How I left the pro-choice movement and found true liberation

Above: pro-choice counter-protesters hold altered signs denying post-abortive parents’ pain



[Today’s guest author writes anonymously.]

I was atheist, feminist, left, libertarian and pro-choice since conception. My mother was an English woman who had a weekend affair with my African American father, and then raised me on her own. She was independent, liberal and proud. She had abortions before conceiving me, and several abortions after conceiving me. So I was her choice. I was the child she chose to keep.

I had my own abortions, for varying reasons. If I said I didn’t regret them, I would be lying, but liberated women aren’t allowed to feel regret over a clump of cells that would ruin their lifestyle. We couldn’t show other women our tears, because then they might not be able to kill their clump of cells, and then their lifestyle would be ruined.

My friends had abortions too. Some of their reasons were very similar to my own. I had a friend who was raped; she had an abortion, and went on to live a loveless life because the rape had scared her away from men indefinitely. I had a friend who lived in poverty; she had an abortion and went on to live a life of poverty. I had a friend who lived with domestic violence; she had an abortion and went on to be beaten by her partner for the next five years, until she met another partner who also beats her. I don’t know what would have happened if they kept the children. I guess we never know what happens with a life unless we let it live.

I also had friends who had abortions for reasons very different from mine. I had friends who didn’t like using condoms because it didn’t feel as good, and didn’t like the side effects of the other contraceptive methods, so they used abortion as their contraception. Although I didn’t really agree with their choices, who was I to judge? Just because it’s not something that I would do, why should I have an opinion? It was their body, they could do what they wanted with it; why should they give up their lifestyle for a clump of cells?

I had friends who didn’t have abortions too. I had one friend who was very young, living in poverty, had an abusive partner and was a drug user. When she told me she was pregnant, I immediately suggested abortion to her. I was such a supportive friend that I even offered to pay for the abortion and drive her there. I was even willing to help her hide the after abortion grief that she was not supposed to have.

She disappeared for a few months, returning with a pregnancy that was far too far along to terminate. She gave birth and kept her child. She loved that child so much that she got rid of the abusive boyfriend, stopped taking drugs, and is now an amazing mother with a reason not only to live, but to live a productive life. I don’t know what would have happened if she had an abortion. I guess we never know what happens with a life unless we let it live.

So as you can see I was very pro-choice; freedom, social justice, logic, women’s rights, it was all there in one neat little package.

Until it wasn’t…

The first little cracks started showing with my second pregnancy, but only the first pregnancy I considered keeping. My first scan was at 12 weeks. I thought I knew what I was going to see, because I had been 12 weeks pregnant before. And my doctors, teachers and mother had all told me the same thing; it was just a clump of cells. That’s why it had seemed perfectly logical to terminate it, because liberated women don’t let clumps of cells ruin their lifestyle.

I went in there expecting to see no more than a blob on the screen, but what I saw chilled me to the core. It wasn’t a clump of cells, it was a little human with a functioning heart and a functioning brain, arms and legs, and a little body, which was flipping around doing somersaults over and over again, just like a child playing in the park.

That should’ve been enough to make me change my pro-choice views, but it wasn’t. I thought maybe a fetus wasn’t a clump of cells, but an embryo pretty much was, and pro-choice rhetoric told me that abortions rarely happened after the embryonic stage anyway.
Pro-choice rhetoric also told me it’s still okay if you do have an abortion after that time, because women who have abortions after that time only do it because it’s the best choice; because they don’t want to live in poverty, or with domestic violence, or have a reminder of rape, or to bring an unwanted child into the world. Even if it did kill little humans, it was for logical, leftist, libertarian, feminist reasons.

I was still pro-choice enough to go on and have a second abortion, suffering far less regret this time. It was an easy choice now. It was easy to hide your pain away. And I was doing it for all the right reasons; all those reasons the pro-choice movement had given me.

I got a double major in education and psychology, and pro-choice rhetoric told me this was because I chose when to have children. If I had have kept my children then there is no chance I could have gotten my double major. None at all.

I taught young people, I counselled young people. I did both paid and volunteer work at education centres, victims of crime centres, and also in child protection. I was a true humanitarian, and I thought all life deserved a chance to be great… at least, all born life. My pro-choice beliefs remained strong.

The second lot of much deeper cracks began to show some years later when my ability to hide the pain of my abortion wavered after a miscarriage, and I made an attempt on my life.

Once I had made a recovery, and managed to hide my pain once more, the humanitarian in me said I had to help other women hide their abortion pain too, because if they couldn’t hide it well enough, they might attempt suicide too, and life was precious to me. All born life, anyway.

I had two options: a pro-life Christian support group that I assumed would shame women and condemn them for their choice, or a pro-choice family planning group that would help women accept abortion as the right choice. Despite the pain abortion had caused me, I was still pro-choice, so of course, I chose the latter.

I participated in online support, talking to women I would never meet, and knew nothing about. Coaching them on how to hide their feelings like I did. Telling them to look to the future instead of the past—that’s what we were trained to say. We were trained to put all the focus on the woman, because she was important. We were trained to focus on all the positive things that come out of abortion, a child saved from poverty, a child saved from abuse, women given their liberty. We were trained to lie—no, avoid the truth. We had to avoid the truth, because if women knew the truth, they might not have abortions, and if women didn’t have abortions, they would be slaves to their clumps of cells. And hiding the truth would help them with their own pain, because it had helped me with my pain…

That was when the cracks grew so deep, I knew there would be no repair. Hiding the truth had not helped me with my pain. It had just made me bury it deep down inside, and take the risk that it might explode to the surface every now and then, and maybe one day be fatal. Obviously it wasn’t working at all. Yet the pro-choice movement had been hiding the truth for years now, for at least as long as I had been involved.

Why were we hiding the truth from women, if they were still being hurt anyway? Women should be able to make choices based on all the facts. We are not delicate little flowers that need to have the truth hidden from us. Even if the truth is hidden from us, we are smart enough to figure it out eventually.

This made me take pause and think; what other truths were the pro-choice movement hiding? It already seemed they thought women delicate and stupid, so was it a possibility they lied about being feminist?
They did tell women that their own natural bodily functions would deprive them of liberty. This seemed to suggest that a woman’s body was abnormal and needed to be corrected. Women accepting that they were wrong, and society was right—that their bodies needed changing, not society—that didn’t seem very feminist. To add to this they were fighting against legislation that protected women, and supporting legislation that put women’s health at risk. It didn’t matter if the abortionists weren’t properly trained, or if the clinics didn’t meet safety and hygiene standards. They wanted abortion clinics to be open so women could fix their “abnormalities” at any cost. 

The pro-choice movement was beginning to sound more and more misogynistic, and if they were misogynistic, how could they be feminist?

I thought maybe they weren’t feminist, but they were still leftists, right? They still cared about social justice. They still wanted every child to be wanted and loved, fed and homed. They still cared about the weak and needy… except the weakest and neediest among us. They were okay with them not being loved or wanted. They were okay with them not being fed or homed. They were okay with them losing their lives, so that the strong and powerful could live their lifestyle.

So if the pro-choice movement was supporting the powerful, by denying services to the weak, how could they be Leftist?

Maybe they weren’t feminists, and they weren’t leftists, but they must be libertarians, right? That was what we were always told, a woman’s liberty to do as she chooses is more important than a clump of cells… except a woman is only more important than the clump of cells, because the clump of cells is undeveloped and non-sentient, and hasn’t given anything to society. But a newborn baby is also undeveloped, non-sentient, and hasn’t given anything to society, and we still value its life. We value it because it has potential. And if we value a baby because it has potential, then we must value a clump of cells because it has potential too. So if a clump of cells has the same value as a baby, shouldn’t it have the same rights? And if it should have the same rights, shouldn’t it have the right to life? And does its right to life trump the mother’s right to bodily autonomy? Did it even violate the mother’s bodily autonomy in the first place? It was forced inside her body by the actions of others, who did have freedom of choice. So that means killing it would be condemning it for the actions of others, and violating its personal liberty.

So if pro-choice said that the freedom of one group of people meant taking away the freedom of another group of people, how could they be libertarian?

It seemed obvious the pro-choice movement were not feminist, they were not leftists and they were not libertarians. But they were definitely logical and scientific, like atheists, and they did not rely on a fallible belief system to support their claims.. except they do hold the belief that personhood is judged by the law, even though history has shown us over and over again that the law can get personhood wrong. And they do hold the belief that a life in the womb isn’t valuable unless its mother says it is, and she can change her mind about its value at any time prior to 24 weeks gestation. And they do hold the belief that birth turns a clump of cells into a human, even if it has only gestated for 22 weeks, and can’t breathe on its own, but only if they want it, and it is born alive. If they don’t want it and its born dead, then it is still just a clump of cells. So if they hold beliefs that have no physical evidence and no scientific basis, and have been disproven before, then how can they be logical and scientific like atheists?

If the pro-choice movement uses fallible belief systems to justify the strong taking life from the weak, tell women their bodies need to be fixed, and do this all in the name of freedom, then it goes against everything I believe in. If it goes against everything I believe in, how could I possibly support them?

I am still an atheist, feminist, left, libertarian, but I am no longer pro-choice.

How I left the pro-choice movement and found true liberation

Above: pro-choice counter-protesters hold altered signs denying post-abortive parents’ pain



[Today’s guest author writes anonymously.]

I was atheist, feminist, left, libertarian and pro-choice since conception. My mother was an English woman who had a weekend affair with my African American father, and then raised me on her own. She was independent, liberal and proud. She had abortions before conceiving me, and several abortions after conceiving me. So I was her choice. I was the child she chose to keep.

I had my own abortions, for varying reasons. If I said I didn’t regret them, I would be lying, but liberated women aren’t allowed to feel regret over a clump of cells that would ruin their lifestyle. We couldn’t show other women our tears, because then they might not be able to kill their clump of cells, and then their lifestyle would be ruined.

My friends had abortions too. Some of their reasons were very similar to my own. I had a friend who was raped; she had an abortion, and went on to live a loveless life because the rape had scared her away from men indefinitely. I had a friend who lived in poverty; she had an abortion and went on to live a life of poverty. I had a friend who lived with domestic violence; she had an abortion and went on to be beaten by her partner for the next five years, until she met another partner who also beats her. I don’t know what would have happened if they kept the children. I guess we never know what happens with a life unless we let it live.

I also had friends who had abortions for reasons very different from mine. I had friends who didn’t like using condoms because it didn’t feel as good, and didn’t like the side effects of the other contraceptive methods, so they used abortion as their contraception. Although I didn’t really agree with their choices, who was I to judge? Just because it’s not something that I would do, why should I have an opinion? It was their body, they could do what they wanted with it; why should they give up their lifestyle for a clump of cells?

I had friends who didn’t have abortions too. I had one friend who was very young, living in poverty, had an abusive partner and was a drug user. When she told me she was pregnant, I immediately suggested abortion to her. I was such a supportive friend that I even offered to pay for the abortion and drive her there. I was even willing to help her hide the after abortion grief that she was not supposed to have.

She disappeared for a few months, returning with a pregnancy that was far too far along to terminate. She gave birth and kept her child. She loved that child so much that she got rid of the abusive boyfriend, stopped taking drugs, and is now an amazing mother with a reason not only to live, but to live a productive life. I don’t know what would have happened if she had an abortion. I guess we never know what happens with a life unless we let it live.

So as you can see I was very pro-choice; freedom, social justice, logic, women’s rights, it was all there in one neat little package.

Until it wasn’t…

The first little cracks started showing with my second pregnancy, but only the first pregnancy I considered keeping. My first scan was at 12 weeks. I thought I knew what I was going to see, because I had been 12 weeks pregnant before. And my doctors, teachers and mother had all told me the same thing; it was just a clump of cells. That’s why it had seemed perfectly logical to terminate it, because liberated women don’t let clumps of cells ruin their lifestyle.

I went in there expecting to see no more than a blob on the screen, but what I saw chilled me to the core. It wasn’t a clump of cells, it was a little human with a functioning heart and a functioning brain, arms and legs, and a little body, which was flipping around doing somersaults over and over again, just like a child playing in the park.

That should’ve been enough to make me change my pro-choice views, but it wasn’t. I thought maybe a fetus wasn’t a clump of cells, but an embryo pretty much was, and pro-choice rhetoric told me that abortions rarely happened after the embryonic stage anyway.
Pro-choice rhetoric also told me it’s still okay if you do have an abortion after that time, because women who have abortions after that time only do it because it’s the best choice; because they don’t want to live in poverty, or with domestic violence, or have a reminder of rape, or to bring an unwanted child into the world. Even if it did kill little humans, it was for logical, leftist, libertarian, feminist reasons.

I was still pro-choice enough to go on and have a second abortion, suffering far less regret this time. It was an easy choice now. It was easy to hide your pain away. And I was doing it for all the right reasons; all those reasons the pro-choice movement had given me.

I got a double major in education and psychology, and pro-choice rhetoric told me this was because I chose when to have children. If I had have kept my children then there is no chance I could have gotten my double major. None at all.

I taught young people, I counselled young people. I did both paid and volunteer work at education centres, victims of crime centres, and also in child protection. I was a true humanitarian, and I thought all life deserved a chance to be great… at least, all born life. My pro-choice beliefs remained strong.

The second lot of much deeper cracks began to show some years later when my ability to hide the pain of my abortion wavered after a miscarriage, and I made an attempt on my life.

Once I had made a recovery, and managed to hide my pain once more, the humanitarian in me said I had to help other women hide their abortion pain too, because if they couldn’t hide it well enough, they might attempt suicide too, and life was precious to me. All born life, anyway.

I had two options: a pro-life Christian support group that I assumed would shame women and condemn them for their choice, or a pro-choice family planning group that would help women accept abortion as the right choice. Despite the pain abortion had caused me, I was still pro-choice, so of course, I chose the latter.

I participated in online support, talking to women I would never meet, and knew nothing about. Coaching them on how to hide their feelings like I did. Telling them to look to the future instead of the past—that’s what we were trained to say. We were trained to put all the focus on the woman, because she was important. We were trained to focus on all the positive things that come out of abortion, a child saved from poverty, a child saved from abuse, women given their liberty. We were trained to lie—no, avoid the truth. We had to avoid the truth, because if women knew the truth, they might not have abortions, and if women didn’t have abortions, they would be slaves to their clumps of cells. And hiding the truth would help them with their own pain, because it had helped me with my pain…

That was when the cracks grew so deep, I knew there would be no repair. Hiding the truth had not helped me with my pain. It had just made me bury it deep down inside, and take the risk that it might explode to the surface every now and then, and maybe one day be fatal. Obviously it wasn’t working at all. Yet the pro-choice movement had been hiding the truth for years now, for at least as long as I had been involved.

Why were we hiding the truth from women, if they were still being hurt anyway? Women should be able to make choices based on all the facts. We are not delicate little flowers that need to have the truth hidden from us. Even if the truth is hidden from us, we are smart enough to figure it out eventually.

This made me take pause and think; what other truths were the pro-choice movement hiding? It already seemed they thought women delicate and stupid, so was it a possibility they lied about being feminist?
They did tell women that their own natural bodily functions would deprive them of liberty. This seemed to suggest that a woman’s body was abnormal and needed to be corrected. Women accepting that they were wrong, and society was right—that their bodies needed changing, not society—that didn’t seem very feminist. To add to this they were fighting against legislation that protected women, and supporting legislation that put women’s health at risk. It didn’t matter if the abortionists weren’t properly trained, or if the clinics didn’t meet safety and hygiene standards. They wanted abortion clinics to be open so women could fix their “abnormalities” at any cost. 

The pro-choice movement was beginning to sound more and more misogynistic, and if they were misogynistic, how could they be feminist?

I thought maybe they weren’t feminist, but they were still leftists, right? They still cared about social justice. They still wanted every child to be wanted and loved, fed and homed. They still cared about the weak and needy… except the weakest and neediest among us. They were okay with them not being loved or wanted. They were okay with them not being fed or homed. They were okay with them losing their lives, so that the strong and powerful could live their lifestyle.

So if the pro-choice movement was supporting the powerful, by denying services to the weak, how could they be Leftist?

Maybe they weren’t feminists, and they weren’t leftists, but they must be libertarians, right? That was what we were always told, a woman’s liberty to do as she chooses is more important than a clump of cells… except a woman is only more important than the clump of cells, because the clump of cells is undeveloped and non-sentient, and hasn’t given anything to society. But a newborn baby is also undeveloped, non-sentient, and hasn’t given anything to society, and we still value its life. We value it because it has potential. And if we value a baby because it has potential, then we must value a clump of cells because it has potential too. So if a clump of cells has the same value as a baby, shouldn’t it have the same rights? And if it should have the same rights, shouldn’t it have the right to life? And does its right to life trump the mother’s right to bodily autonomy? Did it even violate the mother’s bodily autonomy in the first place? It was forced inside her body by the actions of others, who did have freedom of choice. So that means killing it would be condemning it for the actions of others, and violating its personal liberty.

So if pro-choice said that the freedom of one group of people meant taking away the freedom of another group of people, how could they be libertarian?

It seemed obvious the pro-choice movement were not feminist, they were not leftists and they were not libertarians. But they were definitely logical and scientific, like atheists, and they did not rely on a fallible belief system to support their claims.. except they do hold the belief that personhood is judged by the law, even though history has shown us over and over again that the law can get personhood wrong. And they do hold the belief that a life in the womb isn’t valuable unless its mother says it is, and she can change her mind about its value at any time prior to 24 weeks gestation. And they do hold the belief that birth turns a clump of cells into a human, even if it has only gestated for 22 weeks, and can’t breathe on its own, but only if they want it, and it is born alive. If they don’t want it and its born dead, then it is still just a clump of cells. So if they hold beliefs that have no physical evidence and no scientific basis, and have been disproven before, then how can they be logical and scientific like atheists?

If the pro-choice movement uses fallible belief systems to justify the strong taking life from the weak, tell women their bodies need to be fixed, and do this all in the name of freedom, then it goes against everything I believe in. If it goes against everything I believe in, how could I possibly support them?

I am still an atheist, feminist, left, libertarian, but I am no longer pro-choice.

Gosnell and Abortion, Part 2 of 3

[Today’s post by guest blogger Nathaniel is reprinted with permission from his blog, Difficult Run.]

Yesterday I wrote the first
in a series of 3 posts discussing why the mainstream media has been
reluctant to cover the Kermit Gosnell case. Rather than suggest that
there’s some kind of conspiracy or willful deception, my belief is that
journalists (who are overwhelmingly pro-choice) are simply unable to
confront a case that threatens to upend the misconceptions and
doublethink required to support the status quo of abortion in America.
For example, most people do not realize how radical the current laws
are. The vast majority of abortions are for birth control. They are
elective. And, while late term abortions are rare, they are effectively
unregulated. Only in the most extreme circumstances–where a doctor
injures or kills a pregnant woman–is there any really legal danger to
the abortionist.

But there’s a simpler and much more dangerous truth that the Gosnell
case would threaten to drag into the limelight. Before I introduce it,
however, I ought to include a warning that I will be quoting from some
very graphic accounts of abortion. There are no photos or videos or
audio, and my source is an abortion doctor who remains adamantly
pro-choice to this day and was writing in defense of her career, but
that doesn’t make it any easier to read. Having thus warned you, let’s
get right to the simple reality:

2. Abortion is a violent way of killing human beings

The success of abortion rhetoric depends on focusing exclusively on
the plight of pregnant women. Although committed pro-choicers will
debate about why the rights of the women outweigh the rights of the
fetus, rhetorically that’s not how the movement operates. Instead, the
movement just pretends the unborn human being does not exist at all.
Abortion terminates pregancies, not human beings. The “contents of the uterus” are evacuated, not the tiny broken arms and legs of a fetus, and so forth.

This was all fine and good in the 1970s, but the advent of ultrasound
and in utero videography have put serious strain on the position and
created a precarious doublethink in American society. If your child
is wanted, then you go and pin the ultrasound on the fridge and use the
term “baby”. But if abortion is the topic, then you absolutely,
unequivoally oppose ultrasounds, or at least anyone seeing them. And you
never use the term “baby”.

This strain is most acute on abortionists, as evidenced by the
declining numbers of new doctors who are willing to take up the calling
and also by this incredible article: Second Trimester Abortion Provision: Breaking the Silence and Changing the Discourse.
In it, an abortionist describes in absolutely horrific detail
performing a second-trimester abortion while she herself was pregnant.
She writes, in part:

I went about doing the procedure as usual. I used
electrical suction to remove the amniotic fluid, picked up my forceps
and began to remove the fetus in parts, as I always did. I felt lucky
that this one was already in the breech position – it would make
grasping small parts (legs and arms) a little easier.

With my first pass of the forceps, I grasped an extremity
and began to pull it down. I could see a small foot hanging from the
teeth of my forceps. With a quick tug, I separated the leg. Precisely at
that moment, I felt a kick – a fluttery “thump, thump” in my own
uterus. It was one of the first times I felt fetal movement. There was a
leg and foot in my forceps, and a “thump, thump” in my abdomen.
Instantly, tears were streaming from my eyes – without me – meaning my
conscious brain – even being aware of what was going on. I felt as if my
response had come entirely from my body, bypassing my usual cognitive
processing completely. A message seemed to travel from my hand and my
uterus to my tear ducts. It was an overwhelming feeling – a brutally
visceral response – heartfelt and unmediated by my training or my
feminist pro-choice politics. It was one of the more raw moments in my
life.

 At this point you might think that this is a conversion story. It’s not. She continues:

Doing second trimester abortions did not get easier after my pregnancy;
in fact, dealing with little infant parts of my born baby only made
dealing with dismembered fetal parts sadder.

So the author remains a committed and practicing abortionist. In
fact, her purpose in writing this piece was (as the title indicates) to
change the discourse for the purpose of generating comfort for the awful
emotional toll she suffers in carrying out routine, legal homicide. The
brutal violence of her work is so emotionally traumatic, that she feels
the need to reach out to pro-choicers for support to help her carry on
in her grisly task.

She must have been sorely disappointed by the reception. I discovered this piece from a pro-life blog called Real Choice which had in turn discovered the paper at a pro-choice blog for supporting abortionists called The Abortioneers.
The interesting thing, however, is that by the time I found the
pro-life blog, the link to the pro-choice blog was already dead. The
Abortioneers had taken their fellow abortionist’s plea for support and
scrubbed it completely from their website. At first I suspected a hoax,
but after investigation I found enough evidence from the archives of The
Abortioneers to conclude that the story was genuine. In case you have
remaining doubts, you can still find the paper listed on SSRN. It’s for real.

It’s real, but pro-choicers want it buried. They don’t want to change
the discourse by admitting the humanity of the unborn and the violence
of abortion. Talking about dismembered arms and legs is the last thing that they want to do, but it’s exactly what the Gosnell story would bring into focus.

The reality is that as much as pro-choicers protest that Gosnell crossed
some kind of bright, clear line: he didn’t. There’s no bright, clear
line between killing a 24-week fetus in her mother’s womb and killing a
24-week fetus outside her mother’s womb. It’s the same damn thing, which
is precisely why the abortionist author of that article was crying out
for some kind of help. Taking human life is never easy, but doing so
again and again and again, when that life is tiny and vulnerable? I
can’t imagine how terrible that must be to live with, which explains why
the only people left who do this kind of word are ultra-committed
ideologues and sociopaths. And the line between the two can be quite
blurry. As Melinda Henneberger writes:

Gosnell himself seemed confused, when he was charged with so many counts
of murder, as to how that could be. Because even at that point, he
didn’t appear to see the children he’s accused of beheading as people.

Buried deep beneath layers and layers of horror and repulsion, I have a
kernel of sympathy for Gosnell. He is a monster, but he’s a monster
created by the abortion movement, and he clearly doesn’t understand why
he has suddenly been betrayed. After all, the National Abortion
Federation refused him admittance, but they also let him work in their
facility and use that work as a source for his own patients. The
RealChoice blog notes that:

The Grand Jury in the Kermit Gosnell case found that at least six young
women and girls, including the mother of Baby Boy A, had never intended
to end up in the hands of Dr. Gosnell. They had sought out a member of
the most reputable organization of abortion practitioners in the world:
the National Abortion Federation (NAF).

What’s more, the basic moral blindness that led Gosnell to kill born
babies is prevalent within the pro-choice movement. Quoting Henneberger
again:

Planned Parenthood’s Snow was similarly obtuse, either
willfully or out of habit, in testifying against a Florida bill that
would have required medical care for babies who survive abortions. “If a
baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion,” she was
asked, “what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child
that is struggling for life?”

Her answer was a familiar one: “We believe that any
decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family and the
physician.”

Though it pains me to say so, that’s the same stand Barack
Obama effectively took when he voted against a similar Illinois bill —
even after the addition of a “neutrality clause” spelling out that the
bill would have no bearing on the legal status of the (you say fetus, I
say unborn child) at any point prior to delivery, and thus could not be
used to outlaw abortion.

 Whether it’s Planned Parenthood, the President of the United States, or
pro-choice ethical philosopher Peter Singer, all of them admit publicly
that infanticide is logically equivalent to and implied by their legal
arguments for sweeping abortion freedoms. Let me reiterate: not all
pro-choice positions lead down a slippery slope to this conclusion. But
the actual laws and practices of the actual abortion industry and the
lobby that supports it in this country right now? They don’t need to
travel down a slippery slope because they are already at the bottom. There’s
really no way to cover this case without risking the revelation that
Gosnell practiced what the pro-choice (due to the precarious and extreme
nature of the Roe and Doe rulings) lobby has been maneuvered into
preaching.

Three SPL members featured in MORE magazine

In “Roe v. Wade: Still Controversial After All These Years,” the women’s magazine MORE features women who changed their positions on abortion. Reporter Melinda Dodd came to us looking for some diverse voices, and we delivered! Three of the ten stories come from Secular Pro-Life members. They’re reprinted below, with emphasis added.

On page three, Angel Armstead, 32 (Muslim):

I’m from a predominantly liberal, Democratic area. Being pro-choice
was the accepted belief in my household. I figured that since women are
the ones who are stuck with the baby, we should be the ones to choose. I
probably would have considered abortion if I had gotten pregnant as a
teenager. I had my own dreams and goals that I didn’t want thwarted.

In college, people challenged my beliefs, especially during my second year—2008—when there was a presidential election. A lot of my friends
were Catholic. Most were pro-life. I thought, I should be more
open-minded and at least read up on the issue. In my
biological-anthropology class, I held the skull of a fetus I’m guessing
was three to five months old. I was shocked by how developed it was. It
made me wonder what a fetus goes through when aborted. It made me sick
to think of inflicting that on anyone.

I went through a hard, slow transition. I don’t like the idea of
telling other people what to do. I’m black and Muslim. As a child, I
thought the pro-life movement was mostly white and Christian. But on the
Internet, I saw that all kinds of people were pro-life.
If being
pro-life were only about religion, I wouldn’t be so outspoken about it.

In some ways, my decision has made things harder. I know that some
pro-life people are judgmental, but I’m annoyed if others see me that
way. To me, a true pro-lifer is someone who cares not only about unborn
babies but also about pregnant women who need better resources to choose life.

On pages four and five, Albany Rose, 21 (spiritual but not religious):

Abortion was never brought up in my family until I got pregnant at
15.My dad told me that if I did not get an abortion, I would be kicked
out of the house. So I went into the clinic and had it done. For 15 days
after that, I didn’t get out of bed. I felt numb and angry, and I
didn’t know why, as abortion had seemed to be the best option. Rather
than facing what happened, I decided to be pro-choice. I felt that being
pro-life, after what I’d done, would have made me a hypocrite.

I became pregnant again at 19. And it was different from the very
beginning. My boyfriend was ecstatic, thrilled. He said, “We’re going to
make this work.” Then came the eight-week ultrasound. My expectation
was that I was going to see a little fuzzy thing, but this was one of
the clearest pictures I’ve ever seen. I could see the baby’s head, the
stubs of its arms and feet, and the heart beating away, clear as day.

Seeing that not only made the pregnancy more real but also made
everything else more terrifying. Because when you see a sonogram, you
can’t deny there’s a life.
Whether you think it’s human or not is a
different story, but it’s obviously alive. Now all I could think was,
What happened before? Did I kill something?

The next few months were the hardest of my life. At 16 weeks I felt
my baby move for the first time, and at 20 I found out I was having a
girl. I’m thinking, I’m going to meet my daughter, and then I’ll know
what could have been. I lost a child that I chose to lose. Ultimately I
became pro-life with no exceptions for rape or incest.

On pages five and six, Diane Geiger, 43 (atheist):

If you had told my 25-year-old self that I would end
up identifying as pro-life, I would have said, “No way.” I’m an urban
gal, well traveled, adventurous, secular  . . . People tend to assume
I’m liberal when they meet me and are surprised by my views.
But by way
of two experiences, I stumbled upon what was inside my heart.

In 2008, I began taking care of my dad. He was diagnosed with lung
cancer at 82 and beat it, but the stress on his body from the
chemotherapy really wore him down. My maternal grandmother, who was 92
and frail, developed ovarian cancer two years later and also needed
care. It brought out a lot of love in me, as well as a strong protective
urge and a desire to ease their suffering. 

I was with them the moment each passed in February 2010. Except for
having been present when my cat died five years earlier, I’d never
experienced death so firsthand. I became conscious of the limited amount
of time people have and of the finality of death. My father and
grandmother had both been remarkable people with long lives full of love
and significant relationships. The more I thought about it, the more I
realized: A baby in utero has the same potential. Just because we have
the ability to cause conception doesn’t mean it’s OK to cause a death.
To end a life before it has an opportunity to draw a breath suddenly
seemed unjust, unfair and uncivilized.

Thanks for your contributions, ladies!

Response to article in “The Humanist”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No one wants to give that impression.

Interesting piece by pro-choice author Jeannie explaining why mandated transvaginal ultrasounds should not be likened to rape.  I don’t agree with her on every count–for example I don’t see how anti-abortion folks are to blame for imagery purported by abortion rights activists–but I still think her overall message is valid, particularly her 3rd point.

Arguments that metaphorize—that symbolically associate—the ultrasounds to rape are dangerous in three ways. First, they demonize healthcare providers. This, I am sure, is a planned effect of the anti-abortion politicians’ strategy. Just days after the Virginia governor refused to sign the transvaginal ultrasound law, a prominent anti-abortion website ran a story about the percentage of abortion clinics that use transvaginal ultrasounds, suggesting that these providers are, indeed, rapists. I believe we have played right into their hands.
Second, the association of transvaginal ultrasound to rape serves to demoralize women who have these ultrasounds. Imagine that you are a pregnant woman in Virginia, at your doctor’s office (for either an abortion or prenatal care). Your doctor says to you, “Your abdominal ultrasound is inconclusive. We’re going to try a transvaginal ultrasound to see if we can get a better picture, OK?” You’ve heard the words “invasive” and “shove” and “rape” used to describe this procedure by everyone from the left to the right. How are you going to react, at this already-emotional moment? Are you going to think, my doctor is doing the best she can for me right now? I don’t think so. I think you will be scared and angry and possibly too overwhelmed to know what to say. This, too, is part of the anti-abortion politicians’ strategy: all women should be ashamed and afraid, unable to make our own decisions.
Third, the metaphorization of transvaginal ultrasound to rape euphemizes, or makes less awful, rape in a way that I personally find offensive. Seriously, I don’t know anyone who describes her rape experience as clinical in any way—and that’s the inverted implication of the metaphor. We must be very careful, when we make our arguments, that we do not invoke a message that hurts other women, even inadvertently. Now, I know that no feminist who has made this argument has intended to promote a message that rape is not so traumatic, but isn’t that where the argument ultimately goes? This metaphor says to women who have experienced rape, “Your experience is really no worse than what happens to other women at the doctor’s office.” I know no one wants to give that impression to anyone.

(Emphasis added.)

Pressure To Abort After Diagnosis

Instead of writing this week there are two stories I would like to share with you surrounding misdiagnosis of the child’s health condition while in utero. These misdiagnosis that have lead to women being faced with a difficult choice.

What I would like to point out is that doctors are often wrong when diagnosing babies in the womb and many children are missing today because of this diagnosis followed by pressure to abort. Here are just two stories showing the struggle many parents face today:

A seven month pre-born baby in Vietnam was diagnosed by ultrasound as having a disability and was aborted. When family went to barry the aborted child she was still alive: story on Life News.

In 1994 a doctor told parents that their child was at high risk of having a blood disorder which both parents carried and advised them to abort. The little girl is now getting ready to graduate high school: Alyssa shares her story.

For the
Dignity of the Born and Unborn,
Timmerie

Quick Pro-Life News Bites

VirginiaLegislation requiring an ultrasound before an abortion passed in Virginia, but was amended to allow for an opt-out if an internal ultrasound is required. This was partially stemming from pushback from pro-choice legislators, national news media, and eventually Governor Bob McDonnell (R) who said he opposed the inclusion of internal (transvaginal) ultrasounds.
Florida – A House committee just passed an omnibus set of anti-abortion legislation. What does this include? A 24 hour wait period, restrictions on who can own / operate an abortion clinic, and the requirement that doctors tell patients that the unborn child can feel pain after 20 weeks were included. If it makes it through both houses, Governor Scott (R) is expected to sign it. He signed a number of pro-life measures in 2011.

Quick News Update 1/25/12

Illinois – Abortion rate reached a 37 year low in Illinois in 2010. 41,859 abortions were reported in 2010; 32,760 were performed in 1973. This is also 9% lower than 2009 numbers. The reason? Differing groups in Illinois are unsure, but the bottom line – fewer abortions is a step in the right direction.
Virginia – While the Virginian legislature discusses the issue, it appears that 54% of Virginians support requiring an ultrasound to be viewed before performing an abortion. Women are more supportive than men of the measure (57% to 50%). State Senator Jill Vogel (R) is leading the charge to get this legislation passed in Virginia.
Washington, DC – Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) has proposed legislation to prohibit abortions in DC after 20 weeks. Franks cites the study showing that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks into the pregnancy. National Right to Life Committee plans to make this a top legislative priority in the coming year.

A New Understanding of Bodily Integrity

This post was sent to me by guest blogger Julie W. – M
It could be said the core belief of pro-lifers is that every human life is significant.  From this belief, we deduce that the right to life supersedes any discomforts, inconveniences, and difficulties (save a threat to her own life) a woman experiences during pregnancy.  However, pro-lifers – particularly those that have never been pregnant – should be careful not to belittle what a woman experiences and endures while gestating a fetus.  This was my own mistake: I had held the view that pregnancy is only nine months long and is that so much of a sacrifice for a human life to be spared?
And then I myself became pregnant, unexpectedly.  I had always pictured having children after my husband and I had finished our academic careers, maybe done some world traveling, and had settled down with a stronger source of income.  At the very least, I had promised myself I would finish my bachelor’s degree before having children.  And here I was, two semesters away from graduating, with a positive pregnancy test in hand.  The very next day I met with my school counselor and absorbed the harsh reality that I couldn’t possibly have a baby and complete two 16 credit semesters while my husband worked 40+ hour weeks.  I left the counselor’s office, went home, and promptly burst into tears as I relayed this new information to my husband.  Why did this have to happen now, when I was so close to finishing?  How could I possibly complete my program while trying to care for an infant?  How would we afford the medical expenses?  What about everything else we had planned for our lives before having children?  My husband, ever-the-awesome, calmed me down from hysterics and reassured me that although this was drastically different from what we had planned, we would get through it and everything would be ok.
As the weeks went by, I was still trying to cope, but things just worsened as I began to experience the effects of pregnancy.  The baby inside me changed everything: smells and tastes, what I could and couldn’t eat, how often and what kind of exercise I could perform.  My energy level plummeted and in addition to sleeping 9-10 hours a night, I took 2 hour naps each day, making  my days seem an endless cycle of class, studying, sleep, repeat.  My emotions would also fluctuate arbitrarily and I would start crying for no particular reason at all (which, in case you have never experienced it, is immensely frustrating – can you imagine having just a regular day and all the sudden you start crying and can’t stop?)  I was often nauseated for long periods of time before I threw up, regardless of whether or not there was anything in my stomach. 
On top of all of this, there were a select few people who knew I was pregnant and seemed bent on always showing their jubilance – “That’s wonderful!  Aren’t you SO excited?!?”  I struggled not to feel angry and bitter.  I did not want to admit it, not even to myself, but at times I resented what was inside me, feeling more like it was a parasitic blob of cells rather than a beautiful baby.  There were a small handful of dark moments when I secretly hoped I would miscarry – my life would be easier if this all just went away.  I felt ashamed of these thoughts and horrified at myself for thinking them.  I had always been strongly pro-life, how could I be so selfish as to imagine these things?  Ironically, the people I felt safest talking to about all this were my two very pro-choice friends.  Knowing how I felt about abortion, they did not at any point even mention the prospect of having one, but they were sympathetic to the fact that I did not want this baby.  I was afraid of what anyone else would think, should I reveal my feelings toward them.
As time passed, my feelings changed with the small milestones of my pregnancy.  The first time I really felt unconflicted joy was at my 10 week obgyn appointment when we got to see our baby on the ultrasound – such a tiny little being, but with a heart beating away!  With every new week, I would read about how the baby was slowly developing.  The ill-effects of pregnancy lessened and my excitement slowly started to build.   Not long ago, we finally found out the gender – my baby is a girl and her name is Zoey.  Now I am counting down the days until we get to meet her and I could hardly care less about putting off my graduation.
In hindsight, I am not ashamed of the feelings I had early on in my pregnancy.  However, they serve as a staunch reminder to me that it may not be possible to help how you feel; what really matters is what you do with those feelings.  Even when I felt most angry, bitter, and frustrated, I knew that none of this was the baby’s fault and she should not have to suffer for it.  But I have also learned to treat the concept of bodily integrity with much greater respect.  What a woman goes through during pregnancy, physically and psychologically, should not be belittled.  Furthermore, pro-lifers should be cautious not to underestimate the life-changing effects pregnancy can have even after the baby is born.  The better we understand and care about the mother’s circumstances, the more effective we will be at saving lives.