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Monday, October 26, 2020

Crossing the Pond, Virtually!

Irish young adults hold pro-life signs

Secular Pro-Life is based in the United States of America, but we have been incredibly fortunate to cultivate strong relationships with pro-life advocates around the globe. Thanks to the magic of Zoom, SPL president Kelsey Hazzard will soon speak at two international events!

(1) Kelsey will give remarks at the Irish Pro-Life Campaign's 2020 National Conference this Saturday, October 31. The all-virtual conference will take place from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. local time. The conference theme is "7,000 Too Many," recognizing the horrific increase in abortions since Irish children in the womb had their constitutional right to life stripped away with the repeal of the Eighth Amendment. The Irish pro-life movement has much work to do. Registration is free

(2) On December 14, Kelsey will speak to pro-life students and young adults in the UK. The presentation, which will be at 19:00 (7:00 p.m.) local time, is entitled "The Secular Case Against Abortion." Kelsey's talk will be the fourth in the UNIfied series of pro-life lectures, organized by the youth arm of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) and SPUC Scotland. UK students will also get to hear from Destiny Herdon-De La Rosa (New Wave Feminists, November 2), Elijah Thompason (Dank Pro-Life Memes and The Fetal Position podcast, November 15), and Stephanie Gray Connors (Love Unleashes Life, November 30). 

[Photo credit: Pro-Life Campaign on Instagram]

Friday, October 23, 2020

A Beacon of Hope: Abortion Advocates Admit Roe's Days are Numbered

Young pro-life advocates stand outside the Supreme Court, wearing judicial wigs and robes and carrying signs in support of Judge Barrett's confirmation.
Photo credit: Students for Life of America on Facebook

It looks like a nightmare pro-abortion horde is about to take over this country. According to polling, the presidency, House and Senate will all be controlled by a gang of people whom I might actually prefer on healthcare and the environment, but whose abortion agenda starkly consists of (1) an additional 60,000 feticides a year on top of the present toll, (2) abortion till the moment of birth, and (3) crushing and humiliating pro-lifers by forcing them to help out in the slaughter through their tax payments. The nightmare gang that is coming is likely to pack the Supreme Court, flooding out whatever Justices may exist who have pro-life leanings, and thereby extinguishing whatever fragile flame of promise has recently been lit.

But less than a month ago an opinion piece appeared in the New York Times, written by a pro-choice law professor, Joan C. Williams, and titled "The Case for Accepting Defeat on Roe":

We’ve basically lost the abortion fight: If Roe is overturned, access to abortion will depend on where you live — but access to abortion already depends on where you live. At the same time, we have people voting for Donald Trump because he’ll appoint justices who will overturn Roe. Maybe it is time to face the fact that abortion access will be fought for in legislatures, not courts. . . .

. . . Often forgotten is that RBG herself had decided that Roe was a mistake. In 1992, she gave a lecture musing that the country might be better off if the Supreme Court had written a narrower decision and opened up a "dialogue" with state legislatures, which were trending "toward liberalization of abortion statutes" (to quote the Roe court). Roe "halted a political process that was moving in a reform direction and thereby, I believe, prolonged divisiveness and deferred stable settlement of the issue," Justice Ginsburg argued.

Meanwhile, just a week ago the famous and influential former NPR host, Garrison Keillor, wrote on Facebook that Roe v. Wade was not "worth fighting for anymore":

[It has] torn the country asunder. . . . to what good? . . . We can accept a system of states’ rights, whereby abortion is legal in some states, illegal in others. . . . R v W is a toxic issue that has poisoned our politics for almost 50 years.

(He soon replaced that post with a toned-down version, but he probably continued thinking what he had said in the first place.)

And two years ago we saw Megan McArdle's "It’s time to let Roe go":

I am myself uneasily pro-choice. . . .

But. . . . I’d be glad to see Roe go, as quickly as possible.

How can someone who calls herself pro-choice oppose Roe v. Wade? Let me count the ways.

The decision itself is a poorly reasoned mess. . . .

That poor drafting quasi-accidentally left America with some of the most permissive abortion laws in the world, far beyond what most legislatures would permit if the matter were open to public debate. . . .

And that, in turn, is the biggest problem with Roe: It has given the most religious developed country in the world one of the world’s most permissive abortion laws. . . .

The abortion law is out of step with what the majority of the population wants, and given the seriousness of what's involved, it is Roe, more than any other opinion, that is driving both the radicalization and the judicialization of American politics, as pro-lifers fight like caged tigers to amend the law through the only avenue left open to them. . . .

Pro-lifers can say that abortion ought to be outlawed even in cases of rape and incest, knowing full well that they'll never have to look a rape victim in the face and explain why she had to carry her attacker's baby to term.

Pro-choice advocates, meanwhile, don't have to directly advocate allowing second-trimester abortions; the Supreme Court removed that burden.

No wonder abortion politics are so polarized and poisonous.

Ending Roe would be a Godsend, or whatever the atheistic equivalent of a Godsend is, for the psychological health and happiness, and structural cohesion, of the US of A. And I think that the time was bound to come when even those who feel they have benefited from Roe could see that. Even ardent pro-choicers must understand at a moment such as this, election season 2020, that the country is sick and needs healing. So I am hopeful that the "let Roe go" time may now have come.

The end of Roe will not mean the end of abortion or the automatic restoration of the right to life. Reversing Roe will place abortion policy in the hands of legislators and voters in each state. But at the very least, letting Roe go would save a substantial number of small Americans — possibly 300,000 a year, according to a recent pro-choice estimate — from the unnecessary deprivation of the long lives and unknowable possibilities on which they were just about to set out. Pro-life states will then have the great moral responsibility to be a beacon of hope for the rest of the country, by proving once and for all that women and children can thrive without abortion.

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

When she got a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis, her doctor wouldn't stop suggesting abortion.

The author and her family.

Kaylen

Before Kaylen, my husband Darrin and I were happy to be average—to not stick out in a good or bad way. Darrin worked as a mental health clinician in a prison; I had quit teaching after our second child and was running an in-home daycare. Our two sons were school age, our daughter was still home with me, and we had just started considering a fourth child when I took a positive pregnancy test.

I was 35 and had two prior miscarriages, so my doctor considered mine a higher risk pregnancy. During the first ultrasound my daughter was amazingly active and I thought “Whoa—something is different with this kiddo.” I loved the chances to see her on ultrasound and hear her heartbeat, and she grew and measured as expected. Everything was proceeding in the average way we were comfortable with.

Since I was now of “advanced maternal age,” in the second trimester the doctor recommended a triple screen blood test. I felt that any additional information was helpful, so I agreed. Not long after, I received an almost tearful phone call from a nurse who said “I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, but your blood test shows elevated risk. We’re sending you to a perinatologist for more information.” She apologized repeatedly and sounded so upset that I ended up reassuring her that it would be okay. Some quick internet searches told me that false positive results for the triple screen were relatively high. In fact I had two friends who had received positive results only for their babies to be born without issues. They reassured me that it would all be fine and suggested I just enjoy a 4D ultrasound.

I went into the office of the perinatologist (I will call him Dr. X) fully prepared to receive good news and leave with some great pictures. I enjoyed the 4D ultrasound—I got to relax in a darkened room and see my baby in more detail. The technician measured body parts while answering all my questions about what she was doing. When she finished, she went to get Dr. X. He entered the room, and I knew something was wrong as soon as he started with “Unfortunately…”

They found that she had some “soft markers” for Down syndrome, such as shortened long bones and fluid in a certain part of her brain. I still wasn’t clear on the odds; I thought she had perhaps a 1 in 300 chance of having Ds, but Dr. X said it was more like 1 in 4. That was when I knew our life would be different. She might not even survive to birth, and if she did, my husband and I would join the alien group of “parents of children with disabilities.” The doctor gave me a long list of negative health conditions involved with Down syndrome and emphasized that carrying a baby with Ds increased my risk of miscarriage. He emphasized it shouldn’t be hard for me to get immediately pregnant after an abortion if I wanted to “try again for a normal baby.”

I hate uncertainty, so I asked about getting an amnio to find out for sure. Dr. X said there were three reasons people had amnios: if they (1) were considering terminating (I shook my head and said “We’re not going to do that”), (2) would be too stressed out by the uncertainty (“Yup, that’s me”), or (3) would change medical and birth plans based on the information, for example switching hospitals or doctors (“Yup, me again.”). He discussed the risks, including the risk of miscarriage, but also said he had never had a patient miscarry because of an amnio, and he had done thousands of them. I said “Well, this is still my first.” Still he said he could do it during that same visit, so I began filling out the paperwork. He emphasized that if I did decide to terminate, we’d need to find out quickly because I was nearing the cutoff date. I told him flatly that there was no way we were going to kill our child. He performed the amnio and said they had to mail the sample to the lab and we should have the results in about a week.

I rushed from the building to my car and burst into sobs. I felt as if everything comfortable and sure in my life was gone. My joy in carrying my baby was now replaced with stress and worry. I was angry at myself for needing the reassurance of the amnio, but I also had the grieving thought “Well maybe if she does have Ds and I miscarry, that would be sad but okay,” followed by the question “What if she doesn’t have Ds and I cause her to miscarry because I wanted to know for sure?” I was sickened and ashamed that I would even think that way, as if somehow her life was worth more if she had the typical number of chromosomes and less if she had one extra.

Eventually I was able to stop crying long enough to call Darrin, but when he answered I couldn’t even speak. I burst into tears again. He said “Oh wow. It didn’t go well.” I gulped “I think she has it. I did the amnio.” He said “She? It’s a girl?” I only then realized the doctor had referred to our baby as “her” when we hadn’t yet known the gender. I had been too preoccupied with thoughts of how our life was going to change in so many unknown ways. I asked Darrin “What are we going to do?” and he calmly answered, “Well, we’re going to love our daughter.” And suddenly I didn’t feel so alone in our new reality.

I collected myself and drove to a friend’s house. I told her about the testing and the amnio and she said “I trust a mom’s intuition about these things. Do you think she has it?” I admitted that I thought so. Somehow, admitting it to someone other than my husband gave me peace. She hugged me. We moved on to conversation about childhood memories and had a wonderful visit. Being able to mix conversations about my disabled child with “every day” topics was just what I needed—it was the beginning of adjusting to my new normal.

Over the next few days, Darrin and I researched Down syndrome as we prepared for how our lives might change. We picked out her name and kept our new secret from the world. Two days after the amnio, Dr. X called with the results. He again began the conversation with “unfortunately,” but actually finding out for sure that our daughter had Down syndrome made me smile. Now we had information and could move forward. Dr. X reiterated that if we wanted to terminate, we had to get scheduled quickly. I told him to stop mentioning abortion because we weren’t going to kill our child, and he responded that he just wanted to make sure that we knew all of our options.

My next perinatologist appointment was for a fetal echocardiogram to see if our daughter was in the 50% of children with Ds who need heart surgery. I was excited again, though with more caution. The technician did her work, but this time when the perinatologist entered, it was a different man (I will call him Dr. Y). As soon as Dr. Y walked in he congratulated me on my daughter. His response was a beautiful reminder that I was carrying a little person and not just a list of medical problems. He said that he had a sister with Ds and that raising a child with Ds would be more similar than different from raising our other children. He made sure we had a good support system and plenty of resources, and he invited us to an upcoming Walk for Ds fundraiser.

Dr. Y showed me the same list of medical issues that Dr. X had emphasized, but this time Dr. Y also pointed out that people with Ds don’t end up with all of these issues; some have just a few and some have more. He suggested we try not to focus on the negatives, pointing out that even ‘typical’ children have medical issues and parents just deal with them as they come up. He said those challenges do not define the child, and each person with Ds is an individual with his or her own talents, skills, and interests. Dr. Y’s support and encouragement made all the difference. He made us feel as if we had been accepted into an elite group: the group of people who know and love someone with Down syndrome.

We told our immediate family of Kaylen’s diagnosis but waited a bit to make a public announcement. Some family members prayed that Kaylen would be healed of her bonus chromosome before she was born. I believe that they were trying to be supportive and helpful, and that there response came from lack of experience with Ds and a desire to spare us from extra challenges that her diagnosis would bring. We told them we were okay with her having Ds, and asked them to change their prayers.

The rest of the pregnancy involved some poignant and pointed moments mixed in with everyday life. An online friend who had recently had a daughter with Ds signed me up for a statewide Ds group that sent a large box of information, resources, and books. I dug through it feeling thankful for all the resources, and then happy cried when I found an adorable little pink dress at the bottom. It was nice to have others acknowledge the ‘sweet little baby girl’ part of the pregnancy. At one point I sat in the doctor’s waiting room while another pregnant mama loudly spoke on the phone, telling someone how hugely relieved she was to have “passed” the test and learned her baby didn’t have Down syndrome. From time to time people would ask if we were going to find out the gender or didn’t have a preference “as long as it’s healthy.” How do I answer when I know most people wouldn’t consider my baby “healthy”?

It took us some time to decide how to announce Kaylen’s diagnosis—we didn’t want it to be her defining characteristic but also didn’t want to suggest we were hiding or ashamed of it. We announced on social media that our daughter would be born with an extra chromosome. There were a few “I’m so sorry” comments but overall the support and congratulations were encouraging.

I found a lot of support. I learned of old friends who also had children with disabilities, and our pediatrician connected me with two local moms of children with Ds. We also joined statewide and national Ds groups to hear perspectives from people with experience. And through online parent support groups, I connected with new friends from around the world who were in the same situation I was. To my surprise, the majority of comments in these groups were celebrating successes and offering support and encouragement. Most of these moms considered themselves part of “the lucky few,” and the most frequent challenge seemed to be trying to get society to value people with differences, especially those with visible cognitive disabilities.

My pregnancy continued with increased monitoring. We switched to a hospital that had an OB/GYN who specialized in high-risk pregnancies and a NICU so we wouldn’t be separated if Kaylen needed extra help after she was born. The OB/GYN was scheduled for vacation on Kaylen’s due date, so we scheduled an induction the day before. The drive to the hospital felt like a sweet farewell to our life’s familiarity and a journey into the unknown, but it wasn’t so scary as long as we were together.

I had read that babies with Ds sometimes have trouble nursing, so I chose not to have an epidural which might make her more sleepy and less likely to latch. I was induced and Kaylen was born 3 hours later. While they were cleaning her up and giving her oxygen, the nurses sang her “Happy Birthday” and my heart nearly burst with joy.

The next few years were more ‘typical’ than we originally expected. There were more medical appointments that first year, but we took each one as they came and learned as we went. One difference between raising Kaylen versus our other children was how we celebrated more of the little things. Milestones and accomplishments were HUGE because of all the step-by-step work it took to reach them. We also felt more relaxed and free to not keep up with anyone else. Of course, there were and still are some twinges of grief when we see a gap between where her peers’ development and her own. We try to embrace the idea that “comparison is the thief of joy,” but there are still moments of grief over the loss of the way that we thought life would be and over moments when people see her only for her disability, instead of getting to know her as a unique person.

Lilly
Still, overall the gap between Dr. X’s grim outlook and our joyful experiences inspired us to support other people in our situation. We decided to get our foster care license specifically to accept children with Ds. We were told it was highly unlikely a child with Ds would come into our foster care region, so we also got a private adoption home study and we registered with NDSAN (National Down Syndrome Adoption Network). NDSAN counsels families who receive a prenatal Ds diagnosis; it also matches families who want to adopt a child with Ds to such children available for adoption. NDSAN’s goal is to ensure every child born with Down syndrome has the opportunity to grow up in a loving family. We waded through paperwork and training and then waited… and waited. After about a year we began considering looking for another way to help, but then the phone rang and NSDAN appeared on our caller ID.

I felt like I had stopped breathing. I answered, and the voice on the other end said, “It’s a girl!” We had been matched with a baby girl to be born the following month in a neighboring state. We waited in nervous anticipation until we got the call asking if we could pick up our daughter.

When Lilly was placed in my arms, I wasn’t prepared for my reaction. I felt the same amazing love for her that I felt at the birth of our biological children, but I simultaneously felt heartbreak and overwhelming loss for Lilly’s birth mom. She chose a family she felt could better navigate caring for a child with Down syndrome; the magnitude of her love for her child still brings me to tears. We have since learned that adoption is not simply placing a child with parents, but actually melding two families. We feel as though we also adopted Lilly’s first parents. They love her fiercely, and we keep connected through email and social media.

I wholeheartedly believe our family is better and stronger for having children with disabilities. Most days are just a beautiful normal, and I feel as if I’ve stepped out of the ‘rat race’ onto a more peaceful, leisurely path that is filled with all kinds of beauty. It’s as if I never realized I was colorblind until I put on glasses that showed me color. Also my priorities have changed. Conflict was always uncomfortable for me, but having children with disabilities has brought my ‘Mama Bear’ much closer to the surface; I’m now quite comfortable standing up and advocating for my children. Growing up, I had never been around many people with disabilities, so I didn’t know how to act or what to say, but I am learning.

Parenting Kaylen and Lilly has mostly been like raising our other children. Lilly loves books, playing outside, dancing and singing, and playing with friends. Kaylen is now fully included in her 3rd grade classroom. She thinks Lilly is annoying when she makes loud noises and likes it when her older siblings play games with her. There is a stereotype that people with Ds are happy all the time, but the reality is that they experience a full range of emotions, like all of us. Kaylen and Lilly do seem a bit more honest and without pretense.

Parenting our ‘typical’ children alongside Kaylen and Lilly has had good effects too. I believe they are more likely to include people of all kinds because of their siblings. In fact researchers Richard Urbano and Robert Hodapp found that parents of children with Ds are more likely to stay together and medical geneticist Dr. Brian Skotko found that siblings find rich value in having a family member with Ds and nearly 99% of people with Down syndrome are happy with their lives. All of this data beg the question: why does society (and the medical community) encourage abortion in cases like Kaylen’s and Lilly’s?

Follow-up questions:
What are your thoughts on prenatal testing for Down syndrome?
There’s no one right answer. For me, prenatal testing was a tool to help me prepare and reduce the stress of the unknown. For a good friend of mine, the test results weren’t going to change anything for her, so she declined and got her daughter’s diagnosis at birth. I’m glad to note that prenatal testing is improving. Right after Kaylen was born, researchers developed a less-invasive blood test with very high accuracy and no risk of miscarriage. I don’t think prenatal testing is inherently a problem; the issue is how society uses the test results and doesn’t protect and value life.

What would you say to a parent who just received a Down syndrome diagnosis?
When I got our diagnosis, I immediately felt unqualified and feared I would be a bad parent. That’s not an unusual response. Find support teams—both online and in-person, if possible—to ask questions, vent to, and celebrate with. Know you don’t have to be a super-advocate. Your life can just continue on in the regular, everyday way it does now. There are days when we don’t even think about Down syndrome. You’ll learn to parent as you go, just like parents do with any other child. 

What would you say to someone who would be inclined to abort in the event of a prenatal Ds diagnosis?
I would want to invite them over for coffee and to meet our girls. I would encourage them to first learn about Ds and make sure they don’t have an ill-fitting stereotype in mind (as most people do). And then if they still believe that they’re not ready to parent a child with Ds, I would steer them towards NDSAN and encourage them to find a family for their baby.

Additionally, medical professionals need updated information on Ds and training on how to provide a diagnosis. It would be great if the person giving the diagnosis also had some awareness of what life as a person with Ds is actually like. I believe if expectant moms were given updated, encouraging information instead of doom and gloom, it would make a huge difference.

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

Monday, October 19, 2020

"Bill Barr, do your job!" SPL joins rally outside DOJ to demand PP indictment

Watch the full live stream of the rally here.

Multiple pro-life organizations rallied outside the offices of the US Attorney General to demand indictment of Planned Parenthood (and its business partners) for fetal organ harvesting and organ trafficking after three years of an open investigation. Signs with messages such as "PP sells body parts" put succinctly their calls for indictment.

Terrisa (right) preparing to kick off the DOJ protest.
Photo courtesy of Pro-Life San Francisco.


Our own Terrisa Bukovinac began the proceedings by calling on AG Barr to indict PP now that even more evidence of PP's long term practice emerged from the Daleiden trials. Bukovinac noted her FOIA requests to the UCSF for records on fetal harvesting have been significantly delayed: "I shouldn't have to sue for what the DOJ already has." She believes actual DOJ prosecution would challenge and inhibit the crime of fetal organ harvesting and trafficking. 

Pro-life protesters with a sign quoting parts of the agreements to sell fetal organs.
Photo courtesy of Rehumanize International.

Jamie Jeffries of Abortion on Trial spoke on just how common the practice of fetal organ harvesting is, and the perverse incentives it produces on medical providers to encourage abortions. These same providers rarely ask for maternal consent to harvest organs. Jeffries introduced Nicole Atkins, who was injured by an abortion which was altered — without her consent — so that the abortionist could extract her baby's brain; Atkins spoke on the need to inform women on the "mental, emotional, and physical toll" of abortion, including death, as her sister, Keisha Atkins, died from an abortion. A lack of law enforcement on this practice has real victims.

Photo courtesy of Rehumanize International.

Rehumanize International likewise called on Barr to begin prosecutions "now," given the quantity of evidence produced by the graphic conversations recorded by the Center for Medical Progress and by the subsequent trial of the undercover reporter. (Watch Aimee Murphy's full speech here.) Other speakers pointed out that after two Congressional investigations and FBI inquiries, the foundation for the DOJ to act is well established. One characterized the "harvesting of human organs from victims of violence" as "disgusting."

Several speakers, including Mayra Rodriguez (former Employee of the Year of PP of AZ) cataloged serious legal infractions from PP: helping minors avoid parental reporting laws; failing to investigate human trafficking; committing Medicaid fraud; falsifying medical records to hide medical malpractice; having unsanitary practices; and harvesting and trafficking in fetal organs. Herb Geraghty of Rehumanize International and The Pro-life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians noted his shock that Planned Parenthood still receives taxpayer funding at all (watch his statement here). Planned Parenthood as a whole has a widespread culture of corruption.

Bill Barr can and must prosecute Planned Parenthood for its crimes. There is more than enough evidence for an indictment. Democrats for Life argued that Trump's election was in large part a pro-life mandate, and many chanted "Bill Barr, do your job!"

The attorney general is the top cop. "When someone traffics in baby parts, we expect the cops."

Photo courtesy of Rehumanize International.


Friday, October 16, 2020

I was a Cuban refugee in the womb. Here's what the Hyde Amendment means to me.

A single federal policy has saved the lives of over 2.4 million low-income Americans in the past forty-four years. That policy is the Hyde Amendment, which was enacted September 30, 1976 to prevent Medicaid funds from being used for abortions. Agreement is seldom found in the abortion debate, but respected analysts on both sides of the aisle agree that the Hyde Amendment is effective: there is no doubt that it has led more women on Medicaid to choose life. The Hyde Amendment itself has also long enjoyed bipartisan support. 

Up until last year, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was called a staunch supporter of the Hyde Amendment. But in his quest to become president, Biden has turned his back on Medicaid kids—like me.

My mother was pregnant with me when my parents immigrated to the United States from Cuba. Arriving with nothing but the clothes on her back, she relied on Medicaid for prenatal healthcare. It is disheartening to hear people say that Uncle Sam should subsidize abortions for people conceived in hard circumstances like mine. 

For the record, a woman on Medicaid can still abort her child in all 50 states—she just can’t use taxpayer money to do so in all but 16 states. The majority of Medicaid recipients are Black, Hispanic, and other nonwhite races. Suggesting there should be fewer babies of color, and that those children’s survival represents an injustice, is horribly wrong. 

Social programs like Medicaid are essential. It hurts me when conservatives want to make cuts to Medicaid funding. It hurts even more when liberals suggest that people born under Medicaid, just like me, should have been aborted. 

There are over 21 million Medicaid kids born since 1976. One out of nine of us owe our lives to the Hyde Amendment—and more than half of us are voting age. We can hear politicians talking about us. I urge Joe Biden to reconsider his newfound disdain for the Hyde Amendment. And regardless of what happens in November, I urge all politicians to preserve Hyde.

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

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

We Asked, You Answered: Practical Ways to Support Foster and Adoptive Families

Silhouette of a family at sunset

We asked our Facebook followers: "What are the best ways people can support foster or adoptive families? If you have experience in these areas let us know what you think." Here are few of our favorite responses. 

Karah E.: As someone who was both adopted and placed a baby for adoption I would beg people to refrain from using the word "real" in front of the word "parent." Biological/birth parents are no more or less "real" than adoptive/forever parents.

Bekah F.: Get certified/approved with your county's foster system to provide respite care for the occasional nights/weekends! In so many states, foster parents can't just hire a babysitter or leave the kids with family for a break and it is so, so needed.

Aimee J.: When we adopted a baby a friend of ours donated her extra breast milk. It was so sweet and helpful! People also brought us meals and have offered to clean and babysit.

Pamela M.: In addition to all the suggestions of helping/supporting/loving on foster and adoptive parents let's not forget the child welfare workers and the agencies that serve these children and families. Ask what they need: toys for visitation rooms, new socks and underwear for kids who enter care with very little to nothing, handmade blankets/quilts and/or a new stuffed animal to be given to children when they come into care, a "car" kit for kids to busy with during transportation to and from parental visits (books, coloring books, crayons, card games, etc.). Ask an agency if you could treat their staff by providing a lunch once a month or quarter, or at the holidays, etc.

Sarah C.: I haven't read all the comments because . . . wow! There are a ton. But for me, the biggest thing is this: believe the parents when they say how hard it is and don't give them trite parenting advice. Second to this: educate yourself about attachment disorders.

Heather B.: Be intentional (positive) with your words, and know proper terminology. Support fundraisers by sharing, donating, etc., or at the very least by NOT discouraging it. Bringing a child into a home is stressful, help with meals and cleaning is greatly appreciated. Don't expect visiting time with the parent (although they may want you to stay). With newborn adoptions, it's recommended that only the parents tend to baby, so help with EVERYTHING else is preferred.

Crystal K.: Don’t be afraid of our kids! Have your kids be friends with ours and offer to babysit.

Beth F.: Stop treating [adoption] like it is only for people who can't get pregnant on their own. Acknowledge that any adoption story involves some degree of loss, but stop treating like a tragedy to be avoided. Celebrate families who choose adoption and recognize it as a valid choice regardless of fertility status.

Pamela M.: Another really simple thing that I didn't see mentioned in a quick glance is for families to diversify their own children's bookshelves with stories that include foster care and/or adoption themes. Normalizing the concepts foster care and adoption through children's stories featuring children and even animals can help your children understand that families can be made in lots of different ways and that some families are for now and others are forever.

Becky M.: All of these suggestions are great. Respite care, help with meals and cleaning, use positive adoption language, offer to take any other/older kids out for a bit so mom and dad can have more one-on-one time with the new one(s). Also, give us grace. Some of our kids come with trauma based behaviors, so please don’t judge how we parent.

[Photo credit: Jude Beck on Unsplash]

Monday, October 12, 2020

As the child of a low-income woman, I support the Hyde Amendment

"Life offers no guarantees, but abortion offers no chances." 

When I think of my mother's life, and in turn, my own life, I always think of this quote. My mother's life never offered any guarantees: from the death of her father when she was 11, years of sexual abuse, and a teenage marriage that ended in divorce, to her 1997 unplanned pregnancy. 

That 1997 unplanned pregnancy was me. For my mother, a young, recently single woman living paycheck to paycheck, abortion would have been the easy choice. Many pro-choice people argue it would have been the right choice. Like so many women on Medicaid, she turned to Planned Parenthood for help. Planned Parenthood, my mother's close friends, and even my biological father encouraged her to end my life. 

Fortunately, she never did choose an abortion. 

As a low-income woman who eventually went on Medicaid, my mother is one of the millions of American women impacted by the Hyde Amendment. First passed in 1976, it says that federal Medicaid dollars cannot be used to fund abortions for low-income women. 

The Hyde Amendment guarantees the life of children like me, who are born to low-income women.

Today, one in five women between the ages of 15 and 44 are covered by Medicaid. Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has saved over 2 million lives, according to a scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. 

For decades, the Hyde Amendment was a point of unity between Republicans and Democrats. This year, however, Democratic leaders have vowed to abolish it. Kamala Harris claims that it victimizes "poor women," by limiting their ability to control their "reproductive health." 

This push to repeal the Hyde Amendment sends a clear message: low-income children are better off dead.

My mother was that low-income woman. Now, she has a Master’s in Special Education, teaches at a school, with three adult children, and a loving husband: my adoptive father. 

And that baby whose abortion the state could have funded? I'm turning 23 this year. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and Journalism from a top-tier public university. I write, and I have a full-time job. I work hard to inspire low-income women to give their babies a chance at life. 

My mother could have decided that I was better off being aborted. She chose life for me, and even though life offers no guarantees, my mom gave me a chance at my American Dream. 

Our culture tells us that our value comes from what we accomplish in life, how much money we have, how educated we are, and the careers we choose. Billboards in poor neighborhoods advertise abortion clinics, while billboards in rich neighborhoods advertise fertility treatment. 

My value as a person comes not from the color of my skin or the money in my pocketbook, but from the intrinsic value that all human life has. My value comes from my ability to love and be loved, my ability to laugh and cry, and the uniqueness of the human experience. 

My mother didn't have much when I was born, and because of this, many politicians believe that I should have been aborted. Life offers no guarantee, but abortion offers no chances. I hope that like my mother, the politicians voting on the Hyde Amendment choose life. Everyone should have the chance to build their American Dream, and my mother and I are proof that it's possible. 

When Democratic politicians talk about ending the Hyde Amendment, they're talking about me, and the potential that my life had 22 years ago. 

Life matters. Save Hyde.

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

Friday, October 9, 2020

September Recap - An Exciting Month!

Projects
This month was all about highlighting policies that protect the most vulnerable. Since the Democratic Party has disavowed the popular Hyde Amendment, Secular Pro-Life is reminding folks just how many children the amendment has saved: about 2.4 million people are alive today thanks to Hyde. Kelsey organized a virtual rally ("Out of Hyding") emceed by Terrisa which gave attendees a picture of how important it is for us to protect Hyde.

This month Terrisa and Monica also spent time working with Colorado pro-life groups to promote Prop 115, which would ban elective late-term abortions in the state (donate here to help). Terrisa flew to Colorado this last week to lead a rally at the state capitol in support of this basic common ground legislation.

Terrisa at the rally for Prop 115.

Twitter
We gained 333 new followers, bringing us to 12,630 total. We sent 111 tweets, which were viewed 314,000 times, including our outing of the infamous abortionist Leah Torres, who lost her medical license in the state of Alabama.
 
Original tweet here
Facebook
In September we gained 170 followers bringing us to 33,307 total.  Our content was viewed over 305,182 times, including 6,500 views of our Geordi LaForge accidentally pro-life Star Trek meme demonstrating how disability is no way to judge the value of a life.
See the original post here
Blogger
Our three most-read blog posts for September, in increasing order:If you have something to say about abortion from a secular perspective, we want to hear it!  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 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

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

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Pro-choice policy is driven by wealthy elites. The poor are pro-life.

A coin jar

During the question and answer session of last week's Out of Hyding virtual rally, we discussed the role of civil disobedience in preserving the Hyde Amendment for the next generation. (Quick refresher: the Hyde Amendment restricts taxpayer funding of abortion through the Medicaid program and has saved the lives of over 2.4 million Americans. Leading Democrats in Congress have signaled their intent to kill it.) One suggestion was conscientious refusal to file your tax return, a tactic which has already been attempted in the context of taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. I expressed support for civil disobedience in general but had my doubts about that particular tactic: 

I don't think it's scalable to the level that we need it to be. And the reason for that is, you know, most Americans are wage earners and we have our taxes deducted from our paychecks before we ever even see them. Most of us who file a return do so in the hope of getting a tax refund. And that's particularly true for pro-life people who are statistically lower income than pro-choice people.

Someone in the chat asked for my source, but we had too many good questions and not enough time. 

What I had in mind was this 2013 Gallup survey on abortion attitudes in the United States. Among those with household incomes exceeding $75,000, 58% called themselves pro-choice — compared to only 41% of those with household incomes under $30,000. Those with incomes in the middle also had abortion views in the middle. The data showed a straightforward relationship: the higher your income, the likelier it is you support abortion. 

Gallup's more recent surveys change the income brackets, but demonstrate the same relationship. Of those earning $100,000 or more, a 49% plurality support abortion in all (33%) or most (16%) circumstances. But among those earning under $40,000, a whopping 70% take pro-life positions: 40% want abortion to be illegal in all but a few circumstances, and another 30% want it to be illegal without exceptions. 

Bottom line: If low-income people were in charge of abortion policy, the Hyde Amendment would be in no danger whatsoever. Bear that in mind when you hear abortion supporters argue that the Hyde Amendment is bad for the poor. The push to end the Hyde Amendment benefits from wealthy donors, but it does not have grassroots support among those with low enough incomes to receive Medicaid. 

[Photo credit: Michael Longmire on Unsplash.]

Monday, October 5, 2020

A Portrait of a Coerced Abortion

In a collection of women's abortion stories, one woman wrote about how she was pressured into abortion by her husband and abortion workers. 

The woman's husband had been demanding that she get an abortion. She decided to go to the abortion facility and back out at the last-minute. Then she could say she at least tried to get an abortion, which might appease her husband. She says, "Looking back, I realize I was afraid of my husband." 

A smiling woman met her at the abortion facility, and she told the woman immediately that she did not want an abortion. The post-abortive woman recalls the conversation: 

We were led into a counseling room by a woman with a pleasant smile. After we sat down, I told her, "Deep inside my heart, I know there is no justification for an abortion." Ralph glared at me. He said, "She thinks she is carrying a baby and not just a blob of cells." The counselor assured me that my baby was "just a pinhead." Both she and my husband argued with me. She said, "You can do this. You don’t have to want it or like it. It’s best to make this sacrifice for the well-being of your two boys." My husband begged me, "Please do it!"… "Wouldn't you remove a tumor?" As she shoved the papers at me to sign, she told me, "You can stop the abortion at any time." 

Under pressure, she signed the papers, still intending to change her mind: 

When it was time to go into the operating room, I crouched down outside the door and whimpered, "I can’t do this." Two smiling women, one on each side of me, lifted me up and pushed me into the room. The doctor was upset with me because I was crying. Many times, I told him, "I don't want to. I don't want to!" 

They gave her anesthesia, knocked her out, and did the abortion. 

This woman made it very clear to the abortion workers and the abortionist that she didn’t want to have an abortion. However, they gave her drugs to incapacitate her and then committed the abortion on her against her will. Their actions make a mockery of the pro-abortion claim that abortion providers are selfless heroes who just want to help women. Obviously, these "pro-choice" abortion providers did not respect her choice. 

That night, the woman cried bitterly, only to have her husband yell at her: 

That night when my crying kept Ralph awake, he yelled at me, "What's wrong with you? We got rid of the problem!" The next morning, after a night without sleep, I urged Ralph to look on the Internet for what happened to women after an abortion. He searched WebMD and found only one article. He showed it to me and pointed to one sentence: "Most women do not regret abortion." He grinned knowingly and said, "You see? You’re crazy, you’re creating this problem. You’ll be okay." I cried. 

The abortion industry and abortion supporters have released studies that purport to show only a small fraction of women regret their abortions. However, the studies contain methodological flaws. For one thing, few studies follow the women longer than a few months to a year. They therefore miss emotional trauma that surfaces later. 

If you listen to the testimonies of women who regret their abortions, many of them came to experience regret after a triggering incident in their lives. This could mean giving birth to a baby, which led them to wonder about the one that was aborted; finding out information they didn't know about fetal development; seeing an ultrasound, or losing a child through miscarriage. These events may happen many years after the abortion and trigger long-lasting abortion regret. 

Also, large numbers of women dropped out of the studies after initially agreeing to take part. These women filled out the first questionnaire but refused to fill out future questionnaires. There was no follow-up with these women – they were simply removed from the studies. Every study I have read that was based on questionnaires and came to the conclusion that women don't suffer after abortion had a high attrition rate – with up to 50% or more of the women dropping out. Some of these women may have dropped out because they found it traumatic to think about their abortions. 

Therefore, these studies are unreliable. Studies that do show that women regret their abortions or that the suicide rate of women is higher after abortion have been published. But pro-abortion medical societies and the abortion industry downplay these studies, and many of them have been published outside of the United States because American journals don’t want to publish them. 

Source: Barbara Horak Real Abortion Stories: The Hurting and the Healing (El Paso, Texas: Strive for the Best Publishing, 2007)

[Today's guest article is by Sarah Terzo. If you would like to contribute a guest article, email your submission to info@secularprolife.org for consideration. Photo credit: Oregon Right to Life.]