Friday, August 31, 2018

Pro-choice embryologist contradicts his own biology textbook.

When we say "life begins at conception," we mean the human life cycle begins with the zygote. But often others think we are trying to say "people [morally relevant and valuable humans] begin at conception." This is a philosophical claim, not a scientific one. So when others counter with "science can't tell us when life begins" they often actually mean "science can't tell us when human organisms are morally relevant and valuable." And that's true.

The issue above is just a miscommunication—a conflation of how we're using the term "life." And I don't begrudge pro-choice people the confusion because plenty of pro-life people make the same equivocation. So when people say "science can't tell us when life begins" and they really mean "science can't do philosophy's job," I get that.

But often people insist science can't even do science's job. They claim that we can't know when life begins philosophically or biologically. And that, my friends, is flatly false. Biologically we know exactly when each individual human life begins: as a zygote.

Every now and then SPL comes across people emphasizing their scientific credentials but then misusing those credentials to conflate biology with philosophy. They'll insist we just can't really know, biologically, when life begins. Here's a rebuttal we did when a biology textbook author claimed there are over a dozen points at which an organism might magically spring to life. Here's the piece we wrote when Bill Nye said the pro-life position is based on "bad science" but never quite got around to contradicting a single scientific claim. And here is our response to an embryologist who claimed:
I can say with absolute assurance: There is no consensus among embryologists as to when an individual human life begins.
He goes on to say that some embryologists believe life doesn't begin until gastrulation, or human-specific EEG waves, or birth. Of course he doesn't cite a single embryologist claiming life begins at birth. It's almost as if he's making it up.

The author of this obfuscating nonsense was Scott F. Gilbert. He is also the author of textbooks on biology, embryology, and bioethics. His textbook "Developmental Biology" is now in its 11th edition. But it's a quote from the 6th edition that caught my eye:
What we consider an individual is usually just a brief slice of its life cycle. When we consider a dog, for instance, we usually picture an adult. But the dog is a "dog" from the moment of fertilization of a dog egg by a dog sperm. It remains a dog even as a senescent dying hound. Therefore, the dog is actually the entire life cycle of the animal, from fertilization through death. [Emphasis added.]
(Image from the 6th edition - click to enlarge.)

Quick searching suggests that quote is no longer present in the more recent 11th edition, but that version does include "Chapter 7: Fertilization: Beginning a New Organism." In the first paragraph of the chapter, the textbook explains:
Fertilization accomplishes two separate ends: sex (the combining of genes derived from two parents) and reproduction (the generation of a new organism). [Emphasis added.]
(Image from the 11th edition - click to enlarge.)

So, according to Gilbert's textbooks, fertilization generates a new organism, and individuals are individuals from fertilization through death. But according to Gilbert's political op-ed, there is no consensus among embryologists on when an individual human life begins. If we're interested in scientific accuracy, I wonder which Gilbert we should listen to?

The most recent edition of Gilbert's textbook.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Court orders Ohio abortion center to close

After a years-long legal battle, a judge has upheld the Ohio Department of Health's decision to close Women's Med Center of Dayton (WMCD), a surgical abortion facility operated by Martin Haskell. Haskell is infamous for pioneering the (now illegal) partial-birth abortion method.

Martin Haskell
In 2016, the Department of Health found that WMCD lacked adequate safety protocols for emergencies. Haskell sought a variance from the requirement of hospital privileges (which applies to all ambulatory surgical centers, not just abortion businesses). The Department of Health denied the variance request, and Haskell took it to court. Last week, a judge ruled in favor of the Department of Health; you can read the full decision here. WMCD has 30 days to appeal, which it almost certainly will.

It's not mentioned in the judge's opinion, but WMCD is the same abortion center that committed an abortion on a woman who was unable to consent back in 2015. The woman reportedly "showed signs of recreational drug abuse" (Percocet, Suboxone, and possibly heroin). She was so high, she was "not able to walk, or to make coherent conversation." She was "semi-conscious with a low blood pressure."

Where I'm from, deliberately inserting instruments into a half-conscious, intoxicated woman's vagina is called rape—but as too often happens, Haskell faced zero consequences.

The wheels of justice move at a snail's pace. Still, we are one step closer to shutting down this menace to women and babies, and that's something to celebrate. We will continue to update you on this legal battle as it progresses.

Meanwhile, Haskell isn't only focused on the courts. He's also financially backing Democratic congressional candidate Aftab Pureval in his attempt to unseat Republican Rep. Steve Chabot. The race is currently considered a toss-up.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Vote on California's bill to mandate abortion pill on college campuses expected soon

California legislators are expected to vote this week on SB 320, a bill that would turn all public university campus health centers into abortion vendors. The proposed legislation would require campus health centers to begin offering the abortion pill Mifeprex by 2022. 

SB 320 doesn't even pretend to be pro-choice; it is blatantly pro-abortion. It asserts that abortion is necessary for students to "stay on track to achieve their educational and other aspirational life plans," and contains no provisions whatsoever for improving access to contraception, prenatal care, or material support for parenting students. And abortion pill reversal? Not a chance.

As a San Jose State University student activist wrote for this blog in March:
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.
Writing in the Washington Examiner, Live Action founder and California native Lila Rose says:
Proponents [of SB 320] have lied about the dangers of a medication abortion, lied about fetal development, and lied about the accessibility of abortions. They have also failed their students by refusing to offer other solutions to unwanted pregnancies.
Planned Parenthood’s website describes the medication abortion as “kind of like having a really heavy, crampy period.” This is not true. The reality is, the procedure is gruesome. Students who take the abortion pill will find themselves in communal dormitory bathrooms in labor, expelling their preborn child alone -- often in severe pain and with heavily bleeding for days -- with no direct medical supervision on hand. This is the reality of taking RU486.
Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood manager, described her own medication abortion. The second day on the pill regimen, she was in excruciating pain, bleeding and vomiting for hours. She passed what she called several lemon-sized blood clots. When she called Planned Parenthood, the nurse told her, “That is not abnormal.” For eight more weeks, Abby bled heavily, had debilitating cramps, and experienced intense nausea.
According to the FDA, at least 22 women have died after taking the RU-486 regimen, and many others have had serious complications, with nearly 600 women experiencing such severe blood loss that they required transfusions.
At least one of California’s university systems, California State University, is reluctant to participate, and has rightfully expressed concern that its campuses are ill-equipped to deal with the risks of a medication abortion.
Another critical fact that those pushing SB 320 leave out is the level of development of the baby at this stage of pregnancy. The abortion pill regimen can be administered up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy. By 10 weeks, the preborn child has a beating heart, arms, and legs.
If you are a California resident, please contact your lawmakers and urge them to reject this dangerous pseudo-feminist bill. SB 320 is nothing but a ploy by the abortion industry to save its profits in the face of a nationally declining abortion rate.

We also encourage California residents to attend the upcoming "Let There Be Life" conference at UC Berkeley, led by our good friends at Pro-Life San Francisco and featuring SPL spokeswomen Terrisa Bukovinac and Monica Snyder. This is a crucial gathering for pro-life advocates in the Golden State. If the SB 320 vote fails, that won't be the end of it; we will need to vote out those who voted in favor of it to ensure it doesn't rear its ugly head again in the next legislative session. And if the worst happens, the conference will be an opportunity to strategize the pro-life movement's response. We will need to establish a student-led sidewalk counseling presence at every campus health center, ideally to include ready availability of abortion pill reversal. (Thankfully, tuition-paying students on government property have iron-clad First Amendment rights, but we should expect litigation nonetheless.) Register here.

Friday, August 24, 2018

SPL president to speak at Yale pro-life conference

Secular Pro-Life is pleased to announce that its president, Kelsey Hazzard, will give the opening speech at the 2018 Vita et Veritas conference at Yale University.

Vita et Veritas is an annual conference hosted by Choose Life at Yale. It will be held on Saturday, September 29 and Sunday, September 30. This year's theme is "Science and the Pro-Life Movement." Kelsey's speech on Saturday morning will expound on that theme.

Karen Gaffney, the first woman with Down Syndrome to swim the English Channel, will also speak. Additional speakers are to be announced.

Registration is required, but free for Saturday's talks. (Tickets that include meals, a Friday night banquet, and Sunday events range from $10 to $40.) Sign up today!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Attacks on Informed Consent are Attacks on Women's Health

This is the second article in a series on a book by Christian author Rebecca Todd Peters called Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice. (For part one, click here.) In this pro–abortion book, Peters argues for legalized abortion up until birth. She also attacks pro-life laws that require women to receive counseling before abortions. On page 58, she says:
Abortion providers, like all healthcare providers, already obtain informed consent and ensure that their patients receive counseling in preparation for their procedures. Nevertheless, 35 states have passed legislation requiring counseling before an abortion procedure can be performed. Analysis of the content of the counseling makes clear that its intent is not simply to ensure that women understand the medical facts and consequences of the procedure, which is the goal of informed consent. Rather, in addition to information about the procedure, 33 states require that the woman be given information about the gestational age of the fetus, 28 states include information about fetal development throughout the pregnancy, and 15 require that women be told that they cannot be coerced into having an abortion.
Putting aside for a moment the question of why Peters has a problem with women being told they can't be coerced into abortions, her assumption that all abortion facilities offer informed consent and proper counseling is far off the mark.

In a survey done by researcher David Reardon, over 250 women who regretted their abortions were asked if the counseling they received at the abortion facility was adequate. Here were the results:
- 66% said their counselor's advice was biased
- 5% reported that they were encouraged to ask questions
- 52 to 71% felt the questions were inadequately answered, sidestepped, or trivialized
- 90% said they were not given enough information to make an informed decision
- 83% said it was very likely that they would’ve chosen differently if they had not been so strongly encouraged to abort by others, including their abortion counselors
- 95% of women who had abortions at Planned Parenthood said that their Planned Parenthood counselors gave “…little or no biological information about the fetus which the abortion would destroy”

On pages 61 and 62, Peters says:
Another manipulative tactic currently being pursued in state legislatures is the attempt to villainize abortion providers and healthcare workers to undermine their credibility and again position the state as the protector of women. This tactic is clearly connected to legislation related to state-mandated counseling. The move not only to require counseling but also to mandate its content is based on the unfounded notion that women do not receive adequate information about pregnancy or abortion before having their procedure. The underlying assumption is that physicians and other healthcare workers who provide abortion services are pressuring women into the procedures.…
For example, Alaska's script reads as follows: “Alaska law requires your doctor to discuss with you the information described in this website before performing an abortion. You must have a chance to ask questions and discuss your pregnancy decision before an abortion can be performed. It is illegal for a healthcare provider to perform any medical or surgical procedure without first obtaining the informed consent of the patient.”
The statement implies that doctors may seek to withhold vital information from their patients and may try to perform abortions illegally without obtaining informed consent, despite no evidence of such illegal practice.
Women say differently. In an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Supreme Court for the case Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt, 3348 post–abortive women answered the question “Did the abortion counselor give you accurate information about abortion and its aftereffects?” From one woman:
I specifically asked if this was a baby and was told “No, it’s a formless blob of tissue.” No one told me that this was a tiny baby who would be ripped apart. I was not informed of potential negative physical, psychological and spiritual consequences. The brochure [given to her at the abortion facility] stated that many women experience relief, without any consequences and it also stated “there may be a BRIEF period of sadness”. . . . The abortion has impacted my life negatively the day it happened and every day since for almost 30 years with unmanageable and powerful emotions of guilt, sorrow and raw pain.
Another woman said:
I was told that my baby was not really a live baby, but that it was only a blob of flesh, and since it really wasn’t alive, I wouldn’t be killing anything. Later, when I saw the sonogram of my second living child, I saw that he was VERY ALIVE . . . and the guilt overwhelmed me.
A third said:
No. It was explained as ending a pregnancy, that the fetus was just a blob of cells, it was minimized for sure. There was never any counseling or mention of the emotional or possible physical harm it could cause. I was rushed and it was obvious they weren’t interested in me but in getting as many abortions done as fast as possible. I ended up hemorrhaging after the abortion and they told me that they “thought” the doctor gave me a blood thinning rather than a blood clotting medication. I have no idea the cause. It was very frightening that is for sure.
A fourth woman said:
No. I was told it was just a blob of tissue and that no life was formed. I later, after taking anatomy and physiology in college, realized what I had done and was devastated. Never was I told of the emotional distress it would cause me for the rest of my life. I was a murderer. I took an innocent, helpless life out of the safest place life should be protected in the womb.
Another woman said:
No. I remember distinctly that the “counselor” told me that at the stage of development of my pregnancy, “we’re talking about a lump of tissue.” I imagined it as being like a piece of uncooked chicken fat, and that is pretty much how it was described. To my horror, much later, I came to see actual photographs of children at eight weeks gestation. They are quite distinctly human! Little arms, little legs, little heads and faces! I can’t tell you how difficult it has been at times to view pictures of ultrasounds of friends knowing that I killed my own child who looked just like that. No, [I was not adequately informed of the consequences of abortion]. I only knew that it would terminate the pregnancy. I had no idea it would change my life forever.
Another woman says:
No. The paperwork said I would feel “relief.” They did not tell me ANYTHING about the development of the baby and when I asked about it, they showed me a fuzzy ultrasound where I couldn’t see anything and told me it was “a worm with a head.” I have scar tissue on my cervix and have been tested positive for pre-cancer cells. I was never told abortion could affect my chances of having a healthy pregnancy later. I was never told I might not be able to get pregnant later.
Another woman said:
No. Planned Parenthood staff said it was good to have the abortion early because “it wasn’t a baby yet – only a blob of tissue.” Didn’t inform me of any physical pain, consequences or emotional ramifications. I was not given any information on amount of bleeding, physical pain or other consequences. . . . I had very difficult and long labors with subsequent pregnancies/deliveries. Doctor said this was most likely due to previous abortion.
No. The only “counseling” I received was to ask me if I had any questions. When I replied that I didn’t know but thought maybe it was still just a placenta in there (baby not yet forming), she said “yes, it’s just a blob of tissue.” She actually used those words. I was also led to believe the procedure would involve only some mild cramping. Instead, it was extremely painful and frightening. I was told that it was easy, with no after-effects except bleeding for a few weeks. I was not told that (according to mainstream, peer-reviewed journals) it could lead to low-birth-weight and/or premature births – both of which I experienced a few years later. I was also not told about the terrible decades of guilt, grief and self-hatred I would experience.
A woman named Wendy Beutel wrote:
I was not informed as to any complications or adverse reactions to the abortion, and as a result, when the abortionist did an incomplete abortion, leaving some of the fetal tissue inside my uterus, I was left crying in pain on a cot with someone standing over me waving some type of additional form (probably a consent to waive all rights to me suing their clinic, telling me I had to sign it so they could take me in again and do another “procedure” to “remove the rest of the tissue.” I was told my baby was a “blob of tissue” and not a baby. It was incredibly painful physically and emotionally for me.
Randi Lolli said:
No. I was not told I could end up with a perforated uterus. Nor was I informed that as I lay on the table screaming in pain my “advocate” would tell me to be quiet so I wouldn’t scare the girls that were waiting to have theirs and maybe cause them to want to leave. I ended up with severe endometriosis outside my uterus, needing surgery to get pregnant, only being able to have one child and needing to have a hysterectomy.
Another woman said:
No. I was not told that I would physically feel the pain of the abortion process during the actual procedure. I was told that I would be given a pain medication. . . . The nurse who stood next to me and let me hold her hand – I squeezed her hand so very hard that I almost broke it because the pain was so intense. The doctor performing the procedure said to me, “You are the worst patient we have had today. Ha! Ha!” because I was screaming from pain. The worst of it all was when I sat up from the bed in the procedure room, looked in front of me and saw fetuses lined up in jars with lids on them sitting on the counter. I now knew what a horrible, horrible act I just committed. I don’t feel I was given adequate information about the physical and emotional side of having an abortion as the experience before and after were quite different. Knowing what I know about the abortion procedure and the mental aspects afterwards, I would never ever have an abortion. I have had emotional and mental issues stemming from this choice I made to have an abortion at 22 years of age.
All of these women, and the other 3337, testify against Peters’ claim that there is “no evidence” that doctors commit abortions without informed consent. There are many similar testimonies on Silent No More and ClinicQuotes.

Many women have, in fact, consented to abortions after being lied to, misled, or pressured by abortion facility staff. Pro-life laws that mandate informed consent for abortions are clearly needed. A woman deserves to know about everything that is taking place in her body, and to know the risks of a surgery before it is performed.

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

Monday, August 20, 2018

MPs shine light on Canadian abortion survivors left to die

"Live-birth abortion" sounds like an oxymoron, but it's the term being used to describe a shockingly common scenario in Canada. A National Post article headlined "Birth of a legal quandry: Live-birth abortions a perilous grey zone in Canada’s criminal code" reports: 
On Thursday, three federal Conservative backbenchers said they had asked the RCMP to initiate one of the largest homicide investigations in its history.
Involving as many as 600 victims — more than even the 1985 Air India bombing — the investigation proposed by the MPs would implicate virtually every major hospital in Canada, as well as hundreds of nurses, doctors and medical staff.
To justify such a gargantuan effort, they said, the police need look no further than the government’s own ledgers: an obscure Statistics Canada number dug up last October by an anti-abortion activist showing that, each year, about 50 fetuses are “born alive” during late-term abortions.
“These incidents appear to be homicides,” wrote MPs Maurice Vellacott, Leon Benoit and Wladyslaw Lizon, in their Jan. 23 letter to the RCMP commissioner.
The MPs are right about the fact that between 2000 and 2009, 491 aborted fetuses indeed exhibited “evidence of life” following their removal from the womb — be it a momentary heartbeat, a sudden gasp or, in rare cases, crying.
In response, abortion advocates are already claiming (before any investigation has begun, mind you) that these babies were "allowed to pass away," as opposed to being deliberately killed after birth Gosnell-style. But of course, their deaths are quite deliberate. That is what abortion means. (Abortion advocates are also calling for a reform of the death certificate system to cover up the existence of abortion survivors.)

If the fatal injury is inflicted inside the womb, but the victim dies outside the womb, does that timing make a difference either legally or ethically? If so, shouldn't these babies be treated with the emergency care that a prematurely born infant not targeted for destruction would receive? Or if not, why not allow infanticide outright?

The Members of Parliament are right to call for an investigation of these 491+ homicides. I hope those babies receive some justice. But those babies who died a few weeks earlier, a few inches closer to the cervix, a moment short of their first breath — those babies deserve justice too.

This homicide investigation has the potential to awaken the Canadian conscience on abortion generally.  You can bet the abortion industry will fight it tooth and nail and smear everyone involved in the investigation as a Bible-thumping misogynist.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Gosnell trailer hints at film's treatment of religion

The trailer for Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Killer dropped yesterday, and it looks awesome:

About a minute and a half in, Gosnell's lawyer blasts the lead detective as "an overly zealous, Catholic investigator." That is immediately followed by the detective (in another scene) protesting "Is that what you want to make this about?" All well and good; this appears to be a solid depiction of the traditional pro-choice strategy of hiding behind religious distractions whenever the violence of abortion is exposed.

But that message is potentially undermined by the next frame: "Find the faith." Granted, the word "faith" doesn't always carry a supernatural connotation. It could, for instance, refer to finding faith in the justice system (which would be consistent with the companion texts, "Find the strength" and "Find the truth"). I hope that's the case. I hope the filmmakers haven't used their platform to proselytize. This story is too important.

We'll find out when Gosnell is released on October 12. If you want to support the movie's promotional efforts, you can do so here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

New school year, new brochures!

Attention pro-life student leaders: Secular Pro-Life has just redesigned its signature brochure, Why Should Non-Christians Care About Abortion?, and we want to send you some free copies!

The brochure covers the science of when human life begins, the human rights and equality argument against abortion, and the diversity of the pro-life movement. New to this version, we've included quotes by abortionists admitting to the violence of abortion (thank you Sarah Terzo of ClinicQuotes!), updated statistics about non-religious Americans against abortion (there are 12.8 million of us!), and debunked the popular-at-the-moment-because-what's-old-is-new-again argument that legal abortion is necessary for women's health. Not bad for a two-sided folded piece of paper!

Secular Pro-Life has always had a soft spot for campus activists, and we make these publications with you in mind. To claim your freebies for the fall semester, email with the subject line "Request for Brochures." Be sure to include the name of your school, the name of your student organization, your position in the group (president, vice president, secretary, etc.), and of course your mailing address. We'll send you as many brochures as will fit in a small USPS flat rate box. 

You can also get brochures from us in person. Find us in California and Pennsylvania this fall. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Attacks on Ultrasound are Attacks on Women's Health

Christian author Rebecca Todd Peters released a book this year entitled Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice. In the book, she argues that abortion is a moral, ethical solution to a problem pregnancy. She supports legal abortion up until birth.

Although some of the things Peters says about poverty and abortion rates is spot on, the book is filled with inaccuracies. This blog post is the first of a series, in which I'm going to debunk many of her claims.

Peters is very much against pro-life laws requiring doctors to tell women facts about fetal development and abortion's risks. But what really bothers her are laws requiring abortion facilities to perform sonograms. In some states, informed consent or "Women's Right to Know" laws require the abortionist to do an ultrasound and offer the woman a chance to see it.  Peters argues that this is a violation of women's rights. She quotes pro–abortion writer Rick Ungar claiming:
An ultrasound…is not standard practice for determining gestational age. This use of ultrasonography is at odds with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which is stated that ultrasonography should only be performed when there is a valid medical indication.
He does not cite any source to back up his claim that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes pre-abortion ultrasounds. The claim is wild and inaccurate. Ultrasounds are standard practice in abortion facilities. They make abortion safer.

A major textbook on abortion clearly says this. Dr. Warren Hern is a late-term abortionist who is been in practice for many decades. He wrote the abortion training manual Abortion Practice. The book is intended to train future abortionists. On page 70, Hern says:
Sonographic examination [before abortions] is invaluable for a variety of reasons. Aside from more accurate assessment of fetal age than other methods, it provides information concerning fetal presentation, placental location, multiple gestations, and such unexpected conditions as hydatidiform mole, myomas, uterine structural abnormalities, and extrauterine lesions (e.g. ovarian cysts). Many of these data can affect clinical management in important ways.
While ultrasound is not perfect, it appears to be considerably more accurate for determining fetal age than are menstrual dates and even a careful examination by an experienced physician.
A major study also shows that the majority of abortion centers use ultrasound. According to a study in the medical journal Contraception, 99% of Planned Parenthood facilities perform ultrasounds before abortion – regardless of the law.

What is so onerous, then, about ultrasounds? If abortion facilities already do them anyway, why do they oppose these laws so strenuously? The simple answer is that they don't want to show the ultrasound to the woman, out of fear that she will change her mind.

For the Supreme Court case Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, an affidavit was submitted highlighting the stories of 3,348 women who had abortions. All of these women were harmed emotionally or physically by their abortions, and many of them wrote about abortion clinic workers who lied or withheld information. Several wrote about how abortion workers refused to show them the ultrasound. One woman said:
They [abortion workers] don’t go into specific detail. I think that would scare you and you would back out. I also was not allowed to see the screen during the ultrasound and they did not share the results with me. The pain I endured from the time the dilation began and then through the actual procedure was alarming and VERY unexpected.
Another said:
I was not informed of the procedure, what it really involved and I wanted to see a sonogram and was refused. I was told I would bleed like a period but it was much, much more than that, I experienced a lot of cramping and was very depressed afterwards.
Another woman wrote in an online magazine that she was denied a chance to see an ultrasound:
The day of the abortion I showed up uneasily to the clinic. My boyfriend was there and waited in the waiting room. I went back when I was called into the ultrasound room. The technician started my ultrasound to find out how far along I was. It was January 7, 2006. The worst day of my life. I was seven weeks pregnant. I was experiencing morning sickness. I would later find out my baby had fingers toes a face and a heartbeat. That day I asked through tears to see the ultrasound. I was told no by the technician. I was told the only purpose was to date my pregnancy. I wasn’t allowed to see it. I asked through tears if the baby looked ok, or had a heartbeat. The technician told me she wasn’t allowed to disclose information like that.
Former abortion workers and abortionists have also admitted that they hid ultrasound screens from women. Dr. Joseph Randall, a former abortionist who is now pro-life, says: “They [the women] are never allowed to look at the ultrasound because we knew that if they so much as heard the heartbeat, they wouldn’t want to have an abortion.”

Another abortion worker, when asked about ultrasounds, said: “We didn’t show it to them. The idea was to keep their anxiety at a lower level.”

A woman denied a chance to see an ultrasound, who is not informed about the development of her baby, can suffer severe emotional trauma when she finds out the truth. One teenager who was not given accurate information at an abortion facility was horrified when she learned how developed her baby was:
In my junior year health class I found out that my baby had developed to the point of looking like a person with arms, legs, and a head. And she could feel pain. That knowledge will haunt me for the rest of my life… I would trade every success and milestone in my life to have her back.
Another woman, who regretted her abortion, says that she would not have aborted had she known the truth:
I know that my “story” would have ended differently had there been a pregnancy center to go to ... I know that I would’ve chosen life for my baby had I seen a sonogram, heard a heartbeat, and had more facts.
Fortunately, crisis pregnancy centers are there for some women. Much-maligned by pro-abortion activists and abortion workers, these centers show women their ultrasounds and tell them the truth.
One woman spoke out about her experience at a crisis pregnancy center:
I went to the sonogram appointment at Burleson Pregnancy Aid Center even though I had already been to Planned Parenthood and thought that abortion was right for me. But when I looked at the sonogram screen, I knew that I had been lied to. What I saw on the screen was not a “piece of tissue” like Planned Parenthood had told me. The tiny flicker of light, a heartbeat, was my child. I was instantly in love.
I would have been lost without the guidance of the Pregnancy Aid Center. Through their programs I learned how to care for my infant daughter. I would not be the person I am today if it hadn’t been for the caring people of the Burleson Pregnancy Aid Center and the experiences I’ve had there. Without them, my daughter would not be alive and I cannot imagine my life without her.
The reason groups like Planned Parenthood rally their pro-choice supporters to fight ultrasound laws is not because ultrasounds are invasive or unnecessary, despite what they tell their followers. Rather, it is because they do not want women to know how developed their babies are. This would lead to fewer women choosing abortion, which would be disastrous for them.

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

Monday, August 13, 2018

Healing after a coerced abortion

Last week, Slate's parenting advice column featured a heartbreaking letter from a woman who had an abortion at the insistence of her boyfriend, only to see the relationship fall apart. 
My partner and I have been together for 2.5 years. We have built a very strong, loving, and committed relationship. My almost 5-year-old daughter has called him daddy, of her own accord, for the past two years. They love each other dearly. We do not live together, but spend most evenings/weekends together as a family. We were not officially engaged, but frequently discussed our two-year plan for work, school, living arrangements, marriage, and eventually a child together.
Four weeks ago, my partner lost his job and filed for unemployment for the first time. This was very difficult for him. I did my best to console him and also assure him that he would find a position soon and could use his time on unemployment to focus on himself, his career goals, and educational goals. Less than one week later I found out I was pregnant, despite birth control. Regardless of our rocky financial situation, I was very happy. I assumed we would both buckle down, save as much as possible, and move in together sooner than we planned. I was already a single mother through my first pregnancy and lived on my own. I know that where there is a will, there is a way. My daughter is thriving, and we live a blessed life despite my being a “broke student.” I understood that our financial situation was precarious, but not something we couldn’t overcome. I have had an excellent career in finance prior to going back to school and am more than confident in my ability to return to work and put my Ph.D. dreams on hold. That would obviously be a huge sacrifice, but one I would certainly make for my unborn child.
At first, we discussed plans in preparation for our new arrival. However, my partner “came clean” a few days later that he did not want to keep our baby. He repeatedly told me it was in everyone’s best interest to abort the child. I was heartbroken. How could killing our baby be in its best interest? We aren’t drug addicts, criminals, or homeless people. We are two able-bodied and educated adults with high ambitions. I told him that if he forced me to abort the child I would not be able to forgive him, and it would be the end of our relationship. He insisted. So, I had an abortion, and two weeks out I feel as if my life is over. I know I need to seek therapy to deal with my grief.
I want to know if I made the right decision in leaving the relationship. We argue constantly, more so me yelling at him. He is trying to be here for me, love me, support me, and I tear him down. I cannot stop being angry with him. I cannot stop feeling that he couldn’t love me or care about our future while simultaneously forcing me to abort the baby I wanted, knowing how I felt. I am the emotional one and he is the logical one by nature, this is fact. Still, I am not sure if my emotions are solely driving my decisions or if they are justified and logical. Was he selfish and wrong to force me to do this? Or did I make a mistake, and should I give him a second chance? When I try to imagine our future (post-abortion), a marriage to him, and eventually a child, it hurts so badly.
The response, by Carvell Wallace, makes some good points. He expresses sympathy for what the letter-writer is going through, tells her that recovery "is not a matter of weeks or months but a matter of years," validates her anger, gently pushes back against her "emotional one versus logical one" characterizations, and advises that "you cannot have a healthy relationship with someone for whom you feel this much seething rage. For that reason alone, it is better for the two of you to be apart." All of that is solid.

But Slate is a pro-choice publication, and that prevents any direct acknowledgment of the problem. Mr. Wallace writes in general terms about the "loss" of the child (I was pleasantly surprised he dared to say "child"), but he doesn't really treat the abortion as a death, let alone a killing. He locates the root of the problem not in the fact that letter-writer's partner pushed her to destroy their offspring, but in the fact that the letter-writer failed to adequately resist. He also frames resistance in terms of standing up for personal values, rather than for the child's life:
However: It doesn’t sound from your letter like your partner “forced” you to have an abortion. It sounds as though you made a decision to have an abortion in order to preserve a relationship in which you were otherwise feeling very happy and hopeful. And quite unfortunately you are finding that the pain of the lost child is making it impossible for you to be happy in that relationship. It is a tragedy in the very purest sense.
I mentioned that your recovery from this will take time, but I also want to talk about how it might take shape. It is a very specific kind of personality challenge to agree to do things in order to please other people, and then to resent those people for making you do those things. This is something you will need to slowly and methodically untangle if you are ever to have a healthy and working relationship, be it with this man whom you love, or with anyone else, including your daughter. There are 12-step programs like CoDA and Al-Anon that address this, and there are books like Codependent No More that do as well. This is also something you should explore deeply and openly with your therapist.
You deserve to follow a path in your life that is in line with your values. And there is no person, and no partner, who should have the power to keep you from that. This experience, though excruciating, can be life-changing. It can, if you let it, force you to examine the underlying issues that helped bring you to this point. You talked about being afraid of losing your partner. But I think what you should be most afraid of losing is any more years of your life spent pleasing people at your expense. You deserve better. My heart is with you.
Abortion coercion comes in many forms. Force doesn't always involve violence or the threat of violence; emotional manipulation is sometimes just as powerful. Mr. Wallace's approach here is victim-blaming. He has relatively little in the way of condemnation for the partner who precipitated the child's death, but wants the letter-writer to embark on a 12-step program to stop being a pushover. And naturally, recommendations for programs actually tailored for post-abortive regret are nowhere to be found in his response, because they are operated almost exclusively by the pro-life community.

How desperately do I wish that the letter-writer had sought advice before the abortion. Now one child is dead, another has lost the man she called her father, and a mother must grieve not only the death of her child, but also her involvement in that death and the loss of a long-term relationship, all at once. That is a tall order.

But hey, empowerment! Women's rights! Abortion is a family value! Right? Pay no attention to the devastation behind the curtain.

What advice to you have for the letter-writer? If you are post-abortive and your partner was coercive, what does your healing look like?

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

We asked, you answered: What are best practices for online debate?

Last week we asked our Facebook followers to give their advice for online debating. Dozens of people responded. Here is a sampling of the answers:

Ask questions:

Kelly F: Ask questions. Whether you get an answer or not, the thought is bouncing around in their minds.

Mary H:  Ask questions of the other party so they have to clarify their position. Usually ends up with me being called names after they realize their argument doesn't hold water, but questions tend to keep it more civil for longer.

Michael C: Ask questions to your opponent. Let them figure it out on their own by asking questions. If they come up with the answer on their own it's more likely to stick.

Be calm and polite:

Emily D: Never, ever resort to ad hominem attacks and always keep an even tone. Back up your arguments with logic, reason, and facts.

Toby E: Discuss the ideas, not the presenters. Be polite. Don't regurgitate fallacies.

Respect the other person:

Andie P: Assume the best intentions from everyone. Argue from reason, not emotion.

Jared N: Clarify terms. I'm amazed at how many people don't know what abortion is. Be utterly merciful. Most people are defending family, friends, or themselves who have had an abortion.

Krista W: Look at things from their point of view too. There's a reason they feel the way they do.

Recognize who you're talking to:

Regina G: Argue to convince the observers, not the opponent.

Jenni C: When someone is not going to listen, not share sources and discuss them like adults, only make insults or name call at all: block them and move on. Do not waste your time. Unfortunately that will be 90% of them but you’ll then be able to reach those willing to listen and open minded to change.

JoAnn S: Only discuss when people are honest and not just baiting and hating.

Melanie S: Other people are watching. You may feel frustrated with the person you are talking to, but you can change someone else's mind.

Or maybe don't bother at all:
Carie C: Don't do it.

Sarah E, Connor C, Christopher F, William A: Don't.

Esa H: Avoid it.

Chris L: Don't debate online.

Matthias A: I don't do it. I post my opinions and tell anyone who wants to argue I'll meet them in real life to discuss over a nice cup of tea.

And other advice:

Jeanette H:  Throw in a bit of humour where appropriate, add smilies. I've got an accent, and have found debating in an international forum that what I think something sounds like tends to come across as something far worse to those from other countries. Smilies can help clarify the tone you're using.

Julie D: Be committed for the long haul...

Alex B: Point out areas of agreement first. For example, I was there when both of my children were born so I totally agree that women sacrifice a lot to carry a pregnancy to term. I agree that women should have equal access to education and careers. I agree that parenting isn’t for everyone.

Monday, August 6, 2018

#Justice4Life Tour Schedule Announced

Attention pro-life advocates in Indiana, Missouri, Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Alaska, and Colorado! Students for Life of America is bringing its #Justice4Life bus tour to your cities this week. #Justice4Life urges U.S. Senators to confirm Justice Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Check out the schedule below (all times local).

TODAY, Monday, August 6

Indianapolis Event—9:45 a.m.
Sen. Joe Donnelly's Office
115 N. Pennsylvania Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Terre Haute Event—12:15 p.m.
Vigo County Courthouse
Ohio St. and Hwy 41
Terre Haute, IN

Lafayette Event—3:15 p.m.
Tippecanoe County Courthouse
301 Main St.
Lafayette, IN 47901

TOMORROW, Tuesday, August 7

Springfield Event—10:00 a.m. 
Sen. Claire McCaskill's Office 
324 Park Central W 
Springfield, MO 65806 

The Missouri GOP primary is also taking place August 7. One of the candidates, Austin Petersen, is a pro-life agnostic; his primary opponent, Josh Hawley, is a pro-life Protestant. The winner of that primary will go on to face Sen. McCaskill in the general election.

Wednesday, August 8

Annapolis Event—10:00 a.m. 
Lawyer's Mall
Annapolis, MD 

Columbia Event—10:30 a.m. 
28 N. 8th St.
Columbia, MO 65201 

Jacksonville Event—11:00 a.m. 
Sen. Marco Rubio's Office
300 N Hogan St.
Jacksonville, FL 32202 

Thursday, August 9

St. Louis Event—9:00 a.m.
Sen. Claire McCaskill’s Office
5850 Delmar Blvd. 
St. Louis, MO 63112 

Martinsburg Event—10:30 a.m. 
Sen. Joe Manchin's Office 
217 W. King St.
Martinsburg, WV 25401

Philadelphia Event—11:00 a.m.
Senator Bob Casey Jr.'s Office 
2000 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Pittsburgh Event—11:00 a.m. 
Pittsburgh City Hall 
414 Grant St. 
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Fairbanks Event—11:00 a.m.
516 1st Ave. 
Fairbanks, AK 99701

Denver Event—3:00 p.m. 
200 E. Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80203

Friday, August 3, 2018

Non-religious pro-life population grows to 12.8 million

There are 12.8 million non-religious pro-lifers in the United States. That's equal to the population of Illinois! And it's a huge jump from just five years ago, when you may remember that Secular Pro-Life ran a visibility campaign touting 6 million non-religious pro-life Americans.

How did this happen?

First, let's show our work. As of 2017, there were 55.8 million Americans with no religious affiliation. The Pew Research Center Forum on Religion and Public Life reports that among the unaffiliated, 23% say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. 55.8 million times 0.23 is 12.8 million.

The growth in the secular pro-life population is due to at least three factors:

1. More people are leaving religion. In 2012, there were approximately 46 million Americans who answered religion surveys as atheist, agnostic, or "nothing in particular." That number has continued to rise. As there are more secular people, there are naturally bound to be more pro-life secular people. That would be true even if the percentage of "nones" opposed to abortion remained unchanged. But in fact...

2. More non-religious people are taking a pro-life stance. Back when we ran the "6 million" campaign, we pointed to Gallup polls showing that between 15% and 19% of non-religious Americans were pro-life. We're now up to 23%, a gain of 4 to 8 percentage points. Don't get us wrong: we still have a long way to go. But to make that gain despite extremely limited funds and media attention is definitely something to celebrate. (Want to keep the momentum going? Please donate!

3. Non-religious pro-lifers were previously under-counted. At the time of the "6 million" campaign, the data suggested a true number of between 6.9 and 8.7 million. We rounded down in an abundance of caution because at the time we were a young organization and lacked the know-how to fend off pro-choice P.R. attacks. 

The next time you hear someone equate opposition to abortion with religious dogmatism; the next time a national commentator erases your existence; the next time a group that claims to speak for all secular people advocates for abortion on demand; remember that you have backup. We are 12.8 million strong. The abortion industry ignores us at its peril.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Democratic Party Needs Pro-Lifers

In the 45 years since Roe v. Wade, the Democratic Party has never had less control in Washington D.C. than it does now. Interestingly, the Democratic Party has also never had a more radical position on abortion. The official Democratic Party platform states:
Every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion... We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide critical health services to millions of people. We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.
In short, the platform advocates for taxpayer-funded abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy for any reason whatsoever. The policy could not be more extreme than that. Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) believes the DNC’s radical position on abortion is largely responsible for the recent decline of the Democratic Party.

In DFLA’s position paper titled, “Open the Big Tent,” they note that 25 state legislatures are currently under complete GOP control, but only six are under complete Democrat control. The DFLA report also notes that the Democrats do not control a single legislative chamber in the South.

However, there is a lone bright spot for southern Democrats. John Bel Edwards, the governor of Louisiana, is a pro-life Democrat who recently signed a bill banning abortion after 15 weeks gestational age. As DFLA notes, Democrats have completely lost control of the South, but pro-life Democrats like Edwards prove this does not have to be the case. Democrats could win more elections in the South, but they need pro-life candidates to appeal to the South’s pro-life voters. The success of Governor Edwards and the failure of pro-choice Democrats in the rest of the South confirms this. 

Furthermore, the DNC’s position on abortion fails to reflect the views of their own voters. According to the Washington Times, 61 percent of Democrats support limiting legal abortion to the first three months of pregnancy. The New York Times “Abortion Memo” from February notes that only 24 percent of young voters support abortion under all circumstances. And earlier this month, the Washington Post stated Democrats must change to appeal to the overwhelming majority of Americans who oppose late-term abortion, noting that “armies don’t shrink their way to victory.” 

The DNC party platform is terribly out of touch with American beliefs on abortion, and Democrats have suffered massive losses because of this. If the Democratic Party wants to gain political power, they must appeal to more voters by “opening the big tent” and welcoming pro-life candidates

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