Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Video: Pro-Life Women's Conference presentation

Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard spoke to a packed room at the Pro-Life Women's Conference in Dallas last weekend. Video is below. We hope you can catch us live next time! Kelsey will speak at the National Right to Life convention on July 8 in northern Virginia; details here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Pro-Life Women's Conference: Our Seneca Falls

We could all use some words of hope and encouragement after yesterday's tragic Supreme Court ruling. I'm probably not the person to give them.

We love to compare the right-to-life struggle to earlier causes like women's suffrage and the abolition of slavery, but we shy away from seeing that comparison through and concluding that victory is centuries away. We "only" have 43 years and 55,000,000+ victims behind us, but we tell ourselves the end is within our lifetimes. I'd like to think so, but I grow pessimistic. I think about how I won't get to see justice prevail because there's no afterlife. I listen to really sad music. I drink wine.

Sorry, where was I going with this?

Oh, right. If you take the long view, then last weekend offers a great reason for hope. The inaugural Pro-Life Women's Conference took place in Dallas, and it was incredible. "Our Seneca Falls," more than one attendee called it. It's always encouraging to be among friends and like-minded people, but this was special.

The diversity was incredible. Beyond being pro-life women, we had little else in common. People old enough to remember 1973 mingled with high school students. Mothers brought their young children. A significant fraction of attendees and speakers were people of color. The conference was friendly to wheelchair users. 

I encountered stridently conservative Christians, and members of the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians. I met the president of Democrats for Life, and a woman who is running for state office as a libertarian. And we came from all segments of the pro-life movement: pregnancy center leaders, campus activists, abortion survivors, sidewalk counselors, political lobbyists, birth mothers, and former abortion workers.

Pictures speak louder than words, so check out our photo album.

If I were on the other side, and I spied on the Pro-Life Women's Conference, I would be petrified. We're unified. We're learning from each other. We're thinking historically. We aren't giving up. 

The Seneca Falls convention took place in 1848. The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote, wasn't enacted until 72 years later, and not enforced for women of color for several additional decades. It is our duty as pro-life advocates to shrink that timeline as much as we possibly can. Lives depend on it.

Secular Pro-Life reps

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Pro-Life Women's Conference begins tonight!

We are so excited to gather in Dallas with female pro-life leaders from across the country. If you're attending, we'd love to see you! SPL president Kelsey Hazzard will present tomorrow at 3:30 p.m., and our exhibit booth will be open for the duration of the conference. Look for our tall bright blue banner; you can't miss it.

The full conference schedule is available here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bodily Autonomy and Medical Ethics in the Abortion Debate

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

On those rare occasions that I tell my friends that I have a pro-life stance on abortion, their reaction is typically surprise followed by a quick objection along the lines of  “Well, if it’s her body...” and then they seem to think it’s hardly worth their time to say anything else. 

As readers of this blog may well know, what my friends are thinking of is commonly called the bodily autonomy argument. Briefly, it states that any person has a right to decide on what does or does not happen to his or her physical person. If a woman wishes to have the shape of her nose changed, for instance, that is up to her, even if others might have moral objections. Likewise, the argument goes, if a woman has an embryo or fetus inside of her, she has the right to have it removed. 

It’s a powerful argument and for many, the end of the conversation.

Conversely, the ubiquity of the bodily autonomy argument has meant that pro-life advocates have worked hard to refute it, and have done so elsewhere. When they have, those counter-arguments have usually been framed in terms of the moral obligation of a mother to care for a child, or as a refutation of the so-called violinist argument.

These counter-claims are entirely worthy, but there is another way to refute the bodily autonomy argumenta rebuttal related to basic medical ethicsand that is the counter-argument I would like to advance here.

My case begins with the idea that, the right to bodily autonomy must surely mean, primarily, the right not to have one’s body harmed or invaded. One cannot be compelled to have sex against one’s will, or to be stabbed or even tattooed without one's consent. But there is no reason to think that bodily autonomy includes the right to have anything done to one’s body, without recourse to ethical considerations. And if an abortion is to be understood as a medical procedure, as pro-choice advocates insist that it must be, then it, like other medical procedures, must be subject to ethical scrutiny.

And, in fact, medical practitioners do sometimes refuse to perform procedures that they believe are unethical. Those with body dysmorphia or body identity integrity disorder sometimes seek to have a healthy limb removed. When a Scottish surgeon agreed to do so, that practitioner was denounced by colleagues.

Conversely, transhumanists even now are seeking surgeons to implant technological gadgets into their bodies to turn them into the first real supermenwithout much luck so far.  And even if such procedures did become commonplace it would only be after debating the ethics of the procedures in questions. The fact that the patients have the right to bodily autonomy doesn't remove the practitioners' obligations not to harm human beings.

A particularly affecting instance of a refusal to undertake a procedure due to ethical concerns made headlines in my part of the world not long ago. In January, New Brunswick toddler Zaccari Buell was in need of a kidney transplant. His mother, Ashley Barnaby, offered to donate her kidney, but her surgeons would not perform the operation on the grounds that Barnaby had health problems of her own; it would be unethical, her doctors said, to remove the mother’s organ. She is, according to reports, at risk for developing diabetes, which means she can't risk being down one kidney.

If pro-choice advocates were right, there should have been no reason to deny Barnaby her wishes. It's her body, after all. But she was refused and with good reason. It would be wrong for surgeons to perform a procedure that did harm to a human being even if they were asked to do so. And if a fetus is a human being, then the same ethical concerns must be at play.

Of course, others do argue that a fetus is not a human being in a moral sense. But that is the discussion we need to have. And simply saying "it's her body" is nothing more than a distraction.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tonight: webcast recap of pro-life leaders' meeting with Trump

Kristan Hawkins
Today in New York City, Donald Trump will meet with leaders from select pro-life organizations, among them Students for Life of America (SFLA). SFLA president Kristan Hawkins has this to say:
I know many feel conflicted (myself included) right now about the upcoming election, but we all agree that this November could change the trajectory of legal abortion in our nation. Planned Parenthood must be held accountable and at the very least, be defunded of our taxpayer dollars. The Supreme Court must have a pro-life jurist to replace Justice Scalia.
For many, Donald Trump has not been their first choice, and over the past several months I’ve heard conflicting statements from him, especially on defunding Planned Parenthood. So a conversation must be had.
As our regular readers already know, Secular Pro-Life shares Kristan's distaste for Mr. Trump. But into the fray she goes, in the hope of at least figuring out what the hell is going on—after which she and the rest of the SFLA team will convene a free webcast to tell us all what went down.

Thank you, Kristan, for volunteering as tribute.

The webcast will take place tonight at 6:00 p.m. Eastern (3:00 p.m. Pacific) and last about thirty minutes. Register here.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Praising mothers as "heroic"

Save the 1, an organization for people conceived in rape and their families, posted this meme on facebook recently:

They added:
Please do not refer to rape survivor mothers as heroes. Save the 1 mothers are offended every time they hear this. They think it's normal to love their children who were conceived in rape. Same thing for those who have children with special needs. How would you feel if someone told you that you are a hero for "actually loving" your own child and how extraordinary they think you are that you didn't want to kill your child?
I'll confess I've fallen into this trap. Certainly I have never said, would never in a million years say, something egregious like "Wow, I can't believe you love your baby! That's super weird!" I'm not a jerk. But Save the 1 points out that calling mothers in difficult circumstances "heroic" is the more positive side of the same coin.

I have used the language of heroism before, and not only in reference to women who conceive after a sexual assault; I've thrown it around for mothers who have chosen life in all kinds of situations. That's inconsistent of me. Refusing abortion may take maturity; it may take a leap of faith; it may take courage. But does it rise to the level of heroism?

As pro-life advocates, we believe that the right to life is a basic human right. Refraining from killing someone is meeting your bare minimum moral obligations. I've never killed anyone. I don't deserve a medal.

So is there any instance when we might say that a refusal to kill an unborn child is heroic? Yes. Far too often, pregnant mothers face physical violence—from the fathers of their children, from their pimps, and even from their own parents—in attempts to coerce an abortion. Women who defend themselves and their children from that type of aggression are definitely heroines in my book.

Of course, coercion may or may not coincide with "hard cases," but you can't know until you've heard the whole story. So let's listen to mothers. Let's not assume. Let's not inadvertently degrade the love they have for their children.

Friday, June 17, 2016

We asked, you answered: Is abortion comparable to the Holocaust?

Recently we asked our FB followers: “Do you think comparing abortion to a holocaust is a valid comparison?”

We got tons of responses. (I read over the first 80 comments but stopped keeping track after that.) Opinions seem to break down into three overall categories:

1. No, the comparison has problems.
2. Yes, it’s a valid comparison, but not necessarily an effective one.
3. Yes, it’s a valid comparison.

Below is a sampling from each category. Some comments are edited for length but not content. You can read the unedited comments as well as all the comments not reprinted here on the original FB post.

1. No, the comparison has problems.

Emily: In the world of therapy/psychology it is often said that people should not attempt to compare their grief with another's. For the same reasons, I think in comparing abortion and the holocaust there is a breakdown that can unintentionally minimize the grief of either tragedy. Just as with all sadness, we see some grave similarities. But there are many reasons not to measure them next to each other.

Noah: Abortion isn't about killing all babies, just ones in certain circumstances, while the holocaust was about wiping out entire groups of people.

Christian: The comparison is not simply one of deaths but of overall suffering. The prisoners in the Holocaust were starved, abused, stripped naked and humiliated, shot for sport, experimented on, worked like slaves, frozen, marched to death, and lived with the ever-present knowledge that they might be corralled in a gas chamber like animals. They were the living dead. Dismemberment of a fetus is ugly and disturbing, but the victim is not a conscious sufferer (at least not to the same degree). It doesn't process what's going on at all, or, if it does, it's at the most remedial level (physical pain).

Richard: Until the government mandates people having abortions against their will, it's tough to say they're parallel.

Frank: I don’t think so, for the following reason: a holocaust is directed against the people of a certain race (or, in some cases, a religion or other common factor), and the desired end result of that holocaust is a world free from Jews/Catholics/Palestinians etc. Abortion supporters don’t target any particular group; they don’t discriminate on any other grounds than age, and in general they don’t force any mother to abort her child. Whilst I am strongly pro-life, I consider the term holocaust not only inaccurate but also unnecessarily provocative which can’t possibly be helpful in a rational discussion.

Aria: Jews, gypsies and non-Aryans were raped, pillaged, humiliated, tortured, and worked to death. As much as I deplore abortion, no, I don't think it's a fair comparison.

Grace: The problem with comparing abortion to the holocaust is the regular societal dismissal of Jewish suffering and persecution by the non-Jewish general public. Many Jewish people are frustrated that anti-Semitic sentiments are often alive and well despite the toppling of the Nazi regime. Instead of co-opting an event that is very much a pivot point in Jewish history (though gay people, Catholics, and Roma people also suffered greatly), it would be better to stop using this comparison.

Moni: holókaustos means burning something down totally…[it] can also be applied on the Nazi-ideologies' wish to destroy the whole Jewish nation, figuratively 'burn down' the Jewish nation to its ashes. Abortion does not have the aim to destroy a nation - applied on the third world, 'birth control' does want to stop the growth of the population (which is considered too high), but not destroy a race or a nation completely.

The greek word génos can be applied widely on race, lineage, origins, descent or background, the latin word caedere means murder or massacre. So no matter what motivation causes an ideological mass-murder of women (China, India) or handicapped people within the womb, the word genocide fits perfectly. Also the high amount of abortions within the black (and neglected by society) part of American population can be seen as genocide, out of opportunistic economic motives. Genocide implies the organised murder of a group of people for base motives, people who are, to quote Warren J., "classified as non-persons.”

I tend to say, that the holocaust was a genocide, but not every genocide should be called holocaust.

2. Yes, it’s a valid comparison, but not necessarily an effective one.

John: Since the unborn child is fully human, it is unquestionably accurate to make that comparison. However, is it politically and rhetorically advantageous? That's another question entirely.

Jeff: It is logically analogous, yes. But the prevalence of Reductio ad Hitlerum makes it an ineffective and often counterproductive rhetorical tactic. I would avoid it.

Kasey: Unfortunately I've had pro-choice people immediately write me off as a crazy person when I use this comparison. … I've learned that before using the comparison I need to preface it with clearly emphasizing the truth about what I believe: science and logic and general human morality dictate that an unborn baby is a human being of equal human rights at an early stage of development. That seems to help the comparison land better.

Beatrice: Yes, but it's the kind of thought I would keep to myself. We need to meet people where they are and the average person who believes that abortion is a woman's right is nowhere close to that thought pattern.

R.J.: In many ways, yes - but strategically I believe such a comparison is most valuable when used to motivate apathetic pro-lifers, rather than converting abortion-supporters to being pro-life.

Simon: An argument might have valid points if looked at objectively but may still hit a wall emotionally. Industrial animal agriculture has been compared to slavery by some vegans yet people won't even consider the concept. Fundamentally people think they are good moral beings and if it’s argued otherwise they automatically become defensive. If you don't overcome this even a valid comparison is counterproductive.

Adele: It is absolutely a valid comparison--you have the systemic and LEGAL elimination of a specific group of defenseless people. There are even lots of parallels in the euphemisms used for abortion, the unwillingness to look at pictures of the procedure, and the demonization of the opposition. Having said that, I have never found it a useful argument, as it does not engage pro-choicers in meaningful conversation.

3. Yes, it’s a valid comparison.

Lisanne: I really think someday we're all going to look back on legalized partial birth and late term abortions with the same revulsion and disbelief that society could justify committing such an act.

Kyle: The issue, to me, is why abortion is immoral; the reason is because it's killing a human being. To the people who support aborting a baby, they believe he or she isn't a human being. To quote Adolf Hitler: "The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but they are not human." So the comparison should be between the mindset of Nazis and pro-choice people. That said, they'd still just laugh it off like they always do.

Drexel: They're both given pleasant euphemisms: Choice and The Final Solution

Chris: Yes, very valid, because babies are exterminated in mass numbers for the same reasons Jews were; the belief that they are not equal human beings, and don't have equal rights to everyone else, and that their extermination can actually make society better.

Jimmy: Through the lens of history we can look back several generations and say to ourselves, "How did they let this happen? How could they not see the evil of it? What let them stand by and accept this as normal?" We bear witness to the systematic attempted extermination of the Jewish people, the Romani people, and any who were deemed undesirable. We can feel the horror of events that unfolded as the Holocaust took shape and changed the world forever. There are many who understand that in a century our descendants will talk of the dark years of Abortion in the same manner. That everyone alive will understand it could have been one of their ancestors, one of their grandparents or great grandparents who might have been lost. Many will still have records of lost life from their family line. And they will ask of history, "How did they let this happen? How could they not see the evil of it? What let them stand by and accept this as normal?"

I do not know how we will answer them.

Alexandria: Yes in the sense that the differently abled are targeted. As an experience it is different, but the sentiment - this life is not valuable/perfect enough- is the same.

Victoria: Yes. Particularly because in both abortion and the Holocaust, one segment of humanity is demonized, dehumanized and vilified in order to be quite ruthlessly murdered, under the same guise of protecting the "rights" of another segment of humanity, with the justification of the dehumanized "enemy" as being oppressive to the second segment. Even though, realistically, the second segment is on no way oppressed and is in fact the oppressor.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Advice column tells grandmother to help kill grandchild in abortion

Slate has always been hostile to the right to life, but this week's "Dear Prudence" advice column takes it to a new low.

Let's break this down.
Q. Daughter wants late-term abortion: My daughter left her husband, and now wants to abort what had been a wanted pregnancy. She is too far along to terminate in our state, but she could get it done elsewhere.
Translation: she is at least five months along. The baby looks like this:

She asked me for money, to cover transportation and the procedure itself. My daughter says that she can’t have a child with her soon-to-be-ex and that he would block an adoption. 
If Prudence had done the responsible thing and consulted a family law attorney for the column, this would have been a no-brainer. A father cannot simply demand that a mother raise a child, then walk away. If a father is going to "block an adoption," he must do so by taking on the responsibility of raising the child himself.

If the issue here is that she thinks he would make a lousy father—the column does not make that clear, but it's certainly possible that she left because he was abusive—then it's a matter of showing the court that he's unfit. Custody battles are certainly no fun, but are they worse than death?
This devastates me. I thought I was pro-choice, but everything in me screams that this is wrong.
Congratulations, you have a conscience.
But my daughter said that if I don’t help her, she’ll have to find “some other way,” and I’m afraid of what that might mean.
This is clear emotional blackmail. Prudence normally has no problem calling that out, but not in this case.
Also, my husband doesn’t yet know that our daughter wants to abort, but he would be even more devastated than I am. Should I help my daughter do this, or not?
If by "this" you mean make a rash decision to end the life of her wanted baby (who she has by now felt kick and likely seen on an ultrasound), and put her own life at risk in a dangerous late-term abortion, no. That's not helping your daughter.

My advice? Give your daughter real help. Set her up with an attorney and help her pay her legal expenses. Offer her and her baby space in your home. Take her to counseling. Tell her how much you love her. Any of those things would be a far greater investment in your family's well-being than spending your money on transportation and a paycheck for Leroy Carhart.

But Prudence will have none of that.
A: Being pro-choice doesn’t mean the specifics of every single abortion fills you with joy; being pro-choice simply means you believe the only person who should decide whether or not a woman should carry her pregnancy to term is the woman in question. 
And, apparently, it means never daring to mention that someone carrying a wanted baby, in the late second or even third trimester, who is in the midst of an ugly divorce, and suddenly decides she wants an abortion, might be in a highly emotional state and consequently do something she will regret.
It’s understandable that you might grieve the loss of what you hoped would be your grandchild, but you need to deal with your emotions about this on your own, and not use your sadness as a reason to pressure your daughter into carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term.
This sentence makes me furious. "What you hoped would be your grandchild"?! Stop pretending. Stop playing rhetorical games. Have an ounce of courage and acknowledge that passage through the birth canal is not magic. This is her grandchild, and she has been asked to help kill her grandchild. "Sadness" is more than "understandable." And apparently, anything short of an enthusiastic denial of the truth, any suggestion that there is an alternative here, constitutes "pressure." (But, again, being in the middle of a divorce and all the emotional baggage that comes with it is a totally conducive to free choice.)
Your daughter was happy to have a child in a stable partnership under certain conditions but doesn’t feel equipped to have one by herself in the middle of a divorce and is determined to have an abortion. She’s going to get an abortion no matter how you feel about it. 
Unless you, you know, talk her out of it and offer support for her! What is it with abortion advocates' willful blindness to the idea that a woman can change her mind?
You can either make having one more difficult for her, or you can help. That choice, at least, is yours alone.
So to recap: "help" means shelling out cash for the death of your grandchild and possible lifelong trauma to your daughter. Refusal to do so is selfishly "using your sadness to pressure your daughter."

"Feminism" my ass.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Monday, June 13, 2016

Statement on Orlando shooting

In the wake of the mass shooting that killed at least fifty people at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Secular Pro-Life reaffirms its strong support for LGBT people. The right to life is inalienable, and certainly not conditioned upon any person's sexuality. Many of our members are queer and we mourn this affront to their rights and their sense of safety.

At this time, reports indicate that the shooter was inspired by ISIS. We place the blame for this atrocity squarely where it belongs: with the shooter and those who aided or abetted him. Just as it is wrong to smear the entire pro-life movement when someone claiming the "pro-life" label commits a violent act, it is wrong to paint law-abiding Muslims with a broad brush. Secular Pro-Life is proud to work peacefully alongside people of all faiths, including Islam, toward a more just society.

Finally, we urge our readers to take concrete actions to honor the memory of the victims. Be generous. If you are able, donate blood and/or funds to disaster relief groups. Give your time. Let us come together in a spirit of volunteerism like we did after 9/11.

Friday, June 10, 2016

SPL president to speak at National Right to Life Convention

Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard will present at the 2016 National Right to Life Convention on Saturday, July 9 from 10:45 a.m. to noon. Her workshop topic is "Making the Pro-Life Argument from the Secular Perspective." This is the first time Secular Pro-Life will have a presence at the NRLC convention.

The NRLC convention brings together pro-life leaders from all fifty states. This year's location is the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport in Herdon, VA. For more information and to register, please visit the convention website.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Can Pro-Life People See the Future?

There's a pro-life argument that's been going around for some time, and it goes something like this: If you abort a child, you are, essentially, aborting all the generations that would have come after him or her. It's summed up in the following image:

This argument has always struck me as bizarre, and it's even more strange to me that any pro-life people would take it seriously. The argument really doesn't make any sense to me, and I can't see it being persuasive to a thoughtful pro-choice person.

"Abortion ends more than one life"? How can it end a life that hasn't even begun? You can't end something if you don't even begin it. That's a major problem with the argument right there, but there are even bigger problems with it, which probably stem from a lack of reflection on what a person is, metaphysically speaking, and what it means to be a person. Let's think through the argument for a few minutes.

As stated in the previous paragraph, preventing someone from coming into existence is not the same thing as killing someone. It makes absolutely no sense to say that aborting one person ends more than that person's life, since none of the other potential lives have even begun. I can use myself as an example. I'm 34 years old. I am not married and I have no kids. Provided my life continues the way it has I could die without children. If that was the case, then if my mom had aborted me she would not have prevented any other lives from coming into existence. So the obvious question becomes: how do you know that any other lives will be affected when any one given child is aborted? We can argue concretely that the mother and father may be adversely affected, but we can't argue in the abstract that future lives will be prevented because there is no way for human beings to know that. And even if we did know, it is not clear that preventing someone from coming into existence is as bad as aborting a child, or is even immoral at all.

Consider two couples. One couple plans on having sex that night, but in the evening, after hard days of work, decide they're too tired and will do it tomorrow instead. Another couple plans on having sex but decide they are not ready to have another child, so they use contraception and prevent a new life from coming into existence. Given the argument above, that aborting someone "ends" (or prevents) more than one life, in order to be consistent, don't we also have to say that deciding against having sex at the last minute or using contraception are as immoral as abortion and for the same reason?

Of course one might say "but they will eventually have sex, possibly resulting in children that will have children of their own, yet in the case of abortion the child definitely will not be able to reproduce." Perhaps, but this illustrates why a discussion of personhood is not as simple as many believe it is. If the first couple was to conceive child A on day X, they would have child A. But if they decided to postpone sex until the next night, they might end up conceiving child B on day Y, a completely different child due to circumstances being different. Child A may have been conceived with blonde hair and green eyes, but the circumstances on day Y may have brought it about that the mother's recessive gene for blue eyes took over and the child now has blonde hair and blue eyes. Now eye color is an accidental, not an essential, property, so it may be that child B would be ontologically the same person as child A, but that would also depend on certain other mitigating factors.

If a God exists, he could certainly delay creating child A until the parents were able to have sex (on day Y instead of day X). However, whereas Mormons believe in the pre-existence of the soul, other faith traditions do not. Protestants and Catholics believe that the soul is created at fertilization with the human being, so it may be the case that a completely different human being came into existence when the parents delayed. Or if you don't believe in a soul at all, would the person who comes into existence after their conception is delayed be the same person as the one who would have come into existence had his or her parents not delayed?

Some would probably say that I'm over-thinking this argument, but the problem is that many pro-life people accept any argument that supports their view without thinking about it at all. This is one of those arguments that really doesn't make any sense once you really start to think about it.

So in order for this argument to work, you would need at least two things: (1) perfect knowledge of the future and (2) a metaphysics of time in which the future exists.

It's obvious that humans, being finite in knowledge, do not have perfect knowledge of the future. I can't tell you how many people told me there's no way Trump would become the Republican nominee. I certainly didn't see it coming. You can't know whether or not future generations will be affected by an abortion, and even if you could, preventing someone from coming into existence is not the same thing as taking someone out of existence.

Regarding the metaphysics of time, you also have to decide what the future is. There are two predominant theories of time: the A-theory and the B-theory, and under both of these theories I don't see how this argument is a good one. (See this article for more information on these two theories of time.)

The A-theory of time states that the only aspect of time that exists is the present. The future doesn't yet exist and the past no longer exists. Each moment we live moves us from the present into the future, and the past exists only as a memory. If this theory of time is correct, then there are literally no future people to harm. If a woman aborts, she is not harming anyone except for the unborn child being aborted because there are no future people who are being prevented from coming into existence.

The B-theory of time is the dominant view among philosophers and physicists (though, of course, simply being the dominant view doesn't make it the correct one). Under this theory of time, the future, past, and present all exist now and are all equally real. The passage of time is merely an illusion, a useful fiction to describe changes in the world around us. Under this theory of time, whether or not a woman aborts or a pro-life person saves the child doesn't affect anything in the future because what will happen will happen, and nothing we do will change it. If a woman aborts, she was always going to abort, and if a pro-life advocate persuades her to save her child, she was always going to save her child. In this case, there are no future people to save because the actions that occur were always going to occur. Nothing has changed, so no one has actually been prevented from coming into existence.

Now, there are arguments from the future that are good ones (e.g. Marquis' Future of Value argument, and Beckwith's Substance View argument). However, this argument is simply not a good one, and doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Today's NC primary pits pro-life group against Trump

Today, North Carolina Republicans face a primary choice between Rep. Renee Ellmers and Rep. George Holding. Both are incumbents; due to redistricting, only one can return to the House.

Rep. Ellmers had the support of the pro-life movement when she first came to the Hill in 2010. That support evaporated early last year, when Rep. Ellmers tried to torpedo the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (a.k.a. the 20-week bill) just days before the March for Life.

Gallingly, Rep. Ellmers actually repeated pro-abortion talking points: characterizing late-term abortion as a mere "social issue," and asserting that Millennials opposed the bill because "social issues just aren't as important" to us. As you might have guessed, that wasn't true: Washington Post/ABC News polling showed that 57% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 39 favored a 20-week abortion limit over a later limit.

The Susan B. Anthony List, understandably mortified that a supposedly "pro-life" woman it had previously supported would turn around and slap young people in the face like that, has endorsed Rep. Holding. The SBA List has also set up a "Dump Ellmers" website explaining the details of what happened last year.

"Hey, Secular Pro-Life," you're wondering. "Has Donald Trump used this opportunity to bolster his weak credibility with the pro-life movement?" So glad you asked. Of course not. He's done the opposite:
Donald J. Trump made his first congressional endorsement this weekend, backing Representative Renee Ellmers in a North Carolina primary race in which she has been opposed by heavily funded adversaries.
Mr. Trump recorded a phone message for Ms. Ellmers's campaign, calling her a "fighter."
This is not the first time Trump and the SBA List have butted heads; see the SBA List's open letter to Iowa voters back in January, highlighting Trump's pro-choice misogyny. Once Trump became the Republican nominee, the SBA List did make some overtures of reconciliation (much to our chagrin), but clearly, the rivalry is not over.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Poll results: Who is part of the pro-life movement?

Last Friday we posted a 2 question poll about who you consider "pro-lifers" and who you consider part of the "pro-life movement."

The point of the poll was to explore how people define these terms. We considered four factors:

  1. Whether a person is politically active in fighting abortion.
  2. Whether a person thinks abortion should be illegal.
  3. Whether a person thinks abortion is immoral.
  4. Whether a person offers social support to pregnant or parenting people.

You can read the descriptions of our 8 hypothetical people on last Friday's post, but here are the variables in chart form:

To our frustration, due to technical problems we couldn't analyze the answers to the question "Who are the pro-lifers?" We're sorry about that.

But at the time we analyzed the data (Sunday evening PST), we did have 130 people cast a total of 375 votes for who belongs to the pro-life movement. Here is the chart reordered from most accepted to least accepted person. The column on the far right is the percent of voters who cast a vote for that person (remember voters could pick as many of the 8 people as they liked).

A few notes:
  • 76% of the people who voted picked 3 people or less. Most of them picked people who think abortion should be illegal.
  • David, Anthony, and Mike are nearly tied. Apparently if a person doesn't take some kind of action based on their beliefs, it doesn't make much difference what they believe.
  • Given Elena got more votes than Anthony or even David, it seems voters value social support more than anti-abortion beliefs alone.
  • However voters valued political activism above all. Lucas was the ideal because he covered all fronts, but Christine wasn't terribly far behind. And Christine got a lot more votes than Jen, even though both think abortion is wrong and should be illegal. Christine took political action, and Jen offered social support. It seems if voters have to pick between the two, they value political action more.
There were a few voters who chose "Other" and gave written explanations, which included:
  • "They all contribute to the pro-life movement in some way."
  • "All seem part-time pro-life. Like most people, unfortunately."
  • "All these people all are part of the *pro-life movement* - there is a need for all aspects of the community to take action on all levels." [This comment went on to mention other consistent life issues but got cut off for some reason.]
  • "None." [Presumably meant none of the 8 people are part of the pro-life movement.]
We also had several people comment about their thought processes on our FB post for the poll. It was great to see how many people said the poll got them thinking about our assumptions of what "pro-life movement" means.

I wish a real polling group like Gallup or Pew Research would put forth the same poll to a large number of people representing the demographics of the country. I'd be very interested to see how people who aren't necessarily involved with our movement define the term "pro-live movement." How do you think the answers might change?

And just for fun, here are all the locations people voted from, in alphabetical order. Is your area on the list?

Al Asimah
British Columbia
Capital Region
Community of Madrid
District of Columbia
New Jersey
New South Wales
New York
North Carolina
Rhode Island
San Jose
South Australia
South Dublin

Friday, June 3, 2016

Poll: Who are the pro-lifers?


Lucas is a business owner who offers paid maternity leave. He also writes letters protesting abortion to his political representatives and local newspapers whenever the opportunity comes up.

Elizabeth is a stay-at-home mom who thinks abortion is wrong. She does what she can to help women not feel they need it; for example, when her young neighbor accidentally got pregnant, Elizabeth offered to babysit for free while the girl goes to classes during the week. However, Elizabeth doesn’t think we should outlaw abortion because she’s worried that will just make abortion more dangerous, not more rare.

Christine thinks abortion is wrong and should be illegal. She goes on marches and joins protests. She’s done a lot of work gathering signatures for a ballot initiative in her state to outlaw abortion after 20 weeks. As far as the social end of things, she doesn’t think it’s everyone else’s job to save women from their own reckless choices.

Mike thinks pregnancy shouldn’t be so socially and financially difficult for women, and he’ll say so if it gets brought up. He doesn’t really have time to help out beyond that, though, and he definitely doesn’t think abortion is wrong, much less that it should be outlawed.

Jen works to get lactation rooms, diaper decks, and other parent-friendly resources on her college campus. She thinks it should be easier for mothers (and parents in general) to access education. She thinks abortion should be illegal, but she never quite gets around to voting on the subject.

Elena volunteers with a local battered women’s shelter. She also does a lot of work in her community to make sure low-income pregnant women have access to prenatal and postpartum care. However, if one of the women she serves decides abortion is the right choice for her, Elena supports that choice.

Anthony thinks abortion is a horrible act that kills a child, but he’s also seen women he knows go through hell because of crisis pregnancies. He doesn’t think it’s his place to take the choice away, so he doesn’t get involved.

David doesn’t consider himself a political person. If asked, he’s say that yeah, abortion does seem wrong, and it probably should be more illegal than it is now. But he doesn’t know a lot about it and no one in his life ever brings it up anyway.

(Update: you can see the poll results here.)


Who are the pro-lifers?

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Who is part of the pro-life movement?

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

To My Daughter's First Parents

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

I've never met you. I don't speak your language. We were born on opposite sides of the world, and in some ways on completely different planets. You're both much older than me and my husband, both in years, and, I'm guessing, hard knocks. 

But we share one big thing in common. Actually, she's pretty little, but you get the idea.

One week ago, my husband and I brought this ball of spitfired sweetness into our family. But the real story between you and me starts more than five years ago, when you went to the doctors in Eastern Europe for a normal pregnancy checkup. 

Already having healthy, happy children, I am betting you were excited for this newest little life. Maybe, in a country not known for its wealth or gainful employment, you had questions -- how will we provide for this child? Will there be enough to go around? -- but you had figured it out for your other kids, and you would do so for this one. 

That was the plan, anyways. Until the doctor dropped words like spina bifida, hydrocephalus, scoliosis and more. 

I can only imagine the oh no, not my baby you must have felt as your dreams crumpled on the grainy black-and-white screen in front of you. 

Not to worry, the doctor assured you. You have other healthy children; you can just abort this one. And the government healthcare program will pay for it, even, so you don't have to worry about the money. 

I don't know what went through your mind. Maybe you considered abortion, for a while, even. Maybe you talked about it for several days, or maybe you made your decision on the spot. Maybe you considered the pros and cons; maybe it was never an option. Undoubtedly, it would have made things "easier" for you. No carrying a pregnancy to term for "nothing." No heartbreak from having to either deal with your daughter's extensive needs, or having to give her to an orphanage. No years of wondering if this, if that. With a simple "yes," you could have stopped our girl's beating heart. 

But you didn't. 

You did the hard thing and chose to give this daughter life, fully knowing your country could not provide for her medically. Even with all those "What ifs..." and "I don't knows" looming over your future. You gave your body and love to a child whom you knew could never share your home or your last name. 

I want you to know a few things. First, your daughter is not suffering! She is a ball of energy, a born communicator who dazzles everyone she meets, a nurturer who scooches over to the nearest crying baby to offer comfort. She has many problems, yes, and a long road ahead of her, but already her life is full. She loves fiercely, and she is loved just as fiercely in return; I would dare say her physical trials have sharpened her sense of love and giving, far beyond anything I could offer. 

Secondly, I do not hate or think any less of you -- just the opposite! Now, when someone asks me whom I admire most, I know how to answer. The personal strength necessary to sign over your parental rights for a child whom you loved deeply (and I know you did and do, thanks to some other details I'm leaving out of this letter), hoping one day she would be adopted by a family who could provide extensive medical care, just blows my mind. I don't think I could be that strong. 

Thirdly, I want you to know that as our girl grows, I will tell her about you. I will tell her that you loved and love her. I will tell her about your ethnic heritage. I will tell her about your home country: its beauty, its great food and incredible history. Our family will not erase her past; we will add it to her personal life mosaic. You and where you came from will not be forgotten.

Lastly, your selfless actions have launched a little global community. People from several countries made it possible for my family to adopt our shared daughter, and even now, I get several messages and texts a day from people from every corner of the globe offering to help in ways as simple as dropping dinner by. This girl is truly an example of "It takes a village." Because of her, hundreds of people know and care about special-needs adoption. Who knows what will bloom from the seeds she has planted? 

I know that life doesn't always turns out the way we want it. I know that in an ideal world, she would still be with you. Actually, I'm writing my master's thesis on family preservation, because my life's goal now revolves around keeping families like yours together, fully supported and enabled to keep your babies in your own countries and cultures. For now, however, I know there are thousands of orphans with special needs waiting in orphanages and foster families around the world, including dozens from your own country, and sometimes these kids age out with no one coming for them. Kids die, sometimes alone. It's no fairy tale we're living. Orphan care and adoption are hard. It flat-out sucks sometimes, for all parties from the birth parents like you to the kids themselves to adoptive families like mine. 

But the joy, born from the hardships, is so worth it. Joy that would not have happened without your first decision to give our girl life. 

So thank you. Thank you for rejecting abortion, and thank you for trusting in value of all life. Because of you, our shared daughter is blossoming -- and so is a greater story than either you or I could ever have dreamed.