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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Tonight: Live! From the Abortion Frontlines


Our friends at Pro-Life San Francisco (PLSF) — whose president, Terrisa Bukovinac (pictured), is a key Secular Pro-Life volunteer — have a major online event this evening at 6 p.m. Pacific (9 p.m. Eastern). The emcee will be none other than human rights activist and filmmaker Jason Jones!

In addition to Jason and Terrisa, the event will feature David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress and PLSF activists Jazzi Milton and Robert Byrd. Terrisa says:
We will be reporting directly from the abortion frontlines here in the abortion training capital of the U.S. and taking your questions from one of the most pro-choice cultures in the world. You will be informed, entertained, moved, and enriched through this one-of-a-kind event. Together, we can overcome and resist the influence of abortion in America by investing where it matters most: California. 
I've gotten a sneak peek at some of the material PLSF will release tonight, and it's incredibly well done. Register for the free PLSF webcast here

Monday, June 1, 2020

Former Abortionist Kathi Aultman on Dehumanization

Dr. Aultman
Kathi Aultman is a former abortionist who told her story in an interview with Lila Rose from Live Action. Aultman was strongly pro-choice when she entered medical school. A doctor she really admired committed late-term abortions, and she was eager to learn from him. She bought into the pro-abortion argument that women’s bodily autonomy gave them the right to have abortions.

She liked the challenge of doing abortions and was not put off by doing them late in pregnancy:
I was challenged by the procedure and I really hate to say this, but the bigger the better. I cringe now when I say that, but I wanted to do the biggest ones I could. It was a challenge, and my whole focus was being good at what I did and stretching the limits. 
She did not see the babies she aborted as human beings:
I think part of the problem was that I didn't see a fetus any [differently] than a chick embryo. The chick embryos that we dissected in college. And I didn't see them as human beings. 
She did not feel any emotional conflict about tearing preborn babies apart. In fact, she was fascinated by the babies’ bodies:
As a matter of fact, and again I hate to admit this, but when I would look at the parts that I had taken out, I was fascinated with them. I thought, "Oh, these are so cute. And they're great, they've got little fingers and toes."
… I just wanted to find out everything about them that I could. But I did not see them as human beings. I just saw them as embryos and fetuses. Not as people. 
Aultman became pregnant. She continued to do abortions throughout her pregnancy:
I got pregnant while I was in residency, and I was moonlighting at an abortion clinic at the time doing abortions. And I was almost proud of the fact that here I was pregnant, and I was still doing abortions. I felt like, well, my baby is wanted, theirs is not. They have the right to abort their babies. And so, I continued to do abortions during my whole pregnancy. 
But when the baby was born, Aultman found that her attitude had shifted. Things about her work that hadn’t bothered her in the past began to trouble her. She stopped doing abortions because of three women she encountered.

She describes the first woman:
The first one was a young girl that came in, and she was scheduled that morning. I had done three abortions on her myself… And she had had other abortions that I didn't do, but I had done three of them. And I told the people at the clinic that I didn't want to do it. And they said, "You don't have the right to judge. It's her choice. If she wants to use abortion as birth control, that's up to her."
I looked at them, and I said, "Yeah, but I'm the one that's having to do the killing." So, I ended up doing the abortion, and afterwards I tried to get her to take birth control and she refused, so she left. 
Finally, Aultman was starting to see what she was doing as killing. The casual attitude of the woman using abortion as birth control troubled her. The next encounter was with a woman who had a similar attitude:
Then the next woman came in with a friend, and sometimes people did want to see the tissue. And the friend said, "Do you want to see the tissue?" And she said, "No. I just want to kill it."
And it just hit me, like cold water in the face. And I thought, "What did this baby do to you?" It's not the baby's fault. 
The third woman was a mother of four who really wanted to keep the baby. She and her husband didn’t believe they could afford a fifth child. Pressured by financial circumstances, the woman was forced to "choose" abortion. She cried the entire time she was at the abortion facility. Aultman was able to see how little choice this woman had and how devastated she was by her abortion. Aultman says, "Thankfully, she was my last patient, because I just — I couldn't do them after that."

She says:
I think I had finally made that baby = fetus connection. And I realized that that was a little person, just like my daughter was a little person. And the fact that they were no longer wanted was not enough for me to kill them. 
Aultman quit and resolved never to do abortions again. But she was still pro-choice. She still supported keeping abortion legal and would refer patients for abortions, even if she wouldn't do them herself.

Aultman had always believed the pro-choice narrative that young girls needed abortion because a baby would destroy their lives. But what she saw in her practice proved otherwise:
It wasn't until I started to see young girls in my practice who had babies and did really well. I had always thought that an unplanned pregnancy for a young girl was the worst thing that could happen to her. That's sort of the normal thinking…
That's the narrative. And to see these girls do so well. And then I had other patients who were seeing psychiatrists or were struggling with the physical complications of abortions. And it just wasn't what I expected. It didn't jive with the rhetoric, the rhetoric that I had embraced. 
Aultman became a Christian and began going to church. Her new beliefs had no effect on her pro-choice views. But she saw young girls in her church have babies. Just like the young girls in her practice, these young women’s lives were not destroyed by their children. She got to know the babies and watched them grow, all the while knowing that had their mothers been her patients, she would’ve encouraged them to abort. She says:
And as I watched those little children grow up into these wonderful people, I began to again see, okay, these are real people that we are killing. Who never get a chance to be alive. And we never get to see who they're going to become.
But the final, pivotal event that won her to the pro-life cause was reading an article given to her by some pro-life friends.

The article drew a parallel between the Holocaust in Nazi Germany and abortion in America today. Although abortion and the Holocaust are very different, the article pointed out that both were enabled to happen because people did not see the victims as human beings. Both preborn babies and the victims of the Holocaust were dehumanized. Aultman says:
My dad was with… the group that [liberated] the first concentration camp during World War II. And so, I grew up with all those stories and those horrific pictures. And then, when I became a doctor, I couldn't understand how the German doctors could do the things that they did… 
When I read that comparison between the Holocaust and abortion, I finally understood how they could do the horrible things that they did. Because just as I didn't see the fetus as a person, they didn't see the Jews and the Gypsies and the others as people. And if you don't consider someone human, you can do anything you want. 
That's when I realized that I was a mass murderer. I had killed all of these people. And that's when I completely changed my opinion on abortion. 
Aultman made the connection between the dehumanization of babies in the womb and the dehumanization of other victims of violence.

She struggled to cope with the guilt and remorse she felt for killing so many people. It took years of therapy, reflection, prayer, and spiritual guidance for her to come to terms with what she had done. Now Aultman is pro-life and speaks out against abortion.

She says that she is far from the only former abortionist, but most former abortionists never tell their stories:
[N]ot many people can continue to do abortions. They may do them during their residency training, but very few of them go on to do abortions because the normal human cannot be ripping apart and killing other human beings for very long, if you have a conscience. And that's why there aren't that many abortionists, because people just can't continue to do it. Something happens along the way, where they see the light, and they realize what they are doing. 
Most former abortionists, she says, keep quiet because of the stigma of abortion and their shame in taking part in so many deaths. Many of the ones still in practice know that women don’t want their babies delivered by an abortionist or former abortionist. They fear losing their patients, and they fear the judgment of people in their lives.

Aultman speculates that if more doctors spoke out about their experiences, it would greatly help the pro-life movement. It is important for the pro-life movement to create a welcoming environment that encourages former abortion doctors to tell their stories.

At the end of the interview, Aultman encourages those currently doing abortions to feel the same compassion for the babies that they feel for the mothers:
So you're thinking you're helping this poor woman. There are alternatives for her, okay? There aren't any alternatives for the baby. So you're, in order not to inconvenience this person, or make her feel bad about "giving her baby away" or whatever, you're then taking the life of this other person, who never gets to experience the light of day. Never can grow up and be who they're supposed to be. So, have as much compassion for the baby as you do for this woman. 
She also reminds pro-lifers of the importance of reaching out to people on the other side with compassion:
It wasn't people yelling at me, berating me, trying to make me feel guilty, that's not what changed my opinion. It was people loving me, even though I was pro-abortion and me respecting them and then them telling me, "well, maybe you should consider this." 
Aultman’s conversion was a process, and it took time. Pro-life friends, such as the ones that shared the article, were pivotal in opening her eyes. Pro-lifers need to approach pro-choicers with respect and compassion and be willing to befriend them. Many times, it is through friendship that conversions happen.

You can watch the full interview and read the transcript here.

[Today's guest article is by Sarah Terzo of ClinicQuotes. If you want to contribute an article to the Secular Pro-Life blog, check out our submission guidelines.]

Friday, May 29, 2020

Female Republican politicians were the most vocal about defunding Planned Parenthood

On May 18 the Journal of Women, Politics, & Policy published "Standing Up For Women? How Party and Gender Influence Politicians' Online Discussion of Planned Parenthood." In this study, researcher Morgan Johnstonbaugh analyzed tweets by members of the 114th House of Representatives regarding Planned Parenthood. She narrowed the focus to tweets made between July 1 and Novemeber 1, 2015, during a heated debate on whether to defund PP in response to the CMP videos suggesting PP sells fetal organs.

Johnstonbaugh hypothesized that women would write more tweets about Planned Parenthood than men, and Democrats would write more than Republicans.

For her hypothesis about gender, Johnstonbaugh theorized that "men may be disinclined from dicussing and addressing women's issues because feminine issues are perceived as having lower status." (If she is aware of the "no uterus, no opinion" factor — the vocal and persistent insistence that men have no right to speak about abortion — she doesn't mention it.) Johnstonbaugh's analysis did find that female Democrats are more vocal about this issue than male Democrats, and female Republicans are more vocal about the issue than male Republicans.

For her hypothesis about political party, Johnstonbaugh theorized that there would be more PP-related tweets from Democrats than Republicans because Democrats focus more than Republican's on women's issues. To her surprise, though, her analysis found the opposite to the be the case.
Female Republicans constituted 5% of the House and wrote 12.6% of the tweets about Planned Parenthood while male Republicans made up 51.7% of the House and wrote 68.6% of the tweets about Planned Parenthood.
and
While it is clear that women write more tweets about Planned Parenthood than men within their political party, female Republicans are the most active members in the online discussion.
Female Republicans were the most vocal group, followed by male Republicans, female Democrats, and lastly male Democrats.

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah

As I read these results I wondered if they reflect the "intensity gap" between pro-choice and pro-life people: the idea that those of us against abortion are more likely to feel passionately about the issue than those who support the status quo. For example, according to PRRI, "Americans who oppose the legality of abortion (27%) are significantly more likely than those who support the legality of abortion (18%) to say they will only vote for a candidate who shares their views on the issue."

Apparently Johnstonbaugh didn't enterain the intensity gap theory, though. Instead she speculated that Republicans wrote more PP-related tweets because pro-life ideas are simplistic, whereas the pro-choice perspective is too nuanced to convey over Twitter:
This unexpected finding may be related to the ease with which provocative pro-life propaganda can be spread on Twitter by incorporating videos, images, and only 140 characters for each message, compared to regulations or statistics meant to support Planned Parenthood, which may require a greater amount of text or explanation.
This theory is so transparently biased I actually laughed a little when I read it. I expect pro-lifers will continue to mystify researchers who can't see past their own worldviews.

Not all pro-choice tweets require a lot of nuance.

Johnstonbaugh points out that previous research found female Democrats are traditionally the most vocal about women's issues, suggesting an apparent contradiction with this study's finding. However the contradiction exists only if we view Planned Parenthood solely through a "women's issue" lens. Johnstonbaugh's additional analysis confirms that many people see more factors in the PP controversy.

She examines how often House members framed the Planned Parenthood discussion in the following ways:
  1. Women's Issue: defunding PP is important particularly to women
  2. Planned Parenthood Healthcare: defunding PP will harm people who rely on the org for healthcare
  3. Alternative Healthcare: there are better healthcare options than PP
  4. Fetal Rights Issue: defunding PP will help protect unborn children
  5. Condemn Planned Parenthood: defunding PP is a way to condemn PP for immoral treatment of fetal tissue
Unsurprisingly, she found almost exclusively Democrats used the frame "Planned Parenthood Healthcare," while Republicans used the frames "Alternative Healthcare," "Fetal Rights Issue," and "Condemn Planned Parenthood." Both parties used the frame "Women's Issue," though Democrats used it more. But here's the important part:
While both female Republicans and Democrats discussed Planned Parenthood as a women's issue and healthcare issue, Republican women also discussed it as a fetal rights issue.
If you have any understanding of the pro-life perspective, this finding should be predictable. Pro-life people recognize the fact that abortion kills humans. We view those humans as children (morally relevant young humans deserving protection). So we view abortion first and foremost as a human rights violation. Of course pro-life politicians are going to discuss Planned Parenthood in the context of fetal rights. That's basically another way of saying pro-life people will discuss abortion from a pro-life perspective.

Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Missouri

Johnstonbaugh's finding about Republicans vs Democrats is mystifying only if you view PP solely through the "women's issue" framing, but I don't know why anyone would do that. You don't have to be that involved in the abortion debate to know that many people view PP as a more complicated and controversial organization. Huge swaths of the country — including countless women, btw — see abortion as an issue that affects not only women but also preborn children. Pro-life Republican women might be less vocal about women's issues generally, but Planned Parenthood is not simply a "women's issue" topic. It goes well beyond that.

Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Indiana

Johnstonbaugh called her findings about Republicans vs Democrats "unexpected," "counterintuitive," and "surprising," but they shouldn't be. Pro-lifers have been quite vocal, for decades, about the facts that we view abortion as a human rights issue and we care deeply about the problem. If pro-choice people could internalize our most basic premise — not agree with it necessarily, just recognize it's what we think — they would be caught off guard less often.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A former late-term abortion nurse speaks out

Warren Hern is one of the few people in the United States who openly performs abortions even after 24 weeks gestation. He performs abortions in Colorado, one of a handful of states that have no gestational limits on abortion — that is, it is legal to perform abortion for any reason at any point in the pregnancy. (Pro-life advocates on the ground are working to change that.)

3D image of a 28-week-old baby in the womb
Hern has gone on record explaining that the later abortions he performs are not always for women facing any grave medical outcome. He has also published work exploring how abortion workers (both doctors and nurses) are emotionally and psychologically impacted by late-term abortion. His work has been incredibly frank, providing a sharp contrast to the strident euphemisms of many pro-choice advocates.

Julie Wilkinson worked as a nurse in Hern's clinic for years, but she is now passionately pro-life and works in a NICU instead. I recently read a piece in New American about her conversion. Here are a few random thoughts a bit too long for a FB post:
Though an abortion was not something I ever planned to have, I rationalized the deaths of the infants: All the abused babies and children were better off going to heaven than being born and suffering if they were unwanted.
Several notes about this mentality:
  1. Usually religiosity correlates with being anti-abortion. Still it's interesting (and disheartening) to see how belief in an afterlife can help people feel complacent about taking lives. This is in line with what we've previously written about the "Abortion Religion," in which abortion supporters appropriate supernatural concepts like reincarnation to justify violence against children in the womb.
  2. The idea that children born of unintended pregnancies will be unwanted is largely a myth. Research has found that the vast majority of women who sought but were denied abortion and went on to birth their children raised their children themselves and bonded to their children just fine.
  3. Notice that very few (if any) people take the above mentality and apply it to born children. We don't argue that the solution to child abuse is to euthanize the children being abused, so they can be better off in heaven.
Continuing...
I was raised a Christian and still considered myself one, mind you, but I attended church rarely.
This makes sense. Being pro-choice is inversely correlated with church attendance.
After a few weeks, I was taught how to assist with late cases, 13-24 weeks. … I would hand sterile instruments to the doctor so that he could withdraw amniotic fluid from the uterus and replace it with a concentrated urea (salt) solution, which I was responsible to mix. He said that the solution caused the placenta to separate from the uterus, resulting in the fetus dying. The truth was, the babies likely suffered terribly in the salt solution, their fragile skin and lungs being burned.
Good time to suggest everyone read the January 2020 Journal of Medical Ethics article "Reconsidering Fetal Pain," which argues the fetus may feel pain as early as 13 weeks.
An early troubling situation occurred when a married, successful couple came to visit the clinic. They wanted a child, but they found out at 16 weeks that she was carrying twins and were not sure if twins would fit into their lifestyle. That visit bothered most of the workers, but it was no trouble for the doctor, who aborted the couple's healthy babies a couple weeks later.
Another example of how later abortions are not exclusively done for medical reasons. On the contrary, based on what information we can find, it appears later abortions are usually not for medical reasons. In fact, Hern himself has published research saying only 30% of his patients seek second and third trimester abortions for reasons of fetal abnormality.
After a couple years, I believe the Holy Spirit began to nudge me.
I feel conflicted about this idea. On the one hand, I'm grateful for every person who moves from a pro-choice to a pro-life position, and I recognize that faith plays a role in those conversions for some people. On the other hand, if it's the Holy Spirit doing this work, why the subtlety? Why a "nudge"? Why not a massive shove in the other direction, similar to Saul on the road to Damascus?

But I'm an atheist, so for me these questions are really just rhetorical. Whatever her reasons, I'm glad Julie changed her mind.
However, my heart didn’t change overnight. Time was necessary to change my years-long belief in a woman’s "right to choose."
She's not alone here. A lot of conversions are stories of a slow process, often over years. Please remember that factor when you're talking about abortion with people who disagree. Be patient as you plant ideas, and don't worry if you don't see any major changes immediately. Just keep going.
After I left Boulder, I never told people what I had done there. I got married, and we had three beautiful daughters. I did not tell them my story either; I just made sure they were raised to be pro-life. It felt very lonely to keep that dreadful secret.
Julie's reaction demonstrates why it's so tricky to conduct accurate research regarding people's feelings about their own choices — people who feel shame, regret, guilt, deep sorrow, or other negative emotions are less likely to speak up than people who are satisfied with their decisions. This problem is one of the major limitations of the recent highly touted study claiming 95% of women do not regret their abortions. Read more here.
Then a few years ago, another person told me I should reach out to Abby Johnson, who was a former abortion clinic director who held retreats for ex-abortion workers. So I did. I found a small, generally invisible group of people who are passionately pro-life. We have seen abortion from the inside, and we know the truth.
Abby Johnson's pro-life work is unique and so needed. I'm glad she has created this space for former abortion workers.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Another abortion facility bites the dust!

Created Equal, a pro-life organization based in Columbus, Ohio, broke the welcome news last week that an abortion vendor in their backyard is closing.

Founder's Women's Health Center
Image via Loopnet listing
Founder's Women's Health Center opened shortly after Roe v. Wade, making it the oldest abortion center in Ohio. It has an extensive record of complications, with 22 reported incomplete ("failed") abortions in 2018 and 2019 alone. Another disturbing element: Founder's employed abortionist Thomas Michaelis, a known sexual predator, until his medical license was revoked when he was caught possessing child pornography in 2014. (He is serving a 15-year prison term.) 

Created Equal reports that the closure appears unrelated to the center's medical troubles and sordid past. The owners are retiring, and the building is under contract with a buyer whose plans for the facility do not include abortion.

This closure leaves eight abortion businesses in the state, down from sixteen in 2011. Ohio has enjoyed a corresponding drop in its abortion numbers: 24,764 in 2011 versus 20,425 in 2018 (the last year data is available), a 17.5% percent decrease. 

For more on Created Equal's work, check out "A Day with Created Equal." And for information about a notorious Ohio abortion center that unfortunately remains open, read "Two years without justice for victim of Dayton, OH abortion business."

Friday, May 22, 2020

The problem with "If you don't like abortion, don't get one"

A frequent tactic used by supporters of abortion access to dismiss criticism or scrutiny from opponents is to tell them that if they are so personally opposed to abortion, “just don’t get one.” There’s a deep deception hidden within this dismissive and frankly borderline contemptuous mandate: it deliberately misrepresents the pro-life movement as predicated on a steadfast opposition to the exercise of free choice and free will, as being made up of a group of people seeking only to impose their personal lifestyle choices upon others.

Photo credit: American Life League
The same argument was used in the 19th century by Southern slave-holders as one of many ways to justify to Northerners the practice of owning another human being. If the North was so against slavery, they didn’t have to allow it in their states, but they were crossing the line by dictating to the South what they could and couldn’t do. Why couldn’t they mind their own business? In both cases, supporters of the practice take to framing the issue as one of personal freedom and preference — of choice — ignoring the real reason for their opponents opposition: that the choice being made infringes upon another's inherent rights. Supporters of legalized abortion might as well consider next legalizing something unrelated to life or death; how about legalizing theft, and telling those opposed to the infringement of rights represented by taking of another’s property “Don’t like theft? Don’t steal.”

Abortion opponents, like most everyone else, support choice — so long as that choice doesn’t hurt others and violate their rights. Abortion opponents are not on an underhanded mission to strip away agency from women, or thwack everyone across the head with a Bible as is often the portrayal; the pro-life movement consists of people from all religions and no religion, as evidenced by the existence of Secular Pro-Life. Abortion opponents are concerned with the uniform protection of rights regardless of age, size, health, ability, or any other criterion. They reject the legalization and normalization of the denial of rights based on stage of development, holding that unique human life from the moment of conception (that’s right, upon conception a human organism with its own set of DNA is formed) is worthy of protection, and that one's status as born or unborn is not a determinate of their right to or consequential to the valuation of their life.

The pro-choice movement's adoption of rhetoric that is intentionally dismissive and ignorant of the true purpose and goal of their opponents is disingenuous and reveals something that they will never, ever admit: they know that they can’t overcome the merits of the true pro-life argument if they are forced to engage on it, so they’ve created a different — and false — one instead

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

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Statement on Norma McCorvey's Alleged Renunciation of the Right to Life

In case you've been under a rock, a new FX documentary claims that the late Norma McCorvey — the "Jane Roe" of Roe v. Wade who famously changed sides to join the pro-life movement — never actually supported the pro-life cause and was just putting on a decades-long act for money. Pro-life advocates who knew her strongly contest that claim, and you can read their open letter to FX here.

The leaders of Secular Pro-Life did not know Norma McCorvey personally, but there are many aspects of this story which give us pause. For one thing, the documentary alleges that Protestant groups were paying her off, which doesn't make a ton of sense in light of her very public conversion to Catholicism. Norma McCorvey also gave testimony under oath in pro-life lawsuits, so she's effectively being accused of perjury — a serious charge from which she cannot defend herself.

We join the call for the filmmakers to follow the example of the Center for Medical Progress by releasing their raw, unedited footage online.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Two New Secular Pro-Life Videos

The coronavirus hasn't kept SPL president Kelsey Hazzard down. She's done several remote interviews recently, two of which are now online. First, here is her May 11 appearance on the "Extra Pro-Life" webinar, hosted by National Campus Life Network in Canada:



And second, Thursday night's "Pro-Life Live" with Students for Life of FAU (Florida Atlantic University), which streamed on Instagram:



Want a Secular Pro-Life speaker to come to you, virtually? Email info@secularprolife.org and we'll do our best to make it happen!

(Kelsey says: "I just realized I wore the same shirt for both webcasts. Guess that's my official webcast shirt now.")

Monday, May 18, 2020

Colorado Pro-Life Ballot Initiative Needs Signatures!

Colorado has no gestational limits on abortion. As permitted by Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the state gives no protection whatsoever to babies in the womb — not even in the third trimester. That's why infamous late-term abortionist Warren Hern works there. According to Americans United for Life, Colorado is one of the worst states in the country for preborn children.

The "Due Date Too Late" campaign is working hard to change that, with a citizens' initiative to put a 22-week abortion limit on the ballot. They have already submitted over 100,000 signatures, but they they need more to qualify. (If you previously signed, you can check here to see if the state counted your signature.) Unfortunately, the campaign is playing catch-up because of the COVID-19 crisis and related stay-at-home order. They have until Friday, May 29 to obtain an additional 10,000 signatures. 

HOW TO SIGN
You must be:
If you don't live in Colorado or otherwise meet the requirements, please share this post with someone who does!

Image Description: Signature collection volunteers wearing face masks
hold signs in support of the petition to end late-term abortion in Colorado.
Photo credit: Due Date Too Late on Facebook 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

"Pro-Life Live" with Students for Life at Florida Atlantic University!


Students for Life at FAU (Florida Atlantic University) has organized a "Pro-Life Live" interview series on Instagram. Their next guest will be Kelsey Hazzard, president of Secular Pro-Life! Tune in on Thursday, May 14 (tomorrow) at 6pm EST. Their Instagram handle is @faustudentsforlife and Kelsey's is @hazzardtoabortion.

Monday, May 11, 2020

We Asked, You Answered: Would You Partner with Pro-Choice Moderates?

We recently asked our followers on social media: "If an organization opposed abortion after 21 weeks but supported earlier abortions, would you be willing to work with them publicly to outlaw the later abortions? Why or why not?" (The question was purely hypothetical; to the best of our knowledge, no such organization exists.) A lively, civil discussion ensued. In no particular order, here are a few of the top responses:

Mikalea B.: Yes, basically. Politics is like public transportation. If there isn't a bus going directly to where you want to be, you take the one going the closest...

Rachel M.: No. What’s the difference between killing a 6 week old child and a 22 week old child? None. A younger human is not less valuable or less worth saving than an older human.

Chris S.: Tough call. I would feel bad aligning with such an organization since they fundamentally differ in the most important way. Also only around 2% of abortions happen after 20 weeks. But of course it would be good to save even those few lives.

Ultrasounds of a 20-week-old baby
Rafael G.: I’d be more inclined to ask them why they would support the choice to have an abortion at 20 weeks, 23 hours, and 59 seconds, but not one second after.

Tess S.: If we had to trade giving up attempts to restrict earlier abortion in order to work with them to restrict later abortion, then no. If there was no expectation for a trade off then yes.

Devonie B.: No. I'm not willing to compromise on the fact that abortion kills a unique human being at whatever stage it occurs. Also, if their 20 week cut off is based on pain perception, more recent research suggests that its possible to feel pain at around 13 weeks.

Lisa R.: Yes for sure. No qualms. However when I’ve talked with pro-choice friends about this, they are playing defense. They say "I'll agree to banning late term abortions if you’ll agree to allow and stop fighting to end earlier abortions." So we agree late term abortions are bad, but they don’t want to work with me to ban them because they perceive it as giving me something I want and getting nothing in return from me.

sweetwonderbear: Only if there was no better option. Drawing the line anywhere other than conception is still based on their own personal feelings rather than science. It’s better than nothing but we should instead be supporting organizations that aim to educate people and outlaw abortions as close as we can get to conception.

Rebecca D.: I personally would. Especially because so many people in my life are pro-choice, I strive to find common ground wherever I can. This is true when this position is reflective of what the American public thinks on abortion, which I think is helpful for pointing out on the abortion issue in this country; people might be more easy to convince if they’re on the fence about late-term abortions if they understand how most people feel on the issue. When the United States has some of the most relaxed abortion laws in the entire world, this is absolutely a necessary initial step when it comes to our laws.

Michael S.: I wouldn't work with them, because I wouldn't want to be interpreted in any way as condoning abortion during any stage. By working with them, anyone can come back at you later and say "but you worked with an organization that supported legalized abortion during part of the pregnancy".

Kyle T.: Working with an organization isn’t equivalent to supporting it. I wouldn’t be averse to working with any organization actively campaigning for some legislation akin to the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act or a late-term abortion ban. Of course, this would be while simultaneously working with other organizations like the National Pro-Life Alliance on legislation like the Life at Conception Act which bans all abortions with no exceptions. There wouldn’t be any public doubt as to my own position, and yet I’d be doing all I can in regards to coalition-building to get any legislation that saves any lives passed. Incremental legislation is only problematic if we forget to focus our energies on non-incremental legislation like the Life at Conception Act. But if we work on such legislation simultaneously, we are keeping both goods of working to save any lives possible and working to establish the right to life for all embryonic and fetal people.

Ryan N.: Yes. While all abortions should be outlawed, if progress can be made to outlaw abortion and save lives (even if they may be few) it should be pursued. The lives of the preborn lost by abortion should outweigh any animosity held against those who may think differently than us.

Shae-Lynn K.: I would, simply because it is a start. That’s usually how you should begin with addressing the pro-life movement with those who are pro-choice. Reasoning with them on late term abortions makes it easier for them to eventually see all abortions as wrong. Just my experience.

Keena Y.: Yes. But I would also continue to work with groups that ban abortion after the first trimester. And groups that want heartbeat laws. And groups that want the practice outlawed entirely. Let’s save some babies even if we can’t save all the babies.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Secular Pro-Life Urges FDA to Crack Down on Illegal Online Abortion Drug Vendors

Earlier this week, Secular Pro-Life joined a broad coalition of pro-life organizations, led by the Susan B. Anthony List, to call for a crackdown on illegal businesses that are selling abortion drugs over the internet.

In a letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn (pictured), the pro-life coalition notes that the FDA sent warnings to several offending websites over a year ago — and yet they remain operational. These online abortion schemes threaten women's health and brazenly violate FDA safety protocols:
Mifeprex (or its recently-approved generic), used in combination with misoprostol, is the only FDA-approved regimen for drug-induced abortion. Mifeprex is subject to a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS), which, as stated in the warning letters, “is intended to mitigate the risk of serious complications associated with Mifeprex.” Further, “[c]onsistent with the REMS, Mifeprex is not sold through retail pharmacies or over the internet.” 
In fact, the Mifeprex REMS requires that the drug be dispensed only at a healthcare facility, by or under the supervision of a certified prescriber, after a patient signs an agreement form. These requirements also protect women and unborn children from predators who would force or trick pregnant women into taking Mifeprex. Tragically, internet access to abortion-inducing drugs has enabled these crimes. However, AidAccess and websites within Rablon’s network continue to flagrantly subvert the REMS by marketing mifepristone to U.S. customers. 
While we appreciate the FDA's earlier warning letters, they have proven insufficient. Abortion vendors have a hero complex and believe themselves to be above the law. The only solution now is force: the FDA should immediately exercise its authority to seize the offenders' domain names and shut down this lethal marketplace.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Secular Pro-Life April 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.]


Projects
Through April we did what work we could under shelter-in-place conditions. Kelsey's pre-recorded interview with the EWTN series "Defending Life" aired on April 23 (unfortunately, a replay is not currently available). She also created her Instagram account, so if that's your thing go follow her!

Meanwhile Terrisa has been sidewalk counseling outside Planned Parenthood, and early in April her efforts led to a run-in with the San Francisco Police Department. The City initially warned her that she was in violation of shelter-in-place orders, but later quietly walked back their unlawful enforcement (the local order allows nonprofits to "provide food, shelter, and social services" to the economically disadvantaged). Read media coverage here.



Twitter
We gained 149 new followers, bringing us to 11,606 total. We sent 86 tweets, which were viewed 217,200 times, including rebutting Planned Parenthood's talking points about COVID-19 and abortion and laying bare the insincerity of most "pro-birth" accusations:

(We debunk the "pro-birth" myth further in point #7 here.)

Facebook
In April we gained 128 followers, bringing us to 32,576 total. Our content was viewed over 267,000 times, including 22,622 views of our meme pointing out that biologists are not confused about when human life begins:

(For more information on biologists' views, see here.)
Blogger
Our three most-read blog posts for April, in increasing order:
All three of our most read posts this month were from guest bloggers. 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 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 get through this tumultuous situation than many orgs, so if you do have the ability to donate, we recommend contacting your local pregnancy resource centers. If you're looking for a specific suggestion, we are particularly fond of Abide Women's Health out of Texas. You can check out their Amazon Wish List for in-kind donation ideas or donate to them directly here.

If you would prefer to donate to Secular Pro-Life, 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. 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.

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

Monday, May 4, 2020

Pregnant Patients Deserve Pro-Life Doctors They Can Trust

Black-and-white photo of a C-section in progress
Would you trust someone who denies your child's humanity in the womb to deliver that child?
Photo credit: Patricia Prundente on Unsplash

When news broke last year of a Vermont nurse who sued the hospital she was employed by for forcing her to assist in an abortion, many pro-choice activists responded with the rallying cry of "If you don't want to provide abortions, don't go into healthcare!" In an op-ed published in Vice on September 3, 2019, Monica R. McLemore, an associate nursing professor at UC San Fransisco, goes to far as to say that "we need to be more discerning about who is worthy of serving the public." She goes on to say that the nurse in the above mentioned case should have put her patient's "need" for an abortion (although privacy laws mean we have no way of knowing if there was a medical need or whether it was an elective abortion) over her own "discomfort."

The use of the word "discomfort" to describe the pro-life objection to abortion shows that McLemore, and those who agree with her, do not understand where that objection comes from. It's not about our comfort level. It's about deliberately taking the life of a growing, developing, genetically unique human. It's not about feelings, it's about one's human rights stance.

But that's not the whole issue. Not only should a health care worker be able to opt out of helping take a human life, patients should be able to, as well. My "pro-life origin story," which was related to me often as I grew up, made that clear to me. When my mother, who had me the year before Roe, had pregnancy complications, she faced a constant fight while hospitalized. Her doctor repeatedly suggested she allow him to "do a D&C," telling her that if I hadn’t died already, I would be born disabled — as if that was a good reason to end a human life. She had strong reasons to suspect her doctor was so insistent because she was poor and mentally ill. This story impacted my lifelong view of the value of human life.

When I was having my children, a couple of decades ago now, I sought a midwife who shared my values. This was important to me because I wanted the person managing my pregnancies to value the children I was carrying as patients, as people equal to me, who she viewed as worthy of protection as born human beings. I know many other pregnant parents who have done the same, in some cases driving an hour or more to find an OB or midwife who shared their values. Advocates for reproductive choice must understand that includes the right of parents to receive obstetric care from providers who share their values — and that means including pro-life doctors, nurses and midwives in the field.

[Today's guest post is by Jenna Carodiskey-Wiebe. ]

Friday, May 1, 2020

Destiny's Destiny: Pro-Life Lessons from a Horse Farm


The announcement was certainly easy to miss in all of the virus goings-on, but last month, something quite rare and fantastic happened in the equine world: a British horse farm announced the arrival of a pair of twins! Even crazier, Destiny, the mare (horse mother), had already birthed twins in 2018. Thankfully, Destiny and both of her double sets are happy and healthy.

As a former farm girl and avowed hippie-hick who once lived in the UK, any weird rural news catches my eye. Twins may not sound like a big deal (sheep do it all the time!), but for horses, they hardly ever happen. Because not only are horses simply less likely to conceive twins (at least in most breeds), the vast majority of owners will take drastic steps to ensure that any twin pregnancies finish as singletons.

Yes, horse abortion is a thing, happening as late as nine months into an 11- or 12-month pregnancy.

The primary school of thought in the veterinary world is that the equine uterus is not designed to handle two foals or colts. There is a high possibility of losing one or both, or even the mother. So rather than chance it, most owners abort the smaller, weaker twin (or, as one horse chat room user called it, "the pregnancy that was more convenient"). After all, horses are quite expensive to keep, and stud fees can be up to six figures. Not to mention that horses are often considered part of their owners’ families, and losing a beloved horse is heartbreaking.

Still, one can’t get too excited about an unasked-for invasion of an innocent animal that ends in the death of its offspring — especially when it's done as standard procedure and without indication of maternal or fetal distress. In Destiny's case, for example, the owners repeatedly stressed to media that if they had known she was pregnant with two babies, they would have taken "immediate action in a timely fashion upon the discovery of such."

Translation: they would have "pinched" either the colt or filly, the common equestrian vernacular for abortion. Another way of looking at it: the farm would have been short two healthy, "highly athletic" money-makers.

When I was a teenager, I worked in a livestock office. I got to "know" each horse on paper, paying bills for their feed and training, filing away medical reports and organizing racing or breeding information. One day, I learned one of our mares was pregnant with twins! When I expressed my excitement to a co-worker, however, her face fell. "You know they’re just going to pinch it soon, right?"

The reason it’s called pinching is literal; when detected early in pregnancy, a vet physically pinches the horse embryonic vesicle until it bursts and therefore dies. Later on, vets can choose between the "disturb and dislodge" technique, needles to kill the unlucky twin or physically reaching into the mare and snapping the baby’s neck so it dies a few days later (maybe Gosnell should have been a vet?). Each procedure (especially the later ones) carries a risk to the mare and "wanted" twin.

I’ll never forget how gross I felt when I filed the invoice for the hit on that horse. It simply felt wrong to be forcing an invasive, possibly dangerous procedure on a healthy creature for the sake of money (these horses were not pets; they were earners). It just didn’t seem right to pay a vet to kill instead of heal ("mercy killing" of suffering animals notwithstanding).

Though the comparisons obviously aren’t perfect — domesticated creatures aren’t usually given any choice over their bodies — Destiny and human mothers who are "supposed to" abort have a few things in common:
  • At 19, Destiny is an "old" horse mother. Older humans are more likely to conceive twins, while at least four percent of abortions in 2015 were to mothers ages 40 and over. Selective reduction of twins and beyond is certainly not an unusual occurrence in humans, and as we now know, horses. 
  • Though no firm research exists on exactly how many doctors pressure mothers to abort, anecdotal evidence abounds. Googling "doctor pressuring abortion" yields nearly a million results, for example. It’s fair to say that Destiny never wanted anyone to kill either of her "extra" offspring, and neither do many women. This should be an easy rallying point for both pro-lifers and pro-choicers; no woman should be coerced to abort a wanted child, especially by medical providers who financially profit from said child's death. 
  • Owners abort baby horses because their horses — no matter how loved — are property, and any perceived risk to that property will be strictly avoided. In that same vein, women’s bodies are often seen as property to be "risk mitigated" by abusive boyfriends, rapists, misogynist bosses and/or embarrassed families. Instead of finding solutions for horses to gestate and deliver twins safely (as Destiny and other mares have proved is quite possible), it’s cheaper and easier for vets just to keep pinching. In the same vein, instead of finding actual solutions for pregnant and parenting women (paid parental leave, quality medical care, affordable daycare, access to birth control, a culture of support, etc.), it’s cheaper and easier (and dare I say cooler) for the powerful in society to just keep "pinching" human babies.
  • Destiny defied the odds — like getting struck twice by lightning, her owners said. Had the farm aborted either of her twin sets, it would have been done in the name of "Destiny’s health," yet she proved them wrong. (In cases of imminent physical risk to the pregnant mother, Secular Pro-Life fully supports delivering the baby as soon as necessary to provide both him/her and the mother the highest-quality life-saving care.) Millions of women have done the same, giving birth to completely-healthy children deemed "incompatible with life," carrying multiples to term when told they couldn't, raising children into thriving members of society when others predicted they would be a "burden," etc. No one can predict the future with 100 percent accuracy — for horses nor homo sapiens. 
May Destiny and her fillies and colts live long, happy, full lives — and may the women of the world think of her when told by the powerful that abortion is in their and their children’s best interest.

[Today's guest article is by Crystal Kupper. Photo credit: GFS Sporthorses facebook page.]

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

How To Help Women With Unplanned Pregnancies During COVID-19


As has been stated a thousand times before, we are in unprecedented times. The novel coronavirus has forced many to stay inside our homes and self-quarantine, so that we protect ourselves and others from contracting the virus. However, while this may protect us from the virus, this practice of social distancing and self-isolation is taking a hit on many people's mental health.

The people who may feel most alone are women with unplanned pregnancies. As a woman who had an unplanned pregnancy at just twenty years old, I experienced feelings of worry, hopelessness, and despair. I had never felt more alone. Women with unplanned pregnancies are feeling more alone than ever, and may think that abortion is their only way out. Even with states closing down businesses like hair salons and coffee shops, abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood are considered by some to be an "essential service," so abortion-friendly states are making sure that they stay open. Listed below are some ways that you can ensure women do not turn to Planned Parenthood during their crisis pregnancy and instead choose life.

1. Reach Out. If you know of a woman who is going through an unplanned pregnancy, make sure to reach out regularly through texting, calling, or video call. Just because you can not be physically present with her, does not mean that you can not provide support over the phone or computer. Use the 2020 technology to your advantage. If the woman stresses that she feels she has no one to talk to, encourage her to reach out to her local pregnancy center, which may be able to provide over the phone counseling free of charge.

2. Offer Assistance. Many women with unplanned pregnancies consider abortion because they do not have the finances to support a child. If you are financially stable enough, consider supporting a woman with an unplanned pregnancy by offering to help with rent or groceries for a month. Additionally, you can also offer to drop off groceries to her house, if she does not feel comfortable with going to the grocery store during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some women with unplanned pregnancies come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and may depend on mass transit to get to doctors' appointments. You can offer to drive them if you are healthy and feel comfortable, so that they do not have to risk catching the coronavirus while on the bus.

3. Offer to Babysit. Many single mothers work multiple part time jobs in order to support and provide for their families. Pregnant women who already have children may not have the luxury of staying at home if they are considered to be an essential worker. Essential workers are not only doctors and nurses, but they are also mail carriers, grocery store clerks, and bus drivers. Not all day cares are currently open, so if the woman is an essential worker but has children at home who need to be watched, you can offer to babysit for free. Please only do this if you feel comfortable and only if you are healthy. It is suggested that you take your temperature before you go anywhere, as one of the first signs of the coronavirus is a fever. It is also important to note that some carriers of the coronavirus are asymptomatic, so please do not be offended if the woman does not want to utilize your services at this time. She is trying to make the best decision for her family and make sure her children stay healthy and safe.

4. Provide Resources. Many people who are no longer able to work now qualify for unemployment. Connect her with resources to obtain unemployment benefits if her job was lost due to the coronavirus pandemic, and ask her if she needs more assistance. The government has many programs such as SNAP food stamps, and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, to make sure that no family goes hungry. They also have Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for those who may need financial assistance. Pregnancy resource centers also often provide diapers, wipes, clothing, and other necessities to new mothers in need.

5. Ask Her. When in doubt, ask the woman how you can best assist her. What she needs more than anything is someone to listen to how she is feeling, and provide her support without judgment. She may bring up abortion, and it is not your place to judge, but rather to listen, and provide her with alternative resources. Once you have gained her trust, she will be able to tell you what she needs more clearly.

These are just a few ideas for things you can do if you know a woman is dealing with an unplanned pregnancy during COVID-19. At a time where abortion centers are deemed to provide "essential services," we must remind the pro-choice community that we offer an essential service. We can provide women with love, support, and resources. She does not have to think that abortion is her only option, and with your support and guidance, she just might choose life.

[Today's guest article is by Annaliese Corace. Photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.]

Monday, April 27, 2020

SFLA offers pro-life projects/events from home

Our friends at Students for Life of America (SFLA) have organized three events we'd like to promote.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28: Webcast
Following up on last January's incredible National Pro-Life Summit, SFLA is holding a 2-hour webcast on Tuesday starting at 8pm EST. Topics include "Tools for Engaging with Culture," "The Emerging Battleground of Chemical Abortions & What You Can Do," and November election efforts. This event is free but registration is required.

Ongoing: Support for Families in Need
SFLA is connecting donors with Amazon wish lists and diaper funds for charities and families in their communities. I donated myself and it's incredibly easy. Just sign up here, and you'll receive an email with all the information you need to make a difference.

Friday, May 1: Pro-Life Sidewalk Chalk Contest
Spread the pro-life message, and as a bonus, get some fresh air while enjoying a creative activity! SFLA says:
There’s a fun new trend Americans are participating in while many are under “Shelter in Place” orders…using the end of driveways and other publicly viewable areas to chalk messages for passersby!
Photo via Rock for Life
So, Students for Life is launching a brand-new initiative… The National Pro-Life Neighborhood Chalk Day & Contest! And it’s happening Friday, May 1st, 2020.
Check out the event website for contest rules. Winners will get free t-shirts and other goodies, with a top prize of free tickets to the 2021 National Pro-Life Summit!

Friday, April 24, 2020

We asked, you answered: How has the pandemic impacted your abortion views?

We asked our followers on social media: "While we all try to manage life during a pandemic, do you find you're thinking less about the abortion issue? Too many distractions? Or are you thinking about it more since so many more people are now navigating increased financial stress and other issues?" In no particular order, here are some of your responses.

A woman sidewalk counsels while
wearing a mask.
Photo via Pro-Life San Francisco
Heather J.: As a resident of Texas, I’m thinking a lot about it. Our governor has shut down abortion clinics to conserve PPE for COVID-19 patients. That has created an increased need for pro-life organizations to step up and help these women. Lives are being saved!

Rebecca C.: To be perfectly honest, I’ve been thinking about it less. 😕

Denisse B.: More, waaaaay more

Pablo M.: The same. Pro-choicers here in Argentina have made a commitment that abortion shall be legalized this year, and they will abide by it, no matter what happens with the epidemic.

Rachel S.: I'm still thinking about abortion often but in the context of a comprehensive ethic of human life and dignity. I also feel sad and angry when I hear some people who call themselves pro-life making economically driven utilitarian arguments about deaths related to COVID-19.

Grace P.: I have to admit, less. Right now what I'm worried about is keeping me and my family healthy and safe. I think when "shit hits the fan," as they say, everything else but that falls away for a lot of people, like myself. That being said, it does anger and concern me that our rights to assembly are being taken away. For instance, those pro-lifers getting arrested for praying outside of a clinic recently even though they were observing and practicing social distancing was outrageous. We have to stand up, virus or no, if this kind of thing continues.

Alyson C.: I am thinking about it a lot. I think Planned Parenthood is being exposed for what it is: a company that only cares about making $ off of the killing of children. I also think women are seeing that there is help for them when they are in unplanned pregnancy crisis, and that they don’t have to kill their baby—there are other options. I know a lot of crisis pregnancy centers, and pro-life groups, that are being overwhelmed with women coming to them for help right now... and people are stepping up financially, and in other means, to help them.

Little Grey Fish: Not very honorable but I find myself avoiding it because I'm so stressed and anxious I can't mentally handle thinking about the murder of babies.

Charmain B.: I’ve been taking walks and there’s a private abortion clinic in an office complex near my house. I’ve seen people out there protesting. They are the ones whose signs have photos of aborted babies on them. They have signs saying this isn’t a way to parent. It’s all condemning; there’s no hope of—we’ll find ways to help you raise your baby or we’ll help you find someone to adopt.
As someone who had an unplanned pregnancy years ago, I want to ask those people how are they helping these women? Are they offering aid to them or just condemning them? I’ve been trying to figure out what to say and wondering if my words would even make a dent.

Kim H.: What is clear to me is that individuals are sacrificing bodily autonomy with social distancing for a limited amount of time to save lives in our communities. The pro-choice argument, as professed by the likes of NARAL or PP or NOW is so very libertarian because there is not a willingness to give up autonomy for another however many months of a pregnancy to protect and save the life of a human being. Of course, there are many nuances regarding support for women and financial stability and the list goes on... I am not discounting those issues in the least.but at the very bottom line, I find it so ironic that we are giving away our autonomy so willingly (and I am one of those people) to social distance, but see a very similar situation of time limited sacrifice of one's autonomy to bring a child into the outside world.

Kristin M.: I'm worried the economic depression is going to cause more abortions.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

SPL president on TV tomorrow night

Hazzard in July 2019
Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard here. I'm excited to announce my appearance on EWTN's pro-life interview show, Defending Life

The episode that includes my interview will air tomorrow, April 23 at 10:30 p.m. Eastern. (And if you're a real night owl, it will air again on Monday, April 27 at 3 in the morning.) The title of the episode is "Reaching Millennials with the Pro-Life Message."

EWTN is a Catholic channel, so in the spirit of confession... this interview happened so long ago that I don't remember a single thing I said. I'll be watching right along with the rest of you. I can't wait to hear my astonishing, fresh insights.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Coronavirus, Liberty, and Abortion: Does the Right to Life Supersede All Other Rights?

A woman wearing a mask and scrolling on a cell phone

In the current debate over abortion, most abortion advocates say that a mother has the right to abort a child for any reason, including to protect her career, to avoid financial hardship, to avoid mental health issues, or just because the child is not “wanted”. It’s been curious, then, to watch how many of those who are vocally “pro-choice” are now advocating that the government force all Americans to give up their careers, their means of maintaining financial stability, and in many cases, their mental health, for the sake of saving lives.

To be clear, I take the virus very seriously, and I believe that everyone should voluntarily participate in social distancing. My point is not that the actions taken have been wrong; my point is that I think almost everyone knows, at some level, that our freedoms should be limited when they have to potential to harm the most vulnerable among us.

The extreme measures being taken to slow the novel coronavirus have been painful for many. It has resulted in catastrophic amounts of unemployment, skyrocketing numbers of those reporting mental health issues, increases in addiction and abuse, education being negatively impacted (or entirely disappearing from children’s lives, based on resources available to the family), and even a loss of liberties guaranteed by the bill of rights (freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, etc.). We have been shown the science behind “flattening the curve” and told we must accept these challenges and restrictions for the sake of saving lives. The rhetoric is convincing; if we are unwilling to stay home, whatever the cost, we are risking the lives of the most vulnerable in society: the elderly, the immunocompromised, those with underlying conditions, and the individuals on the frontlines of healthcare and food production. Everyone, including many celebrities and politicians who are “pro-choice” without restrictions, has jumped on board this train. It doesn’t seem like a hard concept. Almost everyone in society can accept that even extreme hardship must be endured, if it is for the sake of protecting innocent lives. The real question is, why are we unable to apply this logic to abortion?

How do we tell someone they are a bad person if they don’t want to watch their small business crumble to potentially save the life of someone they don’t know, but tell a woman it’s perfectly fine to deliberately end her child’s life if she isn’t financially ready for a child? How do we shame a mother for going to a park or grocery store with her kids when her mental health is unraveling because she can’t get out of the house or doesn’t have other options to find food for her family, but tell a woman she is a hero for aborting a child who might have negatively impacted her mental health? How do we tell people that they must sacrifice the very freedoms promised by the constitution for a person who is unconnected to and unloved by them, but tell a women she can kill a child who she brought into existence by an act of will (in most cases) if she doesn’t care about or want that child?

If we really believe that the right to life and the protection of innocent humans is more important than any other right, we should apply this consistently across the board. We should remind everyone that the possibility of pregnancy is a biological reality anytime we’re discussing sexual liberty. That possibility imposes real challenges, but we should work to address these hardships in the same way we’re looking to minimize the current hardships, rather than accepting casualties. If we can give up our rights—and insist others do the same—in the face of a few million deaths due to the novel coronavirus, why can we not do the same in the face of over 60 million abortions in the United States since Roe v. Wade?

[Today's guest post is by Holly Carter. Photo credit: Engin Akyurt on Unsplash.]

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Listen: Secular Pro-Life on Irish Radio

Irish pro-life advocates rally

Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard was recently interviewed for "On the Level," a radio show on Life FM, a Christian radio station in Cork, Ireland. The segment covered everything from the origins of Secular Pro-Life, to the rape exception, to differences between the American and Irish anti-abortion movements.

You can listen at this link starting at 35:20. Please note that the link may be overwritten at the end of the week. We will try to come up with something more permanent.

Monday, April 13, 2020

"Fewer rights than a corpse!" rebutted

Okay, stop me if you've heard this one:
Bodily autonomy means every person has control over how their body is used. It's why you can't be forced to donate organs, even if you're dead. By saying a fetus has a right to use a woman's body, you're making it so that women have less bodily autonomy than a corpse. 
We've talked plenty about the bodily autonomy argument in general (see here, here, and also the Equal Rights Institute's excellent analyses here), but today, I want to focus specifically on the "zinger" above, which you'll find worded in various ways online and which always concludes with a comparison of pregnant women to corpses.

The "less than a corpse!" argument is easily refuted, for the simple reason that the premise is factually incorrect. Corpses do not have bodily autonomy.

Please note that I developed the idea for this article before the novel coronavirus dominated the news, so I will not be writing about the horrors of cancelled funerals and mass graves which undoubtedly go against the wishes of the deceased and their families. That is much too raw, and in any event, the absence of corpse rights was a reality long before the pandemic. So let's take a mental time machine back to normal circumstances, with its expectation that your wishes around death will be honored.

It probably goes without saying that if your wishes were to require directly killing another person ("But I really, really want to share my tomb with servants for the afterlife, like an ancient Egyptian pharaoh!"), that is not going to fly. Since the pro-life position is that abortion is a direct killing, the organ-donation-from-corpses argument is already falling flat. But let's continue anyway.

What happens to a corpse is determined by a living representative. During your lifetime, you can designate any responsible adult to be your representative. Naturally, you'll want to select someone who shares your values and is willing to take on the task. That person then bears the moral responsibility to carry out your wishes, or if you haven't stated them, what the person reasonably believes your wishes would have been.

Note, however, that I said moral responsibility. Legally, there is no Corpse Bodily Autonomy Authority looking over your representative's shoulder to make sure they're doing what you wanted. If you wanted to be buried, but the representative finds that too expensive, no one is going to stop them from cremating you instead. If you weren't keen on donating your organs, but your representative signs off on it, you can bet your ass (and every other body part) that a hospital is going to accept those life-saving organs.

And, importantly for the abortion comparison, there are cases where the state can override the wishes of the deceased and the representative in the interest of others' safety — such as mandatory autopsies for homicides and other suspicious deaths, even over sincerely held religious objections. This recently made the news when the state of Alabama executed Nathaniel Woods, a Muslim death row inmate. Alabama's treatment of Woods has been criticized on many fronts, from executing him in the first place when he was merely an accomplice and not a direct murderer, to keeping his imam, Yusuf Maisonet, from being present at the execution. And then there's what happened afterward:
Woods was pronounced dead at about 9 PM, but the injustice didn’t end with his life. It followed him into the grave after he was given an autopsy against his wishes and religious beliefs. Maisonet said that when he received Woods’ body, “he was cut up, with no one bothering to sew the wounds back up.” To the imam, this was “an act … larger than Nathaniel, it was about sending a message of intimidation to anyone who supported him.”
Woods had clearly designated Maisonet to represent his interests in death, but a lot of good it did him.

If you didn't choose a representative during your lifetime, the state will select one for you by giving the duty to your spouse or, if you are not married, your closest relative. And if you happen to be estranged from your next of kin, things can truly go off the rails:
Jennifer Gable, an Idaho customer service coordinator for Wells Fargo, died suddenly Oct. 9 on the job at age 32. An aneurysm, according to stunned friends.
Just as shocking, they say, when they went to Gable’s funeral in Twin Falls, Idaho, and saw her in an open casket — hair cut short, dressed in a suit and presented as a man.
“I am disgusted,” Stacy Dee Hudson posted on Facebook. “A great and dear friend’s mom went to the funeral today. It was not closed casket. They cut her hair, suit on. How can they bury her as Geoff when she legally changed her name. So very sad. Jen you will be missed and people who know you know that you are at peace.”
Gable was transgender, born Geoffrey, but living the past few years as Jennifer.
To be clear, I'm not saying that what happened to Woods and Gable was right; carrying out their wishes would have harmed no one. What I am saying is that comparing their situations to the situations of people who are prevented from killing their unborn babies is ridiculous. Pro-life laws take away exactly one "right" — the pseudo-right, invented in Roe v. Wade, to kill one's offspring in the womb. Protecting babies does not, and cannot, reduce women to the legal status of corpses.

An old cemetery in the woods
Photo by Tom Wheatley on Unsplash