“Except in the Womb”

Over at Slate, abortion supporter Christina Cauterucci has an article about the phrase “except in the womb.” To call it an “article” is a bit generous. It’s really more of a rant. The thesis is basically “I do not like it when anti-abortion people say this.” Still, her annoyance is at least partially justified. For instance, when she says:

The ultimate message of “except in the womb” is that no one is allowed to try to change the world for the better until they try to criminalize abortion.

I immediately thought, Now you know how we feel when abortion supporters argue that we can’t try to save babies’ lives until we’ve adopted every child from foster care!, or until we’ve reformed immigration!, or whatever the popular distraction of the moment is. No one doubts that foster care and immigration reform are good causes. There’s no need to make it a competition.

Via Dank Pro-Life Memes. Image description: One person says “Killing homeless should be illegal.” A second person responds “How many homeless did you invite to your house?”

The use of “except in the womb” is sometimes perfectly on point, sometimes analogous to the “not until” pro-choice argument, and sometimes completely inappropriate. Surprise: context matters! So let’s consider each of Cauterucci’s examples, and my (admittedly subjective) verdicts on each.

Statement: “Climate change activists want to save future generations, except in the womb.”
Verdict: Mostly bad

In general, using “except in the womb” in connection with climate change is bad form. It’s a classic example of what Josh Brahm calls “fetus tunnel vision,” defined as “the inability to see and/or acknowledge human rights injustices without equating or comparing them to abortion.” The world has plenty of problems to tackle; we can acknowledge them on their merits without twisting everything into an abortion debate.

The one exception I’ll allow is when climate change activists promote abortion as a form of population control, particularly for low-income minorities, to save the planet—as Sen. Bernie Sanders recently did. It’s completely appropriate (indeed necessary) to call out the eugenicist roots of that thinking, and “save future generations, except in the womb” is a fine start.

But the usage Cauterucci cites was directed at Greta Thunberg, not Sen. Sanders, and it’s pretty blatant fetus tunnel vision. Cauterucci’s annoyance is understandable. I share it.

Statement: “Abortion care coverage for Peace Corps volunteers in the field? That’s supporting peace, except in the womb.”
Verdict: Spot on

I have no complaints about this use of “except in the womb.” Abortion is an act of violence, completely incompatible with any institution claiming a mission of peace. And it’s obviously not a case of fetus tunnel vision since, as Cauterucci herself acknowledges, it directly concerns abortion policy.


Statement: “Opposed to Indiana’s ban on abortions sought due to fetal genetic disorders? That’s celebrating people with disabilities, except in the womb.”
Verdict: Also spot on

You can’t celebrate people with disabilities if you think they’re better off dead. You really think people with disabilities don’t notice your “fetal anomalies” abortion advocacy? It’s hurtful. “Except in the womb” is great in this context; better yet, let’s point ableist abortion supporters to pro-life statements from folks with disabilities.


Statement: “When Kamala Harris called for stricter gun laws after the Parkland shooting, it showed she cared about children being slaughtered—except in the womb.”
Verdict: Borderline

If a pro-choice Joe Schmo brings up gun control and a pro-lifer responds with “except in the womb,” that’s clearly fetus tunnel vision, and also wildly insensitive to the families who have lost children to gun violence. The loss of life at Parkland is horribly tragic, full stop. Turning it into an abortion debate benefits no one.

The one reason I call this borderline is because it is not Joe Schmo; it’s Sen. Kamala Harris, a public figure with a long history of hostility to unborn babies. Her political hypocrisy is gross and rage-inducing. Still, there’s probably a better way to make this point.

Statement: “When Nancy Pelosi condemned Basher al-Assad for killing children with chemical weapons, she said she told her grandson the victims were ‘children wherever they are’—except in the womb.”
Verdict: Also borderline

Same as above.


Statement: “In replies and quote tweets on Twitter, conservatives regularly append the phrase to anything a perceived liberal says that rests on human decency or a shared set of morals. They’ve tacked it onto a March for Our Lives sign that said ‘I don’t want [kids] to die’…”
Verdict: Definitely inappropriate. 

This is akin to the “Joe Schmo” hypothetical above—except that, for all you know, the person at the March for Our Lives is pro-life on abortion! That’s just tribal antagonism for the sake of it. Knock it off.

Statement: “…to Rep. Eric Swalwell’s claim that he wants to protect children’s dreams…”
Verdict: Probably inappropriate. 

You can make the borderline case as with Sen. Harris and Rep. Pelosi above, except that Rep. Swalwell and his abortion advocacy are less prominent.

Statement: “… to Planned Parenthood’s post–Christchurch massacre tweet that said, ‘we all deserve to live free from fear and violence’…”
Verdict: Absolutely fine.

C’mon. It’s Planned Parenthood. They killed 332,757 helpless human beings last year. They don’t get a pass.

Statement: “…and to many, many invocations of #BlackLivesMatter.”
Verdict: NO. NO NO NO. NO.

Fetus tunnel vision and racist undertones? Not a winning combination. Please, for the love, do not do this.

Do you agree with my verdicts? Let’s hear your arguments in the comments.

“Except in the Womb”

Over at Slate, abortion supporter Christina Cauterucci has an article about the phrase “except in the womb.” To call it an “article” is a bit generous. It’s really more of a rant. The thesis is basically “I do not like it when anti-abortion people say this.” Still, her annoyance is at least partially justified. For instance, when she says:

The ultimate message of “except in the womb” is that no one is allowed to try to change the world for the better until they try to criminalize abortion.

I immediately thought, Now you know how we feel when abortion supporters argue that we can’t try to save babies’ lives until we’ve adopted every child from foster care!, or until we’ve reformed immigration!, or whatever the popular distraction of the moment is. No one doubts that foster care and immigration reform are good causes. There’s no need to make it a competition.

Via Dank Pro-Life Memes. Image description: One person says “Killing homeless should be illegal.” A second person responds “How many homeless did you invite to your house?”

The use of “except in the womb” is sometimes perfectly on point, sometimes analogous to the “not until” pro-choice argument, and sometimes completely inappropriate. Surprise: context matters! So let’s consider each of Cauterucci’s examples, and my (admittedly subjective) verdicts on each.

Statement: “Climate change activists want to save future generations, except in the womb.”
Verdict: Mostly bad

In general, using “except in the womb” in connection with climate change is bad form. It’s a classic example of what Josh Brahm calls “fetus tunnel vision,” defined as “the inability to see and/or acknowledge human rights injustices without equating or comparing them to abortion.” The world has plenty of problems to tackle; we can acknowledge them on their merits without twisting everything into an abortion debate.

The one exception I’ll allow is when climate change activists promote abortion as a form of population control, particularly for low-income minorities, to save the planet—as Sen. Bernie Sanders recently did. It’s completely appropriate (indeed necessary) to call out the eugenicist roots of that thinking, and “save future generations, except in the womb” is a fine start.

But the usage Cauterucci cites was directed at Greta Thunberg, not Sen. Sanders, and it’s pretty blatant fetus tunnel vision. Cauterucci’s annoyance is understandable. I share it.

Statement: “Abortion care coverage for Peace Corps volunteers in the field? That’s supporting peace, except in the womb.”
Verdict: Spot on

I have no complaints about this use of “except in the womb.” Abortion is an act of violence, completely incompatible with any institution claiming a mission of peace. And it’s obviously not a case of fetus tunnel vision since, as Cauterucci herself acknowledges, it directly concerns abortion policy.


Statement: “Opposed to Indiana’s ban on abortions sought due to fetal genetic disorders? That’s celebrating people with disabilities, except in the womb.”
Verdict: Also spot on

You can’t celebrate people with disabilities if you think they’re better off dead. You really think people with disabilities don’t notice your “fetal anomalies” abortion advocacy? It’s hurtful. “Except in the womb” is great in this context; better yet, let’s point ableist abortion supporters to pro-life statements from folks with disabilities.


Statement: “When Kamala Harris called for stricter gun laws after the Parkland shooting, it showed she cared about children being slaughtered—except in the womb.”
Verdict: Borderline

If a pro-choice Joe Schmo brings up gun control and a pro-lifer responds with “except in the womb,” that’s clearly fetus tunnel vision, and also wildly insensitive to the families who have lost children to gun violence. The loss of life at Parkland is horribly tragic, full stop. Turning it into an abortion debate benefits no one.

The one reason I call this borderline is because it is not Joe Schmo; it’s Sen. Kamala Harris, a public figure with a long history of hostility to unborn babies. Her political hypocrisy is gross and rage-inducing. Still, there’s probably a better way to make this point.

Statement: “When Nancy Pelosi condemned Basher al-Assad for killing children with chemical weapons, she said she told her grandson the victims were ‘children wherever they are’—except in the womb.”
Verdict: Also borderline

Same as above.


Statement: “In replies and quote tweets on Twitter, conservatives regularly append the phrase to anything a perceived liberal says that rests on human decency or a shared set of morals. They’ve tacked it onto a March for Our Lives sign that said ‘I don’t want [kids] to die’…”
Verdict: Definitely inappropriate. 

This is akin to the “Joe Schmo” hypothetical above—except that, for all you know, the person at the March for Our Lives is pro-life on abortion! That’s just tribal antagonism for the sake of it. Knock it off.

Statement: “…to Rep. Eric Swalwell’s claim that he wants to protect children’s dreams…”
Verdict: Probably inappropriate. 

You can make the borderline case as with Sen. Harris and Rep. Pelosi above, except that Rep. Swalwell and his abortion advocacy are less prominent.

Statement: “… to Planned Parenthood’s post–Christchurch massacre tweet that said, ‘we all deserve to live free from fear and violence’…”
Verdict: Absolutely fine.

C’mon. It’s Planned Parenthood. They killed 332,757 helpless human beings last year. They don’t get a pass.

Statement: “…and to many, many invocations of #BlackLivesMatter.”
Verdict: NO. NO NO NO. NO.

Fetus tunnel vision and racist undertones? Not a winning combination. Please, for the love, do not do this.

Do you agree with my verdicts? Let’s hear your arguments in the comments.

Recap: Let There Be Life Conference 2018 at UC Berkeley

The Let There Be Life Conference co-hosted by Berkeley Students for Life and Pro-Life San Francisco was a smashing success. Not only did each speaker cover very different content, but the style of each speech was entirely different. There were speeches in the style of spoken word poetry, rigorous academic discussion, sermon*, humorous dialogue, rousing call to action, and many others. It was engaging and inspiring to see so many different types of people uniting to educate and empower one another to work against abortion.

But let me back up. Fellow SPL co-leader Ellen and I arrived at UC Berkeley around 7:30 am and set up the Secular Pro-Life table. I was impressed at how many pro-life groups tabled for this event. We were right next to the table for Abide Women’s Health and across from our buds Rehumanize International and of course Josh Brahm’s Equal Rights Institute, but there were many great groups all around. People came up to chat with us about SPL and grab a brochure, and we got to say hi to many pro-life friends from around the state and country who I rarely get to see in person. That’s always one of the best parts of making it to a pro-life conference.

After about an hour of breakfast and chatting, Terrisa used her iconic bullhorn to get the conference underway. Pro-Life San Francisco very thoughtfully had staff to keep an eye on the tables so the tabling people could go inside and watch all the talks. The morning speeches went like this:

A Unified, Diverse Pro-Life Movement
Elijah Thompson

Elijah started off the conference with a talk about “blooming where you’re planted” i.e. focusing on your strengths and your natural circles of influence.
Building a Pro-Life California
Terrisa Bukvinac & Karen Rose

Terrisa & Karen outlined a strategy for persuading more pro-choice Californians to consider the pro-life position. They especially emphasized unifying the diverse pro-life groups around our similarities and de-emphasizing our (many) differences.
The Most Persuasive Pro-Life Argument
Josh Brahm
Josh, in usual comedic style, illustrated how to engage pro-choice people in a non-threatening, convincing way through open-mindedness, clarifying questions, and respectful dialogue. He finished his talk by outlining the Equal Rights Argument, which his team has found very effective at helping people see the pro-life view.
Deconstructing Three Pro-Choice Myths
Monica Snyder
Speaking probably a bit too quickly, I gave an overview of the data surrounding three commonly perpetrated pro-choice myths: (1) we don’t know when human life begins, (2) most late-term abortions are for medical reasons, and (3) pro-life laws don’t decrease abortions. (You can see the sources for the presentation here.)
Bad Words: How Our Words Dehumanize
Herb Geraghty
Herb gave a passionate, honest talk about the language society has historically used (and continues to use) to dehumanize and marginalize vulnerable groups before oppressing and often killing people in those groups. Sadly, even pro-lifers sometimes use dehumanizing language regarding certain topics, which can undermine our credibility when we say all humans have equal value. “Whether it’s the violence of war, torture, abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, human trafficking — all of these acts are perpetuated by dehumanizing language that makes the victim seem somehow ‘subhuman.'” Check out this excellent graphic Rehumanize International created to illustrate the point.
Or The Culture Will Decline
Walter Hoye
In a talk almost like a sermon*, Walter cut deep to the truth with facts about the rapidly declining fertility rate of black Americans which threatens to eliminate black culture. He specifically addressed the staggering abortion rates among the black population, and the targeting of black people by the abortion industry.

*The content here was not that of a sermon; it was not about religion at all. But the style very much reminded me of a sermon with the speaker’s variable pace and the way he engaged the attendees.

After Walter’s talk the conference stopped for lunch. Everyone stretched their legs and walked out to a beautiful warm day. We grabbed our sunglasses and sandwiches, chips, and cookies (included with the conference tickets) and Ellen and I continued tabling for Secular Pro-Life. Many attendees came up to congratulate us on SPL’s talk, which they enjoyed very much, and to get copies of our 5 page source list. Several of the attendees said they appreciated the analytical approach, and shared that they too had backgrounds in STEM and so were partial to a more data-centered discussion. I’m always pretty happy to meet other STEM pro-lifers. It may be the first conference Ellen or I have attended where we talked a lot more about the research and not as much about religious diversity, although there were several of those discussions too. Either way everyone was friendly and encouraging, and we ended up giving away all but one of our copies of the source list. There was a lot of interest, which was pretty great.

In what seemed like no time, lunch was over and we were ready for the second half, which included the following talks:

Pro-Life When It Counts
Marie Stettler


Marie shared her story about her unexpected pregnancy, in which she made a hesitant decision to abort, tried to use abortion pill reversal to undo it, but ultimately lost her child. She has since become a nurse with Culture of Life Family Services, the same organization that had tried to help with the reversal. You can read more about her journey here.
Pro-Life and the Church
Amy Ford
Amy shared her own experiences with an unplanned teen pregnancy and emphasized the importance of the church being a safe place for pregnant women and girls.
Strange Fruit
Cessilye Smith
Image may contain: one or more people

Cessilye opened by darkening the room and showing Billie Holiday singing Strange Fruit. Cessilye then spoke softly but poetically and movingly about the disproportionate struggles black women face with pregnancy and childbearing, all while a silent array of powerful photos of black women faded in and out to a darkened room.
Accelerating the End of Abortion
David Bereit
David gave a rousing speech about how even one person can make a huge difference in creating a culture of life and called on all of us to work together and coordinate our efforts.

Bringing Life to the Golden State
Catherine Glenn Foster
Catherine discussed the importance of voter education in California. She also talked about the need for unity amidst diversity in the movement (a recurring and excellent theme for the conference).

Don’t be an A**hole
Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa

Destiny talked about building bridges with pro-choice feminists, explaining how treating people respectfully and being approachable makes it easier to work together, whereas being more aggressive and assertive has the opposite effect.
The Wild West Coast: PP Sells Baby Parts
David Daleiden
David showed us (1) the CMP video he took of Dr. Deborah Nucatola detailing how she surgically obtains and sells fetal organs for money, (2) documents explicitly listing prices for fetal organ costs separate from the already-listed cost reimbursements, and (3) advertisements from procurement companies explicitly highlighting the financial gains abortion clinics may realize if they sell late-term fetal organs and other tissues.

Despite David’s dispassionate and informative demeanor, the presentation was horrifying and infuriating. It was interesting that the conference organizers chose to end on this note, as I think it left attendees feeling a strong sense of urgency to continue and expand their pro-life efforts.

Overall it was a phenomenal conference. It seemed like there were speakers to represent such a wide variety of pro-life people and I think a lot of people left feeling we are united, so I guess the conference organizers really hit the target theme. If you are able to go to a Pro-Life San Francisco event in the future, we recommend it. You can see more pics from this year’s conference here.

Recap: Let There Be Life Conference 2018 at UC Berkeley

The Let There Be Life Conference co-hosted by Berkeley Students for Life and Pro-Life San Francisco was a smashing success. Not only did each speaker cover very different content, but the style of each speech was entirely different. There were speeches in the style of spoken word poetry, rigorous academic discussion, sermon*, humorous dialogue, rousing call to action, and many others. It was engaging and inspiring to see so many different types of people uniting to educate and empower one another to work against abortion.

But let me back up. Fellow SPL co-leader Ellen and I arrived at UC Berkeley around 7:30 am and set up the Secular Pro-Life table. I was impressed at how many pro-life groups tabled for this event. We were right next to the table for Abide Women’s Health and across from our buds Rehumanize International and of course Josh Brahm’s Equal Rights Institute, but there were many great groups all around. People came up to chat with us about SPL and grab a brochure, and we got to say hi to many pro-life friends from around the state and country who I rarely get to see in person. That’s always one of the best parts of making it to a pro-life conference.

After about an hour of breakfast and chatting, Terrisa used her iconic bullhorn to get the conference underway. Pro-Life San Francisco very thoughtfully had staff to keep an eye on the tables so the tabling people could go inside and watch all the talks. The morning speeches went like this:

A Unified, Diverse Pro-Life Movement
Elijah Thompson

Elijah started off the conference with a talk about “blooming where you’re planted” i.e. focusing on your strengths and your natural circles of influence.
Building a Pro-Life California
Terrisa Bukvinac & Karen Rose

Terrisa & Karen outlined a strategy for persuading more pro-choice Californians to consider the pro-life position. They especially emphasized unifying the diverse pro-life groups around our similarities and de-emphasizing our (many) differences.
The Most Persuasive Pro-Life Argument
Josh Brahm
Josh, in usual comedic style, illustrated how to engage pro-choice people in a non-threatening, convincing way through open-mindedness, clarifying questions, and respectful dialogue. He finished his talk by outlining the Equal Rights Argument, which his team has found very effective at helping people see the pro-life view.
Deconstructing Three Pro-Choice Myths
Monica Snyder
Speaking probably a bit too quickly, I gave an overview of the data surrounding three commonly perpetrated pro-choice myths: (1) we don’t know when human life begins, (2) most late-term abortions are for medical reasons, and (3) pro-life laws don’t decrease abortions. (You can see the sources for the presentation here.)
Bad Words: How Our Words Dehumanize
Herb Geraghty
Herb gave a passionate, honest talk about the language society has historically used (and continues to use) to dehumanize and marginalize vulnerable groups before oppressing and often killing people in those groups. Sadly, even pro-lifers sometimes use dehumanizing language regarding certain topics, which can undermine our credibility when we say all humans have equal value. “Whether it’s the violence of war, torture, abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, human trafficking — all of these acts are perpetuated by dehumanizing language that makes the victim seem somehow ‘subhuman.'” Check out this excellent graphic Rehumanize International created to illustrate the point.
Or The Culture Will Decline
Walter Hoye
In a talk almost like a sermon*, Walter cut deep to the truth with facts about the rapidly declining fertility rate of black Americans which threatens to eliminate black culture. He specifically addressed the staggering abortion rates among the black population, and the targeting of black people by the abortion industry.

*The content here was not that of a sermon; it was not about religion at all. But the style very much reminded me of a sermon with the speaker’s variable pace and the way he engaged the attendees.

After Walter’s talk the conference stopped for lunch. Everyone stretched their legs and walked out to a beautiful warm day. We grabbed our sunglasses and sandwiches, chips, and cookies (included with the conference tickets) and Ellen and I continued tabling for Secular Pro-Life. Many attendees came up to congratulate us on SPL’s talk, which they enjoyed very much, and to get copies of our 5 page source list. Several of the attendees said they appreciated the analytical approach, and shared that they too had backgrounds in STEM and so were partial to a more data-centered discussion. I’m always pretty happy to meet other STEM pro-lifers. It may be the first conference Ellen or I have attended where we talked a lot more about the research and not as much about religious diversity, although there were several of those discussions too. Either way everyone was friendly and encouraging, and we ended up giving away all but one of our copies of the source list. There was a lot of interest, which was pretty great.

In what seemed like no time, lunch was over and we were ready for the second half, which included the following talks:

Pro-Life When It Counts
Marie Stettler


Marie shared her story about her unexpected pregnancy, in which she made a hesitant decision to abort, tried to use abortion pill reversal to undo it, but ultimately lost her child. She has since become a nurse with Culture of Life Family Services, the same organization that had tried to help with the reversal. You can read more about her journey here.
Pro-Life and the Church
Amy Ford
Amy shared her own experiences with an unplanned teen pregnancy and emphasized the importance of the church being a safe place for pregnant women and girls.
Strange Fruit
Cessilye Smith
Image may contain: one or more people

Cessilye opened by darkening the room and showing Billie Holiday singing Strange Fruit. Cessilye then spoke softly but poetically and movingly about the disproportionate struggles black women face with pregnancy and childbearing, all while a silent array of powerful photos of black women faded in and out to a darkened room.
Accelerating the End of Abortion
David Bereit
David gave a rousing speech about how even one person can make a huge difference in creating a culture of life and called on all of us to work together and coordinate our efforts.

Bringing Life to the Golden State
Catherine Glenn Foster
Catherine discussed the importance of voter education in California. She also talked about the need for unity amidst diversity in the movement (a recurring and excellent theme for the conference).

Don’t be an A**hole
Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa

Destiny talked about building bridges with pro-choice feminists, explaining how treating people respectfully and being approachable makes it easier to work together, whereas being more aggressive and assertive has the opposite effect.
The Wild West Coast: PP Sells Baby Parts
David Daleiden
David showed us (1) the CMP video he took of Dr. Deborah Nucatola detailing how she surgically obtains and sells fetal organs for money, (2) documents explicitly listing prices for fetal organ costs separate from the already-listed cost reimbursements, and (3) advertisements from procurement companies explicitly highlighting the financial gains abortion clinics may realize if they sell late-term fetal organs and other tissues.

Despite David’s dispassionate and informative demeanor, the presentation was horrifying and infuriating. It was interesting that the conference organizers chose to end on this note, as I think it left attendees feeling a strong sense of urgency to continue and expand their pro-life efforts.

Overall it was a phenomenal conference. It seemed like there were speakers to represent such a wide variety of pro-life people and I think a lot of people left feeling we are united, so I guess the conference organizers really hit the target theme. If you are able to go to a Pro-Life San Francisco event in the future, we recommend it. You can see more pics from this year’s conference here.

“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.”

7 things pro-lifers wish our pro-choice friends understood about us.

Recently my FB newsfeed delivered
me this gem: “5 Thing Pro-Choicers Wish Their
Anti-Choice Friends Understood
.”
To my disappointment, the article includes plenty of sarcasm, negative
assumptions, and (in my experience) incorrect stereotypes. It certainly doesn’t
come off as a conversation between friends, so maybe the title was just
tongue-in-cheek.
But I really do have pro-choice
friends. Family too. I get along with them well, for the most part. And I
appreciate when we have opportunities to explore each other’s perspectives in a
non-combative way. To that end, I wrote this article as if I were discussing
these issues with friends. I know there are plenty of people who feel more
comfortable with the cartoon villain versions of their ideological opponents…
Pictured: Pro-lifers?
…but if you recognize that life
is more shades of gray than black and white, this post is for you. (As Timothy Brahm said, “There are no Snidely Whiplashes…”)
*****
1.
We’re
so much more than a bunch of old straight religious
white Republican men.
I actually think that anyone who
is (a) intellectually honest and (b) paying enough attention probably already
realizes this, so I am going to go through these misconceptions kind of quickly
and move on to the less known issues.
1a.
We’re not all old.

The younger generations are traditionally more left-leaning, and as we increasingly enter
the political sphere the effects are obvious. But despite liberalizing trends
in national opinion on other issues (gay marriage, women in combat, drug legalization), there’s been no equivalent
swing to the pro-choice view on abortion. In fact, polls show that the youngest
generation is at
least as anti-abortion
, if not more so, than previous generations.  
See also:
1b.
We’re not all straight.

To be fair, this is something I seem to have to remind certain segments of the
pro-life movement about as much as my pro-choice friends. It’s more difficult
to find polling data on this, so instead I will point again to The Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and
Lesbians
. You
can also read more about the experiences of pro-life activists who are LGBT
here: “How does the pro-life movement
look to LGBT pro-lifers?

“Human rights start when human life begins.”

See also:
1c.
We’re not all religious.
a. Depending on polls, between
one sixth and one fifth of nonreligious Americans are anti-abortion. (See “Are you One of Six Million?”)
b. The non-religious pro-lifer
isn’t a “fake” secularist either. Atheist apologist Christopher Hitchens himself argued on behalf of the
unborn child.
c. The U.S. is becoming less
religious all the time; in particular, the youngest generation identifies less
with religion than generations before us. Yet national anti-abortion sentiment
remains largely unchanged—for every generation.
See also:
1d.
We’re not all white.

Polls show 51% of African Americans and 61%
of Hispanic Americans think abortion is morally wrong. And a range of 30% to 40%
of African Americans as well as 50% of Hispanic Americans think abortion should
generally be illegal. A multivariate analysis of answers about abortion from
the General Social Survey going back four decades found that black men and
women have consistently been less accepting of abortion than white men and
women.
Many people on both sides of the debate are aware of the
disproportionate rates of abortion for African American and Latino communities.
It’s important to recognize this disproportion isn’t something people of color
readily accept. Many people within these communities are anti-abortion.

 
See also:
1e.
We’re not all Republican.
  Nearly a third of Democrats and a fourth of
people who describe themselves as “liberal” also describe themselves as
“pro-life.”

Similarly, nearly a third of Democrats say abortion should generally be illegal.
Historically the pro-life
movement was actually quite progressive, and the Democratic Party was
more accepting of pro-lifers in its ranks. Unfortunately, now being pro-choice
seems to be a litmus test of a “true” Democrat. It makes sense to me that the
same groups who insist all pro-lifers are Republicans insist any
self-identifying pro-life Democrat isn’t a “real” Democrat, regardless of how
many leftist positions the person holds. But wishing the stereotype-defying
pro-lifers will disappear won’t make it so.


See Also:
1f.
We’re not all men.

Not even close, actually. Of all the demographic stereotypes pushed on the
pro-life movement, I think the gender narrative is the most strident and
possibly most dishonest.
Even if the ratios aren’t 1:1,
there are real correlations between being pro-life and right-wing or being
pro-life and religious. And given the strong correlation between being LGBT and
being a left-winger, there’s probably a real correlation between being pro-life
and straight. And while the data isn’t there to support the “old” and “white”
stereotypes, people don’t harp on those factors nearly as often as they repeat
the gender myth.
The “anti-choice war on women”
narrative is ubiquitous: out-of-touch, controlling, misogynistic men are the
driving force of the pro-life movement, and any woman who doesn’t hate herself
is pro-choice. By now the idea is conventional wisdom. It’s also total
nonsense.
According to Gallup, once you account for the margin
of error, women are just as likely as men to think abortion should be illegal
all or most of the time. Moreover, there are significantly more women who think
abortion should generally be illegal than there are those who think it should generally
be legal.
And this trend is reflected in
the makeup of the pro-life movement. Despite the endlessly echoed (and uncited)
claim that “77% of anti-abortion leaders are men,” much of our movement is led by women.
I think it’s possible for
intellectually honest people who just aren’t that involved in the abortion
debate to miss the pro-life secularists, LGBT people, and other non-traditional
pro-lifers. But a person would have to really not be paying attention to
genuinely believe the pro-life woman is an anomaly.

(Click to enlarge.)
See also:
*****
2. We’re not anti-woman. This accusation actually comes in two forms.
2a.
Anti-woman motivations.
The
first and more common form is that pro-lifers are against abortion because we don’t respect or like women.
That is, our misogyny motivates us to try to control women’s bodies, choices,
and lives.
I think this idea comes about largely
because many pro-choicers assume the fetus is not a morally relevant human
being, and, importantly, they further assume pro-lifers secretly or
subconsciously agree with this view. If that’s the case, our anti-abortion
efforts can’t truly be motivated by concern for human lives; there must be some
other, more sinister reason we’re making such a big deal about abortion. It
must be because we’re misogynists, and we talk about human rights only as a
cover for our disdain.
But this perspective doesn’t
explain why abortion views don’t divide along gender lines or why there are so
many female pro-life activists, including pro-life leaders (see point #1f). And
it definitely doesn’t explain the existence of feminist pro-lifers—by that I
mean people who share traditionally feminist goals outside of abortion on
demand. For example there are plenty of pro-lifers who care about fighting rape culture, decreasing gender stereotypes, increasing support for pregnant women (and parents and families in
general), and generally fighting prejudice based on gender, sexuality, and race. You can be for all of those
goals and also against abortion. I am.
And, most of the time, when I
develop friendships of some depth with people who are pro-choice, they
recognize my passion for gender issues and my embrace of the feminist label,
and they see that my anti-abortion stance is based on reasoning quite separate
from any anti-woman sentiment. This is one of the reasons I think it’s so good
for us to have friends who think differently than we do: friendship destroys
prejudice. We’ve seen this when it comes to race and sexuality, and I think it
can also be true for politics. Some of my pro-choice friends have told me they
think differently about pro-lifers just for having known me, and I feel the
same way about them.
I’m not pretending there’s no
such thing as a misogynist pro-lifer. Misogyny is a real problem, and I believe
some pro-lifers are misogynists because some people are misogynists (and a lot
of people are pro-life). But I don’t think the two views are as correlated as
our opposition likes to insist. In fact, I suspect the more you get to know
pro-lifers, the more you’ll see how much many of us care (see point #7) and the
less you’ll believe we all just hate women.

Meet Destiny.
2b.
Anti-woman effects.

The second form of the anti-woman accusation is sort of a fall back from the
first. When face-to-face with pro-lifers who clearly do care about women, some
pro-choicers will say that, while we may not have specifically anti-woman motivations, it doesn’t matter because
our goal of restricting abortion will have anti-woman effects.
First, this makes the
“anti-woman” accusation pretty misleading. We generally accuse people of being
“anti-[whatever group]” based on their motivations, not their effects.
Conflating motivation and effect is the tactic used to accuse pro-woman
policies of being “anti-man,” religious diversity policies of being
“anti-Christian,” or affirmative action policies of being “anti-white.” This
tactic ignores the positive, affirmative reasons people might hold a position
and insists such people, by definition, are “anti-[whatever group],” regardless
of their actual motivations or feelings on the subject. So I think this version
of the “anti-woman” accusation is pretty disingenuous.
Second, it’s not at all clear
that abortion restrictions are anti-woman while fully embracing abortion is
pro-woman. Many of us believe unrestricted abortion is the excuse society uses to not support pregnant and
parenting women and the excuse certain kinds of men
use

to guiltlessly skip out on unplanned fatherhood. “Choice” doesn’t have such a
nice connotation when it comes in the form of “well it was your choice to have
the baby, so you deal with it.” Feminists against abortion, including some of our country’s
most prominent feminist
foremothers
,
have long called attention to how abortion can exploit women.
Beyond that, abortion is so
heavily politicized that some don’t want to admit there’s any negative aspect or moral complexity to it, lest they give credence
to the pro-life view. But this means realities like fetal development or the link
between abortion and pre-term birth
are glossed over, leaving women
without information they may have wished they had. It means increasing insistence that there’s nothing to regret
or feel shame over, alienating and dismissing the
women

who do struggle with those feelings. It means downplaying how abortion is used
to cover up sex trafficking. It also means horrors like
Kermit Gosnell’s clinic—in which both a
woman and already-born children were killed
—can fester in the vacuum of any real oversight and, when they are discovered,
can go largely unnoticed in the vacuum of media coverage.
I’m not saying the average
pro-choice person is aware of or accepts all of these problems. I don’t think
that’s true. But I am saying that if being “anti-woman” is about effects, not
motivation, than our country’s relatively liberal embrace of abortion can be quite
anti-woman.
The “War on Women” rhetoric would
have you believe abortion is unquestionably at the heart of women’s liberation
and therefore anyone against abortion is against women. But in reality abortion’s
effects on women are more complicated than that—so much so that, even independent
of the question of fetal value, people who care about women can have compelling
reasons to come down on either side of the abortion debate.
See Also: 
*****
3.
We’re pro-contraception.
I can understand why people would
get the impression that if I am anti-abortion I must be anti-contraception.
There are plenty of pro-life organizations and leaders who are openly
anti-contraception, and if you aren’t very involved in a given political
movement, it’s easy to assume after a cursory glance that the most prominent activists
represent the majority of the movement.
But in this case you’d be mistaken.
Polls suggest a
minimum of 78% of pro-lifers find
contraception morally acceptable. And
it’s not just that we think it’s alright in theory; we think so in practice,
too.
Research suggests the strong majority (over 80%) of
sexually active American women use some form of artificial contraception. Note
that, if 
about half of American women are pro-life, this means the
majority of self-described sexually active pro-life women use artificial
contraception.
(Pro-choice author Will Saletan
over at Slate has a great post explaining why the data suggests
pro-lifers are not anti-contraception.)
Certainly SPL takes a
pro-contraception stance. If you’re interested, you can read more about why here.
See also:
*****
4. We like sex.
4a.
The “anti-sex” accusation stems mostly from our different views of fetal life,
not our different views of sex.
There are a lot of different
reasons people are pro-choice.  I think
most pro-choicers empathize with the very difficult position an unplanned
pregnancy can put a woman in, and many are concerned about protecting bodily
rights.
But it also seems some people
advocate for abortion primarily based on sex. That is, they think people ought
to be able to have sex lives unhindered by potential procreation. Such an
abortion advocate might describe this idea in terms of sexual liberation and
gender equality, but for many on our side of the fence, it doesn’t sound so
noble. For those of us who view the fetus as a morally relevant human being,
advocating fetal destruction in the name of sexual liberation sounds supremely…backwards.
 It sounds like valuing an active,
enjoyable sex life over not killing people.
But of course that’s not how most
abortion advocates see it. In my experience, most of the “sexual liberation”
pro-choicers don’t see the fetus as a human being, or at least not a morally
relevant one. So it’s not about advocating an active sex life over actual human
lives. It’s about valuing sexual freedom over nebulous, irrelevant “clumps of
cells.” If I thought that’s all abortion involved, I would feel similarly.
In other words, our views differ more
based on how we think of fetal life than how we think of sex.
It’s important for pro-lifers to
understand this, rather than hurl accusations of selfish, sexual promiscuity at
the other side. It’s likewise important for pro-choicers to see this, rather than
accuse us of simply hating sex. Saying people should make sexual decisions such
that they’re not in a position to want an abortion doesn’t mean we hate sex any
more than saying people shouldn’t drink and drive means we hate driving. Drive
as much as you like. But do so safely and, above all, please don’t kill anyone.
4b.
Different views of sex are still a factor, but not as big of one as people
think.
I think most of the anti-sex
accusation comes down to different views of fetal life, but not all of it. Religious
people are more likely than non-religious people to be pro-life, and plenty of
religious people are more likely to speak out against sex outside of marriage.
I think there’s a decent argument to be made that “anti-premarital-sex,” or the broader “anti-reckless-sex,” are not equivalent to “anti-sex.” Plenty of people
who think it’s better to wait until marriage have active, enjoyable sex lives
with their spouses and like sex quite a lot. But I think the more compelling
point is that most pro-lifers don’t actually wait until marriage to have sex.
How do I know this? First and
foremost, because the vast majority of people in general have
premarital sex, and pro-lifers are about half of the country. So there’s that
math. Besides that, the pro-life movement doesn’t fit the 1:1 correlation to
conservative Christians that so many people expect (see point #1). We like sex,
we have sex outside of marriage, we have sex using contraception (point #2), and
we still think it’s wrong to kill fetuses.
See also:
*****
5. We experience unplanned pregnancies too…
…but no, that doesn’t
automatically mean we turn pro-choice.
Some
pro-choicers seem to think we are only anti-abortion because we just don’t
understand how frightening and life-changing an unplanned pregnancy can be, and
that if we were to be put in that difficult position, we’d choose abortion too.
And,
interestingly, is isn’t just pro-choicers who make this assumption. Some
anti-contraception pro-lifers seem to think that anyone who has sex while using
contraception (which,
as shown in point #3, would include most pro-lifers) isn’t
“open to life” and thus will choose abortion if they accidentally procreate.
But it’s not the
case. According to the CDC, about 
37%
of births result from unplanned conceptions
. In 2012 there were about
3.9 million
 births, meaning over 1.4 million women carried
unplanned pregnancies to term. 
That’s not to say every self-described pro-life woman always
chooses life. It’s true, of course, that some pro-life women do
rescind their
views
and get an abortion. But it’s also true that plenty of women stand by their convictions, carrying out
crisis pregnancies
even when (from a pro-choice perspective) abortion may have
been much simpler. Insisting we’re all one unplanned pregnancy away from being
pro-choice not only implies none of us are sincere in our beliefs, but also
demeans or outright ignores the courage, sacrifice, and love with which so many
mothers have carried and birthed their unplanned children. In that sense,
frankly, I think it’s a pretty anti-woman thing to say.



Claudia and her “crisis pregnancy,” Taylor.

And meanwhile pointing out inconsistency isn’t as meaningful as
so many people suggest, mostly because it goes both ways. Just as some women
switch to the pro-choice side in the face of an intimidating pregnancy, some
women switch to the pro-life side
when
they experience a planned pregnancy
and come to a new understanding of
fetal development. 
And some women switch to the pro-life side because of their
experiences with abortion. Which brings me to my next point…
*****
6. Many of us are post-abortive…
…and converted to the pro-life
side for that very reason.
This is really an extension of
the previous point. Pro-choicers seem to think the pro-life movement is made up
of people with no experience: no relationship problems, health issues,
financial hardships, postponed education, complicated careers, and, above all,
crisis pregnancies. They seem to think someone would only be against abortion
if they were out of touch with life’s hardships and naively idealistic about
how people should handle crises.
But (again), pro-life people are
roughly half of the country. We span political views, ethnic groups, and
income brackets
(in
fact, we’re more likely than pro-choicers to be low-income). We’re not as
different from you as you might think. And that includes the fact that some of
us know exactly what it’s like to have to choose. And while many of us have
chosen life (point #5), not all of us have.
Now, just as pro-choicers shouldn’t
believe every pro-life woman would choose abortion if put in the position,
pro-lifers shouldn’t believe every woman who gets an abortion will end up
regretting it. It’s more of a mixed bag than
that
. Some women
don’t regret–not in the moment, not years later.
But some
do
. Some feel abortion
traumatized them
, and they can no longer accept abortion as a legal right. People
assume we’re pro-life because of a lack of experience, when in many cases it’s exactly our experiences that brought us here.
*****
7. We care about what happens to the child after birth.
7a.
But first, this accusation is nonsensical.
We’re against abortion because we
think it should generally be illegal to kill people. By “people” we mean
morally relevant human beings, which of course is how we see the fetus. We get
you don’t agree, and that’s really the crux of the debate.
But understand that, from our
perspective, saying we can’t be anti-abortion until we’ve solved problems like
child poverty or a messed up foster care system is as ridiculous to our ears as
if you said we can’t speak out against child abuse unless we are going to adopt
all abused children. Does anyone actually believe that? Would you argue people can’t
condemn child marriage unless they will personally pay off the child’s family
debts? People can’t say slaves should be freed unless they’re prepared to personally
house and employ all the newly emancipated? Suggesting people can’t call out
human rights violations unless they personally have the resources to absorb all
impact is just a terrible precedent.
7b.
Pro-life organizations do help born people.
Bad precedent aside, we do care about what happens after the
child is born.
There are a lot of pro-life projects
revolving around helping mothers and their children. Students for Life of
America encourages it’s 900+ campus groups to organize diaper drives and to pursue Pregnant on Campus initiatives, which connect pregnant
and parenting students with resources for healthcare, housing,
clothing and food assistance, child care, insurance, financial aid, and more. Feminists For Life has fought child exclusion
provisions in welfare reform, worked to get poor working pregnant women
prenatal care through SCHIP, and advocated for the Enhanced Child Support
Enforcement Act. And there are 1,000s of pregnancy resource centers across the country that provide
maternity and baby clothes, diapers, wipes, baby wash, strollers, bouncy seats,
infant toys, referrals (for housing, employment resources, and educational,
financial, and social assistance), parenting classes, even laptops, phones, and cars.
Pregnancy resource centers also
work to connect women with adoption services if that is what they need. And
plenty of pro-lifers have themselves adopted
children
in dire
situations
. Here’s a list of countless ways individual pro-life people have helped low-income single mothers.
7c.
Pro-life individuals help too, independent of their pro-life work.
When people ask “If you’re really pro-life, why don’t you care
about [X quality of life] issue?” they seem to assume that everyone who does care about and work on the issue
they’ve picked is pro-choice. But I’m not sure why they make that assumption.
Between September 2013 and September 2014, over 62 million people did volunteer work of some type (rock on, guys). As
far as I know, no one polled the volunteers about their views on abortion, but with
the country split on the issue it seems like quite a leap to assume few or none
of them are pro-life. Sometimes it seems like unless we assemble en masse with
picket signs that say “I’m anti-abortion but today I’m protesting this other
issue,” people will insist we don’t care about anything else.
And yet, for example, my very
anti-abortion grandmother volunteers every week packaging food and other
supplies for local low-income families. For a long while my pro-life brother
and I spent our volunteer time tutoring at the Boys and Girls Club. Before that
I did volunteer tutoring at a nearby state prison, and since then my brother
has offered free tutoring at his university. My anti-abortion dad offers
parolees jobs and training, and has attended some of their hearings as a
character witness. During the first year of her son’s life, my pro-life sister
pumped and froze her extra breast milk so she could donate it to a little girl
with spinal muscular atrophy. (Incidentally, for young mothers with no funds
for charity, donating breast milk is an excellent way to help other moms and
their babies. Learn more here.)
My pro-life mother spent years
taking care of an elderly woman she met who had no children and no local
family. My mom put a lot of her time into keeping the woman company, taking her
on outings, driving her to and from doctor’s appointments, and making sure she
was taking her medications all the way until the end. Then Mom took care of the
woman’s funeral arrangements and issues with her estate. When pro-choicers claim
pro-lifers only care about people until they’re born, I think of my family, and
then think how ridiculously false this accusation is.
And my family isn’t an anomaly in
the pro-life movement. I know pro-life activists who work for gay rights, children’s
rights, and animal rights. I have pro-life friends who conduct cultural
proficiency trainings to try to help diverse organizations understand the
cultural and racial differences among the people they work with. One of my
pro-life friends has based his career helping families, foster providers, and
agencies that work with children with behavior challenges or mental health
issues. I have two other pro-life friends who do long-distance running to raise
money for causes like fighting human trafficking.
I know these are all anecdotes.
If there were statistics on the type and extent of charity and volunteer work pro-life
people do, I’d happily give them to you. But absent that rather specific
research, I point to the Catholic Church—widely known for its
anti-abortion stance
—and
the massive amounts of charity work it does. Catholic Charities USA serves over
10 million people per year, providing food, shelter, education, financial planning, adoption assistance, services to refugees and
immigrants
, and
more. In 2015 alone they spent over $3.8 billion
on these projects. Pause and imagine the number of Catholics who donate their
money and time to make that happen.
That’s not to say that every
Catholic contributing to these causes is pro-life. There are plenty of pro-choice
Catholics
, and I
don’t believe pro-lifers have a monopoly on helping the underserved. But it is to say that it’s highly likely a
lot of the people involved in these various humanitarian efforts are also
anti-abortion, especially given the correlation between religiosity and a
pro-life perspective. You can see similar stats finding that Christians are twice as likely to adopt and 50% more likely to be foster parents as Americans on average.
See also:
*****

With a topic as highly polarized
as abortion, it’s easy to view our opponents as fools at best, evil at worst,
certainly deficient in various ways. And while there really will be fools and
even genuinely bad people out there (on both sides), I do believe the reality
is that most pro-lifers and pro-choicers aren’t quite as different as the
political narratives suggest. I mean, yes, we start with some fundamentally
different premises and those are worth debating. But most of the caricatures
are just that. And I’ve found within friendships even the more passionate people
from each side are able to see that.

[Published on 2/24/16.]

7 things pro-lifers wish our pro-choice friends understood about us.

Recently my FB newsfeed delivered
me this gem: “5 Thing Pro-Choicers Wish Their
Anti-Choice Friends Understood
.”
To my disappointment, the article includes plenty of sarcasm, negative
assumptions, and (in my experience) incorrect stereotypes. It certainly doesn’t
come off as a conversation between friends, so maybe the title was just
tongue-in-cheek.
But I really do have pro-choice
friends. Family too. I get along with them well, for the most part. And I
appreciate when we have opportunities to explore each other’s perspectives in a
non-combative way. To that end, I wrote this article as if I were discussing
these issues with friends. I know there are plenty of people who feel more
comfortable with the cartoon villain versions of their ideological opponents…
Pictured: Pro-lifers?
…but if you recognize that life
is more shades of gray than black and white, this post is for you. (As Timothy Brahm said, “There are no Snidely Whiplashes…”)
*****
1.
We’re
so much more than a bunch of old straight religious
white Republican men.
I actually think that anyone who
is (a) intellectually honest and (b) paying enough attention probably already
realizes this, so I am going to go through these misconceptions kind of quickly
and move on to the less known issues.
1a.
We’re not all old.

The younger generations are traditionally more left-leaning, and as we increasingly enter
the political sphere the effects are obvious. But despite liberalizing trends
in national opinion on other issues (gay marriage, women in combat, drug legalization), there’s been no equivalent
swing to the pro-choice view on abortion. In fact, polls show that the youngest
generation is at
least as anti-abortion
, if not more so, than previous generations.  
See also:
1b.
We’re not all straight.

To be fair, this is something I seem to have to remind certain segments of the
pro-life movement about as much as my pro-choice friends. It’s more difficult
to find polling data on this, so instead I will point again to The Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and
Lesbians
. You
can also read more about the experiences of pro-life activists who are LGBT
here: “How does the pro-life movement
look to LGBT pro-lifers?

“Human rights start when human life begins.”

See also:
1c.
We’re not all religious.
a. Depending on polls, between
one sixth and one fifth of nonreligious Americans are anti-abortion. (See “Are you One of Six Million?”)
b. The non-religious pro-lifer
isn’t a “fake” secularist either. Atheist apologist Christopher Hitchens himself argued on behalf of the
unborn child.
c. The U.S. is becoming less
religious all the time; in particular, the youngest generation identifies less
with religion than generations before us. Yet national anti-abortion sentiment
remains largely unchanged—for every generation.
See also:
1d.
We’re not all white.

Polls show 51% of African Americans and 61%
of Hispanic Americans think abortion is morally wrong. And a range of 30% to 40%
of African Americans as well as 50% of Hispanic Americans think abortion should
generally be illegal. A multivariate analysis of answers about abortion from
the General Social Survey going back four decades found that black men and
women have consistently been less accepting of abortion than white men and
women.
Many people on both sides of the debate are aware of the
disproportionate rates of abortion for African American and Latino communities.
It’s important to recognize this disproportion isn’t something people of color
readily accept. Many people within these communities are anti-abortion.

 
See also:
1e.
We’re not all Republican.
  Nearly a third of Democrats and a fourth of
people who describe themselves as “liberal” also describe themselves as
“pro-life.”

Similarly, nearly a third of Democrats say abortion should generally be illegal.
Historically the pro-life
movement was actually quite progressive, and the Democratic Party was
more accepting of pro-lifers in its ranks. Unfortunately, now being pro-choice
seems to be a litmus test of a “true” Democrat. It makes sense to me that the
same groups who insist all pro-lifers are Republicans insist any
self-identifying pro-life Democrat isn’t a “real” Democrat, regardless of how
many leftist positions the person holds. But wishing the stereotype-defying
pro-lifers will disappear won’t make it so.


See Also:
1f.
We’re not all men.

Not even close, actually. Of all the demographic stereotypes pushed on the
pro-life movement, I think the gender narrative is the most strident and
possibly most dishonest.
Even if the ratios aren’t 1:1,
there are real correlations between being pro-life and right-wing or being
pro-life and religious. And given the strong correlation between being LGBT and
being a left-winger, there’s probably a real correlation between being pro-life
and straight. And while the data isn’t there to support the “old” and “white”
stereotypes, people don’t harp on those factors nearly as often as they repeat
the gender myth.
The “anti-choice war on women”
narrative is ubiquitous: out-of-touch, controlling, misogynistic men are the
driving force of the pro-life movement, and any woman who doesn’t hate herself
is pro-choice. By now the idea is conventional wisdom. It’s also total
nonsense.
According to Gallup, once you account for the margin
of error, women are just as likely as men to think abortion should be illegal
all or most of the time. Moreover, there are significantly more women who think
abortion should generally be illegal than there are those who think it should generally
be legal.
And this trend is reflected in
the makeup of the pro-life movement. Despite the endlessly echoed (and uncited)
claim that “77% of anti-abortion leaders are men,” much of our movement is led by women.
I think it’s possible for
intellectually honest people who just aren’t that involved in the abortion
debate to miss the pro-life secularists, LGBT people, and other non-traditional
pro-lifers. But a person would have to really not be paying attention to
genuinely believe the pro-life woman is an anomaly.

(Click to enlarge.)
See also:
*****
2. We’re not anti-woman. This accusation actually comes in two forms.
2a.
Anti-woman motivations.
The
first and more common form is that pro-lifers are against abortion because we don’t respect or like women.
That is, our misogyny motivates us to try to control women’s bodies, choices,
and lives.
I think this idea comes about largely
because many pro-choicers assume the fetus is not a morally relevant human
being, and, importantly, they further assume pro-lifers secretly or
subconsciously agree with this view. If that’s the case, our anti-abortion
efforts can’t truly be motivated by concern for human lives; there must be some
other, more sinister reason we’re making such a big deal about abortion. It
must be because we’re misogynists, and we talk about human rights only as a
cover for our disdain.
But this perspective doesn’t
explain why abortion views don’t divide along gender lines or why there are so
many female pro-life activists, including pro-life leaders (see point #1f). And
it definitely doesn’t explain the existence of feminist pro-lifers—by that I
mean people who share traditionally feminist goals outside of abortion on
demand. For example there are plenty of pro-lifers who care about fighting rape culture, decreasing gender stereotypes, increasing support for pregnant women (and parents and families in
general), and generally fighting prejudice based on gender, sexuality, and race. You can be for all of those
goals and also against abortion. I am.
And, most of the time, when I
develop friendships of some depth with people who are pro-choice, they
recognize my passion for gender issues and my embrace of the feminist label,
and they see that my anti-abortion stance is based on reasoning quite separate
from any anti-woman sentiment. This is one of the reasons I think it’s so good
for us to have friends who think differently than we do: friendship destroys
prejudice. We’ve seen this when it comes to race and sexuality, and I think it
can also be true for politics. Some of my pro-choice friends have told me they
think differently about pro-lifers just for having known me, and I feel the
same way about them.
I’m not pretending there’s no
such thing as a misogynist pro-lifer. Misogyny is a real problem, and I believe
some pro-lifers are misogynists because some people are misogynists (and a lot
of people are pro-life). But I don’t think the two views are as correlated as
our opposition likes to insist. In fact, I suspect the more you get to know
pro-lifers, the more you’ll see how much many of us care (see point #7) and the
less you’ll believe we all just hate women.

Meet Destiny.
2b.
Anti-woman effects.

The second form of the anti-woman accusation is sort of a fall back from the
first. When face-to-face with pro-lifers who clearly do care about women, some
pro-choicers will say that, while we may not have specifically anti-woman motivations, it doesn’t matter because
our goal of restricting abortion will have anti-woman effects.
First, this makes the
“anti-woman” accusation pretty misleading. We generally accuse people of being
“anti-[whatever group]” based on their motivations, not their effects.
Conflating motivation and effect is the tactic used to accuse pro-woman
policies of being “anti-man,” religious diversity policies of being
“anti-Christian,” or affirmative action policies of being “anti-white.” This
tactic ignores the positive, affirmative reasons people might hold a position
and insists such people, by definition, are “anti-[whatever group],” regardless
of their actual motivations or feelings on the subject. So I think this version
of the “anti-woman” accusation is pretty disingenuous.
Second, it’s not at all clear
that abortion restrictions are anti-woman while fully embracing abortion is
pro-woman. Many of us believe unrestricted abortion is the excuse society uses to not support pregnant and
parenting women and the excuse certain kinds of men
use

to guiltlessly skip out on unplanned fatherhood. “Choice” doesn’t have such a
nice connotation when it comes in the form of “well it was your choice to have
the baby, so you deal with it.” Feminists against abortion, including some of our country’s
most prominent feminist
foremothers
,
have long called attention to how abortion can exploit women.
Beyond that, abortion is so
heavily politicized that some don’t want to admit there’s any negative aspect or moral complexity to it, lest they give credence
to the pro-life view. But this means realities like fetal development or the link
between abortion and pre-term birth
are glossed over, leaving women
without information they may have wished they had. It means increasing insistence that there’s nothing to regret
or feel shame over, alienating and dismissing the
women

who do struggle with those feelings. It means downplaying how abortion is used
to cover up sex trafficking. It also means horrors like
Kermit Gosnell’s clinic—in which both a
woman and already-born children were killed
—can fester in the vacuum of any real oversight and, when they are discovered,
can go largely unnoticed in the vacuum of media coverage.
I’m not saying the average
pro-choice person is aware of or accepts all of these problems. I don’t think
that’s true. But I am saying that if being “anti-woman” is about effects, not
motivation, than our country’s relatively liberal embrace of abortion can be quite
anti-woman.
The “War on Women” rhetoric would
have you believe abortion is unquestionably at the heart of women’s liberation
and therefore anyone against abortion is against women. But in reality abortion’s
effects on women are more complicated than that—so much so that, even independent
of the question of fetal value, people who care about women can have compelling
reasons to come down on either side of the abortion debate.
See Also: 
*****
3.
We’re pro-contraception.
I can understand why people would
get the impression that if I am anti-abortion I must be anti-contraception.
There are plenty of pro-life organizations and leaders who are openly
anti-contraception, and if you aren’t very involved in a given political
movement, it’s easy to assume after a cursory glance that the most prominent activists
represent the majority of the movement.
But in this case you’d be mistaken.
Polls suggest a
minimum of 78% of pro-lifers find
contraception morally acceptable. And
it’s not just that we think it’s alright in theory; we think so in practice,
too.
Research suggests the strong majority (over 80%) of
sexually active American women use some form of artificial contraception. Note
that, if 
about half of American women are pro-life, this means the
majority of self-described sexually active pro-life women use artificial
contraception.
(Pro-choice author Will Saletan
over at Slate has a great post explaining why the data suggests
pro-lifers are not anti-contraception.)
Certainly SPL takes a
pro-contraception stance. If you’re interested, you can read more about why here.
See also:
*****
4. We like sex.
4a.
The “anti-sex” accusation stems mostly from our different views of fetal life,
not our different views of sex.
There are a lot of different
reasons people are pro-choice.  I think
most pro-choicers empathize with the very difficult position an unplanned
pregnancy can put a woman in, and many are concerned about protecting bodily
rights.
But it also seems some people
advocate for abortion primarily based on sex. That is, they think people ought
to be able to have sex lives unhindered by potential procreation. Such an
abortion advocate might describe this idea in terms of sexual liberation and
gender equality, but for many on our side of the fence, it doesn’t sound so
noble. For those of us who view the fetus as a morally relevant human being,
advocating fetal destruction in the name of sexual liberation sounds supremely…backwards.
 It sounds like valuing an active,
enjoyable sex life over not killing people.
But of course that’s not how most
abortion advocates see it. In my experience, most of the “sexual liberation”
pro-choicers don’t see the fetus as a human being, or at least not a morally
relevant one. So it’s not about advocating an active sex life over actual human
lives. It’s about valuing sexual freedom over nebulous, irrelevant “clumps of
cells.” If I thought that’s all abortion involved, I would feel similarly.
In other words, our views differ more
based on how we think of fetal life than how we think of sex.
It’s important for pro-lifers to
understand this, rather than hurl accusations of selfish, sexual promiscuity at
the other side. It’s likewise important for pro-choicers to see this, rather than
accuse us of simply hating sex. Saying people should make sexual decisions such
that they’re not in a position to want an abortion doesn’t mean we hate sex any
more than saying people shouldn’t drink and drive means we hate driving. Drive
as much as you like. But do so safely and, above all, please don’t kill anyone.
4b.
Different views of sex are still a factor, but not as big of one as people
think.
I think most of the anti-sex
accusation comes down to different views of fetal life, but not all of it. Religious
people are more likely than non-religious people to be pro-life, and plenty of
religious people are more likely to speak out against sex outside of marriage.
I think there’s a decent argument to be made that “anti-premarital-sex,” or the broader “anti-reckless-sex,” are not equivalent to “anti-sex.” Plenty of people
who think it’s better to wait until marriage have active, enjoyable sex lives
with their spouses and like sex quite a lot. But I think the more compelling
point is that most pro-lifers don’t actually wait until marriage to have sex.
How do I know this? First and
foremost, because the vast majority of people in general have
premarital sex, and pro-lifers are about half of the country. So there’s that
math. Besides that, the pro-life movement doesn’t fit the 1:1 correlation to
conservative Christians that so many people expect (see point #1). We like sex,
we have sex outside of marriage, we have sex using contraception (point #2), and
we still think it’s wrong to kill fetuses.
See also:
*****
5. We experience unplanned pregnancies too…
…but no, that doesn’t
automatically mean we turn pro-choice.
Some
pro-choicers seem to think we are only anti-abortion because we just don’t
understand how frightening and life-changing an unplanned pregnancy can be, and
that if we were to be put in that difficult position, we’d choose abortion too.
And,
interestingly, is isn’t just pro-choicers who make this assumption. Some
anti-contraception pro-lifers seem to think that anyone who has sex while using
contraception (which,
as shown in point #3, would include most pro-lifers) isn’t
“open to life” and thus will choose abortion if they accidentally procreate.
But it’s not the
case. According to the CDC, about 
37%
of births result from unplanned conceptions
. In 2012 there were about
3.9 million
 births, meaning over 1.4 million women carried
unplanned pregnancies to term. 
That’s not to say every self-described pro-life woman always
chooses life. It’s true, of course, that some pro-life women do
rescind their
views
and get an abortion. But it’s also true that plenty of women stand by their convictions, carrying out
crisis pregnancies
even when (from a pro-choice perspective) abortion may have
been much simpler. Insisting we’re all one unplanned pregnancy away from being
pro-choice not only implies none of us are sincere in our beliefs, but also
demeans or outright ignores the courage, sacrifice, and love with which so many
mothers have carried and birthed their unplanned children. In that sense,
frankly, I think it’s a pretty anti-woman thing to say.



Claudia and her “crisis pregnancy,” Taylor.

And meanwhile pointing out inconsistency isn’t as meaningful as
so many people suggest, mostly because it goes both ways. Just as some women
switch to the pro-choice side in the face of an intimidating pregnancy, some
women switch to the pro-life side
when
they experience a planned pregnancy
and come to a new understanding of
fetal development. 
And some women switch to the pro-life side because of their
experiences with abortion. Which brings me to my next point…
*****
6. Many of us are post-abortive…
…and converted to the pro-life
side for that very reason.
This is really an extension of
the previous point. Pro-choicers seem to think the pro-life movement is made up
of people with no experience: no relationship problems, health issues,
financial hardships, postponed education, complicated careers, and, above all,
crisis pregnancies. They seem to think someone would only be against abortion
if they were out of touch with life’s hardships and naively idealistic about
how people should handle crises.
But (again), pro-life people are
roughly half of the country. We span political views, ethnic groups, and
income brackets
(in
fact, we’re more likely than pro-choicers to be low-income). We’re not as
different from you as you might think. And that includes the fact that some of
us know exactly what it’s like to have to choose. And while many of us have
chosen life (point #5), not all of us have.
Now, just as pro-choicers shouldn’t
believe every pro-life woman would choose abortion if put in the position,
pro-lifers shouldn’t believe every woman who gets an abortion will end up
regretting it. It’s more of a mixed bag than
that
. Some women
don’t regret–not in the moment, not years later.
But some
do
. Some feel abortion
traumatized them
, and they can no longer accept abortion as a legal right. People
assume we’re pro-life because of a lack of experience, when in many cases it’s exactly our experiences that brought us here.
*****
7. We care about what happens to the child after birth.
7a.
But first, this accusation is nonsensical.
We’re against abortion because we
think it should generally be illegal to kill people. By “people” we mean
morally relevant human beings, which of course is how we see the fetus. We get
you don’t agree, and that’s really the crux of the debate.
But understand that, from our
perspective, saying we can’t be anti-abortion until we’ve solved problems like
child poverty or a messed up foster care system is as ridiculous to our ears as
if you said we can’t speak out against child abuse unless we are going to adopt
all abused children. Does anyone actually believe that? Would you argue people can’t
condemn child marriage unless they will personally pay off the child’s family
debts? People can’t say slaves should be freed unless they’re prepared to personally
house and employ all the newly emancipated? Suggesting people can’t call out
human rights violations unless they personally have the resources to absorb all
impact is just a terrible precedent.
7b.
Pro-life organizations do help born people.
Bad precedent aside, we do care about what happens after the
child is born.
There are a lot of pro-life projects
revolving around helping mothers and their children. Students for Life of
America encourages it’s 900+ campus groups to organize diaper drives and to pursue Pregnant on Campus initiatives, which connect pregnant
and parenting students with resources for healthcare, housing,
clothing and food assistance, child care, insurance, financial aid, and more. Feminists For Life has fought child exclusion
provisions in welfare reform, worked to get poor working pregnant women
prenatal care through SCHIP, and advocated for the Enhanced Child Support
Enforcement Act. And there are 1,000s of pregnancy resource centers across the country that provide
maternity and baby clothes, diapers, wipes, baby wash, strollers, bouncy seats,
infant toys, referrals (for housing, employment resources, and educational,
financial, and social assistance), parenting classes, even laptops, phones, and cars.
Pregnancy resource centers also
work to connect women with adoption services if that is what they need. And
plenty of pro-lifers have themselves adopted
children
in dire
situations
. Here’s a list of countless ways individual pro-life people have helped low-income single mothers.
7c.
Pro-life individuals help too, independent of their pro-life work.
When people ask “If you’re really pro-life, why don’t you care
about [X quality of life] issue?” they seem to assume that everyone who does care about and work on the issue
they’ve picked is pro-choice. But I’m not sure why they make that assumption.
Between September 2013 and September 2014, over 62 million people did volunteer work of some type (rock on, guys). As
far as I know, no one polled the volunteers about their views on abortion, but with
the country split on the issue it seems like quite a leap to assume few or none
of them are pro-life. Sometimes it seems like unless we assemble en masse with
picket signs that say “I’m anti-abortion but today I’m protesting this other
issue,” people will insist we don’t care about anything else.
And yet, for example, my very
anti-abortion grandmother volunteers every week packaging food and other
supplies for local low-income families. For a long while my pro-life brother
and I spent our volunteer time tutoring at the Boys and Girls Club. Before that
I did volunteer tutoring at a nearby state prison, and since then my brother
has offered free tutoring at his university. My anti-abortion dad offers
parolees jobs and training, and has attended some of their hearings as a
character witness. During the first year of her son’s life, my pro-life sister
pumped and froze her extra breast milk so she could donate it to a little girl
with spinal muscular atrophy. (Incidentally, for young mothers with no funds
for charity, donating breast milk is an excellent way to help other moms and
their babies. Learn more here.)
My pro-life mother spent years
taking care of an elderly woman she met who had no children and no local
family. My mom put a lot of her time into keeping the woman company, taking her
on outings, driving her to and from doctor’s appointments, and making sure she
was taking her medications all the way until the end. Then Mom took care of the
woman’s funeral arrangements and issues with her estate. When pro-choicers claim
pro-lifers only care about people until they’re born, I think of my family, and
then think how ridiculously false this accusation is.
And my family isn’t an anomaly in
the pro-life movement. I know pro-life activists who work for gay rights, children’s
rights, and animal rights. I have pro-life friends who conduct cultural
proficiency trainings to try to help diverse organizations understand the
cultural and racial differences among the people they work with. One of my
pro-life friends has based his career helping families, foster providers, and
agencies that work with children with behavior challenges or mental health
issues. I have two other pro-life friends who do long-distance running to raise
money for causes like fighting human trafficking.
I know these are all anecdotes.
If there were statistics on the type and extent of charity and volunteer work pro-life
people do, I’d happily give them to you. But absent that rather specific
research, I point to the Catholic Church—widely known for its
anti-abortion stance
—and
the massive amounts of charity work it does. Catholic Charities USA serves over
10 million people per year, providing food, shelter, education, financial planning, adoption assistance, services to refugees and
immigrants
, and
more. In 2015 alone they spent over $3.8 billion
on these projects. Pause and imagine the number of Catholics who donate their
money and time to make that happen.
That’s not to say that every
Catholic contributing to these causes is pro-life. There are plenty of pro-choice
Catholics
, and I
don’t believe pro-lifers have a monopoly on helping the underserved. But it is to say that it’s highly likely a
lot of the people involved in these various humanitarian efforts are also
anti-abortion, especially given the correlation between religiosity and a
pro-life perspective. You can see similar stats finding that Christians are twice as likely to adopt and 50% more likely to be foster parents as Americans on average.
See also:
*****

With a topic as highly polarized
as abortion, it’s easy to view our opponents as fools at best, evil at worst,
certainly deficient in various ways. And while there really will be fools and
even genuinely bad people out there (on both sides), I do believe the reality
is that most pro-lifers and pro-choicers aren’t quite as different as the
political narratives suggest. I mean, yes, we start with some fundamentally
different premises and those are worth debating. But most of the caricatures
are just that. And I’ve found within friendships even the more passionate people
from each side are able to see that.

[Published on 2/24/16.]

“How could she not know she was pregnant?”

Slate has a short piece on women who go into labor without even realizing they were pregnant to begin with:

For a woman who doesn’t think she could be pregnant, many of the classic
signs can be explained away. Fetal movement? It could be gas or
indigestion. Morning sickness? A stomach virus. Weight gain? Bad diet
and lack of exercise. Obese women may not gain noticeable amounts of
weight during pregnancy.

Slate points out some problems with women not realizing they’re pregnant:

[F]ailing to detect a pregnancy presents risks to the health of both
the mother and the child. For one, it means missing out on important prenatal
testing, monitoring, and vaccinations. It also means the mother doesn’t
know to avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, or doing drugs during the
pregnancy.

What implications does this have in terms of abortion?

Proportionally, few abortions are late term abortions. According to the CDC, in 2009, 98.7% of abortions were performed before 21 weeks gestation, with 91.7% of abortions before 13 weeks. Of course, even with the CDC’s relatively low estimate of 784,507 abortions for that year, that means 65,114 abortions were performed at 13 weeks gestation or later, with 10,198 of them at 21 weeks or later.

At 13 weeks gestation, the fetus looks something like this:

http://puu.sh/3kfy1.jpg
Image from BabyCenter.com

Why does this happen? People often talk about wanted pregnancies in
which something goes wrong, or about conditions that can threaten the
life of the mother late in pregnancy. Those are both factors, to be
sure, but they aren’t the only ones. Live Science summarizes a 2011 study
which found that women were more likely to have second-trimester abortions if
they lived under the poverty line, had less education, were black or
Hispanic, or were under the age of 19. Women obtaining second-trimester
abortions were more likely to have been physically abused or raped, or
to have gone through other disruptive life events like job loss.

These factors are all correlations, not causations. Several of these factors could themselves increase the odds that a woman doesn’t realize she’s pregnant. The study found that “the majority of patients who had second-trimester abortions indicated they would have preferred to have them earlier.”

From a pro-life perspective, how much does gestational age matter, and in what
ways? As pro-lifers, we acknowledge that whether we’re talking about a zygote,
embryo, 8-week fetus, or 21-week fetus, we are talking about a human being. Abortions at any stage kill human beings. Does that mean all abortions are equal? Or are some worse than others? Are late-term abortions
morally worse than early-term ones? If so, by how much? Is one abortion at
21-weeks gestation as bad as two abortions at 6-weeks?

I ask because the two might be related. The 2011 study suggests second
trimester abortions could be decreased by increasing access to first trimester
abortions. The idea is that many women would have preferred first trimester
abortions but were unable to set up an abortion within their first trimester.
This could be because they had trouble getting together the funds for an
abortion, or finding the time to get to the nearest abortion clinic, which might
still be hours away. The timing could be particularly tricky if the local laws
require waiting periods, counseling sessions, and so forth, meaning multiple
separate days out of a daily schedule. If these measures decrease the overall
number of abortions, but increase the number of later term abortions, how do
you feel about them? What ways do you think would be best to decrease the number of late term abortions while also decreasing the overall number of abortions?

Logic versus Storytelling

The abortion lobby is has found its latest poster child: a Salvadoran woman, known only as Beatriz, who allegedly needed an abortion to save her life. The reality, as usual, is more complicated.

El Salvador protects unborn life, and recognizes the lives of mothers as well. Balancing these concerns, El Salvador has legal abortion in cases of self-defense, but elective abortions are outlawed. The Salvadoran courts determined that Beatriz’s condition was stable, but that she should continue to be monitored and doctors could proceed with an abortion if an emergency arose.

A short time later, Beatriz went into labor. Doctors performed a Cesarean section, and her baby was born alive. Sadly, the baby died a few hours later, as was expected due to a serious neurological problem the baby had developed in utero.

But in the parallel universe inhabited by hard-core abortion supporters, Beatriz did not give birth. She had an abortion, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

On Tuesday, a consortium of pro-abortion groups held a rally for Beatriz. (Side note: our polar opposites, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, got involved, and the rally became a prayer vigil. Apparently the God of Crowds was unresponsive, since it reportedly drew only thirty people.) Abortion advocacy groups are essentially reusing the template of Ireland: find a sympathetic woman of color (Beatriz in El Salvador, Savita in Ireland), play fast and loose with the facts, hold rallies, earn media, and try to change the country’s laws on abortion.

Tonya Reaves

I’ll believe that abortion advocates are the great champions of women of color when they start holding rallies for Tonya Reaves and Karnamaya Mongar. Who are they? Tonya was a black woman who died after an abortion at a Chicago Planned Parenthood. Karnamaya was a Bhutanese refugee who overcame unimaginable obstacles in life and emigrated to the United States, only to die in an abortion at Kermit Gosnell’s “clinic.”

Gosnell was convicted of manslaughter for Karnamaya’s death. So far there has been no justice for Tonya, but her family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Karnamaya Mongar

I appreciate hard facts, and I believe that the facts are on the side of the pro-life movement. But facts alone don’t always win policy arguments, even if they should. The pro-choice movement has done a much better job of sharing (some would say exploiting) the emotional, personal stories of women with the media.

We need to do a better job of balancing logic with emotion. It’s not enough to debunk their stories; we must also tell our own. The moderate publicity received by Tonya and Karnamaya is a start, but we have a long way to go.