Friday, March 30, 2018

Back-to-back weekends in June

You'll have two chances to connect with Secular Pro-Life this June.

The Pro-Life Women's Conference will take place from Friday, June 22 through Sunday, June 24 in St. Louis. Secular Pro-Life is proud to be a conference sponsor for the third straight year! This is a great opportunity to connect with like-minded women, get informed about the latest pro-life efforts, and exchange strategies for serving families in your community. We'll have an exhibit booth.

The National Right to Life Convention is set for the following weekend: Thursday, June 28 through Saturday, June 30, in Overland Park, Kansas. This year's theme is "Love Them All." SPL president Kelsey Hazzard will speak on Saturday afternoon (exact time TBA) about bridging religious divides to prevent abortion. This will be her third straight year speaking at the convention, which attracts pro-life activists from all fifty states. Last year's presentation was live-streamed, and we will try to do that again for those who aren't able to attend in person.

Mark your calendars, and we'll see you in three months!

P.S.—With so many summer events planned, now's a great time for us to update our literature. If you have experience in print media design and would like to lend us a hand, please send an email to with the subject line "Literature Design."

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Stockman Test

I grew up in Britain in the 1970's, a time when there was still some residual ethos of empire in a country that had not entirely emerged from World War II. I attended a high school in London which was founded sometime in the late 18th century and, despite the fact that it had been taken over by the state, retained some of the trappings and rubrics that it inherited from ages past. Hence it was an all-boys school, we wore uniforms, played cricket and rugby, and were required to address the teachers (nearly all men) as "sir."

One of the staff teachers was a man called Stockman. I recall him as a tall, heavily-built man with a military background and a slight limp that nobody had the courage to ask him about. He taught history and Latin. He also had a fondness for posing philosophical questions to his pupils that had (on the face of it) very little or nothing to do with the subject being taught.

I was 14 years old when I was sitting in Class 4 with my classmates awaiting Stockman's appearance for a history lesson which was supposed to focus on the Napoleonic Wars. I recall that it was raining heavily; long spears of cold water dashed against the rattling windows. Stockman walked in, put a pile of books down on the desk without so much as a "good morning," and limped over to the window where he stood with his hands behind his back, gazing broodingly out at the rain-lashed roofs.

"Boys" he said, "a question for you: a woman comes to you for advice. She is married and has five children, all of whom are afflicted with physical and/or mental disabilities of some sort. He husband is an alcoholic and has syphilis. They are grindingly poor. So poor, in fact, that she struggles to feed the children she has. She is now pregnant, expecting her sixth child. Advise her."

Silence followed. As the rain continued the break upon the windows in sheets, we dumbstruck little boys all looked around at each other, scanning each gormless face for a clue as to what to say next.

"Come on," said Stockman, "tempus fugit."

Finally, the boy sitting next to me, Bobby Harkness, raised his hand. He was a small, mousey kid with hair that flopped over his eyes and a temerity that belied his slight frame.

"Sir," said Harkness, "she should get an abortion".

"Hmmmm..." was the response from Stockman who was still contemplating the vista, his hands behind his back, as immovable as a statue.

"Anybody else? What do the rest of you say?"

One by one, every boy's hand climbed hesitantly aloft.

"Yes, sir. She should get an abortion."

"No sense in her bringing another kid into the world, sir."

"Abortion, sir. No doubt about it."

"She can't even feed the kids she's got, sir."

Stockman let out another pensive hum before turning smartly on his heels and heading for the desk where he picked up a book, an thumbed through it until he reached the required page and at which point, he looked out at us and said:

"Congratulations, Class 4: you just killed Beethoven. Now, let us begin."

We all quickly glanced round at each other again like a room full of meerkats; some blushing, some chuckling a little and others bemused. I have no idea what expression was visible on my face, but I can tell you that Stockman's little test made a deep impact on me that has lasted all of my life. How can the consensus get it so wrong?

I have no idea as to whether or not Beethoven's family circumstances were quite as dire or grim as Stockman had claimed them to be. But it hardly matters really and that is far from the point. The point he was making was as pinsharp clear to me then as it still is today.

I was raised in a very secular family and I continue to live a very secular life. On the issue of abortion, I have always been rather agnostic, campaigning neither for nor against it. But Mr. Stockman's test imprinted itself on my motherboard and now, over 40 years later, whenever I hear the word abortion, I have the "Pastoral" playing in my head.

How many Beethovens?

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

SPL featured in Illinois Right to Life video

Illinois Right to Life recently launched a new educational program, Heart2Heart, which is designed for classroom use but makes a great addition to pro-life social media too. Secular Pro-Life's very own Terrisa Bukovinac is featured in a just-released Heart2Heart video. Her 10-minute interview is incredibly wide-ranging; she covers everything from her own pro-choice to pro-life conversion story, her quietly pro-life to pro-life activist conversion story, the role of stereotypes in the abortion debate, atheism, feminism, and more. Check it out here.

Monday, March 26, 2018

South Carolina abortion business caught taking victim remains to a gas station

Created Equal—whose "Project Weak Link" has focused on the medical waste companies that facilitate abortion—has uncovered an illegal (and just plain bizarre) scheme to dispose of abortion victims' remains in South Carolina.

On at least five occasions, employees of Greenville Women's Clinic loaded the remains into their personal cars and transported them to a local QuikTrip gas station, where they were transferred to a Stericycle vehicle. Three times, the transactions were caught on video.

The state Department of Environmental Control has issued a citation, but it is not yet clear what punishment (if any) Greenville Women's Clinic will receive. A 2015 citation yielded a fine of $2,570.

Greenville Women's Clinic does not deny the allegations, but claims the gas station scheme was necessary because pro-life protesters blocked the abortion facility's driveway. No evidence has been offered for this claim, which makes little sense; if the driveway was blocked, why would Stericycle's vehicle be the only one affected, while the employee vehicles carrying the remains (and for that matter, all the abortion customers coming and going) were able to leave freely?

Stericycle previously stated, in response to pro-life campaigners, that it would no longer accept fetal remains for disposal. However, Stericycle continues to work with abortion businesses who sign a service agreement, in which the abortion businesses promise not to include fetuses in their medical waste pick-ups. That promise has no teeth, and the abortion businesses cannot be trusted on this point.

It's true that not all "medical waste" from abortion centers consists of human remains; it can also include one-use disposable syringes and similar equipment. But Greenville Women's Clinic generates between 50 and 999 pounds of "infectious waste" per month. If you transport that much waste from an abortion facility and take their word for it that there are no bodies, you are engaged in willful naïveté.

Created Equal says: "As for Stericycle, they continue to enable the abortion industry and refuse to enforce their written medical waste protocol that prohibits the transportation and disposal of dead babies. Stericycle needs to dump the abortion cartel altogether or they will face continued public exposure."

Friday, March 23, 2018

Permanently Protect Our Conscience Rights and Support Student Mothers: Oppose Senate Bill 320

Following the tumultuous social events of summer 2017, San Jose State University President Mary A. Papazian sought to reassure San Jose State students during her opening semester address stating, “As a civilized, caring community, we condemn this outrageous, indefensible behavior while affirming our commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, and respect for individual differences.” A new law being considered at this very moment in our state capital challenges the spirit of Pres Papazian’s call for “respect for individual differences.” This law, Senate Bill 320 or SB 320, would require on-campus student health insurance plans offered by California State University, the California Community Colleges and the University of California to include coverage of the abortion pill, which can be taken up to 10 weeks after a woman’s last period. And without additional safeguards for conscience, SB 320 may one day require all SJSU students, including pro-lifers, to directly fund chemical abortions. The bill will also turn our collectively used Student Health Center into an on-campus abortion center.

This law is deeply offensive to the conscience rights of many SJSU students and is bad policy for the women and community of SJSU. A 2016 poll “found that 53 percent of college aged Americans believe abortion should be illegal in at least most circumstances… That is up 9 percentage points from a 2012 survey conducted by Students for Life, which found 44 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds tended to back pro-life policies and 44 percent pro-choice policies.” These gains in pro-life support come even as these same young voters are overwhelmingly liberal on social issues such as same-sex marriage and drug legalization. Assuming SJSU is representative of college age opposition to abortion, over 15,000 pro-life SJSU students may be forced to fund abortions on campus through required student fees. Abortion advocates constantly argue that abortion is a decision between a woman and her doctor. Why, then, should the law require the student body to become involved?

San Jose State University students protest SB 320

Some supporters of SB 320 contend that these concerns are unwarranted because amended language in SB 320 states that “private moneys” will fund the program. Pro-life students have several issues with this. First, the original language of SB 320 did not include any such provision; the “private moneys” amendments were only added after political pressure from pro-life activists. Second, even this particular language of the bill does not provide for permanent conscience protections. The exact language states: “Nothing in this chapter shall be interpreted as requiring public universities to support implementation of abortion by medication techniques with General Fund appropriations or student fees” (emphasis mine). Therefore, nothing in SB 320 guarantees protection of student fees from forthcoming additions to SB 320 which may alter the funding mechanism, or from overzealous pro-abortion university administrators who wish to divert student fees toward the SB 320 program. Lastly, pro-life students contend that student fee funding for the student health centers is inseparable from the provision of the implementation of SB 320. The overarching infrastructure and employees that will be used to distribute the abortion medication is paid for by student fees, regardless if the medication itself is privately funded or not. Money is fungible and therefore student fees can still be used even indirectly in the implementation of SB 320.

Bills such as SB 320 directly and intentionally circumvent federal conscience protections against the funding of abortion and invent out of whole cloth a positive right to state- or university-funded abortions. The Supreme Court has twice ruled in favor of taxpayer conscience protections like the Hyde Amendment, ruling in favor of the constitutionality of restricting public funding for abortions. In the 1979 case Maher v. Roe, the Court ruled that Roe v. Wade does not establish a woman's right to a free abortion, holding that Roe v. Wade “did not declare an unqualified 'constitutional right to an abortion'” and “implies no limitation on the authority of a State to make a value judgment favoring childbirth over abortion, and to implement that judgment by the allocation of public funds.” The court reiterated that position the following year in Harris v McRae, stating: “The funding restrictions of the Hyde Amendment do not impinge on the 'liberty' protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment held in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 168, to include the freedom of a woman to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy.”

In essence the Court ruled that “regardless of whether the freedom of a woman to choose to terminate her pregnancy for health reasons lies at the core or the periphery of the due process liberty recognized in Roe v. Wade, it does not follow that a woman's freedom of choice carries with it a constitutional entitlement to the financial resources to avail herself of the full range of protected choices.”

Despite the Hyde Amendment protections and the aforementioned judicial rulings, 17 states including California use taxpayer funds to fund abortion. According to a September 2016 report, California’s Medicaid program (Medi-Cal) spent more than $27 million on more than 83,000 induced abortions in 2014. According to California’s Department of Health and Human Services, Medi-Cal provides abortions “regardless of the gestational age of the fetus” and, furthermore, “medical justification and authorization” are “not required.”

The move toward bills such as SB 320, which lack strict explicitly articulated conscience rights of students, is the latest attempt to circumvent the Hyde Amendment’s conscience protections and is yet another indicator that the abortion lobby is moving away from their slogan of “safe, legal, and rare,” to a policy of “any time, for any reason, at no cost.” We at Spartans for Life believe abortion is never void of costs. Abortion is an act of violence which costs a child a lifetime of potential, costs a mother and father the joys of parenthood, and costs our campus community a proper respect for life.

SB 320 offers no choice for a campus pro-life community and no real choice for our pregnant students. SB 320 offers a choice between choosing between one’s education and one’s child. This is not “choice,” this is not “empowering,” this is not “feminist,” and this is certainly not “respecting our differences.” We at Spartans for Life believe California can do better. We believe that women can do anything they set their minds to. We believe all student fees would be better served aiding our pregnant Spartans in being both mothers and students. We believe this policy represents real choice for all our students. As such, we respectfully ask our campus community to make their voices heard and vocally oppose SB 320’s implementation across our state.

[Today's guest post is by Nick Reynosa. He is a student at San Jose State.]

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Happy World Down Syndrome Day!

Today, on March 21—3/21, in a nod to the third copy of chromosome 21—we celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. It's a time to recognize the unique individuals with Down Syndrome and advocate for their inclusion in society.

It's hard to celebrate this year. A few months ago, major media outlets reported that Iceland is well on its way to "eradicating Down Syndrome"—more accurately, as actress Patricia Heaton pointed out, eliminating unborn children who have Down Syndrome. More recently, the ACLU has sued to block Ohio's ban on abortions for Down Syndrome, and the Washington Post published not just one, but two blatantly ableist op-ed pieces justifying the destruction of babies with that dreaded 47th chromosome.

This World Down Syndrome Day, I wish for every person with Down Syndrome to have equal opportunities and all the supports they need to accomplish their dreams. In the famous words of Megan Bomgaars: "Don't limit me!"

This World Down Syndrome Day, I wish for the ACLU to rediscover the meaning of civil liberties for all, not just the able-bodied and born.

This World Down Syndrome Day, I wish for Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post to soften her heart and stop hiding eugenics behind the veil of "choice" and "complexity."

This World Down Syndrome Day, I wish for a world in which every child is welcomed in life and protected by law, without regard to prenatal diagnosis.

Progress will come—but only if we work tirelessly for it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Three Major News Items Today

Mississippi passes 15-week abortion limit: Last night, Mississippi governor Phil Bryant signed a law limiting abortion to the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, except to save the life or health of the mother. Here, for reference, is what a 15-week-old human looks like (via the Endowment for Human Development):

While much media coverage noted that the new law is exceptionally "tough" or "strict," that's only true if you have a narrow, USA-centric frame of reference. Mississippi's 15-week limit is mundane in the context of other developed nations like Spain, France, Germany, and Belgium (14 weeks LMP); Italy (12 weeks LMP); Portugal (10 weeks LMP); and Ireland, Malta, and Poland (right to life recognized without regard to age).

Mississippi's sole abortion business has already filed suit to block the law. It will likely remain unenforced while the case works its way through the court system. The current Supreme Court is 5-4 in favor of abortion, so the law will only be upheld if a Justice soon retires or dies.

Illinois Primaries: Both the Democratic and Republican primary races in Illinois, being held today, are critical for pro-life advocates. On the Democratic side, abortion extremists have targeted Dan Lipinski, one of the last remaining pro-life Democrats in the House of Representatives. His challenger, Marie Newman, is funded primarily by NARAL and Planned Parenthood. Pro-Life Action League, Susan B. Anthony List, Democrats for Life, and many others are working phones and knocking on doors for Rep. Lipinski. Illinois has an open primary; pro-lifers of all stripes, including the independent and unaffiliated, who live in the 3rd Congressional District are strongly encouraged to cross over and vote for Lipinski. We must beat back those in the Democratic Party who would impose an abortion litmus test and treat the fundamental human right to life as a partisan issue.

Meanwhile, on the GOP side, Illinois primary voters have the opportunity to boot Governor Bruce Rauner from office. Gov. Rauner is infamous for signing a bill to destroy the Hyde Amendment in Illinois, introducing widespread taxpayer subsidies for the abortion industry. He betrayed not only those pro-lifers who voted for him, but the more than 144,000 Illinoisans who owe their very lives to Hyde Amendment protections. His primary opponent, Jeanne Ives, is an unapologetic pro-life advocate.

Today at the Supreme Court: The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments today in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra. NIFLA is an umbrella organization for pregnancy resource centers and clinics, who are challenging a California law that forces them to advertise abortions. Pro-life advocates from across the nation (including our own Terrisa Bukovinac, flying all the way from San Francisco!) are convening outside the Court this morning to stand up for life and freedom of speech. It's going to be an incredible rally, and if you can't make it in person, you can watch it live at the March for Life facebook page.

Monday, March 19, 2018

"I believe you've killed someone, but I will fight for your right to do it!"

Pro-choice Democrat Conor Lamb is the newest member of the House of Representatives, having squeaked out a special election win in Pennsylvania with just 641 more votes than his Republican opponent. The race was seen as a referendum on President Trump, who won the conservative district by 19 points in 2016.

There has been no shortage of commentary about what this means for the 2018 midterms, and in particular, whether Lambs' "personally pro-life, politically pro-choice" schtick should be replicated by Democrats in other red districts. But much of this coverage has ignored a key variable, namely, the reason Pennsylvania was having a special election in the first place.

Remember Tim Murphy? He held the district and was forced to resign after he was revealed to be Lamb's polar opposite: politically pro-life, but personally pro-choice. Pro-life organizations and voters alike were outraged when it came to light that Murphy had not only had an extramarital affair, but had encouraged his mistress to have an abortion. (She turned out not to be pregnant.)

There is no data to suggest that the district's residents suddenly abandoned their pro-life principles en masse, but such a betrayal from a traditionally pro-life candidate could have made Lamb's "personally pro-life" pitch more appealing. That doesn't make either Lamb or his voters correct, of course—Lamb's claim that he must vote pro-choice for reasons of church-state separation is particularly laughable—but I can understand why voters might have felt their vote wouldn't necessarily lead to a truly pro-life legislator anyway, so why bother.

Abortion extremists, of course, are busy eating their own. At Slate, Christina Cauterucci writes that "personally pro-life" politicians have been known to back Choose Life license plates (the horror!) and popular, common-sense limitations like parental consent for abortions on minors and prohibitions on taxpayer subsidies to the abortion industry. Cauterucci also makes this interesting point:
By broadcasting his belief that, lawmaking aside, a fertilized egg is a human life, he’s essentially scolding women who’ve had abortions. "I believe you've killed someone, but I will fight for your right to do it!" may be the best progressives can hope for from those who are morally opposed to abortion, but it’s also a good way to alienate people on both sides of the issue.
While I obviously disagree with Cauterucci on the morality of abortion, she's hit upon a critical insight here. In recent years, the abortion movement has been trying to distance itself from its traditionally anti-science lines of argument (e.g. "it's just a clump of cells") in favor of a more modern approach that acknowledges the lethal reality of abortion but justifies it anyway. Salon's 2013 article "So what if abortion ends life?" is a paradigmatic example. If Cauterucci is right that "I believe you've killed someone, but I will fight for your right to do it" alienates people, what messaging options does the abortion lobby have left?

The fundamental problem is that, in the long run, there is no way to both be honest and portray abortion in an attractive light. Abortion kills. Abortion targets the most vulnerable members of our human family. We must demand politicians who wholeheartedly oppose abortion—both personally, and politically.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

In One Week: Rally for Life and Freedom of Speech

Exactly one week from today, on March 20, pro-life advocates will rally outside of the Supreme Court while the Justices hear arguments in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra. As we previously wrote, this lawsuit challenges an extreme California law that requires pro-life pregnancy clinics to post advertisements for abortion. This law is a plainly unconstitutional gift to the abortion industry that neglects mother's real needs. It cannot stand.

When you're at the rally, keep an eye out for SPL rep Terrisa Bukovinac! Terrisa (pictured right) is also the head of Pro-Life San Francisco; she is traveling across the country to fight for California babies, parents, and pro-life advocates.

Other organizations participating in next week's rally include Students for Life of America, Rehumanize International, and of course NIFLA itself, along with a host of others.

This case is incredibly important for the future of the pro-life movement and freedom of conscience and expression. If there is any way you can be there, we strongly encourage you to attend!

P.S. If you happen to be in D.C. a few days earlier, the Newseum is hosting a legal panel discussion of the case this Friday, March 16, that looks really interesting.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Behind Enemy Lines: Undercover at a NARAL training session

All over the country, student and activist pro-life groups regularly meet to discuss the intimidating task of developing a sound messaging program to effectively reach members of their communities. Which key words will connect with women the most? How do we handle the most difficult questions with the appropriate amount of care? Often overlooked in all this is that simultaneously, as a foil to this work, abortion rights advocates are meeting in these very same communities, discussing these very same issues of messaging. Just as pro-lifers grapple with how to message about issues such as restricting reproductive freedom, bodily autonomy, and abortion in the case of rape, conversely, abortion rights activists are laboring to present their views on parental consent, late-term abortion, and public financing of abortions in the most palatable terms to the general public. 

Out of a desire to better understand our opponents’ viewpoints and be prepared for the types of messaging young women at risk for abortion may be hearing, our Students for Life group decided to secretly infiltrate a NARAL training session in California. What we encountered there was a pro-choice movement that is both shrewd in its marketing and emboldened in its goals.

Messaging Tactics                   
The messaging tactics seem to be emotionally aware and politically savvy. The issue of abortion was highly shrouded in the language of social justice. The “lived experiences of women” and “meeting women where they are at” were highly emphasized. It seemed that the objective question of “the morality of abortion” was countered with the subjective “lived experiences” of women obtaining abortions—as if obtaining an abortion was a form of identity, that could not be understood or questioned beyond the person experiencing it. Euphemisms were also used abundantly. As the trainer noted, while many Americans do not mind abortion being legal, a clear majority of Americans have strong ethical qualms with abortion. As such, the word “choice” can lose its power if many people view the choice as immoral. Therefore, incorporating more universal terms such as “economic security” can be more effective. As pro-lifer writer Jill Stanek has noted, “The pro-choice movement has been reduced to euphemisms about euphemisms.”

In a moment of shocking honesty in a portion on parental notification, the trainer noted that many parents do not feel that their children should have rights to abortion, prioritizing their child’s safety over their child’s personal privacy. She added that it’s important to relay to the parents, that of course their kid will come to them, but what about children who are more unfortunate and don’t have anyone to trust? Never mind that they’re advocating for the right of all children to circumvent their parents; at least the parents they’re talking to feel good about their kids. For someone willing to be so disingenuous with parents, she was strikingly honest with us about these tactics.

Above: Pro-abortion signs with "access" messaging
Policy Goals
Another component that jumped out at us was how far the conversation has shifted as the pro-choice has become more dissatisfied with the status quo and more emboldened in their policy goals. Long gone are the reverence for the trimester regime of Roe, the regulations provided for by Casey, the consensus of Hyde and the cautious verbiage of the 90’s which sought to make abortion “safe, legal and rare.” In their absence, “accessibility” has become the catch-all word. The NARAL spokeswoman made it clear that this prioritization of accessibility is the main driver behind 2018’s SB 320 in California, and the 2016 Democratic party platform, explicitly including the overturning of the Hyde Amendment. When directly asked about this by one of our members, the spokeswoman said that assuming a Democratic victory in 2020, the overturning of Hyde will be a top legislative priority in 2021. She also acknowledged that she never imagined a day when two national candidates would both advocate overturning Hyde. How far we’ve come. It is clear to us, that within the next 5 years it is highly likely that the battle over Hyde will be the front lines in the abortion debate.

The Litmus Test
Being as the training was held at a county Democratic Party office, it was only natural that the infamous “litmus test” question to arise. Ever since Tom Perez’s well-known snafu, Democrats have been contentiously debating whether their big tent can tolerate the presence of pro-lifers. It was here that the level of extremism was made evident. The NARAL spokeswoman said that if they feel confident their candidate can maintain the Democrat seat in question, then they would primary the only three Democrats that voted for the 20 week abortion ban. She also noted that NARAL endorsed Hillary over Bernie. This is rather remarkable, given that they did not endorse Hillary in 2008; but Bernie, who has a 100 percent voting rating from NARAL and a 0 rating from the National Right to Life, made the unpardonable sin of endorsing a pro-life Democrat from Nebraska. Apparently it is not just pro-life Democrats who will not be tolerated by NARAL, but also stalwart pro-choicers who merely wish to co-exist with pro-life Democrats.

Having discussed the abortion issue for over 10 years now, I felt a strange connection with the people there. I could relate to their passion and excitement about the issues being discussed. I myself have been in many similar pro-life talks and have the same types of conversations they have with the public week in and week out. It was interesting to think that these people have devoted their lives to defending that which my moral intuition tells me is the greatest moral wrong. In that moment, I realized perhaps they view me and my friends as doing the same and being equally misguided. 
Although, I can say that the evening did not end with moral ambiguity. As the training was wrapping up the spokeswoman did a brief Q&A. Answering one question she tongue-in-cheek replied “We’re very live and let live here” and then belly-laughed saying, “Sorry, I have a very dark sense of humor.” Dark indeed. 

At last: something we can agree on.

[Today's guest post is by Jeremy R.]

Friday, March 9, 2018

Jake and Amanda's Story: A Terrifying Diagnosis

I don’t think any man is prepared for hearing that a pregnancy he helped create may be the cause of death for the mother of his child. I know the father of my child wasn’t prepared to hear that, but he did nonetheless. In his words: "You hear people say a person could die having a baby, but we don’t really think about what that looks like. It’s so different than say a person having cancer because we see that and know what it looks like. People just don’t talk about what it’s like when you’re told you’re gonna die having a baby." I wanted to present our story from his perspective because men are often overlooked in maternal issues.

Mine and Jake's relationship began in July 2016. We hit it off immediately and felt there was something solid about the connection we had. Jake had no children and I had 3. I told him immediately that I didn't want more kids and in fact wasn't able medically to become pregnant. He said he was okay with loving the children I had, so we continued our budding romance. However, in August 2016 we discovered the doctors had been wrong and that I could become pregnant because I was definitely pregnant.

We were in disbelief and although he was shocked and scared, he handled it with grace. He was excited despite the fact we'd only been together a month. Unfortunately we both knew that with my medical history, our pregnancy would be difficult and statistically the odds were in favor of miscarriage. I'd had a uterine ablation a few years back and that makes conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy exceptionally difficult. We miscarried at 6 weeks... but at 12 weeks found out we were still pregnant. We had lost a twin.

It was then that my doctor presented us with the scary statistics of my pregnancy and that if I continued with it, my fatality was the overwhelming outcome. We chose to continue the pregnancy. Jake was angry when we were told to terminate, and scared for the implications of not terminating, but he supported my decision.

At 26 weeks I had a massive hemorrhage and was admitted to the hospital. We lived over an hour away from the hospital so he and I moved into a hospital room together. He got up each day, went to work and came "home" to me and did everything in his power to keep our lives normal. I can't imagine how difficult those days were for him but he says they weren't hard, it was just our life. It's funny how you can adjust to anything as long as you're with the one you love.

We had to stay in the hospital until my delivery, which was set for 33 weeks. The days leading up to my delivery were hard for Jake. This was his first and only child, but due to my medical issues I'd have to be under general anesthesia for delivery which meant he couldn't be in the room when our daughter was born. He would have to wait until she was stabilized to see her because of her prematurity, and he'd have to meet her without me because I'd still be in surgery.

On March 8, we were scheduled for delivery. Both of us were scared and anxious. Our main concern was would our daughter be okay? Would she have complications? It's so hard to be excited when your whole pregnancy has been doom and gloom. But we held fast to the belief that our daughter was a fighter and that she would be okay.

At 1:45 that day, Sadie Kayte Holliday entered the world weighing 5 lbs and was 17 inches long. She was every bit the fighter we knew she would be and came off intubation within the first hour of her birth. Jake only knew she had been born via a phone call to the waiting room from a nurse. He didn't get to meet her for several hours. It was only upon him getting to meet our daughter that he learned things were seriously wrong with me.

I was still in surgery, he was told. He knew I should have been out by now and that something was wrong. Later that evening my doctors met with Jake and my family and told them they'd done all they could do but it wasn't enough. I had bled out several times during surgery and they couldn't find or stop the bleeding. My body had had enough, so they packed my incision and stapled me up and put me on life support until they could come up with a new plan.

Jake finally got to see me in ICU around 11pm that night. He says seeing me like that was the hardest part. He held my hand, cried, and prayed for me to live. He thought about how life would be raising Sadie without me. He never left my side and slept with his head on my damaged body.

The next day I was operated on again. The doctors successfully found and fixed the arteries that had been damaged. I’ll never forget the look of relief on Jake's face or our hug through his tears when I saw him after surgery in ICU.

We are about to celebrate our daughter's first birthday. We are now married. Our experience shaped our relationship in so many ways. We grew together and became so strong. We could have so easily said we haven't been together long enough to have a baby, or the doctors know best, but we didn't. We chose to fight together instead of doing what was convenient, and I am grateful for that every day.

[Today's guest post by Amanda Solomon is part of our paid blogging program. She is Vice President of Life Defenders.]

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

You asked, we answered: The ethics of vaccines

A Secular Pro-Life supporter who shall remain anonymous wrote to us in search of advice.

* * *

Dear Secular Pro-Life,

Hey! Love the cause! I have a big, conflicting question which I believe affects many with our pro-life beliefs.

I recently had newborn twins and am starting the process of immunizations but am at a crossroads. The Hep A, measles, mumps, rubella, and chicken pox vaccines contain fetal stem cells collected from abortions. I'm not worried about not giving the chicken pox or rubella because it's rare to die from them and I am okay with the possibility of my children having them... but I'm scared as Hep A and measles are much more dangerous and can be deadly. I don't want to potentially endanger them by not giving them such a readily available shot but my gut says no. Especially since vaccines don't always work. I'm conflicted.

As much as I love my babies, I don't think I can give it to them in good conscience. "To save my baby's life, I'll support the death of another..." It just doesn't seem right to me. I was wondering if maybe you could pose a question about this so maybe I could see more perspectives. Not about vaccines as a whole, as that is so widely debated, but just those originating from abortions. Thanks!

~Concerned Mother

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Dear Concerned Mother,

Thanks for writing in. Vaccines do not contain fetal stem cells; however, fetal remains from abortion victims were used in the development of certain vaccines, and that gives many parents pause.

As you ponder the ethics of this situation, please factor in that vaccines not only protect your children from illness, but also help prevent the spread of disease and thus protect others in society—including people with certain disabilities and babies who are too young to be vaccinated. (This is the concept sometimes called "herd immunity.") If a pregnant mother contracts measles, the virus can cause a miscarriage or stillbirth. There are lives on both sides of this equation.

The preborn lives lost in connection with unethical vaccine development cannot be brought back, and refusing the vaccine will not stop any future abortions. In my humble opinion, the moral weight is in favor of vaccination. Of course, this is something you should discuss first and foremost with your doctor.


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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

PP and SFLA announce big plans for battleground states

Planned Parenthood will spend at least $20 million in 2018 battleground states, the abortion chain disclosed last Thursday. The funds will focus on Senate and gubernatorial races in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. They are also spending money to defeat the few remaining pro-life Democrats, like Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski, in the primaries. 

Planned Parenthood spokespeople told reporters that focusing on "reproductive health issues" (by which they of course mean the dismemberment of unborn children) is a winning strategy, even claiming that abortion messaging moved voters to support Ralph Northam in the most recent race for governor of Virginia. Historically, however, pro-life candidates have enjoyed a default advantage over their pro-choice counterparts, because pro-lifers are more likely to be single-issue voters.

Pro-life groups are organizing to beat back Planned Parenthood's well-funded propaganda. Students for Life of America recently announced a tour through West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Kentucky, focused on ending taxpayer subsidies of Planned Parenthood. From the press release:
Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins observed that defunding the nation’s largest abortion vendor to redirect scarce resources to real medical centers “is priority number one for students in the more than 1,200 chapters working with us nationwide. This tour is even more significant in light of Planned Parenthood’s announced effort to spend $20 million dollars in an attempt to keep politicians in office who will force taxpayers to continue to give the abortion Goliath more than half-a-billion dollars annually,” said SFLA’s Kristan Hawkins. We don’t need Planned Parenthood, but with fewer women choosing them all the time, they sure need our money.”
SFLA doesn't have $20 million to throw around, but the pro-life movement has the truth, compassion, and the courage that comes with knowing we are on the right side of history. I'll take that over blood money any day.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Major pro-life rally March 20 on the steps of the Supreme Court

If you live in the D.C. area or are able to travel there, we strongly encourage you to rally outside the Supreme Court on March 20 as the Justices hear arguments in NIFLA v. Becerra. The rally will officially begin at 9:00 a.m., but the abortion industry is sending protesters, so you'll want to arrive early to secure a good location.

NIFLA (the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates) has sued California Attorney General Becerra to challenge a law that requires pro-life pregnancy resource centers and clinics in California to post signage in their waiting rooms advertising taxpayer-funded abortion. A webcast held last week described the case in significant detail. For those who can't listen, here are the key themes:

The abortion industry does not need free advertising, least of all from pregnancy centers. Several pregnancy care workers spoke on the webcast and expressed serious concern about the impact the law would have on their patients. Why on earth should pregnancy clinics make a referral for a medical procedure before the woman has even had a chance to speak with a nurse? And what message does such a sign convey to the woman sitting in the pregnancy center lobby who is already under significant pressure to abort? For that matter, the legally mandated signs promote abortion to women who haven't even have confirmed their pregnancies yet!

NIFLA attorneys liken the law to forcing Alcoholics Anonymous to serve cocktails, or demanding that the American Lung Association promote cigarettes. It's ridiculous, and a clear violation of the First Amendment. An adverse ruling would seriously undermine freedom of speech, not only for pro-lifers, but for all Americans.

For that very reason, pro-life leaders are optimistic about NIFLA's chances. One attorney noted that NIFLA not only expects to win, but hopes for a unanimous verdict in its favor. That's not crazy; although five Justices are pro-abortion, they do hold principled views on the First Amendment. In the controversial 2012 case of Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, all nine Justices ruled in favor of the church's position that its decision to fire a teacher was protected by freedom of religion, despite the teacher's claim that the real motive was disability discrimination. (Disclosure: one of my law professors argued Hosanna-Tabor.) And in 2011, the Court ruled 8-1 that Westboro Baptist Church, of "God hates fags" fame, has a First Amendment right to picket military funerals.

Ultimately, this is about money. As the abortion rate plummets, abortion businesses are desperate for customers. Pregnancy centers are a direct competitor, and thus a prime target. As Abby Johnson put it: "If you weren't making a difference, you wouldn't be going to court." The Supreme Court should reject California's cynical and unconstitutional attempt to make pro-lifers prop up the dying industry of death.

Again, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in NIFLA v. Becerra on March 20, and the pro-life presence outside the Court will begin early in the morning. A final decision from the Court is expected in June.

Friday, March 2, 2018

A Perpetual March for Life?

The March for Life recently announced that the 2019 event will be held on Friday, January 18. At the end of the announcement email, March for Life president Jeanne Mancini wrote: "And please save the date to join us in 2019, so that one day soon, we no longer have to march."

It's a common sentiment. Every January, I hear people say that they hope to never march again. The implied hope is that this will be the year Roe v. Wade will be overturned.

I too fervently hope that Roe v. Wade will soon be overturned... and I also very much hope to participate in the March for Life every January between now and my death. 

I mean no disrespect to Jeanne, of course, and I admire her commitment to putting herself out of a job. Perhaps I'm just being my unnecessarily contrarian self, but hear me out. The reversal of Roe v. Wade should not cause the March for Life to end. There are at least three excellent reasons to keep the March going in perpetuity:

1. To restore the right to life everywhere. The reversal of Roe v. Wade could result in immediate restoration of the right to life, if the Court holds that unborn children are Constitutional persons entitled to equal protection of the law. But the more likely path for reversal is that the Court will simply allow each state to enact its own laws on abortion. This would be a huge victory and save many lives in pro-life states—but woe to the child with the bad luck to be conceived in New York or California. Nationwide, you can be sure that the abortion industry will push to remake the Court and reverse the reversal. The pro-life movement's work must continue. The March for Life is, and will remain, a critical networking tool for a nationwide cause. 

Moreover, why should we limit our concern to the United States? Sure, it makes strategic sense to start close to home, but our success here should not be the end of the story. It should be a springboard to protect preborn children throughout the world. The March for Life could refocus in that direction.

2. To support mothers in need. After Roe v. Wade is reversed, women will need the pro-life network of pregnancy support more than ever before. Continued pro-life enthusiasm after Roe's reversal will be necessary to bolster that network. Pregnancy resource centers, adoption programs, and the like all benefit from an annual gathering. And I haven't even mentioned the March for Life's role in post-abortion healing.

3. To memorialize the victims. Suppose abortion ended tonight, completely, totally, everywhere in the world. The death toll is already in the hundreds of millions—over 60 million in the United States alone. We must never forget those children. The political environment may one day allow for a permanent physical memorial in Washington, D.C., but I think a living memorial of pro-life marchers is more fitting.

I'll see you on January 18.