Friday, February 27, 2015

Wilberforce Fellowship applications are open!

Students for Life of America is accepting applications for its Wilberforce Fellowship through March 31st. The Wilberforce Fellowship is a leadership program that connects campus pro-life activists with mentors who have devoted their careers to the cause. It's a great opportunity to acquire leadership skills and make connections. I speak from personal experience; I was part of the inaugural class of Wilberforce Fellows in 2009-2010 and I still keep in touch with my mentor and with the other students in my class.

That's me in the green shirt, way back in the day

Details from SFLA:
Fellows will be flown to Northern Virginia for the kick-off weekend training from July 10th-12th. Flights, housing, and meals in the Virginia area will be covered by Students for Life of America.
Who is Eligible to Apply
  • Any undergraduate, graduate, law, or med students may apply 
  • Must be a current leader in a pro-life organization 
  • Must be interested in pursuing a full-time career in the pro-life movement 
  • Must be able to attend the Wilberforce kick-off weekend, July 10th-12th
Good luck!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Website Under Deconstruction: American Family Planning of Pensacola

This post is the third in "Website Under Deconstruction," our series on abortion center websites. (See the first and second.)

Today we are featuring American Family Planning of Pensacola (AFPP), which sent a woman to the hospital last week. AFPP is owned by notorious abortionist Steven Chase Brigham, who cannot legally perform abortions himself because his medical license has been revoked in numerous states. (Even abortion apologists acknowledge that he was a menace to women's health.) That doesn't stop him from playing a supervisory role, though.

So it's no surprise that AFPP's website is full of troubling statements. That's especially true of its section on medical abortion (abortion by pill).

Strike one: AFPP uses an outdated, non-FDA-approved protocol that includes taking the abortifacient drug vaginally. ("You will be instructed to take the Misoprostol in the form of vaginal suppositories, placed high in the vagina near the cervix...") Even Planned Parenthood knows that this is a bad idea; they ceased vaginal administration of abortion drugs, on the ground of its increased risk for infection, nine years ago.

Strike two: AFPP makes a promise it absolutely cannot keep: "You will not see the embryo, but you may pass clots" (emphasis added). AFPP claims to provide medication abortion up to nine weeks gestation (again in violation of FDA protocol), at which point the fetus is over an inch long from crown to rump. Even Women on Web—a truly extremist abortion organization which distributes abortion pills over the internet, regardless of the side effects, to women in developing countries who may be unable to access emergency treatment for complications—admits on its website that at nine weeks "it is possible that you might see the embryo. ... This can be distressing."

And strike three, AFPP is using an unusual drug combination—methotrexate plus misoprostol—instead of the FDA-approved combination, mifepristone plus misoprostol. The usual combination is contraindicated in cases of ectopic pregnancies, but methotrexate is not. Accordingly, AFPP touts its method as a treatment for ectopic pregnancy.

It's strange, though, that someone with an ectopic pregnancy would seek care from AFPP in the first place. Untreated ectopic pregnancies are life-threatening emergencies. They are typically treated by emergency rooms, not freestanding abortion centers. If I had an ectopic pregnancy, a doctor with a reputation like Brigham's is the last person I'd want to see.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Volunteer opportunities for medical doctors, graphic designers

Secular Pro-Life is embarking on an exciting new educational campaign, which we expect will launch in the next two to three months. Since it's still in the pipeline, I can't tell you all the details on a public blog. I can tell you that I presented the project to the physicians, nurses, and medical students at last weekend's American Association of Pro-Life Ob/Gyns (AAPLOG) conference, and it was very well received.

In very general terms, the project involves the presentation of medical literature to the public along with personal stories; think of the Truth and Tips From Former Smokers public health campaigns against tobacco. We are looking for some special volunteers to put the final pieces of this project in place:

1) We need physicians to review our educational materials for accuracy and endorse the project. (The materials have already been prepared with the help of a wonderful pro-life medical student.) Your name will appear on the campaign website as a physician endorser. We already have some volunteers from the AAPLOG conference, but we don't want to limit ourselves; the more the merrier! All areas of practice are welcome.

2) We need graphic designers to push the campaign on social media. We will want a series of 10-15 designs, each sharing a message related to the campaign and/or pregnancy health generally. You should have access to appropriate design software. Secular Pro-Life can pay for fonts and stock images as appropriate.

If either of these volunteer opportunities sound like a good fit for you, please email with the subject line "Volunteer physician" or "Volunteer graphic designer," and include a short message about your pro-life values and your background (particularly your medical practice or design portfolio, respectively). We look forward to hearing from you.

If you're not a doctor or designer, please share this post with those who are!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Abortion as a symptom of social ill

In 2011, a 20-year-old woman sought an elective medical procedure.

The procedure would help her career as a dancer. It was, she surely felt, her body and her choice. But if she were being honest with herself, perhaps she would have acknowledged that the men in her life had considerable influence over her decision.

Local doctors must have either been unwilling to perform the procedure, or charged more than she could afford. To access it, she traveled outside of her home country, where she arranged a meeting with a well-known provider. Although unlicensed, the provider had a good reputation, which was reflected in her high income and lavish lifestyle.

The procedure killed that 20-year-old woman. The provider was arrested and charged with murder and the case is going to trial.

I'm not talking about abortion. Via the Associated Press:
A Gothic hip-hop artist who did illegal cosmetic surgery on the side boasted at her murder trial Thursday that her body sculpting work was so popular she was dubbed "the Michelangelo of buttocks injections." 
Padge Victoria Windslowe, who performed under the name "Black Madam," is accused of killing a 20-year-old dancer from London during a procedure at an airport hotel that involved industrial-grade silicone and Krazy Glue. . . .
Prosecutors said she collected $1,000 to $2,000 per session and told clients she was a nurse practitioner for a plastic surgeon. Some of them now battle frequent pain, all in pursuit of more curves, Assistant District Attorney Carlos Vega said.
Imagine if the public debate around back-alley cosmetic surgery were anything like the public debate around abortion. Cosmetic surgery would be celebrated as an exercise of women's fundamental right to bodily autonomy, instead of raising feminists' alarm. We'd hear calls for greater access to legal procedures, as advocates shielded providers from medical regulations. Cosmetic surgeons, even those who killed women, would be lauded as "heroes."

That, of course, would be insanity. The better approach, and the one that feminist movements on the whole appear to be following, is to attack the root: low self-esteem, body image issues, and obsession with the male gaze, all of which are connected to sexism in society generally.

We must apply this approach to abortion as well. Just as we view a woman's desperate lengths to obtain cosmetic surgery as a symptom of serious social problems rather than a social good, we must recognize (in the words of Feminists for Life) that "abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women."

Friday, February 20, 2015

Life Matters Journal releases new issue

Our friends at the Life Matters Journal, an amazing Millennial-led consistent life ethic magazine, are out with a new issue. It includes a piece by SPL's very own Monica Snyder, on page 31, entitled The Imago Dei: Why Secularists Should Care About Human Life. On page 20, longtime SPL supporter Kris Skul outlines steps the pro-life movement should take now to allow for a smooth transition to a pro-life society once legal victory is achieved (After Abortion, the Hard Questions).

Other topics this issue include sexual assault on campus, the Ukraine crisis, and state-level battles on the death penalty.

Best of all, as always, the Life Matters Journal is free! Click here to read the latest on Issuu.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Websites Under Deconstruction: Phoenix Edition

This post is the second in our series on abortion center websites. (Click here for our first.)

Today, we are spotlighting two centers in Phoenix, AZ: Camelback Family Planning and Acacia Women's Center.

The website for Camelback Family Planning is pretty mundane on the surface. It's mainly notable for what it doesn't say in its glowing bio of abortionist Gabrielle Goodrick.

Goodrick is described as having "an outstanding reputation with health care professionals in the community." Camelback's website fails to mention Goodrick's less-than-outstanding reputation with the Arizona Medical Board, which determined that Goodrick had a substance abuse problem and placed her medical license on probation for five years, beginning in February of 2011.

The Acacia Women's Center website is noteworthy for its descriptions of the morning-after pill (Plan B). There has always been controversy surrounding Plan B's exact mechanism. All agree that it can prevent ovulation, which in turn prevents fertilization. The question is what happens if the morning-after pill is taken after ovulation and fertilization have already occurred. Does it cause an early abortion by making it impossible for the newly-conceived embryo to implant?

Pro-choice groups, and some pro-life groups, say that the answer is no. Planned Parenthood, for instance, states plainly: "Emergency contraception pills work by keeping a woman's ovary from releasing an egg for longer than usual. Pregnancy cannot happen if there is no egg to join with sperm. You might have also heard that the morning-after pill causes an abortion. But that's not true. The morning-after pill is not the abortion pill. Emergency contraception is birth control, not abortion." All Our Lives agrees: "The best available studies provide no evidence that emergency contraception does anything but prevent fertilization."

Apparently, Acacia Women's Center didn't get the memo, because "ending pregnancy early on" sure doesn't sound like contraception to me:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Website Under Deconstruction: Reproductive Health Services of Montgomery

"Website Under Deconstruction" is a new series of SPL blog posts in which we deconstruct bizarre, disingenuous, and otherwise noteworthy statements on abortion center websites.

First up is Reproductive Health Services of Montgomery. It doesn't disappoint. The very first sentence on its homepage is incredible:
Reproductive Health Services ("RHS") was one of the first clinics to provide health care for women in Alabama. The clinic has provided abortion services and other health care for women for more than 30 years.
Wow! Who knew that until about 30 years ago, nobody provided health care for women in Alabama!* Abortion proponents have always had a tendency to treat "abortion" and "health care for women" as synonymous, but this just takes it to a new level of ridiculousness.

Then we have the "Abortion Services" page, which discusses the initial visit, 24-hour waiting period, and second visit for abortion surgery. It informs potential patients that they are prohibited from bringing cell phones into the building, ostensibly for "privacy and security reasons." So in the event of a complication, they'll just have to trust the abortionist to call an ambulance. Good luck with that. Other helpful advice includes "Please do not bring small children with you on the surgery day" (except of course for the ones who will be killed "using gentle suctioning").

There is also a page entitled "Patient Comments," but upon a close reading, the comments appear to come from political supporters rather than patients. None say anything specific about having had an abortion at RHS (e.g. "The staff treated me well"). One talks about having an abortion in 1973 (before RHS existed); another identifies herself as the mother of a newborn; another talks about wanting abortion to be legal when her four-year-old daughter grows up; and another refers to women she knows who have had abortions, rather than referring to herself.

The comment that really gave me chills, though, was the last one:
"I have cared for 53 foster teenagers, most of them born unwanted. I couldn't appreciate what you are doing more!"
Dude. If you truly believe that the children in your care would have been better off dead, you have no business whatsoever being a foster parent. I hope those 53 teenagers got out of this person's home with some measure of their self-esteem intact.

*For context, bear in mind that the University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical School has been training ob/gyns since 1945. Of course, that does not mean that there were no ob/gyns in Alabama prior to 1945. It does, however, mean that RHS is completely off base.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Three pro-life things to do this Valentine's Day

1) Donate $50 (or what you can afford) to a domestic violence shelter. You've probably already seen the campaign for #50DollarsNot50Shades. The Fifty Shades of Grey movie is coming out tomorrow, and advocates for abuse victims charge that the film glorifies emotional manipulation, stalking, and violence as "romantic." They're urging people to forego the movie and donate the money they would have spent on the movie/dinner/popcorn to a domestic violence shelter instead.

I myself have not read any of the Fifty Shades books, although the online summaries I've seen are pretty damning. Regardless, the money is for a good cause.

2) Be prepared. True, sex doesn't "just happen," but it's certainly possible for people to get caught up in their emotions—especially on a holiday that's dedicated to celebrating exactly that. So if you're in a relationship, have a conversation with your partner ahead of time about your expectations for Valentine's Day. As applicable, remember responsible condom use. (Unless, of course, you're trying to conceive, in which case we wish you the best of luck!)

3) Invite your friends to like Secular Pro-Life on facebook. Our goal is 7,000 likes by the end of Valentine's Day, and we're just a few dozen away!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Secular Pro-Life joins call to investigate Selma abortion business

A broad coalition of pro-life organizations, including Secular Pro-Life,
are calling on the Alabama Department of Public Health to take swift action against the Central Alabama Women's Clinic.

Under Alabama law, facilities that perform more than nine abortions a month must be licensed by the state. Pro-life groups have uncovered evidence that Central Alabama Women's Clinic exceeds that threshold, but it has failed to obtain a license. Instead, it is running its surgical abortion business under the lesser regulatory standards applicable to ordinary doctor's offices.
From the press release:
[Life Legal Defense Foundation] Senior Staff Counsel Allison Aranda reports that her organization actually provided overwhelming evidence of this facility’s illegal practices to the ADPH months ago, on behalf of concerned Alabama citizens. LLDF has also recently provided the same evidence to the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners. However, the only reaction after months of probing the ADPH is a resounding, “No comment.” Aranda states, “We have given the ADPH ample time to confirm our evidence and shut down another illegal abortion clinic. Yet, eight months have passed and it is still unclear if the ADPH has even begun an investigation into this facility’s unlawful activities.”
Rev. Terry Gensemer, Director of CEC For Life and Alabama citizen comments, “Agencies like the ADPH are put in place to ensure the highest standard of safety for every patient.  Months of inaction on a case like this imply targeted apathy towards the lives of Alabama women, while also bringing into question the intentions of the Department of Public Health – is this women’s clinic, whose main clientele is low-income minorities, somehow exempt from state laws and regulations?”
Catherine Davis of the National Black Pro-Life Coalition adds, “Alabama has joined a number of states in turning a blind eye to violations of the law by abortionists. Women – mostly Black and mostly poor – are being subjected to substandard medical care that has left them physically and psychologically injured, and sometimes dead.  We demand justice for the babies that are being ripped apart, illegally, every day. We demand justice for the women that have suffered botched abortions in this center.”
And thus, it's time for public pressure. There will be a press conference today at 10:30 a.m. outside the abortion facility, at 1013 Medical Center Pkwy.* Although Secular Pro-Life cannot be present at the press conference, we strongly support the call to investigate the likely illegal abortion center in Selma.

Regardless of where you live, you can assist this effort by contacting Alabama officials about your concern. Please be polite, but firm, in demanding that the ADPH do its job. Here is contact information for key decision-makers:

Luther Strange, State Attorney General
Ms. Sandy McLure (Scheduler and Executive Assistant)
PHONE: 334-242-7447 EMAIL:
Office Main Number: 334-242-7300

Brian Hale, Deputy General Counsel, Alabama Department of Public Health
PHONE: 334-206-5209

Kathy Burkett, Investigative Specialist, Alabama Board of Medical Examiners
PHONE: 334-242-4116 (Ask to be transferred to Kathy Burkett)

*For theist pro-lifers, there is an optional prayer vigil immediately after the press conference.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Show us some love!

Valentine's Day is just around the corner! Last year we asked you to "show us some love" to get to 5,000 likes. We met that goal and kept going strong. So this year, our goal is to reach 7,000 facebook likes. As of this writing, we're less than 100 away!

Please invite your friends to like SPL on facebook by Saturday. Secular Pro-Life wishes you a very happy and safe Valentine's Day/Singles Awareness Day.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Abortion supporters resort to lies in Title X grant battle

In keeping with the Debunker's Handbook, let me start by stating the truth. The Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which was recently introduced in the Senate, will not reduce government funding for women's heath care. Not by a single penny! The Act will merely affect how Title X funding is distributed to the health care entities seeking family planning grants.

If that sounds mundane... well, it would be, except that it's the subject of a lot of misinformation. The entities that would become ineligible to receive grants naturally don't want the Act to pass. Money is on the line. They have lobbyists and P.R. firms. The public is misled. Welcome to Washington, D.C.

I recently came across a perfect example, when an ad for an Ultraviolet petition showed up in my facebook newsfeed. It began dramatically: "Birth control. Cancer screening. STD testing. Prenatal care. GONE."

I clicked on the ad. The next sentence: "Extreme Republicans are moving quickly to pass bills eliminating Planned Parenthood funding permanently—ending all of these vital services for the 5 million women and men nationwide who depend on public family planning providers every year."

That is blatantly false. Unfortunately, the truth is at a disadvantage because it doesn't fit on a bumper sticker.

To understand what's going on, let's walk through the bill. You can read the full text of it here. The key provision states:
Title X of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 300 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following: 
Sec. 1009. Additional prohibition regarding abortion 
(a) Prohibition— 
The Secretary shall not provide any assistance under this title to an entity unless the entity certifies that, during the period of such assistance, the entity will not perform, and will not provide any funds to any other entity that performs, an abortion.
The "Secretary" is the Secretary of Health and Human Services, which oversees family planning grants under Title X. Under the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, applicants that perform abortions will be passed over in favor of those that do not. Among those that do not are more than 8,000 Federally Qualified Health Centers—not-for-profit neighborhood health clinics that provide affordable medical care on a sliding scale. By comparison, Planned Parenthood has fewer than 700 locations, which in recent years have reduced their provision of birth control, cancer screenings, and especially prenatal care, while increasing abortions.

In short, cancer screenings will not be "GONE." Far from it. They will continue to be available at FQHCs and other affordable healthcare providers. Those entities will continue to apply for and receive Title X grants as appropriate, and nothing in the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act changes the amount of grant money available. What's more, if Planned Parenthood agreed not to perform abortions during the grant period, it could receive taxpayer funding too! (It won't; in 2013 the national Planned Parenthood organization began requiring all of its affiliates to perform abortions.)

Both pro-life and pro-choice groups have referred to the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act as legislation to "defund Planned Parenthood." I think that's unfortunate, because (1) the word "defund" may lead people to believe that there will be a decrease in family planning funding, when that isn't the case, and (2) the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act does not single out Planned Parenthood; it redirects funding away from abortion providers in general (not just Planned Parenthood) and toward healthcare providers who do not commit abortions (which could include Planned Parenthood if it were willing to drop the practice). I realize that "Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act" is a mouthful, but it's much more accurate.

Ultraviolet describes the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act as "especially heinous" (which makes me think that whoever wrote it watches a lot of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit). But what's really heinous is that abortion activist groups like Ultraviolet are scaring the American people into believing that they could lose access to tests for life-threatening illnesses like HIV and cancer, when that is false—and they know it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Expect More: Abortion Views, Expert Opinions and Why We Can Win Much Sooner Than You Think

[Today's guest post is by Michael Crone and Philip Hamilton.]

For far too long, pro-life politicians have wavered or shied away from life issues out of concern that bringing those issues to the forefront will cause them to lose votes. The pattern repeats itself with each election because as pro-life activists, we have been rather modest in our expectations. Perhaps this made sense strategically in the past. However, there is currently more support for the right the life then there has been in decades, making now the time to work as hard as we can to save the lives of millions of children. And despite the perception that public opinion is set in stone, in reality, public opinion is variable; people are receptive when they hear compelling messaging on abortion. Gallup data, gauging the opinions of respondents nationwide from 1995 to 2014, demonstrates that Americans are expressing more support for pro-life positions in present day than they did during the past two decades. In the 1990’s an overwhelming majority of Americans supported pro-choice positions. Today there is a “statistical tie,” and in fact pro-life supporters maintain a slight majority. But despite the fact that the pro-life movement is enjoying a period of unprecedented popularity, most respondents (51% to 35%) perceive the public to be pro-choice. That explains why pro-life politicians continue to fear losing votes.

Another factor that needs to be taken into consideration wording of polling questions. Public opinion of life issues can greatly vary based on simple wording. For example, the position that abortion should be “legal only in a few circumstances” had 38% support, while a phrase with nearly the same meaning—“illegal in most circumstances”—had only 13% support in a poll conducted around the same time. Such sensitivity is inconsistent with the widely stated claim on both sides that people are set in their views. This provides both an opportunity to see how to frame our message as pro-life activists and politicians, and hope that abortion views can be changed.

One way the mood changes is based on what they people their leaders saying. Look at the polling results shown above again. The best result for “pro-life” and the beginning of our current “statistical tie” era came as a sudden spike in May 2009. One event related to the life issues from that time stands out. President Obama received an honorary degree from the University of Notre Dame, despite protests from pro-life activists that an agency of the Catholic Church should not honor a politician that favored abortion rights. At the time, I viewed this as a failure for the pro-life cause; it further associated the pro-life movement with Catholicism, and the protests, despite being highly visible, failed to affect Notre Dame’s decision. But looking back now, I can see how the debate around this degree helped the cause: Obama was not defending his position on abortion rights. Instead, he changed the subject to emphasize “common ground” issues, particularly related to his community organizing. This response was a signal to the American public that the pro-choice label was undesirable. Similarly, in May 2011-May 2012, the media focused heavily on the Republican primary candidates who were publicizing their pro-life views, and the public again responded by self-identifying as more pro-life. Unfortunately, of course, this works both ways. For instance, when Romney de-emphasized his pro-life stance in the general election and Obama defended his pro-choice stance, “pro-choice” responses ticked back up, and “pro-life” responses fell.

The lesson of all this for pro-life activists is that we need to be cautious about choosing a politician who will shy away from abortion in attempt to choose someone electable. FDR was reported to tell activists, "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it." As political activists for the right to life movement, this means getting out of your comfort zone, and getting involved in your local party (Democratic, Republican, or otherwise) to defend the unborn. If you are a Republican, you can exercise considerable influence by signing up to be a delegate for the National GOP convention in 2016.

For politicians, the lesson is 1) that there is a large, untapped resource of pro-life voters who have not been satisfied, and 2) that much of the rest of the public can be lead to a pro-life position by a clear, consistent voice on abortion. A broad focus on “values” is not enough: the public support is specifically on the pro-life issue. Doors will open for candidates who make the case for life compassionately and confidently.

Michael Crone has a PhD in Mathematics from George Mason University and an MS in Mathematics from the University of Wyoming. He has worked as a statistical analyst, polling director, and radio talk co-host. Contact him at 

Philip Hamilton obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Administration of Justice from George Mason University and a Master’s of Science in Administration of Justice and Security from the University of Phoenix. Currently, he is the Deputy Editor of the online newspaper Fairfax Free Citizen. He may be contacted at

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

"Nine months of inconvenience."

In the abortion debate, sometimes people describe pregnancy as “nine months of inconvenience” or a “temporary donation of the uterus” or other similar terms. Usually they use these descriptions because they are trying to show that, relative to abortion, unwanted pregnancy is not a very severe situation to endure.

I do agree that abortion (in which a human life is taken) is much more severe than a healthy pregnancy (in which a woman’s body is drastically affected). Even so, I don’t like it when people use descriptions like “temporary donation of the uterus” because such descriptions belittle pregnancy, underplaying how physically and emotionally difficult the process can be. Just because abortion is worse doesn't mean pregnancy isn't a big deal. The process can be difficult even for planned, healthy pregnancies, much less unplanned or medically complicated ones.

Below I describe how even healthy pregnancies affect basically every major body system. I’m only describing issues common in healthy pregnancies; I’m leaving out the more severe but less common pregnancy risks, such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, hyperemesis gravidarum, etc. Some pregnancies are much more dangerous and debilitating than others. We can talk about how the more severe situations compare to abortion, but my point in this blog post is to illustrate that even healthy pregnancies involve a good deal more than simply “donating the uterus.”

See the full animation here.

Integumentary System – The skin stretches to accommodate the growing fetus. Many women experience acne, darkened blotches of skin on the face (“melasma”), and itchy skin, especially around the abdomen. Many women lose chunks of their hair or start growing more hair in unusual places (face, arms, legs, or back). Some women experience increased nail brittleness, breakage, and grooves. Many women end up sweating more as their core body temperature increases and their increased weight makes everyday activities more difficult. Postpartum, many women sweat extensively as their bodies try to get rid of the fluids built up during the pregnancy. Both the physical expansion of the uterus and the hormonal changes that affect skin elasticity can cause permanent stretch marks.

Skeletal System – The bones carry more and more weight as the pregnancy progresses. If the fetus does not get enough calcium during the pregnancy, she starts leeching calcium from the woman’s bones, increasing the woman’s risk of osteoporosis and related problems. The expanding uterus compresses the ribs, causing rib pain later in pregnancy.

Nervous System – There are many pregnancy issues that can affect the nerves. Women can get pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome as fluids build up and press on the nerves in the wrists leading to numb or sore fingers and thumbs, sometimes to the point where it’s difficult for a woman to use her hands. Many women get sciatica as the extra weight, fluids, and the baby herself press against the sciatic nerve, causing sharp shooting pains down the legs. Some women also experience nearsightedness and an increase in intraocular pressure.

Cardiovascular System – A woman’s blood supply can increase in volume by almost 50% as she provides nutrients to the fetus. The increase in blood increases stress on her heart. By the 2nd trimester, the woman’s resting heart rate is 30% higher than her non-pregnant rate. Pregnancy hormones can decrease blood vessel tone, making it more difficult to get blood to the brain and central nervous system and increasing the chances of dizziness or perhaps even loss of consciousness. Women more than 24 weeks pregnant are advised against lying on their backs because of the pressure on the vena cava – the large blood vessel leading from the lower body to the heart. This increased pressure can make it difficult for blood to flow to and from the heart. The enlarged uterus can also interfere with blood returning to the heart, which makes swelling in the legs and feet (edema) common. Pregnant women also have an increased risk of swollen blood vessels in the rectal area (hemorrhoids), which can be itchy and painful. The increased blood supply can also put more pressure on the more delicate vessels in the woman’s nose, causing nosebleeds.

Endocrine System – Pregnant women experience major increases in progesterone and especially estrogen. The estrogen increase may be why women experience nausea and vomiting in the first trimester (or, in some cases, for the duration of the pregnancy). Increased estrogen also makes it easier for higher levels of yeast to grow, increasing the woman’s chances of a yeast infection. Estrogen levels may also be the cause of restless leg syndrome, an “itching,” “burning,” or “creepy-crawly” feeling that gives pregnant women an overwhelming urge to move their legs, making sleep difficult. The progesterone increase causes a loosening of ligaments or joints throughout the body. Hormonal changes are also thought to be responsible for the “baby blues,” a collection of symptoms involving irritability, anxiety, and sadness (but not full-blown postpartum depression) that the majority of women experience in the first few weeks after giving birth.

Muscular System – Many women feel stitch-like pains along their abdomens as the uterus expands. Meanwhile, the increase in progesterone causes a loosening of ligaments throughout the body, which can decrease women’s grasping reflexes and general coordination. The loose ligaments and the woman’s rapidly changing center-of-gravity are two reasons doctors believe pregnant women are at an increased risk of tripping or falling and recommend women avoid standing on stools or ladders or the like. Many women experience intense leg cramps, especially at night, as the pregnancy progresses. In the later parts of the pregnancy the lower abdominal muscles can feel pulled from the extra weight. Postpartum the abdomen is usually sore and tender as the woman’s body starts to take back its shape.

Respiratory System - Many women struggle to catch their breath as the fetus pushes up against the diaphragm, leaving less room for the lungs to expand. Additionally, the higher levels of progesterone signal the brain to lower the levels of carbon dioxide in the blood; pregnant women breathe slightly faster to exhale more carbon dioxide. And because the heart is pumping more blood, the lining of the airways receives more blood and swells a bit, which can lead to stuffy noses and possibly blocked Eustachian tubes (tubes connecting ear and nose).

Excretory System – As the fetus grows, the uterus takes up more and more space, leaving less room for other major organs such as the bladder. The bladder’s compression, along with the body’s general increase in blood supply and other fluids, causes women to need to urinate more and more frequently. If a woman tries not to use the bathroom so often, she has an increased risk of urinary tract infections. Many women also experience incontinence during pregnancy.

Reproductive System – The woman’s uterus expands extensively (obviously). Labor may cause tears in the woman’s cervix or vagina, and postpartum she experiences a lot of bleeding and cramping as her uterus contracts back to its non-pregnant state. The woman’s breasts are often tender and sore, sometimes throbbing, as they increase in size to prepare for milk production. Near the end of the pregnancy and for awhile after giving birth, she may experience “leakage” of colostrum, a thick, yellowish precursor to the milk she will produce. She also needs to keep an eye on clogged milk ducts in case they don’t resolve themselves.

Digestive System – Most women endure nausea and vomiting in the first trimester, although for some women these problems last for the whole pregnancy. Hormonal changes increase gum swelling, tenderness, and bleeding. In some cases women produce excess saliva, so much so that they need to spit regularly (swallowing spit can increase nausea). Meanwhile, as the fetus grows, the uterus pushes against the diaphragm which pushes against the stomach, making acid reflux more common. Plus increases in progesterone cause muscles, including the esophagus, to relax, which can make it difficult to keep food flowing in the correct direction, leading to heartburn and acid reflux as well. The intestines also have more limited room than before, and the change in space and the increased relaxation can lead to slow and improper digestion, causing constipation.

I think we tend to be somewhat dismissive of the levels of frustration and discomfort women feel with months of these symptoms, because we know these symptoms are normal and are part of a very common bodily process meant to result in a newborn baby. But imagine instead if all the issues I describe here were symptoms of some sort of illness, rather than symptoms of pregnancy. How would you react to a person going through most (or all) of the above in that case? I doubt we’d glibly summarize such an illness as “nine months of inconvenience.”

Of course pregnancy isn’t an illness. It even has some long-term health benefits. But it still can be a very trying situation, even for women with planned, wanted pregnancies. Please keep that in mind as you talk about pregnancy in the context of the abortion debate--or in any context, really.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The male-dominated abortion industry?

Recently, a question was posed on our facebook page: are abortionists more likely than the general population of doctors to be male?
Male abortionists in the news
(such as Kermit Gosnell, pictured)
may cause us to perceive the
abortion industry as male-dominated.

To answer this question, we look to two sources. First, the Kaiser Family Foundation gives us the number of female and male physicians in each state. Second, has the most comprehensive available listing of known abortionists.

The answer to our reader's question is no. As it turns out, male abortionists do indeed outnumber their female counterparts, but the disparity is not greater than it is for the general population of doctors. 67% of all doctors are male, as are 57% of abortionists. The ten-point difference is likely a statistical fluke; we only have the names of 783 abortionists, versus the nearly 900,000 physicians tracked by Kaiser. Alternatively, the difference may be partially explained by abortion lobby efforts to recruit women to the trade.

Interestingly, though, the extent to which the abortion industry is male-dominated varies drastically depending upon where you live.

In several low-abortion states—Arkansas, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming—all known abortionists are male. In several others (most notably Indiana, Nevada, Texas, and Virginia), men are a considerably larger percentage of abortionists than of all physicians. What makes up for it? In 14 states, women constitute the majority of doctors committing abortions.

I'm interested to hear if these regional differences have any impact on your pro-life advocacy. Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Full data below:

% of doctors who are male
% of abortionists who are male
67% (590,318 M, 284,828 F)
57% (443 M, 340 F)
74% (7,884 M, 2,836 F)
50% (5 M, 5 F)
64% (1,092 M, 604 F)
25% (1 M, 3 F)
69% (11,005 M, 4,948 F)
100% (3 M, 0 F)
67% (66,608 M, 32,993 F)
57% (51 M, 38 F)
65% (8,600 M, 4,618 F)
50% (10 M, 10 F)
63% (8,450 M, 4,842 F)
38% (3 M, 5 F)
64% (1,767 M, 1,001 F)
67% (2 M, 1 F)
55% (3,265 M, 2,665 F)
75% (3 M, 1 F)
73% (35,695 M, 13,455 F)
70% (37 M, 16 F)
69% (15,370 M, 6,960 F)
61% (11 M, 7 F)
70% (2,502 M, 1,091 F)
50% (1 M, 1 F)
78% (2,185 M, 621 F)
67% (2 M, 1 F)
64% (23,973 M, 13,500 F)
46% (18 M, 21 F)
71% (10,958 M, 4,443 F)
86% (6 M, 1 F)
70% (5,153 M, 2,159 F)
43% (3 M, 4 F)
70% (4,616 M, 2,016 F)
67% (4 M, 2 F)
71% (7,579 M, 3,030 F)
50% (1 M, 1 F)
72% (8,576 M, 3,360 F)
75% (3 M, 1 F)
66% (2,831 M, 1,427 F)
50% (2 M, 2 F)
63% (13,662 M, 7,941 F)
59% (13 M, 9 F)
61% (18,646 M, 11,940 F)
33% (12 M, 24 F)
67% (22,236 M, 10,883 F)
71% (20 M, 8 F)
67% (10,680 M, 5,262 F)
33% (4 M, 8 F)
76% (4,447 M, 1,402 F)
100% (4 M, 0 F)
68% (12,208 M, 5,629 F)
63% (5 M, 3 F)
75% (1,588 M, 539 F)
25% (1 M, 3 F)
70% (3,298 M, 1,446 F)
33% (2 M, 1 F)
74% (4,000 M, 1,396 F)
78% (7 M, 2 F)
68% (2,562 M, 1,220 F)
33% (3 M, 6 F)
66% (17,414 M, 8,922 F)
69% (25 M, 11 F)
65% (3,261 M, 1,750 F)
20% (5 M, 20 F)
63% (47,762 M, 27,485 F)
53% (36 M, 32 F)
68% (16,377 M, 7,639 F)
58% (14 M, 10 F)
73% (1,279 M, 462 F)
0% (0 M, 3 F)
67% (24,483 M, 11,986 F)
59% (16 M, 11 F)
72% (6,029 M, 2,313 F)
75% (3 M, 1 F)
66% (7,093 M, 3,599 F)
33% (4 M, 8 F)
67% (29,430 M, 14,466 F)
70% (19 M, 8 F)
62% (2,651 M, 1,609 F)
100% (4 M, 0 F)
72% (7,904 M, 3,119 F)
78% (7 M, 2 F)
74% (1,361 M, 468 F)
100% (1 M, 0 F)
72% (12,324 M, 4,833 F)
100% (5 M, 0 F)
69% (38,753 M, 17,797 F)
78% (31 M, 9 F)
76% (4,515 M, 1,448 F)
33% (2 M, 4 F)
64% (1,342 M, 748 F)
17% (1 M, 5 F)
66% (14,257 M, 7,212 F)
74% (14 M, 5 F)
66% (12,784 M, 6,494 F)
21% (6 M, 23 F)
72% (3,535 M, 1,398 F)
100% (3 M, 0 F)
69% (10,855 M, 4,830 F)
69% (9 M, 4 F)
74% (822 M, 282 F)
100% (1 M, 0 F)