Abortion Speakout and the Abortion Religion

The 1 in 3 Campaign, an abortion lobby group, is holding its annual “Abortion Speakout” today at 3:00 p.m.

There is a lot I could write about this event. I could start by pointing out that the very name is a lie; “1 in 3” is a reference to the thoroughly debunked talking point that one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime. This was never true, and it certainly isn’t true now that the abortion rate is at its lowest level since Roe v. Wade. (Some pro-choice groups have quietly conceded the point and now claim the correct number is “nearly one in four.”)

I could write about how women have organically come together to share their stories of abortion regret for decades, and how the abortion lobby’s latest efforts to put a happy face on abortion fall flat. I could write about how abortion celebration stories hurt women who have experienced miscarriage and infertility.

But instead, I want to share a single story from the 1 in 3 campaign’s website. The story was submitted by a woman known only as Michele. It is peak Abortion Religion—which we’ve previously defined as “a set of supernatural beliefs which justify abortion on the ground that the victim of an abortion isn’t really dead.” Abortion Religion comes in various flavors, but typically adopts unproven ideas about reincarnation or ensoulment and uses them to rationalize violence against unborn children. (Of course, there is no logical reason why Abortion Religion couldn’t be extended to rationalize infanticide or violence against older children.)

Michele writes (emphasis mine):

It may seem paradoxical, but I had two abortions because of how deeply I care about children. I had my first abortion years ago with my first boyfriend, before I had my daughter, and the second, many years later, with my daughter’s father.

I listened to a heated exchange between two women on the radio, the talk of how “each child is a flower.” This represents a fundamental misunderstanding, of life. First, life does not begin with a mere beating heart, with DNA exchanged between two cells, the inception of procreation. Life is not merely physical. Life is only life when the spiritual component enters into the biology. This is something I learned only as an adult. Yet, this recognition is essential in order to address the issue of abortion. A fetus is a vessel for the soul to enter. It is the human soul that enlivens the body. And there is a world of souls, preparing to enter our physical world. We ourselves in our bodies are the souls here on our Earth, here to learn from and to teach one another, in our various journeys. When does the soul enter the body? Well it depends, but when there is going to be an abortion, I believe a soul does not enter. The world up there is a world of knowing, and they are always trying to help us learn and grow. We ourselves are flowers, down here. We are here not only to bring children into the world, but to grow our own capacity for service to God.

“Life is only life when the spiritual component enters into the biology” echoes Justice Kennedy’s widely mocked proclamation in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that “at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existing, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of life.” This should terrify anyone who cares about basing public policy on objective reality.

Michele is, of course, free to believe whatever she likes, however unfounded and irrational it may be. That’s her First Amendment right. But historically, American courts have held that people do not have the right to impose their dangerous religious beliefs onto their children. This is why an adult Jehovah’s Witness may refuse a life-saving blood transfusion, but a child in the Jehovah’s Witnesses is entitled to receive a blood transfusion in an emergency without regard to parental objections. The same principle applies here. The Abortion Religion imposes death onto children who have no say in the matter. That is intolerable, and will one day be viewed as a barbaric practice rightly condemned to the ash heap of history.

Abortion Speakout and the Abortion Religion

The 1 in 3 Campaign, an abortion lobby group, is holding its annual “Abortion Speakout” today at 3:00 p.m.

There is a lot I could write about this event. I could start by pointing out that the very name is a lie; “1 in 3” is a reference to the thoroughly debunked talking point that one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime. This was never true, and it certainly isn’t true now that the abortion rate is at its lowest level since Roe v. Wade. (Some pro-choice groups have quietly conceded the point and now claim the correct number is “nearly one in four.”)

I could write about how women have organically come together to share their stories of abortion regret for decades, and how the abortion lobby’s latest efforts to put a happy face on abortion fall flat. I could write about how abortion celebration stories hurt women who have experienced miscarriage and infertility.

But instead, I want to share a single story from the 1 in 3 campaign’s website. The story was submitted by a woman known only as Michele. It is peak Abortion Religion—which we’ve previously defined as “a set of supernatural beliefs which justify abortion on the ground that the victim of an abortion isn’t really dead.” Abortion Religion comes in various flavors, but typically adopts unproven ideas about reincarnation or ensoulment and uses them to rationalize violence against unborn children. (Of course, there is no logical reason why Abortion Religion couldn’t be extended to rationalize infanticide or violence against older children.)

Michele writes (emphasis mine):

It may seem paradoxical, but I had two abortions because of how deeply I care about children. I had my first abortion years ago with my first boyfriend, before I had my daughter, and the second, many years later, with my daughter’s father.

I listened to a heated exchange between two women on the radio, the talk of how “each child is a flower.” This represents a fundamental misunderstanding, of life. First, life does not begin with a mere beating heart, with DNA exchanged between two cells, the inception of procreation. Life is not merely physical. Life is only life when the spiritual component enters into the biology. This is something I learned only as an adult. Yet, this recognition is essential in order to address the issue of abortion. A fetus is a vessel for the soul to enter. It is the human soul that enlivens the body. And there is a world of souls, preparing to enter our physical world. We ourselves in our bodies are the souls here on our Earth, here to learn from and to teach one another, in our various journeys. When does the soul enter the body? Well it depends, but when there is going to be an abortion, I believe a soul does not enter. The world up there is a world of knowing, and they are always trying to help us learn and grow. We ourselves are flowers, down here. We are here not only to bring children into the world, but to grow our own capacity for service to God.

“Life is only life when the spiritual component enters into the biology” echoes Justice Kennedy’s widely mocked proclamation in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that “at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existing, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of life.” This should terrify anyone who cares about basing public policy on objective reality.

Michele is, of course, free to believe whatever she likes, however unfounded and irrational it may be. That’s her First Amendment right. But historically, American courts have held that people do not have the right to impose their dangerous religious beliefs onto their children. This is why an adult Jehovah’s Witness may refuse a life-saving blood transfusion, but a child in the Jehovah’s Witnesses is entitled to receive a blood transfusion in an emergency without regard to parental objections. The same principle applies here. The Abortion Religion imposes death onto children who have no say in the matter. That is intolerable, and will one day be viewed as a barbaric practice rightly condemned to the ash heap of history.

The Abortion Religion Strikes Again

Via LifeNews comes the disturbing headline Methodist Pastor Justifies Abortion by Saying Unborn Babies Have Original Sin. According to Pastor John Swomley:

The first claim is that society should protect innocent human life that is unable to protect itself. The term “innocent,” originally used by various popes, refers to fetal life which has committed no sin. Yet the Roman Catholic Church has proclaimed only one person, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as having an immaculate conception and hence free from original sin. In any event, public policy cannot be founded on theological claims to innocence.

There is another meaning of “innocence” which comes from two Latin words, in (not) and nocere (to harm), and therefore means “not harmful or dangerous.” However, it is precisely the fact that some pregnant women (and their physicians) view the fetus as harmful or threatening to their health or welfare and hence leads them to consider abortion.

How about the common-sense definition of having not done anything wrong? Jesus Christ… I mean, gosh golly gee.

In all seriousness, religious justifications for the destruction of human life are terrible. And they come up quite often the abortion movement. Swomley is hardly the only culprit. We’ve also seen animist, Buddhist, and other Christian beliefs twisted to support homicide.

I grew up in the Methodist church. To his credit, my childhood pastor never preached abortion. But he never spoke out against the official Methodist position, either, whatever his personal disagreements with it may have been. In any event, the Methodist failure to stick up for the innocent made it a lot easier for me to leave.

P.S.: Swoley’s quote was first brought to pro-lifers’ attention by Sarah Terzo of Clinic Quotes and Live Action News, who happens to be an atheist and a long-time supporter of SPL. Go Sarah!

The Abortion Religion Strikes Again

Via LifeNews comes the disturbing headline Methodist Pastor Justifies Abortion by Saying Unborn Babies Have Original Sin. According to Pastor John Swomley:

The first claim is that society should protect innocent human life that is unable to protect itself. The term “innocent,” originally used by various popes, refers to fetal life which has committed no sin. Yet the Roman Catholic Church has proclaimed only one person, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as having an immaculate conception and hence free from original sin. In any event, public policy cannot be founded on theological claims to innocence.

There is another meaning of “innocence” which comes from two Latin words, in (not) and nocere (to harm), and therefore means “not harmful or dangerous.” However, it is precisely the fact that some pregnant women (and their physicians) view the fetus as harmful or threatening to their health or welfare and hence leads them to consider abortion.

How about the common-sense definition of having not done anything wrong? Jesus Christ… I mean, gosh golly gee.

In all seriousness, religious justifications for the destruction of human life are terrible. And they come up quite often the abortion movement. Swomley is hardly the only culprit. We’ve also seen animist, Buddhist, and other Christian beliefs twisted to support homicide.

I grew up in the Methodist church. To his credit, my childhood pastor never preached abortion. But he never spoke out against the official Methodist position, either, whatever his personal disagreements with it may have been. In any event, the Methodist failure to stick up for the innocent made it a lot easier for me to leave.

P.S.: Swoley’s quote was first brought to pro-lifers’ attention by Sarah Terzo of Clinic Quotes and Live Action News, who happens to be an atheist and a long-time supporter of SPL. Go Sarah!

The Abortion Religion: or, the baby isn’t really dead

Last week, pro-life media outlets broke the story of a pro-abortion children’s book entitled Sister Apple, Sister Pig. The lead character in the book is a little boy who is happy about the fact that his sister was aborted, because “If you kept my sister, you would be tired, and sad, and mad!”

The idea of indoctrinating a child to celebrate the death of a sibling is sick. But I’m more interested in how the author does it. Sister Apple, Sister Pig teaches children that aborted babies are “happy ghosts”—spiritual beings who may reside in inanimate objects or animals. The story is an excellent example of what I like to call the Abortion Religion.
My working definition of the Abortion Religion is: 

A set of supernatural beliefs which justify abortion on the ground that the victim of an abortion isn’t really dead.

Adherents to the Abortion Religion selectively borrow concepts from other faiths and twist them to suit their ideological purposes. Sister Apple, Sister Pig is derived from animism, a belief that “non-human entities (animals, plants, and inanimate objects or phenomena) possess a spiritual essence,” common in many ancient and tribal religions. The baby isn’t really dead; she’s just become a spirit (or “ghost”).

The Abortion Religion also takes the idea of reincarnation from Eastern religions, but divorces it from the corresponding ideas of karma and ahimsa (non-violence). So, for instance, when a 15-year-old girl who was raised to support abortion became pregnant, she aborted the baby and declared:

Did I feel sad? Yes. Do I regret it? No! Because I know that the spirit I named Mariah will go on to a woman who is ready for her.

The baby isn’t really dead; she’s just become a spirit named Mariah who will reincarnated as another woman’s baby.

The Abortion Religion uses Christianity as well. Late-term abortionist Curtis Boyd, who was once a Baptist minister, prays over his victims, asking “that the spirit of this pregnancy returns to God with love and understanding.” The baby isn’t really dead; she’s just been returned to God.

And so it falls upon me, as someone with no supernatural beliefs, to look like a jerk by pointing out the obvious: the baby is dead. Abortion killed her, and it was permanent.

If you regret an abortion and believe that you will be reunited with your aborted child in the afterlife, I hope that belief brings you comfort. Truly I do. I have no quarrel with peaceful religious people.

But the moment religious beliefs are used to justify violence toward a human being, I have a duty to speak up. And when abortion supporters blather on about pro-lifers “imposing their religion,” while themselves ignoring basic scientific facts about preborn life and adhering to the Abortion Religion, you’d better believe I am going to call that out.

The Abortion Religion: or, the baby isn’t really dead

Last week, pro-life media outlets broke the story of a pro-abortion children’s book entitled Sister Apple, Sister Pig. The lead character in the book is a little boy who is happy about the fact that his sister was aborted, because “If you kept my sister, you would be tired, and sad, and mad!”

The idea of indoctrinating a child to celebrate the death of a sibling is sick. But I’m more interested in how the author does it. Sister Apple, Sister Pig teaches children that aborted babies are “happy ghosts”—spiritual beings who may reside in inanimate objects or animals. The story is an excellent example of what I like to call the Abortion Religion.
My working definition of the Abortion Religion is: 

A set of supernatural beliefs which justify abortion on the ground that the victim of an abortion isn’t really dead.

Adherents to the Abortion Religion selectively borrow concepts from other faiths and twist them to suit their ideological purposes. Sister Apple, Sister Pig is derived from animism, a belief that “non-human entities (animals, plants, and inanimate objects or phenomena) possess a spiritual essence,” common in many ancient and tribal religions. The baby isn’t really dead; she’s just become a spirit (or “ghost”).

The Abortion Religion also takes the idea of reincarnation from Eastern religions, but divorces it from the corresponding ideas of karma and ahimsa (non-violence). So, for instance, when a 15-year-old girl who was raised to support abortion became pregnant, she aborted the baby and declared:

Did I feel sad? Yes. Do I regret it? No! Because I know that the spirit I named Mariah will go on to a woman who is ready for her.

The baby isn’t really dead; she’s just become a spirit named Mariah who will reincarnated as another woman’s baby.

The Abortion Religion uses Christianity as well. Late-term abortionist Curtis Boyd, who was once a Baptist minister, prays over his victims, asking “that the spirit of this pregnancy returns to God with love and understanding.” The baby isn’t really dead; she’s just been returned to God.

And so it falls upon me, as someone with no supernatural beliefs, to look like a jerk by pointing out the obvious: the baby is dead. Abortion killed her, and it was permanent.

If you regret an abortion and believe that you will be reunited with your aborted child in the afterlife, I hope that belief brings you comfort. Truly I do. I have no quarrel with peaceful religious people.

But the moment religious beliefs are used to justify violence toward a human being, I have a duty to speak up. And when abortion supporters blather on about pro-lifers “imposing their religion,” while themselves ignoring basic scientific facts about preborn life and adhering to the Abortion Religion, you’d better believe I am going to call that out.

The Abortion Religion

Average “pro-choice” people in America are actually quite moderate. They support a ban on abortions after the first trimester. They support informed consent and waiting periods. And they do not join a mob at the state capital to spit on pro-lifers and chant “Hail, Satan.”

This is not a post about average pro-choicers. This is a post about abortion activists who dedicate significant portions of their lives to defending the practice of prenatal killing against any and all regulation, or to actually committing abortions. I’m talking about activists who believe in abortion with what is practically a religious fervor.

Religious doctrines can provide a tool for understanding the views of these abortion rights hardliners. Below, I draw upon traditions from Catholicism, Hinduism, and other faiths to shed light on the pro-abortion worldview. Whatever your own beliefs, I hope that you find these analogies to be helpful.

Admittedly, not every abortion advocate subscribes to every belief listed here. But these themes appear frequently enough that pro-lifers are bound to come across them in conversations and debates with people from the other side. Bear in mind, too, that people can hold these beliefs without having examined them carefully or even consciously realizing that they hold them.

Transubstantiation

“[B]y the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.” ~Catechism of the Catholic Church

“Well, in my heart and my mind, you know, life begins when the mother says it begins, not when anybody else thinks it begins. For some women it’s before they conceive; for some women, it’s never. Even after they deliver, it’s still a problem, not a baby.” ~Late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart

The basic idea of transubstantiation is that when a particular individual speaks particular words, this causes the fundamental nature of something to change, even though this change is not physically apparent or scientifically measurable. In Catholicism, the speaker is a priest, the words are a blessing, the object is a loaf of bread or goblet of wine, and the transformation is that the bread or wine becomes the body or blood of Jesus. In abortionism, the speaker is a pregnant woman, the words are an acknowledgement of positive feelings about motherhood, the object is the unborn child, and the transformation is that the “clump of cells” becomes a living baby.

7 weeks, 4 days

Of course, this is the sort of thing that has to be taken on faith. An 8-week-old unborn baby who is scheduled to be aborted looks and functions just like an 8-week-old who is loved by his or her mother. Both have clear signs of life.

Reincarnation

“When people die with strong unfulfilled desires, which can only be fulfilled on earth, their minds—while they are in the other world—strongly yearn for the fulfillment of those desires. As every conscious action is prompted by a thought, those unfulfilled desires eventually bring them back to earth, thus causing their rebirth or reincarnation.” ~Swami (monk) Bhaskarananda, Vedanta Society of Western Washington

“Abortion access is very rarely about being a mother vs. not being a mother, about having a baby to love or not. While that’s true for a small percentage of women seeking abortions, for most women, it’s about timing. Women just want to give the children they do have the best possible shot at a good life by having them at the right time.” ~Abortion supporter and blogger Amanda Marcotte

Unlike the abortion transubstantiation doctrine discussed above, abortion advocates rarely state a belief in reincarnation explicitly. But it is implicit in the idea that abortion is not a matter of deciding which children will be born, but when children will be born. If abortion is all about the “timing” of parenthood, and abortion is a morally acceptable way to accomplish that timing, then unborn children cannot be unique individuals; the aborted child and the later-born one must be essentially the same. This flies in the face of scientific and medical evidence, which shows that every human being has unique DNA from conception. But reincarnation makes sense of it; the aborted child may not be physically the same as her later-born sibling, but they are spiritually the same. The aborted child is “reborn” at a more convenient time.

Fundamentalism

“Good Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions.” ~Rev. Jerry Falwell

“You can’t call yourself a feminist if you don’t believe in the right to abortion.” ~Nora Ephron

Fundamentalism has been widely criticized, by secular and religious leaders alike, because it makes a virtue of closed-mindedness and fosters an “us versus them” mentality. When you meet an abortion advocate who refuses to see pro-lifers as anything other than misogynists, and who declares “You will never change my mind,” you are dealing with a fundamentalist. No amount of evidence for the humanity of the unborn child will move them; it will go in one ear and out the other. Just as religious fundamentalists reject any facts that contradict their religious texts, and try to prevent those facts from being widely disseminated, so too abortion fundamentalists condemn life-saving ultrasound technology and try to insulate women from the reality of the abortion choice.

Response to article in “The Humanist”

An article appears in the September/October 2012 issue of
The Humanist, entitled “Are Atheist Pro-Life Groups Promoting Sound Science?” which quotes Secular Pro-Life leaders.  The article was written by Marco Rossi, a man
who once worked for Planned Parenthood– so it’s no surprise that the article
is unflattering.  He comes right out of
the box with the baseless accusation that we have a secret religious agenda,
akin to the intelligent design movement. 
Nevertheless, there is no such thing as bad publicity.
What fascinated me most is that Rossi actually comes right
out and states his adherence to the “magic birth canal” theory of
rights, which most pro-choicers avoid:

There is in fact a major difference between human beings as
fetuses and human beings as persons: human beings as persons are born. [. . .]
Rights only exist within the context of a community where they have the
potential to be realized and the possibility of being threatened. Birth is our
universal entrance into any community. It is the point at which we are able to
break away — literally — from the absolute dependency of our mothers. The fact
of the matter is birth transforms us. It simultaneously makes us into
individuals and members of a group, and thus embeds in us rights-bearing
protections.

Why, exactly, does the right to life not have “the
potential to be realized and the possibility of being threatened” in the
womb?  (Certainly, abortion constitutes a
threat!)  And why are we not
“individuals” or “members of a group” before birth?  He never answers either question.  It’s simply a case of saying it makes it so.
He goes on to make the fair point that human rights are
“interdependent” with each other: “No right is absolute and can
be used to justify canceling out another right.”  Indeed, even the right to life, while
fundamental, is not absolute; this is the basic premise behind the morality of
lethal self-defense.  But Rossi errs when
he argues that “The only way that this interdependence can exist between a
child’s right to life and a woman’s right to her body is by demarcating the
moment of right-bearing at birth as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
states.”  This is not
interdependence at all.  It is simply
declaring a winner, without considering which party has more at stake.
Rossi then addresses four topics on which he believes that
secular right to life groups have been unscientific: abortion and breast
cancer; post-abortion psychological problems; ultrasounds before abortion; and
fetal pain.
Starting with breast cancer:

In an email exchange about the validity of this claim,
Monica Lynn, SPL’s blog coordinator, responded that the group found the
evidence conflicting, but that its president, Kelsey Hazzard — who has studied
law, not medicine — believes that women should be informed of the “conflicting”
nature of this evidence before an abortion.

Monica has written extensively about the debate on abortion
and breast cancer.  In fact, Monica
herself came out against such a link, but of course we acknowledge that
conflicting evidence exists.  What is so
radical about presenting all of the evidence for women to examine
themselves?  (Of course, this is all a
side issue; the risk or non-risk of breast cancer has absolutely no bearing on
the morality of abortion.)
Rossi continues:

Similarly, the research on abortion and psychological stress
has shown that the phenomenon of PASS — Post Abortion Stress Syndrome — doesn’t
exist either. Recently, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study
from Danish researchers which confirmed that the majority of women who
underwent an abortion in the first two trimesters were no more likely to seek
out psychological counseling after their abortion than they were before. While
Lynn says the PASS label is problematic, SPL believes women should be informed
of the possible psychological repercussions and their risks before having an
abortion.

One study does not a consensus make, particularly when that study relies on women overcoming the stigma of post-abortion stress to seek out counseling.  Many studies have shown an increase in
negative emotions after an abortion, particularly where risk factors like youth
or ambivalence are present.  (An
extensive list can be found in the footnotes to this article.)
Frankly, Rossi has outdone himself here.  In general, the debate between pro-life and
pro-choice is on how common it is for women to feel guilt or depression related
to their abortions, and whether it’s a significant enough risk to warrant a
pre-abortion disclaimer; that’s a legitimate debate.  But Rossi appears to be claiming that no
woman has such an experience; it “doesn’t exist.”  Such a claim can be disproved with a single
incidence of post-abortion depression.  I
invite Rossi to attend a Silent No More event some time.
Then comes the discussion of ultrasound, which is truly
baffling:

The new Virginia law requiring women to undergo an
ultrasound prior to an abortion was designed by the organization Americans
United for Life — another nonreligious pro-life group. According to Charmaine
Yoest, CEO and president of Americans United for Life, the Virginia bill was
necessary to protect women with ectopic pregnancies from the possibility of
dying during a medication-induced abortion. Warnings like these are half-truths
that only serve to whip up hysteria around the risks of abortion. An ultrasound
before an abortion is a standard practice for most providers, and is an essential
tool for helping determine gestational age, viability, and yes, the possibility
of an ectopic pregnancy. However, doctors determine ultrasounds based on
medical necessity — not ideology. In reality, the risk of a medication-induced
abortion in the case of an ectopic pregnancy is phenomenally rare, and the
possibility of the mother dying is even more remote.

It’s remote, so therefore we shouldn’t mandate something
that can easily prevent it, and which is already standard practice for most
providers?  There is absolutely no risk
of medical harm to the mother from an ultrasound.  But there is a risk to Rossi’s former
employer– clients might change their minds. 
That’s what this is really about, and that explains Rossi’s next
sentence:

When asked about the ultrasound requirement, Secular
Pro-Life responded that doctors should not only be required to offer women an
ultrasound twenty-four hours prior to an abortion, but they should also be
required to explain the stages of fetal development with the women [sic] before
she agrees to an abortion.

Next, we get to fetal pain, where Rossi begins by stating
that there is “no clear consensus from doctors or medical researchers as
to when a fetus feels pain.”  He
then goes on to cite two studies suggesting that the ability to feel pain comes
at the later end of pregnancy (29-30 weeks and 35-37 weeks, respectively),
while citing none of the research suggesting an earlier stage of
development.  Finally, he bashes Secular
Pro-Life for failing to recognize the “medical consensus” on fetal
pain.

Rossi concludes by celebrating the fact that 25% of
Americans support his view that abortion should be legal in all
circumstances.  He would also like to claim
the 51% who support abortion in “certain” circumstances, to create a
pro-choice majority.  That’s highly
problematic, since “certain circumstances” would include people who
only support abortion in cases where the mother’s life is in danger (such as myself).  Rossi’s abortion-until-birth position–
which, even accepting his favored studies, would allow for abortions on
pain-capable unborn babies– is extreme. 
It will continue to fall out of favor as groups like Secular Pro-Life
work to educate the public.