When the media gets abortion wrong

Media bias in support of abortion is unfortunately pervasive. This usually shows up in language choices, expressions of opinion, and decisions about what stories to cover in the first place. But occasionally reporters go a step further and publish demonstrably false statements. When that happens, we bring it up on Twitter and push for a correction. We’ve seen mixed results. Here are three examples, from oldest to most recent:


Media Matters calls David Daleiden a convicted felon
David Daleiden, the young undercover activist behind the shocking videos depicting Planned Parenthood bargaining for the sale price of aborted children’s organs, certainly has no friends at Media Matters, a left-leaning media think tank. On the morning that David was to be arraigned on (baseless) felony charges, Media Matters falsely reported that he had already been convicted of 15 felonies, so that they could attack his credibility as a supposed convicted felon. In the very same article, they pooh-poohed the notion that these were “political prosecutions.”

Media Matters eventually responded by altering the article, and to their credit, they included a note about the correction at the bottom. Three and a half years later, David Daleiden still has not been convicted of anything. [Note added 1/14/2020 at 11:20 a.m.: David did lose a civil lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood, which is now on appeal.]

Rewire erases actress of color from Unplanned
Nobody expected Rewire, an explicitly pro-abortion outlet, to give a positive review of the film Unplanned, which is based on Abby Johnson’s journey from Planned Parenthood clinic director to pro-life advocate. But it wasn’t enough for Rewire to simply register disagreement. No, they had to attack the film as racist:

In addition to the film’s obvious anti-choice positioning, Unplanned delivers a more coded racial—and racist—message. The only nonwhite speaking characters are either those overly enthusiastic Planned Parenthood staffers or abortion-seekers who are portrayed as too downtrodden or stupid to realize the “wrongness” of their decision. The film features several montages of sad women seeking abortion services, including women of color specifically dressed and styled to indicate their poverty. They are rarely given dialogue compared to white women in these montages. Here, there is no chance for redemption if you’re Black or brown: You are either a glib “abortionist” or a tragic victim.

Any of our readers who have actually seen the film will immediately recognize Rewire‘s statement as an indefensible, bald-faced lie. SPL specifically called attention to Anisa Nyell Johnson’s unforgettable performance:

LifeNews also picked up the story, but Rewire would not be moved. Nine months later, the lie remains in print.

Slate gets Supreme Court decision backwards
Unlike the above examples, this case of bad reporting appears to have arisen from an honest mistake. I do not have any reason to believe it was malicious.

The upcoming Supreme Court case of June Medical Services v. Gee will decide whether Louisiana’s regulation of abortion vendors can stand. [Side note: here’s some important context.] A brief signed by numerous pro-life legislators argues that the Supreme Court’s precedents on abortion are hopelessly confusing, and concludes that the Court should take this opportunity to reconsider its self-appointed role as the nation’s abortion control board and return the issue to the people by overturning Roe.

A pro-choice author at Slate attempted to refute that argument, claiming that the legislators are acting in bad faith because the Supreme Court’s ever-changing tests for abortion laws aren’t confusing at all. But, um…

Awkward.

The mistake stayed up for several hours but was eventually changed. Unlike Media Matters, however, Slate did not note the correction.

See erroneous abortion-related reporting? Let us know on Twitter or email info@secularprolife.org.

When the media gets abortion wrong

Media bias in support of abortion is unfortunately pervasive. This usually shows up in language choices, expressions of opinion, and decisions about what stories to cover in the first place. But occasionally reporters go a step further and publish demonstrably false statements. When that happens, we bring it up on Twitter and push for a correction. We’ve seen mixed results. Here are three examples, from oldest to most recent:


Media Matters calls David Daleiden a convicted felon
David Daleiden, the young undercover activist behind the shocking videos depicting Planned Parenthood bargaining for the sale price of aborted children’s organs, certainly has no friends at Media Matters, a left-leaning media think tank. On the morning that David was to be arraigned on (baseless) felony charges, Media Matters falsely reported that he had already been convicted of 15 felonies, so that they could attack his credibility as a supposed convicted felon. In the very same article, they pooh-poohed the notion that these were “political prosecutions.”

Media Matters eventually responded by altering the article, and to their credit, they included a note about the correction at the bottom. Three and a half years later, David Daleiden still has not been convicted of anything. [Note added 1/14/2020 at 11:20 a.m.: David did lose a civil lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood, which is now on appeal.]

Rewire erases actress of color from Unplanned
Nobody expected Rewire, an explicitly pro-abortion outlet, to give a positive review of the film Unplanned, which is based on Abby Johnson’s journey from Planned Parenthood clinic director to pro-life advocate. But it wasn’t enough for Rewire to simply register disagreement. No, they had to attack the film as racist:

In addition to the film’s obvious anti-choice positioning, Unplanned delivers a more coded racial—and racist—message. The only nonwhite speaking characters are either those overly enthusiastic Planned Parenthood staffers or abortion-seekers who are portrayed as too downtrodden or stupid to realize the “wrongness” of their decision. The film features several montages of sad women seeking abortion services, including women of color specifically dressed and styled to indicate their poverty. They are rarely given dialogue compared to white women in these montages. Here, there is no chance for redemption if you’re Black or brown: You are either a glib “abortionist” or a tragic victim.

Any of our readers who have actually seen the film will immediately recognize Rewire‘s statement as an indefensible, bald-faced lie. SPL specifically called attention to Anisa Nyell Johnson’s unforgettable performance:

LifeNews also picked up the story, but Rewire would not be moved. Nine months later, the lie remains in print.

Slate gets Supreme Court decision backwards
Unlike the above examples, this case of bad reporting appears to have arisen from an honest mistake. I do not have any reason to believe it was malicious.

The upcoming Supreme Court case of June Medical Services v. Gee will decide whether Louisiana’s regulation of abortion vendors can stand. [Side note: here’s some important context.] A brief signed by numerous pro-life legislators argues that the Supreme Court’s precedents on abortion are hopelessly confusing, and concludes that the Court should take this opportunity to reconsider its self-appointed role as the nation’s abortion control board and return the issue to the people by overturning Roe.

A pro-choice author at Slate attempted to refute that argument, claiming that the legislators are acting in bad faith because the Supreme Court’s ever-changing tests for abortion laws aren’t confusing at all. But, um…

Awkward.

The mistake stayed up for several hours but was eventually changed. Unlike Media Matters, however, Slate did not note the correction.

See erroneous abortion-related reporting? Let us know on Twitter or email info@secularprolife.org.

Is Gosnell America’s “Biggest Serial Killer”?

This post contains quotes, summaries, and descriptions from the grand jury report regarding Kermit Gosnell. Much of this information is very disturbing, including graphic descriptions of violence.

NBC published a review of the Gosnell movie by Robin Marty. She didn’t like the film. In particular she took exception to the moniker “America’s Biggest Serial Killer,” saying:

In the film and in real life, Gosnell was tried on eight charges of murder and convicted on three. That’s a large number to be sure, but a small fraction in comparison to, say, Gary Ridgway (pleaded guilty to 48 counts of murder) John Wayne Gacy (convicted of 33 murders), Ted Bundy (confessed to 28 murders, and was convicted of two) or Jeffrey Dahmer (confessed to 17 murders and was convicted on 15 counts). Since Gosnell was only convicted of three counts of first degree murder, the “America’s Biggest” moniker is a bit of a stretch.

If we’re going by convictions alone, then I agree with Marty. Gosnell clearly isn’t up there (although then neither is infamous murderer Ted Bundy). But if we’re going by how many people the person is believed to have killed, almost no one can even touch Gosnell.

And I don’t mean because he performed abortions. Marty erroneously assumes people who think of Gosnell as a serial killer do so only because they think of every abortion as murder. No doubt there are plenty of people who think that, but that’s not the issue here. I suspect Marty would understand the distinction if she had read the grand jury report (warning: not for the faint of heart, includes photographs and very graphic descriptions). Even if you view abortion as an amoral action, and certainly not as murder, Gosnell still contends for the title “serial killer,” and one with an almost unprecedented death toll.

The grand jury report details Gosnell’s practice of infanticide in “Section IV: The Intentional Killing of Viable Babies.” As if anticipating how people will try to say this was just a sensationalized way to describe late-term abortion, the report explicitly describes “the untold numbers of babies–not fetuses in the womb, but live babies, born outside their mothers–whose brief lives ended in Gosnell’s filthy facility.” [Emphasis added.] The report also has the bolded subsection “Gosnell and his staff severed the spinal cords of viable, moving, breathing babies who were born alive.” Talk about redundant. It’s like they couldn’t overemphasize the point that we are not talking about late-term abortion.

(click to enlarge)

But sure, Marty, he’s a serial killer only because anti-abortion folk “aren’t really talking about the kinds of crimes most people associate with serial killers.” I guess murderers are only serial killers if they kill adults or at least big kids. Infanticide doesn’t count.

The grand jury report goes on to detail how Gosnell had to have known he would often have to kill viable babies based on his “standard procedure” for illegal late-term abortions.

(click to enlarge)

Gosnell would cut the child’s spinal cord; then he would suction out the brains after delivery, a step which serves zero medical purpose. The grand jury expected Gosnell did so to make it look like he had performed a legal abortion procedure (in some late-term abortions the fetus’ skull is collapsed to ease removal from the woman). One of Gosnell’s former employees testified that she witnessed Gosnell do this “hundreds” of times. Another employee acknowledged that late-term fetuses nearly always had their spinal cords cut after “precipitating” (Gosnell’s vocabulary for birth). A third employee testified similarly:

(click to enlarge)

The report continues:

Gosnell’s staff testified that killing large, late-term babies who had been observed breathing and moving was a regular occurrence. Massof said that Gosnell cut the spinal cord “100 percent of the time” in second-trimester (and, presumably, third-trimester) procedures, and that he did so after the baby was delivered.

Massof testified that he saw signs of life in some of these babies. He recalled seeing a heartbeat in one baby and observed a “respiratory excursion” (meaning a breath) in another. On other occasions, he observed “pulsation.” Gosnell dismissed these observations as “spontaneous movement.” “That was his answer for if we ever saw anything that was out of the ordinary, it was always a spontaneous movement.”

There’s reason to believe that babies born after 24 weeks could survive. In fact, as the report points out, a doctor is required to provide assistance to preterm born babies, and failure to provide assistance is infanticide under Pennsylvania law.

(click to enlarge)

There’s a whole lot more in Section IV of the grand jury report. Testimony about fetal parts clogging plumbing when women delivered in the toilet; one case in which a fetus looked like she was swimming before staff cut her neck; a teenager who delivered a stillborn 30-week fetus at a hospital when Gosnell’s clinic was unreachable mid-procedure; a neonatologist testifying that Gosnell’s method would cause the baby a “tremendous amount of pain”; and Gosnell describing one writhing child as “chicken with its head cut off.” If you think the film portrayal was unbelievable, you should try reading the actual testimony. It’s a real life horror story and, in my opinion, overwhelmingly heartbreaking, enraging, and exhausting. The section concludes by stating Gosnell most likely “killed the vast majority of babies” from illegal late-term abortions [emphasis added].

(click to enlarge)
This is all terrible, but where does it leave us regarding the original question? If we assume newborns should be included in serial killer body counts (crazy, I know!), what are Gosnell’s metrics compared to other serial killers?
The grand jury estimated Gosnell performed at least 4-5 illegal abortions (that is, abortions after 24 weeks) every week, and had been doing this for years. To be conservative, let’s assume (1) only 3 illegal abortions per week, (2) for only 40 weeks per year, and (3) only for 2 years. That would be 240 illegal late-term abortions. (Let me emphasize there’s no reason to make these conservative estimates except to illustrate my “yep he’s a serial killer” point. If instead we assumed 4 illegal abortions per week for say 50 weeks a year for more like 5 years, it could be as high as 1,000 illegal late-term abortions. But whatever, let’s go with only 240.)

The grand jury believes, based on the evidence and corroborating testimony, that Gosnell killed viable born children in the “vast majority” of his attempts at illegal late-term abortion. But let’s say it wasn’t the vast majority. Let’s say it was only 20% of the time. So even assuming only 240 illegal abortions and even assuming only 20% of them were actually infanticide, that still would mean Gosnell killed 48 babies. That already puts him right up there with the highest number Robin Marty quoted, which was Gary Ridgeway pleading guilty to 48 counts of murder. To be fair, though, Ridgeway is thought to have killed up to 71 people. So if we make some extremely conservative and unwarranted estimates about Gosnell’s body count, he’d only be America’s 2nd biggest serial killer. No big deal, right?
On the other hand, if we go with what the grand jury actually reported, Gosnell was performing 4-5 illegal abortions per week. Call it 4.5 per week. Even if we still say only 40 weeks and only 2 years (again, no reason to do that really), if we take “vast majority” to mean even just 51%, that puts Gosnell at 183 infanticides, easily dwarfing any other serial killer in American history and, actually, putting him in the top 3 slots for serial killers throughout the world.
Calling Gosnell “America’s Biggest Serial Killer” is only a “stretch” if Marty doesn’t think there’s any significant difference between late-term abortion and infanticide or (more likely) if she just hasn’t really looked into this case she opines on. But we can hardly blame her for that. She’s only a journalist.

Further Reading:
We’ve forgotten what belongs on Page One, Kristen Powers, USA Today, April 11, 2013
Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s Trial Should Be a Front-Page Story, Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, April 12, 2013
Why I Didn’t Write About Gosnell’s Trial–And Why I Should Have, Megan McArdle, The Daily Beast, April 12, 2013
Gosnell and Abortion (summarizing the media silence), Nathaniel Givens, Secular Pro-Life Perspectives, April 17, 2013

Post-publication edit: Wikipedia lists Gosnell as a serial killer under “Medical professionals and pseudo-medical professionals” which it categorizes separately because of “their ability to kill simply and in plain sight.” Gosnell is listed for 4 proven victims and “100+” possible victims. Interestingly one of Gosnell’s employees, Steven Massof, is listed as the third biggest medical professional serial killers in the world because he confessed to snipping the spines of more than 100 babies.

Anyway, if we count medical professionals and look at possible (not only proven) victims, using the still-conservative estimate of 183 infanticides for Gosnell would make him the 5th biggest serial killer in the world and the 2nd biggest in America after Charles Cullen (a nurse thought to have killed up to 400 people).

Is Gosnell America’s “Biggest Serial Killer”?

This post contains quotes, summaries, and descriptions from the grand jury report regarding Kermit Gosnell. Much of this information is very disturbing, including graphic descriptions of violence.

NBC published a review of the Gosnell movie by Robin Marty. She didn’t like the film. In particular she took exception to the moniker “America’s Biggest Serial Killer,” saying:

In the film and in real life, Gosnell was tried on eight charges of murder and convicted on three. That’s a large number to be sure, but a small fraction in comparison to, say, Gary Ridgway (pleaded guilty to 48 counts of murder) John Wayne Gacy (convicted of 33 murders), Ted Bundy (confessed to 28 murders, and was convicted of two) or Jeffrey Dahmer (confessed to 17 murders and was convicted on 15 counts). Since Gosnell was only convicted of three counts of first degree murder, the “America’s Biggest” moniker is a bit of a stretch.

If we’re going by convictions alone, then I agree with Marty. Gosnell clearly isn’t up there (although then neither is infamous murderer Ted Bundy). But if we’re going by how many people the person is believed to have killed, almost no one can even touch Gosnell.

And I don’t mean because he performed abortions. Marty erroneously assumes people who think of Gosnell as a serial killer do so only because they think of every abortion as murder. No doubt there are plenty of people who think that, but that’s not the issue here. I suspect Marty would understand the distinction if she had read the grand jury report (warning: not for the faint of heart, includes photographs and very graphic descriptions). Even if you view abortion as an amoral action, and certainly not as murder, Gosnell still contends for the title “serial killer,” and one with an almost unprecedented death toll.

The grand jury report details Gosnell’s practice of infanticide in “Section IV: The Intentional Killing of Viable Babies.” As if anticipating how people will try to say this was just a sensationalized way to describe late-term abortion, the report explicitly describes “the untold numbers of babies–not fetuses in the womb, but live babies, born outside their mothers–whose brief lives ended in Gosnell’s filthy facility.” [Emphasis added.] The report also has the bolded subsection “Gosnell and his staff severed the spinal cords of viable, moving, breathing babies who were born alive.” Talk about redundant. It’s like they couldn’t overemphasize the point that we are not talking about late-term abortion.

(click to enlarge)

But sure, Marty, he’s a serial killer only because anti-abortion folk “aren’t really talking about the kinds of crimes most people associate with serial killers.” I guess murderers are only serial killers if they kill adults or at least big kids. Infanticide doesn’t count.

The grand jury report goes on to detail how Gosnell had to have known he would often have to kill viable babies based on his “standard procedure” for illegal late-term abortions.

(click to enlarge)

Gosnell would cut the child’s spinal cord; then he would suction out the brains after delivery, a step which serves zero medical purpose. The grand jury expected Gosnell did so to make it look like he had performed a legal abortion procedure (in some late-term abortions the fetus’ skull is collapsed to ease removal from the woman). One of Gosnell’s former employees testified that she witnessed Gosnell do this “hundreds” of times. Another employee acknowledged that late-term fetuses nearly always had their spinal cords cut after “precipitating” (Gosnell’s vocabulary for birth). A third employee testified similarly:

(click to enlarge)

The report continues:

Gosnell’s staff testified that killing large, late-term babies who had been observed breathing and moving was a regular occurrence. Massof said that Gosnell cut the spinal cord “100 percent of the time” in second-trimester (and, presumably, third-trimester) procedures, and that he did so after the baby was delivered.

Massof testified that he saw signs of life in some of these babies. He recalled seeing a heartbeat in one baby and observed a “respiratory excursion” (meaning a breath) in another. On other occasions, he observed “pulsation.” Gosnell dismissed these observations as “spontaneous movement.” “That was his answer for if we ever saw anything that was out of the ordinary, it was always a spontaneous movement.”

There’s reason to believe that babies born after 24 weeks could survive. In fact, as the report points out, a doctor is required to provide assistance to preterm born babies, and failure to provide assistance is infanticide under Pennsylvania law.

(click to enlarge)

There’s a whole lot more in Section IV of the grand jury report. Testimony about fetal parts clogging plumbing when women delivered in the toilet; one case in which a fetus looked like she was swimming before staff cut her neck; a teenager who delivered a stillborn 30-week fetus at a hospital when Gosnell’s clinic was unreachable mid-procedure; a neonatologist testifying that Gosnell’s method would cause the baby a “tremendous amount of pain”; and Gosnell describing one writhing child as “chicken with its head cut off.” If you think the film portrayal was unbelievable, you should try reading the actual testimony. It’s a real life horror story and, in my opinion, overwhelmingly heartbreaking, enraging, and exhausting. The section concludes by stating Gosnell most likely “killed the vast majority of babies” from illegal late-term abortions [emphasis added].

(click to enlarge)
This is all terrible, but where does it leave us regarding the original question? If we assume newborns should be included in serial killer body counts (crazy, I know!), what are Gosnell’s metrics compared to other serial killers?
The grand jury estimated Gosnell performed at least 4-5 illegal abortions (that is, abortions after 24 weeks) every week, and had been doing this for years. To be conservative, let’s assume (1) only 3 illegal abortions per week, (2) for only 40 weeks per year, and (3) only for 2 years. That would be 240 illegal late-term abortions. (Let me emphasize there’s no reason to make these conservative estimates except to illustrate my “yep he’s a serial killer” point. If instead we assumed 4 illegal abortions per week for say 50 weeks a year for more like 5 years, it could be as high as 1,000 illegal late-term abortions. But whatever, let’s go with only 240.)

The grand jury believes, based on the evidence and corroborating testimony, that Gosnell killed viable born children in the “vast majority” of his attempts at illegal late-term abortion. But let’s say it wasn’t the vast majority. Let’s say it was only 20% of the time. So even assuming only 240 illegal abortions and even assuming only 20% of them were actually infanticide, that still would mean Gosnell killed 48 babies. That already puts him right up there with the highest number Robin Marty quoted, which was Gary Ridgeway pleading guilty to 48 counts of murder. To be fair, though, Ridgeway is thought to have killed up to 71 people. So if we make some extremely conservative and unwarranted estimates about Gosnell’s body count, he’d only be America’s 2nd biggest serial killer. No big deal, right?
On the other hand, if we go with what the grand jury actually reported, Gosnell was performing 4-5 illegal abortions per week. Call it 4.5 per week. Even if we still say only 40 weeks and only 2 years (again, no reason to do that really), if we take “vast majority” to mean even just 51%, that puts Gosnell at 183 infanticides, easily dwarfing any other serial killer in American history and, actually, putting him in the top 3 slots for serial killers throughout the world.
Calling Gosnell “America’s Biggest Serial Killer” is only a “stretch” if Marty doesn’t think there’s any significant difference between late-term abortion and infanticide or (more likely) if she just hasn’t really looked into this case she opines on. But we can hardly blame her for that. She’s only a journalist.

Further Reading:
We’ve forgotten what belongs on Page One, Kristen Powers, USA Today, April 11, 2013
Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s Trial Should Be a Front-Page Story, Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, April 12, 2013
Why I Didn’t Write About Gosnell’s Trial–And Why I Should Have, Megan McArdle, The Daily Beast, April 12, 2013
Gosnell and Abortion (summarizing the media silence), Nathaniel Givens, Secular Pro-Life Perspectives, April 17, 2013

Post-publication edit: Wikipedia lists Gosnell as a serial killer under “Medical professionals and pseudo-medical professionals” which it categorizes separately because of “their ability to kill simply and in plain sight.” Gosnell is listed for 4 proven victims and “100+” possible victims. Interestingly one of Gosnell’s employees, Steven Massof, is listed as the third biggest medical professional serial killers in the world because he confessed to snipping the spines of more than 100 babies.

Anyway, if we count medical professionals and look at possible (not only proven) victims, using the still-conservative estimate of 183 infanticides for Gosnell would make him the 5th biggest serial killer in the world and the 2nd biggest in America after Charles Cullen (a nurse thought to have killed up to 400 people).

“May your character be so solid…”

I’ve not previously commented about this, in the interest of not giving attention to ideas that do not deserve it, but now that it has become a news story I feel compelled to speak out.

The pro-life, pro-woman organization New Wave Feminists (NWF) was founded by Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, and for a long time, her second-in-command was a woman named Kristen Hatten. Around the time President Trump took office, Kristen had a sudden change of philosophy and adopted alt right, “ethnonationalist” ideas… crudely expressed in the form of disturbing, racist memes which I will not link to here. Destiny immediately removed Kristen from NWF and brought on Cessilye Smith (who is black) as her new co-leader.

In other words, Destiny did everything right, and as we all know, no good deed goes unpunished. Destiny’s punishment arrived yesterday in the form of a venomous Huffington Post article, which—despite being about a pro-life organization’s rejection of racism—takes every opportunity to falsely portray pro-lifers and racists as natural allies. It contains such gems as: “throughout the history of the abortion wars, a great deal of violent energy has been generated at the confluence of anti-abortion activism and white supremacy,” “the movements share heroes,” and “the kinship isn’t hard to understand: both are movements of the status quo, dedicated to preserving a white patriarchal order.”

(Yes, you read that right. The pro-life movement, whose raison d’être is the reversal of a 45-year-old Supreme Court decision, wants to preserve the status quo. Whatever you say, HuffPo.)

It’s a depressing read with an accusatory subtext: that NWF (and, by extension, pro-life advocates in general) cynically distanced itself from Kristen for purely optical reasons. As opposed to, you know, because we value people of color.

I would like to turn this around into something positive. People of color, like all people, are valuable first and foremost because human beings have inherent worth. But allow me to also shed some light on the valuable accomplishments of pro-life people of color—because Secular Pro-Life would look a lot different without them.

The #HelloHyde campaign? That was led by women of color. Our 2017 Students for Life of America conference presentation? Yup. Our upcoming project that launches in June—I’m not at liberty to discuss it yet, but you’re going to love it—brings back the #HelloHyde volunteers plus many more.

At the foundation, I don’t think I would have become a pro-life activist at all if not for the support I received from people of color. I got involved in the pro-life movement as a college student, attending the University of Miami—where the overwhelming majority of the pro-life student organization was Latinx. If they hadn’t been there, who knows? I could have dedicated my time to some other club and Secular Pro-Life wouldn’t even exist.

I’m just speaking from my own experience, of course, and I don’t want you to come away with the impression that racial diversity in the pro-life movement is somehow new. People of color have made substantial contributions to the cause from the beginning. What I would give for Hollywood to make a Mildred Jefferson biopic!

I don’t really know how to end this article, so I’ll close with some good advice by Cessilye Smith of New Wave Feminists:

“May your character be so solid, that people would never think that your silence is low key acceptance of something evil.”

“May your character be so solid…”

I’ve not previously commented about this, in the interest of not giving attention to ideas that do not deserve it, but now that it has become a news story I feel compelled to speak out.

The pro-life, pro-woman organization New Wave Feminists (NWF) was founded by Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, and for a long time, her second-in-command was a woman named Kristen Hatten. Around the time President Trump took office, Kristen had a sudden change of philosophy and adopted alt right, “ethnonationalist” ideas… crudely expressed in the form of disturbing, racist memes which I will not link to here. Destiny immediately removed Kristen from NWF and brought on Cessilye Smith (who is black) as her new co-leader.

In other words, Destiny did everything right, and as we all know, no good deed goes unpunished. Destiny’s punishment arrived yesterday in the form of a venomous Huffington Post article, which—despite being about a pro-life organization’s rejection of racism—takes every opportunity to falsely portray pro-lifers and racists as natural allies. It contains such gems as: “throughout the history of the abortion wars, a great deal of violent energy has been generated at the confluence of anti-abortion activism and white supremacy,” “the movements share heroes,” and “the kinship isn’t hard to understand: both are movements of the status quo, dedicated to preserving a white patriarchal order.”

(Yes, you read that right. The pro-life movement, whose raison d’être is the reversal of a 45-year-old Supreme Court decision, wants to preserve the status quo. Whatever you say, HuffPo.)

It’s a depressing read with an accusatory subtext: that NWF (and, by extension, pro-life advocates in general) cynically distanced itself from Kristen for purely optical reasons. As opposed to, you know, because we value people of color.

I would like to turn this around into something positive. People of color, like all people, are valuable first and foremost because human beings have inherent worth. But allow me to also shed some light on the valuable accomplishments of pro-life people of color—because Secular Pro-Life would look a lot different without them.

The #HelloHyde campaign? That was led by women of color. Our 2017 Students for Life of America conference presentation? Yup. Our upcoming project that launches in June—I’m not at liberty to discuss it yet, but you’re going to love it—brings back the #HelloHyde volunteers plus many more.

At the foundation, I don’t think I would have become a pro-life activist at all if not for the support I received from people of color. I got involved in the pro-life movement as a college student, attending the University of Miami—where the overwhelming majority of the pro-life student organization was Latinx. If they hadn’t been there, who knows? I could have dedicated my time to some other club and Secular Pro-Life wouldn’t even exist.

I’m just speaking from my own experience, of course, and I don’t want you to come away with the impression that racial diversity in the pro-life movement is somehow new. People of color have made substantial contributions to the cause from the beginning. What I would give for Hollywood to make a Mildred Jefferson biopic!

I don’t really know how to end this article, so I’ll close with some good advice by Cessilye Smith of New Wave Feminists:

“May your character be so solid, that people would never think that your silence is low key acceptance of something evil.”

No, defunding Planned Parenthood did not make maternal mortality skyrocket in Texas

In 2011, Texas redirected taxpayer funds from Planned Parenthood to federally qualified health centers and other comprehensive healthcare providers. The next year, maternal mortality in Texas allegedly skyrocketed. Pro-lifers were immediately blamed. Planned Parenthood funding had been saving lives! Post hoc, ergo propter hoc!

That explanation was unsatisfying, because Planned Parenthood doesn’t offer birth care. Nor would Planned Parenthood’s provision of contraceptives explain it; FQHCs offer contraception too, and besides, the maternal mortality rate is calculated per 100,000 births, so it should be unaffected by changes to the pregnancy rate and birth rate.

So what was causing more Texas mothers to die? And what could the pro-life movement do to prevent these deaths?

Nothing — because in fact, the maternal mortality spike was an illusion. The Washington Post reports:

For the past few years, Texas’s maternal mortality rate was so high it seemed unbelievable.

As it turns out, according to a study released this week it was, indeed, not to be believed.

This week, the Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force released a study in Obstetrics & Gynecology that found the maternal morbidity figures from 2012 — which had Texas mothers dying at rates that shocked experts and the public — were based on sloppy and erroneous data collection.

So sloppy, in fact, that more than half of the deaths that were recorded as pregnancy-related that year were recorded that way in error.

Specifically, the phantom mortality increase arose from changes to Texas death certificates, which resulted in more coroners incorrectly checking a box to indicate pregnancy-related death.

A recently published report combed through this data and determined that “after all of the data-collection errors were excluded, Texas’s 2012 maternal mortality rate was corrected from 38.4 deaths per 100,000 live births to 14.6 per 100,000 live births.” That’s considerably lower than the current (2015) national average of 26.4 deaths per 100,000 births. Put another way, not only did Planned Parenthood defunding not cause a spike in maternal mortality, it’s actually safer to give birth in Texas than it is to give birth in the United States as a whole.

To be clear, even one pregnancy-related death is too many. None of this takes anything away from the fantastic pro-life initiatives, like Abide, that are working hard to improve the health of Texas mothers and babies. And as the Washington Post points out, the United States has a long way to go before it matches the maternal mortality rates of other developed countries.

No, defunding Planned Parenthood did not make maternal mortality skyrocket in Texas

In 2011, Texas redirected taxpayer funds from Planned Parenthood to federally qualified health centers and other comprehensive healthcare providers. The next year, maternal mortality in Texas allegedly skyrocketed. Pro-lifers were immediately blamed. Planned Parenthood funding had been saving lives! Post hoc, ergo propter hoc!

That explanation was unsatisfying, because Planned Parenthood doesn’t offer birth care. Nor would Planned Parenthood’s provision of contraceptives explain it; FQHCs offer contraception too, and besides, the maternal mortality rate is calculated per 100,000 births, so it should be unaffected by changes to the pregnancy rate and birth rate.

So what was causing more Texas mothers to die? And what could the pro-life movement do to prevent these deaths?

Nothing — because in fact, the maternal mortality spike was an illusion. The Washington Post reports:

For the past few years, Texas’s maternal mortality rate was so high it seemed unbelievable.

As it turns out, according to a study released this week it was, indeed, not to be believed.

This week, the Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force released a study in Obstetrics & Gynecology that found the maternal morbidity figures from 2012 — which had Texas mothers dying at rates that shocked experts and the public — were based on sloppy and erroneous data collection.

So sloppy, in fact, that more than half of the deaths that were recorded as pregnancy-related that year were recorded that way in error.

Specifically, the phantom mortality increase arose from changes to Texas death certificates, which resulted in more coroners incorrectly checking a box to indicate pregnancy-related death.

A recently published report combed through this data and determined that “after all of the data-collection errors were excluded, Texas’s 2012 maternal mortality rate was corrected from 38.4 deaths per 100,000 live births to 14.6 per 100,000 live births.” That’s considerably lower than the current (2015) national average of 26.4 deaths per 100,000 births. Put another way, not only did Planned Parenthood defunding not cause a spike in maternal mortality, it’s actually safer to give birth in Texas than it is to give birth in the United States as a whole.

To be clear, even one pregnancy-related death is too many. None of this takes anything away from the fantastic pro-life initiatives, like Abide, that are working hard to improve the health of Texas mothers and babies. And as the Washington Post points out, the United States has a long way to go before it matches the maternal mortality rates of other developed countries.

Highlights of Roe v. Wade anniversary media coverage

The March for Life was a whirlwind! We’ll have a recap for you soon. In the meantime, check out these articles from the last few days, starting with one that quotes Secular Pro-Life.

Trump will address Friday’s March for Life via satellite. Here’s what abortion opponents want.
Washington Post, Michelle Boorstein & Julie Zauzmer

“I certainly understand the perspective of those pro-life advocates who support him,” said Kelsey Hazzard, president of Secular Pro-Life, who noted that things would be worse for the antiabortion movement under a Hillary Clinton presidency. “President Trump has also sparked a tremendous backlash. His boorish comments give ammunition to the abortion lobby, which has long worked to caricature the antiabortion cause.”

Science is Giving the Pro-Life Movement a Boost
Atlantic, Emma Green

When Colleen Malloy, a neonatologist and faculty member at Northwestern University, discusses abortion with her colleagues, she says, “it’s kind of like the emperor is not wearing any clothes.” Medical teams spend enormous effort, time, and money to deliver babies safely and nurse premature infants back to health. Yet physicians often support abortion, even late into fetal development.

As medical techniques have become increasingly sophisticated, Malloy said, she has felt this tension acutely: A handful of medical centers in major cities can now perform surgeries on genetically abnormal fetuses while they’re still in the womb. Many are the same age as the small number of fetuses aborted in the second or third trimesters of a mother’s pregnancy. “The more I advanced in my field of neonatology, the more it just became the logical choice to recognize the developing fetus for what it is: a fetus, instead of some sort of sub-human form,” Malloy said. “It just became so obvious that these were just developing humans.”

How the Pro-Life Movement has Promoted Liberal Values
New York Times, Andrew R. Lewis

Even before Roe, parts of the pro-life movement emphasized the universal rights of the unborn, drawing upon the language of human rights that was prominent in post-New Deal liberalism. These liberal pro-life activists sought to marry their cause to language used to support civil rights for African-Americans and promote human dignity by supporting antiwar efforts. The National Right to Life Committee, for example, was founded in 1968, intentionally emphasizing the rights of the unborn in its name.

March for Life reminds us that attitudes on abortion are changing — one beautiful ultrasound at a time.
Fox News, Lauren DeBellis Appell

An annual poll released Wednesday by The Knights of Columbus and Marist on Americans’ abortion views found that 63 percent of Americans now strongly support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, up from 59 percent just a year ago. The number of Democrats who support the same ban has increased to 56 percent from 49 percent in January 2017. Also noteworthy is that 61 percent of Democrats want significant restrictions on abortion.

The poll also found that 62 percent of Americans said they believe life begins within the first three months of a woman’s pregnancy. Among those who believe life begins at conception, 46 percent said they believe so because it is “a biological and scientific fact,” versus 45 percent who said they believe it based on “a philosophical or religious belief.”

Highlights of Roe v. Wade anniversary media coverage

The March for Life was a whirlwind! We’ll have a recap for you soon. In the meantime, check out these articles from the last few days, starting with one that quotes Secular Pro-Life.

Trump will address Friday’s March for Life via satellite. Here’s what abortion opponents want.
Washington Post, Michelle Boorstein & Julie Zauzmer

“I certainly understand the perspective of those pro-life advocates who support him,” said Kelsey Hazzard, president of Secular Pro-Life, who noted that things would be worse for the antiabortion movement under a Hillary Clinton presidency. “President Trump has also sparked a tremendous backlash. His boorish comments give ammunition to the abortion lobby, which has long worked to caricature the antiabortion cause.”

Science is Giving the Pro-Life Movement a Boost
Atlantic, Emma Green

When Colleen Malloy, a neonatologist and faculty member at Northwestern University, discusses abortion with her colleagues, she says, “it’s kind of like the emperor is not wearing any clothes.” Medical teams spend enormous effort, time, and money to deliver babies safely and nurse premature infants back to health. Yet physicians often support abortion, even late into fetal development.

As medical techniques have become increasingly sophisticated, Malloy said, she has felt this tension acutely: A handful of medical centers in major cities can now perform surgeries on genetically abnormal fetuses while they’re still in the womb. Many are the same age as the small number of fetuses aborted in the second or third trimesters of a mother’s pregnancy. “The more I advanced in my field of neonatology, the more it just became the logical choice to recognize the developing fetus for what it is: a fetus, instead of some sort of sub-human form,” Malloy said. “It just became so obvious that these were just developing humans.”

How the Pro-Life Movement has Promoted Liberal Values
New York Times, Andrew R. Lewis

Even before Roe, parts of the pro-life movement emphasized the universal rights of the unborn, drawing upon the language of human rights that was prominent in post-New Deal liberalism. These liberal pro-life activists sought to marry their cause to language used to support civil rights for African-Americans and promote human dignity by supporting antiwar efforts. The National Right to Life Committee, for example, was founded in 1968, intentionally emphasizing the rights of the unborn in its name.

March for Life reminds us that attitudes on abortion are changing — one beautiful ultrasound at a time.
Fox News, Lauren DeBellis Appell

An annual poll released Wednesday by The Knights of Columbus and Marist on Americans’ abortion views found that 63 percent of Americans now strongly support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, up from 59 percent just a year ago. The number of Democrats who support the same ban has increased to 56 percent from 49 percent in January 2017. Also noteworthy is that 61 percent of Democrats want significant restrictions on abortion.

The poll also found that 62 percent of Americans said they believe life begins within the first three months of a woman’s pregnancy. Among those who believe life begins at conception, 46 percent said they believe so because it is “a biological and scientific fact,” versus 45 percent who said they believe it based on “a philosophical or religious belief.”