Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Pro-Life Movement Exists to Save Lives. Pride Must Take a Back Seat.

[Today's guest post by Conor Beck is part of our paid blogging program. Conor is a student at Rice University.]

For an issue characterized by such passion and urgency,
there has still been no seismic shift in public opinion over the last 20 years.

What is the pro-life movement? The best definition I found is “the political, cultural, and human rights movement to end abortion and protect the sanctity of every human life.” I like this definition because it portrays the truth: laws must be enacted to protect innocent life so cruelly left unprotected, but hearts and minds must be won over too to reach a critical tipping point.

Though there is a unified Republican and therefore “pro-life” government and an increasingly pro-life American youth, we are very far from reaching a pro-life stronghold in this country, as shown above in a Gallup tracking poll. And with increasingly polarized politics, the term “pro-life” is read by some outside the movement as an attempt to force values down others’ throats. Given the gravity of abortion and how important it is to sway public opinion on this, pro-lifers everywhere need to be committed to swiftly changing tactics and appeal to people that don’t fit the traditional pro-life mold.

Pro-lifers by and large are failing at this crucial test. Though it’s become a cliché to point out that pro-lifers can do a poor job of moving the uninitiated, many are more than just unideal activists. Some make it seem they forget the cause they’re fighting for, and are frankly doing an impressive job of making saving more babies difficult.

Twitter, where many pro-life activists congregate, provides a microcosm of the pro-life movement, and proof that many self-identified pro-lifers are fighting a different battle. I saw one interesting thread where an anti-abortion conservative said he thought that white supremacy is more evil than abortion. Though he wasn’t an extremely well-known user, many pro-lifers on Twitter pounced and gawked at how wretched his opinion on abortion was: someone, may I remind you, who happened to think abortion should be illegal.

I wonder how this exchange would read to someone on-the-fence about abortion. Regardless of what actually is worse between those two, “there are things worse than white supremacy” is a horrible hill to die on. No good ever comes from this weird little “what is worse” game, and the episode paints the pro-life movement as callous and out-of-touch to the people it needs to reach the most.

I urge pro-lifers to consider this lesson when talking about pregnancies resulting from rape; I applaud pro-lifers for sticking up for babies who don’t always get support even within the pro-life movement. However, while language like “You can’t be pro-life if you support abortions after rape!” might impress pro-lifers, it will almost certainly sit poorly with people who haven’t heard a steady, sincere case against abortion. And it does not imply moral relativism to prefer that someone support saving 99% of babies from abortion rather than 0%.

It should upset no one to suggest that the mission of the pro-life movement should be to save as many babies as possible. And every iota of pro-life activism you do should reflect that; it’s not to demonstrate that pro-choicers are dumb, that feminism is gross, or that liberals are evil, or to impress other pro-lifers. It’s to save more babies. Don’t forget that.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Next #ProtestPP dates announced

The next series of nationwide #ProtestPP events will take place on Friday, April 28 and Saturday, April 29.

The nature of the events will vary by location. Some will be religious prayer vigils. Others will be of a secular nature (rallies, pickets, etc.).

The national organizers are currently accepting applications to lead local events. Secular Pro-Life encourages you to apply if your local Planned Parenthood location is not already covered. We'd especially love to see some rallies led by atheists, agnostics, and religious minorities!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Handicapped people lead great lives

[Today's guest post is by Lizzy Cannon. She recently founded Make Ableism Wrong Again.]

As a teen living with Spina Bifida, I hear arguments from the pro choice community about how people born with handicaps will have “horrible lives”. I’m here to explain that that is a GIANT LOAD OF BLEGH.

Unfortunately, I have noticed how doctors usually give the worst case scenario about life with Spina Bifida. I have the worst form,called myelomeningocele. I wasn’t supposed to walk, but I have never even used a wheelchair (besides for long shopping trips and amusement park visits). Yet abortion advocates think that the majority of people with handicaps can’t do anything. People with my handicaps who use wheelchairs to get around have also accomplished wonderful things. A wheelchair is a source of freedom and independence for many people. Most people with handicaps lead wonderful lives, yet the pro-choice community continues to discriminate against us.

Our handicaps should not be a death sentence. You have no idea what a handicapped person will accomplish if you don’t give them a chance. We can have our own homes, drive, get married, have friends, get a job, get an education, and despite many people thinking we can’t, we can indeed have sex. A handicapped person is not a burden. Many programs exist to help parents of handicapped kids. But... what upsets me is, my continence supplies are super expensive! We shouldn’t have to spend a bunch of extra money to get the supplies we kinda sorta need so we don’t die or get some crazy infection in our private parts.

I want to tell you that having a handicap is not all bad. I can play instruments, play adaptive sports (there are sports created for handicapped people, cool eh?), crochet, ride a bike. I love to inspire people. If you are carrying an unborn child with any handicap, I want you to know that you are badass. You can do anything. Your child will accomplish great things and inspire people. You will find love anywhere, and there are people who will support you no matter what. I promise. Give them a chance at life; I promise you it is so worth it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Happy World Down Syndrome Day!

March 21 (3/21) is World Down Syndrome Day—because Down Syndrome (or as Steven of Born This Way likes to call it, Up Syndrome) is caused by a third copy of the 21st chromosome. Clever, eh?

Today, we celebrate the lives of people with Down Syndrome and their special accomplishments. We advocate for their human rights and access to educational and job resources. And we speak out against "search and destroy" prenatal testing, which victimizes too many Down Syndrome babies in the womb.

Head over to our facebook page, where we'll be sharing Down Syndrome-related items throughout the day.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Testimony in opposition to Connecticut S.B. 939

The Connecticut State Capitol
The following written testimony was submitted by Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard in opposition to Connecticut Senate Bill 939. The Public Health Committee is holding a public hearing this morning.

Dear Members of the Public Health Committee,

My name is Kelsey Hazzard. I am an attorney and an atheist. I am the founder and president of Secular Pro-Life, which advocates for abortion limits on non-religious grounds. I submit this testimony in opposition to S.B. 939, An Act Concerning a Patient’s Right to Know. S.B. 939 is poorly written and will have negative consequences that go far beyond its ostensible purpose of improving access to health care.

As drafted, S.B. 939 defines “religious beliefs” to mean “any set of philosophical, moral, ethical or religious guidelines, decrees, directives or other instructions determining patient care that is not based on legal, peer-reviewed or scientifically accepted standards of health care.” This definition is wildly overbroad.

Under S.B. 939, a physician who declines to perform abortions for ethical reasons will be legally deemed to have a “religious belief” against abortion—even if that physician is an atheist!

A December 2016 poll found that among American adults who do not practice a religion, 39% oppose abortion completely or with limited exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. 25% believe that abortion should be limited to the first three months of pregnancy, and 15% believe that abortion should be limited to the first six months of pregnancy. Only 21% take the position that “abortion should be available to a woman any time she wants one during her entire pregnancy,” which is the law in Connecticut.

S.B. 939 would force atheist and agnostic physicians who decline to perform abortions for ethical reasons to post a conspicuous notice to their patients stating that they will not provide services “contrary to [their] religious beliefs.” It would force them to misrepresent that they have “religious beliefs” when in fact they do not. It would force them to lie, publicly, about their deeply held personal values.

This effect of S.B. 939 would even extend to abortion businesses. Many Connecticut abortion businesses only offer early-term chemical abortions, and not surgical abortions. Unless these abortion businesses can prove that their decision not to offer surgical abortions is “based on legal, peer-reviewed or scientifically accepted standards of health care,” and not a personal philosophical or ethical preference, they too will be forced to post signage declaring their supposed “religious belief” against certain abortions. The only way to avoid this outcome is by unconstitutionally selective enforcement of the law.

The clear effect—and, I would also argue, the insidious intent—of S.B. 939 is to smear all opponents of abortion on demand as religious fanatics. This is an abuse of the legislative power and likely unconstitutional. I urge the Committee to reject S.B. 939.

Kelsey Hazzard

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Pro-life online etiquette

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

Don't be this guy.
With the dawn of social media, the last decade has undoubtedly revolutionized our understanding of human communication. Although it used to be self-evident that maintaining relationships requires time, effort and physical proximity, many of us seem to be taking this old, tried rule somewhat lightly these days. Much has been said about the good, the bad and the downright ugly effects that social media revolution had on our lives. We are indeed able to connect and reconnect with others in a simpler manner, to the benefit of our private lives as well as our careers. But the simplicity involved also proved to be a temptation to “share” our ugliness which we’re taught to suppress in the face-to-face communication. Consequently, while scrolling through a newsfeed it is not uncommon to come across a stream of thinly disguised exhibitionism, narcissism and even vengefulness. You may sometimes wonder: Is this intricate mess that social media creates a good place for your everyday political and social activism at all?

If, according to the old-school definition, human communication requires effort, activism requires it to even greater extent, as clearly implied by the word “active” inscribed in it. While thinking about pro-life activism many of us probably picture an image of a fundraising event or sidewalk counseling. On a second thought, online activity of organizations such as Secular Pro-Life itself may come to mind. Yet social media revolution has caused many ordinary, otherwise passive people to be involved in activism, even if they’re not fully aware of it. At a first glance, it may seem to be a positive thing, but as experience shows, unskilled activists can bring in more harm than good.

“What would it be like if we acted in real life, like we act on Facebook” has lately proved to be a popular theme among satirists. In a BuzzFeed video exploring this concept, a man interrupts his work to stand up and proudly announce to a bunch of uninterested colleagues: “Hey guys, just so everyone knows, it’s my dog’s birthday.” A goofy scene that can make as crack a bitter smile, as we’re reminded of silliness that we tend to indulge in way too often these days. Now, let’s modify the image a little and have him solemnly declare: “I’m here to announce you once and for all… abortion is immoral!” only to rush out of sight loudly shutting the door behind him. Awkward? That’s to put it mildly! Still, that’s how lazy, passive-aggressive activists of the digital age often appear to their numerous online “friends” (most of whom are truly just acquaintances). Sadly, they give bad name not only to themselves, but also to the whole movement that they come to represent.

As social media tend to make it easy for us to access and share information, we are tempted to overshare. The key is to focus on quality, not quantity. If we happen to come across a number of interesting pro-life items in one day, sharing every single one of them at once will only make as look like a spambot – a malicious pest that wants your attention and money without giving anything truly meaningful in return. No one wants that horrible association. In order to avoid it, cutting on the number of posts (or spreading them out over the course of a few days) may be necessary. The next step is personalization of content. Before we decide to click the “publish” button we should always think through the following: 1) Who is likely to see this post? 2) What may their reaction be? 3) What do I ultimately want to achieve by sharing it?

We all like to be approached as individuals; and after all, respect for the uniqueness of human individuals is a core pro-life value! The targetless attempts at grabbing attention of everyone and no one in particular tend to backfire, as we easily see through the laziness behind it and sense lack of respect that it implies. We need to think carefully about our target audience. One the one hand, sharing controversial material within an ideologically homogenous community that is only likely to congratulate us for having such great views is like a narcissistic pat on the back – nothing is boosted but our ego. On the other hand, in a more balanced situation many people are likely to disagree with our pro-life stance; some will just quietly sneer at the sight of the pro-life content, some other will complain about it in private to their pro-choice friends, but finally, some may indeed take a moment to share their opposing views with us. That's a good thing! The worst response at this point would be to ignore them or even – goodness forbid! – delete their comment.

Not every person can boast great argumentative skills and controversial content tends to arouse strong emotions, so – willingly or not – we sometimes can come across as aggressive or spiteful while trying to defend our position. It is quite probable then that we’ll find the comment section of a political post flooded with arguments ad hominem, strawman arguments or even straight-up insults. On rare occasions, this may cross the line into abuse and an end to the conversation is justified. But make a good-faith effort at a genuine discussion. Do not to be the man who cowardly flees the scene loudly shutting the door behind him, as it’ll appear to our opponents that not only do we (and the movement we represent by extension!) lack counter-arguments, but also that we do not have even basic respect for those holding different views. Dealing with a messy comment section can be upsetting, but we have to remember that we’re not talking to random internet trolls, but people whom we have invited into our lives, even if only in the digital form.

We can never forget that ideally we aim at an honest, thoughtful conversation with other human beings. It’s not a game or a competition, so winning an argument is not the end goal. Reaching to other people – whose motives and emotions may be complicated – should be the goal instead. It is easy to forget about it in the digital age, when it sometimes seems that we’re talking to mere avatars, but falling under the illusion of social media which paints a simplified view of the world is taking the wrong path when we hope to make a change in the world.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The "Pro-Birth" Fallacy

Via the Life Matters Journal, a consistent life ethic publication
[Today's gust post is by Adele P.]

There’s been a lot of talk in pro-choice circles and on social media recently about the “pro-birth movement.” If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, effectively the pro-birth movement is a name given to pro-lifers who are pro-life strictly from an anti-abortion standpoint, but who, in all other ways, appear to be unsupportive of unborn children, their future well-being, and their mothers. Sometimes this extends to claims that pro-lifers, in order to call themselves “pro-life,” must also subscribe to a rather prescriptive list of additional values. Not only that, they must also be actively involved in the broader life movement by addressing everything from world hunger to advancing women’s rights. More often than not, the picture of the “pro-birth” movement is attached to a whole host of other undesirable qualities, faulty assumptions, and extremist political agendas.

I have a few problems with this…

Ever heard of the strawman fallacy? That is a form of an argument based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent’s argument, while refuting an argument that was not advanced by that opponent. I would like to take the stand that this so-called “pro-birth” individual who cares nothing about the child after the child is born, who cares nothing for the mother, who cares nothing about the state of life otherwise in the world, does not actually exist. This is just a strawman manufactured in large part by the pro-choice movement as a tool to demonize and tarnish the pro-life movement. Now, I have no problem with pro-choicers wasting their time attacking an opponent that does not exist. What I do have a problem with is using the whole “pro-birth” notion to gather support for a cause based on false and extremely divisive claims. The truth of the matter is that if a woman is looking for financial, educational, occupational, social, or psychological support with regards to her pregnancy, she is FAR more likely to find this support from pro-life groups such as Feminists for Life, Feminists for Non-Violent Choices, Students for Life, and countless crisis pregnancy centres (to name a few) than she is at, say, Planned Parenthood.

Then you have the claim that to be truly pro-life (rather than pro-birth), you must also hold a cohesive set of values regarding issues of immigration, foreign aid, social programs, world hunger, health care, etc. While many pro-lifers do in fact embrace what's known as the “consistent life ethic” (which abortion advocates, by definition, oppose), we should also recognize that no one has the time to be active in every worthy cause. Moreover, an individual’s belief system is complex, personal, and shouldn’t be subject to partisan notions or guided by what external sources deem to be cohesive. To say that one who is pro-life must also be, say, pro-immigration is as logical as claiming that to be pro-immigration you must first be pro-life. It doesn’t make sense. On this point, it should also be noted that individuals who call themselves pro-life but who are inactive in the movement for whatever reason, are still welcome to identify themselves as pro-life (even if it offends your sense of decency). There may be many reasons that person is inactive in the movement. They may be occupied with other causes, they may lack the time and resources to participate, or they must be have good intentions that simply don’t translate into action. These issues are not unique to the pro-life movement.

Here’s another thing that may surprise some. As a pro-lifer, I have no issue with being called “pro-birth.” Believe me, I have been called much worse for my stance on human rights. To illustrate my point, I’ll choose an example that everyone (pro-choice or pro-life) can relate to… Say I'm at the park with my kids and I see a person with the means and the intent to brutally and imminently end the life of a child. I, like you, would do everything in my power to stop that person from committing that act. I would not encourage any passerby in this situation to turn their back on the imminent violence and to go volunteer at the food bank or to attend a protest for equal pay. I wouldn’t think it wise to let that person execute their plan and then try to address the desperation that led them to such a grievous act. A significant part of the pro-life movement does and should continue to focus on stopping the act of abortion head-on—to act first and ask questions later, so to speak. For those of us who see abortion as the ending of a human life, getting a child to the point of birth so they may actually have a chance to enjoy other rights like freedom of speech, equal pay, healthcare, or food and water is a HUGE victory, one I will not apologize for.

Monday, March 13, 2017

2017 "Defending Life" legislative guidebook released

Americans United for Life has released the 2017 edition of Defending Life, a free resource that analyzes legal trends and offers model pro-life legislation. From AUL's press release:
“This year’s edition focuses on AUL’s innovative Mother-Child strategy which seeks to legally protect and advance the interests of both a mother and her unborn child and to effectively refute the abortion industry’s callous propaganda that a woman’s interests are often opposed to those of her child,” said Americans United for Life’s Vice President of Legal Affairs Denise Burke, the editor of Defending Life and the author of many of the featured pieces of model legislation. “The uniquely successful Mother-Child strategy, which has precipitated the enactment of scores of protective abortion-related laws, is encompassed in AUL’s Women’s Protection Project and Infants’ Protection Project and the 16 pieces of model legislation that compromise them.”
“AUL’s emphasis on these two initiatives is driven, in part, by the Supreme Court’s controversial and anti-woman ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, striking down a Texas law requiring abortion clinics to meet the same health and safety standards as other facilities performing invasive surgical procedures and mandating that individual abortion providers have local hospital admitting privileges to facilitate emergency care and the treatment of abortion complications.
“AUL’s model legislation has been updated and refined to directly address this tragic ruling, while also advancing the goals and objectives of the Women’s Protection Project and Infants’ Protection Project. These two highly effective initiatives are perfectly calibrated to advance the cause for life after Hellerstedt.”
While modern safety regulations hold the spotlight, Defending Life is also a valuable guide for legislation that has been around for a long time, like informed consent and parental notification. Just last week, Wyoming enacted its first pro-life laws in 28 years, requiring abortionists to offer ultrasound and banning experiments on the bodies of abortion victims. No state should be considered a lost cause. Defending Life offers a state-by-state analysis including recommendations for priority legislation in each.

I was an AUL legal fellow during my first year out of law school, and I cannot say enough good things about the organization. The model legislation in Defending Life has spared many families from abortion. Even if you aren't a lawyer, lobbyist, or legislator, it is worth a read to see the progress of the pro-life, pro-woman movement and where we are headed.

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Day with Created Equal

This post contains photos of abortion victims.
Back in January, I made the acquaintance of some delightful human beings from the Created Equal staff. There are two pretty significant differences between Secular Pro-Life and Created Equal:
  1. Religion. The Created Equal staff is not only merely Christian, they're really most sincerely Christian.
  2. Strategy. Created Equal displays graphic photos of abortion victims on a regular basis; Secular Pro-Life does show such photos on occasion, but much more sparingly.
Despite these differences, we hit it off immediately. And when they found out that I live in Florida, they invited me to meet up with them during Justice Ride. Justice Ride is Created Equal's spring break bus tour that takes students to universities and abortion centers throughout Florida to conduct pro-life outreach.

And so it was that I took Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday off from work (coincidentally coinciding with the Day Without a Woman) and drove three hours to Tampa.

Tuesday Night
The 55 riders (most of whom I did not know) had been conducting outreach all day, and I met up with them just in time for the R&R part of the itinerary. We stayed at a retreat center featuring bunk beds in cabins, human foosball, and delicious food. After dinner and games, it was time for... praise and worship, which I spent in the back of the room, inventing harmonies and sharing knowing glances with the people who were aware of my atheism.

Immediately following worship, Created Equal director Mark Harrington publicly introduced me and my affiliation, which caused dozens of people to suddenly realize that an atheist had been with them the whole time. (Good thinking to wait until after worship, Mark!) Everyone was very welcoming toward me and gave me a warm round of applause.

Later, a smaller group broke off and enjoyed a jam session with Created Equal's intern on guitar. He performed Elvis Presley's "Devil in Disguise" for me, to much laughter. [Note to Christians: He got away with it because he is a personal friend who understands my weird sense of humor and knew that I would find it charming. Do not try this at home.]

We went out to University of South Florida to conduct pro-life outreach from about 9 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon. We were joined by students from USF Bulls for Life. Signs were placed throughout a common green area near the library. Some featured photos of abortion victims; some featured photos of living preborn children; and others highlighted women killed by the legal abortion industry, like Tonya Reaves and Jennifer Morbelli. We stood by the signs inviting passers-by to engage ("What do you think about abortion?") and handing out pamphlets. I'm pleased to report that all of the signs and pamphlets are secular. Good job, Created Equal!

I had some great interactions with middle-of-the-road people who were trying to draw a line. First trimester? Brain activity? Ability to feel pain? I'm all about discussing how those criteria might apply and what that would mean for human rights. A lot of it was simple myth-debunking. For example, one person I spoke to was under the mistaken belief that if a pregnant woman were to place her child for adoption instead of aborting, that child would go into the foster care system. Once I explained that birth mothers actually have the opportunity to select a permanent family for the child, and that there is a long list of waiting families, he saw adoption as a much more realistic and compassionate alternative to abortion. In addition to conversing with folks on my own, I was also summoned to join conversations in progress that had gone on convoluted religious sidetracks. Glad to be of service!

These were interesting, thought-provoking conversations that got people moving in a more pro-life direction. Most important, they were civil. One person shared that a few days earlier, a street preacher had been on campus shouting hellfire and damnation at people. He had claimed to be pro-life... and also a prophet, so, probably not the picture of mental health. I was glad we were there to give an alternative picture of what our movement is about, and undo a bit of that damage.

I had expected to hear more from strong abortion supporters. After all, if the tables were turned and an abortion advocate engaged me with "What do you think about abortion?" I would be trying to convert them to my point of view! I assumed the reverse would also happen. Not so. Those most interested in speaking with me were from the "mushy middle" or unsure where they stood. The abortion supporters weren't inclined to defend their position. A handful briefly carried signs with pro-choice slogans, or wrote them with chalk on the nearby sidewalk. Some yelled profanities at us as they walked by, but hey, freedom of speech. Nothing we haven't heard before. They mostly stayed within lawful bounds... with one very memorable exception.

A woman grabbed one of Created Equal's signs and started running off with it. I watched her as she made it around a bend, then tripped over herself and fell down HARD. It was not pretty, and it got everybody's attention. Yes, she brought it upon herself, but I genuinely felt sorry for her. I didn't see what happened next, but I have it on good, contemporaneous authority that she (a) was pretty bruised up but is going to be okay, and (b) for some reason flashed her breasts at the people who were trying to help her.

All in all, it was quite an experience, and I wish I could have stayed for more than 24 hours. If you're interested, Created Equal will be at University of North Florida in Jacksonville today. That will conclude this season's Justice Ride. The dates for next one should be announced on their website soon. Tell 'em Kelsey sent you.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Poll: Many Americans call themselves "pro-choice" but want increased abortion restrictions

I'm a few months late to this poll—which was conducted from December 12 through 16 of last year—but better late than never. There are a few reasons that this particular poll is worth discussing.

First, it was conducted by Marist College, which has an A grade from FiveThirtyEight (indicating low bias).

Second, it asked about abortion in specific scenarios, rather than asking if abortion should be "legal in most circumstances" or "illegal in most circumstances." My problem with the "most circumstances" language commonly used in other polls is that it invites an availability heuristic problem. The availability heuristic leads people to assume that events which receive significant media/public attention—and therefore come to mind readily—must be common. The classic example is plane crashes, which are quite rare, but are always the top story when they do happen; this causes people to fear flying more than driving, when the latter is actually more dangerous, just less newsworthy.

In the abortion debate, abortion in "hard cases" like rape and incest—and, on the other end, elective partial-birth abortions—are talked about in wild disproportion to how often they actually occur. If there's such a thing as a typical abortion, it is a first-trimester abortion done for purely socioeconomic reasons. What does the average survey-taker imagine "most circumstances" to be? Who knows. Asking about abortions in each trimester and isolating the "hard cases" is more illuminating.

Third and finally, Marist identified which of its survey-takers were religious ("practicing") and not religious ("non-practicing") and kindly broke down the data for each.

So what did they find?

When merely asked if they were "pro-life" or "pro-choice," the results were stark. Among practicing adults, it was 58% pro-life and 37% pro-choice. But among non-practicing adults it was 28% pro-life and 66% pro-choice. In other words, a non-religious American is a whopping thirty percentage points less likely than a believer to identify themselves as pro-life.

But the more detailed questions showed that, in fact, support for abortion among the non-religious is not nearly that high (click to enlarge):

Only 21% of non-practicing Americans take the abortion-on-demand position held by Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the like. 15% oppose third-trimester abortions, and 25% oppose both third- and second-trimester abortions. Banning abortions after the first trimester would require the reversal of Roe v. Wade. A ban on second-trimester abortions is murkier, but would arguably require the reversal of Roe's companion case, Doe v. Bolton.

26% of non-practicing Americans believe abortion should be limited to cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother, and 13% oppose abortion with no exception for rape and incest. In short, 39% of non-practicing Americans oppose the vast majority of abortions, and another 25% stand in stark opposition to the pro-choice establishment by advocating a ban after the first trimester. And yet only 28% will say that they are pro-life!

Moving to the next row of data, it's clear that people are calling themselves "pro-choice" for reasons other than actual support for abortion. Adding together those who want a ban after the first trimester and those who want abortion in "hard cases" only, a majority (54%) of self-described pro-choicers want abortion to be more restricted than it is now!

This is why we do what we do. Non-religious Americans come to pro-life conclusions, but don't adopt the pro-life label because they assume the pro-life movement is just a religious thing, or because they fear social ostracism from secular pro-choicers. They think they're alone, because—availability heuristic again—pro-life atheism isn't talked about in their networks of friends. If this sounds like you, Secular Pro-Life is ready to accept you with open arms!

There's quite a bit more to explore in the poll, including breakdowns by sex and race. (Spoiler alert: you're more likely to support abortion on demand if you're male and white. Duh.) But since the religion angle is kind of our thing, we'll end here.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Yeah, about that whole "allowing doctors to lie" thing. It's bogus.

A young person sits in a wheelchair and wears a t-shirt
that says "Disabled lives are worth living."

There's a lot of talk going on about proposed legislation that will, allegedly, make it legal for doctors lie to their patients. That is not what is happening. Since I happen to be a lawyer, allow me to explain what is going on.

Texas Senate Bill 25 provides in full:
WRONGFUL BIRTH. A cause of action may not arise, and damages may not be awarded, on behalf of any person, based on the claim that but for the act or omission of another, a person would not have been permitted to have been born alive but would have been aborted.
To understand the type of conduct being addressed by this law, let's imagine a hypothetical family.

Jack and Jill have conceived a daughter, Sally, who is still in the womb. Sally has spina bifida, a condition that can cause paralysis of the legs and other serious symptoms. Jack and Jill do not know that Sally has spina bifida. They go to a prenatal appointment, and the doctor does not tell them that Sally has spina bifida. When Sally is born, Jack and Jill are stunned to learn that she has a serious disability, and furious at their doctor.

Suppose that Jack and Jill sue their doctor, claiming that if they had received a timely diagnosis for Sally, they could have pursued prenatal surgery that would have improved Sally's condition. The legal harm is their lost opportunity to improve Sally's condition. Such a lawsuit is not based on the claim that Sally "would not have been permitted to have been born alive but would have been aborted." Accordingly, the lawsuit is allowed.

Conversely, suppose that Jack and Jill wanted to be parents, but had no particular interest in being Sally's parents. If they had received the spina bifida diagnosis before she was born, they would have aborted her in order to "try again." Under these circumstances, their claim would be a "wrongful birth" claim, based on the notion that Sally should be dead. That claim would be prohibited by SB 25.

You'll notice that the reason for the doctor's failure to deliver the diagnosis is completely immaterial. Wrongful birth lawsuits have nothing to do with whether or not a doctor lied. Whether the doctor simply failed to recognize the signs on a sonogram, or told an underling to relay the bad news but the underling forgot, or stayed silent to save Sally from abortion, or even lied and told Jack and Jill that Sally was perfectly healthy to avenge some petty personal grievance against them, it doesn't matter. All that matters is the type of legal harm that the plaintiffs seek to remedy.

Here's another example. Suppose Mallory receives a tubal ligation from a shoddy doctor. He does not perform the procedure correctly. He knows he's no good at tubal ligations but he lies, assuring Mallory that all is well and there's no need to use contraception. Mallory, to her shock, conceives a baby. She gives birth and decides to raise the child herself. She sues the doctor for medical malpractice and seeks the amount of her pregnancy and parenting expenses, arguing that she would not have incurred those expenses if he had done the tubal ligation correctly. This remains a cognizable claim under the Texas bill, because while it obviously implies that the child should not have been conceived, it does not imply that the child should have been aborted. This is a "wrongful conception" lawsuit, not a "wrongful birth" lawsuit.

The reason for banning wrongful birth lawsuits is articulated well by Jennifer Allmon, as quoted in the Texas Tribune:
We believe that a lawsuit that begins as its premise that "we should’ve had the opportunity to kill our disabled child" sends a terrible message to those disabled children in Texas. To hold a physician financially responsible for a disability he did not cause presumes a level of control over human development that physicians and parents simply do not have.
Given the nationwide scope of the disability rights movement, it should come as no surprise that Texas is not the first state to consider a ban on wrongful birth lawsuits. As of 2012 (if you can find a more current summary please let me know), 28 states permitted wrongful birth lawsuits, 9 states had explicitly banned them, 2 states were considering a ban, and the rest had no legal precedent.

In short: the abortion lobby's posture that Texas SB 25 is some new and unique crusade to give doctors license to lie to women is nonsensical.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Graduate students love us

That's an odd headline, but hear me out. Just in the last few weeks, Secular Pro-Life has been contacted by four graduate students (including a Ph.D. candidate), from four different schools, who are researching various aspects of the pro-life movement in the context of various academic disciplines. I've been interviewed about everything from SPL's legislative priorities to how SPL uses twitter.

I don't want to spend too much time navel-gazing—after all, we have lives to save—but I'm always happy to give my time to student interviews. Academic attention is important. Yes, the common knowledge that academia leans left is supported by ample evidence. But that doesn't mean we should throw up our hands and refuse to contribute to our own history as its being written. Besides, not everyone in academia leans left, and let's not forget about left-leaning pro-lifers!

As outlets like Slate and Marie Claire come to the sudden realization that the pro-life movement, constituting roughly half the U.S. population, is not solely made up of old white men/Catholics/Trump supporters/fill-in-the-stereotype, there seems to be a surge of interest in who pro-lifers really are, how we think, and where we're going from here. It's neat to see graduate students take up those questions.

So if you're looking for a topic for your thesis or dissertation, shoot us an email. There is still much to cover.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Tomorrow is Pro-Life Chalk Day!

Tomorrow, Students for Life of America is once again hosting National Pro-Life Chalk Day—but of course, if you're not a student, you are still welcome to participate! Sidewalk chalking in public spaces is a creative and inexpensive way to share the pro-life message.

This year's theme is defunding Planned Parenthood. We encourage you to take this opportunity to promote nonviolent affordable healthcare providers, like the ones you'll find at