Two years without justice for victim of Dayton, OH abortion business

The Women’s Med Center waiting room

On June 11, 2015, Women’s Med Center in Dayton, Ohio committed an abortion on a woman who was unable to consent. According to a state report—which did not become public until last year—the woman (identified only as “Patient #1”) was unable to hold a coherent conversation or even lift her head. Her speech was slurred, and according to the person who gave her a ride to the center, she “took two Soma and several Percocet and probably both Suboxone and perhaps some heroin on the way in.” She was described as “semi-conscious with low blood pressure.”

Women’s Med Center dutifully noted her all of this on her chart, then aborted her baby anyway. Their excuse? If they didn’t act quickly, the child might have been born alive. The horror.

If anyone other than an abortionist did what Women’s Med Center did—if anyone approached a woman who was too high on recreational drugs to function, either ordered her to undress or personally undressed her, then stuck metal instruments up her vagina and manipulated her cervix—feminist groups would rightly and without hesitation call it rape. Instead, NARAL defended Women’s Med Center, calling the health department investigation a “political witch hunt.”

When this story first broke last year, Secular Pro-Life drew attention to the cause using the hashtag #AbortRapeCulture. Sadly, only pro-lifers cared. Not a single pro-choice twitter user spoke out against Women’s Med Center’s abuse.

It’s now been two years. Has Women’s Med Center suffered any consequences?

The investigation into the medical rape has apparently stalled. Six months ago, Women’s Med Center lost its operating license for an unrelated reason, namely, its failure to obtain a transfer agreement with a local hospital, as required by law. Unfortunately, Women’s Med Center is allowed to keep doing abortions while it challenges that ruling in court. The legal proceeding remains pending.

We mourn two years without justice for Patient #1 and her baby. To mark this sad anniversary, and to remind Ohio officials of their duty to protect the public from Women’s Med Center, we ask that you once again use the hashtag #AbortRapeCulture.

The medical rape of Patient #1 makes a mockery of the claim that the abortion industry is about “choice” and “women’s health.” Whatever happens, we will not forget.

Two years without justice for victim of Dayton, OH abortion business

The Women’s Med Center waiting room

On June 11, 2015, Women’s Med Center in Dayton, Ohio committed an abortion on a woman who was unable to consent. According to a state report—which did not become public until last year—the woman (identified only as “Patient #1”) was unable to hold a coherent conversation or even lift her head. Her speech was slurred, and according to the person who gave her a ride to the center, she “took two Soma and several Percocet and probably both Suboxone and perhaps some heroin on the way in.” She was described as “semi-conscious with low blood pressure.”

Women’s Med Center dutifully noted her all of this on her chart, then aborted her baby anyway. Their excuse? If they didn’t act quickly, the child might have been born alive. The horror.

If anyone other than an abortionist did what Women’s Med Center did—if anyone approached a woman who was too high on recreational drugs to function, either ordered her to undress or personally undressed her, then stuck metal instruments up her vagina and manipulated her cervix—feminist groups would rightly and without hesitation call it rape. Instead, NARAL defended Women’s Med Center, calling the health department investigation a “political witch hunt.”

When this story first broke last year, Secular Pro-Life drew attention to the cause using the hashtag #AbortRapeCulture. Sadly, only pro-lifers cared. Not a single pro-choice twitter user spoke out against Women’s Med Center’s abuse.

It’s now been two years. Has Women’s Med Center suffered any consequences?

The investigation into the medical rape has apparently stalled. Six months ago, Women’s Med Center lost its operating license for an unrelated reason, namely, its failure to obtain a transfer agreement with a local hospital, as required by law. Unfortunately, Women’s Med Center is allowed to keep doing abortions while it challenges that ruling in court. The legal proceeding remains pending.

We mourn two years without justice for Patient #1 and her baby. To mark this sad anniversary, and to remind Ohio officials of their duty to protect the public from Women’s Med Center, we ask that you once again use the hashtag #AbortRapeCulture.

The medical rape of Patient #1 makes a mockery of the claim that the abortion industry is about “choice” and “women’s health.” Whatever happens, we will not forget.

Lies, Damned Lies, and the Abortion Lobby on Zika

The petition site Care2 is currently home to the baldest pro-abortion lie I have seen in quite a while, and that’s saying something. The petition demands that Congress “pass [a] Zika funding bill without defunding Planned Parenthood.”

The Zika virus is transmitted through mosquitoes, and is also sexually transmitted. Pregnant women and unborn children are at highest risk. Yet the current Zika bill includes provisions that would also defund Planned Parenthood, which is why Democrats refused to let the bill pass. Planned Parenthood is one of the most valuable assets to pregnant women in America, especially those who are uninsured or low-income. To fund Zika research while defunding Planned Parenthood simply makes no sense.

We cannot wait any longer to financially support Zika research, but we cannot allow a bill to pass that strips funding from a key women’s health care provider.

Surprise: it “makes no sense” because it never happened! Believe me, if we’d actually managed to defund Planned Parenthood, I’d be the first one celebrating from the rooftops. It’s just not true.

Here’s what actually happened. The House of Representatives, which has a pro-life majority, passed a bill that would have put $1.1 billion toward fighting Zika. Much of that money would have gone to research and mosquito control, with the rest going to health care charities on the ground in vulnerable regions like Puerto Rico and Florida. The recipients of the funding were specifically named.

Planned Parenthood wasn’t on the list for this new money.

With a sense of entitlement that would put most people to shame, Planned Parenthood cried that it was being “defunded” and demanded that the Senators in its pocket vote against the Zika funding bill. Which they did, on a 52-48 vote.

Planned Parenthood would not have been “stripped of funding” in any way, shape, or form. Uncontroversial community health centers would have received much-needed resources to combat the virus. But that didn’t happen, because Planned Parenthood didn’t get its protection money. Nice Zika funding bill you’ve got there. It would be a shame if something were to happen to it…


The Zika virus is bound to get more media attention as the Olympic games progress, and I’m sure we’ll see more pro-abortion lies. Keep this article handy.

And if any of you were on the fence about whether Planned Parenthood does more harm than good, I hope this incident has convinced you. Planned Parenthood’s prioritization of money over women’s health could not be more obvious.

Lies, Damned Lies, and the Abortion Lobby on Zika

The petition site Care2 is currently home to the baldest pro-abortion lie I have seen in quite a while, and that’s saying something. The petition demands that Congress “pass [a] Zika funding bill without defunding Planned Parenthood.”

The Zika virus is transmitted through mosquitoes, and is also sexually transmitted. Pregnant women and unborn children are at highest risk. Yet the current Zika bill includes provisions that would also defund Planned Parenthood, which is why Democrats refused to let the bill pass. Planned Parenthood is one of the most valuable assets to pregnant women in America, especially those who are uninsured or low-income. To fund Zika research while defunding Planned Parenthood simply makes no sense.

We cannot wait any longer to financially support Zika research, but we cannot allow a bill to pass that strips funding from a key women’s health care provider.

Surprise: it “makes no sense” because it never happened! Believe me, if we’d actually managed to defund Planned Parenthood, I’d be the first one celebrating from the rooftops. It’s just not true.

Here’s what actually happened. The House of Representatives, which has a pro-life majority, passed a bill that would have put $1.1 billion toward fighting Zika. Much of that money would have gone to research and mosquito control, with the rest going to health care charities on the ground in vulnerable regions like Puerto Rico and Florida. The recipients of the funding were specifically named.

Planned Parenthood wasn’t on the list for this new money.

With a sense of entitlement that would put most people to shame, Planned Parenthood cried that it was being “defunded” and demanded that the Senators in its pocket vote against the Zika funding bill. Which they did, on a 52-48 vote.

Planned Parenthood would not have been “stripped of funding” in any way, shape, or form. Uncontroversial community health centers would have received much-needed resources to combat the virus. But that didn’t happen, because Planned Parenthood didn’t get its protection money. Nice Zika funding bill you’ve got there. It would be a shame if something were to happen to it…


The Zika virus is bound to get more media attention as the Olympic games progress, and I’m sure we’ll see more pro-abortion lies. Keep this article handy.

And if any of you were on the fence about whether Planned Parenthood does more harm than good, I hope this incident has convinced you. Planned Parenthood’s prioritization of money over women’s health could not be more obvious.

Two family conversations about abortion

I recently read two very different articles recounting family conversations about abortion, each important in its own way.

First, Broadly gives us Talking to My Grandma About Her 12 Abortions. The author’s grandmother lived in the U.S.S.R., which was the first nation to make elective abortion legal. Not only that, abortions were paid for by the government—exactly what abortion apologists in the United States are after when they talk about repealing the Hyde Amendment.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has even a passing familiarity with pro-life feminist theory that this policy had horrific consequences.

Raised by a hard-lipped, single father in a tiny apartment, she overcame her poor health, getting top grades in school and eventually moving to Moscow, where she earned a chemistry degree at university. Shortly after, she met my grandfather—a kind-hearted film nerd who ran the Moscow Film Festival—and gave birth to my mother at age 24. My grandmother had her second child at 35; in the span of the 11 years in between, she had the majority of her abortions. 

At the time, Soviet citizens were all too familiar with a particular catchphrase: “There is no sex in the Soviet Union.” According to my grandma, sex was seen as taboo and positioned as a distraction for citizens who were supposed to be spending their time fulfilling their duties as good, hardworking Communists. 

Taboo or not, Soviets still had sex, and the state was there to take advantage. The Soviet abortion regime was incredibly misogynistic:

“For most women, waiting for an abortion felt like being on a conveyor belt. On any given morning, there’d be ten women in line at the hospital to get an abortion,” she said. “So, whenever I needed one, I made sure to go out of my way to ask around and track down a person within the state-run hospital system whom I could pay extra for better treatment.” 

According to my grandma, paying extra guaranteed you more humane treatment than you’d get from a typical state-funded abortion. When I asked her what the doctors performing subsidized abortions at state-run hospitals were like, sharp anger entered her voice. “They wouldn’t be sympathetic or encouraging,” she said. “They’d laugh at you and tell you to shut up and stop crying. These people were heartless and felt nothing for the women getting abortions.”

She goes on to recount that publicly funded abortions were done with no anesthesia. In fact, many women of her time passed on “safe and legal” abortions and went the back-alley, paid route in an attempt to avoid abortionists’ cruelty. (The back-alley abortionists turned out to be no better.) As for the fathers, they were nowhere to be found; discussions about sexual consent and health were lacking even between husbands and wives, so when women became pregnant, men had little role to play beyond driving them to and from the hospital for an abortion.

The “conveyor belt” abortion model is not unique to Soviet Russia, of course. But to see it in action from the very beginning of the legal abortion movement is certainly enlightening.

The author of the Broadly piece is sympathetic to her grandmother, and understandably so. If she feels any existential horror at being the descendant of one of just two surviving siblings out of fourteen conceived, she keeps it to herself.

The second piece comes from the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform and recounts a conversation between a pro-life mom (the author) and her young son, Elliot. She had introduced her son to her pro-life work in an age-appropriate way, talking about helping mothers and babies, but had never explained the gruesome mechanics of what an abortion is. She was floored when her son asked:

“Can abortion doctors kill me too?”

My heart drops. Within seconds I’m on the floor too, cupping his beautiful face with my wet hands. “Oh sweetie, no. No, they can’t!”

His big brown eyes search mine. “How do you know?”

I pull him on my lap and explain that the law, the rule in Canada is that only very little children, only those who are still in their mom’s tummy can be killed. I explain that that could never happen to him, and that we will always do everything we can to keep him safe.

He snuggles up to me, when all of a sudden his forehead furrows again. “What about Tisa?”

I explain that no one is allowed to hurt his little sister either.

“But she’s little,” he counters.

“Yes, but she’s born. She’s safe, sweetheart. And you’re a really good big brother for taking such good care of her.”

That can’t have been an easy conversation, but she calms him down. Upon reflection, she writes:

The reason Elliot feels threatened by abortion is because he can’t make the distinction between born and pre-born like adults do. He figures that someone who can end the life of babies like his sister (who he once saw on ultrasound) can also end her life now because he doesn’t understand the difference between Tisa inside and Tisa outside the womb.

He has understood that if you are a human being, no one should be allowed to harm you. Intuitively he knows that one’s age and location is irrelevant. And he’s right.

My son has just taught me an important lesson: that we fool ourselves when we think we’re not affected by an injustice as long as we don’t belong to the group of human beings that’s currently being targeted. If we can strip human embryos and fetuses of their right to life, why not those in the age categories of infants or toddlers? If the human rights of some can be taken away, why not of others?

Readers, have you had any interesting conversations about abortion with members of your family? Tell us your stories in the comments and we might share them in a future blog post.

Two family conversations about abortion

I recently read two very different articles recounting family conversations about abortion, each important in its own way.

First, Broadly gives us Talking to My Grandma About Her 12 Abortions. The author’s grandmother lived in the U.S.S.R., which was the first nation to make elective abortion legal. Not only that, abortions were paid for by the government—exactly what abortion apologists in the United States are after when they talk about repealing the Hyde Amendment.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has even a passing familiarity with pro-life feminist theory that this policy had horrific consequences.

Raised by a hard-lipped, single father in a tiny apartment, she overcame her poor health, getting top grades in school and eventually moving to Moscow, where she earned a chemistry degree at university. Shortly after, she met my grandfather—a kind-hearted film nerd who ran the Moscow Film Festival—and gave birth to my mother at age 24. My grandmother had her second child at 35; in the span of the 11 years in between, she had the majority of her abortions. 

At the time, Soviet citizens were all too familiar with a particular catchphrase: “There is no sex in the Soviet Union.” According to my grandma, sex was seen as taboo and positioned as a distraction for citizens who were supposed to be spending their time fulfilling their duties as good, hardworking Communists. 

Taboo or not, Soviets still had sex, and the state was there to take advantage. The Soviet abortion regime was incredibly misogynistic:

“For most women, waiting for an abortion felt like being on a conveyor belt. On any given morning, there’d be ten women in line at the hospital to get an abortion,” she said. “So, whenever I needed one, I made sure to go out of my way to ask around and track down a person within the state-run hospital system whom I could pay extra for better treatment.” 

According to my grandma, paying extra guaranteed you more humane treatment than you’d get from a typical state-funded abortion. When I asked her what the doctors performing subsidized abortions at state-run hospitals were like, sharp anger entered her voice. “They wouldn’t be sympathetic or encouraging,” she said. “They’d laugh at you and tell you to shut up and stop crying. These people were heartless and felt nothing for the women getting abortions.”

She goes on to recount that publicly funded abortions were done with no anesthesia. In fact, many women of her time passed on “safe and legal” abortions and went the back-alley, paid route in an attempt to avoid abortionists’ cruelty. (The back-alley abortionists turned out to be no better.) As for the fathers, they were nowhere to be found; discussions about sexual consent and health were lacking even between husbands and wives, so when women became pregnant, men had little role to play beyond driving them to and from the hospital for an abortion.

The “conveyor belt” abortion model is not unique to Soviet Russia, of course. But to see it in action from the very beginning of the legal abortion movement is certainly enlightening.

The author of the Broadly piece is sympathetic to her grandmother, and understandably so. If she feels any existential horror at being the descendant of one of just two surviving siblings out of fourteen conceived, she keeps it to herself.

The second piece comes from the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform and recounts a conversation between a pro-life mom (the author) and her young son, Elliot. She had introduced her son to her pro-life work in an age-appropriate way, talking about helping mothers and babies, but had never explained the gruesome mechanics of what an abortion is. She was floored when her son asked:

“Can abortion doctors kill me too?”

My heart drops. Within seconds I’m on the floor too, cupping his beautiful face with my wet hands. “Oh sweetie, no. No, they can’t!”

His big brown eyes search mine. “How do you know?”

I pull him on my lap and explain that the law, the rule in Canada is that only very little children, only those who are still in their mom’s tummy can be killed. I explain that that could never happen to him, and that we will always do everything we can to keep him safe.

He snuggles up to me, when all of a sudden his forehead furrows again. “What about Tisa?”

I explain that no one is allowed to hurt his little sister either.

“But she’s little,” he counters.

“Yes, but she’s born. She’s safe, sweetheart. And you’re a really good big brother for taking such good care of her.”

That can’t have been an easy conversation, but she calms him down. Upon reflection, she writes:

The reason Elliot feels threatened by abortion is because he can’t make the distinction between born and pre-born like adults do. He figures that someone who can end the life of babies like his sister (who he once saw on ultrasound) can also end her life now because he doesn’t understand the difference between Tisa inside and Tisa outside the womb.

He has understood that if you are a human being, no one should be allowed to harm you. Intuitively he knows that one’s age and location is irrelevant. And he’s right.

My son has just taught me an important lesson: that we fool ourselves when we think we’re not affected by an injustice as long as we don’t belong to the group of human beings that’s currently being targeted. If we can strip human embryos and fetuses of their right to life, why not those in the age categories of infants or toddlers? If the human rights of some can be taken away, why not of others?

Readers, have you had any interesting conversations about abortion with members of your family? Tell us your stories in the comments and we might share them in a future blog post.

Misogyny in pro-life states? Study suggests otherwise.

Researchers have long struggled to quantify prejudice, and no method of measurement is perfect, but the housing app Abodo came up with a neat approach. Refraining from the use of slurs is a bare minimum of social decency. So Abodo tracked tweets by their state of origin and established a rate of tweets containing derogatory language per 100,000 tweets.  If you see that a region has a high rate of tweets containing slurs, it’s a red flag that the community might be unwelcoming to racial minorities.

Abodo conducted this analysis for a number of categories, including prejudice against racial minorities, women, LGBT people, and people with cognitive disabilities.

The results make for interesting reading, and I encourage you to check out the full analysis. For our purposes, I’m encouraged to see that despite the “war on women” rhetoric, there is no indication that states with pro-life policies are more prejudiced toward women. Check out this map, where high concentrations of sexist tweets are indicated by warmer colors:

Here’s that same map, with each state’s rank on Americans United for Life’s 2016 Life List added (#1 being the most pro-life; click to enlarge):

With the exception of #10 Texas, the top ten most pro-life states are more pro-woman than average. Conversely, seven of the ten most pro-abortion states have high concentrations of tweets containing gendered insults (the three exceptions being Vermont, Wyoming, and Hawaii).

A similar pattern emerges on the map of derogatory language against people with cognitive disabilities, who are frequently targeted for abortion. “Hot spots” appear in pro-abortion New England and West Coast states, while tweets from the pro-life Midwest and South express more tolerance:

The pro-life community should always strive for improvement, but it’s nice to see evidence that we are taking feminist and anti-ableist messages to heart.

Misogyny in pro-life states? Study suggests otherwise.

Researchers have long struggled to quantify prejudice, and no method of measurement is perfect, but the housing app Abodo came up with a neat approach. Refraining from the use of slurs is a bare minimum of social decency. So Abodo tracked tweets by their state of origin and established a rate of tweets containing derogatory language per 100,000 tweets.  If you see that a region has a high rate of tweets containing slurs, it’s a red flag that the community might be unwelcoming to racial minorities.

Abodo conducted this analysis for a number of categories, including prejudice against racial minorities, women, LGBT people, and people with cognitive disabilities.

The results make for interesting reading, and I encourage you to check out the full analysis. For our purposes, I’m encouraged to see that despite the “war on women” rhetoric, there is no indication that states with pro-life policies are more prejudiced toward women. Check out this map, where high concentrations of sexist tweets are indicated by warmer colors:

Here’s that same map, with each state’s rank on Americans United for Life’s 2016 Life List added (#1 being the most pro-life; click to enlarge):

With the exception of #10 Texas, the top ten most pro-life states are more pro-woman than average. Conversely, seven of the ten most pro-abortion states have high concentrations of tweets containing gendered insults (the three exceptions being Vermont, Wyoming, and Hawaii).

A similar pattern emerges on the map of derogatory language against people with cognitive disabilities, who are frequently targeted for abortion. “Hot spots” appear in pro-abortion New England and West Coast states, while tweets from the pro-life Midwest and South express more tolerance:

The pro-life community should always strive for improvement, but it’s nice to see evidence that we are taking feminist and anti-ableist messages to heart.

Dear Bill Nye: Where’s the science, guy?

NARAL
Pro-Choice America posted a video featuring Bill Nye giving his views on abortion. Throughout the
roughly four and a half minutes, Nye says pro-lifers have a “deep scientific
lack of understanding” and hold positions “based on bad science.” He thinks we
anti-abortion folk “apparently literally don’t know what you’re talking about”
(as opposed to figuratively not knowing..? Not sure.)
We’d hope,
then, that Nye would go on to explain exactly what scientific misunderstanding pro-lifers
have, but sadly the video contains almost no science whatever. Instead Nye goes
on about “men of European descent” (No, not really accurate) passing ignorant laws based on their “interpretation
of a book written 5,000 years ago” (such a strawman) that apparently makes them think “when a
man and a woman have sexual intercourse they always have a baby” (is that a joke?).
He graciously informs us that, in fact, women don’t get pregnant literally
every time they have sex. It’s a good thing we have famous scientists to
explain that to us plebians.
Nye then
meanders into very strange territory:

“You wouldn’t know how big a human egg
was if it weren’t for microscopes. If it weren’t for scientists, medical
researchers looking diligently. You wouldn’t know the process. You wouldn’t
have that shot–the famous shot or shots where the sperm are bumping up against
the egg. You wouldn’t have that without science. So then to claim that you know
the next step when you obviously don’t
okay let me do that [take] again.”


It’s hard to
understand how this distasteful mix of elitism and non sequiturs is supposed to
relate to political positions on abortion. It seems like Nye is suggesting that
pro-lifers and scientists are mutually exclusive groups (once again,
offbase), that pro-lifers
should be grateful to scientists for unraveling some of the mysteries of biology,
and that pro-lifers are incapable of understanding the process of human reproduction
beyond fertilization. In fact there seems to be this weird overtone hinting that
science is inherently pro-choice and so pro-lifers have no right to discuss the
scientific backing for our position.
These implications
are especially rich considering Nye never does get around to explaining how the
pro-life position is unscientific. The closest he comes is when he points out
that many fertilized eggs don’t implant:

“Many many many more hundreds of eggs
are fertilized than become humans. Eggs get fertilized—by that I mean sperm get
accepted by ova—a lot. But that’s not all you need. You have to attach to the
uterine wall, the inside of a womb.”

Nye is by no
means the first person to suggest that implantation (attaching to the uterine
wall) is somehow a more meaningful moment in human development than
fertilization. The medical community defines the beginning of pregnancy as implantation,
and plenty of pro-choicers have equivocated between the beginning of pregnancy and the beginning of a human organism.

But the people making this equivocation are the ones misunderstanding biology.
As organisms, every one of us began as a zygote, and that means every one of us had a biological
beginning that preceded the moment we implanted in our mother’s womb. Nye doesn’t
explain how it’s “bad science” to acknowledge that reality. (Actually, I’m not
sure whether Nye understands that’s what pro-lifers are saying. If Nye is aware
of anything more than some pro-choice caricature of an actual pro-life position,
he doesn’t show it.)

Note that even if implantation, rather than fertilization, were the defining moment of new human life, it wouldn’t change the abortion debate very much. Abortions typically happen weeks or months after implantation. So even if Nye’s comments had provided new, insightful information, they don’t come close to demonstrating that an anti-abortion position must be based on “bad science.”

Meanwhile, it’s
true that if zygotes don’t implant they will die and not develop into fetuses. It’s
also true that if fetuses get tangled in their umbilical cords they may be
stillborn and not develop into infants. And infants with congenital heart
defects may die and not develop into toddlers. And really any of us at any life
stage could suffer a natural death and not develop into the next life stage. How
does that fact imply that zygotes aren’t humans, much less that abortion is
justified? Unfortunately, Nye is too busy venting his frustration at our
ignorance to explain the relevance of his rambling. Or maybe he believes that
as long as nature kills us, it’s okay if we kill each other. I mean tsunamis
kill thousands of people, and that’s why we’re fine with genocide, right guys? Right?…No?
Yeah, I guess that makes no sense at all.

The truth is science tells us the fetus is an organism and a member of our species (and it is a “deep scientific lack of
understanding” to suggest otherwise). But science is descriptive, not
prescriptive. Through genetics we know each of us inherits a mixture of our parents’ DNA; through embryology we know that our hearts begin to beat
about three weeks after fertilization; through ultrasound and magnetic resonance technology we can watch the embryo’s movements, which provide sensory input that spurs brain development;
and yet this wealth of information can’t indicate whether or why we should care.
Science
can’t tell us what to value in human beings or when we should protect one
another. Those questions fall within the realm of philosophy, a realm Nye steps
squarely into when he implies a value judgement based on how easily organisms can
naturally die. His implication isn’t a scientific fact, it’s a philosophical
position, and Nye’s famous nickname doesn’t give him the right to conflate those
two completely different approaches. It’s especially loathsome that this
hand-wavy philosophical viewpoint is trying to be passed off as “science” by
one of our country’s biggest science advocates. That’s not okay no matter how
quirky his bowtie is.

Dear Bill Nye: Where’s the science, guy?

NARAL
Pro-Choice America posted a video featuring Bill Nye giving his views on abortion. Throughout the
roughly four and a half minutes, Nye says pro-lifers have a “deep scientific
lack of understanding” and hold positions “based on bad science.” He thinks we
anti-abortion folk “apparently literally don’t know what you’re talking about”
(as opposed to figuratively not knowing..? Not sure.)
We’d hope,
then, that Nye would go on to explain exactly what scientific misunderstanding pro-lifers
have, but sadly the video contains almost no science whatever. Instead Nye goes
on about “men of European descent” (No, not really accurate) passing ignorant laws based on their “interpretation
of a book written 5,000 years ago” (such a strawman) that apparently makes them think “when a
man and a woman have sexual intercourse they always have a baby” (is that a joke?).
He graciously informs us that, in fact, women don’t get pregnant literally
every time they have sex. It’s a good thing we have famous scientists to
explain that to us plebians.
Nye then
meanders into very strange territory:

“You wouldn’t know how big a human egg
was if it weren’t for microscopes. If it weren’t for scientists, medical
researchers looking diligently. You wouldn’t know the process. You wouldn’t
have that shot–the famous shot or shots where the sperm are bumping up against
the egg. You wouldn’t have that without science. So then to claim that you know
the next step when you obviously don’t
okay let me do that [take] again.”


It’s hard to
understand how this distasteful mix of elitism and non sequiturs is supposed to
relate to political positions on abortion. It seems like Nye is suggesting that
pro-lifers and scientists are mutually exclusive groups (once again,
offbase), that pro-lifers
should be grateful to scientists for unraveling some of the mysteries of biology,
and that pro-lifers are incapable of understanding the process of human reproduction
beyond fertilization. In fact there seems to be this weird overtone hinting that
science is inherently pro-choice and so pro-lifers have no right to discuss the
scientific backing for our position.
These implications
are especially rich considering Nye never does get around to explaining how the
pro-life position is unscientific. The closest he comes is when he points out
that many fertilized eggs don’t implant:

“Many many many more hundreds of eggs
are fertilized than become humans. Eggs get fertilized—by that I mean sperm get
accepted by ova—a lot. But that’s not all you need. You have to attach to the
uterine wall, the inside of a womb.”

Nye is by no
means the first person to suggest that implantation (attaching to the uterine
wall) is somehow a more meaningful moment in human development than
fertilization. The medical community defines the beginning of pregnancy as implantation,
and plenty of pro-choicers have equivocated between the beginning of pregnancy and the beginning of a human organism.

But the people making this equivocation are the ones misunderstanding biology.
As organisms, every one of us began as a zygote, and that means every one of us had a biological
beginning that preceded the moment we implanted in our mother’s womb. Nye doesn’t
explain how it’s “bad science” to acknowledge that reality. (Actually, I’m not
sure whether Nye understands that’s what pro-lifers are saying. If Nye is aware
of anything more than some pro-choice caricature of an actual pro-life position,
he doesn’t show it.)

Note that even if implantation, rather than fertilization, were the defining moment of new human life, it wouldn’t change the abortion debate very much. Abortions typically happen weeks or months after implantation. So even if Nye’s comments had provided new, insightful information, they don’t come close to demonstrating that an anti-abortion position must be based on “bad science.”

Meanwhile, it’s
true that if zygotes don’t implant they will die and not develop into fetuses. It’s
also true that if fetuses get tangled in their umbilical cords they may be
stillborn and not develop into infants. And infants with congenital heart
defects may die and not develop into toddlers. And really any of us at any life
stage could suffer a natural death and not develop into the next life stage. How
does that fact imply that zygotes aren’t humans, much less that abortion is
justified? Unfortunately, Nye is too busy venting his frustration at our
ignorance to explain the relevance of his rambling. Or maybe he believes that
as long as nature kills us, it’s okay if we kill each other. I mean tsunamis
kill thousands of people, and that’s why we’re fine with genocide, right guys? Right?…No?
Yeah, I guess that makes no sense at all.

The truth is science tells us the fetus is an organism and a member of our species (and it is a “deep scientific lack of
understanding” to suggest otherwise). But science is descriptive, not
prescriptive. Through genetics we know each of us inherits a mixture of our parents’ DNA; through embryology we know that our hearts begin to beat
about three weeks after fertilization; through ultrasound and magnetic resonance technology we can watch the embryo’s movements, which provide sensory input that spurs brain development;
and yet this wealth of information can’t indicate whether or why we should care.
Science
can’t tell us what to value in human beings or when we should protect one
another. Those questions fall within the realm of philosophy, a realm Nye steps
squarely into when he implies a value judgement based on how easily organisms can
naturally die. His implication isn’t a scientific fact, it’s a philosophical
position, and Nye’s famous nickname doesn’t give him the right to conflate those
two completely different approaches. It’s especially loathsome that this
hand-wavy philosophical viewpoint is trying to be passed off as “science” by
one of our country’s biggest science advocates. That’s not okay no matter how
quirky his bowtie is.