Should We Make Abortion Unthinkable, or Should We Make Children Convenient?

Most people who identify as pro-life are advocates of legal restrictions on abortion. But there are some also who actively oppose abortion, yet do not want it to be outlawed, or at least do not want to make any efforts to outlaw it; their focus is on cultural attitude changes made possible mainly by better support for women, sometimes accompanied by promotion of certain kinds of birth control. Within each of those groups there is another spectrum as well: some oppose capital punishment and most war, and normally support universal healthcare, and call themselves consistently pro-life, while in others, anti-abortion advocacy is accompanied by more conservative political positions. But the distinction I would like to focus on here is that between the “legal” pro-lifers and the “cultural” pro-lifers.

I consider the “legal” pro-lifers and the “cultural” pro-lifers to be all on the same team. And it may even be best that different players on that one team have their different roles. It may be best for there to be both “tough cops” and “soft cops,” working in harmony. I think all the inputs of all the organizations that pursue only one goal or the other, or pursue any balance between the two goals, should be welcome on the team. But what I would like to argue here is that we will never achieve the maximum possible success against abortion without trying hard to enact laws; and that in fact we may never even make much progress on the cultural front until abortion is illegal. I would like to argue against the idea that efforts to create better conditions for women (even if those efforts are combined with the promotion of certain kinds of birth control) are enough, or that even all such efforts combined with moral suasion are enough. (Moral suasion through scientific and philosophical education is part of the toolkit of nearly all pro-lifers.)

Making Abortion Unthinkable, or Making Children Convenient?

Improving conditions for pregnant women, mothers, and children is a moral imperative, and not only because it will decrease the number of abortions. It will not only decrease the number of abortions, it will increase the number of healthy and empowered women and children. So we should pursue that goal for its own sake.

But we should face the fact that improving conditions in that way would do nothing at all to make abortion unthinkable. Nothing. Such progress would cause some women to think less about abortion, but that is not what we mean when we say “unthinkable.” When we say we want to make abortion unthinkable, we are using “unthinkable” to mean “so shocking that it cannot be imagined as possible.”

Suppose for instance that whenever a single woman or a couple decide to give life to and raise their baby, in exchange the government gives them a free car and a nice free apartment. The abortion rate will certainly decline. But suppose that the next year the economy worsens and the government discontinues the program. Couples will go back to baby-killing as usual, because their valuation of the unborn had not changed. They had given life because it was convenient to do so. Their consciousness about unborn life had not changed. Abortion had become situationally unnecessary for a year, but couples had not learned to perceive the unborn (at any stage of development) as full-fledged members of their family, and society had not learned that the unborn (at any stage) are our little sisters and brothers, whose protection is an imperative for us.

Unborn child-protection laws, on the other hand, send a moral message that we are going to stop treating unborn children, in our legal system, as less valuable than born children. They thus humanize the unborn. They don’t leave a hole in our institutions where the humanity of the unborn should be. (Laws can perform these functions adequately by targeting only abortionists and abortion pill vendors, by the way; it should be possible to avoid targeting pregnant women.)

Laws importantly influence culture, just as culture influences laws. If we are not continually and actively demanding legal protections for unborn persons similar to those we would demand for born persons, we will appear to believe that the unborn are not really persons, which will undermine even our efforts at moral suasion.

Rebecca Haschke does pro-life outreach on college campuses. In a Life Report video, she said:

I’ve talked to students on campus, though, when we talk about abortion – their reasoning for why abortion is okay is because the law says it’s okay. And I ask them, “Should the law be what determines what is right and wrong?,” and they’ll be like “Well, yeah, it does.” And then I cringe and I say, “Well, have we ever had laws that have been unjust?” And then they go, “Yeah, we have.” [But] the law . . . influences people’s thoughts. 

In 2005, the Los Angeles Times interviewed patients at an abortion center: “She regrets having to pay $750 for the abortion, but Amanda says she does not doubt her decision. ‘It’s not like it’s illegal. It’s not like I’m doing anything wrong,’ she says.”

In a 1996 debate with Naomi Wolf, Helen Alvare said (at 18:13):

The basis for the [pro-life] moral position is that it is the taking of a human life. In other arenas in society where the taking of a human life is concerned, the law also enters. If it doesn’t enter, that is the anomaly, that’s the strange thing! So the very basis for the moral position leads. . . . I’m not saying the legal struggle will solve everything. The moral and legal have to go in tandem. 

To fail to advocate unborn child-protection laws is to countenance an anomaly, and thus to say that unborn children are not as good as born children.

When the Virginia Supreme Court said in 1858, “in the eyes of the law . . . the slave is not a person,” that august pronouncement must have helped crystallize many people’s perceptions of slaves – certainly at least the perceptions of those who wanted to believe it. The pedagogical effect of law is well-known.

Actions proceed from thoughts, so consciousness is key to any kind of social change; and moreover, I think that the upgrade of consciousness involved in recognizing the unborn as full-fledged members of our human family, crossing that last and hardest frontier of civil rights, will have ramifying effects in upgrading morality in all areas of life. 

Unborn Child-Protection Laws Accomplish the Following:

  1. They are indispensable in making abortion unthinkable, as explained above. 
  2. They are proven to save some lives, right now, that otherwise we would not have saved and could have saved. Even the hard-core abortion advocacy site Rewire.News no longer denies this.
  3. The removal of abortion as an easy option ensures that people will protest strongly for better conditions for women. Why bother to protest strongly, which is a lot of trouble, as long as there is an easy way out, legal abortion? (For more on this, search here for “escape valve.”) 
  4. They prevent some unwanted pregnancies (a win from almost everyone’s point of view) by motivating women to adopt better contraception. Even the Guttmacher Institute agrees with this. 
  5. There will always be some women who simply do not want to be pregnant and cannot be induced, even by offering them the best conditions, to remain pregnant. Laws (the force of law, plus the pedagogical effect of law) are the only way for us to avoid abdicating our responsibility to at least try to protect these particular little citizens. 

Playing It Smart 

The “legal” and the “cultural” players on the pro-life team should at least never undermine each other’s efforts. The “cultural” forces should not publicly accuse the “legal” forces of failing to get at the roots of the abortion problem. (The roots are a mixed reality anyway; as mentioned, the “legal” approach addresses at least one root – perceptions of the unborn – with more institutional commitment than does the “cultural,” and it is only correct perceptions of the unborn that make abortion unthinkable.) And likewise, the “legal” forces should not publicly accuse the “cultural” of caving in and trying to placate liberal society.

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

Should We Make Abortion Unthinkable, or Should We Make Children Convenient?

Most people who identify as pro-life are advocates of legal restrictions on abortion. But there are some also who actively oppose abortion, yet do not want it to be outlawed, or at least do not want to make any efforts to outlaw it; their focus is on cultural attitude changes made possible mainly by better support for women, sometimes accompanied by promotion of certain kinds of birth control. Within each of those groups there is another spectrum as well: some oppose capital punishment and most war, and normally support universal healthcare, and call themselves consistently pro-life, while in others, anti-abortion advocacy is accompanied by more conservative political positions. But the distinction I would like to focus on here is that between the “legal” pro-lifers and the “cultural” pro-lifers.

I consider the “legal” pro-lifers and the “cultural” pro-lifers to be all on the same team. And it may even be best that different players on that one team have their different roles. It may be best for there to be both “tough cops” and “soft cops,” working in harmony. I think all the inputs of all the organizations that pursue only one goal or the other, or pursue any balance between the two goals, should be welcome on the team. But what I would like to argue here is that we will never achieve the maximum possible success against abortion without trying hard to enact laws; and that in fact we may never even make much progress on the cultural front until abortion is illegal. I would like to argue against the idea that efforts to create better conditions for women (even if those efforts are combined with the promotion of certain kinds of birth control) are enough, or that even all such efforts combined with moral suasion are enough. (Moral suasion through scientific and philosophical education is part of the toolkit of nearly all pro-lifers.)

Making Abortion Unthinkable, or Making Children Convenient?

Improving conditions for pregnant women, mothers, and children is a moral imperative, and not only because it will decrease the number of abortions. It will not only decrease the number of abortions, it will increase the number of healthy and empowered women and children. So we should pursue that goal for its own sake.

But we should face the fact that improving conditions in that way would do nothing at all to make abortion unthinkable. Nothing. Such progress would cause some women to think less about abortion, but that is not what we mean when we say “unthinkable.” When we say we want to make abortion unthinkable, we are using “unthinkable” to mean “so shocking that it cannot be imagined as possible.”

Suppose for instance that whenever a single woman or a couple decide to give life to and raise their baby, in exchange the government gives them a free car and a nice free apartment. The abortion rate will certainly decline. But suppose that the next year the economy worsens and the government discontinues the program. Couples will go back to baby-killing as usual, because their valuation of the unborn had not changed. They had given life because it was convenient to do so. Their consciousness about unborn life had not changed. Abortion had become situationally unnecessary for a year, but couples had not learned to perceive the unborn (at any stage of development) as full-fledged members of their family, and society had not learned that the unborn (at any stage) are our little sisters and brothers, whose protection is an imperative for us.

Unborn child-protection laws, on the other hand, send a moral message that we are going to stop treating unborn children, in our legal system, as less valuable than born children. They thus humanize the unborn. They don’t leave a hole in our institutions where the humanity of the unborn should be. (Laws can perform these functions adequately by targeting only abortionists and abortion pill vendors, by the way; it should be possible to avoid targeting pregnant women.)

Laws importantly influence culture, just as culture influences laws. If we are not continually and actively demanding legal protections for unborn persons similar to those we would demand for born persons, we will appear to believe that the unborn are not really persons, which will undermine even our efforts at moral suasion.

Rebecca Haschke does pro-life outreach on college campuses. In a Life Report video, she said:

I’ve talked to students on campus, though, when we talk about abortion – their reasoning for why abortion is okay is because the law says it’s okay. And I ask them, “Should the law be what determines what is right and wrong?,” and they’ll be like “Well, yeah, it does.” And then I cringe and I say, “Well, have we ever had laws that have been unjust?” And then they go, “Yeah, we have.” [But] the law . . . influences people’s thoughts. 

In 2005, the Los Angeles Times interviewed patients at an abortion center: “She regrets having to pay $750 for the abortion, but Amanda says she does not doubt her decision. ‘It’s not like it’s illegal. It’s not like I’m doing anything wrong,’ she says.”

In a 1996 debate with Naomi Wolf, Helen Alvare said (at 18:13):

The basis for the [pro-life] moral position is that it is the taking of a human life. In other arenas in society where the taking of a human life is concerned, the law also enters. If it doesn’t enter, that is the anomaly, that’s the strange thing! So the very basis for the moral position leads. . . . I’m not saying the legal struggle will solve everything. The moral and legal have to go in tandem. 

To fail to advocate unborn child-protection laws is to countenance an anomaly, and thus to say that unborn children are not as good as born children.

When the Virginia Supreme Court said in 1858, “in the eyes of the law . . . the slave is not a person,” that august pronouncement must have helped crystallize many people’s perceptions of slaves – certainly at least the perceptions of those who wanted to believe it. The pedagogical effect of law is well-known.

Actions proceed from thoughts, so consciousness is key to any kind of social change; and moreover, I think that the upgrade of consciousness involved in recognizing the unborn as full-fledged members of our human family, crossing that last and hardest frontier of civil rights, will have ramifying effects in upgrading morality in all areas of life. 

Unborn Child-Protection Laws Accomplish the Following:

  1. They are indispensable in making abortion unthinkable, as explained above. 
  2. They are proven to save some lives, right now, that otherwise we would not have saved and could have saved. Even the hard-core abortion advocacy site Rewire.News no longer denies this.
  3. The removal of abortion as an easy option ensures that people will protest strongly for better conditions for women. Why bother to protest strongly, which is a lot of trouble, as long as there is an easy way out, legal abortion? (For more on this, search here for “escape valve.”) 
  4. They prevent some unwanted pregnancies (a win from almost everyone’s point of view) by motivating women to adopt better contraception. Even the Guttmacher Institute agrees with this. 
  5. There will always be some women who simply do not want to be pregnant and cannot be induced, even by offering them the best conditions, to remain pregnant. Laws (the force of law, plus the pedagogical effect of law) are the only way for us to avoid abdicating our responsibility to at least try to protect these particular little citizens. 

Playing It Smart 

The “legal” and the “cultural” players on the pro-life team should at least never undermine each other’s efforts. The “cultural” forces should not publicly accuse the “legal” forces of failing to get at the roots of the abortion problem. (The roots are a mixed reality anyway; as mentioned, the “legal” approach addresses at least one root – perceptions of the unborn – with more institutional commitment than does the “cultural,” and it is only correct perceptions of the unborn that make abortion unthinkable.) And likewise, the “legal” forces should not publicly accuse the “cultural” of caving in and trying to placate liberal society.

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

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.

Supporting women with unplanned pregnancies: can we find common ground with the pro-choice side?

(Shop artist Alisha Vernon on Etsy.)

A few weeks ago the New York Times ran “The Women the Abortion War Leaves Out,” a refreshingly objective op-ed about the high costs of motherhood that drive many to choose abortion. Author Michelle Oberman, a law professor and self-described feminist from California, wanted to better understand the goals of the American pro-life movement, so she decided to go to crisis pregnancy center in Oklahoma–Birth Choice–and interview the women who run it.

Despite her initial nervousness, Oberman found that the ladies who run Birth Choice were more than willing to show her their work. She said the Birth Choice employees spoke with “deep compassion” about the women they serve, many of whom are grappling with unplanned pregnancies in dire circumstances, including:

  • Violent partners 
  • Living out of a car 
  • Children lost to foster care 
  • Mental illness 
  • Addiction 
  • Undocumented status and unable to speak English 

Birth Choice works hard to support these women, offering services such as pregnancy tests, registration with Oklahoma’s Medicaid, weekly meetings with case workers, counseling, drug abuse treatment, and vocational training. For women with particularly trying circumstances, Birth Choice also has Rose Home, a shelter which can house up to five pregnant women and up to 13 children at a time.

As Oberman learned of all Birth Choice does for these women, she realized, as she puts it, that the abortion debate involves us “[hurling] rhetoric about choice and life, while remaining distracted from the reality that so many women have far too little of either.”

The rhetoric of “choice” and “life” encourages us to see a pregnant woman as if she’s balancing a scale, with abortion on one side and motherhood on the other. Which will she choose? Tilt her one way and she might get to finish high school or college, gaining time to plan for the child she wants. Tipped another way, she might become a mother or allow a childless couple to adopt.

The women living at Rose Home reveal the shallowness of that metaphor.

Women face the surprise of an unplanned pregnancy as if on train tracks, with a locomotive barreling toward them. The only variation lies in how many other trains are coming from other directions. Homelessness, violence, addiction and the biggest of all: poverty.

I don’t mean to suggest money is the only factor that shapes many women’s response to an unplanned pregnancy, but let’s be clear about how much it matters. One of the largest research studies on the question of why women choose abortion surveyed about 1,200 abortion patients and found 73 percent said they could not afford a baby at the time.

Oberman is describing the part of the abortion debate that should be common ground for the pro-choicers who want to support and liberate women and the pro-lifers who want to protect fetal life. As we have said many times over, many women get abortions precisely because they feel they don’t have a choice, and that should be a problem for activists on both sides of the debate. The pro-choice side is quick to point out the many ways unplanned pregnancy can devastate a woman’s life, but if the implication is that she is choosing abortion because of these external reasons–and not because she specifically doesn’t want children–these are precisely the situations when even pro-choicers should see abortion as a travesty, not a panacea. If most women choose abortion because they feel they have to, then it’s backwards and even a bit grotesque to model abortion as women’s liberation. As the stats Oberman quoted suggest, for most women abortion is the result of fear, not freedom.

Pro-choicers and pro-lifers can hopefully agree that women who don’t actually want abortions shouldn’t feel pressured, economically or otherwise, into getting abortions. Broadly speaking, from the pro-choice view, it is wrong for women to be pressured into abortion because that pressure takes away their agency over a life-changing and fundamentally important, intimate decision. From the pro-life view, it is wrong for women to be pressured into abortion because they are being pressured to destroy innocent human beings. Both sides can recognize that this decision can have grave consequences (emotionally, psychologically, socially) for the woman; the pro-life side also recognizes the decision has grave consequences for the fetus. So while the two sides should be able to come to a similar conclusion–we want a society in which women never feel pressured to abort–the thought processes that lead us there mean coerced abortion is where our common ground ends.

This distinction is crucial and often misunderstood. A few years ago I did a brief interview for The Friendly Atheist podcast to discuss the secular pro-life posistion and what it’s like for us secularists to work with a predominantly Christian movement. I emphasized that SPL cares about education and resources for women as methods of decreasing abortion, and the hosts asked me if that’s where SPL’s advocacy ends. I know we would be much more palatable to the pro-choice side if we advocated for decreasing abortions in every way except legally, but it would be dishonest to suggest that is SPL’s full position. So I explained that no, we do not end at education and resources; we also believe that abortion should generally be illegal and we support some legislative efforts to that end. I explained that for many pro-lifers, education and resources–even if they prevented nearly all abortions–would still not be enough, because killing innocent human beings should be illegal in itself, as a baseline position.

I can’t count how many times the pro-choice side has misunderstood this basic pro-life premise. They often assume no one truly cares about fetal life and then try to understand pro-life efforts from that flawed lens. Even Oberman, who I believe wishes to be objective and fair in her descriptions, misunderstands pro-life motivation in her op-ed when she claims that pro-life laws aimed at closing abortion clinics are “designed to drive up the costs of abortion.” We aren’t trying to close clinics to make abortion more expensive; we are trying to close clinics to make abortion impossible, because abortion kills innocent human beings. (It’s also worth noting that Oberman seems to believe the pro-lifers trying to close clinics are distinct from the pro-lifers trying to support women facing unplanned pregnancies. I’m not sure there’s such a bright line there.)

But even as the two sides sharply disagree about the legality of abortion, we can agree that we should decrease abortion by increasing support for women facing unplanned pregnancies. (And given Live Action’s recent work demonstrating that, contrary to common assertions, Planned Parenthood rarely provides prenatal care, it’s more obvious than ever how much work we have ahead of us.) If you believe the best way to support these women is through government-run programs such as WIC or Medicaid, fight for those. If you believe the best way to do it is through private charitable efforts such as the work of CPCs like Birth Choice, contribute to those. I care less about how you think we should increase support and more about whether you are working to make it happen.

More reading:
7 things pro-lifers wish our pro-choice friends understood about us.
So I met some sidewalk counselors.
In-depth interview with a millennial sidewalk counselor.
In-depth interview: Kristi Burkhart, Executive Director, Pregnancy Care Center

Supporting women with unplanned pregnancies: can we find common ground with the pro-choice side?

(Shop artist Alisha Vernon on Etsy.)

A few weeks ago the New York Times ran “The Women the Abortion War Leaves Out,” a refreshingly objective op-ed about the high costs of motherhood that drive many to choose abortion. Author Michelle Oberman, a law professor and self-described feminist from California, wanted to better understand the goals of the American pro-life movement, so she decided to go to crisis pregnancy center in Oklahoma–Birth Choice–and interview the women who run it.

Despite her initial nervousness, Oberman found that the ladies who run Birth Choice were more than willing to show her their work. She said the Birth Choice employees spoke with “deep compassion” about the women they serve, many of whom are grappling with unplanned pregnancies in dire circumstances, including:

  • Violent partners 
  • Living out of a car 
  • Children lost to foster care 
  • Mental illness 
  • Addiction 
  • Undocumented status and unable to speak English 

Birth Choice works hard to support these women, offering services such as pregnancy tests, registration with Oklahoma’s Medicaid, weekly meetings with case workers, counseling, drug abuse treatment, and vocational training. For women with particularly trying circumstances, Birth Choice also has Rose Home, a shelter which can house up to five pregnant women and up to 13 children at a time.

As Oberman learned of all Birth Choice does for these women, she realized, as she puts it, that the abortion debate involves us “[hurling] rhetoric about choice and life, while remaining distracted from the reality that so many women have far too little of either.”

The rhetoric of “choice” and “life” encourages us to see a pregnant woman as if she’s balancing a scale, with abortion on one side and motherhood on the other. Which will she choose? Tilt her one way and she might get to finish high school or college, gaining time to plan for the child she wants. Tipped another way, she might become a mother or allow a childless couple to adopt.

The women living at Rose Home reveal the shallowness of that metaphor.

Women face the surprise of an unplanned pregnancy as if on train tracks, with a locomotive barreling toward them. The only variation lies in how many other trains are coming from other directions. Homelessness, violence, addiction and the biggest of all: poverty.

I don’t mean to suggest money is the only factor that shapes many women’s response to an unplanned pregnancy, but let’s be clear about how much it matters. One of the largest research studies on the question of why women choose abortion surveyed about 1,200 abortion patients and found 73 percent said they could not afford a baby at the time.

Oberman is describing the part of the abortion debate that should be common ground for the pro-choicers who want to support and liberate women and the pro-lifers who want to protect fetal life. As we have said many times over, many women get abortions precisely because they feel they don’t have a choice, and that should be a problem for activists on both sides of the debate. The pro-choice side is quick to point out the many ways unplanned pregnancy can devastate a woman’s life, but if the implication is that she is choosing abortion because of these external reasons–and not because she specifically doesn’t want children–these are precisely the situations when even pro-choicers should see abortion as a travesty, not a panacea. If most women choose abortion because they feel they have to, then it’s backwards and even a bit grotesque to model abortion as women’s liberation. As the stats Oberman quoted suggest, for most women abortion is the result of fear, not freedom.

Pro-choicers and pro-lifers can hopefully agree that women who don’t actually want abortions shouldn’t feel pressured, economically or otherwise, into getting abortions. Broadly speaking, from the pro-choice view, it is wrong for women to be pressured into abortion because that pressure takes away their agency over a life-changing and fundamentally important, intimate decision. From the pro-life view, it is wrong for women to be pressured into abortion because they are being pressured to destroy innocent human beings. Both sides can recognize that this decision can have grave consequences (emotionally, psychologically, socially) for the woman; the pro-life side also recognizes the decision has grave consequences for the fetus. So while the two sides should be able to come to a similar conclusion–we want a society in which women never feel pressured to abort–the thought processes that lead us there mean coerced abortion is where our common ground ends.

This distinction is crucial and often misunderstood. A few years ago I did a brief interview for The Friendly Atheist podcast to discuss the secular pro-life posistion and what it’s like for us secularists to work with a predominantly Christian movement. I emphasized that SPL cares about education and resources for women as methods of decreasing abortion, and the hosts asked me if that’s where SPL’s advocacy ends. I know we would be much more palatable to the pro-choice side if we advocated for decreasing abortions in every way except legally, but it would be dishonest to suggest that is SPL’s full position. So I explained that no, we do not end at education and resources; we also believe that abortion should generally be illegal and we support some legislative efforts to that end. I explained that for many pro-lifers, education and resources–even if they prevented nearly all abortions–would still not be enough, because killing innocent human beings should be illegal in itself, as a baseline position.

I can’t count how many times the pro-choice side has misunderstood this basic pro-life premise. They often assume no one truly cares about fetal life and then try to understand pro-life efforts from that flawed lens. Even Oberman, who I believe wishes to be objective and fair in her descriptions, misunderstands pro-life motivation in her op-ed when she claims that pro-life laws aimed at closing abortion clinics are “designed to drive up the costs of abortion.” We aren’t trying to close clinics to make abortion more expensive; we are trying to close clinics to make abortion impossible, because abortion kills innocent human beings. (It’s also worth noting that Oberman seems to believe the pro-lifers trying to close clinics are distinct from the pro-lifers trying to support women facing unplanned pregnancies. I’m not sure there’s such a bright line there.)

But even as the two sides sharply disagree about the legality of abortion, we can agree that we should decrease abortion by increasing support for women facing unplanned pregnancies. (And given Live Action’s recent work demonstrating that, contrary to common assertions, Planned Parenthood rarely provides prenatal care, it’s more obvious than ever how much work we have ahead of us.) If you believe the best way to support these women is through government-run programs such as WIC or Medicaid, fight for those. If you believe the best way to do it is through private charitable efforts such as the work of CPCs like Birth Choice, contribute to those. I care less about how you think we should increase support and more about whether you are working to make it happen.

More reading:
7 things pro-lifers wish our pro-choice friends understood about us.
So I met some sidewalk counselors.
In-depth interview with a millennial sidewalk counselor.
In-depth interview: Kristi Burkhart, Executive Director, Pregnancy Care Center

The Ewing Family’s Story



[Today’s guest post by Feleica Langdon is part of our paid blogging program. Feleica is a provincial pro-life speaker in Newfoundland, founder of Life Defenders, and the regional coordinator in NL of Campaign Life Coalition working alongside the provincial coordinator, Margaret Hynes.]

When Jeannie Ewing was pregnant with Sarah—her second child with her husband Ben—everything seemed to be progressing normally. The Ewings opted out of the amniocentesis and nothing abnormal showed up on ultrasounds. When their daughter was born, it was discovered that she had Apert Syndrome.

Upon physician consultation they were told what Apert Syndrome was and the challenges they and their daughter would face.

Apert Syndrome is a condition that causes people’s skull and facial bones to harden prematurely, which means they don’t have the soft spot (fontanelle) as babies on their heads. Their skulls are already fused at particular sutures. These sutures need to be opened up in order to allow the growing brain room to expand. Because of this, people like Sarah have very distinct facial features and often misshapen heads. They have droopy eyes, a small nose, protruding forehead, and small mouth.

Throughout their lifetime, people with Apert Syndrome undergo on average between 20 and 60 surgeries. It’s a very mysterious disease and there is still much research to be done. Some people with this condition die prematurely from complications of surgeries and undiagnosed secondary conditions, like seizures or heart ailments. It’s a very sneaky disease.

The couple was shocked! They didn’t know how long that they would have with Sarah or even what their lives would look like, but their love for her surpassed any prognosis they were given. They certainly didn’t want a life full of surgeries and therapists and specialists, but she was their precious baby girl!

Sarah’s life has taught them to never take time for granted and that every person has a special purpose in this word. No one on earth is guaranteed a long life.

The Ewings have gotten to know other families of children with Apert Syndrome; tragically, three of those children have died prematurely. The Ewings weep for those children taken far too young, and their parents who are left with unfathomable grief. They also reflect on their own daughter and are faced with the question of if the condition will cut their little girl’s life short too.

Apert Syndrome is a fragile condition; it is like a sniper that attacks seemingly at random. As with many diagnoses, Apert Syndrome  doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care how old you are, how many loved ones will be left behind to grieve, or what great moments that will be missed out on. It is because of Sarah that her family hold their loved ones that much tighter!

Their big-hearted warrior has also taught them that we all have our own unique attributes, challenges and imperfections, all of which should be embraced. Every challenge we face has something beautiful to teach us and the world. Jeannie says:

Sarah, because she looks different, reminds people who encounter her that we are all fallen and broken in some way. She wears that on her face, while some people’s brokenness is hidden. In her brokenness, there is beauty. There is joy. There is love. She is very social. She accepts everyone wholeheartedly and allows people to be comfortable in who they are around her. It is because of that I have had incredible conversations with perfect strangers when her and I are in public. Sarah gets to the heart of what matters to people.

Families who are faced with extra needs need extra support. The Ewings’ hearts fill with gratitude for all of the help they have received. They had several friends who helped keep house, offered free babysitting, helped with fundraisers, sometimes made monetary or gift card donations, and prepared meals after surgeries. Jeannie’s friend, Julie, has also been there for her personally:

I think, when you are a caregiver, it’s easy to get lost in the person for whom you’re caring. But my friend saw that and frequently came to our house to check on me, not Sarah. She asked if I was getting enough rest, if I needed anything, how I was coping, etc. She brought over “mommy” care packages with dark chocolate, nice lotions and soaps and local honey.

In addition to this, a gentleman named Brian Sapp made cherished videos of the Ewings. He is a professional videographer/photographer and teaches media to middle school students. He spent hours interviewing the family and putting together a video for their website.

If you have been given a prenatal or post-natal diagnosis, reach out to life-affirming and supportive resources around you. Get educated, connected to support groups, and accept help from your inner circle. Embracing life knowing you are supported EMPOWERS!

The Ewing Family’s Story



[Today’s guest post by Feleica Langdon is part of our paid blogging program. Feleica is a provincial pro-life speaker in Newfoundland, founder of Life Defenders, and the regional coordinator in NL of Campaign Life Coalition working alongside the provincial coordinator, Margaret Hynes.]

When Jeannie Ewing was pregnant with Sarah—her second child with her husband Ben—everything seemed to be progressing normally. The Ewings opted out of the amniocentesis and nothing abnormal showed up on ultrasounds. When their daughter was born, it was discovered that she had Apert Syndrome.

Upon physician consultation they were told what Apert Syndrome was and the challenges they and their daughter would face.

Apert Syndrome is a condition that causes people’s skull and facial bones to harden prematurely, which means they don’t have the soft spot (fontanelle) as babies on their heads. Their skulls are already fused at particular sutures. These sutures need to be opened up in order to allow the growing brain room to expand. Because of this, people like Sarah have very distinct facial features and often misshapen heads. They have droopy eyes, a small nose, protruding forehead, and small mouth.

Throughout their lifetime, people with Apert Syndrome undergo on average between 20 and 60 surgeries. It’s a very mysterious disease and there is still much research to be done. Some people with this condition die prematurely from complications of surgeries and undiagnosed secondary conditions, like seizures or heart ailments. It’s a very sneaky disease.

The couple was shocked! They didn’t know how long that they would have with Sarah or even what their lives would look like, but their love for her surpassed any prognosis they were given. They certainly didn’t want a life full of surgeries and therapists and specialists, but she was their precious baby girl!

Sarah’s life has taught them to never take time for granted and that every person has a special purpose in this word. No one on earth is guaranteed a long life.

The Ewings have gotten to know other families of children with Apert Syndrome; tragically, three of those children have died prematurely. The Ewings weep for those children taken far too young, and their parents who are left with unfathomable grief. They also reflect on their own daughter and are faced with the question of if the condition will cut their little girl’s life short too.

Apert Syndrome is a fragile condition; it is like a sniper that attacks seemingly at random. As with many diagnoses, Apert Syndrome  doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care how old you are, how many loved ones will be left behind to grieve, or what great moments that will be missed out on. It is because of Sarah that her family hold their loved ones that much tighter!

Their big-hearted warrior has also taught them that we all have our own unique attributes, challenges and imperfections, all of which should be embraced. Every challenge we face has something beautiful to teach us and the world. Jeannie says:

Sarah, because she looks different, reminds people who encounter her that we are all fallen and broken in some way. She wears that on her face, while some people’s brokenness is hidden. In her brokenness, there is beauty. There is joy. There is love. She is very social. She accepts everyone wholeheartedly and allows people to be comfortable in who they are around her. It is because of that I have had incredible conversations with perfect strangers when her and I are in public. Sarah gets to the heart of what matters to people.

Families who are faced with extra needs need extra support. The Ewings’ hearts fill with gratitude for all of the help they have received. They had several friends who helped keep house, offered free babysitting, helped with fundraisers, sometimes made monetary or gift card donations, and prepared meals after surgeries. Jeannie’s friend, Julie, has also been there for her personally:

I think, when you are a caregiver, it’s easy to get lost in the person for whom you’re caring. But my friend saw that and frequently came to our house to check on me, not Sarah. She asked if I was getting enough rest, if I needed anything, how I was coping, etc. She brought over “mommy” care packages with dark chocolate, nice lotions and soaps and local honey.

In addition to this, a gentleman named Brian Sapp made cherished videos of the Ewings. He is a professional videographer/photographer and teaches media to middle school students. He spent hours interviewing the family and putting together a video for their website.

If you have been given a prenatal or post-natal diagnosis, reach out to life-affirming and supportive resources around you. Get educated, connected to support groups, and accept help from your inner circle. Embracing life knowing you are supported EMPOWERS!

A Teen Mom Speaks: Your Life Isn’t Over!

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

There you’re waking up in the morning just like any other morning, but this morning turns different quickly. This morning you are stuck with an overwhelming feeling that you are about to vomit and you don’t know why. The smell of the eggs you’re cooking for breakfast, that never bothered you before, is now seeming to hit you so strong, it’s like a skunk sprayed you directly in your face. The next thing you notice is your period is a week late and you don’t know why, so you opt to take a pregnancy test.

As you take that test there are so many things running through your mind. I can’t be pregnant. I’m only 16. I have no money to raise a baby, I have no one to support me, and I can’t handle giving up my youth. You wait the next two minutes and nervously pick up the test to see the result, and bam you see two lines—you’re pregnant! Now you’re thinking what can I do? I must have an abortion; I’m not ready to become a mom.

Like many young adults and teens I have found myself in the same situation or similar situation you’re in. I want you to know that you’re not alone and someone out there is going through the same thing.

The author, at 16, with her baby

My story started when I was in high school; I was in 11th grade and had so many dreams before me. When I took my pregnancy test, I had many of the same thoughts in my head, but for me my biggest one was: how was I going to tell my parents? I found myself going to school sick as a dog, worrying about what all the other students said about me. Furthermore, I was worried about what my grandmother was going to say about me. My story was slightly unique in that my grandmother had mainly raised me from when I was a year old. My grandmother had her first child when she was just 15, and had dropped out of school in the 8th grade, so as you can imagine she had high hopes for me to do better in life.

I will never forget the day when she asked me if I was pregnant, while I was sitting on her living room couch; I bet if you were there you could probably hear my heart beating from across the room. I was honest with her and told her I was indeed pregnant, but as I told her she began to fall on her knees and cry. It took my grandmother 9 months to speak to me again, because after that day she disowned me.

I also was told numerous times: Well, you ruined your life, basically no hope for you now. It was hard not to sketch that in my brain, because I too was down about my future. I had plans to go to college for a least 4 years to be a nurse, then eventually become a doctor. I also realized I’m pregnant and may never finish high school, so now what do I do? Although this story seams glum now, it does have a happy ending.

Erica’s daughter now

I was told by counselors at school about a program to help me graduate faster. I went to a program that allowed you to get your credits you needed to graduate online. I could work at my own pace, have a small classroom setting with people just like me, and still have help from instructors. I ended up graduating early; in fact, I finished up before my baby was even born. At the time, I also received help from a local organization called the Pregnancy Resource Center. The program allowed pregnant families to watch parenting videos in exchange for mommy dollars. Mommy dollars was a blessing because you could use the mommy dollars to purchase diapers, clothes, strollers and bottles for your baby. The program even did free medical visits, so you could have ultrasounds even if you didn’t have insurance. In addition, I had help from WIC which is a program that pays for free healthy food for you and your baby.

I’m now 23 with three children, I’m married and have a rewarding job. No matter what the obstacle is you’re going through, you can get through it without abortion!

According to the CDC, 22 out of a 1000 births are born by girls ages 15-18, and the total births in 2015 where around four million. As the statistics show, there’s an abundance of young people having babies, so please don’t feel alone. Along with births, there also comes assistance. I personally want to introduce you to some helpful links and programs:

In closing, there are so many resources for pregnancies: you can talk to guidance counselors at school, go to your local social services, or even just join a mom support group like Baby Center online. I know you feel like your life is over or you’ve been told your life is over but it’s not, your life is just beginning. You have a choice to have a beautiful bundle of joy, but also still thrive in your life. Take it from experience nothing compares to hearing that babies heart beat inside you, feeling those little feet kick you, and kissing the head of the one you made!

A Teen Mom Speaks: Your Life Isn’t Over!

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

There you’re waking up in the morning just like any other morning, but this morning turns different quickly. This morning you are stuck with an overwhelming feeling that you are about to vomit and you don’t know why. The smell of the eggs you’re cooking for breakfast, that never bothered you before, is now seeming to hit you so strong, it’s like a skunk sprayed you directly in your face. The next thing you notice is your period is a week late and you don’t know why, so you opt to take a pregnancy test.

As you take that test there are so many things running through your mind. I can’t be pregnant. I’m only 16. I have no money to raise a baby, I have no one to support me, and I can’t handle giving up my youth. You wait the next two minutes and nervously pick up the test to see the result, and bam you see two lines—you’re pregnant! Now you’re thinking what can I do? I must have an abortion; I’m not ready to become a mom.

Like many young adults and teens I have found myself in the same situation or similar situation you’re in. I want you to know that you’re not alone and someone out there is going through the same thing.

The author, at 16, with her baby

My story started when I was in high school; I was in 11th grade and had so many dreams before me. When I took my pregnancy test, I had many of the same thoughts in my head, but for me my biggest one was: how was I going to tell my parents? I found myself going to school sick as a dog, worrying about what all the other students said about me. Furthermore, I was worried about what my grandmother was going to say about me. My story was slightly unique in that my grandmother had mainly raised me from when I was a year old. My grandmother had her first child when she was just 15, and had dropped out of school in the 8th grade, so as you can imagine she had high hopes for me to do better in life.

I will never forget the day when she asked me if I was pregnant, while I was sitting on her living room couch; I bet if you were there you could probably hear my heart beating from across the room. I was honest with her and told her I was indeed pregnant, but as I told her she began to fall on her knees and cry. It took my grandmother 9 months to speak to me again, because after that day she disowned me.

I also was told numerous times: Well, you ruined your life, basically no hope for you now. It was hard not to sketch that in my brain, because I too was down about my future. I had plans to go to college for a least 4 years to be a nurse, then eventually become a doctor. I also realized I’m pregnant and may never finish high school, so now what do I do? Although this story seams glum now, it does have a happy ending.

Erica’s daughter now

I was told by counselors at school about a program to help me graduate faster. I went to a program that allowed you to get your credits you needed to graduate online. I could work at my own pace, have a small classroom setting with people just like me, and still have help from instructors. I ended up graduating early; in fact, I finished up before my baby was even born. At the time, I also received help from a local organization called the Pregnancy Resource Center. The program allowed pregnant families to watch parenting videos in exchange for mommy dollars. Mommy dollars was a blessing because you could use the mommy dollars to purchase diapers, clothes, strollers and bottles for your baby. The program even did free medical visits, so you could have ultrasounds even if you didn’t have insurance. In addition, I had help from WIC which is a program that pays for free healthy food for you and your baby.

I’m now 23 with three children, I’m married and have a rewarding job. No matter what the obstacle is you’re going through, you can get through it without abortion!

According to the CDC, 22 out of a 1000 births are born by girls ages 15-18, and the total births in 2015 where around four million. As the statistics show, there’s an abundance of young people having babies, so please don’t feel alone. Along with births, there also comes assistance. I personally want to introduce you to some helpful links and programs:

In closing, there are so many resources for pregnancies: you can talk to guidance counselors at school, go to your local social services, or even just join a mom support group like Baby Center online. I know you feel like your life is over or you’ve been told your life is over but it’s not, your life is just beginning. You have a choice to have a beautiful bundle of joy, but also still thrive in your life. Take it from experience nothing compares to hearing that babies heart beat inside you, feeling those little feet kick you, and kissing the head of the one you made!