Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Christian's plea for secular reasoning on abortion

[Today's guest post is by Sean Cahill. She says: "Because it changes the way my voice is heard when it comes to life issues, I feel compelled to state that I'm a woman, despite what my name suggests."]

In law school, as part of a Gender and Women’s Studies class, I had to attend a two-hour discussion section on abortion. I was one out of twenty students that didn’t wholeheartedly support abortion. I walked into the classroom with a decided goal to remain silent and keep my head down. That lasted about two minutes and one “clump of cells” comment. Before I knew it, I had explained the scientific reality of fetal development, the unfortunate reality of women who regret their abortions, and the pro-life feminist perspective. I discussed how insulting it was to be told I needed the right to abortion to be equal, that I didn’t believe we should accept a society that told women and girls that there was a problem with the facets of the female experience that differed from the wombless male default. The class period was coming to an end and I felt rather proud of myself for standing up to a room full of law students and an accomplished professor, for engaging in thoughtful discussion and hopefully making some people at least think about the ramifications of abortion.

As I prepared to walk out in what I was deeming the closest I’d come to a “mic drop moment,” a pro-choice female class-mate ended the class by saying: “This was a nice discussion and of course we can talk about pro-life stuff, but there’s such a thing as the separation of church and state, and your religion simply doesn’t get to control laws.” Then I sat shocked as several other students in the class nodded along, and the woman who made the statement rolled her eyes. I would understand this comment directed toward those praying the rosary outside an abortion clinic, or that token male who appears at most pro-life demonstrations with a megaphone shouting that abortion will send you to hell—but why was she saying it to me?

Full disclosure: I love God, believe Jesus Christ is our savior, and attend church every Sunday. But I had not mentioned any of that once, the reason being that while my religion may inform my respect for human life, it is not why I believe others should care about abortion. It was in that moment that I realized just how damaging the pro-life “Bible-thumping” stereotype is. It didn’t matter what I said or did; I might as well have attempted to lead everyone in an “Our Father” and handed out Bibles. This woman wasn’t responding to what I said, she was responding to what she had been told I would say: “Abortion is wrong because God says so.”

This last Saturday, January 21st, I attended the Walk for Life in San Francisco. As I began walking, representing a secular organization, the first person we came in contact with was a woman handing out a brochure entitled “How to Find God.” She walked past us and attempted to hand the brochure to a group of women on the side holding a sign that stated: “My Body, My Choice.” I saw them all share a knowing glance and collectively roll their eyes. What struck me was I had seen that glance, I had seen that eye roll before. It was the same one those law students gave each other in my Gender and Women’s Studies class. I realized in these women’s eyes and my classmates’ eyes, it didn’t matter what scientific, moral or feminist arguments I came up with; I was one and the same with this woman handing out the religious brochure, with those who pray outside the abortion center, and with anyone who shouts about abortion sending you to hell.

Throughout the day, I saw countless signs and heard many speakers spread the exact message that girl thought I was spreading back in law school: “Abortion is wrong because God says so.” We have a long way to go but the secular message is the future of the pro life movement and we have to work to dispel the notion that a critique of abortion can only come from religion, so that the logic of the pro-life position can be heard. We’ve got to all start using the best card we have: Abortion is wrong, not because God says so, not because the Bible says so, but because it ends a human life.

Monday, January 30, 2017

March for Life recap

Kelsey here. I'm finally home and have a moment to digest everything that has happened. This week was truly a whirlwind. That's a good thing!

Some time ago, I wrote: "The anniversary of Roe v. Wade is a time to remember the lives lost, celebrate the lives saved, and renew our commitment to restoring the right to life. It is also a time to network and strategize to save lives and help moms in the coming year." I'm proud to say we did every one of those things—and in addition, we equipped thousands of student activists (and adults) to reach secular audiences with the pro-life message, received excellent news coverage, raised money for Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center, got over 1,000 new likes on our facebook page, saw our #HelloHyde campaign make a positive impact on the House debate on the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act... in short, we had our best January ever!

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I encourage you to check out our photo albums from the March for Life and the Students for Life of America east coast conference.

How many words is a video worth? I'm not sure, but check out this one of me speaking outside the Supreme Court of the United States!

Our task now is to keep the momentum going. Secular Pro-Life is a volunteer-run organization with no paid staff or physical office, and we rely on donations from regular people. If you like what we're doing, please give as you're able. We greatly appreciate your generosity.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Pro-Lifers Attend the Women's March San Francisco

When the Women's March on Washington event first posted the day after the election of Donald Trump, I immediately marked myself as interested. Like may secular, liberal, millennial women, I was devastated and taken completely off guard with the outcome of the election. I kept thinking about the way Megyn Kelly had been treated, about my undocumented friends and family, my LGBT friends and family, and all the people of color in my life. But the Women's March on Washington was scheduled to be the same day as the West Coast Walk for Life, an event that my group Pro-Life Future San Francisco had already promised to be a part of. But then it was announced that there would be a sister march in SF later in the day, and I knew we would need to be there.

The controversy that followed only solidified this. As New Wave Feminists were accepted as a partner in the DC March, only to be abruptly dismissed, a national spotlight shone on the question: Can you be pro-life and be a feminist? And of course my heart and the hearts of many other pro-life feminists across the country, screamed YAS.

So we decided to join. And organizers of the San Francisco Women's March released official statements welcoming pro-lifers to participate. I beamed with pride for my city.

The West Coast Walk for Life drew 50,000 attendees to Civic Center and down Market Street for the annual event. As the crowd moved from the plaza to Market Street, attendees of the Women's March began to fill the plaza. I was joined by pro-life friend and ally Aimee Murphy of Life Matters Journal as well as about 10-15 (give or take depending on the time) members of our respective groups. I held signs that said "Atheist, Feminist, and Pro-Life - Human Rights for All Humans" and "Mr. Trump, xenophobia is not pro-life." Several of us wore shirts that read "This is what a pro-life feminist looks like."

The crowd was absolutely fascinated with us. We posed for pictures, received head nods of approval and high fives. Several people told us they were glad to see us there. One woman carried a sign with an image of a hanger with an x through it. She said to us "I heard on the radio that some pro-lifers felt that they weren't welcome here and I wanted to let you know that you are." She spent some time asking us about our pro-life position and agreed that the non-violent premise was compelling. She shared her concern that women would die from illegal abortion procedures, and we assured her that is a concern of ours as well being that we're feminists. She truly treated us with respect and kindness. It was a wonderful interaction that upheld the dignity of everyone involved.

Another woman came up to me and said "I respect your opinion, but you should respect my choice." She then proceed to chant "pro-choice, pro-choice." But none of the crowd was interested in joining in so she stopped.  That was literally the only opposition that we encountered, and even in that interaction she opened with expressing respect for my opinion.

You can imagine that by this time my pride for my city swelled even further. I left the rally with optimism and real hope for the pro-life cause. Pro-life feminists are out there, and we are in every city in America. We must amplify these voices and do all we can to reach every human being with love, kindness, and understanding. Together, we can work to abolish the barbaric, antiquated, and horrific practice of abortion in America.

A crazy week in Washington, D.C.

Your president, Kelsey Hazzard, here. I'm in Washington, D.C. and staying with my friend Lauren Handy, sidewalk counselor extraordinaire. She's a Christian, but takes a totally secular approach to sidewalk counseling. As she describes it, she's doing crisis intervention—if you were rescuing people from a burning building, you wouldn't pause to proselytize, so why on earth would anyone do such a thing when a mom is about to have an abortion? She gets it. She's written for this blog before, and I was excited to shadow her and learn some life-saving skills.

And boy, did we pack a lot of activity into one day yesterday! First stop was an abortion center in Bethesda, where on an average morning, at least 5 to 10 women have abortion appointments...

...but no one came! We're not clear on what happened or why; an abortion worker did arrive and turn the lights on, but the abortionist never showed, and there were no clients. Lauren says I must have been a good luck charm. I'll take it!

Next, we headed over to the Capitol for a press conference on the federal heartbeat bill. Secular Pro-Life hasn't taken an official position on this legislation, but I thought it would be wise to at least get informed about it and take some pictures.

Toward the end of the press conference, a pro-choice woman passed by and struck up a conversation with me. She was upset that no women of color spoke at the presser. I agreed that women of color should have been included, and shared some photos of the diverse pro-lifers I met in San Francisco last weekend. We wound up having a wide-ranging discussion and finding a lot of common ground, including the desire for women to have as many non-violent reproductive choices as humanly possible (and also some totally non-abortion-related things; she's an entrepreneur with a career in solar energy, which is pretty cool). I gave her my email so we can follow up.

That conversation lasted so long that Lauren had to leave in the middle of it for lunch. In my attempt to meet up with Lauren later, I proceeded to get hopelessly lost. Finally we reunited and ate in a Congressional cafeteria, where the TVs displayed the House debate on the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act (which would make the Hyde Amendment permanent).

I about flipped when I saw this:

That 2 million statistic comes from a Charlotte Lozier Institute report which they produced at the request of our #HelloHyde campaign last September. Not a bad ripple effect!

Next, we met up with a larger pro-life group and watched Rep. Marsha Blackburn receive an award for her right-to-life advocacy. That larger group included some 20-somethings from Created Equal, whom I had never met. I wound up networking with them for the remainder of the afternoon, which included a nice visit to the Museum of American History.

I told them to pose "like an album cover."

So that was yesterday! Today should be slightly more relaxed. Here's where you'll find Secular Pro-Life for the remainder of this week:
  • On Thursday beginning at 9:00 a.m., check out our booth at the March for Life Expo on 999 Ninth Street NW.
  • On Thursday night from 7 to 9 p.m., we're co-hosting a happy hour with Beltway Right to Life benefiting Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center. It's a shame we weren't able to make karaoke happen, but come out anyway and socialize with a great group of folks for a good cause. Our venue is the 201 Bar at 201 Massachusetts Ave NE.
  • On Friday morning, we'll probably be at the Expo again.
  • On Friday at 11:00 a.m., meet us for the March for Life! Our meetup location is near the official rally site; get the exact coordinates here. Immediately following the March for Life, there are a number of events going on, including a consistent life ethic meeting, a Pro-Life Future happy hour, etc. Take your pick.
  • On Saturday, it's the Students for Life of America east coast national conference! Don't forget to register at
This time of year is a whirlwind for us. We have no paid staff and rely entirely on volunteers to maximize our participation in Roe anniversary memorial events. We're so grateful to everyone who came out to San Francisco last weekend, and to everyone who's joining us in D.C. this weekend.

If you aren't able to help out in person, we understand. Please consider making a donation to our work. We want to build on the energy of this week to make 2017 our best year yet!

Monday, January 23, 2017

2017 Walk for Life recap

Your president, Kelsey Hazzard, here. On Saturday, Secular Pro-Life participated in the Walk for Life - West Coast for the seventh consecutive year. But for me, it was the first year. Typically, I am busy at the March for Life in D.C., and other SPL leaders take care of things in San Francisco. But this year, the west coast and east coast events are held a week apart, so I was finally able to make it out to California.

As usual, we teamed up with the Life Matters Journal. This year we also had the San Francisco chapter of Pro-Life Future, led by SPL admin Terrisa Bukovinac.

The walk was amazing. A picture's worth a thousand words, and I encourage you to view our photo album here. A few of my favorites follow:

What the photos don't convey is that Spanish music filled the air, complete with guitars and drums that people played while marching, which was pretty cool.

I'm told that there were fewer counter-protesters this year. In particular, Stop Patriarchy and its distinctive orange signs were absent. But rest assured, I was flipped the bird plenty of times.

The Walk for Life and the San Francisco Women's March were held back-to-back, with the same rally space and the same march route. As you may have heard, the Women's March officially denounced pro-life participation, and the Walk for Life organizers had concerns about the two groups clashing. As it turned out, the timing worked out so that there was a buffer zone of several blocks. Some SPL members stuck around for the Women's March rally... about which, more soon!

Our next stop is Washington, D.C. You'll find our full itinerary here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Pro-Life in the Age of President Trump

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

I have a confession to make – I wasn’t happy when I woke on November 9th to find that Donald J. Trump had won the election.

Of course, there was always a lot about him to dislike. His mind-boggling ignorance of politics and science, open xenophobia and misogyny, and distasteful sexual practices were enough to make even a dyed-in-the-wool pro-lifer like me consider, however briefly, voting for Hillary just to make sure he stayed out of the Oval Office. But even when I looked at it through a strictly pro-life lens, I couldn’t bring myself to be happy that he won. Why not? Because he is, without a doubt, the single worstspokesman the pro-life movement could possibly hope to find.

First, there is the matter of Trump’s pathological dishonesty. Of his statements measured on fact-checking site, 19% were rated “Mostly False,” 33%were rated “False,” and 18% “Pants on Fire.” (By comparison, as of this writing, Hillary Clinton’s respective scores were 14%, 10%, and 2%.) Trump’s collected misstatements also had the “honor” of winning Politifact’s “Lie of the Year” in 2015. Furthermore, he has a longhistory of defrauding people who have worked for him – contractors, vendors, real estate brokers, and, ironically, some of the attorneys hired to defend him against such charges. What this means to the pro-life movement is that even though Trump has promised to appoint anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court, in practice, his word means very little.

Second, and far worse, is Trump’s well-known misogyny. (A long, but by no means exhaustive list of the horrendous things he has said about women can be found here.) This is bad enough on its own, but consider this: Ever since Roe v. Wade codified the idea that abortion is a woman’s right (the rights of the unborn child be damned), the left has been all too eager to paint all pro-lifers as being misogynistic Neanderthals who can’t stand the idea of a woman making her own decisions. Pro-lifers know that nothing could be further from the truth, yet the preceding sentence describes Donald Trump to a T. As he is about to become the most powerful person in the world, he is the pro-life movement’s de facto leader, and that ought to be cause for concern to any pro-lifer who does in fact support women’s rights and just wants to move beyond that tired, inaccurate stereotype.

Finally, the sincerity of Trump’s pro-life credentials is highly questionable. The fact that he advocated for “some form of punishment” for women who obtain illegal abortions, and that he later falsely claimed that Hillary Clinton advocated for abortion in the ninth month of pregnancy, implies that he misunderstands what the vast majority of pro-lifers believe. Coupled with Trump’s previous pro-choice positions, it would seem that his current marriage to large segments of the pro-life movement is merely one of convenience – after all, he could hardly have run as a pro-choice Republican.

But let’s say for the sake of argument that Trump really does sign every pro-life bill that reaches his desk, that he really does appoint qualified pro-life justices, and that those justices do manage to overturn Roe v. Wade. The fact remains that legalized abortion is not a problem we can simply govern our way out of. Any anti-abortion legislation that Congress passes and Trump signs into law could easily be undone by the next Democratic Congress or an executive order from Trump’s successor. Any Supreme Court ruling that overturns Roe could itself be overturned by the next generation of liberal justices. Any solution implemented on purely partisan grounds is in danger of being undone as soon as power inevitably changes hands – the current Congressional effort to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act demonstrates that all too well.

If we are serious about ending abortion permanently, we need to be able to work with members of both parties to lower the demand for abortions through better social policies. We need to continue to argue for the humanity of the fetus on both scientific and legal grounds. Finally, we need to continue to dissociate ourselves from the hoary stereotypes of pro-lifers as being ill-educated, sexist, overly religious, or some combination of the three. These things would have been difficult under, say, a President McCain or a President Romney, but not impossible. But when the most visible spokesman for the anti-abortion cause is someone as dishonest and sexist as Trump is, we will need to work twice as hard to present our arguments as reasoned, rational, and morally correct. Make no mistake – Donald J. Trump will not help the pro-life movement in the long term. The only thing that can help is if we find a way to reclaim the moral high ground in the public’s eye, and that cannot happen as long as he can be said to speak for us.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Debunking the latest pro-abortion "science" video

Last Thursday, the ASAPscience channel on YouTube published a new video entitled What Actually Happens When You Have An Abortion? As of this writing, it has garnered over 1.5 million views and is #38 on trending. Take a moment to watch it now, and then we'll delve into its inaccuracies.

The first section, on abortion methods, contains the usual euphemisms like "contents of the uterus," but the narration is basically accurate. The accompanying animations, however, leave out the unborn child. In the abortion pill animation, the embryo is portrayed as a dot; in the discussion of later abortion methods, the fetuses aren't portrayed at all. If they were, the depiction would be a lot more honest—and a lot harder for abortion advocates to defend.

With respect to the abortion pill, I appreciate that the makers of this video correctly stated that it is for use in the first 49 days of pregnancy (abortion lobbyists often use a later cutoff). However, for many women, the abortion pill results in more than just a "heavy period." Some have even recovered the bodies of their embryos after taking the abortion pill, which can be emotionally traumatic.

We have already debunked the notion that late-term abortions are primarily done for health reasons.

If that's where the video ended, I'd shrug it off as a more-or-less-true presentation with a normal level of pro-choice bias. The real problems come in the second half.

The video claims: "In the U.S., the risk of death associated with childbirth is fourteen times higher in women than that of an abortion." This comes from CDC data, and unfortunately, the CDC's abortion data is woefully incomplete. Reporting is not mandatory, and California, which accounts for a significant percentage of abortions, does not report its abortion data to the CDC.

More importantly, the CDC itself has stated that its abortion mortality rate and maternal mortality rate are not comparable:
The maternal mortality rate is computed as all maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. In contrast, the measure used for abortion is a case-fatality rate which is computed per 100,000 legal abortions. These measures are conceptually different and used for different public health purposes.
"All maternal deaths" is defined as "the death of a woman while pregnant or within 1 year of pregnancy termination–regardless of the duration or site of the pregnancy–from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management." It includes deaths related to births, miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, and abortions. It is not a pure measure of deaths from childbirth.

The video then claims that it's a "myth" that abortion is linked to "difficulties ... in carrying a future pregnancy." That's just bogus. The link between abortion and premature birth in a subsequent pregnancy is thoroughly well-documented.

The video goes on to talk about unsafe abortions "practiced by individuals without the necessary skills, or in an environment that does not conform to medical standards." If all that means is "bad abortionists hurt more women," okay, I accept the tautology. But the implication here is that legal means safe, and that's simply false. Many dangerous abortionists practice their trade legally. The pro-life movement has worked very hard to make abortionists conform to medical standards, and have consistently been met with lawsuits.

The video claims: "Laws that limit a woman's access to an abortion or make abortions illegal do not reduce the number of abortions. Countries where abortions are illegal have roughly the same number of abortions; what changes instead is the incidence of unsafe abortions." Once again, the conflation of "legal" with "safe" is a problem here, but the real issue is that comparing the abortion rates of different countries introduces countless confounding variables. The better method is to compare abortion numbers in the same country both before and after laws are passed. Pro-choicers never do this, because the results don't go their way. As the Washington Post (not known for supporting the right to life) acknowledges, the U.S. abortion rate increased significantly following Roe v. Wade.

The video's concluding statements concerning the value of sex education and contraception are accurate, and Secular Pro-Life supports such efforts wholeheartedly. However, the decline in the abortion rate since 1990 is not entirely attributable to those efforts; after all, contraception was available prior to 1990! Undoubtedly, legal and cultural factors—such as the informed consent requirements upheld in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, the increased societal acceptance of single motherhood, and the rise of pregnancy care centers—have also contributed.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Walk for Life is just a week away!

The Walk for Life in San Francisco is around the corner! Here's where you will find Secular Pro-Life:

Friday, January 20 at 7pm: The night before the Walk for Life, join us for a karaoke fundraiser at the Mint! Proceeds will benefit single-parent families in the Bay area. If you're planning to attend, please mark yourself as "going" on the facebook event so we can get a rough head count.

Saturday, January 21: The Walk for Life! We will meet by the Asian Art Museum. Join the facebook event for details.

Following the Walk, starting around 4:30 pm, Justice for All and Pro-Life Future of San Francisco will hold an apologetics training seminar. This is not an official SPL event, but it may be of interest to our supporters.

Speaking of unofficial, for those of you on the east coast, there are at least three pro-life contingents going to the Women's March on Washington. Check them out here, here, and here. The Women's March began as a commendably unified response to President-Elect Trump's sexism, but sadly, it's now a pro-abortion affair. Pro-woman pro-life voices are needed more than ever.

Sunday, January 22: We're stoked for the Students for Life of America west coast conference, where SPL president Kelsey Hazzard will speak! Registration is required and the event typically sells out, so sign up ASAP if you haven't already.

You can find our full itinerary (including east coast activities the weekend of January 28th) on our website. Look forward to seeing you!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Secular Pro-Life mourns the passing of Nat Hentoff

We shared this on our social media when news first broke, but for those who missed it, Nat Hentoff died on Saturday, January 7 at the age of 91. He lived a long life, and a principled one. He was a vocal advocate for civil liberties, particularly freedom of speech, and courageously included the rights of unborn children within the scope of his activist work. The New York Times reports:
In the 1960s and ’70s, he wrote books for young adults, nonfiction works on education, magazine profiles of political and religious leaders and essays on racial conflicts and the Vietnam War. He became an activist, too, befriending Malcolm X and joining peace protests and marches for racial equality. ...While his sympathies were usually libertarian, he often infuriated leftist friends with his opposition to abortion, his attacks on political correctness and his criticisms of gay groups, feminists, blacks and others he accused of trying to censor opponents.
The obituary doesn't mention it, but Hentoff was also an atheist. The Friendly Atheist acknowledged his death but, sadly, referred to his right-to-life advocacy as a "blemish" on his record. He wouldn't have cared; in his lifetime, he was routinely punished for his pro-life views. But he did what he knew was right, and I hope more will come to know his courage.

Hentoff was a consistent voice for the rights of the oppressed, including unborn children, death row inmates, and victims of censorship. In his later years, he served on the board of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which protects freedom of speech for college students; although FIRE is officially neutral on abortion, it often winds up defending pro-life students just by virtue of the fact that abortion advocates resort to censorship so frequently. The right-to-life and freedom-of-speech battles are very closely intertwined, and I highly recommend Nat Hentoff's classic Free Speech for Me—But Not for Thee to any pro-life advocates needing a primer on First Amendment issues.

In case that wasn't enough, he was also a famous jazz critic, political columnist, Guggenheim fellow, National Press Foundation lifetime achievement award winner, and recognized as a "Great Defender of Life" by the Human Life Foundation in 2005.

Rest in peace, Mr. Hentoff. You paved the way and you will be deeply missed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Americans United for Life releases annual state rankings

Americans United for Life has released its 2017 Life List, which ranks the 50 states and the District of Columbia on their legal protections for unborn children and regulation of the abortion industry.

Unsurprisingly, the west coast states and New England have awful records. The most pro-life states are more evenly spread out.

The ten least protective states are in purple; the ten most protective are in gold.

The worst state, for the eighth consecutive year, is Washington. The best state is Oklahoma, which was also named to AUL's All-Star list along with Arizona, Arkansas, and Mississippi.

Those who claim that abortion laws make no difference might be interested to know that, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, 9 of the 10 most pro-life states enjoy an abortion rate that is below the national average—in most cases, far below. (The sole exception is Georgia, where the abortion rate is the same as the national average. None of the most pro-life states have an above-average abortion rate.) Conversely, 7 of the 10 states at the bottom of the Life List have an abortion rate higher than the national average. The worst offender? New York; its abortion rate is more than double the national average.

In addition to the state-by-state rankings, you'll find an overview of AUL's model legislation, highlights of the past year, and priorities for next year—including some ideas about how to effectively fight unsanitary and dangerous abortion businesses in the wake of Hellerstadt. Stay tuned for the upcoming edition of Defending Life, which will explore the legal landscape in more detail.

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Supreme Court short list

President-elect Trump has narrowed his short list to replace the late Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court. Politico reports that there are now eight serious contenders.

Judge William Pryor of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has made no secret of the fact that he opposes Roe v. Wade, both for its shoddy legal reasoning and for its lethal results. In fact, he calls Roe “the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history.” Also in the pro column: he is only 54 years old.

Judge Diane Sykes of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has a mixed record. Pro-abortion groups opposed her nomination to the Seventh Circuit because, as a trial court judge, she expressed admiration for pro-life defendants who had been arrested during a protest. On the other hand, she concurred in a 2012 decision favoring Planned Parenthood in its suit against Indiana, which had passed a defunding law. The majority decision was based purely on the court's reading of a federal Medicaid statute (which the next Congress is likely to amend), and the majority made clear that it found Planned Parenthood's constitutional arguments to be without merit. Judge Sykes, however, declined to sign on to the portion of the opinion rejecting the constitutional argument, which she would have remanded to the lower court.

Judge Raymond Kethledge of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is known for taking conservative positions generally, but I could not find any rulings or public statements from him concerning the right to life. Live Action News expresses concern that Judge Kethledge is overly faithful to precedent, even when those precedents are terribly wrong.

Justice Joan Larsen of the Michigan Supreme Court also has a thin record, having spent most of her legal career in academia. The fact that she clerked for the late Justice Scalia strongly suggests that she opposes abortion, but is no guarantee. It would be poetic to see Justice Scalia's former clerk take his seat on the Court. Demographics count too; so far, all female Justices have been abortion supporters, and a female pro-life Justice could credibly push back against the insulting argument that abortion is necessary for gender equality. Personally, I'd pick Justice Larsen over Judge Sykes. Plus, Judge Larsen is only 48 years old!

Judge Neil Gorsuch of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a strong dissent from a decision favoring Planned Parenthood, specifically noting that the Governor of Utah was within his rights to suspend funding to Planned Parenthood in response to the Center for Medical Progress videos. His out-of-court writings also contain statements favorable to the right to life. Judge Gorsuch is 49 years old.

Judge Steven Colloton and Judge Raymond Greunder serve together on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which rejected a pro-abortion challenge to a South Dakota informed consent law. Judge Greunder authored the opinion, and Judge Colloton joined it. Both judges are 53 years old.

Politico notes Judge Greunder's compelling biography:
His father worked as a janitor and a house painter, at one point paying his son 25 cents an hour to scrape paint. That’s the milder part of the story. In 1986, his father grew enraged after his mother fled to avoid continued spousal abuse. During the argument, his father pulled a gun, shooting Gruender and his sister. The future judge’s father then committed suicide. Gruender suffered a damaged liver and kidney, but he recovered and soon returned to law school. (His sister also survived.)
Something tells me pro-abortion lawyers will have a hard time making the "babies are better off being aborted than born into an unstable family" argument to Judge Greunder's face.

Judge Thomas Hardiman of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals does not appear to have made any rulings or public statements concerning abortion. If I missed something, please let me know.

Readers: who do you like?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Rep. Ryan announces tax dollars will be diverted from Planned Parenthood to other providers

Yesterday, Representative Paul Ryan announced that, as expected, the next federal budget will defund Planned Parenthood. Cue claims from major pro-choice organizations and your well-meaning facebook friends that funding for breast cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing, etc. is being cut and we must hate women.

The truth is that the amount of money allocated to women's health and where that money is allocated are two completely different questions. The amount isn't changing. I repeat, funding for women's health services is not being cut. Instead of going to Planned Parenthood, the money will go to federally qualified health centers (FQHCs). FQHCs provide affordable care, accept Medicaid, and have vastly more locations than Planned Parenthood in every state. You can find your local FQHC here.

By spreading the myth that contraception and breast cancer screenings will no longer be available to low-income women, the abortion lobby is misleading the public and discouraging low-income women from getting care that is, in fact, available to them. The organizations and spokespeople making these false claims should be ashamed of themselves. Mainstream media outlets that merely report on "defunding Planned Parenthood," without explaining where the money will actually go, aren't helping.

The mindset on display by abortion lobby groups is incredibly disturbing. They're trying to manufacture a monopoly by pure force of publicity. If Planned Parenthood can't do it, nobody else can. If they truly cared about women's health, they'd be making a concerted effort to point women to alternatives to Planned Parenthood and make the transition smooth. Instead, they're being as obstructionist as possible and pushing women away from getting the healthcare they need at FQHCs.

So it's up to us. Abortion lobby groups are lying on purpose, but your pro-choice facebook friends probably aren't. Politely correct the record. Share the good news that there is no funding cut and share the link to the FQHC map. Social media is a powerful tool. Let's make sure the voice of truth is the loudest!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Pro-Life Women's Conference announces 2017 theme; registration now open

The theme for the second annual Pro-Life Women's Conference is "Life Empowers Women." Are you a mom who became pregnant under difficult circumstances? Are you alive today because the pro-life movement offered support to your mom? Are you a birth mother, adoptee, or adoptive parent? The organizers want to hear your stories about how life has empowered you!

The Pro-Life Women's Conference will be held in Orlando on Friday, June 23, Saturday, June 24, and Sunday, June 25, 2017. Early registration is now open.

Secular Pro-Life was proud to co-sponsor and present at the inaugural conference in Dallas last summer, and we intend to be involved again this year. This is a great conference, open to people of every age (kids included!) and background. Hope to see you there!

P.S.—Here's video from last year:

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

We've never tried

I have a short and sweet response to those who claim that the United States cannot achieve equality for women without abortion: We've never tried.

Here's the longer version of that answer.

When abortion was legalized in 1973, marital rape was legal. It was gradually criminalized on a state-by-state basis, finally becoming illegal in every U.S. state in 1993.

When abortion was legalized in 1973, lenders could legally discriminate on the basis of gender. As a result, many women did not have the ability to obtain credit cards in their own name until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act became law in 1974.

When abortion was legalized in 1973, women could be excluded from juries.

When abortion was legalized in 1973, the Fair Housing Act prohibited housing discrimination on the basis of race and national origin... but said nothing about discrimination on the basis of sex. (A ban on sex discrimination in housing was added in 1974.)

When abortion was legalized in 1973, the right of unmarried women to access contraceptives had only been established the previous year in Eisenstadt v. Baird.

When abortion was legalized in 1973, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was five years away.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Graciela Olivarez famously said "The poor cry out for justice, and we respond with legalized abortion." She had developing countries in mind, but the same applies to the United States. Women cried out for freedom from discrimination, and we responded with legalized abortion.

Abortion advocates erroneously credit Roe v. Wade for women's advancement in society and presume that its reversal will send women back to the dark ages. The truth is that the world after the repeal of Roe v. Wade will look nothing like the world of 1973.

Monday, January 2, 2017

A response to Shawna Kay Rodenberg

Shortly before Christmas, Salon published an article that surprised me. I almost didn't read it, because I'm not a big Salon fan; it's home to many anti-choicers-hate-women screeds, and I still have some lingering distrust from the publication's anti-vaccine days (although there appears to have been some improvement on that front in the years since Robert Kennedy's infamous rant). But this article came to me from a trusted friend, so I opened the link.

The title: How to argue with your relatives about abortion: A few arguments that don’t work with pro-lifers and some that might. The lede: "If you anticipate an argument over abortion politics with Aunt Cheryl at this year's family dinner, read this first." Already I was groaning. Aunt Cheryl? You know Millennials are more pro-life than Aunt Cheryl's generation, right?

But I kept reading. I'm so glad I did.

Kudos are due to author Shawna Kay Rodenberg for the single most intellectually honest pro-choice piece I have ever encountered. So please allow me to engage, section by section, with her do's and don't's for convincing Aunt Cheryl. (For the sake of not repeating her entire article, I'm mostly quoting the thesis statements of each paragraph. I do encourage you to read the whole thing.)
First, acknowledge that abortion isn’t only a conservative Christian concern.
This opening made me do a double take. THANK YOU.
Don’t argue semantics like using “anti-abortion” versus “pro-life.”
Agreed, this is a waste of time. Likewise, insisting on using "pro-abortion" for someone who prefers "pro-choice" is also a waste of time.
Remember that her news feed does not resemble yours. If she keeps pro-life company, she is daily inundated with graphic images of mangled babies and brutal videos of late-term miscarriages and forceps-requiring stillbirths being passed off as abortions.
Okay, this is a little much. Yes, I see images and videos of miscarried children—from pro-life parents who suffered miscarriages and want to showcase the humanity of their deceased children. They're not pretending to have had abortions, nor am I "daily inundated," and if you want to see footage of actual abortions you may do so here.

A much more common sight in my news feed, I'd say approximately once a week, is the latest news about a woman maimed or injured at an abortion facility. The movement (particularly Operation Rescue) keeps good track of ambulance calls. Health inspection failures, too.
Never say that a fetus is not a baby or argue that it is not alive. Pro-life women are disgusted by the “vagina as magic portal”-style pro-choice argument in which some dark magic takes place during birth that transforms a fetus into a person. Even if you maintain that independent breathing marks the beginning of life, many premature infants cannot breathe on their own, but we still call them infants, not fetuses. Concede the human-ness of the fetus.

Thank you for that. Moving on:
Don’t argue that abortion gives a woman autonomy over her body. In doing so, you infer that the woman’s body is the only one involved, and whether you believe a fetus should have civil rights or not, we must all admit that it does in fact have a body, a tiny physical manifestation. Denying that it does ensures you will lose the argument.
This is the point where I started wondering why Ms. Rodenberg supports abortion at all. Her very next paragraph sheds some light:
This argument also ignores our collective tendency to fetishize maternal sacrifice. Who doesn’t adore at least one of the hundreds of movies in which a woman is transformed by motherhood and makes great personal sacrifices, or even dies, to save her child? American politicians on both sides consistently fail to demonstrate that women have as much value as men or children, so you should not be surprised that Aunt Cheryl is most concerned with the rights of the child.
I also happen to like movies where fathers sacrifice for children, and movies where strangers sacrifice for children. Hollywood should make more of those. Sacrificing for children, paying it forward to the next generation, should be a moral and societal value for all adults, not just mothers. I'm not saying misogyny doesn't exist—it clearly does—but the solution to women's oppression is not violence toward unborn children.
Don’t argue against adoption as a viable alternative or say that it’s unreasonable to expect a woman to give up nine months of her life, that she might lose her job, that her health might be compromised. Again, you are likely talking with a person who idolizes maternal sacrifice and does not realize how little she thinks about the experiences of women, who probably voted for a man who boasted about sexually assaulting women simply because he could, just so she could save babies.
Sigh... so many assumptions here. Let me just take the obvious one: Trump's candidacy was extremely controversial among pro-lifers. A long list of pro-life leaders joined an open letter begging Iowa GOP primary voters to pick anyone else. I myself voted third party.
Don’t talk about exceptions for cases of rape. ... Aunt Cheryl will never believe those few cases justify the continued slaughter of millions of innocent lives.
True. Next:
Never contend that abortion is a single issue and there are other issues of equal importance. For the pro-lifer, there is no issue that trumps life. Many of them refer to contemporary America as a “culture of death,” which might be confusing for anti-war, anti-death penalty liberals, but pro-lifers not only support the rights of the fetus; they also tend to rally against Kevorkian-like practices; they do not support mercy killings.
And a lot of us are anti-war and anti-death penalty, too.

Having exhausted the most popular ad hominem attacks and anti-scientific blather used by the abortion lobby, I wondered... what's left? Here are Ms. Rodenberg's arguments:
Emphasize the importance of pregnancy prevention. Tell your Aunt Cheryl that the vibrant presence of many organizations advocating for women’s health, such as the leviathan Planned Parenthood, decreases the number of abortions women seek. At least you’re acknowledging that abortion is not ideal and she will appreciate that.
I'm all about pregnancy prevention, but if Aunt Cheryl is actively pro-life, she'll know that the pro-life efforts to defund Planned Parenthood are not proposed cuts to contraceptive funding; the proposal is to reallocate those dollars to federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) that treat low-income women on a sliding scale. FQHCs have far more locations than Planned Parenthood, and don't commit abortions.

And now, sadly, we go off the rails:
Unintended pregnancies carry risks for the child, too. ... Children of unintended pregnancies are less likely to succeed in school, more likely to be poor and receive government assistance and eventually more likely to participate in criminal activity. In your Aunt Cheryl’s sheltered mind palace, every woman loves her baby. Remind her that is not always the case, that not all women are cut out to be mothers. Of course, she will begin ranting about personal responsibility and accountability.
I don't know what Aunt Cheryl will rant about, but here's what I'll rant about: People are not better off dead because they don't get good grades in school, you psycho. People are not better off dead because they are poor or receive government assistance. That liberal elite bubble everybody's been talking about since November 8? Here it is. "Sheltered mind palace" indeed. Have you ever even met a low-income person? Maybe try asking them how they value their lives. And don't even get me started on the logic that we should kill "unintended" babies because they might grow up to participate in crime. Weren't you opposed to the death penalty a few paragraphs ago?

Ms. Rodenberg, these are my friends you're talking about, and there is more than a hint of eugenicist, racist thinking in your argument. This is the point where I stopped engaging politely and with an open mind.

Fittingly, the rest of the article is all about Aunt Cheryl's assumed Christianity, because we forgot the first paragraph, apparently.

Despite the disappointing ending, this article was still leaps and bounds ahead of most online abortion advocacy these days. I expect Ms. Rodenberg has received or will receive a lot of flack from her compatriots for calling abortion "not ideal," deviating from the new narrative that abortion is a great thing responsible for women's success in life.