester are difficult to pass or uphold.)

I don't think most people are aware of that level of detail, which may explain why some of the same people who say they support Roe v. Wade also think abortion shouldn't be allowed in some of the circumstances Roe v. Wade specifically mandates.

The same poll asked: Which one of the following statements comes closest to your opinion on abortion?
  1. Abortion should be available to a woman any time she wants one during her entire pregnancy.
  2. Abortion should be allowed only during the first six months of pregnancy.
  3. Abortion should be allowed only during the first three months of pregnancy.
  4. Abortion should be allowed only in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman.
  5. Abortion should be allowed only to save the life of the woman.
  6. Abortion should never be permitted under any circumstance.
47% of respondents chose options 4-6, i.e. abortion should be permitted only in the "hard cases," or not at all. Only 29% thought abortion should be allowed after the first three months of pregnancy. 

Based on my experiences with pro-life and pro-choice activists, I would expect pro-lifers to mostly say abortion should be allowed only in the hard cases, or never at all, and I'd expect pro-choicers to mostly say abortion should be allowed in at least the first 6 months of pregnancy. Here are the actual responses:


Compared to my expectations, 12% of pro-lifers answered differently (9% said abortion should be allowed in the first three months, 3% said it should be allowed even later). And a whopping 54% of pro-choicers answered differently: 33% said abortion should be allowed only in the first three months, and 21% said it should be allowed only for the hard cases. In other words, over half of self-identified pro-choice people believe abortion should be restricted in ways Roe v. Wade absolutely does not allow

I also wonder how many of them realize that the hard cases account for less (probably much less) than 5% of abortions performed in the U.S. If the data above are accurate, about 1 out of 5 pro-choicers think over 95% of abortions (those performed on healthy fetuses carried by healthy women in pregnancies resulting from consensual sex) shouldn't be allowed.

Also worth noting: contrary to the "old white men" trope, white people tended to be more pro-choice (more likely to support abortion in more circumstances) than everyone else:


A 45% plurality of people under age 45, and 45% of women, say abortion should be limited to the hard cases. Only 32% of people under age 45 and 27% of women believe abortion should be allowed after the first three months of pregnancy.

One more interesting tidbit: a full 68% of pro-choicers said they would support a measure requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges. You'd think such a law would be easy common ground, middle-of-the-road type stuff, but June Medical Services v. Russo suggests otherwise.

Meanwhile, the poll also asked people to explain when they believe life begins. Specifically: do you believe human life begins...
  • at conception
  • within the first eight weeks of pregnancy
  • within the first three months of pregnancy
  • between three and six months
  • when a fetus is viable and can live outside the womb
  • at birth
  • unsure
A plurality (38%) said life begins at conception; 16% said life begins at birth. Broken down by pro-life and pro-choice labels:


Pro-lifers are relatively monolithic on this (72% said life begins at conception), whereas pro-choice people are much more evenly divided (and twice as likely to say they're unsure). No doubt some of these answers reflect the respondents' philosophical views about when a human becomes a person, as opposed to their understanding of biology (e.g. when an organism is a living member of the species homo sapiens). Still, I continue to suspect that a significant proportion of pro-choice people aren't just conflating philosophy with biology but are actually misunderstanding biology itself. Indeed, a survey of pro-choice people found that if it were common knowledge that a fetus is a biological human, 90% believed abortion rates would decrease and 83% believed support for legal abortion would decrease.

This NPR/PBS poll was filled with information suggesting that the legal status quo for abortion in the U.S. is actually pretty dramatically at odds with what most Americans think makes sense. So how did NPR cover the poll?


Mmmk.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Kelsey's Birthday Wishes

Photo by Morgan Lane on Unsplash
Secular Pro-Life founder and president Kelsey Hazzard here. Thirty-two years ago today, I was born and the United States government belatedly recognized my right to live. There won't be a party (thanks, coronavirus), but if you'd like to celebrate this occasion, there are a few things you can do to make my day.

(1) Follow Secular Pro-Life on social media, and invite your friends to do so! We are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

(2) Make a donation to Secular Pro-Life and/or to our friends at Abide Women's Health Services!

(3) Submit an article for the blog! Guest authors enliven the blog and also help us make time for other pro-life projects. Speaking of which...

(4) Help me with my book! I am working on a contemporary young adult novel with pro-life themes, and although there is still much revising to do, I am confident that it is on the path to publication. I expect to have a third draft done by this time next month. If you have any relevant skills (e.g. copy editing, cover design, marketing) to contribute, please email info@secularprolife.org with the subject line "Book Help."

Thank you so much for your continued support. Here's to a future when all children will celebrate birthdays!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Cultivating a life-affirming culture in Australia

[Today's post is by pro-life Australians Matthew Reid and Therese Hungerford-Morgan. If you would like to contribute a guest post, email your submission to info@secularprolife.org for consideration.]

Australian abortion laws have become significantly less restrictive in the last decade. Abortion up to birth has been decriminalized across the country. Specifically, abortion is available on request up to a gestation limit, typically 20-24 weeks depending on the state/territory (one territory, the Australian Capital Territory, has no legal limit). After the gestation limit, abortion is permitted up to birth with the approval of medical practitioner(s). Medical practitioners are legally required to consider the current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances of the mother [1][2]. The broad scope and vague wording of these circumstances leaves medical practitioners with the power to authorize abortions based on subjective value judgments without risk of criminal prosecution for wrongful killing. In the absence of a rigorous, fact-based legal code of ethics, the decision to abort can be influenced by uninformed philosophical, religious, and ideological beliefs that devalue human life and allow for the killing of innocent human beings.

It is difficult to know precisely how many late-term abortions occur, however in the state of Victoria, where historical data is available, official estimates indicate that each year approximately 300 to 350 abortions occur after 20 weeks [3][4]. A simple projection based on population size indicates there may be in excess of 1000 post-20 week abortions each year in Australia.

The liberalization of Australian abortion laws is a reflection of dominant cultural attitudes favoring abortion. Most Australians support elective abortion. While the majority of Australians who identify as religious also support elective abortion [5][6], the vast majority of active pro-lifers are religious, typically Roman Catholic or evangelical. Secular pro-lifers lack a visible presence in Australia, and political parties with strong secular identities are staunchly pro-choice. The pro-life position is often erroneously interpreted as merely religious dogma, a matter of private belief, and generally given little consideration in the public sphere. To overcome this stereotype, and save lives, it's important that we promote an intellectually robust, ethical, and compassionate alternative to killing babies. We must cultivate a life-affirming culture that values the well-being of all humans and protects innocent human life. We must challenge and debunk the widespread belief that babies in the womb are not valuable human beings. We must seek to dramatically expand the pro-life community to encompass the entire political and religious/secular spectrum. And we must support women experiencing crisis pregnancies by providing real alternatives to abortion.

Late last year our team began a grassroots initiative that aims to challenge Australia’s cultural acceptance of abortion-on-demand. The initiative is called 365Life, and involves the distribution of packs of information cards to hundreds of pro-life volunteers, who in turn distribute cards within their community where the message can help people. The idea is that each volunteer passes on one card a day, 365 days a year. The cards feature visually appealing, clear, positive messages intended to spark interest and compassion as opposed to hurt, anger and violence. One card shows a newborn baby with the caption "Me", while the reverse side shows an ultrasound of a baby with the caption "Still me". Another card quotes Dr Seuss, "A person’s a person no matter how small", with baby footprints at 12 weeks on the reverse side. The cards direct people to our site (https://www.voice4life.com.au) with helpful links to local community crisis pregnancy centers that support women and their families. It's early days and we are actively experimenting with different card designs to find what works best.


As we promote a cultural shift of ideas, we hope to change demographics, expanding the numbers of those who support life. Our hope is that discomfort with liberal abortion laws and practices will eventually lead to more conversations about life, more families teaching children to protect life, more churches and community groups engaged in supporting life, and eventually more pressure on politicians to legislate to protect of life.

References:
  1. Ismay, L. (2019). Issues Backgrounder Number 3: Abortion law and the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019. [online] NSW Parliamentary Research Service. Available at: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/researchpapers/Documents/Abortion%20law%20and%20the%20Reproductive%20Health%20Care%20Reform%20Bill%202019.pdf [Accessed 23 May 2020].
  2. Summary of Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 (2019) [online] NSW Health, Available at : https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/women/pregnancyoptions/Pages/aborton-bill-summary.aspx [Accessed 28 May 2020].
  3. Paxman, A. (2017). Later-term abortions: Stigma versus reality. [online] The Sydney Morning Herald. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/laterterm-abortions-stigma-versus-reality-20170720-gxf4ym.html [Accessed 23 May 2020].
  4. This is what happened to abortion statistics after it was decriminalised in Victoria. (2019) [online] ABC News. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-04/fact-check-nsw-abortion-law-victoria/11474570 [Accessed 23 May 2020].
  5. Law of Abortion: final report. (2008) | Section 4: Surveys of Attitudes [online] Victorian Law Reform Commission. Available at: https://www.lawreform.vic.gov.au/content/4-surveys-attitudes [Accessed 23 May 2020].
  6. Gibson, Rachel; Wilson, Shaun; Denemark, David; Meagher, Gabrielle; Western, Mark, (2017). Australian Survey of Social Attitudes, 2003, doi:10.4225/87/8VUHRY, ADA Dataverse, V1. Available at: https://dataverse.ada.edu.au/dataset.xhtml?persistentId=doi:10.4225/87/8VUHRY [Accessed 23 May 2020]

Friday, July 10, 2020

"Don't define me by my disease." On abortion and ableism.

[Today's guest post is by Deb Jones. If you would like to contribute a guest post, email your submission to info@secularprolife.org for consideration.]

Deb and Shooter

One of the main staples of the argument that abortion needs to stay legal is for those with disabilities, those diagnosed with diseases, syndromes and things of that nature. Why? Because those people suffer and we want to eliminate the suffering. Let me explain why that argument is offensive, bigoted, ableist, disgusting, and just plain incorrect.

I live with Behcet's disease, a rare autoimmune disease where I'm in constant pain (the pain began 12 years ago when I was 15, the diagnosis for the pain wasn't solidified until I was around 23). Medication and exercising through walks usually help me keep the pain at a manageable level. There are some days, however, where wearing even the loosest, softest, gentlest clothing is excruciating (some days, I can't even be touched or touch myself) because my nerves are so sensitive and no amount of medicine can even take the edge off.

When people suggest a person with a disability is better off dead (having been aborted), it is a slap in the face because they're telling me I would be better off not existing. Yes, life is hard. Yes there are some days I feel so low I don't know what to do or how to feel or how to cope. There are some times where I have to take it one day, one minute, one second, one breath, one heartbeat at a time....but that's part of the human experience. 

If I didn't have the low parts of life, I wouldn't be able to fully appreciate the high parts. If anything, my disease has helped me more than hindered me. I'm more compassionate and empathetic than I was before the pain started. Yes, it's made my life more difficult but it's also been the epitome of creating beauty out of tragedy and brokenness. I am like a glowstick: once dull and grey at the beginning or my life, then broken (with my disease) to become vibrant and beautiful.

Don't define me by my disease. I am more than my disease. And my disease has made me more.

My disease does not define me or decide my worth.


Read more:

The people whose lives you suggest aren't worth living? They can hear you. Secular Pro-Life Perspectives, May 24, 2019
Lucky to Be Alive: Zika Coverage, Ableism, and the Terror of Disabled Bodies, Huffington Post, February 5, 2016
How the Pro-Choice Movement Excludes People With Disabilities, Rewire News, October 17, 2014
"Didn't you get tested?" Salon, April 28, 2013

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

BREAKING: Taxpayers funded a dozen abortion industry groups through Paycheck Protection Program

Photo credit:金 运 on Unsplash
Taxpayer-funded Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans were used to prop up numerous abortion industry groups in addition to Planned Parenthood, according to a data set released by the Small Business Administration (SBA) earlier this week.

Controversy erupted in May when news broke that Planned Parenthood had received $80 million in PPP funds, despite being a much larger company than the PPP was intended to serve. The SBA has ruled Planned Parenthood ineligible for PPP funds and demanded that it return the $80 million. However, PPP funding for smaller abortion centers and advocacy groups has not been previously reported.

Secular Pro-Life's analysis of the SBA data set reveals that American taxpayers kept at least six non-Planned Parenthood abortion vendors and six abortion-promoting organizations afloat via the PPP program, at a cost of over $4.4 million. This is a very conservative estimate, and the true amount is surely higher, because the SBA has only identified recipients of $150,000 or more. In addition, the SBA has not disclosed the exact amounts distributed, instead giving ranges. 

The list below is not exhaustive. Secular Pro-Life searched the SBA data set using abortion-related keywords, and compared the results against AbortionDocs, but it is entirely possible that we've missed some. We encourage other activists and journalists to build upon our research.

Abortion Centers
Atlanta Women's Medical Center: This Atlanta, GA surgical and chemical abortion center received between $150,000 and $350,000. State health inspectors have repeatedly reported deficiencies at this facility. 

Family Planning Association of Maine: This Augusta, ME surgical and chemical abortion center received between $150,000 and $350,000.  

Feminist Women's Health Center: This Atlanta, GA surgical and chemical abortion center received between $150,000 and $350,000. State health inspectors have repeatedly reported deficiencies at this facility. 

Hope Clinic for Women: This Granite City, IL surgical and chemical abortion center received between $150,000 and $350,000. This facility has been the site of multiple medical emergencies, including two in 2020. Despite applying for and receiving PPP funds, Hope Clinic for Women deputy director Alison Drieth told CBS News in April that business is booming because "women are now less likely to change their minds once they schedule an abortion. Normally, 50% go through with it; amid the pandemic, the rate is 85%." 

Northland Family Planning Clinic: This Southfield, MI surgical and chemical abortion center received between $150,000 and $350,000. Northland perforated a woman's uterus in a botched abortion in April 2019. It has repeatedly sued the state of Michigan to challenge abortion regulations. 

[Correction: The original version of this article included a Peoria, IL clinic on this list. A local activist contacted us to say that the clinic in question has a similar name to an abortion center but does not offer abortions itself. In an abundance of caution, we have removed it.]

Abortion-Promoting Organizations
Center for Reproductive Rights: The mission of the Center for Reproductive Rights is to "use the power of law" to advance abortion. It received between $2 million and $5 million.

National Abortion Federation: This abortion industry trade group received between $350,000 and $1 million.

National Institute for Reproductive Health: The National Institute for Reproductive Health "works across the country to advance proactive policy on the state and local levels" to promote abortion. It received between $350,000 and $1 million.

National Network of Abortion Funds: The National Network of Abortion Funds, which funnels money to abortion centers for mothers who cannot afford the price of killing their babies, received between $350,000 and $1 million.

Physicians for Reproductive Health: This abortionists' lobby received between $350,000 and $1 million.

URGE (Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity): This pro-abortion youth group, formerly known as Choice USA, received between $150,000 and $350,000.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Rehumanize Conference goes virtual August 29

2018 Rehumanize Conference attendees

Our friends at Rehumanize International organize consistently amazing conferences. Rehumanize is a Consistent Life Ethic (CLE) group, which means their work encompasses a wide range of social ills. That includes abortion, along with threats to older humans like the death penalty and sex trafficking. Their conferences present a wonderful opportunity for activists in different spheres to come together and learn from one another. Secular Pro-Life representatives have spoken at the Rehumanize Conference many times, and we have proudly sponsored every conference since its inception.

The conference typically draws hundreds of in-person attendees, including many disabled and immunocompromised people. Obviously, that's not in the cards this year. But fear not! The first-ever all virtual Rehumanize Conference will take place on Saturday, August 29.

The "Socially-Distant Edition" of the Rehumanize Conference is open to all. They encourage you to donate what you can to cover the costs of speakers. Register today, and I look forward to seeing you soon from the comfort and safety of my home.

The Rehumanize Conference will also feature the winners of the Create | Encounter art contest, which has extended its deadline! You have through this Friday, July 10, to submit your visual art, poetry, stories, and short films on life issues. Learn more here.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Secular Pro-Life June Recap


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June Recap

Projects
Monica has finished her series of interviews with sidewalk counselors.  This June three of them were published on the Secular Pro-Life Perspectives blog.  You can find them here, here and here.

This June we were all keeping our sights on the court with the recent June Medical vs. Russo decision, a case on a Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic.

Secular Pro-Life admin Terrisa Bukovniac was on the front lines this month, joining others like our friends at Rehumanize International in protesting the lax regulations surrounding abortion that lead to women maimed and killed.




Terrisa with her iconic bullhorn


Twitter
We gained 137 new followers, bringing us to 11,910 total. We sent 96 tweets, which were viewed 204,900 times.  One of the most viewed tweets was on our initial reaction to the June Medical vs. Russo ruling:



On to the next fight...

Facebook
In June we gained 164 followers, bringing us to 32,982 total. Our content was viewed over 295,666 times, including 10,132 views of one of our SPL volunteers, Gina, and her son 9 months from conception and 9 months from birth.  



Still a human being throughout!

Blogger
Our three most-read blog posts for June, in increasing order:
We already have several guest blog posts scheduled for July!  Guest posts help us cover a more diverse range of perspectives, topics, and experiences. If you have an idea for a piece you'd like to submit, please email us at info@secularprolife.org to discuss.

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

If you like what we do and you want to see more, please consider donating:  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. If you would like your donation to be used for a specific need (e.g. travel costs, conference sponsorships, social media advertising, etc.) please email us (info@secularprolife.org) with your instructions. Just a reminder, if you see a post from us you really like on Facebook, you can also donate specifically to advertise it to a wider audience.

And if you haven't already, come find us on social media!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Pro-Life Messages in Fantasy and Science Fiction

As you probably know, Monday brought bad news from the Supreme Court in June Medical v. Russo. Last week, I wrote that a decision against Louisiana's admitting privileges law "would mean that at least one of the Justices believed to be an anti-abortion vote is not, and that pro-life groups have received little in return for their decades of putting up with the Republican Party. If this happens, expect absolute chaos to ensue." I stand by that statement, and by this one too. I know some of you are eager for a more thorough analysis of the Court's opinion, and my predictions about the chaos to come, but I'm really not up to it right now. I'm only human and I need an emotional break. Maybe next week. Please forgive me.

For a happier note, I turn it over to guest author Sophie Trist.

* * * * *

In addition to being proudly and unapologetically pro-life from fertilized egg to fertilizer, I'm also a ridiculously huge bookworm. Occasionally, I come across a quote that perfectly encapsulates the pro-life message, even if that wasn't necessarily the author's intention. There's the iconic "A person's a person, no matter how small" from Dr. Seuss's classic kids' book Horton Hears a Who, often cited as pro-lifers' favorite quote. This blog post will focus on lesser-known quotes from more modern novels, particularly those in the sci-fi or fantasy genres.

1. "Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving."

This quote hails from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and it's one of my favorites. Rowling may not have meant the preborn to be part of "every human life", but for me, this quote has always summed up the core of what it means to be pro-life.
A bookshelf and reading chair
2. "Ours is a world where the notion that some people are more important than others has been allowed to take root until it buckles and cracks the foundation of our humanity."

My favorite pro-life quote of all time comes from AMAZING black fantasy author and activist N.K. Jemisin, in her short story "The Ones Who Stay and Fight" which appears in her book How Long Till Black Future Month. While this quote does not directly reference pregnancy or abortion, it beautifully illustrates the dehumanization that allows abortion to occur.

3. "We could've done so many things. We could've brought a life into this world of wonders, and that life could've changed us both, made us better, fixed the broken clocks inside our brains that wouldn't let us be happy when happiness was within reach. It wasn't just a who inside her. It was a where, a place where both of us could've finally been free of the people we never meant to become, because that's the magic trick of creating life—it takes every bad decision you've ever made and makes them necessary footsteps on the treacherous path that brought you home. For just a moment, I had a home. It was the size of one cell, but that was enough to fit in all I ever wanted."

This beautiful passage comes from Canadian author Elan Mastai's 2017 science fiction novel All Our Wrong Todays and is the most poignant description of lost fatherhood I've ever read. A woman becomes pregnant the day before a critical time travel mission, and, with the prospect of her career coming to an end, she takes her own life. The novel's protagonist reflects in this passage moments after her death and that of their unborn child. There is also a wonderful description of fertilization and the formation of a human zygote a few pages before this passage.

4. "A tiny heart begins to beat. It is a secret, fluttering hummingbird beat, four weeks in the making... The whole thing, too young yet to call a fetus, has grown to the size of a pea. A face is beginning to surface from the tissue of the head, the earliest components of eyes. Those eyes: they will show her everything she will ever see. Passages are forming which will one day become the inner ear. Those ears will deliver every voice, every note of music, every drop of rain, she will ever hear in her life. Already, an opening is forming which will later become the mouth, the same mouth that, if mother and child survive, might ask, someday, what God is and why we need the wind, or where she was, anyway, before she was inside her mother's belly."

This quote originates in Karen Thompson Walker's 2019 novel The Dreamers, about a mysterious sleeping sickness sweeping through a small college town. It is noteworthy that the author was pregnant when she wrote The Dreamers, and in interviews, she discusses how this experience influenced her description of preborn life.

5. "If you throw away another's life as if it has no meaning, how then will your own life be measured?"

In Mark Lawrence's fabulous 2020 fantasy novel The Girl in the Stars, disabled and unwanted children are thrown into a pit to live the rest of their lives underground. This book affirms the innate value of every child's life, whether they are unwanted, broken, or able-bodied.

All of these quotes humanize the preborn and affirm the inherent value of every human life. Have more pro-life quotes from books? Feel free to leave them in the comments. Science is critical to the pro-life cause, but so too are words, stories, and imagination.


Photo credit: Jon Tyson on Unsplash