Friday, January 29, 2016

Upcoming event in Louisiana, February 15

On Monday, February 15 (Presidents Day), Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard will make the secular case against abortion to students at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA. The event is hosted by Nicholls Students for Life. It will be free and open to the public. If you live in the area, we'd love to see you there! We also plan to record the presentation.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

National Right to Life report: pro-life movement on the right track

Two weeks ago, National Right to Life issued a new report, The State of Abortion in the United States. The news cycle was quickly dominated by a lot of other things (hello, snowstorm) and I want to make sure you didn't miss it; better late than never. Here are a few highlights:
  • Abortion rates are plummeting in almost all states and in every age group, but especially among women under 25.
  • Although chemical abortion methods are becoming more popular, "curretage" procedures that dismember the embryo or fetus remain the most common method by far.
  • "Safe and legal" abortion has killed at least 58,586,256 unborn babies and 424 mothers since Roe v. Wade.
  • A full analysis of Planned Parenthood's most recent annual report
  • Polls asking whether people identify themselves as "pro-life" or "pro-choice" have yielded inconsistent results. But polls soliciting specific policy preferences are more useful: they have repeatedly shown that a strong majority of Americans opposes current abortion policy and wants significant protections for unborn children. For instance, while Congress can't manage to pass legislation protecting babies at twenty weeks, the vast majority of Americans want to protect babies after just twelve weeks. There is also strong support for banning abortion except when necessary to save the life of the mother and/or in cases of rape and incest.
  • A full analysis of federal and state abortion legislation
This is a great resource and I hope you'll take the time to read the entire report.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Walk for Life West Coast & West Coast SFLA Conference, 2016

The rally before the Walk was this bizarre San Francisco weather fluctuation, alternating between warm sunshine and sudden, cold rain. It was funny to see the giant crowd suddenly covered with umbrellas, then back to people milling around, then a wave of umbrellas again. But after seeing what our friends on the East Coast went through, we could hardly complain about the weather.


I really liked the Walk’s speaker line up this year. The first speaker was David Daleiden of The Center for Medical Progress and #PPsellsbabyparts fame. It was cool to see a Millennial up there. The Walk also invited Obianuju (“Uju”) Ekeocha, a Nigerian woman who encouraged American pro-lifers to take their pro-life activism to a more global level.  There were also several portions of the rally given in both Spanish and English, which is nicely inclusive for the traditionally heavily Latino San Francisco crowd.   

Uju Ekeocha, David Daleiden, and Walter Hoye

Last year during the Walk I was almost 8 months pregnant, which means this is the first year my daughter got to see it. My 10-month-old daughter was a trooper, watching the crowd curiously and especially enjoying exploring our banner.

However, once the Walk actually started she slept through the entire thing. Not that she would’ve understood what’s going on anyway. As every year before, it was a huge column of people pouring into downtown San Francisco. We walked several city blocks before we even saw the counter protesters. Personally I enjoy the Walk more when there are more counter protesters there, and this year there was a larger crowd than there had been for several years past. Most of them seem to be affiliated with the group Stop Patriarchy. Here is a screencap from their website:

“Forced motherhood is female enslavement” was the slogan of the year, although they still had the classic “Pro-life, that’s a lie! You don’t care if women die!” I suspect that there may have been more counter protesters this year because of the Colorado shooting. In fact one woman specifically shouted in the face of fellow SPLer Terrisa, saying "You don't give a sh** about what happened in Colorado!” Terrisa felt that, given the sign she was holding, it didn't make sense for her to engage in a fight. 

Fighting would undermine the message, no?

I give "Most Creative Counter Protest" to a man wearing a colorful sequined outfit that said “Roll for Choice,” and of course he had roller skates on. We had no “Roll for Life” counterpoint...this year. Maybe next time.

But besides a lot of shouting and a few rude gestures, the counter protest was not eventful. It helps that there is a dense line of police officers who separate the two sides and who make sure no one crosses from one side to the other. They won’t even let you walk too near them. Here's a (shaky) video of the bulk of the counter protest:

At one point we also saw an anti-abortion graphic photos group with large posters facing the Walk itself. I don’t think they were shouting anything though. At another point some construction workers about 5 or 6 stories above us kept cheering and using their air horn to get everyone to cheer back.

Sadly my sister and pro-life activist partner, Ellen, couldn’t come to the Walk this year, as she has now moved on to medical school in another state. This was unfortunate both because I miss her companionship and because she’s usually the one that takes all the photos of creative and unusual signs. And since this year is also the first in which I had to push a stroller, it was difficult for me to take the pictures either. I can say, as with every Walk I’ve gone to before now, there were a lot of nuns, priests, and monks in full dress, religious signs, and people singing hymns and praying. The rally before the Walk included much of the same: a lot of prayers from the podium and discussion of God's calling and so on. And I thought the same thing I thought every year: it’s not that I want pro-life events like this to scrub out any trace of religious belief, but I would like it if they operated in a way that more readily acknowledged not all present are believers.

Terrisa and I experienced a bit more of this the next day at the SFLA West Coast conference. (Originally Terrisa and Kelsey were going to table, but thanks to winter storm Jonas, Kelsey was stranded in some pile of snow on the East coast, so I went in her place.) At one point a nun from the Sisters of Life came to speak to us. She was very kind and told us all about their ministries, which include post-abortion counseling. I asked whether the counseling was designed for Christians specifically, and she explained they try to meet people where they’re at. She told us about how part of the process includes women going to designated days of prayer and healing, and often during those times the women name the children they never got to meet and focus on how those children are with God now, and how the women will eventually see them again. 

I can see how this would be cathartic for those who share these beliefs, and I’m glad the Sisters of Life are there to help so many women through the grieving process. However I asked the Sister how they would handle that part of their ministry if an atheist woman came to them. My understanding of her answer was that she believes all people know somewhere in their hearts that when loved ones die, that is not the end of their relationships with said loved ones. 

It’s possible the Sister meant that, even if you don’t believe in life after death, the relationship can go on through the memories you have or through some other symbolic means. But both Terrisa and I had the impression that she meant a version of the claim we’ve heard before: that there is not really such thing as an atheist. That is, many people seem to believe that deep down all of us know in our hearts that Christianity is true, or, at minimum, that God and the supernatural world exist. In this case, the implication seemed to be that all people sense we will eventually see our departed loved ones again.

Even if that is what the Sister meant, she clearly did not mean it in any kind of aggressive or challenging way, but as a comfort. I hold no ill will toward her. But to me that interaction was characteristic of what I expect when I participate in pro-life activism: I see the movement treated as a movement that belongs to Christians who are willing to host the rest of us as guests. But what I work and hope for is a diverse movement where we all are all hosts, so to speak—that is, the movement belongs to all of us.

The conference was still really enjoyable. Our table was again next to the table for Life Matters Journal, which we love. The people who table for LMJ are invariably friendly and funny and generous. They had a whole bunch of the decorative signs artsy Ms. Aimee had made for the Walk, and our tables jointly decided to line the signs along the hallway in the empty space next to us so everyone could appreciate them fully. Plenty of students stopped and took pictures. We took a few pictures ourselves.

We also had a lot of great interactions with people. One woman told us she works as a lab technician for a physics department and sometimes gets into debates about abortion with the professors there. She said she directs them to our group all the time so they can see the pro-science pro-life view. Another woman told us about how she used to lead a college pro-life club; she found it frustrating when she asked her fellow pro-lifers why they were pro-life and they answered “because we are Christian.” A Christian herself, she wanted her group to be able to do outreach with a variety of people, so she was happy to take some of our materials to discuss with her friends. Another student told us that one of her friends was both pro-life and secular and hadn’t heard of us, and she (and we) were excited for her to return home and tell her friend about SPL. That’s definitely my favorite part of our outreach: when we find other secularists who are thrilled to realize they aren’t alone in their pro-lifeism.

If any of our readers are interested, you can find PDFs and JPEGs here of some of the materials we gave out at the conference as well as materials we've created before. Specifically, the conference materials included "Why Should Non-Christians Care About Abortion" and "10 tips to be inclusive."

Friday, January 22, 2016

March for Life recap

Your president Kelsey Hazzard speaking. This has been, without a doubt, the strangest and most stressful March for Life I've ever attended. The anticipated blizzard cast a shadow over everything.

The East Coast Students for Life of America conference, which I was supposed to speak at, got cancelled. My flight to San Francisco—to speak at the West Coast conference on Sunday—also got cancelled. So the plan was to speak at two conferences, and now I'll be speaking at zero (unless they Skype me into West Coast, but let's be real: it's not the same).

"Disappointed" doesn't begin to describe it. "Crushed" comes closer. It all felt to me like the scene in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer where Santa announces that Christmas has been cancelled. Some small remnant of my childhood mind still hopes for Rudolph's glowing red nose to save the day. Of course, that didn't happen. My travel itinerary is so thoroughly FUBAR, I wound up marching with my suitcase! (Thank you, everyone who helped with that.)

And yet... the March for Life came. It came without as many people. It came without sunshine. It came without the SFLA conference. What if the March for Life, perhaps, means a little bit more? (I know, I'm mixing my animated Christmas classics metaphor. Deal with it.)

Here are a few of my favorite pictures. You can view them all here.

In conclusion, I have an unusual request. I'd like for you to make a donation—but not to Secular Pro-Life. The East Coast conference is Students for Life of America's biggest event of the year, and the fact that they had to cancel it means that they are getting hammered financially. Please help them out with whatever gift you can afford.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The fight for life after a devastating diagnosis

[Today's guest post by Andy Cavadino is part of our paid blogging program. Andy is a primary school teacher in Leeds, England.]

The author as a child in Ward 48, Leeds General Infirmary

The High Court in Belfast recently ruled that abortion laws in Northern Ireland contravened human rights. The ruling, by Mr. Justice Horner, states that “cases of fatal foetal abnormality were entitled to exemptions in the law.” Currently, Northern Ireland does not allow abortion in such circumstances.

I wouldn't expect anyone from outside the British Isles to know about its sovereignty so here’s a simplified version: Basically, you have the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland (or Eire) is a different country. Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland, so part of the UK. However, there are differences in the law in the four countries of the UK and abortion law, until now, has been stricter in Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK.

Now, Northern Ireland faces pressure to legalize abortion for “fatal foetal abnormality.” What does that mean? No chance of the baby being born alive? The baby won’t live long after birth?

Secular Pro-Life has written about these tragic cases before. Many parents prefer to avoid abortion even in dire circumstances, and perinatal hospices have arisen to meet their needs. They find solace in being able to hold their baby following delivery, take photographs to remember the child, and conduct a funeral. But of course, other parents seek out abortion, hoping to bring a quick, painless end to a horrific circumstance.

Both reactions are completely understandable. My main issue is this: What if the doctors are wrong? It happened to this girl and this family. And a similar thing actually happened to me.

I was misdiagnosed with a permanent life-limiting brain injury following an accident at 12 years old. I ran out into the road and was hit by a Mercedes (if you’re going to do something, do it in style!). I was thrown up in the air and landed on my head. Over the next 25 days on intensive care, I was literally seconds away from death on many occasions, both due to head injuries and other complications. In fact, on one occasion, my life was saved because a medical student had happened to read something about magnesium and irregular heart rates in the New Scientist the night before. It was about 6 months before I returned to school. The incident has left me with epilepsy, which isn’t nice, but that’s pretty much it.

I got 5 A grades at A level. I’m a qualified teacher. I play guitar and bass with professional musicians, holding my own at charity events. I’m not in a vegetative state, unable to move properly, like the doctors told my family I could be, based on the scans.

When I was hospitalized, scans showed huge areas of potential brain damage. My prognosis was very poor. Nevertheless, my family made the decision to consent to several dangerous surgeries. As I improved, the hospital arranged for families of children with a similar initial prognosis to meet me and my family, to encourage them not to give up and withhold treatment, to give them hope that their child could pull through.

Prenatal diagnosis is a similarly imperfect science. Scans aren’t always accurate. What if the diagnosis is wrong? You’ll never know if you go through with an abortion, just like my parents would have never known that I’d recover so well if they had given up hope and let nature take its course instead of pursuing risky, but ultimately life-saving surgery.

I don’t judge the families who choose abortion in the face of a lethal diagnosis. It’s heart-wrenching and emotional and I can’t begin to fathom the pain that they’ve been through, nor what my parents went through. I hope that my child never faces a premature death, whether before birth or at whatever age. But if the worst comes to pass, I firmly believe that every child deserves a chance. It’s not easy. But you never know what can happen.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"1 in 3" lie reemerges in abortion "speakout" this afternoon

Abortion advocates will hold an online "speakout" today from noon to 6:00 p.m., in which women who do not regret ending the lives of their children will attempt to counter the very vocal post-abortive pro-life women who do. (Amusingly, they're streaming the speakout on a pro-choice website, which is basically the definition of preaching to the choir.)

Free speech is free speech, of course. They have every right to tell their stories, just like I have the right to say that celebrating the deaths of helpless unborn children is seriously disturbing and shows just how out of touch pro-choice leadership is with the American public.

But their decision to promote the speakout using the hashtag #1in3 crosses the line into outright deception.

The supposed statistic this alludes to—that one out of every three American women will kill at least one unborn child in her lifetime—has been thoroughly debunked. You can get the whole story at, but here's a quick recap. In 2011, researchers published a study of American abortion rates from 2000 to 2008. Based on those rates, they predicted that 3 in 10 (not 1 in 3) women would have an abortion in their lifetime, "if exposed to prevailing abortion rates throughout their reproductive lives."

This was merely a hypothesis, and the authors cautioned that the even the 3 in 10 figure may have been too high. But activists ran with it. The message of "1 in 3" is simple: abortion is very popular, so there's no way to talk about the deaths of unborn children without alienating a significant and growing number of women. Just shut up, okay?

But then the post-2008 abortion statistics came out. All those headlines you saw about abortion rates hitting a record low? Abortion advocates saw them too. Women aren't being exposed to the same abortion rates throughout their reproductive lives; instead, we're being exposed to plummeting abortion rates. The researchers' hypothesis was wrong.

That happens a lot when you do science. It's okay; I don't fault the researchers for this boondoggle at all. It's abortion advocacy groups who turned "1 in 3" from prediction into supposed fact, and kept running with it long after it had been disproven.

At this point, any pro-choice organization that uses the "1 in 3" messaging is deliberately lying to you. I'll cut some slack to pro-choice individuals, who may be less educated about the issue. Show them, and if they keep using it, then you'll know that they care more about their ideology than about the truth.

You know what to do. Let's take over the #1in3 hashtag with the facts. Link to this article and/or to Abortion groups think that if they just keep repeating the lie often enough, no one will question it. But we won't let them get away with it.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Listen: SPL president Kelsey Hazzard on Sacramento radio

Last Tuesday, Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard appeared on a Catholic radio program in Sacramento, CA to talk about our plans for the West Coast Walk for Life. It wound up being a wide-ranging interview about the importance of secular human rights arguments and the historical reasons that abortion is framed as a "religious issue." You can listen to the recording here, starting about two and a half minutes in.

We'll be at the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco this Saturday, January 23rd. To march under our awesome "Call me an extremist, but I think dismemberment is wrong" banner, meet at 11:45 a.m. on the north side of Civic Center Plaza. If you're free earlier, come at 10:00 a.m. to volunteer for our photography project.

See you soon!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

March for Life updates

Secular Pro-Life is once again a co-sponsor of the #LifeMatters meetup, gathering members of various allied organizations to march together at the March for Life. In keeping with this year's March for Life theme, "pro-life and pro-woman go hand in hand," the meetup will feature seven speakers on feminism. All seven are friends of Secular Pro-Life.

The #LifeMatters meetup will take place at 11:00 a.m. on the Ellipse. GPS coordinates and other information can be found at the facebook event. If you are able to come early and help Secular Pro-Life with our photography project, we encourage you to do so.

Post-March, you can find Secular Pro-Life at Barrel Bourbon Bar, 613 Pennsylvania Ave SE, for a happy hour hosted by Pro-Life Future (Students for Life of America's post-grad outreach). Planned Parenthood manager turned pro-life advocate Abby Johnson will be the featured speaker.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Abortion is not the price of my success. #NoReliance

I am a female attorney. And let me be abundantly clear: that status did not require me to kill anyone, and nor did I ever rely on theoretically being able to kill anyone.

I feel the need to say this because the Center for Reproductive Rights recently submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, signed by 113 female attorneys,* arguing that abortion is necessary for women to succeed in the legal profession. It's an illustration of a legal doctrine invented by Justice Kennedy known as the "reliance interest"—the idea that it's too late to reverse the mistake of Roe because women have come to rely on abortion.

To see my life and career, and those of my peaceful female colleagues, twisted in this way is a punch in the gut.

The brief is summarized at Slate, which interviewed its lead authors, Allan Arffa and Alexia Korberg:
Arffa: We try to tie it to the language in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which framed abortion rights as a way to protect a woman’s right to participate fully in the economic and social life of the country. These stories very much support that notion. We were trying to make the idea more visible, more concrete. We wanted to show how these experiences verified that foundation for Casey—how these women would not have been able to participate as fully, or at all, in the economic and social life of the country, had it not been for their constitutionally protected right. 
Korberg: The Casey court said that a necessary part of the legal analysis wasn’t just the right itself, but the reliance upon that right over decades, and the generation of women who have come of age in a country in which they did have the legal right to an abortion. We wanted to show the consequences of that reliance: that the nation is so much better, stronger, and richer because more women are in the workforce and politics and the arts. The law is a finer profession because women are a part of it. It was profound hearing again and again from these women that they would not have been able to practice law had they been denied access to abortion.
The idea that I have to be able to kill my child to participate in the economic and social life of the country...

The dismissal of contraception, adoption, or any other alternative, non-violent options...

The idea that women would not be part of the legal profession without abortion...

The idea that mothers cannot be part of the workforce, politics, or the arts...

It all has me absolutely fuming. Without acknowledging the humanity of the preborn child, what they are actually talking about here is human sacrifice: dead babies are the price to pay for women's equality. This is misogynistic crap disguised as a legal brief.

They only got 113 signers. We can do better. Ladies of America, if you have achieved professional success without killing anybody, join our Tweetfest this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. EST using the hashtag #NoReliance. Let's make it trend. Let's show the world that women deserve better than abortion.

*The brief was inspired by past pro-life submissions to the Court in other cases, representing more than two thousand women who regret aborting their children.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Interview tomorrow on Sacramento radio

Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard will be interviewed on "The Bishop's Hour" radio show, operated by the Diocese of Sacramento, tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. Pacific time. This will be Kelsey's first media appearance before a Catholic audience. (SPL's West Coast coordinator, Monica Snyder, appeared on the show in 2014 in connection with her speech at the Walk for Life.) Kelsey will discuss SPL's plans for the West Coast Walk for Life and the Students for Life of America West Coast Conference.

If you're in the Sacramento area, you can tune in at radio station 1620 AM. For everyone else, we will try to get a recording.

Friday, January 8, 2016

SPL president Kelsey Hazzard wins Defender of Life Award

The 2016 Defender of Life Award recipients; click to enlarge
On Wednesday, Students for Life of America announced the 2016 winners of its annual Defender of Life Award. Normally, the award is given to just one recipient each year. But this year, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Students for Life of America's work as a full-time organization, they named ten recipients—all Millennials.

That's me on the bottom left!

The awards will be presented during the Students for Life of America conferences later this month. The schedule is packed and there won't be time for speeches. So I want to take this opportunity to publicly say that I'm honored to receive this award, and to thank a few people in no particular order:

My dear friends and co-leaders—Monica Snyder, Ellen Snyder, and Terrisa Lopez—who help me run Secular Pro-Life, keep me from burning out, and always give me a reason to laugh.

My fellow award winner Kristan Hawkins, for seeing my leadership potential when I was still a college student.

All of Secular Pro-Life's donors.

Everyone who has invited me to speak at their schools over the years.

Everyone who has ever volunteered for Secular Pro-Life.

Everyone who shares SPL articles and graphics.

Everyone who marches with SPL.

My pro-choice friends who have stuck with me.

My former co-workers at Americans United for Life, especially my mentor, Jeanneane Maxon.

And finally my parents, who taught me to always stick up for those who can't stick up for themselves.

Thank you all so, so much.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Volunteer opportunity for photographers

Like taking pictures? Have a decent camera? Congratulations, you qualify for a really easy pro-life volunteer opportunity!

Kelsey Hazzard
If you are coming to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., meet at 9:15 a.m. local time on Friday, January 22 at the #LifeMatters meetup location on the Ellipse and look for our president, Kelsey Hazzard. She will fill you in on the details of the photography assignment. Then we'll split up to gather pictures, and reconvene at the Ellipse at 11:00 a.m. for the March meetup (or you are welcome to march with your own group).

Terrisa Lopez
If you are coming to the Walk for Life in San Francisco, CA, meet at 10:00 a.m. local time on Saturday, January 23 at the #LifeMatters meetup location on the north side of Civic Center Plaza and look for SPL spokeswoman Terrisa Lopez. She will fill you in on the details of the photography assignment. Then we'll split up to gather pictures, and reconvene on the north side of the Civic Center Plaza for the Walk meetup (or you are welcome to walk with your own group).

If you aren't going to either, we can still use your help. Email us at with the subject line "Photography" and we will be in touch.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015 was a big year for pregnancy resource centers

A pregnancy center in Livonia, Michigan
A couple weeks ago, we blasted USA Today for a very badly worded polling question that skewed the results in a pro-Planned-Parenthood direction. So today, allow us to present an example of polling done right.

The poll was sponsored by the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI), a pro-life research group. Concerning pregnancy resource centers, it asked:
These centers provide free medical services and other support to women with an unexpected pregnancy and encourage them to give birth to their babies. They do not offer or refer women for abortions. Do you have an overall opinion of organizations of this kind?
I always find it funny when abortion supporters point the finger at pregnancy centers and cry "They don't do abortions!" Well, duh. That's not a secret and it never has been, despite all pro-choice weeping and wailing to the contrary. They claim pregnancy resource centers trick people into thinking they're abortion businesses, but when you drill down those claims, they are usually based on a fundamental philosophical disagreement (how dare they call themselves a 'Women's Clinic,' everyone knows anti-choicers hate women's health!) or are just plain stupid (pregnancy centers locate themselves near abortion businesses so that sidewalk counselors can easily redirect women who change their mind, not because women can't tell the abortion business and the pregnancy center apart; do you think women are idiots? and if that were the case, wouldn't pregnancy centers also lose women to the abortion business?).

And the CLI poll shows that there's no need for deception, because a simple, forthright description of what pregnancy centers do—encourage birth over abortion—yields a positive result:
An impressive 80 percent of respondents reported a “favorable view” of pregnancy centers with 46 percent of women and 37 percent of men saying “very favorable.” Such results speak to broad-based support of charitable abortion alternatives outreach and expansion of such outreach.
LifeNews reported last week that pregnancy centers saved approximately 300,000 babies from abortion in 2015.

The CLI poll went on to ask about abortion centers:
There is another type of organization which works with pregnant women. These organizations help women who do not want to become or stay pregnant. They do offer abortions and refer women for abortions. Do you have an overall opinion of organizations of this kind?
I find this question to be very generous to the opposition; it assumes that abortion helps women and makes no reference to the fact that many abortion centers are for-profit while pregnancy resources centers are uniformly not-for-profit. CLI must have worked hard on the wording of the question, because you can't tell that it's from a pro-life organization at all.

And yet, even with this pleasant wording, only 49% of respondents reported a favorable view of abortion centers.

The future of pregnancy care is bright. Let's save even more lives from the abortion industry in 2016!

Monday, January 4, 2016

What babies don't know can't hurt them, right?

[Today's post is co-authored by SPL president Kelsey Hazzard and guest writer Acyutananda as part of our paid blogging program.]

Most abortion advocates concede that killing a person is normally wrong, but contend that unborn humans are not persons. Typically they point to the embryo’s lack of present consciousness. But some such advocates apparently realized that relying on traits like consciousness in the moment or self-awareness in the moment to establish personhood inadvertently makes non-persons of certain populations outside the womb, such as people in a coma. In an attempt to fix this problem, they have argued that what’s wrong with killing is that it frustrates a desire, on the part of the victim, to live—or at least a desire to live that the victim once had in their life.

For instance, a commenter on this blog previously wrote:
A fetus doesn't care now nor has it cared in the past. Killing it now has zero consequences to the past and current fetus. You will not have betrayed its past or current desires. Very different from a born person in a coma or asleep. 
Similarly, pro-choice philosopher Peter Singer would grant a right to life only to those who have developed a capacity to care, or in his formulation, to “hold preferences.”

Of all the possible beliefs to hold about why killing is wrong, belief or disbelief in the "frustrates a desire to live" view is among the most consequential for the abortion debate—because okay, it’s true, embryos haven’t yet started to care about their future, and probably won’t for some years. If this is the main reason that killing is wrong, then it’s open season on the unborn.

Moral intuitions are resistant to logic, of course; if this is someone's intuition, pure and simple, then it will be hard to argue them out of it. But the inconsistency that this view involves is staggering. What is being said here is that an organism’s caring about its future life is important, but the future life itself that the organism cares about is not important. Because of course, an unborn child has a future life—likely a bit more future life than you or I have. The argument that it’s okay to kill an organism that does not yet care about its future life is coherent only if that future life per se has no value.

Certainly it’s true that frustrating someone’s desire to live (absent a compelling reason like self-defense) would be wrong. We are rightly horrified when someone is not only killed, but has time during the killing process to realize it. But to us it seems clear that the desire to live is most significant as a measure of the expected value of one’s future life itself, and that the usually-brief experience of realizing that one’s desire to live is being frustrated—that is, the “This guy is killing me!” experience—though horrible, pales in comparison to the loss of that which was desired: one’s future life itself. The horrific realization experience is the only harm that we can see in the frustration of a desire for one’s future life, as distinct from the loss of that future life. If one is killed by a sudden blow from behind, even that unpleasant experience will never transpire at all.

However, to proponents of this rationalization of abortion, frustrating a desire to live, in and of itself, is somehow wrong even if the organism never becomes aware that its desire is being frustrated (and therefore the frustration does not involve any suffering for it)—though not, of course, wrong because it deprives the organism of its future life. They say that killing an adult person in a coma is wrong, or at least more wrong than killing an embryo, simply because doing so frustrates the desire to live that the person once had, before going into the coma hours or years ago. It seems to us that they have elevated desire (in and of itself) to an unusual status.

The theory, in a nutshell, is “what you don’t know can’t hurt you.” But that proverb is rubbish. Of course what you don’t know can hurt you. And abortion hurts an embryo by depriving him or her of future life.