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Friday, April 16, 2021

The importance of being a parent when children won't live long after birth

Editor's note: We believe it's important for more of the public to be aware of perinatal hospice services. We recently published overviews of what perinatal hospice entails and state laws regarding patient notification of perinatal hospice options. In today's post, guest blogger Leslie Corbly summarizes a recent article published in The Journal of Pediatric Nursing: "Being a parent: Findings from a grounded theory of memory-making in neonatal end-of-life care," which details ways to help parents process and grieve their children who live only a short time after birth. Everyone grieves differently. There's no right or wrong way. But we hope this information will help more parents who may not know how to process or what to do.

Photo credit: Pixabay from Pexels

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This research article deals with neonatal palliative care guidelines which increasingly encourage parents to (1) provide care to their dying babies, and (2) spend time with their babies before and after death. The purpose of this specific article was to explore and better understand how parental actions of providing care and spending time with their dying babies impacted the memory-making process of the grieving parents.

Although globally millions of babies die within the first month after birth, most parents grieving such a loss face a unique challenge because their grief is rarely recognized by society, meaning it is rarely publicly acknowledged, mourned or socially supported. This “disenfranchised grief” makes it more difficult for parents to find appropriate ways to create meaning during the emotional turmoil inherent in losing an infant.

The acts of spending time with the baby before and after death, as well as caring for the baby in a paternal manner—such as bathing, dressing, and holding the child—transform the intangible nature of such a loss into a tangible engagement between parent and child. This article focuses specifically on creating a substantive theory of memory-making in neonatal end-of-life care. In doing so it relies on a study from 2015 grounded in the theory of “affirmed parenthood.” The core of affirmed parenthood relies on three psychosocial procedures: (1) creating evidence, (2) being guided, and (3) being a parent. When a parent losing a baby engages in these three processes, the parent is able to create strong memories and images associated with the child, rely upon those who can help the parent to engage with the baby despite fear, and accept the role of parent, even in the brief period of the baby’s life.

Researchers used a qualitative method and interviewed couples who had faced the trauma of losing a baby during the neonatal time period. Parents spoke candidly of the importance of having time spent with their child. One parent noted the “precious” nature of the time spent with his child. Even though he only had an hour and a half with his baby, this time provided him the ability to say goodbye to his child. A mother who lost her twin children described the time spent with them as humanizing, allowing her to see her babies as “real people” rather than “just something that happened.” Indeed, this time made her children “a real part of our lives, and not just this bad thing that happened in the hospital one time.”

No parents interviewed expressed regret spending time with their baby just prior to, or even after, death. In fact, having the opportunity to touch and hold the baby was a memory parents cherished. One mother described the profound emotional impact of having the opportunity to nurse her child prior to his untimely death, “[h]olding him was huge. Huge.” A grieving father recalled the importance of cuddling his baby: “We had many cuddles. Up on our chests, in our arms. We cuddled heaps…Physical touch was very important.” The simple act of holding the baby gives parents the ability to engage with their child in a unique manner. One mother described studying every detail of her children, a memory she still clings to, “I can still close my eyes and see their faces eight years later.”

Although holding, touching, and otherwise engaging with the child were important aspects of taking on the role of parent and seeing the child as a unique individual, caring for the child in tangible ways, such as bathing, also proved to be an important and cathartic experience for parents. One parent described the act in a simple, yet profound manner, “I’m really, really glad we got to bathe him.” For parents who were unable to bathe their child, this can be a source of further grief and regret. One parent describes longing for the chance to bathe his baby, even after the baby’s untimely death. One mother recalls similar longings, reiterating that the chance to bathe her child was something she desired.

Clothing is also a way in which parents can meaningfully engage with their child. One parent recalled her desire to utilize the baby clothing made by her mother. Another recalled going through a pack of clothing at the hospital with the assistance of her nurse and piecing together an outfit for her child based on what she wanted her child to be adorned in. Unfortunately, some parents found a lack of control over the clothing of their child as a source of regret. One parent described feeling as though her desire to cloth her child in preferred clothing rather than the clothing on hand at the hospital was “superficial,” yet important “I really wanted him in the clothes that I had,” she said.

Parents engaged with their children in various ways to form bonds with their infants. Parents sang, read, and spoke to their children as a way of engaging with them and building a bond where the parent could see their child as a unique individual while also solidifying their role as the child’s parent in a tangible manner. In this way the parents were able to overcome the feelings of helplessness by doing something for and with their child, even if the action was as simple as singing a nighttime song. Parents were able to transform their experiences and become the parents to their vulnerable babies, despite the short time they had.

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Help make sure parents know the options available to them: advocate for perinatal hospice notifcation in your state. Read more here, from HowToBeProLife.com.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

We Asked, You Answered: How Former Pro-Choicers Changed Their Minds

We asked our Facebook followers: "For those of you who used to be pro-choice, what made you change your mind?" The post blew up, with hundreds of thoughtful comments. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Jamie S.: Actually listening to pro-life people instead of just dismissing them, and researching the science of the developing embryo as my unborn baby developed inside of me. I began questioning what I was actually fighting for - what could be more important than the tiny little life that was growing inside of me, whose sole protector was me?

Bradley B.: I hate to admit this but it was one of those great big billboards showing baby remains on my college campus. In my case it was an arm and a torso next to a dime. It was just so visceral and made me truly stop and consider what we are doing.

Maribel L.: First sonogram of my little bean, who we then lost. Completely solidified when I saw my 26 weeker grow in an incubator. I saw his eyelashes grow out during his stay. You can't convince me that is NOT a person in the womb, no matter the gestational age.

Tess S.: Basically realizing that it was inconsistent to support abortion being legal only in the first trimester if abortion needs to be available because of bodily autonomy. I never agreed with late-term abortion but I thought it should be legal in the first trimester. Eventually I came to realize that the only really consistent positions to take was either the pro-life position or allow abortion basically up until birth. I thought about how generally speaking we see humans as valuable because of what they are, regardless of ability or age.

Chad K.: Science made me change my mind.

KC K.: Hearing conversion stories from former abortionists, especially Dr. Bernard Nathanson.

Lynn W.: Found out how MANY abortions were done, and then decided one was too many, after befriending numerous women who experienced long-lasting trauma from their abortions.

William A.: Their rhetoric is convincing if you don't think about it. The "abortions will still happen even if you make them illegal" was convincing to me for a long time till I realized if we apply that logic equally nothing may as well be illegal.

Stefan S.: I used to say to myself "I personally would never want anyone I'm with to have an abortion, but everyone else has that choice." But I slowly came to the realization that morality can't be fluid. It's a fixed idea. Therefore if I believed it was wrong for myself, it must be wrong for everyone. Arrogant, I know, but that was really only the first step.

Elise M.: I used to be pro-choice in that I saw abortion as killing, but I reasoned that sometimes killing is justified (like in self-defense). Then, once I explored the actual reasons that someone would need to end a pregnancy in order to save their life, I quickly realized that abortion was never medically necessary. In a medical emergency, it's far quicker to deliver a baby via c-section, than to perform a late-term abortion. I also learned that most life-threatening medical complications in pregnancy occur later on, when an abortion is actually full-on labor and delivery of a dead baby. This completely changed my mind and made me see that abortion was never necessary. Even if the baby would certainly die if delivered early, it's still acceptable if the life of the mom is at stake. What's not acceptable is killing the baby first and then delivering it. What nonsense.

Lisa D.: When safe, legal, and rare became commonplace, desirable, and celebrated.

Robert W.: Becoming a mortician. When you deal with death every day you realize how valuable all lives are, at every stage of development.

Peggy A.: The total subjectivity and intellectual dissonance of - if the baby is wanted it's tragic if there's miscarriage but if the pregnancy is unplanned ... completely ok and even celebrated to end the baby's life. My own deep grief - when I couldn’t even describe it as that - testified to the inherent worth of my child's life.

Come to the light side. We have cool signs and even cooler people.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Women Share Experiences at Deceptive Abortion Facilities

The documentary Life After Abortion features testimonies from post-abortive women. 

One woman described a worker’s anger when she looked at the ultrasound screen: 

[I] turned to look at the screen and thought, "That looks like a baby." Well, she got very upset and yelled at me, and said, "Turn around, don't you dare look at that!”

Ultrasound at 7 weeks, 2 days
Another woman says, "As I was watching the monitor, the nurse and the doctor asked me not to watch. They turned the monitor away."

A third woman asked to see her ultrasound:

As the nurse was performing the ultrasound, I watched her, and she was looking at my baby on the monitor. And I asked her, I said, "Can I see my baby?" And she took the monitor, literally, with her hands, and turned it away from me.

Another woman believes the abortion worker deceived her:

[T]hey had the screen turned away from me. And I asked to see it. And she said, "I don't think it's a good idea." 

I told her, no, I really wanted to see it before I went through with it.

So, she ran the probe across my stomach, turned the screen toward me, and showed me a dot on the screen. I thought, "That's it? Well, I can do this.”…

I bought the lie. I now know she didn't show me my baby. She just showed me a dot on the screen so that I would go through with the abortion.

One woman told the following story:

They proceeded to tell me that I was too far along in my pregnancy to have what they called an "easy" abortion, that I was going to have to take a two-day procedure, they were actually going to put me into labor, and the word surgery was used. I began to get frightened. I told them I couldn't stay two days for this procedure. My parents did not even know I was pregnant, and I had to go home that night. 

Just before I got to the car, someone from the office staff came running after me and said, "Wait, wait, we made a mistake! We'll take care of your problem, you'll be gone in 30 minutes, and you'll never think about this day again." I followed them back in because I believed them.

This facility's fear of losing a customer, and their decision to do a two-day procedure in 20 minutes, could have destroyed this woman's chances of ever carrying a baby to term. 

In a late-term abortion, a woman's cervix must be dilated wider than in an earlier abortion because the baby is bigger and must pass through it, either whole (in an induction procedure) or in pieces (in a D&E). Dilating the cervix quickly could traumatize it to the point where it cannot function properly in a future pregnancy, causing miscarriage or premature birth. 

Another woman said, "They explained to me that it was a blob. That it wasn't anything yet."

A woman who had doubts about her abortion said the following:

The nurse asked me if I was okay with the procedure, and I said, no I really wasn't, because it seemed like it was killing a baby. But they all looked very professional. They showed me a filmstrip of, just, blobs of tissue. So, I thought, "They're the adults. They're the professionals. This must be okay." So, I went ahead with the procedure.

Another woman said:

There was no concern. "Why are you upset?" They just kept telling me, "It's okay. It's a blob of tissue. You're a college student, you have your whole life ahead of you. You already have one child."

Another woman was lied to about her baby’s development:

And she told me that it wasn't even a baby yet, that it was just a clump of cells. And I didn’t know anything about fetal development, so I believed her. And, in fact, I felt relieved because I thought, "Well, if it's not a baby yet, then I'm not doing anything wrong."

Another woman said, "They said it was easy, they said it was simple. You know, you write your check for $300, and all your problems are solved. I wish someone had told me what really happens."

An abortion worker put an arm around an ambivalent woman and led her into the procedure room:

I felt almost like I was being pushed in there. She didn't want to help me. She wanted me to have this done, and she wanted to make sure I wasn't going to leave. This lady got what she wanted.

Another woman changed her mind on the abortion table and sat up, only to be pushed back down by a worker and told abortion was best for her. She gave up and submitted to the abortion.

Other women and workers have described similar behavior

Abortion facilities make money only if women go through with their abortions. They don't make any money from women who change their minds and walk out the door. Therefore, they have a vested interest in encouraging women to have abortions. 

These testimonies are only a tiny fraction of the thousands of stories from post-abortive women who have experienced dishonesty and/or coercion in abortion facilities. 

Pro-choice activists accuse crisis pregnancy centers of deceiving women. They make sweeping generalizations based on questionable claims of fraud from a few "undercover" pro-choicers who visited pregnancy centers with the intention of discrediting them. But the pro-choice movement refuses to address the many, many accounts of women who were deceived in abortion facilities

[Today's guest article is by Sarah Terzo. Sarah is a pro-life atheist, a frequent contributor to Live Action News, a board member of the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, and the force behind ClinicQuotes.com. She has a free short pro-life e-booklet that exposes the abortion industry, which you can download here.]

Friday, April 9, 2021

Tomorrow: Save Hyde Day of Action!

Today at the National Press Club, a coalition led by our very own Terrisa Bukovinac (in her role at Democrats for Life of America) will hold a press conference promoting tomorrow's Save Hyde Day of Action. Terrisa's prepared remarks follow. Action events are taking place in 20 cities nationwide; find the one closest to you here

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Every year for forty-five years, Congress has passed the Hyde Amendment with consistent bipartisan support. The Hyde Amendment stops taxpayer money from funding abortion in government health programs. This common sense measure protects the consciences of the majority of Americans—not only people of faith, but also atheists like myself—who do not want their hard-earned money to destroy human life. 

The Hyde Amendment is also one of the most effective abortion prevention policies we have. To date, the Hyde Amendment has saved the lives of over 2.4 million Americans. This is personal. I know people who are alive today because of the Hyde Amendment. Statistically, you probably do too. These are our neighbors, family members, co-workers, and friends. 

But where we see precious human beings, the abortion industry sees billions in lost revenue. The Biden Administration’s despicable attack on the Hyde Amendment is an attack on the most vulnerable among us: babies conceived in low-income families. 

Gallup polls consistently show that low-income people are more pro-life than the wealthy, and people of color oppose abortion more than white people. If it were up to the communities most impacted by the abortion industry, the Hyde Amendment would not only be safe in this year’s budget: it would be made permanent. We know that repealing the Hyde Amendment isn’t about racial or economic justice. That’s a cynical ploy. What’s really going on here is simple: with abortion rates at record lows, and abortion centers shutting down left and right, they’re looking for a government bailout to keep their deadly business afloat! 

Already, Democrats in Congress failed to include Hyde Amendment protections in the COVID relief bill. They have irresponsibly allowed abortion businesses to exploit funding that should have helped Americans survive the pandemic. That is outrageous. 

The American people do not support taxpayer funding of abortion. When Democratic officials abandon their decades-long support for the Hyde Amendment, and cave to abortion extremists, they will feel the pain at the ballot box. 

Tomorrow, April 10, is the Save Hyde Day of Action. Across the country, people of all political persuasions, of every faith and none, will hold demonstrations to support the Hyde Amendment. This is just a first step in holding politicians accountable. We will not rest, and we will not be silenced. We will keep proclaiming the truth: the Hyde Amendment saves lives!

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

March Recap


 

Projects
Monica had a busy month. She researched and wrote this month's top post about some important findings from the Turnaway Study that thus far have received little publicity. She also solicited and edited guest blog posts regarding perinatal hospice. But most of all Monica has been hard at work on the upcoming How to Be Pro-Life website. Her goal is a list of at least 52 ideas before website launch, and in March she researched and wrote two dozen entries, bringing her to a total of 43. With any luck the website will be ready to launch this month! If you want to follow that project, you can preemptively sign up on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Secular Pro-Life is gearing up to participate in a couple of events in April. Kelsey will be speaking at the 2021 Consistent Life Virtual Conference, taking place Saturday, April 24. Consider joining in by registering here. We also encourge you to get involved with the Save Hyde National Day of Action. Volunteers are needed, so please check out what you can do here.  



Get Involved.  Save Hyde!

Twitter
We gained 196 new followers, bringing us to 13,172 total. We sent 102 tweets, which were viewed 286,000 times, including this tweet, viewed 14,705 times about the flawed, common pro-choice response, "You can't force your religion on everyone else."


Facebook

We are at 32,950 followers on Facebook. Our content was viewed 265,604 times, including 19,517 views of this discussion:

Blogger
Our three most-read blog posts for March, in increasing order:Like what we do and have something to contribute? Consider writing a guest post. Guest posts help us cover a more diverse range of perspectives, topics, and experiences. If you have an idea for a piece you'd like to submit, please email us at info@secularprolife.org.
Thank you to our supporters
Thank you to those of you who donate to support SPL. We're run by dedicated volunteers who would not be able to devote our time and energy without your help. 

If you like our work, please consider donating: 

Paypal

If you don't use Paypal, you can also go to our Facebook page and click the blue "Donate" button under our cover photo on the right. 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Four Ways that Chemical Abortion and Telemedicine Will Change the Abortion Debate

A person in a yellow sweater using a laptop

Use of chemical abortions is increasing rapidly. So-called ‘medical’ abortions were almost one-third of the total in the US in 2016 – a vast number considering the Food and Drug Administration only approved the use of the ‘abortion pill’ in 2000. In many other countries chemical abortions are over fifty per cent of the total. In Ireland, over 98% of abortions are from pills taken in the first trimester. 

Telemedicine abortions are also on the rise – and COVID-19 has only hastened this process. With telemedicine, a woman seeking an abortion never physically meets a doctor for a consultation: it all happens online via video link or otherwise. Earlier in the year Ireland approved telemedicine abortions for the duration of the pandemic, and it’s unlikely that they’ll be completely abandoned after it’s over. 

The implications of the increased use of chemical abortion for the abortion debate are both huge and surprisingly under-discussed. Here are four ways that chemical abortions and telemedicine are likely to reshape the abortion debate as we know it.

#1: Abortion will become easier to access, and harder to regulate

It almost goes without saying, but as pill-induced abortions and telemedicine become increasingly the standard way to get an abortion, the barriers to getting an abortion will get lower. If you have to physically attend one or more appointments before getting an abortion, that’s more time to think about the decision.

If getting an abortion no longer involves going to a particular location but just involves issuing a pill via an online consultation, the whole process becomes harder to regulate. What abortion laws do exist will become more difficult to enforce – and as this low-friction form of abortion becomes standard there’ll be more pressure to remove laws like ones requiring waiting times.

#2: It will be even easier for men to force women into abortion

There have already been several reported cases of women being slipped abortion pills without their knowledge or consent: see for example this report in the Washington Post. For each crime like this that’s reported or even prosecuted, it’s probable that others go unnoticed. As chemical abortion and telemedicine become even more common, expect to see more “miscarriages” that are in fact forced abortions by the father.

#3: The marginalisation of the abortion ‘clinic’

The ‘abortion clinic’ currently occupies a central place in the abortion debate; think of the battles in US politics over abortion centre closures or in the UK over exclusion zones around facilities; think of the methods of pro-life activism such as sidewalk counselling that are based around reaching out to women going into facilities. Clinics also play a big role in the picture of abortion that exists in a lot of people’s imagination – think of the scene in Juno which depicts an abortion facility as a banal, indifferent place.

All of this will soon be largely a thing of the past. Abortion facilities already play little to no role in some jurisdictions: in Ireland abortions are mostly handled by GPs and hospitals, though there are a handful of clinics too. But even in those jurisdictions where most abortions are done by private providers, chemical abortions and telemedince will bring about radical changes. As they become more prevalent, the physical space of the facility will matter less and less to the practice of abortion. Pro-life work will have to respond: a set of strategies drawn up for the age of the abortion clinic won’t suffice in a post-clinic era. To take one example: as sidewalk counselling becomes less possible (even the good sort), pro-lifers will need to explore other avenues for reaching out to women and presenting them with alternative options.

#4: Images will become less relevant, and good arguments will become more so

Abortion pill abortions are early abortions. Babies at 9 weeks gestation look a bit less like born babies than babies at 16 weeks gestation do. What’s more, with telemedicine abortions there’s no opportunity for an ultrasound: it almost doesn’t matter what the baby looks like if you can’t see them.

One of the differences between abortion and some other human rights questions is the relative invisibility of the people whose rights are in question. Human beings are good at ignoring human rights abuses when they don’t have to look at them. 

For years the pro-life movement has put a lot of its faith in the power of increasingly accurate ultrasound images to reveal the humanity of the pre-born child. Those images have undoubtedly had a humanising effect: but as more abortions are done early and without ultrasounds being available, that effect may start to trail off rather than become more significant. Already, early abortions are the norm: in a survey of 40 high-income countries with permissive abortion laws, it was the case in a majority of the countries surveyed that around 90% of abortions happen before 13 weeks, and approximately two-thirds happen before 9 weeks.

An obvious implication of this is that ethical and philosophical arguments about the moral status of the fetus – like the equal rights argument – are going to become increasingly important to the abortion debate. This will only become more true as pregnancy tests become more and more able to identify a pregnancy early and chemical abortions get earlier and earlier. It was never the fact that a pre-born child looked human that granted them equal rights: making that clear will be all the more important as time goes on.

[Today's guest article is by Ben Conroy. Ben Conroy is committee member of The Minimise Project, a secular pro-life organisation from Ireland, which aims to reduce the abortion rate by enabling and facilitating better conversations about abortion between pro-life and pro-choice people. Check out their blog at theminimiseproject.ie.]

[Photo credit: Christin Hume on Unsplash]

[Help make sure chemical abortion pills don't end up in the wrong hands: report illegal distribution of abortion pills to the FDA. Read more here, from HowToBeProLife.com.]

Friday, April 2, 2021

Supreme Court Will Hear At Least Two Abortion Cases Next Term

The United States Supreme Court's next term will not start until October, but it is already shaping up to be one to watch! The Court has accepted two abortion-related cases for hearing. Although neither one is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, we can expect to receive important signals on where the Justices stand. The very fact that they accepted two abortion cases is a signal in itself; the Supreme Court only hears about 100 cases per term, declining the vast majority of appeals. Clearly, the newly appointed Justices are not afraid to take on a hot-button issue.

The first case, American Medical Association v. Cochran, concerns the federal Title X program, which funds family planning. The Trump administration implemented the "Protect Life Rule" to prevent Title X subsidies to abortion businesses and referral centers. As Catherine Glenn Foster of Americans United for Life eloquently puts it: "Title X is intended for family planning, not abortion. Abortion is not family planning. Abortion is always a violent act that ends the life of a distinct and valuable human person. The former administration made the right decision by clarifying the congressional intent of Title X that organizations that profit from abortion cannot receive taxpayer money."

The Biden administration is expected to kill the Protect Life Rule and turn the spigot of taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood back on, but that doesn't make the case moot. The Supreme Court's decision in Cochran could make it easier for the next pro-life administration to re-implement the rule, and strengthen the legal position of states looking to defund Planned Parenthood from their own programs. 

The second case concerns a procedural matter in the lawsuit over Kentucky's ban on dismemberment abortion (also known as dilation and evacuation or D&E). The law was passed in 2018 and has been tied up in the courts ever since. When an abortion supporter won Kentucky's governorship and declined to continue defending the law in court, the state's pro-life Attorney General, Daniel Cameron, stepped in. The question for the Supreme Court is whether AG Cameron's substitution was proper. If the Justices allow AG Cameron to keep up the good fight, perhaps it won't be his last time at the Court. 

[Photo credit: Claire Anderson on Unsplash]

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Pro-life chalk art caused Billie to start questioning her pro-choice views

[SPL recently received this note of encouragement from one of our supporters, and she gave us permission to publish it as a blog post.]

Photo credit: Evie Schwartzbauer

My name is Billie. I am a gay woman and my husband, Alan, is a transgender men, so we both grew up immersed in adamantly pro-choice social circles (as is common in the secular LGBT community). We held radically pro-choice views ourselves until early adulthood, and argued for abortion rights online, etc. I was whole life pro-life in most other areas (anti-death penalty, pro-social supports for struggling parents, even vegan), but not so with abortion.

In my first year of university, I saw some pro-life chalking on the wall outside the campus cafeteria. Specifically it was a statistic about the proportion of children with Down syndrome aborted. At first I dismissed it as a lie or at least exaggeration; I’d been taught to expect that most claims pro-lifers make are lies. I don’t remember what made me pause and do some research, but I was horrified to learn the statistic was true. I had worked with special needs kids my entire life (as had my mother), and I felt they already had enough working against them.

[Related post - When she got a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis, her doctor wouldn't stop suggesting abortion.]

It was a few months before I could bring myself to look up any more information. When I did, I learned more I had been misled about or had been wrong about. I was going through a paradigm shift.

This new knowledge made me really open to different perspectives. I started following both pro-choice and pro-life blogs. I saw more and more claims that both shocked me and were verifiably true. Previously I hadn’t seen ultrasound images or pictures of aborted fetuses. I didn’t know many of the statistics surrounding abortion. It was an eye-opening experience. Additionally, as I watched others debate online, I noticed pro-life advocates interacted with people with much more love and grace than the pro-choice people they were debating. (I know that's not necessarily true everywhere, but it was my experience.)

I had a traumatic childhood and grew up very cynical; I didn’t see much worth living for. But as I found my faith, developed secure relationships, went to therapy, etc, that pessimism started to change, and I came to view life as very precious and fragile. As I learned more about abortion, I would share with Alan, and it didn't take long for him to have a change of heart too.

Since then we've been advocates. We were involved in the pro-life club during and after university. We went to the annual March for Life with a "We're Here, We're Queer, We're Pro-Life" sign (the time we had tomatoes thrown at us!) 


We have several SPL bumper stickers on our car today. We genuinely think SPL has the most effective messages. You focus on science, common sense, and inclusivity. We feel welcome and accepted in your group, and we are so grateful. Secular Pro-Life is absolutely essential to the conversation, so thank you!

[Help spread pro-life messages by creating some chalk art yourself. Read more here, from HowToBeProLife.com.]

Monday, March 29, 2021

How to discuss the pro-life position with someone who's had an abortion

Two young women having a conversation

Secular Pro-Life supporter "M" emailed us to ask:

The one thing that prevents me from being more outspoken about my pro-life views is the awkwardness I feel when I know my conversation partner has had an abortion. I don't know how to navigate the conversation. Can you recommend any resources that may help me with this?

Our response: 

The question you pose is definitely a difficult one, and the answer is going to vary depending on a lot of factors: how well you know the person, why she had the abortion, whether she "shouts" proudly or has misgivings, etc. That said, I can think of a few things that will apply across the board. The first, obviously, is not to jump straight to condemning the person. Yes, abortion is a human rights violation — but that doesn't mean that every post-abortive mother woke up one morning and said "I think I'll violate my baby's fundamental right to life today." Most abortions are motivated by financial distress, not hatred of the child. Besides, someone you accuse of murder (even correctly!) will not be open to further discussion. You may be able to find common ground by emphasizing what the pro-life movement does to meet pregnant women's immediate needs. Finally, you should definitely be ready with secular resources for healing emotionally from an abortion; here's a list to get you started

I hope that's helpful. Remember, some level of awkwardness comes with the territory when you are pushing for genuine social change. It's a small sacrifice to make for the possibility of saving a life!

"M" replied: 

Thanks so much for responding personally to my question! I have several close friends who have had abortions, and my sister just revealed to me that she had an abortion 13 years ago. The last thing I want to do is condemn these women I love and care about. A major reason that I am pro-life is that I think I would have probably had an abortion or strongly considered it if I had found myself in a similar situation when I was young and unmarried because the cultural messaging I received back then was absolutely pro-choice.

While I do support fighting for laws to end abortion, I think the biggest fight we have is in changing cultural attitudes toward the moral relevance of the unborn. I find the secular pro-life message to be absolutely the most compelling in this arena.

I guess I'm just frustrated with myself because I can't seem to get over my fear of offending someone. You're right that dealing with my own discomfort and awkwardness is a small price to pay.

I think I'll probably need to start small by being honest about my stance when it comes up in conversation, instead of my usual tactic of keeping my mouth shut.

I really appreciate you taking the time to respond. I so admire the work you do!

Got an abortion question for us? Get advice by emailing info@secularprolife.org, or use our website contact form. We will not share your question on the blog without permission, and we respect anonymity.

[Photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash]

Friday, March 26, 2021

When Should States Enact Perinatal Hospice Notification Laws?

Lady Justice figurine

In a recent Note in the Washington University Law Review, author Ashley Flakus examines when, if at all, it is appropriate for the state to require pregnant women be told about perinatal hospice. (Click here for a general overview perinatal hospice services.)

While Flakus is obviously pro-choice, she makes some valid points about abortion, perinatal hospice, and informed consent. Here I give a fairly quick summary of the four parts of her paper without value judgments about the content. Following that, I’ll point out some of the concepts on which I think she missed the mark as well as some of the points on which I agree with her. 

Part One: History of perinatal hospice and evolution of laws concerning it

Flakus explains that perinatal hospice arose out of general palliative care and hospice care fields in the early 1970s, and by the early 1980s neonatal palliative hospice was starting to get recognized as a subspecialty in the medical field. It is recognized as a legitimate medical service to both the prenatal human who has received the life-limiting diagnosis and the family members of the baby. While some organizations try to be carefully neutral about a woman's pregnancy choices when a fetal diagnosis has been given, positioning perinatal hospice and abortion as only two of many choices a woman has, other organizations choose to frame perinatal hospice care as directly opposite the choice of abortion. In reality, there is a spectrum of choices available to women who have received a fetal diagnosis, and acting like there are only two choices and pitting them against each other detracts from the nuance of the situation. 

Part Two: Comparing and contrasting state laws about perinatal hospice

Flakus lays out the four ways States currently approach laws about notifying women of perinatal hospice services. She assesses what events trigger notification and whether notification is overinclusive, underinclusive, both, or neither.

She categorizes approaches by the triggering event: diagnosis-triggered approaches are responses to the parent(s) receiving a life-limiting  fetal diagnosis, and abortion-triggered approaches are responses when the pregnant woman is seeking an abortion. Flakus measures inclusivity by how well the laws reach the target population (women who have received a life-limiting fetal diagnosis). Overinclusive laws result in notifying some women who have not received a fetal diagnosis. Underinclusive laws result in failing to notify some women who have received a fetal diagnosis. Flakus gives examples of states which have one or the other of these approaches.

The first approach is abortion-triggered; it requires notification be given to any woman seeking an abortion who has also received a fetal diagnosis. Flakus categorizes such laws as underinclusive, since they don't require notifying women who received a fetal diagnosis but who are not seeking abortion of perinatal hospice services. She listed five states which have this notification trigger: AZ, AR, IN, MN, and OK.

The second approach is also abortion-triggered; it requires notification be given to all women seeking abortion. Flakus categorizes this approach as both over- and underinclusive. It is underinclusive because, just like the first approach, women who got a fetal diagnosis but are not seeking abortion would not have to be notified. At the same time the approach is overinclusive because many women seeking abortion (and thus required to be notified) do not have a fetal diagnosis. Two states are listed as having this type of approach: KS and WI.

The third approach is diagnosis-triggered: notifying all women who receive a fetal diagnosis. This approach is neither over- or underinclusive. In other words, it’s just right. It works to alert exactly the population of women who could make use of perinatal hospice services. Two states have this diagnosis-triggered approach: IN and NE. 

[Note: I am unclear on whether Indiana’s laws would make it so that a woman who received a fetal diagnosis and sought an abortion would actually get two notifications about perinatal hospice — once at the time of diagnosis, and once again at the time of abortion.]

The majority of states take the fourth and final approach: they have no laws pertaining to notification of perinatal hospice services. While a valid option, nonregulation is of course categorized as underinclusive, since no woman eligible for those services is required to be informed. This approach allows states to get out of the matter of medical decisions entirely while relying on internal regulation within the medical community and legal redress from patients via tort law. However, it also allows discrimination from doctors toward patients, with no set path for legal redress.

Part Three: The state's role in providing information in the spirit of informed consent

The third section of the Note is Flakus' lengthiest, with time devoted to examining what informed consent is and the various interests states may have in requiring the provision of information about perinatal hospice services. Flakus analyzes these state interests and assesses which interests are legitimate and should be used to create these laws versus which interests are invalid and should not be used.

What is informed consent in the medical context? "Generally, informed consent consists of providing a patient with the material information necessary to make a particular decision." In 1972, the Canterbury v. Spence case defined"material": "[a] risk is thus material when a reasonable person, in what the physician knows or should know to be the patient’s position, would be likely to attach significance to the risk or cluster of risks in deciding where or not to forego the proposed therapy."

She outlines four reasons states might give for requiring perinatal hospice service notification as a part of informed consent at some point in pregnancy:

1. "Protecting life and improving quality of life"

  • This is a legitimate state interest for passing laws.
  • Perinatal hospice may not extend an infant's life, but it can improve the quality of the infant’s life and the quality of life of the parents and family members.
  • This legitimate interest may not be the true driving force of a notification law if the notification is abortion-triggered instead of diagnosis-triggered.

2. "Impeding abortion access"

  • Abortion before fetal viability is a constitutional right, and a state has no legitimate interest in impeding such a right.
  • Abortion-triggered notification laws are almost certainly intended to impede access, even if it's not explicitly stated.
  • This reason is "impermissibly coercing individuals to not get an abortion."

3. "Promoting best medical practices"

  • This is a legitimate state interest for the sake of protecting public health. 
  • States regulating notification of perinatal hospice but not adolescent or general hospice are likely motivated to impede abortion access, not to promote best medical practices.
  • Alternatively, perinatal hospice may be medically unique from other hospice services in a manner which justifies regulating notification of these services but not other types of hospice services, but if these reasons are not mentioned in the making of the law, it is unlikely this is the true justification of the law.

4. "Protecting individuals from emotional distress"

  • Protecting anyone from the possible emotional distress or regret of their choice to act upon a constitutional right is not a legitimate interest of the state. 
  • Laws or torts protecting people from undue emotional distress or "intentional infliction of emotional harm" require two parties: the person inflicting the harm and the person emotionally distressed by it. "Protecting individuals from accidentally inflicting emotional distress upon themselves by exercising their own rights in a perfectly legal way which they may later regret is not comparable."
  • Abortion-triggered notification laws based on this reasoning are a type of "sexist paternalism" where only women making "high-pressure, potentially emotional medical decisions" are regulated in their decision-making so heavily (compared to men).

Part Four: Conclusion

Flakus asserts that the two best approaches to notification laws for perinatal hospice services are either diagnosis-triggered notifications or no regulations at all. Abortion-triggered notification laws miss the mark for a variety of reasons, most notable being "failing to deliver the intended benefits" of such a law. 

A diagnosis-triggered notification is in line with legitimate state interest in promoting best medical practices and improving quality of life, while avoiding overreach of the state into women's decisions to exercise their constitutional rights. Diagnosis-triggered notification laws also have the advantage of being in line with the concept of informed consent by providing information at the beginning of a woman’s decision-making process. 

No regulation on notification of perinatal hospice services is a valid option as well. This approach completely sidesteps the issue of possible overreach into constitutionally-protected medical decisions available to women and avoids "misogynistic restrictions on women's decision-making, infringement upon constitutional rights, and unnecessary governmental red tape."

Where I Agree

I think Flakus makes some very good points throughout the Note, especially with respect to the intent of perinatal hospice notification laws. I am going to outline several specific areas where I think pro-life people can have common ground with this pro-choice author.

  • Perinatal hospice is not the opposite of abortion, but abortion-triggered notification laws set up these two options as opposites.
  • Abortion-triggered notification laws set up perinatal hospice as an alternative to abortion, which sets up abortion as the biggest concern a pregnant woman might have when learning about the diagnosis. This is not a fair assumption.
  • Abortion-triggered notification laws are underinclusive of the population of women who could make use of the knowledge or perinatal hospice.
  • The possible emotional consequences one may inflict upon oneself by acting out a constitutional right should not be a driving force in making a law.
  • The state has a legitimate interest in incentivizing or requiring behavior or actions to try to improve the lives of the constituents, or to de-incentivize or ban behavior which harms the lives of its constituents.
  • A state does not have legitimate interest in impeding residents' exercise of their constitutional rights.
  • If perinatal hospice laws can be triggered when a life-limiting fetal diagnosis is given, what about pediatric palliative care laws? Why are there none of those? Is it because abortion is not involved?
  • By the time most women show up to the clinic or hospital to abort, they are set in their decision and are unlikely to change their minds. (Note: Both pro-choice and pro-life evidence shows this. Undecided women are the ones most likely to be influenced either way depending on the information they are given and the support they have. The more information given sooner in the decision-making period, the better.)

Where I Disagree

Flakus makes many of the common pro-choice assumptions I see from the average pro-choice person, which did disappoint me a bit since I expected more from a law student. She made some large leaps to a few conclusions that she did not provide adequate evidence to support. 

Her greatest assumptions are that fetuses lack personhood and rights until a later point in pregnancy and that abortion is a constitutional right. 

She actually used a Slate article to show that Americans have a wide range of views on when life begins. Unfortunately, she spends no time using valid scientific sources of information regarding when a human organism's life begins, nor does she spend any time justifying why fetal personhood should not start until viability. She also ignores the fact that many people, pro-choice legal experts and judges included, think Roe v. Wade was a terrible decision, and that there are very good legal arguments against the idea that abortion is a constitutional right protected under the 14th Amendment

She also argues that abortion-triggered regulations couched in "informed consent" language are paternalistic and misogynistic because they treat women as helpless and/or unable to make good decisions on their own. She states there are no comparable laws for requiring info in such high-pressure, potentially emotional situations for men. But the implied assumption here, as it is everywhere in her article, is that abortion does not kill. If we acknowledge that abortion kills humans, what possible comparable decision do men have? One does not exist. Pregnancy is unique to women, just as the ability to legally kill one's offspring is unique to us, too. She further argues that abortion-triggered notification laws are coercion by the state to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights. 

When championing perinatal hospice notification laws, we pro-lifers need to ask: what is the primary point of the law? Are we trying to reduce abortions in an at-risk population or make all eligible women aware of all their options? A diagnosis-triggered law would be a good legal step to accomplishing both of those goals. Diagnosis-triggered laws give women the info up front, in contrast with abortion-triggered laws which give information last-minute, often after women have already decided. Upfront info making her aware of perinatal hospice services may prevent her from ever deciding to abort to begin with. Diagnosis-triggered laws are also preferable to no regulation. Doctors make judgment calls, and some doctors would likely withhold such information from eligible patients based on socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, or other biases. Making notification a legal requirement is a step to ensure women are either informed or have legal redress if not. 

[Today's guest post is by Petra Wallenmeyer, who is the Content Director at Human Defense Initiative. Photo credit: Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash.

Help make sure parents know the options available to them: advocate for perinatal hospice notifcation in your state. Read more here, from HowToBeProLife.com.]

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A Pro-Life Introduction to Perinatal Hospice

What is Perinatal Hospice?

Unless you or a loved one have utilized the services of a perinatal hospice program, you likely didn't even know such a thing existed. Hospice, as we know, is for dying people… so why would we be contemplating such a system for a newly born baby? Especially in a first-world country, where women have access to adequate medical care and babies are always born healthy?

Perinatal hospice exists because the unfortunate reality is babies do die, even with the best available medicine. Used when a poor prenatal diagnosis has been given, it allows families an opportunity to embrace their child's life, however limited that life will be. 

Built upon traditional hospice practices, perinatal hospice guides parents through both medical and anticipatory and post-partum grief processes, by coordinating care to assure their needs are met with the least additional distress. Specific items which may be included in a perinatal hospice program include (this is not an all-inclusive list):

Coordinated care — Over the course of a pregnancy where a fetal anomaly is detected, typical prenatal appointments can be multiplied at least three-fold. Excess diagnostic appointments may include multiple anatomy scans, fetal echocardiograms, fetal non-stress tests, or fetal MRI. For the family facing a prenatal diagnosis, streamlining appointments by scheduling multiple tests in one day can help cut down on time spent in physicians' offices, as well as in the environs of other expectant mothers who will be taking babies home at the end of their pregnancies. 

Access to a social worker and/or hospital clergy — A medical practice or hospital staff can assign a social worker or chaplain to you who will provide social and spiritual support for non-medical needs. These professionals can help with assuring medical staff are equipped to handle both your, and their, emotional responses to visits and can help you access programs which suit your needs. This could include not only support for clinical practices, but things like bypassing regular hospital restrictions on the number of people in the delivery room, as well as extending visiting hours so that family and friends can attend mom, dad, and baby for the entire length of baby's life. 

A medical plan for palliative care for baby — Often a family’s biggest concern when delivering a baby with a serious birth defect surrounds the issue of comfort. Hospice can assure the proper medical professionals are involved in baby’s life to deliver pain relief, if necessary, as well as to monitor nutrition and any other needs which arise.

What Does Perinatal Hospice Look Like?

With the plethora of prenatal tests available, families generally learn early in pregnancy there's a problem. Once they've made the decision to carry to term, hospice starts. Prenatal care focuses on mom and dad's comfort, at this point, with assuring the most positive experiences during visits. Over the course of the pregnancy, a care plan is developed for when baby is born. 

Some parents will choose to make plans for a funeral and burial/cremation during pregnancy, anticipating the post-partum period will be rough and giving themselves time to immerse themselves in the grieving process. 

Most parents will be encouraged to make memories with their children — trips to a favorite family restaurant, the beach, or sporting events may be options. Including their unborn baby in family traditions will be important as well. The focus is on including baby in whatever activities s/he would be involved in, if s/he were expected to live. 

Often the birth is planned via induction or C-section, in order to control the process and assure all of a family's needs are addressed. If a family is religious a pastor or priest may be permitted to attend the family during birth to comfort them and baptize/bless baby. Additional birth support may also be present — including doulas specifically trained to help families navigate this terrain. Typical post-birth practices, such as testing and assessments, may be put on hold in order to get baby to mom and dad as quickly as possible. Baby will most likely not leave mom as she's wheeled out of the delivery room and into recovery. 

During this time, mother's health is top priority. No hospice practice will be utilized which may endanger a woman's life. Baby is also cared for as an individual patient, and if parents wish, assessed at birth to assure the diagnosis is correct, and given pain relief if needed. 

Once settled in a private room (moms whose babies will soon die are generally not housed in the maternity ward), family and friends are liberally admitted according to parents' desires. Professional photographers may be called to document baby's life. A special cooling bed called a cuddle cot may be used so parents can room-in with baby. Plaster hand and footprints may be taken, Christmas or other holiday-focused ornaments created, and favorite hand-me-down clothing may be used. During this time, hospice staff is available both for counsel and to help facilitate streamlined and non-intrusive medical care and emotional support for parents. Some of the biggest obstacles come from family members and staff who may object to practices like using a cuddle cot. Hospice staff can help families navigate these conversations in a calm and productive way.

Hospice care may continue with a doula working post-partum with mom after she leaves the hospital, and through the funeral process in regards to chaplains and social workers. 

How Should Pro-Life Advocates Promote Perinatal Hospice?

Like a typical hospice program, there are things which pro-life advocates must consider — most importantly, have opportunities for treatment been exhausted? 

Whether for an adult, child, or neonate, hospice should never be considered in the case where a child can benefit from medical care. Many times this consideration comes with the understanding a child may endure extensive medical treatments to maximize their potential happiness. We must be vigilant to ensure parents are not encouraged to forgo treatments for a child who would survive with disabilities out of what they perceive as compassion: this is an ableist viewpoint, and one which those with disabilities speak on more eloquently than I ever could

Neonates are human beings, with the same rights to proper medical care as any other child. By permitting parents of children who've received prenatal diagnoses to limit treatment for their children, we have inadvertently set up a system of passive euthanasia. Hospice workers and family advocates must be discouraged from promoting this course of action. Pro-life advocates must continue to speak up for the life of the disabled neonate just as they speak for the life of the disabled fetus. Allowing a child who could live, to die, could be colloquially referred to as a "fourth-trimester abortion," an action, or in this case inaction, which denies the humanity of the human being involved. 

Moving Forward 

Hospice, like any other medical-related treatment, should be embarked upon from a life-affirming position. Working towards educating your peers on practices which will help families consider life rather than abortion is always the most important aspect of pro-life work, and in this context perinatal hospice can be a wonderful tool to utilize. Encouraging physicians as well as local hospitals to adopt these practices benefits everyone whether pro-life or pro-choice, in addition to encouraging a culture of life to bloom.

For more information, to see if this type of care is available in your area, and to learn how you can promote these programs, please see: 

PerinatalHospice.org.

For information on supporting parents who are facing a poor prenatal diagnosis, please see below. Please note that to my knowledge there are currently no secular sources for this type of care, but the following organizations serve all families regardless of religious beliefs or lack thereof.

Sufficient Grace Ministries

String of Pearls

Be Not Afraid

Prenatal Partners for Life

[Today's guest author is Sarah St. Onge, who writes about child-loss, grief, and issues pertaining to continuing a pregnancy after a lethal anomaly has been diagnosed. You can read more of her work at shebringsjoy.com. She’s also a savethe1.com board member and founder of limbbodywallcomplex.net, a pro-life, diagnosis-specific website which supports parents who continue their pregnancy after receiving the same lethal diagnosis which took her daughter, Beatrix Elizabeth. You can find Sarah on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Help make sure parents know the options available to them: advocate for perinatal hospice notifcation in your state. Read more here, from HowToBeProLife.com.]

Monday, March 22, 2021

CO bill HB21-1183 would require accurate statistics from abortion providers

[Today's post is by guest blogger Candace Stewart.]

Photo credit Lukas from Pexels

We don’t actually know how many abortions occur in the United States each year.

This may sound strange, as the CDC comes out with abortion totals for the U.S. every year. But state health departments are not required to provide their abortion totals, and in fact three states (California, Maryland, and New Hampshire) don't release any of their data to the public. Other states report incomplete totals (e.g. New Jersey and the District of Columbia). The Guttmacher Institute publishes abortion data reporting higher numbers than the CDC's numbers; that's because Guttmacher estimates the true number of abortions based on the CDC data and individual voluntary reports collected from abortion doctors.

State health departments vary greatly in the quality of reporting, detail, and timeliness of reports. The Charlotte Lozier Institute, a pro-life research group, ranked the states based on the quality of their abortion reports in 2016. Colorado scored 35/46 (several states tied at bottom). Colorado's rank is low partly because the state does not accurately report abortion totals. The Health Department reported 8,873 abortion occurrences in 2017, while the Guttmacher Institute reported 12,390, a number 33% higher than the official figure.

Colorado is also one of the few states in the US that place no limits on late-term abortion – it is legal to perform an abortion for any reason up until birth. Warren Hern, a vocal late-term abortionist, operates a clinic in Boulder. In Colorado from 2015-2018, the percentage of abortions performed at 21 weeks or more was over double the national average (ranging from 3% in 2015 to 3.6% in 2018, compared to a national average of 1.3%). However, in Colorado in 2019, only 1.9% of abortions were reported as performed later than 21 weeks. But with Colorado's reporting requirements, it's impossible to tell how much of this apparent 47% decrease from 2018 is an actual decrease versus a result of incomplete reporting.

Currently, Colorado's abortion report includes the raw number of abortions; the woman's age, residency (Colorado or another state), race or ethnicity, marital status, number of previous abortions, and number of living children; age of gestation; type of procedure; and facility type.

This is valuable information, but it still leaves much to be desired. Colorado does not request any information on the woman's reason for seeking an abortion. We don't know why the women obtaining late-term abortions in the state are doing so or why they did not get the abortion earlier. Did she have difficulty making the decision? Trouble raising funds? Was there a fetal diagnosis and, if so, was it lethal or was it a disability such as Down syndrome?

Pro-choice people and lobbying groups often assert that abortions later than 21 weeks are only performed for grave medical reasons, such as health issues with the mother or fetus. As SPL has documented many times, the research we do have on late-term abortion does not support this claim. Most abortions after 21 weeks are performed on physically healthy fetuses carried by physically healthy mothers. Colorado's neighboring state, Arizona, does collect data on reasons for abortions after 21 weeks and finds that about 80% of these abortions aren't performed for any type of health reason. 

Because Colorado's late-term abortion laws are far more lax than Arizona’s, having similar data for Colorado would shed much-needed light on who seeks these abortions and why under such a legal structure. Relatively few states require data on the woman's reason for the abortion to be reported at all. While the Guttmacher Institute has conducted surveys with women on reasons for termination, they have a smaller sample size than state data, and their findings differ somewhat from states that have this reporting requirement.

Colorado state representative Stephanie Luck (R) has introduced HB21-1183, which would elevate Colorado's abortion reporting requirements and include the reasons women seek a termination. Women could choose from the following reasons for termination, regardless of gestational age:
  1. Contraceptive failure
  2. Interference with education or career
  3. Financial insecurity
  4. Woman has completed childbearing
  5. Woman is not ready to be a parent
  6. Opposition by partner or family to the pregnancy
  7. Maternal health conditions
  8. Fetal abnormality: specifying the abnormality
  9. The pregnancy was the result of rape or incest
If performed after 21 weeks, the report would also list why she sought the abortion later rather than earlier (for example, late confirmation of pregnancy, trouble raising funds, later fetal diagnosis, ambivalence about the abortion, etc.) The bill would include a penalty for “unprofessional conduct” (pursuant to the “Colorado Medical Practice Act” and the “Nurse and Nurse Aide Practice Act”) if a doctor or nurse falsifies or fails to report data. 

This process would help fill information gaps on the 33% of abortions not officially reported in Colorado. It would likely also give a more accurate number of late-term abortions performed. Doctors would be required to report complications from the abortion if any occurred.

Knowing and addressing the reasons women seek abortions is something both pro-life and pro-choice can get behind. This knowledge would allow lawmakers and citizens to more accurately determine whether various policies – such as the paid family leave program, a possible raise in the minimum wage, or family planning initiatives – substantially reduce abortion rates. The proposed bill to improve the quality of reporting could provide research to benefit Colorado citizens, policymakers, and women who may seek abortions.

Friday, March 19, 2021

What if we could transfer babies at risk of abortion to pro-life wombs?

Two people holding an ultrasound image

SPL supporter Allison asks:

Hi, I've been a fan of your page for a while now but I had a question that I've been wanting to be answered.

While I am unsure the technology exists, I would personally save a zygote, embryo, or fetus from being aborted by having it transferred to my uterus. I shared this opinion with someone pro-abortion, and they have stated that there aren't enough women in America, including pro-life, who would do something like this to not only save the burden of pregnancy from another woman but also save the life of a human being. I guess what I am asking is are there any statements from other women who would personally do this to save one life and ease the other of an unplanned/unwanted pregnancy?

Our response: 

That technology sadly does not yet exist, which is why you won't find many formal statements on the subject. Pro-life people have a long history of acting sacrificially to ease the burdens of pregnant mothers in crisis, from operating no-cost pregnancy care centers and maternity homes to adopting children (including embryos conceived in vitro), so I would certainly expect pro-lifers to volunteer for uterine transfers if they could. 
The more likely path, however, is artificial wombs. Some progress is being made on that front, with NICU equipment becoming more and more womb-like and moving the age of "viability" lower and lower. Once we get to a point where a baby can be safety transferred to an artificial womb early in pregnancy, abortion supporters will lose their bodily autonomy excuse and have to advocate explicitly for a right to a dead baby — or, as this pro-choice article on artificial wombs more delicately puts it, "a right not to be a genetic parent."

What say you? If you have a uterus, would you use it to house a baby at risk for abortion? And what can we do as a community to support the development of artificial wombs and similar technologies? 

[Photo credit: Omar Lopez on Unsplash]