“Bill Barr, do your job!” SPL joins rally outside DOJ to demand PP indictment

Watch the full live stream of the rally here.

Multiple pro-life organizations rallied outside the offices of the US Attorney General to demand indictment of Planned Parenthood (and its business partners) for fetal organ harvesting and organ trafficking after three years of an open investigation. Signs with messages such as “PP sells body parts” put succinctly their calls for indictment.

Terrisa (right) preparing to kick off the DOJ protest.
Photo courtesy of Pro-Life San Francisco.

Our own Terrisa Bukovinac began the proceedings by calling on AG Barr to indict PP now that even more evidence of PP’s long term practice emerged from the Daleiden trials. Bukovinac noted her FOIA requests to the UCSF for records on fetal harvesting have been significantly delayed: “I shouldn’t have to sue for what the DOJ already has.” She believes actual DOJ prosecution would challenge and inhibit the crime of fetal organ harvesting and trafficking. 
Pro-life protesters with a sign quoting parts of the agreements to sell fetal organs.
Photo courtesy of Rehumanize International.
Jamie Jeffries of Abortion on Trial spoke on just how common the practice of fetal organ harvesting is, and the perverse incentives it produces on medical providers to encourage abortions. These same providers rarely ask for maternal consent to harvest organs. Jeffries introduced Nicole Atkins, who was injured by an abortion which was altered — without her consent — so that the abortionist could extract her baby’s brain; Atkins spoke on the need to inform women on the “mental, emotional, and physical toll” of abortion, including death, as her sister, Keisha Atkins, died from an abortion. A lack of law enforcement on this practice has real victims.

Photo courtesy of Rehumanize International.

Rehumanize International likewise called on Barr to begin prosecutions “now,” given the quantity of evidence produced by the graphic conversations recorded by the Center for Medical Progress and by the subsequent trial of the undercover reporter. (Watch Aimee Murphy’s full speech here.) Other speakers pointed out that after two Congressional investigations and FBI inquiries, the foundation for the DOJ to act is well established. One characterized the “harvesting of human organs from victims of violence” as “disgusting.”

Several speakers, including Mayra Rodriguez (former Employee of the Year of PP of AZ) cataloged serious legal infractions from PP: helping minors avoid parental reporting laws; failing to investigate human trafficking; committing Medicaid fraud; falsifying medical records to hide medical malpractice; having unsanitary practices; and harvesting and trafficking in fetal organs. Herb Geraghty of Rehumanize International and The Pro-life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians noted his shock that Planned Parenthood still receives taxpayer funding at all (watch his statement here). Planned Parenthood as a whole has a widespread culture of corruption.

Bill Barr can and must prosecute Planned Parenthood for its crimes. There is more than enough evidence for an indictment. Democrats for Life argued that Trump’s election was in large part a pro-life mandate, and many chanted “Bill Barr, do your job!”

The attorney general is the top cop. “When someone traffics in baby parts, we expect the cops.”
Photo courtesy of Rehumanize International.

A Portrait of a Coerced Abortion

In a collection of women’s abortion stories, one woman wrote about how she was pressured into abortion by her husband and abortion workers. 

The woman’s husband had been demanding that she get an abortion. She decided to go to the abortion facility and back out at the last-minute. Then she could say she at least tried to get an abortion, which might appease her husband. She says, “Looking back, I realize I was afraid of my husband.” 

A smiling woman met her at the abortion facility, and she told the woman immediately that she did not want an abortion. The post-abortive woman recalls the conversation: 

We were led into a counseling room by a woman with a pleasant smile. After we sat down, I told her, “Deep inside my heart, I know there is no justification for an abortion.” Ralph glared at me. He said, “She thinks she is carrying a baby and not just a blob of cells.” The counselor assured me that my baby was “just a pinhead.” Both she and my husband argued with me. She said, “You can do this. You don’t have to want it or like it. It’s best to make this sacrifice for the well-being of your two boys.” My husband begged me, “Please do it!”… “Wouldn’t you remove a tumor?” As she shoved the papers at me to sign, she told me, “You can stop the abortion at any time.” 

Under pressure, she signed the papers, still intending to change her mind: 

When it was time to go into the operating room, I crouched down outside the door and whimpered, “I can’t do this.” Two smiling women, one on each side of me, lifted me up and pushed me into the room. The doctor was upset with me because I was crying. Many times, I told him, “I don’t want to. I don’t want to!” 

They gave her anesthesia, knocked her out, and did the abortion. 

This woman made it very clear to the abortion workers and the abortionist that she didn’t want to have an abortion. However, they gave her drugs to incapacitate her and then committed the abortion on her against her will. Their actions make a mockery of the pro-abortion claim that abortion providers are selfless heroes who just want to help women. Obviously, these “pro-choice” abortion providers did not respect her choice. 

That night, the woman cried bitterly, only to have her husband yell at her: 

That night when my crying kept Ralph awake, he yelled at me, “What’s wrong with you? We got rid of the problem!” The next morning, after a night without sleep, I urged Ralph to look on the Internet for what happened to women after an abortion.
He searched WebMD and found only one article. He showed it to me and pointed to one sentence: “Most women do not regret abortion.” He grinned knowingly and said, “You see? You’re crazy, you’re creating this problem. You’ll be okay.” I cried. 

The abortion industry and abortion supporters have released studies that purport to show only a small fraction of women regret their abortions. However, the studies contain methodological flaws. For one thing, few studies follow the women longer than a few months to a year. They therefore miss emotional trauma that surfaces later. 

If you listen to the testimonies of women who regret their abortions, many of them came to experience regret after a triggering incident in their lives. This could mean giving birth to a baby, which led them to wonder about the one that was aborted; finding out information they didn’t know about fetal development; seeing an ultrasound, or losing a child through miscarriage. These events may happen many years after the abortion and trigger long-lasting abortion regret. 

Also, large numbers of women dropped out of the studies after initially agreeing to take part. These women filled out the first questionnaire but refused to fill out future questionnaires. There was no follow-up with these women – they were simply removed from the studies. Every study I have read that was based on questionnaires and came to the conclusion that women don’t suffer after abortion had a high attrition rate – with up to 50% or more of the women dropping out. Some of these women may have dropped out because they found it traumatic to think about their abortions. 

Therefore, these studies are unreliable. Studies that do show that women regret their abortions or that the suicide rate of women is higher after abortion have been published. But pro-abortion medical societies and the abortion industry downplay these studies, and many of them have been published outside of the United States because American journals don’t want to publish them. 

Source: Barbara Horak Real Abortion Stories: The Hurting and the Healing (El Paso, Texas: Strive for the Best Publishing, 2007)

[Today’s guest article is by Sarah Terzo. If you would like to contribute a guest article, email your submission to info@secularprolife.org for consideration. Photo credit: Oregon Right to Life.]

A former late-term abortion nurse speaks out

Warren Hern is one of the few people in the United States who openly performs abortions even after 24 weeks gestation. He performs abortions in Colorado, one of a handful of states that have no gestational limits on abortion — that is, it is legal to perform abortion for any reason at any point in the pregnancy. (Pro-life advocates on the ground are working to change that.)

3D image of a 28-week-old baby in the womb

Hern has gone on record explaining that the later abortions he performs are not always for women facing any grave medical outcome. He has also published work exploring how abortion workers (both doctors and nurses) are emotionally and psychologically impacted by late-term abortion. His work has been incredibly frank, providing a sharp contrast to the strident euphemisms of many pro-choice advocates.

Julie Wilkinson worked as a nurse in Hern’s clinic for years, but she is now passionately pro-life and works in a NICU instead. I recently read a piece in New American about her conversion. Here are a few random thoughts a bit too long for a FB post:

Though an abortion was not something I ever planned to have, I rationalized the deaths of the infants: All the abused babies and children were better off going to heaven than being born and suffering if they were unwanted.

Several notes about this mentality:

  1. Usually religiosity correlates with being anti-abortion. Still it’s interesting (and disheartening) to see how belief in an afterlife can help people feel complacent about taking lives. This is in line with what we’ve previously written about the “Abortion Religion,” in which abortion supporters appropriate supernatural concepts like reincarnation to justify violence against children in the womb.
  2. The idea that children born of unintended pregnancies will be unwanted is largely a myth. Research has found that the vast majority of women who sought but were denied abortion and went on to birth their children raised their children themselves and bonded to their children just fine.
  3. Notice that very few (if any) people take the above mentality and apply it to born children. We don’t argue that the solution to child abuse is to euthanize the children being abused, so they can be better off in heaven.
Continuing…

I was raised a Christian and still considered myself one, mind you, but I attended church rarely.

This makes sense. Being pro-choice is inversely correlated with church attendance.

After a few weeks, I was taught how to assist with late cases, 13-24 weeks. … I would hand sterile instruments to the doctor so that he could withdraw amniotic fluid from the uterus and replace it with a concentrated urea (salt) solution, which I was responsible to mix. He said that the solution caused the placenta to separate from the uterus, resulting in the fetus dying. The truth was, the babies likely suffered terribly in the salt solution, their fragile skin and lungs being burned.

Good time to suggest everyone read the January 2020 Journal of Medical Ethics article “Reconsidering Fetal Pain,” which argues the fetus may feel pain as early as 13 weeks.

An early troubling situation occurred when a married, successful couple came to visit the clinic. They wanted a child, but they found out at 16 weeks that she was carrying twins and were not sure if twins would fit into their lifestyle. That visit bothered most of the workers, but it was no trouble for the doctor, who aborted the couple’s healthy babies a couple weeks later.

Another example of how later abortions are not exclusively done for medical reasons. On the contrary, based on what information we can find, it appears later abortions are usually not for medical reasons. In fact, Hern himself has published research saying only 30% of his patients seek second and third trimester abortions for reasons of fetal abnormality.

After a couple years, I believe the Holy Spirit began to nudge me.

I feel conflicted about this idea. On the one hand, I’m grateful for every person who moves from a pro-choice to a pro-life position, and I recognize that faith plays a role in those conversions for some people. On the other hand, if it’s the Holy Spirit doing this work, why the subtlety? Why a “nudge”? Why not a massive shove in the other direction, similar to Saul on the road to Damascus?

But I’m an atheist, so for me these questions are really just rhetorical. Whatever her reasons, I’m glad Julie changed her mind.

However, my heart didn’t change overnight. Time was necessary to change my years-long belief in a woman’s “right to choose.”

She’s not alone here. A lot of conversions are stories of a slow process, often over years. Please remember that factor when you’re talking about abortion with people who disagree. Be patient as you plant ideas, and don’t worry if you don’t see any major changes immediately. Just keep going.

After I left Boulder, I never told people what I had done there. I got married, and we had three beautiful daughters. I did not tell them my story either; I just made sure they were raised to be pro-life. It felt very lonely to keep that dreadful secret.

Julie’s reaction demonstrates why it’s so tricky to conduct accurate research regarding people’s feelings about their own choices — people who feel shame, regret, guilt, deep sorrow, or other negative emotions are less likely to speak up than people who are satisfied with their decisions. This problem is one of the major limitations of the recent highly touted study claiming 95% of women do not regret their abortions. Read more here.

Then a few years ago, another person told me I should reach out to Abby Johnson, who was a former abortion clinic director who held retreats for ex-abortion workers. So I did. I found a small, generally invisible group of people who are passionately pro-life. We have seen abortion from the inside, and we know the truth.

Abby Johnson’s pro-life work is unique and so needed. I’m glad she has created this space for former abortion workers.

A former late-term abortion nurse speaks out

Warren Hern is one of the few people in the United States who openly performs abortions even after 24 weeks gestation. He performs abortions in Colorado, one of a handful of states that have no gestational limits on abortion — that is, it is legal to perform abortion for any reason at any point in the pregnancy. (Pro-life advocates on the ground are working to change that.)

3D image of a 28-week-old baby in the womb

Hern has gone on record explaining that the later abortions he performs are not always for women facing any grave medical outcome. He has also published work exploring how abortion workers (both doctors and nurses) are emotionally and psychologically impacted by late-term abortion. His work has been incredibly frank, providing a sharp contrast to the strident euphemisms of many pro-choice advocates.

Julie Wilkinson worked as a nurse in Hern’s clinic for years, but she is now passionately pro-life and works in a NICU instead. I recently read a piece in New American about her conversion. Here are a few random thoughts a bit too long for a FB post:

Though an abortion was not something I ever planned to have, I rationalized the deaths of the infants: All the abused babies and children were better off going to heaven than being born and suffering if they were unwanted.

Several notes about this mentality:

  1. Usually religiosity correlates with being anti-abortion. Still it’s interesting (and disheartening) to see how belief in an afterlife can help people feel complacent about taking lives. This is in line with what we’ve previously written about the “Abortion Religion,” in which abortion supporters appropriate supernatural concepts like reincarnation to justify violence against children in the womb.
  2. The idea that children born of unintended pregnancies will be unwanted is largely a myth. Research has found that the vast majority of women who sought but were denied abortion and went on to birth their children raised their children themselves and bonded to their children just fine.
  3. Notice that very few (if any) people take the above mentality and apply it to born children. We don’t argue that the solution to child abuse is to euthanize the children being abused, so they can be better off in heaven.
Continuing…

I was raised a Christian and still considered myself one, mind you, but I attended church rarely.

This makes sense. Being pro-choice is inversely correlated with church attendance.

After a few weeks, I was taught how to assist with late cases, 13-24 weeks. … I would hand sterile instruments to the doctor so that he could withdraw amniotic fluid from the uterus and replace it with a concentrated urea (salt) solution, which I was responsible to mix. He said that the solution caused the placenta to separate from the uterus, resulting in the fetus dying. The truth was, the babies likely suffered terribly in the salt solution, their fragile skin and lungs being burned.

Good time to suggest everyone read the January 2020 Journal of Medical Ethics article “Reconsidering Fetal Pain,” which argues the fetus may feel pain as early as 13 weeks.

An early troubling situation occurred when a married, successful couple came to visit the clinic. They wanted a child, but they found out at 16 weeks that she was carrying twins and were not sure if twins would fit into their lifestyle. That visit bothered most of the workers, but it was no trouble for the doctor, who aborted the couple’s healthy babies a couple weeks later.

Another example of how later abortions are not exclusively done for medical reasons. On the contrary, based on what information we can find, it appears later abortions are usually not for medical reasons. In fact, Hern himself has published research saying only 30% of his patients seek second and third trimester abortions for reasons of fetal abnormality.

After a couple years, I believe the Holy Spirit began to nudge me.

I feel conflicted about this idea. On the one hand, I’m grateful for every person who moves from a pro-choice to a pro-life position, and I recognize that faith plays a role in those conversions for some people. On the other hand, if it’s the Holy Spirit doing this work, why the subtlety? Why a “nudge”? Why not a massive shove in the other direction, similar to Saul on the road to Damascus?

But I’m an atheist, so for me these questions are really just rhetorical. Whatever her reasons, I’m glad Julie changed her mind.

However, my heart didn’t change overnight. Time was necessary to change my years-long belief in a woman’s “right to choose.”

She’s not alone here. A lot of conversions are stories of a slow process, often over years. Please remember that factor when you’re talking about abortion with people who disagree. Be patient as you plant ideas, and don’t worry if you don’t see any major changes immediately. Just keep going.

After I left Boulder, I never told people what I had done there. I got married, and we had three beautiful daughters. I did not tell them my story either; I just made sure they were raised to be pro-life. It felt very lonely to keep that dreadful secret.

Julie’s reaction demonstrates why it’s so tricky to conduct accurate research regarding people’s feelings about their own choices — people who feel shame, regret, guilt, deep sorrow, or other negative emotions are less likely to speak up than people who are satisfied with their decisions. This problem is one of the major limitations of the recent highly touted study claiming 95% of women do not regret their abortions. Read more here.

Then a few years ago, another person told me I should reach out to Abby Johnson, who was a former abortion clinic director who held retreats for ex-abortion workers. So I did. I found a small, generally invisible group of people who are passionately pro-life. We have seen abortion from the inside, and we know the truth.

Abby Johnson’s pro-life work is unique and so needed. I’m glad she has created this space for former abortion workers.

Confronting the Pro-Choice Stance, Honestly

Above: Pro-life youth demonstrate outside the Supreme Court; in the
background, a sign reads “Keep abortion safe and legal.”

Last week, The Atlantic published an article by Caitlin Flanagan entitled “The Dishonesty of the Abortion Debate: Why we need to face the best arguments from the other side.” I encourage you to read the whole thing. Flanagan, who is pro-choice, did an admirable job of identifying the best arguments on each side of the abortion debate.

For the pro-life side, she gave a heartfelt defense of children in the womb. While there are many other ways to arrive at the pro-life position—such as abortion’s harm to mothers, fathers, abortion survivors, people with disabilities, and society at large—I agree that the harm to the unborn child is paramount. And boy, does she write it well. No one can accuse her of failing to understand the opposing position:

What I can’t face about abortion is the reality of it: that these are human beings, the most vulnerable among us, and we have no care for them. How terrible to know that in the space of an hour, a baby could be alive—his heart beating, his kidneys creating the urine that becomes the amniotic fluid of his safe home—and then be dead, his heart stopped, his body soon to be discarded.

For the pro-choice side, she selected the fear of “back-alley” abortion as the strongest argument. This is apparently the argument that most convinces her personally. She tells the tragic stories of three mothers in the 1950’s who died after attempting to abort their babies with Lysol (which had a different formula than it does today). She concludes:

Women have been willing to risk death to get an abortion. When we made abortion legal, we decided we weren’t going to let that happen anymore. We were not going to let one more woman arrive at a hospital with her organs rotting inside of her. We accepted that we might lose that growing baby, but we were not also going to lose that woman.

It’s the best available argument for abortion. And it’s wrong, for at least three reasons.


(1) Roe v. Wade didn’t reduce the maternal death rate from illegal abortion. 

Flanagan assumes that making abortion legal made it safer, but doesn’t offer any evidence for that assumption beyond a correlation-is-causation argument; since women are no longer showing up in hospitals after surreptitious Lysol abortions, Roe must have been the answer! That’s a weak case, and the data just don’t back it up.

Whenever I give presentations on college campuses, I share this graph from the National Center for Health Statistics, showing maternal deaths from illegal abortions by year—but with the x-axis, the year, erased.

I then ask a brave audience volunteer to guess where 1973, the year of Roe v. Wade, falls on the graph. Most select a peak, in line with the narrative that Roe v. Wade caused maternal deaths to plummet. Invariably, they guess wrong:

Roe v. Wade isn’t even a blip on the graph. Forget “correlation doesn’t equal causation”—they don’t even have correlation! The real savior of women’s lives? Advances in antibiotics.

(2) A lot has changed since the 1950’s.

And not just antibiotics. Flanagan herself acknowledges that it “was illegal to advertise contraception nationally until 1977,” four years after Roe; today, you can pick up condoms at any corner drugstore, and prescription contraceptives are widely available. Pregnancy discrimination was perfectly legal at the time of Roe; today, it’s prohibited by federal law. Women couldn’t get credit cards in their own name at the time of Roe; today, it’s unquestioned. Marital rape wasn’t criminalized in all 50 states until two decades after Roe. And I haven’t even mentioned that today, pro-life pregnancy centers outnumber abortion businesses. Using the 1950’s to predict a post-Roe future is wildly unrealistic.

(3) Legal abortion is still killing women.  

Tonya Reaves. Jennifer Morbelli. Maria Santiago. Lakisha Wilson. Christin Gilbert. The list goes on. The pro-life movement can tell stories just as tragic as the “back-alley” stories Flanagan shares. The fact that their abortions were legal doesn’t make them any less dead.

I appreciate Flanagan’s attempt to engage the pro-life position honestly. It’s the best article from an abortion supporter I’ve seen since Shawna Kay Rodenberg’s piece in Salon two years ago. I hope Flanagan will keep digging, keep following her conscience, and become the next convert to the pro-life cause.

Confronting the Pro-Choice Stance, Honestly

Above: Pro-life youth demonstrate outside the Supreme Court; in the
background, a sign reads “Keep abortion safe and legal.”

Last week, The Atlantic published an article by Caitlin Flanagan entitled “The Dishonesty of the Abortion Debate: Why we need to face the best arguments from the other side.” I encourage you to read the whole thing. Flanagan, who is pro-choice, did an admirable job of identifying the best arguments on each side of the abortion debate.

For the pro-life side, she gave a heartfelt defense of children in the womb. While there are many other ways to arrive at the pro-life position—such as abortion’s harm to mothers, fathers, abortion survivors, people with disabilities, and society at large—I agree that the harm to the unborn child is paramount. And boy, does she write it well. No one can accuse her of failing to understand the opposing position:

What I can’t face about abortion is the reality of it: that these are human beings, the most vulnerable among us, and we have no care for them. How terrible to know that in the space of an hour, a baby could be alive—his heart beating, his kidneys creating the urine that becomes the amniotic fluid of his safe home—and then be dead, his heart stopped, his body soon to be discarded.

For the pro-choice side, she selected the fear of “back-alley” abortion as the strongest argument. This is apparently the argument that most convinces her personally. She tells the tragic stories of three mothers in the 1950’s who died after attempting to abort their babies with Lysol (which had a different formula than it does today). She concludes:

Women have been willing to risk death to get an abortion. When we made abortion legal, we decided we weren’t going to let that happen anymore. We were not going to let one more woman arrive at a hospital with her organs rotting inside of her. We accepted that we might lose that growing baby, but we were not also going to lose that woman.

It’s the best available argument for abortion. And it’s wrong, for at least three reasons.


(1) Roe v. Wade didn’t reduce the maternal death rate from illegal abortion. 

Flanagan assumes that making abortion legal made it safer, but doesn’t offer any evidence for that assumption beyond a correlation-is-causation argument; since women are no longer showing up in hospitals after surreptitious Lysol abortions, Roe must have been the answer! That’s a weak case, and the data just don’t back it up.

Whenever I give presentations on college campuses, I share this graph from the National Center for Health Statistics, showing maternal deaths from illegal abortions by year—but with the x-axis, the year, erased.

I then ask a brave audience volunteer to guess where 1973, the year of Roe v. Wade, falls on the graph. Most select a peak, in line with the narrative that Roe v. Wade caused maternal deaths to plummet. Invariably, they guess wrong:

Roe v. Wade isn’t even a blip on the graph. Forget “correlation doesn’t equal causation”—they don’t even have correlation! The real savior of women’s lives? Advances in antibiotics.

(2) A lot has changed since the 1950’s.

And not just antibiotics. Flanagan herself acknowledges that it “was illegal to advertise contraception nationally until 1977,” four years after Roe; today, you can pick up condoms at any corner drugstore, and prescription contraceptives are widely available. Pregnancy discrimination was perfectly legal at the time of Roe; today, it’s prohibited by federal law. Women couldn’t get credit cards in their own name at the time of Roe; today, it’s unquestioned. Marital rape wasn’t criminalized in all 50 states until two decades after Roe. And I haven’t even mentioned that today, pro-life pregnancy centers outnumber abortion businesses. Using the 1950’s to predict a post-Roe future is wildly unrealistic.

(3) Legal abortion is still killing women.  

Tonya Reaves. Jennifer Morbelli. Maria Santiago. Lakisha Wilson. Christin Gilbert. The list goes on. The pro-life movement can tell stories just as tragic as the “back-alley” stories Flanagan shares. The fact that their abortions were legal doesn’t make them any less dead.

I appreciate Flanagan’s attempt to engage the pro-life position honestly. It’s the best article from an abortion supporter I’ve seen since Shawna Kay Rodenberg’s piece in Salon two years ago. I hope Flanagan will keep digging, keep following her conscience, and become the next convert to the pro-life cause.

Women who’ve had abortions don’t owe loyalty to the abortion industry

Since Roe v. Wade, there have been over 60 million abortions committed in the United States. Even if 40% of those were repeat abortions (statistics vary by year), about 36 million women have had at least one legal abortion in the past 40 years.

Some current and former abortion workers have wondered where all these women are. Why aren’t more of them active in the pro-choice movement? Certainly, there are many who are. But there has been no massive uprising of post-abortive women fighting for abortion rights. Despite high profile campaigns like Shout your Abortion, most post-abortive women keep their abortions to themselves. The fact that the pro-life movement is so powerful, even when such a large number of women have had abortions and would seem to have every reason to support that right, is telling.

Jeannie Jones counseled women and helped them get abortions both before and after Roe. She says:

I became convinced within a year or two of doing abortion counseling to great numbers at Amherst Medical that the whole thing – society’s condemnatory attitude toward abortion – was going to change so dramatically because there were all these women of all ages who had abortions and members of their families who knew about it. They had this experience of making this tough decision. I thought that was going to change the political landscape and I can’t believe [that opposition to legal abortion] is still going on. There’s this enormous number of women having abortions still, but it’s like you had one and you don’t have any sympathy or concern for anyone else. Where is this enormous population of people who personally had this experience? Where are their families?

[Source: David P Cline Creating Choice: A Community Responds to the Need for Abortion and Birth Control, 1961 – 1973 (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006) 206]

Abortion is highly stigmatized despite many women having abortions.
Former abortion worker Robin Dizard is so frustrated that more post-abortive women haven’t been fighting for abortion rights that she contemplated “outing” her former patients. The fact that many post-abortive women just want to go on with their lives, and others join the pro-life movement, angers her. She writes about exposing women’s secret abortions in order to shame them into being pro-choice, or to discredit their pro-life activism:

[I]t’s something that has been used very effectively in outing [of gay people], for example. I’m not in favor of it but look what it does. And look what happens when the hypocrites who are holding elected office get found out: “Oh, Senator whoever you are, your office is full of pornography, that’s very interesting,” and then the guy pipes down a little bit.

[Source: Ibid. 207]


Ironically and perhaps unintentionally, Dizard compares having an abortion to looking at pornography. This comparison acknowledges the stigma surrounding abortion.

Many pro-life post-abortive women are in fact open about their abortions; they see them as tragic events in their lives. Often, it is the abortion experience that motivates post-abortive pro-life women, whether they feel comfortable talking about their abortions or not.

Abortion worker Steph Herold also expresses her frustration:

We need our patients, who we do everything for, to stand up for us. We don’t need them to tell their abortion stories to everyone they know, although of course that would be great. We need them to fight for abortion access in whatever way makes sense to them. If one in three US women has an abortion by age 45, where are these women? Why don’t they stand up for us?

[Source: Sarah Erdreich Generation Roe: Inside the Future of the Pro-Choice Movement (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2013) 175]

Herold’s fake “one in three” statistic has been debunked.

Herold isn’t seeing the women who had abortions at her facility on the pro-choice picket line.

Abortion facility owner Maggie Cage ran a full-page newspaper ad during Operation Rescue’s campaign. While pro-lifers staged sit ins in front of the facility door, Cage called for her former patients to come and “defend” the facility:

Where are you? Where are all the people we’ve helped over the years? We need you now. When you needed us, we were there. We held your hand and supported you. We see you in restaurants and at the grocery store, at PTA meetings and softball games. You are the businesspeople, the school officials, the politicians, the voters. We kept you safe. We held your secrets. But now we need help. Where are you?

[Source: Susan Wicklund This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor (New York: Public Affairs Perseus Books Group, 2007) 160]

All the current and former abortion workers quoted here avoid coming to an obvious conclusion: many women don’t consider their abortion experience empowering. At “best,” they want to forget about it. At “worst,” they actively work against abortion.

What about the numbers? How many women who have had abortions are active in the pro-life movement vs. the pro-choice movement?

Unfortunately, current statistics aren’t available. But there is an older study, done in 1981, which found that more post-abortive women were involved in National Right to Life than in NARAL (one of the most prominent pro-abortion groups, then and now).

[Source: Donald Granberg, “The Abortion Activists” Family Planning Perspectives July – August 1981]

The study was done by pro-choice researcher Donald Granberg and published in the journal of the Alan Guttmacher Institute. It found that 3% of women in National Right to Life and 36% of women in NARAL had had abortions. At first glance, it seems like women who have abortions are far more likely to join NARAL and be pro-choice. But when you actually count the numbers up, you find that more post-abortive women were members of National Right to Life.

At the time of the study, there were 12 million women in National Right to Life and 156,000 in NARAL. This means that 39,000 women in NARAL had abortions. In National Right to Life, the number was 245,000.

What this translates to, if you do the math, is that there were six times more post-abortive women in National Right to Life than in NARAL.

Of course, there is only so much we can determine from the study. It only includes two organizations (though at the time, they were the largest), and it is from decades ago. So, we don’t know how much it can be applied to today. But it is seems clear that the majority of the 36 million American women who have had abortions are not pro-abortion activists.

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

Women who’ve had abortions don’t owe loyalty to the abortion industry

Since Roe v. Wade, there have been over 60 million abortions committed in the United States. Even if 40% of those were repeat abortions (statistics vary by year), about 36 million women have had at least one legal abortion in the past 40 years.

Some current and former abortion workers have wondered where all these women are. Why aren’t more of them active in the pro-choice movement? Certainly, there are many who are. But there has been no massive uprising of post-abortive women fighting for abortion rights. Despite high profile campaigns like Shout your Abortion, most post-abortive women keep their abortions to themselves. The fact that the pro-life movement is so powerful, even when such a large number of women have had abortions and would seem to have every reason to support that right, is telling.

Jeannie Jones counseled women and helped them get abortions both before and after Roe. She says:

I became convinced within a year or two of doing abortion counseling to great numbers at Amherst Medical that the whole thing – society’s condemnatory attitude toward abortion – was going to change so dramatically because there were all these women of all ages who had abortions and members of their families who knew about it. They had this experience of making this tough decision. I thought that was going to change the political landscape and I can’t believe [that opposition to legal abortion] is still going on. There’s this enormous number of women having abortions still, but it’s like you had one and you don’t have any sympathy or concern for anyone else. Where is this enormous population of people who personally had this experience? Where are their families?

[Source: David P Cline Creating Choice: A Community Responds to the Need for Abortion and Birth Control, 1961 – 1973 (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006) 206]

Abortion is highly stigmatized despite many women having abortions.
Former abortion worker Robin Dizard is so frustrated that more post-abortive women haven’t been fighting for abortion rights that she contemplated “outing” her former patients. The fact that many post-abortive women just want to go on with their lives, and others join the pro-life movement, angers her. She writes about exposing women’s secret abortions in order to shame them into being pro-choice, or to discredit their pro-life activism:

[I]t’s something that has been used very effectively in outing [of gay people], for example. I’m not in favor of it but look what it does. And look what happens when the hypocrites who are holding elected office get found out: “Oh, Senator whoever you are, your office is full of pornography, that’s very interesting,” and then the guy pipes down a little bit.

[Source: Ibid. 207]


Ironically and perhaps unintentionally, Dizard compares having an abortion to looking at pornography. This comparison acknowledges the stigma surrounding abortion.

Many pro-life post-abortive women are in fact open about their abortions; they see them as tragic events in their lives. Often, it is the abortion experience that motivates post-abortive pro-life women, whether they feel comfortable talking about their abortions or not.

Abortion worker Steph Herold also expresses her frustration:

We need our patients, who we do everything for, to stand up for us. We don’t need them to tell their abortion stories to everyone they know, although of course that would be great. We need them to fight for abortion access in whatever way makes sense to them. If one in three US women has an abortion by age 45, where are these women? Why don’t they stand up for us?

[Source: Sarah Erdreich Generation Roe: Inside the Future of the Pro-Choice Movement (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2013) 175]

Herold’s fake “one in three” statistic has been debunked.

Herold isn’t seeing the women who had abortions at her facility on the pro-choice picket line.

Abortion facility owner Maggie Cage ran a full-page newspaper ad during Operation Rescue’s campaign. While pro-lifers staged sit ins in front of the facility door, Cage called for her former patients to come and “defend” the facility:

Where are you? Where are all the people we’ve helped over the years? We need you now. When you needed us, we were there. We held your hand and supported you. We see you in restaurants and at the grocery store, at PTA meetings and softball games. You are the businesspeople, the school officials, the politicians, the voters. We kept you safe. We held your secrets. But now we need help. Where are you?

[Source: Susan Wicklund This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor (New York: Public Affairs Perseus Books Group, 2007) 160]

All the current and former abortion workers quoted here avoid coming to an obvious conclusion: many women don’t consider their abortion experience empowering. At “best,” they want to forget about it. At “worst,” they actively work against abortion.

What about the numbers? How many women who have had abortions are active in the pro-life movement vs. the pro-choice movement?

Unfortunately, current statistics aren’t available. But there is an older study, done in 1981, which found that more post-abortive women were involved in National Right to Life than in NARAL (one of the most prominent pro-abortion groups, then and now).

[Source: Donald Granberg, “The Abortion Activists” Family Planning Perspectives July – August 1981]

The study was done by pro-choice researcher Donald Granberg and published in the journal of the Alan Guttmacher Institute. It found that 3% of women in National Right to Life and 36% of women in NARAL had had abortions. At first glance, it seems like women who have abortions are far more likely to join NARAL and be pro-choice. But when you actually count the numbers up, you find that more post-abortive women were members of National Right to Life.

At the time of the study, there were 12 million women in National Right to Life and 156,000 in NARAL. This means that 39,000 women in NARAL had abortions. In National Right to Life, the number was 245,000.

What this translates to, if you do the math, is that there were six times more post-abortive women in National Right to Life than in NARAL.

Of course, there is only so much we can determine from the study. It only includes two organizations (though at the time, they were the largest), and it is from decades ago. So, we don’t know how much it can be applied to today. But it is seems clear that the majority of the 36 million American women who have had abortions are not pro-abortion activists.

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

When women can’t get abortions, what happens to the children they birth?

Came across this article recently and the headline caught my eye.

There, fixed it.



Broadly speaking, pro-choice people treat abortion as if it prevents a child from coming into existence, rather than destroying a child who already exists. Diana Greene Fosterthe article’s author and principal investigator of the study being summarizedsuggests as much when she says:

Whether to have an abortion can be a difficult decision to make. The fetus could develop into a unique person that would never get another chance to be born. [Emphasis added.]

From her perspective, the entity being destroyed is not yet a unique person, but could someday be one. With that framework it makes sense to ask “Under these circumstances, is it responsible or moral to bring this child into existence?” 


One way to answer the question is to compare the outcomes of two groups of children:

  • Group 1: children born because women were denied abortion.
  • Group 2: children born to women who were not seeking abortion. 
But of course pro-life people will see this whole discussion in a totally different light. Pro-life people recognize that abortion destroys already-existing human organisms, and we view those humans as morally relevant and deserving of protection. Under that framework, we would compare the outcomes of three groups of children:
  • Group 1: children born because women were denied abortion.
  • Group 2: children born to women who were not seeking abortion. 
  • Group 3: children aborted.

It was with this mentality that I read the above article and its underlying study; while it’s interesting to compare Groups 1 and 2, the backdrop is always the comparison between Groups 1 and 3. How do children born to women denied abortion fare compared to children aborted? They fare better. Because they aren’t dead.

I’m not trying to be glib here. From the perspective of people who believe prenatal children deserve protection, this whole study is like asking “How do poor children fare compared to middle class children?” or “How do children with developmental delays fare compared to children without delays?” or “How do children raised by single mothers fare compared to children raised by stably married parents?” Those are all questions worth studying, but they take a much darker meaning if the suggestion for improving aggregate child outcomes is to kill all the disadvantaged children.

FB shareable version here or see a similar dichotomy here.

Setting aside the glaring difference in pro-choice and pro-life perspectives, though, I read the study with interest. Here are the points that caught my eye:

When women were denied legal abortion, the vast majority of them birthed their children. Contrary to the common pro-choice talking point, preventing women from getting legal abortion doesn’t simply push them to get dangerous illegal abortions. In this study, of the 195 women turned away from abortion clinics who completed all the study’s interviews, 2% miscarried, 23% obtained abortions elsewhere, and 75% gave birth. (This result dovetails with the many studies that find abortion restrictions decrease abortions.) Of the women who gave birth, 90% raised their children themselves (compared to the 10% who chose adoption).

Mostly the kids fared just as well either way. This study defined “index children” as children born to women who were denied abortion and “subsequent children” as children born to women who received abortions and then birthed a child in the ensuing 5 years. By most metrics, index children had the same outcomes as subsequent children.

Index children were no more likely than subsequent children to experience:

  • premature birth
  • low birth weight
  • admission to NICUs
  • physical disabilities
  • asthma
  • household incomes below the federal poverty level
  • receipt of public assistance (WIC, TANF, SNAP)
Similarly, index children were no less likely than subsequent children to:
  • be breastfed
  • achieve the same mean scores on developmental milestones
  • reach the following specific developmental milestones:
    • fine motor skills
    • self-help skills
    • social emotional skills
    • receptive language
    • expressive language

    The two groups did have some differences, though. Index children were slightly less likely than subsequent children to achieve gross motor milestones. They were more likely to have been injured (mostly accidents and falls) in the last 6 months. Index children were less likely to live in households with the mother’s male partner and more likely to live in households with other adult family members.

    Mothers of index children were more likely to report they struggled in the last month to afford basic needs (75% of index mothers reported this struggle compared to 55% of subsequent mothers). Index mothers were also more likely to struggle to bond with their children. In her article, Foster elaborates:

    Women are also much more likely to report poor maternal bonding — feeling trapped as a mother, resenting their baby, or longing for the “old days” before they had the baby — with the child born after abortion denial than with the next child born following a wanted abortion.

    Specifically the study found that 9% of index mothers reported poor maternal bonding compared to 3% of subsequent mothers. This difference is substantial but the statistic also still indicates that over 90% of mothers bond just fine to the children they weren’t able to abort.

    It’s also noteworthy that the study doesn’t measure whether women raising index children retrospectively wish they had gotten abortions instead. Struggling to bond with your child is not the same as wishing your child didn’t exist. All parents experience resentment and frustration at some points or others, but that doesn’t mean we wish we weren’t parents or wish our kids weren’t our kids.

    Of course we don’t want children to grow up in harsh circumstances. While the circumstances of a child’s birth aren’t fate for the rest of the child’s life, they are still a major influence. Ideally all children would be conceived in circumstances where their parents are as prepared as possible to best care for them. Fewer unintended pregnancies mean not only fewer abortions but also fewer births and less child-rearing in difficult situations, which is why preventing unintended pregnancy should be easy common ground.

    Still, we don’t share the pro-choice view that it’s better to help a woman get a wanted abortion and birth a different child later than it is to try to protect the child she is already carrying. We can’t share that view because we believe that:

    1. Prenatal children are morally valuable and deserve protection and care;
    2. Killing innocent people who have no say in the decision is immoral, even if it’s ostensibly done to prevent their future suffering; and
    3. It’s a mistake to assume a child born of a denied abortion will deeply suffer for it anyway.
    This study found index children do not differ from their (living) peers in most respects. These children still reach developmental milestones with the same average scores as their counterparts, and in the vast majority of cases index children live with their biological mothers who feel bonded to them. While there are some differences that we would hope to mitigate, the results aren’t anywhere close to enough to justify advocating for these children to be aborted for their own sakes. It’s one thing to argue for abortions in terms of benefits to the women seeking them. But arguing for abortion for the sake of those being aborted is nonsensical.

    When women can’t get abortions, what happens to the children they birth?

    Came across this article recently and the headline caught my eye.

    There, fixed it.



    Broadly speaking, pro-choice people treat abortion as if it prevents a child from coming into existence, rather than destroying a child who already exists. Diana Greene Fosterthe article’s author and principal investigator of the study being summarizedsuggests as much when she says:

    Whether to have an abortion can be a difficult decision to make. The fetus could develop into a unique person that would never get another chance to be born. [Emphasis added.]

    From her perspective, the entity being destroyed is not yet a unique person, but could someday be one. With that framework it makes sense to ask “Under these circumstances, is it responsible or moral to bring this child into existence?” 


    One way to answer the question is to compare the outcomes of two groups of children:

    • Group 1: children born because women were denied abortion.
    • Group 2: children born to women who were not seeking abortion. 
    But of course pro-life people will see this whole discussion in a totally different light. Pro-life people recognize that abortion destroys already-existing human organisms, and we view those humans as morally relevant and deserving of protection. Under that framework, we would compare the outcomes of three groups of children:
    • Group 1: children born because women were denied abortion.
    • Group 2: children born to women who were not seeking abortion. 
    • Group 3: children aborted.

    It was with this mentality that I read the above article and its underlying study; while it’s interesting to compare Groups 1 and 2, the backdrop is always the comparison between Groups 1 and 3. How do children born to women denied abortion fare compared to children aborted? They fare better. Because they aren’t dead.

    I’m not trying to be glib here. From the perspective of people who believe prenatal children deserve protection, this whole study is like asking “How do poor children fare compared to middle class children?” or “How do children with developmental delays fare compared to children without delays?” or “How do children raised by single mothers fare compared to children raised by stably married parents?” Those are all questions worth studying, but they take a much darker meaning if the suggestion for improving aggregate child outcomes is to kill all the disadvantaged children.

    FB shareable version here or see a similar dichotomy here.

    Setting aside the glaring difference in pro-choice and pro-life perspectives, though, I read the study with interest. Here are the points that caught my eye:

    When women were denied legal abortion, the vast majority of them birthed their children. Contrary to the common pro-choice talking point, preventing women from getting legal abortion doesn’t simply push them to get dangerous illegal abortions. In this study, of the 195 women turned away from abortion clinics who completed all the study’s interviews, 2% miscarried, 23% obtained abortions elsewhere, and 75% gave birth. (This result dovetails with the many studies that find abortion restrictions decrease abortions.) Of the women who gave birth, 90% raised their children themselves (compared to the 10% who chose adoption).

    Mostly the kids fared just as well either way. This study defined “index children” as children born to women who were denied abortion and “subsequent children” as children born to women who received abortions and then birthed a child in the ensuing 5 years. By most metrics, index children had the same outcomes as subsequent children.

    Index children were no more likely than subsequent children to experience:

    • premature birth
    • low birth weight
    • admission to NICUs
    • physical disabilities
    • asthma
    • household incomes below the federal poverty level
    • receipt of public assistance (WIC, TANF, SNAP)
    Similarly, index children were no less likely than subsequent children to:
    • be breastfed
    • achieve the same mean scores on developmental milestones
    • reach the following specific developmental milestones:
      • fine motor skills
      • self-help skills
      • social emotional skills
      • receptive language
      • expressive language

      The two groups did have some differences, though. Index children were slightly less likely than subsequent children to achieve gross motor milestones. They were more likely to have been injured (mostly accidents and falls) in the last 6 months. Index children were less likely to live in households with the mother’s male partner and more likely to live in households with other adult family members.

      Mothers of index children were more likely to report they struggled in the last month to afford basic needs (75% of index mothers reported this struggle compared to 55% of subsequent mothers). Index mothers were also more likely to struggle to bond with their children. In her article, Foster elaborates:

      Women are also much more likely to report poor maternal bonding — feeling trapped as a mother, resenting their baby, or longing for the “old days” before they had the baby — with the child born after abortion denial than with the next child born following a wanted abortion.

      Specifically the study found that 9% of index mothers reported poor maternal bonding compared to 3% of subsequent mothers. This difference is substantial but the statistic also still indicates that over 90% of mothers bond just fine to the children they weren’t able to abort.

      It’s also noteworthy that the study doesn’t measure whether women raising index children retrospectively wish they had gotten abortions instead. Struggling to bond with your child is not the same as wishing your child didn’t exist. All parents experience resentment and frustration at some points or others, but that doesn’t mean we wish we weren’t parents or wish our kids weren’t our kids.

      Of course we don’t want children to grow up in harsh circumstances. While the circumstances of a child’s birth aren’t fate for the rest of the child’s life, they are still a major influence. Ideally all children would be conceived in circumstances where their parents are as prepared as possible to best care for them. Fewer unintended pregnancies mean not only fewer abortions but also fewer births and less child-rearing in difficult situations, which is why preventing unintended pregnancy should be easy common ground.

      Still, we don’t share the pro-choice view that it’s better to help a woman get a wanted abortion and birth a different child later than it is to try to protect the child she is already carrying. We can’t share that view because we believe that:

      1. Prenatal children are morally valuable and deserve protection and care;
      2. Killing innocent people who have no say in the decision is immoral, even if it’s ostensibly done to prevent their future suffering; and
      3. It’s a mistake to assume a child born of a denied abortion will deeply suffer for it anyway.
      This study found index children do not differ from their (living) peers in most respects. These children still reach developmental milestones with the same average scores as their counterparts, and in the vast majority of cases index children live with their biological mothers who feel bonded to them. While there are some differences that we would hope to mitigate, the results aren’t anywhere close to enough to justify advocating for these children to be aborted for their own sakes. It’s one thing to argue for abortions in terms of benefits to the women seeking them. But arguing for abortion for the sake of those being aborted is nonsensical.