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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]

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Join us for the Consistent Life Virtual Conference

Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard will speak at the 2021 Consistent Life Virtual Conference on Saturday, April 24. This year's theme is "Creating a Culture of Life in a Divided Country." The keynote speaker will be none other than State Senator Katrina Jackson (D-LA, pictured), who has been a thorn in the side of the abortion industry for many years.

This conference is hosted by Consistent Life Network. As the name implies, Consistent Life Network is a Consistent Life Ethic (CLE) organization. Much has been written about the CLE, but in a nutshell, it combines opposition to abortion with opposition to other institutionalized practices that kill human beings, such as capital punishment, war, and physician-assisted suicide.

Secular Pro-Life is singularly focused on abortion, which means we aren't a CLE group. We do not ask our members to hold particular views on the death penalty, for example. Our co-leaders hold various positions on issues other than abortion, and that diversity of thought has not impeded our work. That said, SPL isn't anti-CLE either; we frequently work alongside CLE organizations and individuals and are proud to be a Consistent Life Network member organization. We see tremendous value in advocates with different focus areas coming together to learn from one another. Furthermore, we recognize that because the injustice of abortion is deeply embedded in our culture and entangled with other social ills, the very meaning of "single issue" anti-abortion advocacy is up for debate

We look forward to spending time with pro-life activists of all stripes on April 24. The conference is scheduled for 1:00 to 5:30 p.m. Eastern time. Tickets are pay-whatever-you-can between $0 and $50. Register today

Monday, March 15, 2021

Survey Shows Lack of Awareness of Pregnant Students' Rights

If a tree falls in the forest but no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

And if legal protections and resources exist for pregnant students, but they aren't adequately publicized, will they help anyone choose life? 

The Institute for Pro-Life Advancement—a project of Students for Life of America (SFLA)—recently conducted a survey of young adults which showed that only two in ten had even a basic knowledge of the Pregnant and Parenting Bill of Rights in Title IX. Less than half said that they'd seen resources for pregnant and parenting students while in school. This lack of awareness could have devastating consequences. As SFLA points out, "79% of Planned Parenthoods are 5 miles from a college" and "52% of abortion seeking women are under 25." The abortion industry counts on students as a major customer base. More work is needed to combat the myth that babies ruin educations.

To that end, SFLA has renewed its commitment to supporting pregnant and parenting students. Its Standing With You program (formerly Pregnant on Campus) has a wealth of information for pregnant and parenting students and allies. To get a flavor, here's their advice for how to respond when a friend announces a pregnancy. 

Finally, it's worth noting that the survey results weren't all bleak. Strong majorities of respondents supported paid leave policies and adoption reform proposals. With greater awareness and organizing, the pro-life generation has the power to save lives! 

[Help pregnant and parenting high school students in your community. Read more here, from HowToBeProLife.com.]

Friday, March 12, 2021

April 10 is the Save Hyde National Day of Action

The Hyde Amendment, which has prevented taxpayer funding of most abortions through the Medicaid program since 1976, has saved the lives of over two million low-income Americans. But where we see precious human beings, the abortion industry sees lost revenue. The Hyde Amendment is under attack from pro-abortion Democrats in Congress. Concerningly, the recently passed American Rescue Plan lacks Hyde protections

Our friends at Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) are fighting against the abortion extremism in their party. They are organizing a Save Hyde National Day of Action to take place on April 10. Volunteers are needed to lead local and regional events. If you're interested, you have a month to prepare! Here are DFLA's nine steps to host a successful day of action:

  1. Select a time and location (preferably your local office of your Senator or representative from the US House of Representatives).
  2. Use the banner graphic here to create your own local Facebook event page reflecting your chosen time and location.
  3. Begin reaching out to people you know in your community to share the Facebook event page link you've created. Remember to invite your local pro-life organizations and people from across the political spectrum. 5-10 people will make a big difference. You'll need to get commitments from people to be there so invite some to do a 'speak out' (a short and informal public speech) for 1-2 minutes. They'll be more likely to commit to coming and bringing more people.
  4. Contact your local printer (Staples, FedEx, etc.) and print as many of these signs as are needed. Your best options are to order corrugated plastic signs or paper posters mounted on foam board. Be sure to print at least one!
  5. Critical! The day before the event, contact everyone again to make sure they still plan to attend. If you forget this step many people may forget to come!
  6. Identify one person to take photos and another to take video. You must assign both but separately. Pictures should include a group shot at the beginning and at the end of the event as well as individual shots of signs, speakers, etc. It is important that there are a variety of pictures to choose from later.
  7. Send out a media release to your local news stations. It should include a title and the who, what, when, where, and why of your event (example). Please reach out to us if you need any further help with crafting a release. It's not always likely that the media will show up but it's always worth a try because it has huge potential to spotlight our efforts to protect Hyde.
  8. Event day! Show up, hold signs, do speak-outs, get loud and chant! Chanting is a very effective way of drawing attention so be prepared to have one person say "Hyde Saves Lives!" and ask the crowd to repeat. That way you each have enough time to breathe! "Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Hyde Repeal has got to go!" is another good one. You can also feel empowered to use chants specific to your congressperson. Even better if you have a megaphone. Be sure to get it all on video! A one-hour event is more than adequate.
  9. Publish everything online! Tweet it, get it on the gram, and post video clips everywhere! We also encourage you to send us your photos and video to promote on our national page. Upload your content to this folder.

Social justice movements are not successful without crucial nonviolent direct action and the bold, brave actions of everyday activists like you. Let's make this world a better place starting with protecting the Hyde Amendment from repeal!

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Five years later, 96% of women denied abortion no longer wish they could have had one. (Turnaway Study)

The Turnaway Study had a much touted statistic about how few women regret their abortions five years later. Google "women regret abortion," and see the press coverage. All of the following are referencing the Turnaway Study:

Much touted stat.


[The sources for the image are CNNForbesLos Angeles Times healthlineNewScientist, and Reuters]

The Turnaway Study has resulted in many published articles comparing women who obtain abortions versus women who are denied them. The specific article discussing abortion regret is "Emotions and decision rightness over five years following an abortion" and can be found here.

Much of the discussion about this study has focused on whether this statistic is accurate. There are questions about study methods and limitations, and you can read more about that here

But even if we assume the study is sound, the above press coverage leaves an incomplete picture of the study's findings. The Turnaway Study also looked at the mental health outcomes for women who went to clinics to get abortions but were turned away (because they were too far along in pregnancy for the clinic's gestational limits). I haven't been able to find these particular research results published online [see the post-publication edit below], but here is a picture from my copy of the book "The Turnaway Study," Chapter 4. Mental Health, page 126:

The highlighted portion reads:

One week after abortion denial, 65% of participants reported still wishing they could have had the abortion; after the birth, only 12% of women reported that they still wished that they could have had the abortion. At the time of the child's first birthday, 7% still wished they could have had an abortion. By five years, this went down to 4%.

This portion includes an endnote marked "28," which references this citation:


The closest online resource to this citation is the article I linked above about abortion regret (or lack thereof). But that article discusses only the women who received abortions, not the women who carried their pregnancies. So far I've found no peer-reviewed publication discussing these statistics, much less any major press coverage of the results. 

Post-publication edit 3/10/21 - Thank you to one of our readers for sending me the peer-reviewed study here: "Emotions over five years after denial of abortion in the United States: Contextualizing the effects of abortion denial on women's health and lives," Social Science & Medicine 269 (2021) 113567.

The lack of discussion is unfortunate, because there's a lot of interesting information here. First of all, of course, the same study that found that, five years later, 99% of women did not regret their abortions also found that 96% of women no longer wished they'd had an abortion. Taken together, it sounds as if most people come to process and accept what's already happened no matter which way it goes. (Research about lottery winners and people paralyzed in accidents seems to confirm this idea - their overall happiness doesn't ultimately change as much as you'd expect.)

Also worth noting (all of the following info is also from the book page photographed above):

Only one week after being denied an abortion, over a third of women no longer wished they could have had one. This is a surprising level of ambivalence. These women not only contemplated abortion but physically arrived at clinics prepared to get abortions. I would expect that level of action to imply a greater level of decision certainty, but this statistic suggests otherwise. The pro-choice side frequently discusses how abortion restrictions pressure women to carry pregnancies they may not want, but it's also worth discussing how unrestricted abortion access can pressure women to get abortions they may not want. We've published testimonies from post-abortive women about that kind of pressure here.

Women who had less social support from family and friends were more likely to continue to wish they had received an abortion. While few women continued to wish they had aborted, of the group who did, they were less likely to have support. This result isn't surprising, but it's worth highlighting because we can all help here. Find ways to connect to your community and to support pregnant women and parents of young children. We had a pretty great list of ideas (from all of you!) here, if you're looking for inspiration.

Women who placed for adoption were significantly more likely than women who parented to still wish they'd had an abortion. At five years out, 15% of women who placed for adoption, compared to only 2% of women who parented, reported that they still wished they could have had an abortion. (The 4% statistic at five years out is a combination of these two groups.) A few thoughts here. (1) It makes sense that the love and connection women experience with their children would have a mitigating effect on their negative emotions regarding the factors that led them to seek abortion in the first place. If they place their children for adoption, they have fewer interactions that can lead to that mitigating effect. (2) We as pro-life activists need to take note of the complicated effects of adoption. Of course adoption is preferable to abortion, but we need to be sensitive to the complex psychological and emotional effects adoption can have for all parties (children, biological parents, adoptive parents). We can advocate for adoption in some circumstances without oversimplifying it. We published some testimonies from people with experience with adoption here (see the subheading "On Adoption").

Monday, March 8, 2021

February Recap

Projects
With the change of administration comes a new group of government officials and advisors. One of those nominations is that of Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. You may recall Becerra's name from his prosecution of the investigative journalists with the Center for Medical Progress for their undercover videos of Planned Parenthood. Secular Pro-Life volunteer Nora Brennan gave a passionate speech at a rally hosted by our own Terrisa Bukovinac to protest Becerra's nomination.

Still taking advantage of the power of Zoom to present anywhere, Kelsey spoke to a pro-life group in the Houston area. A large part of SPL's mission is to work with pro-life groups to emphasize the non-religious reasons to be pro-life. If you are interested in having Kelsey speak with your local pro-life organization or church, please reach out to us at info@secularprolife.org

Finally, a preview of coming attractions! SPL's Monica Snyder has been working hard on a website to help those of us who want to support the pro-life movement but aren't sure where to begin. "How To Be Pro-Life" gives a variety of suggestions for what we can do outside of the typical roles of protester and voter. This is a time-consuming project as Monica gets the website ready to launch; if you like the idea, consider donating with a note letting us know your donation is for "How to be Pro-life."

 

Stay tuned!

Twitter
We gained 166 new followers, bringing us to 12,966 total. We sent 121 tweets, which were viewed 207,000 times, including this tweet, viewed 15,113 times about the overwhelming silence we hear when we ask for sources to the claim that most late-term abortions are done for medical reasons.

Facebook
We are at 33,812 followers on Facebook. Our content was viewed 332,974 times, including 51,224 views of this heartwarming exchange that could have been destroyed if the people pushing abortion had their way: 


I'm not crying, you're crying. 
See the original post here.
Blogger
Our three most-read blog posts for February, 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. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Pro-Life Tips to Reason Honestly and Argue Persuasively

Equal Rights Institute banners at a pro-life rally

Secular Pro-Life has long enjoyed a positive relationship with the Equal Rights Institute, and its president Josh Brahm. The mission of ERI is to "train pro-life advocates to think clearly, reason honestly, and argue persuasively." Although Josh is a Christian, ERI emphasizes rational and relational techniques that are open to all. SPL president Kelsey Hazzard serves on ERI's advisory board.

SPL co-leader Monica recently interviewed Josh about how to have productive discussions about abortion in these polarizing times. Their discussion is lightly edited for clarity. 

* * *

Monica: Why is it important for pro-life advocates to learn to be persuasive?

Josh: A few reasons come to mind. 

First, I want abortion to become illegal as soon as possible. For that to happen, and for babies to be protected in the long-term, we need to convince a large segment of our society that abortion should be illegal. We're not there yet, at least not when it comes to first-trimester abortions, which constitute most of the abortions. I'm not aiming for short-term victories here; I want to see our culture change.

Secondly, I think truth is an intrinsically valuable thing. That's why I work so hard to be genuinely open-minded and avoid confirmation bias, for example, by reading and listening to a lot of voices across the political spectrum so that I can discover when I have false or incomplete opinions about things. (If you're looking for a recommendation, the Tangle e-newsletter is really great for this. You can listen to my interview with their founder here.) Every time my mind is changed so that I believe more truth than I did before, that is a good thing, in and of itself. It's also good on a practical level because it will influence my attitudes and behaviors related to that subject.

Here's an example of how both of those things work out. I spent a lot of time listening to what people on both sides said in 2020 regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality. I watched the killing of George Floyd and learned a lot about the Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor killings. I read a lot on the topic in general, and I didn't restrict myself to what conservatives were saying. As a result, I think I have gained more sympathy for what Black Americans have to deal with. I don't think I was a racist in 2019, but I care more now. 

And that's a good thing. 

It's good for me to understand better (yet very imperfectly) what I didn't before, and I'm also more likely to stand up for my fellow human beings now.

Given that truth is intrinsically valuable, and assuming for the sake of argument that I'm objectively right about my belief that abortion is a human rights injustice, then it's vital for people who don't know that to discover it! The pragmatic argument speaks for itself: fewer babies will die as more people become pro-life, perhaps to the point that first-trimester abortion could become generally illegal.

Finally, our culture will become healthier if civil discourse becomes healthier. I am incredibly concerned with how divided our country is right now. People are giving up on having difficult conversations because they keep going terribly. There are many causes for the situation we find ourselves in, but I think a big part of the solution is for us to have more epistemological humility. In other words, understand that you don't know everything, and some of the things you think you know are incomplete or just wrong. 

We should spend more time considering what thoughtful people who disagree with us have to say about the day's news. We should spend less time rolling our eyes at stupid memes from the lowest common denominator from the other side that your favorite news network intentionally amplifies for ratings. If we do, we will naturally get better at having open conversations with the other side and even persuading them sometimes. 

Monica: Give some examples of common behaviors you see from pro-life people that are particularly unpersuasive.

Josh: We often refer to a pro-life habit that we call "Fetus Tunnel Vision," which I define as the inability to see and/or acknowledge human rights injustices without equating or comparing them to abortion. It's like the pro-lifers who'd say right after 9/11, "Yeah, that's bad, but think of all the babies Planned Parenthood is killing!" They meant well, but it seems like they only care about one issue, so it seems to the people around them that they have a broken moral compass. That's a problem because, if people think you have a broken moral compass, they won't be able to take any of your moral views seriously. Luckily, I think pro-life people are falling into this less often than when I first wrote about it in 2014, but I still see it sometimes. More often, pro-life people continue to struggle to acknowledge that other major global issues exist, I think because they're concerned about diminishing the evil of abortion. Again, they mean well, but arguably they're doing the pro-life cause a disservice by making people less likely to thoughtfully consider their statements against abortion.

I also want to mention a few pro-life habits that Rachel Crawford, our former Director of Training, wrote about while working here. She called them "two common extremes of pro-life advocacy" that she was seeing when searching on Twitter for the words "pro-life" or "abortion":

  1. Those who tweet about abortion without any careful consideration of how pro-choice people will perceive their words, and
  2. People who are throwing insults at individual pro-choice accounts and organizations like Planned Parenthood or NARAL.

Neither approach is very effective, but sometimes pro-lifers think it is because they manage to make people frustrated, and in a Twitter debate, that can feel about as close to winning as most people experience online. But as Rachel said: 

How angry someone is after your conversation is not indicative of how well you've made your case . . . We need to strive for the balanced approach: sharing the truth clearly and doing so winsomely. If people become angry with you during a conversation about abortion, it may be because they hate the truth and they are mad at you for speaking or sharing it . . . Leaving the conversation with a positive emotional experience is not mutually exclusive with having successfully shared the truth about abortion.

Having said all that, I'll tell you the single most unpersuasive thing pro-life people are doing right now, based on what I've learned about the way pro-choice people think. This will be hard for many pro-life people to read, but I've thought about it a lot, so please, keep your mind open as you read this. Ironically, it doesn't have to do with the way we talk about abortion. It happens when pro-life people strongly assert controversial political opinions in general without acknowledging thoughtful counter-arguments. If a pro-lifer argues that people shouldn't have to wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID because it's not effective, they'd better be simultaneously explaining how their view isn't based on a lack of concern about the health of those around them. Why? Because that's the natural impulse of many people who strongly believe in the importance of wearing masks. If a pro-lifer argues that the 2020 election was stolen, they'd better be pointing to persuasive evidence and not the mounting piles of conspiracy theories that have already been debunked. If a pro-lifer expresses appreciation for the pro-life things President Trump did while in office, like appointing originalist justices to the Supreme Court, they should be ready to distance themselves from the problematic aspects of Trump's character (like the way he has mistreated women) because we don't want pro-choice people believing that pro-lifers don't actually care about women.

Again, we need to be more intentional about being accurately understood now than we did before due to the polarization in our society. I'm not saying it's ideal; I am saying it's necessary for optimizing your chance to actually change somebody's mind.

Monica: How about some examples of especially helpful approaches? 

Josh: Beyond the inverse of everything I said above, we need to recognize that people don't actually want to change their mind about anything, so when we have a dialogue with them (whether in person or online) about something we disagree about, their defenses are up. If they're feeling defensive, they're not going to be able to feel the full weight of my arguments, regardless of how factually-based or philosophically-nuanced they are. So we need to get better at bringing people's shields down. As my friends at Justice For All explain, asking lots of clarification questions, spending a lot of time listening to understand the person, and finding genuine common ground whenever possible are essential skills for bringing people's defenses down.

You also need to understand the pro-choice person's view so well that you can articulate it as well (or better!) than they can. When you can do that, people will be intrigued by you, because that's an unusual skill. It also raises the obvious question of why you're not pro-choice if you can make a better pro-choice argument than they can. It's implied that you're also aware of at least one pro-life argument that was more persuasive to you than their steel-manned pro-choice argument.

Here's a fun example of how you can get positive results from doing this. I'm sure many of your readers will remember when Richard Dawkins got into a controversy in 2014 after inadvertently tweeting that it would be immoral not to abort a baby diagnosed with Down syndrome. The following day Dawkins published a helpful article, apologizing and explaining his views more clearly. I remember reading it at a friend's house because I was on a fundraising trip out of town. I felt like I understood where Dawkins was coming from, and based on the articles (not to mention Facebook posts and tweets) from pro-life people, it felt like I was the only pro-lifer who really "got" him. So I wrote an article that day trying to translate his view to my fellow pro-lifers. I didn't say that I agreed with Dawkins' conclusions; merely that they made sense given his beliefs about fetal personhood combined with his desire to minimize suffering. 

The result? That was the only article from a pro-life advocate that Richard Dawkins himself retweeted. That brought us a lot of attention from pro-choice Dawkins fans, who ended up being impressed (if not annoyed) that I understood Dawkins well enough to defend him. My favorite comment said: "It pains me a little to have to admit that the most charitable, most fair-minded, most accurate, most logical, and least emotional analysis of the whole Richard-Dawkins-on-Downs-Syndrome-and-abortion furore has come from a 'pro-life' religious activist."

The more you understand where pro-choice people are coming from, the more you will be able to do what I did in that situation. You can't just argue for fetal personhood anymore; you also need to understand and be ready to refute bodily autonomy arguments, which I think are more fundamental to most pro-choice advocate's worldviews. You will be even more persuasive if you understand the more advanced pro-choice argument that's become more popular in the last year based on abortion as self-defense. It takes some extra work on the front end, but it makes you so much more persuasive down the road.

Monica: Some argue that we shouldn't focus too much on whether people will agree with us, and instead focus primarily on making sure we speak the truth without wavering. What do you think of that idea?

Josh: I think it's very understandable for some pro-life advocates to say things like this, especially for older activists who've been fighting abortion for decades longer than I have. They understand that thousands of babies are killed every day, and they've been watching that happen for a long time now, and they sometimes get impatient. I get it. We all want the killing to stop. Now.

We were getting comments from pro-lifers who felt like we were too nice to pro-choice people and wimpy about speaking the truth within nine months of launching Equal Rights Institute. My brother and co-founder Timothy was the lead author on an article we wrote to respond directly to this concern, and I want to quote a few large portions of it here as it relates to this question:

Here's the problem: navigating conversations about abortion is tough, because balancing truth and love is tough.

Pro-choice people need to be told, challenged by, and sometimes even confronted with the truth. But we are not telling them the truth just to make ourselves feel like we've done our pro-life duty. We want to share the truth with them in the way that is most likely to get through to them, and sometimes that means being patient. Sometimes I spend a great deal of time just listening to someone, partially because I think that will help them to be more receptive to truth later.

I could just lead every conversation by saying, "Abortion is sin, it kills a helpless baby, you're a sinner, you need Jesus, and you're going to hell if you don't have Jesus." I think those are all true statements, all of which I'd like to get to during the conversation. The reason I don't lead with that is not that I'm afraid of the truth or that I lack conviction, but because it's foolish and short-sighted to just blast people with the truth, with no thought to how they are going to respond to it.

I'm not saying "just be nice." I'm also not saying "don't be offensive." I'm arguing that we should love the people we talk to by seeking their best interest, and that means different things for different people. For some people, the most loving thing we can do for them is to graciously confront them with the truth about abortion, even if it offends them. For others, the most loving thing we can do for them is to listen to them, at least for a time.

One of the reasons why we train pro-life advocates to love the person they're talking with is that loving, truthful people are always more persuasive than unloving, truthful people.