Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving hiatus

Secular Pro-Life is briefly pausing this week so that our American volunteers can travel and spend Thanksgiving with their loved ones.

Take this opportunity to recharge your batteries, because we are about to enter the busiest season of the year, getting ready for 2014! That includes all the Roe v. Wade anniversary activities in January, a major update to our database of abortion malpractice, some serious fundraising, more campus presentations in February... and stay tuned to learn about another big project in the pipeline.

I am very thankful to YOU for your continued support of Secular Pro-Life. So eat some comfort food, watch some football, and I'll see you in December!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Three announcements

1) The newest issue of the Life Matters Journal is out! It includes a short story by Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard. As always, the LMJ is free online.

2) The pro-life documentary film 40 premieres on December 11 at the Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge, IL (just outside of Chicago). Kelsey was interviewed for the film, as was Kristine Kruszelnicki of Pro-Life Humanists. I've had the opportunity to view a rough cut, and it does a great job of portraying the diversity and youthful energy of the pro-life movement. Trailer below:

3) We can now confirm that we will be present at the Students for Life of America West Coast conference! That will take place on Sunday, January 26, 2014 in San Francisco, the day after the West Coast Walk for Life. Registration is required, but very affordable at $30 per student, $40 per adult.

We'll be at the Walk for Life too... and the March for Life in D.C. on January 22... and the SFLA main conference in D.C. on the 21st. January is a crazy month in general, but it's worth it to connect with our supporters in person, reach campus pro-life activists, and start the year off right. (Donations are appreciated!)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

2013 Working Mother 100 Best Companies

Check out Working Mother's magazine's list of the 100 best companies for working mothers (and families in general) for 2013. Some samples:
  • Citi - In the frantic, heady days after the arrival of a child, having enough time at home is everything. Understanding that, this financial services company gives women up to 13 fully paid weeks off for maternity leave and eight paid weeks off for adoption. It also maintains a series of online discussions, led by an external facilitator, which outline their child care and scheduling options and recommend ways to reconnect with clients. (Subsidies or sliding-scale tuition, granted at eight company day care centers, make returning to work easier.) The Citi Parents Network offers panels and webinars on discipline strategies, family happiness secrets, nutrition, college prep and more.
  • General Mills - Get a haircut, grab a family dinner, pick up new glasses—moms can do a lot at this food manufacturing company’s headquarters, thanks to its beauty salon, cafeteria, day care, gym, gas station, tailor and medical clinic with dental and vision care (free to employees, with same-day appointments). A concierge service wraps gifts, researches trips, orders flowers and plans parties. Family members can access free financial coaching, scholarships and a credit union; an employee assistance program finds child care providers and medical specialists. Sabbaticals, flex schedules, summer hours and phase-back arrangements give employees the extra time they need. [Also offers both paid maternity and paid paternity leave.]
  • Teach for AmericaWith the education of children as its primary objective, it makes sense that this nonprofit would consider the welfare of employee families. In 2012, it began offering them a nationwide backup care program with access to 1,200+ U.S. child care centers and in-home care for dependents of any age. It also gives new mothers eight fully paid weeks off after a birth or adoption (with $3,000 in adoption aid) and pays half the cost of using a caregiver on business trips, provided children are under age 2. Dedicated affinity groups serve new and expectant mothers, those with toddlers and preschoolers, and fathers.
What about your stories, readers? How have your employers helped support you and your families? Or if they haven't, what are changes you think would be helpful?

Working moms

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Why Are Sex-Selective Abortions Morally Problematic?

Currently, abortion is generally legal in the United States through all nine months of pregnancy (except in about 11 states) for generally any reason. Our government recently decided to vote on whether or not to ban sex-selection abortions, but ultimately decided not to ban them.

At first blush, this seems pretty ridiculous to me. However, upon closer examination of the pro-choice position, can you really blame them? When the Roe v. Wade decision was passed, the Supreme Court decided that no one can tell when human life begins (despite blatant scientific evidence to the contrary), then took it upon themselves to declare that life begins at birth and made abortions legal through all nine months of pregnancy.

Now, if the unborn are mere "clumps of cells" or "tissue," and are not "humans" as we are, then why is sex-selection abortion wrong? If a couple is trying to conceive, is the father wrong for hoping he gets a son? As long as he doesn't mistreat or abuse his child if she turns out to be a girl, of course it's not wrong. In fact, if the unborn are not part of the moral community then, as SPL member LN once argued, having a sex-selection abortion is the moral equivalent of a man getting a vasectomy because he may produce female children in the future.

Polling data actually suggests that the majority of Americans (in fact, 86%) believe that sex-selection abortions are not only immoral, but should be illegal. So let's take this a step further by using a technique that Scott Klusendorf and Greg Koukl have dubbed Trot Out the Toddler. Say a woman gives birth to a girl and when the girl is two, the father decides he doesn't want her and wants to try again (he really wants a boy). Would he be morally justified in taking the child's life because she's female? Of course not! So why do we feel so strongly that sex-selection abortions are horrible? Could it be because the unborn that we are aborting is a human? Why would sex-selection abortions be a human rights violation based on gender, if abortion itself isn't a human rights violation based on their humanity?

Steve Wagner, in his book Common Ground Without Compromise (p. 53), suggests disgust over sex-selection abortions might be for one of at least three reasons: It's sexist, it's a crime against society, or it's a crime against humanity. But none of these reasons work unless the unborn are actually human. If it were merely sexist, then this could be remedied by ensuring that an equal number of male and female fetuses are aborted. Yet no one recommends killing male fetuses to balance the numbers out. It's not a crime against society. Concerns for the beauty and order of society do not really account for our disgust. It is perceived as wrongs not against something but someone. And it can't be a crime against humanity unless the beings being wronged are actual humans. Potential humans cannot be harmed. In order to be a potential something, it is an actual something else. If it is merely a potential human, that would make it actually something less significant, like an animal mass or tissue organism. But it is not a crime against humanity to remove a piece of tissue or kill an animal organism.

The pro-choice position is that all women should be able to abort because abortion is inextricably tied up into a woman's reproductive rights. If you believe Thomson, that a woman should be able to abort because she should not be legally compelled to give her body as "life support" to the child, then you must also agree with Thomson that she can abort for any reason, even if you, personally, find the reason unpalatable. And if your position is that abortion is permissible because the unborn are ot part of the moral community (that is, they are not yet a "person"), then you're not really causing any harm to anything by having a sex-selection abortion.

This is why Christopher Kaczor argues, in his book The Ethics of Abortion (p.198), "Discriminating between non-persons, for example plucking the red roses but leaving the white, is not ethically problematic in itself, since these plants do not have rights nor do they merit equal respect as persons." Sex-selection abortions are simply not morally problematic unless the entities being discriminated against are fully human with the same moral worth we have.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

TODAY: Albuquerque votes on late-term abortion ban

This is a photo of Amillia Rose Taylor shortly after her birth in October of 2006. She was born very prematurely, at just 21 weeks and 6 days. But she survived, and today is a healthy little girl.

History will be made today. The people of Albuquerque, New Mexico have the opportunity to redeem their city, which is currently has a reputation as the late-term abortion capital of the country. Polling indicates that a majority of voters support the proposed ban on abortions after 20 weeks, but there are no guarantees.

Pro-life groups have lots of boots on the ground. Pro-life students are canvassing and making phone calls. Live Action recently released an investigative video revealing that Southwestern Women's Options, the local late-term abortion center, sends patients to a hotel to deliver their dead babies. The Susan B. Anthony List is running television ads. And the pro-abortion webzine RH Reality Check reports that early voter turnout has been "historic."

Of course, supporters of late-term abortion aren't rolling over. They have their own television ads, their own canvassers, and no shortage of money. We have to give this our all.

If you live in Albuquerque, VOTE. If you don't live in Albuquerque, share this story on your social media accounts. Operation Rescue put it best:
Municipal elections rarely garner much attention outside a city, but in this case, it is of national concern because the largest late-term abortion clinic in the nation operates in Albuquerque, drawing customers from every state for abortions halfway through pregnancy and later. The passage of this ordinance will save lives across America. From a political standpoint, there are national implications to this campaign. If the ordinance can win in this blue-state community, it will send a strong message to Washington that the people want and need a similar ban on late-term abortions at the federal level.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pro-Life Teacher's Career Still Hangs in the Balance

Last week, we reported the story of Bill Diss, a Portland, Oregon high school teacher facing discrimination for being pro-life. Mr. Diss warned his students not to trust Planned Parenthood, which was on the campus for a sex education program. Planned Parenthood has, among other things, been caught providing false information about prenatal development in order to make abortion appear more acceptable.

For this crime of political incorrectness, Mr. Diss was suspended from his position, despite an exemplary (and even award-winning) record as a teacher. On Wednesday, November 14, he faced a disciplinary hearing to determine whether or not he would be declared "unfit to teach."

Since then, numerous concerned secular pro-lifers have contacted us, wanting to know the outcome of the hearing. The decision still has not been announced. However, we can report that pro-lifers showed up in droves to support Mr. Diss. Students for Life of America's Brendan O'Morchoe writes that Diss "has received hundreds of supportive letters from students, parents, and colleagues. Diss remained cordial throughout the hearing and support was overwhelming. The night ended in applause for Diss from supporters. A verdict has not yet been reached. The school board representative who was present at the hearing on Thursday night will make a decision at a later date which has not yet been announced to Diss or his union representative."

Mr. Diss may have taught his students a more valuable lesson through this ordeal than he has in any classroom. His resolute commitment to doing the right thing, in the face of oppression and ridicule, is very admirable. The students of Portland Oregon deserve to keep a teacher of such conscience and courage.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tomorrow: Presentation at MIT

Tomorrow evening, Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard will give a presentation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The topic is "Pro-Life Without God." The event will take place at 6:00 p.m.

The best place to park is the Massachusetts Avenue Visitor Lot. When you get out of the car, remember the number 3! Go to Building 3, on the third floor, Room 333.

This event is free and open to the public. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

From Womb to Tomb

"To be pro-life doesn't necessarily end with a woman's pregnancy," says Wendy Davis, the candidate for governor of Texas best known for opposing laws that would prohibit late-term abortion and regulate safety at abortion facilities.

I agree, actually. Being pro-life shouldn't end with a woman's pregnancy. It does, however, begin there. (More accurately, it begins before then, by preventing unplanned pregnancy.)
It feels like pro-lifers are always on the receiving end of charges of hypocrisy. "You care so much about fetuses, but you don't support Program XYZ that would help impoverished families!" Of course, the charge of hypocrisy works just as well the other way around. It's disingenuous to claim to stand for disadvantaged members of society, while supporting the right to dismember the most disadvantaged of them all.

This isn't meant as a put-down of liberalism generally. There are plenty of pro-life liberals, represented by groups like Democrats for Life and All Our Lives. Many SPL members are politically liberal as well.

This also isn't meant to imply that fiscal conservatives are heartless. We can all agree that poverty is a bad thing, but reasonable people can disagree on how best to end it and where the money should come from. I know many conservative pro-lifers who devote considerable time and money to private charity, including charities that help young children and their parents.

The problem is that when pro-lifers give, they give as individuals; their care for born people isn't publicly connected to the cause. On the other hand, when a liberal government program is established, it is (usually) associated with pro-abortion politicians.

Late in 2012, Secular Pro-Life launched, a website that connects pro-lifers to great charities. Many are, at least on a surface level, totally unrelated to abortion. But they are united by a common value: protecting those who cannot protect themselves.

So if you want to show the world what it really means to be pro-life, before, during, and after pregnancy, help a charity on our list* and then share on your social media pages. Do it for the weakest members of the human family. Thank you.

*We recognize that you may not have disposable income; that's okay! The site includes non-financial ways to give too. Check it out.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Portland, OR: A pro-life teacher needs your help!

[Today's guest post by Alycia Hartley is part of our paid blogging program.]

The Washington Times recently reported on a teacher who is currently being lambasted by Planned Parenthood and the Portland School District. The Times article tells the story of Bill Diss, a math teacher at a high-minority, high-risk Portland school. Diss is an educator that has won awards for his work with high-risk students, “and for helping stop gang violence in Portland Parks.” However, this award winning, recognized educator is now in threat of losing his teaching license, and not because of any sex or money scandal, or because of any unethical conduct. No, the reason his whole teaching career is now on the line is because he dared to speak out against Planned Parenthood.

Diss is known for doing pro-life activism outside of school hours. As the Times article reports, “It has raised the ire of Principal Carol Campbell and other school administrators for years.” The Times explains further: “Diss said that, on one occasion, Campbell demanded to know exactly what Diss had said at a prayer vigil. Hearing there was video, she also wanted to see that.”

The Times quotes a mother of a student who said the following, “The highlight of [my son’s] day however is his math class with Mr. Diss. … It seems he goes to great lengths to make himself available for any student who needs additional help. … Mr. Diss cares enough about his students to have firm boundaries and tell them the truth, even when it hurts.” This mother’s ending comment certainly came to fruition when Planned Parenthood literally came barging into Mr. Diss’s classroom.

On September 17th of last year, Mr. Diss was surprised when agents of the Health and Human Service Teen Outreach Program (TOP), who turned out to be Planned Parenthood workers, came into his classroom to “put up signs and began offering gift certificates and cash incentives to his students to enroll them in the program.” Mr. Diss asked them to leave, but instead Principal Carol Campbell came into the class to make sure everyone, including Diss, stayed. When Mr. Diss asked to leave the presentation because of his conscientious objection, Campbell refused.

Mr. Diss was reported telling students later in the hallway that Planned Parenthood, “was a racist organization, was involved in eugenics, and was a provider of abortions.” Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was a well-known eugenist of her time, and wrote about providing birth control and abortion services in hopes of eliminating the black race. (A few years ago, some black pro-lifers came to together to expose Sanger’s racist agenda in a documentary named Maafa 21.)

What happened to Mr. Diss for speaking up about Planned Parenthood? According to the Times, he was observed by Planned Parenthood for two weeks and by his Principal Carole Campbell almost 40 times. He has been subjected to about a dozen hearings, and tomorrow the Portland School District will bring formal charges against Mr. Diss as unfit to teach. All this because Mr. Diss dared to speak up about a corrupt organization that kills pre-born children every day, 332,000 total in 2012 alone.

Instead of allowing Mr. Diss to exercise his First Amendment rights, Planned Parenthood and the Portland School District are now throwing the book at him to slap him with one of the most degrading offenses there is in education: "unfit to teach." Why is Mr. Diss unfit to teach according to Portland schools? Because he dared to speak out against an organization that he believed would harm his studentsa reasonable belief, in light of Planned Parenthood's history of fabricating medical information, advancing a racist agenda, and turning a blind eye to sexual abuse.

Jim Sedlak of the organization STOPP explains the situation well: “Planned Parenthood is ruthless. This is about political power, not the truth, the children, or good teachers. They will no doubt pack the hearing with pro-choice activists to sway the outcome.”

If you are a pro-lifer in the Portland area, and are able to attend the hearing for Mr. Diss, I highly recommend you do so. The hearing will take place at the headquarters for the Portland Public School which is located at 501 N. Dixon Street in Portland, Oregon, beginning at 4 p.m. on November 14.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Pro-Life Movement Belongs to All of Us

[Today's guest post is by K. Misener.]

I recently became aware of a book which looks at the pro-life movement from an academic perspective - "The Making of Pro-Life Activists: How Social Movement Mobilization Works" by sociology professor Ziad Munson. In contrast to the common stereotype that pro-lifers are all part of some unified conservative Christian agenda, Munson asserts that the pro-life movement is actually not a monolithic movement with one single cohesive world view. He points out that, even though religion is heavily represented in the American pro-life movement, many of our religious pro-life allies are split between two groups that are traditionally often at odds at each other - Catholics versus Protestant evangelicals. Just as in American society as a whole there is a spectrum of belief despite many Americans identifying as Christian, so too the pro-life movement contains a spectrum of beliefs even though we have a vocal Christian component. 

Personally, I have always found ample reasons to be pro-life without any religious reason being a factor. One formative experience in developing my pro-life view came when I saw photographs of developing embryos in my college biology textbook - and I noticed that the textbook's photos matched up with the photos that I had seen pro-lifers distributing. I also noticed that many abortion advocates are content to dismiss these photos by calling them "Fake" and just leave it at that, instead of  distributing accurate fetal development photos themselves or encouraging women considering abortion to look at the ultrasound. If the facts are on the pro-choice side and pro-lifers are just religious fanatics exaggerating the fetus's development, why wouldn't pro-choicers want people to see the truth about fetal development with their own eyes? 

Religious groups have a long history of being significant forces in social movements. I think one reason this happens is because a church congregation offers an easy way to organize and mobilize people who share a similar worldview. As a general rule, pro-life atheists and agnostics do not have this sort of network of like-minded people as easily available as churchgoers do - indeed, some atheists and agnostics consider one of the fringe benefits of non-belief to be that you do not have any obligation to attend weekly meetings to affirm your non-belief! This has the effect that you will often see churches chartering buses to the March for Life and word will spread through congregations about events like 40 Days for Life,  while pro-life atheists at this point are still in the process of finding each other through groups such as Secular Pro-Life. 

Surely the existence of prominent religious activists such as William Wilberforce, Dorothy Day, and Martin Luther King Jr. does not detract in any way from the fact that many non-religious people also are active in causes such as human rights, racial equality, or peace issues. More recently, I look at the example of Father Daniel Berrigan, a Jesuit priest who has tirelessly worked to promote peace (on issues such as the Vietnam war, the death penalty, euthanasia and - yes - abortion) despite being arrested numerous times for civil disobedience. I do not think that most people would say that the presence of religious people such as Fr. Berrigan in the peace movement means that all peace activists are "religious fanatics".  

I think those of us who are non-religious pro-lifers should respect the contributions that religious pro-lifers have made to our cause, but we also should not wait for religious pro-lifers to roll out the welcome mat for us before we become active in the pro-life movement ourselves. Just as in the general population some people still hold prejudiced views about atheists and agnostics, there are still some pro-lifers who do not understand how someone can be an atheist and still be a "good person". That's really beside the point, however. The pro-life movement is not the personal property of any particular group. The pro-life movement belongs to all of us. Just as "wantedness" does not determine if a fetus deserves to live or die, how "wanted" you are by other activists does not determine your right to be present in this movement. If your efforts save a life that otherwise would not have been saved, does it really matter what anyone else thinks?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thank you, Philadelphia abortion workers

Abortion workers in Philadelphia have done the right thing, likely saving the lives of unborn babies and, quite possibly, the lives of women as well.

According to Operation Rescue, it was abortion workers who outed Steven Chase Brigham's illegal operation of an abortion business in Philadelphia:
Operating just slightly below the radar, the notorious scofflaw New Jersey abortionist Steven Chase Brigham, has opened an abortion clinic in Philadelphia despite having been ordered by the state never to do so.
The new abortion clinic, Integrity Family Health, located at 9622 Bustleton Avenue in Philadelphia, was discovered by the staff of another area abortion clinic when a patient mentioned it to them. During a quick Internet search, they discovered the connections to Brigham and reported the clinic to the authorities, who are now investigating it.
Brigham has a long, sordid history that includes numerous botched abortions, abortions illegally performed within mere weeks of birth, a bizarre and dangerous scheme in which patients had to cross state lines
mid-abortion, and even a murder charge (which unfortunately did not stick).

We can't know what the abortion workers' motives were. I frankly don't care. Whether they did it out of the goodness of their heart, or in the interest of removing a business competitor, or simply because they don't want a repeat of the Gosnell disaster (also in Philadelphia) is irrelevant. They did the right thing, and I give credit where credit is due.

Thank you, Philadelphia abortion workers, for exposing this menace to women and children.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Change a City, Change a Nation

When it comes to the many internal debates of the pro-life movement—pass laws or build pregnancy centers? talk about contraception or talk about abstinence? work at the local level or the national level?—my attitude is usually:

Seems my philosophy has carried the day when it comes to the late-term abortion ban (a.k.a. the 20-week ban or Pain Capable Act). It started in the states (see page 11). Yesterday, a federal version was introduced in the Senate (it's already been passed by the House of Representatives, which has a pro-life majority). And on November 19—less than two weeks away—the citizens of Albuquerque, New Mexico will vote on the first ever municipal ordinance banning abortion in the second half of pregnancy. In fact, early voting has already begun.

Why Albuquerque? Because it is home to Southwestern Women's Options, one of the few abortion centers in the country that openly advertises abortion at any stage of pregnancy, even within weeks or days of birth.

Rather than throwing our hands in the air and deciding that a nationwide bill would never pass (effectively abandoning the children of solidly pro-abortion states like New York), we're giving it a shot. And rather than focusing all our efforts on the federal level, to the detriment of children who could be protected more quickly by non-federal legislation, we're working with states and even localities to end the scourge of late-term abortion as soon as possible.

The pro-life movement is playing offense at every level. Abortion's defenders are right to be nervous.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

10 Reasons to Have an Abortion?

So I've been made aware of an article on a website called Mommyish, 10 Reasons to Have an Abortion -- Illustrated by Adorable Cats, and written by Eve Vawter. Let's be honest here. Most of her reasons are without substance, so the cat pictures are there to make her argument more emotionally compelling so that you don't notice the flawed reasoning (after all, why would you post cat pictures in an article talking about the death of human beings in an attempt to be "cute," especially if you recognize that most women don't make the abortion decision lightly and since most of the cat pictures don't even illustrate the reason they are included with?). While I think a parenting website is hypocritical to celebrate parenting and support abortion, I agree with Ms. Vawter that one can be pro-choice and be a good parent. As she indicates, the two are not mutually exclusive.

Ms. Vawter's article begins with many of the same pro-choice talking points, which I have responded to ad nauseum on this blog. So I will just respond to her ten arguments directly. In fact, all of her reasons except for the first one beg the question by assuming that the unborn child is not a valuable human being, deserving of the same rights we all are. So without further ado, let's examine her reasons.

1. Having a baby would endanger your life.

This is the only legitimate reason on her list. I have responded to this argument in detail elsewhere, There are other reasons that are at least understandable, like rape, even though they are not permissible. She adds the caveat "or cause you medical hardship," but she doesn't go into detail as to what medical hardship means. If a woman can safely continue a pregnancy, even though she must endure hardship, I don't see this as a legitimate reason to kill her unborn child.

2. Your birth control failed.

This happens quite a bit. But if the unborn child is a valuable human being, then you can't justify killing them on the grounds that your contraception failed. Sex leads to pregnancy. Even by protecting yourself from pregnancy, you are still responsible for the creation of new life because you willingly engaged in that act.

In his book The Ethics of Abortion (New York, NY: Routledge, 2011, p. 162), Christopher Kaczor, responds to an analogy by Judith Jarvis Thomson in which she argues that if it is stuffy and you open a window, and a burglar takes the opportunity to enter your house through the window, you are not obligated to allow him to stay, even if you had taken "precautions" like having bars installed to keep burglars out, and he only got in due to a defect in the bars. To this, Kaczor responds,

"The critic of the burglar analogy could critique the analogy by pointing out that the woman's action of leaving the door unlocked does not cause the burglar to be in the house -- opening the door only removes an obstacle. On the other hand, the man and the woman cause the baby to be where it is, even if they tried to prevent it (just as a drunk driver causes deaths though she may have tried to prevent it, say by drinking coffee to help stay alert)."

Patrick Lee responds to this argument, as well, in his book Abortion and Unborn Human Life (Washington, D.C., The Catholic University of America Press, 1996, p. 118, emphasis in original, as quoted in Kaczor, pp. 162-163),

"Parents have a special duty or responsibility to their children even if they have taken careful precautions to avoid having children, by contraception or natural family planning. For most people realize that contraceptives and other methods of avoiding conception have a certain rate of failure. Similary, drunk drivers are responsible for the damage they cause even if they make great efforts to avoid it. If the baseball I bat breaks my neighbor's window, I still have a responsibility to compensate my neighbor (fix the window) even though I tried very hard to bat the baseball in the other direction. Thus, contrary to Thomson's argument, we are responsible for the natural and foreseen results of our actions even if we try to avoid them."

Contraception failure is not a legitimate reason to have an abortion. One must assume that the unborn are not valuable human beings in order to justify abortion for this reason.

3. You don't want to have a child because of your career.

This is the first picture that remotely has anything to do with the reason, as the cat is wearing a tie (and not even a very professional-looking one). Having a child is not always easy. Pro-life people freely concede this. But this still does not justify taking a child's life. Imagine that a single mother decides to give birth, and after the child is born her boss tells her that if she doesn't come back to work next week, she'll be fired. Would she be justified in killing her child so that she doesn't have to worry anymore and go back to work? Of course not. So if the unborn is a valuable human being, we can't justify abortion for that reason, either.

Also, saying "you don't want to have a child" is misleading, since once a woman conceives she already has a child. If a woman doesn't want to have a child, she should abstain from having sex, which is an act intrinsically ordered toward procreation. Same goes for the guy, too.

4. You feel you are too young.

So apparently you could be any age, and if you feel you are too young, go get an abortion. Needless to say, this argument begs the question because again, if the unborn are valuable human beings, we can't justify killing them because the mother feels she is too young, unless in extreme cases where her youth would pose a significant threat to her life if the pregnancy continues.

5. You feel you are too old.

Apparently the author believes that a woman should be able to have an abortion just based on her whims. She does begin by saying she is "very pro-choice," so I'm guessing that probably means she doesn't really think any reasons are off-limits for having an abortion. At any rate, this begs the question for the same reason the others have.

6. You feel strongly about overpopulation.

What does it matter how you feel about overpopulation? What matters is whether or not you're right. There's little evidence to suggest the world really is overpopulated (in fact, from what I understand, the entire world's population can fit inside the area of the state of Texas), but even if we were, that does not justify abortion. Think about it. My friend Josh Brahm would say, why stop at abortion? Why not just round up all two year old children one time and kill them all, to lower the population? Can't do that because you can't kill human beings? Then if the unborn are also human beings, you can't justify abortion to help solve overpopulation. Try to look for actual solutions that doesn't involve killing an innocent human being.

Besides which, does anyone ever really have an abortion because they feel strongly about overpopulation? Highly doubtful.

7. You are worried about the health of the baby.

Now we reach the ultimate pro-choice smokescreen. Killing someone is rarely in their best interests. I mean very rarely. Even if you're worried about the baby's health (and the irony of her calling the unborn child a baby and yet advocating killing the baby for incredibly frivolous reasons is not lost on me), the answer is to let doctors heal the baby, not to kill the baby. Doctors need to work on finding cures for illnesses, not just killing every child that comes up with an incurable ailment. Besides which, we are not morally justified in taking someone's life prematurely.

8. You want no relationship with the person who got you pregnant.

Ms. Vawter says that if you get pregnant from a one-night stand, that's enough justification to get an abortion. She indicates rape and incest, which are difficult cases to be sure, but if someone's father is a criminal, that doesn't make the child any less valuable because of it. A difficult situation simply does not justify murder. And to the case of a one-night stand, I can only say, give me a break. Apparently Ms. Vawter believes that women should not be held responsible for their actions, which leads me to wonder which side is really the one that doesn't trust women?

9. You don't want to have a child.

Another easily dismantled reason. Not only does it beg the question, but once a woman conceives she already has a child.

There are only nine reasons, but no bother. Ms. Vawter claims she could have come up with a hundred more, but it would have been nice if she could have come up with a second good one. Abortion cannot be justified by situations because not only does it beg the question, but situations must be looked at on a situation by situation basis. And ironically, as J. Warner Wallace points out, these reasons wouldn't justify killing the cats in these pictures, so why should we justify abortion for these reasons? Have pets become more important to us than unborn children? Vawter did say she hopes a counter-list will be compiled soon, so I will take her up on that offer. On Friday, I will present a list of ten reasons not to have an abortion. You can check on my blog Friday at 8:00 AM PST if you're interested in seeing that list.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Students for Life of America announces West Coast conference

For the first time, in addition to its conference in D.C. coinciding with the March for Life, Students for Life of America will also be holding a conference in San Francisco coinciding with the West Coast Walk for Life! The West Coast conference will be held on Saturday, January 26; details here. I cannot promise that Secular Pro-Life will be there, given the short notice, but we are going to try. In any event, we will definitely be at the D.C. conference on January 21.

Coincidentally, this announcement comes just days after the premiere of a one-woman stage show making fun of the Students for Life conference. (To give you an idea of the intellectual caliber of this show, the trailer features a strange-voiced character getting the audience to chant "Mom! Baby! God!" The show's creator claims to have researched by actually attending the conference, but somehow missed our table with the giant, bright blue Secular Pro-Life banner in the hallway.) Did she think her acting skills would keep pro-life young people from caring about the slaughter of unborn children? Well, too bad, because SFLA just added a conference. I love it.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Return of the Scourge, Part II

In the previous part of this series, I addressed empirical objections that Ord anticipated. Now I will respond to his anticipated philosophical objections. See here and here for the first two parts in this series.

Philosophical Objections: The first objection he responds to is a claim I made in an earlier part, that many of the conceptions that occur are not really human embryos, but non-human entities. He doesn't really respond to this argument. Instead, he just claims that even if true, that still leaves 90 million unborn humans that we have to save, which is still enough to lead to his Conclusion if we accept The Claim.

It's not clear how he arrives at his number of 90 million, but he has not even made an argument for how many people would have to die before we should halt all other issues and try and solve this one issue, alone. Ord's Conclusion simply doesn't follow. To reiterate, the fact that embryos die naturally does not justify our killing them intentionally. So even if pro-life people were inconsistent by failing to end miscarriages, it would not justify elective abortion. (Plus, there is no reason to count the death of embryos in our average lifespan since, having survived until birth, dying as an embryo, which has dangers that are far different than the ones we encounter outside the womb, is no longer a threat to anybody.)

Considering that most unborn human beings who "spontaneously abort" do so before a woman even discovers she's pregnant, I'm not sure Ord's thought experiment even makes logical sense. Just how would Ord expect pro-life scientists and doctors to save these microscopic embryos? He would likely reply that it's our problem and not his, but it may not even be possible to save these embryos. The fact that they die naturally does not give us an obligation to save every last one of them, though I would agree that we have an obligation to save as many as we can.

Ord's next anticipated objection is the objection that spontaneous abortions are natural. He argues that this proves too much because cancer is natural, yet we have an obligation to find a cure for cancer. But I don't think it proves too much at all. If we have an obligation to find a cure for cancer, then we have an obligation to save what human life we can save. That includes unborn human beings. Society doesn't have an obligation to drop everything and prevent all Natural Embryo Loss, however. Society's resources are finite. That does not prove that the unborn are not as intrinsically valuable as older humans, it just proves that society places a greater priority on saving lives that would be lost to other ailments and disasters. Besides, again, we do try to save unborn human life. We tell pregnant women not to smoke or drink, and doctors have developed ways to operate on unborn human children. We should save all the unborn human beings that we should, but it may simply not be possible to save all of them.

A third objection Ord anticipates works toward the pro-life position, but not in the way he thinks. He argues that when an elderly person dies, it is not as tragic as someone who's younger because they have less of their life ahead of them. Perhaps when an unborn human dies it's not as tragic due to this extending to both ends of a person's life. So an embryo dying is not as important as an adult human's. I don't know who would make this kind of argument, but I agree with Ord that it's weak. An embryo who dies has much more of their life ahead of them than an elderly person, or even an adult human being. Ord has hit on Marquis' Future of Value argument. However, an adult person dying can be seen as more important due to their instrumental value to society, rather than their intrinsic value as human beings. So it could be argued that an adult person who dies is more important to society as they are a contributing member of society. But I think that a doctor has an obligation to save all human life that they can, because we're all equally valuable. So Ord's argument works to show why it's wrong to kill an unborn human being, due to the future you are robbing them of. But it doesn't work to show why we have an obligation to save their lives.

Ord seems to be taking an all-or-nothing approach to whether or not we should value unborn human life, which shows an extreme lack of nuance on his part. He argues that we could save The Claim by arguing that an embryo does not have any life plans or projects, but an adult does, so embryonic death is less important than adult death. But there's a distinction to be made between killing someone and letting them die. There's a lot to consider in that debate, but in this case, we still have to go back to the fact that people die naturally does not justify our killing them intentionally. So there is a debate to be had on how many unborn human beings we have an obligation to save, but none of this has any bearing on whether or not we can kill them intentionally.

Ord finally considers the objection that the full moral status of embryos restricts us from harming them, but not from saving them from a natural death. He first responds by claiming that if this were true, we would not have an obligation to save a drowning child, to help victims of natural disasters, or to fund research into curing cancer. But when it comes to a drowning child, or a person sucked into a tornado, or a cancer victim, you only have an obligation to save that person if you can. You are not morally obligated to risk your life for someone else. That would be a supererogatory, or morally heroic, action. So this actually supports my contention, that we are obligated to save what life we can, but we are not obligated to attempt to save all human life.

His second response is that if there is no duty to protect embryos, but there is a duty to protect humans after they are born, then that shows that embryos do not have full moral status at all. This objection is simply not well-thought-out. We do have an obligation to save what unborn life we can, as I have already argued. We are not necessarily required to save all human life outside the womb. We are obligated to save what life we can. It may simply not be possible to save all unborn human life.

Implications: Ord's thought experiment does not do the job he needs it to do. In fact, it seems to me that aside from Ord's thought experiment working against him by showing that if there was a real Scourge we would not be justified in mass murder, Ord's thought experiment actually proves too much. Back when slavery of blacks was legal, a white slave owner could have argued that we obviously shouldn't consider blacks people because if we did, it would lead to extreme and unpalatable conclusions. It would mean that we have enslaved and allowed the murder of a large population of humanity, if we considered blacks to be people. It would mean a great shift in the way of life of plantation owners who rely on slave labor. This argument obviously fails, because the implication is not what's absurd. What's absurd is that we have allowed the slaughter of millions of human beings. It would not be absurd to consider human zygotes as human beings; it would only highlight our need to save these young human people.

It seems that Ord's entire article is a non sequitur, but he makes extreme claims that are nothing more than an argument from incredulity. Take this paragraph, which is near the end of his essay: "Those who 'bite the bullet' and accept the Conclusion will have a very difficult time. They will have to accept a very strange ethical belief, and they cannot leave it as a purely theoretical view -- for if they really believe that the Scourge is with us, then they will be compelled to fervent action. It is also a belief that will alienate them from much of the public. It will be very difficult to convince people that The Claim makes induced abortion wrong when they know that the Claim comes along with the Conclusion." So because Ord considers this a "strange ethical belief," and he believes this will "alienate" someone from the public, and that they'll have a very difficult time convincing the public, this, somehow, is supposed to lend support to his idea that the Claim is false. I have actually found that it is not very difficult to convince someone of The Claim. In fact, I have helped people who were pro-choice up until the unborn becomes human become completely pro-life after simply showing them the scientific facts of human development. Perhaps instead of arguing that pro-life people argue for "strange claims," Ord should allow the science to speak for itself.

Needless to say, the pro-life position that the unborn are fully human and fully persons from conception is well-supported by science. If Ord's implication is true, it only shows that pro-life people should take Natural Embryo Loss more seriously, not that the unborn don't have full moral status.

Monday, November 4, 2013

...But They Were Aborted

Recently, the Pro Life Campaign, a non-sectarian pro-life group in Ireland, produced this short video:
I can already hear the objection from the pro-choicers who will view this: "Or maybe that fetus you aborted would have become a 21st-century Hitler! Maybe you did the world a favor!"

The idea behind this video, and other campaigns like it, is to try to make the Future Like Ours argument easier for the masses to digest. That argument, in a nutshell, is that the moral wrongness of murder arises from the fact that the murder victim is deprived of his or her future experiences. (Whether the victim is actually aware of that loss is irrelevant; consider, for example, someone who is killed instantly while in their sleep.) Since the same is true of abortion, abortion is similarly prima facie wrong.

The problem arises when pro-lifers, in an attempt to distill this argument into a sound bite, illustrate with the great aborted lives of the person who would have found the cure for cancer, etc. I think that undermines our message, because the pro-life position is that you don't have to be great to be deserving of life. The right to life isn't earned by contributing to society; it is an inherent right.

So the Pro Life Campaign's focus on "everyday people" is a laudable step in the right direction. But what of the future criminal, the pro-choice counterpoint?

Trying to judge whether a person's life will be "worth living" before that person is even born is frankly ridiculous. Besides, this is real life, not Minority Report. Our system of justice presumes people innocent until proven guilty. The pro-life view is that everyone should be given the chance to live life outside the womb; what they will make of those lives is up to each individual. Some people will make lousy decisions, even criminal decisions. But this does not cause them to forfeit their right to life. (As an aside, I'm especially bemused when the person crying "That fetus could have grown up to be a serial killer!" also claims to be opposed to the death penalty... but only after the kid has been born, grown up, and committed serial murder.)

I propose that someone in the pro-life movement create a video about the most uninspiring aborted life ever. Joe Schmo is a drug addict who's never worked a day in his life, despite being physically able. He steals, lies, and takes advantage of his family and his few friends. He's in and out of prison. He's never fallen in love, never fathered a child, and has no accomplishments to speak of whatsoever. But none of that happened, because Joe Schmo was aborted.

And that is a tragedy.

Friday, November 1, 2013

When your arguments just can't hack it

What do you do when your arguments just can't hack it? You hack the opposition's website.

Last week, all Students for Life of America websites were hacked, causing a denial of service. Earlier this week, our intern attempted to access critical data on and likewise found herself in a sea of 404 not found errors.

In both instances, the websites were restored in a matter of days. It's no big deal in the grand scheme of things. No one brief incident of ideological hacking is terribly newsworthy, even in the pro-life blogosphere.

But at a certain point, I have to wonder: who thinks this is a good way to convince people? "Oh wow, somebody brought the Students for Life website down. I guess humans aren't real people until they pass through the birth canal! Thanks, pro-abortion computer genius!"

Whatever the controversy, a good rule of thumb is that the side which seeks to censor information is the wrong side. Censorship is a sign that you can't convince people through legitimate channels. It is a sign that your position cannot survive the impact of opposing arguments. And it is a sign that the person doing the censoring is irrationally committed to a position that, on some subconscious level, he or she knows to be weak. Otherwise, why censor?

Thankfully, in an information-rich, interconnected, digital society, traditional censorship rarely wins out. The greater danger is self-censorship. Pro-lifers must never be afraid to speak up. The facts are on our side.