Pro-Life Perspectives on Abortion-Tainted Vaccines: Part 1

Editor’s Note: Many readers have asked us about the ethics of receiving vaccines that were developed in part by exploiting the bodies of abortion victims. In this post, guest author Stacy Trasancos outlines factors to be considered in confronting this dilemma. In part 2, coming Friday, Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard will offer her thoughts.

There is a logical angst that goes with being pro-life in a country where abortion is legal. In the United States, an estimated 3,000 unborn children are killed in abortion clinics daily. A pro-life person might wonder why she is not running into those buildings and demanding that it all stop, the same way she would fight like hell if two-year-old toddlers were being systematically killed by an industry. Yet, Americans live in a pluralistic society where almost half the population thinks it is acceptable for a mother to kill the unwanted child in her womb. Pro-life advocates know they must find peaceful ways to cause change, so their reality is that merely living daily life in a country with legal abortion feels like manifest hypocrisy. 

Nothing, however, brings that cognitive dissonance home like making a decision about using a vaccine whose existence depends on the use of cell lines derived from an aborted child. Instead of wondering about abstract laws and clinics in another part of town, the choice impacts the pro-life advocate individually. Our own health, our immediate families, and our communities are affected by the decision we make. 

One might wonder, then, can you be pro-life and receive an abortion-tainted vaccine? If doing so is not, itself, inherently immoral, such as making the decision to murder someone, then the decision becomes a matter of informed conscience. 

This is called discernment. Think of it like an equation. There are variables that go into the decision, and each variable has different coefficients and powers. In the calculus, the factors that affect your decision will be weighted differently depending on your specific circumstances during any given period. The good news is we have the freedom to think and make choices. The bad news is that discernment is not easy when the decision is complex. At times, it can be heart wrenching. 

The person making the decision about vaccines is not at fault, in the moment, for the fact that he or she may be presented with only vaccines produced using fetal cell lines and no other alternative. She did not ask to be in this position. She never consented to the abortion that occurred, no matter how long ago or far away it happened. She is simply trying to keep herself, her family, and her community safe, which is a good intention. The weight applied to these variables differs. 

Health. Are you already immunocompromised? Are you elderly? Are you at risk? Is someone in your family at risk? Or is it likely that you would tolerate the virus well? Do you have access to medicines to alleviate the duration of the viral infection? 

Vocation. Are you a caregiver? Are you a medical professional or healthcare worker? Do you work in close contact with a lot of people? Does your family depend on you to go to work? Could you lose your job for refusing to be vaccinated?

Location. Do you live in a place where the virus is already rampant? Can you effectively maintain social distancing measures? Can you move about with a mask and six feet distance between you and everyone else not in your bubble? Do you live in the country or the city?

Timing. Can you wait for an ethically produced vaccine? Are there ethically produced vaccines coming? Will you have access to ethically produced vaccines where you live? Do your local health care providers work to gain access to ethical vaccines?

Impact. There can many more variables, but there is one I want to argue that pro-lifers should weight heavily. I propose that we seriously consider how our choice will affect the community and nation. 

A person making a decision about using an abortion-tainted vaccine may not be at fault for the immediate set of options in the moment, but every person’s choice does impact the market, and therefore affects the decisions of industries, university researchers, and government agencies going forward, however small. 

Each choice to use or not use a single dose of a vaccine is a vote. 

“Yes, I will accept a benefit even though it depends on the use of an aborted child.” 

“No, even if it makes my life more difficult, I will not accept this vaccine.” 

We cannot draw an imaginary boundary around ourselves either temporally or spatially. About half of Americans consider themselves pro-life, which is about 164 million people. It is, therefore, an objective and mathematical fact that if even a quarter of those people (41 million) demanded the availability of ethically produced vaccines with no connection to any aborted fetal cell line in development or production, then the scientific, academic, industrial, and governmental communities would be compelled to accommodate that stand. In time, if even a smaller fraction of the pro-life community refused such vaccines, ethically produced vaccines (and other medicines) would appear in the market. 

In this sense, pro-life advocates do share some remote responsibility in the choices available to us. If we know the stakes that factor into our decision now, then we know those decisions will affect the future situation. And, true to the adage that ignorance is bliss, we cannot excuse our obligation as pro-lifers to make choices that build a more just civilization for the children of today. 

We may not be able to storm into an abortion clinic and shout a protest to save those babies being killed by abortion. Some of us may legitimately need an available vaccine for safety. But we can — and should — choose to accept some risk and discomfort if at all possible when faced with an abortion-tainted vaccine. 

Stacy Trasancos has a PhD in chemistry and was senior research chemist at DuPont. She has an MA in dogmatic theology and is now chief research officer for Children of God for Life and executive director of St. Philip Institute for Bishop Joseph Strickland in Tyler, TX. Stacy has seven children and six grandchildren.

Photo credit: CDC on Unsplash

Our March for Life Plans (Updated)

UPDATE, JANUARY 15: The March for Life has cancelled the in-person event. The information for Friday, January 29 is no longer accurate. The Democrats for Life of America rally will not happen either. We apologize for the inconvenience. 

Every January for the past 46 years, pro-life Americans have gathered lawfully and peacefully in Washington, D.C. to protest the travesty of Roe v. Wade. After last week’s siege of the Capitol building, we believe it is more important than ever to demonstrate what a non-violent and life-affirming movement looks like. COVID-19 will make things a bit different in 2021 (read: social distancing and no indoor events), but we are committed to safely making a stand for children in the womb. We hope you will participate, whether you in person or virtually.

Like everything else this year, the following schedule is subject to change. Please subscribe to our emails for the latest updates. 

Ongoing through January 23: Midwest “Moving the Movement” Tour and Diaper Drive

As we’ve previously written, the March for Life Chicago is adapting to COVID-19 with a series of smaller parking lot and road rallies throughout the Midwest. (They’re partnering with local radio stations so people can listen to pro-life speakers from their cars; how cool is that?) Secular Pro-Life is pleased to co-sponsor the tour. Events have already taken place in Madison, WI; Des Moines, IA; and Omaha, NE. The next stops on the tour are Fort Wayne, IN (January 16); Mundelein, IL (January 17); Indianapolis, IN (January 22); and of course, Chicago, IL (January 23). At the Chicago stop, check your goodie bag for a treat from Secular Pro-Life! NOTE: Registration is strongly encouraged.

The tour organizers are also collecting diapers for families in need at each location, with a goal of 130,094—one for every baby annually aborted in the Midwest. Whether or not you live in the Midwest or are able to participate in the tour, we encourage you to contribute online

Friday, January 29: The March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Prior to the March, we will join Democrats for Life of America for a socially distanced outdoor rally at 1000 Jefferson Drive SW. (Look for our 14-foot-tall, bright blue banner; you can’t miss it!) SPL president Kelsey Hazzard will speak about what the Democratic Party could do to appeal to pro-life independents like herself. For those who cannot attend, we will do our best to live-stream it, or at the very least post a video after the fact.

While supplies last, we will be distributing FREE masks and signs featuring our classic slogan “Call me an extremist, but I think dismemberment is wrong.” We could use another volunteer or two to help with the distribution; if you’re interested, please email info@secularprolife.org. 

From there, we will march to the Supreme Court building. The March for Life will offer live coverage for supporters participating remotely.

Saturday, January 30 (day): Virtual Pro-Life Student Conference

The Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life, traditionally held at Georgetown University, is going remote this year. Secular Pro-Life appreciates this opportunity to connect with Catholic university students and help them reach their secular classmates with the pro-life message. Stop by our virtual exhibit booth and say hello! Registration is required

Saturday, January 30 (evening): Virtual Game Night Fundraiser

Sadly, our traditional karaoke fundraiser is not possible during the pandemic. Instead, we are partnering with Rehumanize International for a virtual game night! The event begins at 7:30 p.m. EST and tickets are the excellent price of whatever donation you wish to make. 

Pro-Life Art Contest Submissions Open

Create | Encounter, a project by our friends at Rehumanize International, is once again seeking submissions of artwork in any media (poetry, prose, painting, sculpture, music, you name it) that explores themes related to the value of human life. Abortion-related works are common, but since Rehumanize International is multi-issue, submissions concerning other forms of aggressive violence (including war, human trafficking, and abuse) are also welcome.

Click here for the full submission guidelines, and get creative! The contest will close on February 20, with winners announced on March 5. Then, on March 27, Rehumanize will host a “virtual afternoon of the arts” to display the winning works! Tickets are pay-what-you-want and available here
[Photo credit: Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash]

What It’s Like to Be a Secular Sidewalk Counselor

 

The author stands on a sidewalk with prenatal development education materials.

“What parish do you attend?” That’s the question I often get when someone new arrives. When I respond that I’m secular, I get a look of amazement and whispered apologies, as if their question was somehow offensive to me. It isn’t. 

I’ve been doing sidewalk counseling outside of a local abortion facility for almost two years now. I’ve gotten used to the fact I’m the least likely person you’d expect out there. After all, it seems majority of those who are pro-life tend to be of some religious background. What I didn’t expect was to be standing on the sidewalk with so few.

My greatest frustration (aside from mothers going in to terminate their babies, and dads who sit in the parking lot playing games on their phone while it happens) is the lack of involvement from those who are of faith. 

I live in a city with a population over 300,000, in a county with a population over 2 million, with over 100 churches. Yet on any given Saturday, one of the busiest abortion days, there’s usually no more than three or four people trying to reach these moms and dads with help before they go inside. On a weekday, you’re lucky if there’s one person on the sidewalk. 

When there is nobody in front of the abortion center, mothers are not made aware of the local resources for help, fathers are not encouraged to step up and save their baby, and nobody hears the truth about how destructive abortion is for all involved. I shudder to think what would have happened to those mothers who chose life on the sidewalk, if no one had been there that day.

So what can secular pro-lifers do? Get involved in sidewalk counseling. If nobody is outside at your local abortion center(s), be that person who shows up. Don’t allow yourself to feel like you have no place out there. The need for sidewalk advocates, especially secular ones, is huge! I am thankful for the small group of people who stand with me. Despite our differing religious beliefs (or lack thereof), we work together and have saved lives. 

We still have much work to do. Won’t you join us?

[Today’s article is by Christine Sorrell. If you would like to contribute a guest post, email your submission to info@secularprolife.org for consideration.]

Tomorrow’s Georgia Runoff Elections Have Huge Implications

Which party will control the Senate? That question will be answered by the people of Georgia, who will elect both their Senators in a runoff election. Incumbent Sen. David Purdue (R) faces Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, while incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) faces Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock. Early voting has concluded, with over 3 million ballots already submitted. Tomorrow is the final opportunity for Georgians to cast their votes.
Control of the Senate could have a tremendous impact on abortion policy, especially when it comes to confirming judges and protecting the 60,000 lives saved each year under the Hyde Amendment. Senators Purdue and Loeffler both have anti-abortion voting records, while Ossoff and Warnock have the backing of the abortion industry. CNN reports that Planned Parenthood has spent six figures in the race; on the pro-life side, the political arms of groups like the Susan B. Anthony List and Students for Life of America are heavily invested. 
Raphael Warnock, who is a pastor, has tried to persuade the state’s religious voters that the Bible is compatible with violence against babies in the womb. Secular Pro-Life is not qualified to opine on matters of Biblical interpretation, and we do not believe that ancient sacred texts should determine today’s laws. Modern scientific and ethical considerations are sufficient to support anti-abortion policy. That said, we would be remiss not to acknowledge that Warnock is an outlier; most Christian leaders support the vulnerable unborn members of their communities, and prominent Black pastors in Georgia have signed an open letter condemning Warnock’s position
Georgia is generally considered a pro-life state—it enacted a heartbeat law and is ranked #14 on Americans United for Life’s 2021 Life List—but that does not make it a sure thing for Republicans, as its support for Joe Biden in November clearly demonstrated. FiveThirtyEight’s polling summary shows both races are incredibly close.
[Photo credit: Alejandro Barba on Unsplash]

2020 Year in Review

Left: Terrisa sings carols outside PP in San Francisco.
Middle: Kelsey marches in DC.
Right: Monica presents at a pro-life conference in Oregon.

I know: OOF. 2020 is not a year most of us are eager to look back upon. But despite unprecedented challenges, Secular Pro-Life continued our vital work in defense of unborn children. 

In January, we Marched for Life in Washington, D.C., were interviewed by multiple news outlets, and connected with pro-life youth activists at the Geaux Forth rally, the National Pro-Life Summit, the O’Connor conference, and (for the first time) a gathering for Ivy League students.

In February, Monica gave her “Deconstructing Three Pro-Choice Myths” presentation at the Together We Advocate Conference in Oregon. On the blog, we debunked the hilarious claim that “big money” is behind the pro-life cause (I wish!), interviewed pro-life Democrats, spread awareness of kinship caregiving, and publicized the scientific consensus that life begins at fertilization. On a more personal note, “Baby J,” whose mother had been living with Kelsey since October 2019, was born! Our friends at New Wave Feminists organized an incredible virtual baby shower for them. 

In early March, Terrisa spoke at a rally outside the Supreme Court on the day of oral arguments in June Medical v. Russo. Then COVID-19 reared its ugly head. Baby J and his mom left Kelsey to join family out of state before the lockdowns hit. Secular Pro-Life pivoted to socially distanced activities and encouraged donations to pregnancy care centers. Kelsey gave a virtual presentation to Students for Life of America’s Florida Leadership Workshop. And finally, after a long while of letting our email list gather dust, Secular Pro-Life began sending monthly e-newsletters (subscribe here). 

In April, Terrisa stood up to San Francisco authorities who tried to use COVID-19 to crack down on socially distant sidewalk counseling (while those same authorities dutifully ignored the elective, PPE-wasting procedures happening inside the abortion centers). Kelsey’s pre-recorded interview with the EWTN series “Defending Life” aired, and she also appeared on an Irish radio program. Three of the year’s top blog posts were published in April. 

In May, Kelsey gave Zoom presentations for the National Campus Life Network and Students for Life at FAU. Secular Pro-Life signed a coalition letter to the FDA, demanding a crackdown on illegal online abortion drug vendors. Terrisa appeared on “Defending Life” to share the secular case against abortion with a Catholic audience. On the blog, Monica interviewed John Bockmann, co-author of the groundbreaking paper “Reconsidering Fetal Pain.”

June was dominated by the tragic news that the Supreme Court struck down Louisiana’s common-sense regulation of abortion facilities in June Medical v. Russo. Chief Justice John Roberts, previously thought to be a pro-life vote, turned out to have no spine. (We can only hope for better results now that Justice Barrett is on the Court.) Meanwhile, Monica published a series of interviews with sidewalk counselors, both secular and religious.

In July, we published our initial exposé of abortion businesses and lobby groups that took taxpayer funds via the Paycheck Protection Program. We also explained the extreme pro-abortion records of Joe Biden’s prospective running mates (including Kamala Harris). After an activist judge suspended the FDA’s safety requirements for the abortion drug Mifeprex—which (among other things) requires that the abortion pill be administered in person, to combat the horrific practice of abusers slipping the drug into unaware women’s drinks—SPL joined Live Action and other organizations in demanding that the FDA pull Mifeprex off the market altogether. Both Kelsey and Terrisa began mentoring pro-life student leaders via Students for Life of America’s fellowship programs.

In August, SPL co-sponsored the Rehumanize Conference, which went virtual for the first time. Kelsey appeared on a Denver radio station and on the YouTube channel Modern-Day Debate. Terrisa rallied pro-life Democrats in an unofficial caucus outside the Democratic National Convention.

In September, we held a virtual rally to celebrate the 44th anniversary of the life-saving Hyde Amendment. The abortion lobby has the Hyde Amendment in its crosshairs, and with a pro-abortion White House administration, we will have to give everything we’ve got to preserve the Hyde Amendment for the next generation. Secular Pro-Life also actively promoted Colorado’s Proposition 115, which would end late-term abortion in that state (sadly, it did not pass). 

In October, we rallied outside the Department of Justice to demand indictment of Planned Parenthood (and its business partners) for fetal organ harvesting and organ trafficking after three years of an open investigation; rallied outside the Supreme Court in support of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination as the first pro-life woman on the Court; and spoke at a virtual conference for pro-life advocates in Ireland.

We all know what happened in November. Although pro-life candidates had a 5-point advantage, it wasn’t enough to overcome the many weaknesses of the GOP, the economy, and the coronavirus response. Pro-life advocates are looking at a very difficult political environment in the short term; just how difficult we can’t say until after the Senate runoff elections in Georgia. Whatever happens, we are united in our support for the right to life and are not going anywhere. In non-election-related November news, Kelsey gave virtual presentations to students from the University of Georgia and Ave Maria School of Law, and Terrisa got arrested while protesting research on abortion victims’ remains.  

In December, in response to updated Small Business Administration data, we expanded our exposé of abortion businesses and lobby groups that took taxpayer funds via the Paycheck Protection Program. We publicized new abortion data from the CDC, new state rankings from Americans United for Life, and the amazing Congressional testimony of Christina Bennett in support of the Hyde Amendment. And of course, we are making plans to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in January—subject to COVID-19 precautions.

None of this would have been possible without our donors, volunteers, and supporters. Thank you all so much for your help in this trying year. Here’s to 2021!

So many Zooms…

Top 10 Stories of 2020

The most-read articles on the Secular Pro-Life blog in 2020 are…

#10: Interview: Pro-life Democrats reflect on the Democratic Party and the pro-life movement—The abortion industry exerts a barbaric influence on the Democratic Party, but left-leaning pro-lifers refuse to be sidelined.

#9: Christopher Hitchens Wound Up Opposing Abortion Choice—Hitchens, like many Americans, had conflicting feelings about abortion which changed over time. Ultimately, he concluded that “[t]he presumption is that the unborn entity has a right on its side, and that every effort should be made to see if it can be preserved.”

#8: Coronavirus, Liberty, and Abortion: Does the Right to Life Supersede All Other Rights?—The era of masks and social distancing has valuable lessons for the abortion debate.  

#7: Instead of abortion or adoption, what about kinship caregiving?—Guest author Virginia Pride brings attention to this under-discussed alternative. 

#6: Annie’s story: unintended pregnancy threatened her athletic scholarship — and her pro-choice views—”I knew there was a tiny human growing within me. Abortion would mean ending my child’s life. I knew this as an objective, undeniable, scientific fact. Another scientific fact: I could not remain competitive at the Division I level much longer. I was in the middle of a moral dilemma, and it quickly dawned on me that I may not really have much of a choice at all.”

#5: A Pro-Life Response to “The unscientific nature of the concept that ‘human life begins at conception,’ and why it matters”—Science is firmly on the side of the pro-life position. Pro-abortion science deniers rely on linguistic trickery.  

#4: How many Democrats are pro-life?—Depending on the poll you cite, somewhere between 11 million and 36 million.

#3: The pro-choice view survives on widespread ignorance of biology—Abortion industry leaders tend to avoid the easily debunked “clump of cells” lie, but rank-and-file pro-choicers have yet to catch on. 

#2: A Supreme Court abortion decision is expected any day. Here’s what you need to know.—Sadly, the Supreme Court granted abortion businesses an undeserved exception from health and safety regulations. In the process, Chief Justice John Roberts revealed himself to be a coward.

#1: Even very pro-choice biologists acknowledge a human life begins at fertilization—The scientific consensus on life’s beginning is abundantly clear. There is no mystery, only obfuscation.

Photo credit: Christin Hume on Unsplash

Top 10 Graphics of 2020

Thank you for liking and sharing our memes! With no further ado, here are the year’s top Secular Pro-Life graphics (click to enlarge).

#10: Don’t like human rights violations?

#9: Wildly off base

Americans United for Life releases 2021 “Life List”

Every year, Americans United for Life (AUL) releases the “Life List,” which ranks each U.S. state on a spectrum from most to least pro-life based on a comprehensive legal analysis of each state’s legal protections for human life from conception to natural death. Numerous laws, from gestational limits to informed consent to facility regulations, factor into the analysis. Historically, a state’s position on the Life List positively correlates with its abortion rate.

Here are the rankings (click to enlarge), with #1 Arkansas being the best state for unborn children and #50 Vermont the worst:

AUL writes:
Every year the team at Americans United for Life ranks all 50 states on how welcoming and protective they are to all human life. For 2021, I couldn’t be more proud to announce that Americans United for Life has ranked the great state of Arkansas as the most pro-life state in our union!
2020 saw a real race to the top as communities across the country passed laws that save the lives of preborn children and protect the health of women. Arkansas is number one because of the truly impressive example that is being set in Little Rock. 
More details about the legal landscape in each state, along with recommended pro-life priorities for upcoming legislative sessions, can be found in AUL’s “Defending Life” manual.

Seeking Graphic Design and Branding Volunteers

Do you have a passion for graphic design? Secular Pro-Life is looking for volunteers! 

Since we won’t be attending any conferences for a while, we’re taking this opportunity to revamp our exhibit booth. Banners, brochures, display backdrops, t-shirts: it’s all on the table, and it all needs to look professional and consistently branded. 

If you think you’re right for this project, we’d love to hear from you! Please email info@secularprolife.org with the subject line “Graphic Design” and include a link to your portfolio and a little bit about yourself.