We Asked, You Answered: Systemic Factors Driving Abortion

Woman holds a sign that reads "Abortion is a flesh tax on the poor"

We recently posted on the Secular Pro-Life facebook page: 

An author working on a book about political engagement asked: “Conservatives I speak with often blame the federal government for a lot of social problems, while liberals tend to blame capitalism. Viewing the issue of abortion from a systemic standpoint, what are the institutional sources of this problem?”

After telling him that volumes could be written on that question and giving him an academic lead, I answered: “Blaming the federal government or capitalism is too simplistic; we’ve long lived with both, and yet abortion rates have varied tremendously over the years. We know that the most common reasons women give for seeking abortions are financial—and pro-life organizations do a lot to try to ease those financial burdens, which often saves lives—but that can’t be the whole story either, beause children outside the womb are expensive too, and yet low-income mothers don’t kill their older children a million times a year. It’s complicated. Government refusal to recognize prenatal rights, corporate failure to provide adequate family leave, poverty, lack of health insurance, cultural acceptance of dehumanization (i.e. “clump of cells”), social shaming of pregnancy in teens and unmarried people, fear mongering about disabilities, foregoing or misusing contraception, predatory men abandoning their responsibilities… all these factors and many others play a role.”

What additional factors can you think of? And if you could change just ONE thing to prevent abortions, what would it be?

An excellent conversation ensued. In no particular order, here are a few comments that caught our eye.

Krystal W.: I think the culture around pregnancy needs the most change. Stop telling women and men that they can’t do things when they have children. Every time they say that, I think of someone I know who did those exact things. Can’t go to school and be pregnant, can’t get a good job, can’t have a social life, can’t be happy, can’t retire, can’t afford it (because yes kids can be pricey but guess what poor people have always had the most children and it works out), etc.

Leette E.: EDUCATION. Our continued failure to provide all children with comprehensive sex education which should include embryology and prenatal development is a huge part of the reason abortion is still an issue.

Victoria R.: More 👏🏻Paid👏🏻Parental leave👏🏻 At his first job my husband didn’t even really get any sort of family leave at all. Now he gets 16 weeks paid! Definitely looking forward to that aspect of baby #2 waaaayyyyy more

Crystal K.: I would change the way that society views women’s bodies. Pregnancy is not a disease that the woman needs rescued from, nor are babies tumors that need removal. Pregnancy, in fact, is an indicator that women’s bodies are doing exactly what they were designed to do. Men are NOT the ultimate standard to aspire to physically, and we shouldn’t have to change our physiology to match theirs to be accepted in society.

David J.: The one and only thing would be a Constitutional amendment protecting life in the womb. The only factor that ended slavery forever was the 13th amendment. The only thing which will end abortion forever is a Constitutional amendment.

Abigail H.: Stop viewing human beings as objects. Women aren’t objects for pleasure. Babies aren’t clumps of cells in the womb. We, as individuals, are not cogs in the machine. When we truly respect the dignity inherent in human life, we may be able to move past viewing human bodies as commodities.

Katie G.: The fact that government officials vote to give Planned Parenthood more money and that Planned Parenthood pays for their political campaigns is a huge, unaddressed conflict of interest.

Chrysten C.: Birthing a child in a hospital should cost less than an abortion. Unfortunately, when one is financially struggling, that comparison between a few hundred and thousands is a practical deterrent.

Elizabeth B.: White male business leaders say that women need legal abortion to achieve economic parity. This is only true because they disproportionately control the business world and they do not want their employees to have maternity leave, time off to care for sick children, flexible work schedules, etc. And to the extent they can minimize women taking maternity leave, they can also justify the lack of paternity leave policies. These a**hats see children only as impediments to profits.

Mark K.: I know it sounds old school, but teach young men how to be responsible!


Photo credit: Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

We Asked, You Answered: Systemic Factors Driving Abortion

Woman holds a sign that reads "Abortion is a flesh tax on the poor"

We recently posted on the Secular Pro-Life facebook page: 

An author working on a book about political engagement asked: “Conservatives I speak with often blame the federal government for a lot of social problems, while liberals tend to blame capitalism. Viewing the issue of abortion from a systemic standpoint, what are the institutional sources of this problem?”

After telling him that volumes could be written on that question and giving him an academic lead, I answered: “Blaming the federal government or capitalism is too simplistic; we’ve long lived with both, and yet abortion rates have varied tremendously over the years. We know that the most common reasons women give for seeking abortions are financial—and pro-life organizations do a lot to try to ease those financial burdens, which often saves lives—but that can’t be the whole story either, beause children outside the womb are expensive too, and yet low-income mothers don’t kill their older children a million times a year. It’s complicated. Government refusal to recognize prenatal rights, corporate failure to provide adequate family leave, poverty, lack of health insurance, cultural acceptance of dehumanization (i.e. “clump of cells”), social shaming of pregnancy in teens and unmarried people, fear mongering about disabilities, foregoing or misusing contraception, predatory men abandoning their responsibilities… all these factors and many others play a role.”

What additional factors can you think of? And if you could change just ONE thing to prevent abortions, what would it be?

An excellent conversation ensued. In no particular order, here are a few comments that caught our eye.

Krystal W.: I think the culture around pregnancy needs the most change. Stop telling women and men that they can’t do things when they have children. Every time they say that, I think of someone I know who did those exact things. Can’t go to school and be pregnant, can’t get a good job, can’t have a social life, can’t be happy, can’t retire, can’t afford it (because yes kids can be pricey but guess what poor people have always had the most children and it works out), etc.

Leette E.: EDUCATION. Our continued failure to provide all children with comprehensive sex education which should include embryology and prenatal development is a huge part of the reason abortion is still an issue.

Victoria R.: More 👏🏻Paid👏🏻Parental leave👏🏻 At his first job my husband didn’t even really get any sort of family leave at all. Now he gets 16 weeks paid! Definitely looking forward to that aspect of baby #2 waaaayyyyy more

Crystal K.: I would change the way that society views women’s bodies. Pregnancy is not a disease that the woman needs rescued from, nor are babies tumors that need removal. Pregnancy, in fact, is an indicator that women’s bodies are doing exactly what they were designed to do. Men are NOT the ultimate standard to aspire to physically, and we shouldn’t have to change our physiology to match theirs to be accepted in society.

David J.: The one and only thing would be a Constitutional amendment protecting life in the womb. The only factor that ended slavery forever was the 13th amendment. The only thing which will end abortion forever is a Constitutional amendment.

Abigail H.: Stop viewing human beings as objects. Women aren’t objects for pleasure. Babies aren’t clumps of cells in the womb. We, as individuals, are not cogs in the machine. When we truly respect the dignity inherent in human life, we may be able to move past viewing human bodies as commodities.

Katie G.: The fact that government officials vote to give Planned Parenthood more money and that Planned Parenthood pays for their political campaigns is a huge, unaddressed conflict of interest.

Chrysten C.: Birthing a child in a hospital should cost less than an abortion. Unfortunately, when one is financially struggling, that comparison between a few hundred and thousands is a practical deterrent.

Elizabeth B.: White male business leaders say that women need legal abortion to achieve economic parity. This is only true because they disproportionately control the business world and they do not want their employees to have maternity leave, time off to care for sick children, flexible work schedules, etc. And to the extent they can minimize women taking maternity leave, they can also justify the lack of paternity leave policies. These a**hats see children only as impediments to profits.

Mark K.: I know it sounds old school, but teach young men how to be responsible!


Photo credit: Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

On the Single-Issue Struggle

Secular Pro-Life is a single-issue organization, and that issue is opposition to abortion. However, we frequently partner with multi-issue organizations on pro-life projects.

CLE activist Aimee Murphy

Some of those multi-issue organizations, such as Rehumanize International and Consistent Life, embrace what’s known as the “consistent life ethic” (CLE) opposing all acts of violence against human beings. CLE groups typically advocate against unjust war, capital punishment, and various social ills in addition to abortion.

Other multi-issue organizations we’ve worked with have a more specialized focus, such as the numerous groups that combine opposition to abortion and opposition to physician-assisted suicide. And then, of course, there are those whose anti-abortion advocacy is one small part of a broader religious mission or political philosophy.

This can sometimes be a challenging landscape to navigate. Making it even more difficult, abortion itself has, tragically, become thoroughly entangled in our society. If you strive to be single-issue, as Secular Pro-Life does, where does the issue of abortion begin and end?

A few months ago, when a draft tax plan proposed elimination of the adoption tax credit, pro-lifers voiced near-unanimous displeasure and the credit was swiftly reinstated. The argument was straightforward: adoption is a key abortion alternative, and reduced funding for adoption could lead to more abortions. I happen to agree with that argument and think it fair to say that a pro-life organization could, in that situation, remain “single-issue” while taking a position on tax reform. To give another example, Students for Life of America has a terrific program called Pregnant on Campus that (among other things) educates students about their Title IX rights; those legal protections help pregnant students stay in school, which in turn reduces the pressure for abortion. I do not believe this advocacy transforms Students for Life of America into a multi-issue, “pro-life and pro-Title IX” organization. And of course, the pro-life movement’s constant struggle against pro-choice censors has led many of us to become stalwart defenders of freedom of speech, which is fundamentally necessary for us to continue our activism.

How far does this logic extend? If a pro-life organization pushed for a higher minimum wage, arguing that most abortions are committed for financial reasons and that higher wages will therefore prevent abortions, would that organization still be considered single-issue? I suspect most readers will say no, but why not? What about paid maternity leave? What about an organization that (like Secular Pro-Life) promotes contraception and sex education as abortion prevention tools? Conversely, what about pro-life organizations that believe contraception has the unintended effect of increasing risky sexual activity, leading to more unplanned pregnancies, and therefore oppose contraception and emphasize abstinence?

The debate about what is and is not “single-issue” becomes even murkier due to recurring communication failures. For instance, I have observed that non-CLE pro-lifers often view CLE pro-lifers with suspicion because they associate CLE with the infantile pro-abortion taunt that “you’re not really pro-life unless you also [fill in the blank].” Knowing so many CLE activists personally, I can tell you they most certainly do not view themselves as the only true pro-lifers—but in our sound-bite-driven world, perceptions trump intentions.

And then there is the tendency—so universal that I’m willing to bet I’ve been guilty of it myself—to treat those causes you personally care about as having an obvious connection to abortion, while those you do not care as much about are obviously unrelated.

The single-issue debate is hot at the moment, but it’s been ongoing for longer than I have been alive. I certainly don’t expect to solve it single-handedly. What I can do is name some categories that I hope will make the debate a bit clearer going forward. (Note that all of these categories apply to pro-life organizations and to individuals in their capacity as pro-life advocates.)

Category 1: Standard anti-abortion activism. This includes lobbying for pro-life laws, protesting abortion enablers, and educating the general public about abortion. Most pro-life organizations engage in these activities, which are unquestionably abortion-related.

Category 2: Direct aid to women. Sidewalk counselors, pregnancy resource centers, the Pregnant on Campus initiative, post-abortion support groups, and adoption-focused organizations belong in this category.

Category 3: The pro-life auxiliary. These are the lawyers protecting pro-lifers’ freedom of speech, the consultants helping pregnancy centers target their advertising to reach women in need, the debate trainers teaching student activists how to make the case against abortion effectively, etc. They may be a step removed from the front line, but their work is incredibly valuable.


Category 4: “X causes abortion.” Unlike Category 2, which involves reaching individual women in crisis and addressing the problems they cite as contributing to their consideration of abortion, Category 4 takes on a broader perspective. If you believe that the root cause of abortion is poverty, you might treat anti-poverty efforts as fundamentally pro-life. If you believe that the root cause of abortion is society’s abandonment of traditional Christian sexual morality, you might preach the Gospel as part of your pro-life outreach. If you believe that the root cause of abortion is lack of respect for human life in general (not only preborn human lives), you might start by encouraging people to see similarities between themselves and others who do not look like them.

Category 5: “The same thing that causes abortion also causes X.” This builds upon Category 4. Taking our earlier examples, a Category 5 organization might say:

  • “Abortion is caused by poverty. Poverty also causes homelessness. Therefore, we volunteer at homeless shelters as part of our pro-life mission.”
  • “Abortion is caused by society’s abandonment of traditional Christian sexual morality. Same-sex marriage also arises from society’s abandonment of traditional Christian sexual morality. Therefore, we officially oppose same-sex marriage.”
  • “Abortion is caused by lack of respect for human life. Unjust war also demonstrates a lack of respect for human life. Therefore, our pro-life advocacy encompasses opposition to unjust war.”
Category 6: No substantive relationship to abortion. Here we have pro-life organizations that clearly are not single-issue and would never claim to be. For instance, the 66-page Republican Party platform addresses everything from federal dairy policies to cybersecurity, in addition to life issues.  

In my opinion, any organization whose work is limited to Categories 1, 2, and/or 3 is single-issue. Those in Categories 5 and 6 are unambiguously multi-issue. I see ample room for debate about Category 4.

Whatever category or categories of advocacy you’re involved in, I hope we can understand one another better and stand united for the cause of preborn children. Our tactical and strategic differences should not overshadow the tragic destruction wrought by Roe v. Wade.

On the Single-Issue Struggle

Secular Pro-Life is a single-issue organization, and that issue is opposition to abortion. However, we frequently partner with multi-issue organizations on pro-life projects.

CLE activist Aimee Murphy

Some of those multi-issue organizations, such as Rehumanize International and Consistent Life, embrace what’s known as the “consistent life ethic” (CLE) opposing all acts of violence against human beings. CLE groups typically advocate against unjust war, capital punishment, and various social ills in addition to abortion.

Other multi-issue organizations we’ve worked with have a more specialized focus, such as the numerous groups that combine opposition to abortion and opposition to physician-assisted suicide. And then, of course, there are those whose anti-abortion advocacy is one small part of a broader religious mission or political philosophy.

This can sometimes be a challenging landscape to navigate. Making it even more difficult, abortion itself has, tragically, become thoroughly entangled in our society. If you strive to be single-issue, as Secular Pro-Life does, where does the issue of abortion begin and end?

A few months ago, when a draft tax plan proposed elimination of the adoption tax credit, pro-lifers voiced near-unanimous displeasure and the credit was swiftly reinstated. The argument was straightforward: adoption is a key abortion alternative, and reduced funding for adoption could lead to more abortions. I happen to agree with that argument and think it fair to say that a pro-life organization could, in that situation, remain “single-issue” while taking a position on tax reform. To give another example, Students for Life of America has a terrific program called Pregnant on Campus that (among other things) educates students about their Title IX rights; those legal protections help pregnant students stay in school, which in turn reduces the pressure for abortion. I do not believe this advocacy transforms Students for Life of America into a multi-issue, “pro-life and pro-Title IX” organization. And of course, the pro-life movement’s constant struggle against pro-choice censors has led many of us to become stalwart defenders of freedom of speech, which is fundamentally necessary for us to continue our activism.

How far does this logic extend? If a pro-life organization pushed for a higher minimum wage, arguing that most abortions are committed for financial reasons and that higher wages will therefore prevent abortions, would that organization still be considered single-issue? I suspect most readers will say no, but why not? What about paid maternity leave? What about an organization that (like Secular Pro-Life) promotes contraception and sex education as abortion prevention tools? Conversely, what about pro-life organizations that believe contraception has the unintended effect of increasing risky sexual activity, leading to more unplanned pregnancies, and therefore oppose contraception and emphasize abstinence?

The debate about what is and is not “single-issue” becomes even murkier due to recurring communication failures. For instance, I have observed that non-CLE pro-lifers often view CLE pro-lifers with suspicion because they associate CLE with the infantile pro-abortion taunt that “you’re not really pro-life unless you also [fill in the blank].” Knowing so many CLE activists personally, I can tell you they most certainly do not view themselves as the only true pro-lifers—but in our sound-bite-driven world, perceptions trump intentions.

And then there is the tendency—so universal that I’m willing to bet I’ve been guilty of it myself—to treat those causes you personally care about as having an obvious connection to abortion, while those you do not care as much about are obviously unrelated.

The single-issue debate is hot at the moment, but it’s been ongoing for longer than I have been alive. I certainly don’t expect to solve it single-handedly. What I can do is name some categories that I hope will make the debate a bit clearer going forward. (Note that all of these categories apply to pro-life organizations and to individuals in their capacity as pro-life advocates.)

Category 1: Standard anti-abortion activism. This includes lobbying for pro-life laws, protesting abortion enablers, and educating the general public about abortion. Most pro-life organizations engage in these activities, which are unquestionably abortion-related.

Category 2: Direct aid to women. Sidewalk counselors, pregnancy resource centers, the Pregnant on Campus initiative, post-abortion support groups, and adoption-focused organizations belong in this category.

Category 3: The pro-life auxiliary. These are the lawyers protecting pro-lifers’ freedom of speech, the consultants helping pregnancy centers target their advertising to reach women in need, the debate trainers teaching student activists how to make the case against abortion effectively, etc. They may be a step removed from the front line, but their work is incredibly valuable.


Category 4: “X causes abortion.” Unlike Category 2, which involves reaching individual women in crisis and addressing the problems they cite as contributing to their consideration of abortion, Category 4 takes on a broader perspective. If you believe that the root cause of abortion is poverty, you might treat anti-poverty efforts as fundamentally pro-life. If you believe that the root cause of abortion is society’s abandonment of traditional Christian sexual morality, you might preach the Gospel as part of your pro-life outreach. If you believe that the root cause of abortion is lack of respect for human life in general (not only preborn human lives), you might start by encouraging people to see similarities between themselves and others who do not look like them.

Category 5: “The same thing that causes abortion also causes X.” This builds upon Category 4. Taking our earlier examples, a Category 5 organization might say:

  • “Abortion is caused by poverty. Poverty also causes homelessness. Therefore, we volunteer at homeless shelters as part of our pro-life mission.”
  • “Abortion is caused by society’s abandonment of traditional Christian sexual morality. Same-sex marriage also arises from society’s abandonment of traditional Christian sexual morality. Therefore, we officially oppose same-sex marriage.”
  • “Abortion is caused by lack of respect for human life. Unjust war also demonstrates a lack of respect for human life. Therefore, our pro-life advocacy encompasses opposition to unjust war.”
Category 6: No substantive relationship to abortion. Here we have pro-life organizations that clearly are not single-issue and would never claim to be. For instance, the 66-page Republican Party platform addresses everything from federal dairy policies to cybersecurity, in addition to life issues.  

In my opinion, any organization whose work is limited to Categories 1, 2, and/or 3 is single-issue. Those in Categories 5 and 6 are unambiguously multi-issue. I see ample room for debate about Category 4.

Whatever category or categories of advocacy you’re involved in, I hope we can understand one another better and stand united for the cause of preborn children. Our tactical and strategic differences should not overshadow the tragic destruction wrought by Roe v. Wade.

Fixed that meme for you

Secular Pro-Life does not take an official position on what gun control measures are best suited to end the scourge of school shootings in America. We do, however, take an official position on ignorant bullshit memes: we are opposed. So when we saw this questionable meme comparing gun policy to abortion policy, we felt the need to make a few corrections:

Let’s break this down, shall we?

Gun purchase waiting periods are already a thing. Like abortion waiting periods, the specifics vary from state to state. In my home state of Florida, the gun purchase waiting period is three business days. Want a longer waiting period in your state? Contact your legislators!


Rather than imposing parental consent laws, most states outright ban minors from buying guns. There are some gaps here, as detailed by The Guardian, because states have different laws for different types of guns. I expect this to be an area of significant focus for gun policy reformers in the coming months. Nevertheless, laws on guns for minors are already stricter than laws on abortions for minors, because Supreme Court precedent prevents enforcement of any age requirement for abortion.

What does informed consent for guns look like? The closest analogue is mandatory training. About half of states require gun owners to take a class before they can obtain a concealed carry permit. Slightly more than half of states require informed consent for abortion. Both pro-life advocates and gun safety advocates have a way to go in this area.

Whoever made the original meme clearly has no idea what pre-abortion ultrasounds are for. Abortion vendors use ultrasound to determine how far along the pregnancy is, which is how they decide which abortion method to use and how much to charge. Ultrasound is also used to detect ectopic pregnancies. Ultrasound laws have nothing to do with whether or not an abortionist will do an ultrasound; they will, as standard procedure. Rather, ultrasound laws exist to stop abortionists from hiding the ultrasound images from their patients. None of this “turn the screen away from her, it’s just a clump of cells, ho-hum” nonsense.

Oh, and the wand is optional; you can get an ultrasound with no penetration of any bodily orifices.


Abortion businesses are, sadly, plentiful. There are over 700 abortion businesses in the United States. Only a handful of states are down to one abortion facility. But the number of abortion businesses has decreased substantially in recent years. One factor is decreased demand: fewer women are having unplanned pregnancies, and of those who do, more are choosing life. Another factor is enforcement of the health and safety regulations that shoddy abortionists routinely violate.

Gun control advocates are more than welcome to follow the pro-life movement’s example. Want to decrease demand for guns? Educate people on gun hazards and offer alternative self-defense methods. Want to close gun shops? Investigate potential legal violations by your local firearms vendor, and if current laws aren’t stopping bad actors, lobby for stricter standards.

On that note, why not emulate sidewalk counselors? There is nothing stopping you from protesting on public sidewalks outside gun shops. Hold up those victim photos. Plead with firearms customers to reconsider. You have the right to freedom of speech… at least until gun vendors respond by enacting “bubble zones” to censor your advocacy. These laws are unconstitutional and the pro-life movement has been fighting them in court for decades.

Abortion is lethal. No doubt, a gun in the wrong hands can be incredibly destructive in a very short period of time. In responsible hands, a gun is unlikely to kill anyone at all. Abortion instruments won’t slaughter a room full of people all at once, but abortion consistently takes lives one or two at a time (except in the very rare case of abortion survivors). Over 60 million human beings have lost their lives to abortion since Roe v. Wade. It’s not “health care.”

Asking whether it makes more sense to stop abortion or to stop gun violence imagines a zero-sum game where none exists. It cynically pits victims of different injustices against one another for no reason.

Fixed that meme for you

Secular Pro-Life does not take an official position on what gun control measures are best suited to end the scourge of school shootings in America. We do, however, take an official position on ignorant bullshit memes: we are opposed. So when we saw this questionable meme comparing gun policy to abortion policy, we felt the need to make a few corrections:

Let’s break this down, shall we?

Gun purchase waiting periods are already a thing. Like abortion waiting periods, the specifics vary from state to state. In my home state of Florida, the gun purchase waiting period is three business days. Want a longer waiting period in your state? Contact your legislators!


Rather than imposing parental consent laws, most states outright ban minors from buying guns. There are some gaps here, as detailed by The Guardian, because states have different laws for different types of guns. I expect this to be an area of significant focus for gun policy reformers in the coming months. Nevertheless, laws on guns for minors are already stricter than laws on abortions for minors, because Supreme Court precedent prevents enforcement of any age requirement for abortion.

What does informed consent for guns look like? The closest analogue is mandatory training. About half of states require gun owners to take a class before they can obtain a concealed carry permit. Slightly more than half of states require informed consent for abortion. Both pro-life advocates and gun safety advocates have a way to go in this area.

Whoever made the original meme clearly has no idea what pre-abortion ultrasounds are for. Abortion vendors use ultrasound to determine how far along the pregnancy is, which is how they decide which abortion method to use and how much to charge. Ultrasound is also used to detect ectopic pregnancies. Ultrasound laws have nothing to do with whether or not an abortionist will do an ultrasound; they will, as standard procedure. Rather, ultrasound laws exist to stop abortionists from hiding the ultrasound images from their patients. None of this “turn the screen away from her, it’s just a clump of cells, ho-hum” nonsense.

Oh, and the wand is optional; you can get an ultrasound with no penetration of any bodily orifices.


Abortion businesses are, sadly, plentiful. There are over 700 abortion businesses in the United States. Only a handful of states are down to one abortion facility. But the number of abortion businesses has decreased substantially in recent years. One factor is decreased demand: fewer women are having unplanned pregnancies, and of those who do, more are choosing life. Another factor is enforcement of the health and safety regulations that shoddy abortionists routinely violate.

Gun control advocates are more than welcome to follow the pro-life movement’s example. Want to decrease demand for guns? Educate people on gun hazards and offer alternative self-defense methods. Want to close gun shops? Investigate potential legal violations by your local firearms vendor, and if current laws aren’t stopping bad actors, lobby for stricter standards.

On that note, why not emulate sidewalk counselors? There is nothing stopping you from protesting on public sidewalks outside gun shops. Hold up those victim photos. Plead with firearms customers to reconsider. You have the right to freedom of speech… at least until gun vendors respond by enacting “bubble zones” to censor your advocacy. These laws are unconstitutional and the pro-life movement has been fighting them in court for decades.

Abortion is lethal. No doubt, a gun in the wrong hands can be incredibly destructive in a very short period of time. In responsible hands, a gun is unlikely to kill anyone at all. Abortion instruments won’t slaughter a room full of people all at once, but abortion consistently takes lives one or two at a time (except in the very rare case of abortion survivors). Over 60 million human beings have lost their lives to abortion since Roe v. Wade. It’s not “health care.”

Asking whether it makes more sense to stop abortion or to stop gun violence imagines a zero-sum game where none exists. It cynically pits victims of different injustices against one another for no reason.

The good, the bad, and the ugly in the Senate health care bill

[Today’s guest post by Sarah Terzo is part of our paid blogging program. Sarah is a pro-life atheist, a frequent contributor to Live Action News, a board member of the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, and the force behind ClinicQuotes.com.]

For a long time, the pro-life movement has been calling for the defunding of
Planned Parenthood. This is a worthy aim. Planned Parenthood is the largest
provider of abortions in the United States. They have been caught lying to women about fetal development and offering to protect sex traffickers at the expense of their underage
victims. An undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood in six
different states showed Planned Parenthood workers agreeing to cover up
statutory rape and send underage victims back to their abusers.  And that
doesn’t even touch upon the lengthy investigation into Planned Parenthood’s
selling of fetal organs and body parts.

But in the long-term battle to protect the lives of preborn babies and
vulnerable disabled children and adults, care must be taken not to make one
step forward and ten steps back.

The health care bill currently being considered in the Senate, the Better
Care Reconciliation Act, does defund Planned Parenthood for one year. But other
aspects of the bill, as it stands now, can have a terrible impact on the issues
of abortion and euthanasia.

One part of the Affordable Healthcare Act that the new bill would repeal is
the mandate that insurance plans cover birth and maternity care. According to
CNN, the average cost of childbirth is $30,000. A cesarean section
raises the bill to $50,000.

The changes in the law will mean that at least 22 million fewer people will have health insurance coverage,
including maternity coverage. Millions more, who will keep their coverage in
other areas, will lose maternity coverage as well.

According to statistics gathered by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (which supports abortion), 73% of women who have abortions say that they aborted
because they could not afford a child. Pro-lifers have often said that if a
woman cannot afford to raise a child, she can place the baby for adoption. But as we
have seen, birth without insurance is very costly. Poor women, including many
single mothers, may be faced with a “choice” between spending $30,000 on a
birth (if everything goes right) or $400 on an abortion. If the adoptive parents are unable to cover that cost, the pressure this would
bring to bear on women would be enormous. There is no doubt that more women
would be pressured to “choose” abortion.


Pro-lifers have also spoken out, and rightly so, against euthanasia. Those
most vulnerable to euthanasia are the disabled and the elderly.

Over 6.2 million disabled people rely on Medicaid to provide
health care. The Better Care Reconciliation Act, as currently drafted, will cut Medicaid by billions of dollars. This will force state insurance
to cover fewer services. There have been multiple examples of insurance companies refusing to cover chemotherapy for
cancer patients, but offering to cover pills for assisted suicide. With so much
pressure to cut costs for disabled and chronically ill Americans, this will only
increase.

Currently, many elderly men and women in nursing homes are being paid
for by Medicaid. Medicare only covers skilled nursing care for 100 days. After
that, the only option for a great many elderly people is Medicaid, which pays
for long-term stays in nursing homes. This will be cut. What happens when
elderly people cannot live on their own, have no family to take care of them,
and have no way to pay for nursing home care? Such individuals would be at very
great risk for both voluntary and involuntary euthanasia.

And, as I’ve said, 22 million fewer people will have health insurance if the Better Care Reconciliation Act is passed.

I would like to share this story from a friend on facebook:

My sister … died on March 23, 2008 following a brainstem stroke, locked-in
syndrome, and no hospital or rehab facility wanting to touch her because she
was uninsured (she had a new job and was 30 days away from qualifying for
benefits). Her medical costs for 1 week, post-stroke, were 1.2 million dollars
so the doctors said sorry, butbecause she is 100 percent physically paralyzed,
yet 100 percent mentally alert and able to communicate by blinking her eyeswe
must videotape her blinking in agreement to our request to terminate life
support since she lacks coverage for alternative treatment. And to be sure,
they said, we’ll videotape her doing this 3 times over as many days just to
cover our butts. The life support was terminated on Good Friday but unlike
Lifetime movie depictions, death did not come swiftly or without pain. Patricia
Ann Brown Medley, age 43, lingered until 11:07 p.m. on Easter Sunday, at which
time her soul left the earth where a handful of fellow inhabitants decided she
wasn’t worth saving. Sleep well tonight if you find this acceptable.

Did Ann Brown Medley have a right to life?

Incidents like this will become more and more common if the health care bill
is passed without serious revision.

Adding to the number of suicides (assisted or not) will be some of the
millions of mentally ill people who will be taken off their medication. The
Senate health care bill has a clause that allows Medicaid in individual states to
stop covering mental health care in 2019. Ironically, the most mentally ill
people in the country are on Medicaid. Medicaid is given to those who receive
SSI disability benefitspeople who have been so disabled they have never held
a job. Four million people have been scrutinized by the government and declared
so seriously mentally ill that they cannot work (and have never worked). All
four million would potentially lose all access to the medication that keeps
them stable. This includes over two million people with paranoid schizophrenia.
The havoc this would wreak on society (and in individual lives) would be
staggering .

Planned Parenthood should be defunded. Pro-lifers must insist on this. But
the defunding of Planned Parenthood must not be wedded to other policies that
will cause abortion and assisted suicide rates to skyrocket. If you call your
senators, tell them to defund Planned Parenthoodand to stop the terrible
health care cuts that will bring suffering and death to innumerable people.

The good, the bad, and the ugly in the Senate health care bill

[Today’s guest post by Sarah Terzo is part of our paid blogging program. Sarah is a pro-life atheist, a frequent contributor to Live Action News, a board member of the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, and the force behind ClinicQuotes.com.]

For a long time, the pro-life movement has been calling for the defunding of
Planned Parenthood. This is a worthy aim. Planned Parenthood is the largest
provider of abortions in the United States. They have been caught lying to women about fetal development and offering to protect sex traffickers at the expense of their underage
victims. An undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood in six
different states showed Planned Parenthood workers agreeing to cover up
statutory rape and send underage victims back to their abusers.  And that
doesn’t even touch upon the lengthy investigation into Planned Parenthood’s
selling of fetal organs and body parts.

But in the long-term battle to protect the lives of preborn babies and
vulnerable disabled children and adults, care must be taken not to make one
step forward and ten steps back.

The health care bill currently being considered in the Senate, the Better
Care Reconciliation Act, does defund Planned Parenthood for one year. But other
aspects of the bill, as it stands now, can have a terrible impact on the issues
of abortion and euthanasia.

One part of the Affordable Healthcare Act that the new bill would repeal is
the mandate that insurance plans cover birth and maternity care. According to
CNN, the average cost of childbirth is $30,000. A cesarean section
raises the bill to $50,000.

The changes in the law will mean that at least 22 million fewer people will have health insurance coverage,
including maternity coverage. Millions more, who will keep their coverage in
other areas, will lose maternity coverage as well.

According to statistics gathered by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (which supports abortion), 73% of women who have abortions say that they aborted
because they could not afford a child. Pro-lifers have often said that if a
woman cannot afford to raise a child, she can place the baby for adoption. But as we
have seen, birth without insurance is very costly. Poor women, including many
single mothers, may be faced with a “choice” between spending $30,000 on a
birth (if everything goes right) or $400 on an abortion. If the adoptive parents are unable to cover that cost, the pressure this would
bring to bear on women would be enormous. There is no doubt that more women
would be pressured to “choose” abortion.


Pro-lifers have also spoken out, and rightly so, against euthanasia. Those
most vulnerable to euthanasia are the disabled and the elderly.

Over 6.2 million disabled people rely on Medicaid to provide
health care. The Better Care Reconciliation Act, as currently drafted, will cut Medicaid by billions of dollars. This will force state insurance
to cover fewer services. There have been multiple examples of insurance companies refusing to cover chemotherapy for
cancer patients, but offering to cover pills for assisted suicide. With so much
pressure to cut costs for disabled and chronically ill Americans, this will only
increase.

Currently, many elderly men and women in nursing homes are being paid
for by Medicaid. Medicare only covers skilled nursing care for 100 days. After
that, the only option for a great many elderly people is Medicaid, which pays
for long-term stays in nursing homes. This will be cut. What happens when
elderly people cannot live on their own, have no family to take care of them,
and have no way to pay for nursing home care? Such individuals would be at very
great risk for both voluntary and involuntary euthanasia.

And, as I’ve said, 22 million fewer people will have health insurance if the Better Care Reconciliation Act is passed.

I would like to share this story from a friend on facebook:

My sister … died on March 23, 2008 following a brainstem stroke, locked-in
syndrome, and no hospital or rehab facility wanting to touch her because she
was uninsured (she had a new job and was 30 days away from qualifying for
benefits). Her medical costs for 1 week, post-stroke, were 1.2 million dollars
so the doctors said sorry, butbecause she is 100 percent physically paralyzed,
yet 100 percent mentally alert and able to communicate by blinking her eyeswe
must videotape her blinking in agreement to our request to terminate life
support since she lacks coverage for alternative treatment. And to be sure,
they said, we’ll videotape her doing this 3 times over as many days just to
cover our butts. The life support was terminated on Good Friday but unlike
Lifetime movie depictions, death did not come swiftly or without pain. Patricia
Ann Brown Medley, age 43, lingered until 11:07 p.m. on Easter Sunday, at which
time her soul left the earth where a handful of fellow inhabitants decided she
wasn’t worth saving. Sleep well tonight if you find this acceptable.

Did Ann Brown Medley have a right to life?

Incidents like this will become more and more common if the health care bill
is passed without serious revision.

Adding to the number of suicides (assisted or not) will be some of the
millions of mentally ill people who will be taken off their medication. The
Senate health care bill has a clause that allows Medicaid in individual states to
stop covering mental health care in 2019. Ironically, the most mentally ill
people in the country are on Medicaid. Medicaid is given to those who receive
SSI disability benefitspeople who have been so disabled they have never held
a job. Four million people have been scrutinized by the government and declared
so seriously mentally ill that they cannot work (and have never worked). All
four million would potentially lose all access to the medication that keeps
them stable. This includes over two million people with paranoid schizophrenia.
The havoc this would wreak on society (and in individual lives) would be
staggering .

Planned Parenthood should be defunded. Pro-lifers must insist on this. But
the defunding of Planned Parenthood must not be wedded to other policies that
will cause abortion and assisted suicide rates to skyrocket. If you call your
senators, tell them to defund Planned Parenthoodand to stop the terrible
health care cuts that will bring suffering and death to innumerable people.

A response to Shawna Kay Rodenberg

Shortly before Christmas, Salon published an article that surprised me. I almost didn’t read it, because I’m not a big Salon fan; it’s home to many anti-choicers-hate-women screeds, and I still have some lingering distrust from the publication’s anti-vaccine days (although there appears to have been some improvement on that front in the years since Robert Kennedy’s infamous rant). But this article came to me from a trusted friend, so I opened the link.

The title: How to argue with your relatives about abortion: A few arguments that don’t work with pro-lifers and some that might. The lede: “If you anticipate an argument over abortion politics with Aunt Cheryl at this year’s family dinner, read this first.” Already I was groaning. Aunt Cheryl? You know Millennials are more pro-life than Aunt Cheryl’s generation, right?

But I kept reading. I’m so glad I did.

Kudos are due to author Shawna Kay Rodenberg for the single most intellectually honest pro-choice piece I have ever encountered. So please allow me to engage, section by section, with her do’s and don’t’s for convincing Aunt Cheryl. (For the sake of not repeating her entire article, I’m mostly quoting the thesis statements of each paragraph. I do encourage you to read the whole thing.)

First, acknowledge that abortion isn’t only a conservative Christian concern.

This opening made me do a double take. THANK YOU.

Don’t argue semantics like using “anti-abortion” versus “pro-life.”

Agreed, this is a waste of time. Likewise, insisting on using “pro-abortion” for someone who prefers “pro-choice” is also a waste of time.

Remember that her news feed does not resemble yours. If she keeps pro-life company, she is daily inundated with graphic images of mangled babies and brutal videos of late-term miscarriages and forceps-requiring stillbirths being passed off as abortions.

Okay, this is a little much. Yes, I see images and videos of miscarried children—from pro-life parents who suffered miscarriages and want to showcase the humanity of their deceased children. They’re not pretending to have had abortions, nor am I “daily inundated,” and if you want to see footage of actual abortions you may do so here.

A much more common sight in my news feed, I’d say approximately once a week, is the latest news about a woman maimed or injured at an abortion facility. The movement (particularly Operation Rescue) keeps good track of ambulance calls. Health inspection failures, too.

Never say that a fetus is not a baby or argue that it is not alive. Pro-life women are disgusted by the “vagina as magic portal”-style pro-choice argument in which some dark magic takes place during birth that transforms a fetus into a person. Even if you maintain that independent breathing marks the beginning of life, many premature infants cannot breathe on their own, but we still call them infants, not fetuses. Concede the human-ness of the fetus.

Thank you for that. Moving on:

Don’t argue that abortion gives a woman autonomy over her body. In doing so, you infer that the woman’s body is the only one involved, and whether you believe a fetus should have civil rights or not, we must all admit that it does in fact have a body, a tiny physical manifestation. Denying that it does ensures you will lose the argument.

This is the point where I started wondering why Ms. Rodenberg supports abortion at all. Her very next paragraph sheds some light:

This argument also ignores our collective tendency to fetishize maternal sacrifice. Who doesn’t adore at least one of the hundreds of movies in which a woman is transformed by motherhood and makes great personal sacrifices, or even dies, to save her child? American politicians on both sides consistently fail to demonstrate that women have as much value as men or children, so you should not be surprised that Aunt Cheryl is most concerned with the rights of the child.

I also happen to like movies where fathers sacrifice for children, and movies where strangers sacrifice for children. Hollywood should make more of those. Sacrificing for children, paying it forward to the next generation, should be a moral and societal value for all adults, not just mothers. I’m not saying misogyny doesn’t exist—it clearly does—but the solution to women’s oppression is not violence toward unborn children.

Don’t argue against adoption as a viable alternative or say that it’s unreasonable to expect a woman to give up nine months of her life, that she might lose her job, that her health might be compromised. Again, you are likely talking with a person who idolizes maternal sacrifice and does not realize how little she thinks about the experiences of women, who probably voted for a man who boasted about sexually assaulting women simply because he could, just so she could save babies.

Sigh… so many assumptions here. Let me just take the obvious one: Trump’s candidacy was extremely controversial among pro-lifers. A long list of pro-life leaders joined an open letter begging Iowa GOP primary voters to pick anyone else. I myself voted third party.

Don’t talk about exceptions for cases of rape. … Aunt Cheryl will never believe those few cases justify the continued slaughter of millions of innocent lives.

True. Next:

Never contend that abortion is a single issue and there are other issues of equal importance. For the pro-lifer, there is no issue that trumps life. Many of them refer to contemporary America as a “culture of death,” which might be confusing for anti-war, anti-death penalty liberals, but pro-lifers not only support the rights of the fetus; they also tend to rally against Kevorkian-like practices; they do not support mercy killings.

And a lot of us are anti-war and anti-death penalty, too.

Having exhausted the most popular ad hominem attacks and anti-scientific blather used by the abortion lobby, I wondered… what’s left? Here are Ms. Rodenberg’s arguments:

Emphasize the importance of pregnancy prevention. Tell your Aunt Cheryl that the vibrant presence of many organizations advocating for women’s health, such as the leviathan Planned Parenthood, decreases the number of abortions women seek. At least you’re acknowledging that abortion is not ideal and she will appreciate that.

I’m all about pregnancy prevention, but if Aunt Cheryl is actively pro-life, she’ll know that the pro-life efforts to defund Planned Parenthood are not proposed cuts to contraceptive funding; the proposal is to reallocate those dollars to federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) that treat low-income women on a sliding scale. FQHCs have far more locations than Planned Parenthood, and don’t commit abortions.

And now, sadly, we go off the rails:

Unintended pregnancies carry risks for the child, too. … Children of unintended pregnancies are less likely to succeed in school, more likely to be poor and receive government assistance and eventually more likely to participate in criminal activity. In your Aunt Cheryl’s sheltered mind palace, every woman loves her baby. Remind her that is not always the case, that not all women are cut out to be mothers. Of course, she will begin ranting about personal responsibility and accountability.

I don’t know what Aunt Cheryl will rant about, but here’s what I’ll rant about: People are not better off dead because they don’t get good grades in school, you psycho. People are not better off dead because they are poor or receive government assistance. That liberal elite bubble everybody’s been talking about since November 8? Here it is. “Sheltered mind palace” indeed. Have you ever even met a low-income person? Maybe try asking them how they value their lives. And don’t even get me started on the logic that we should kill “unintended” babies because they might grow up to participate in crime. Weren’t you opposed to the death penalty a few paragraphs ago?

Ms. Rodenberg, these are my friends you’re talking about, and there is more than a hint of eugenicist, racist thinking in your argument. This is the point where I stopped engaging politely and with an open mind.

Fittingly, the rest of the article is all about Aunt Cheryl’s assumed Christianity, because we forgot the first paragraph, apparently.

Despite the disappointing ending, this article was still leaps and bounds ahead of most online abortion advocacy these days. I expect Ms. Rodenberg has received or will receive a lot of flack from her compatriots for calling abortion “not ideal,” deviating from the new narrative that abortion is a great thing responsible for women’s success in life.

A response to Shawna Kay Rodenberg

Shortly before Christmas, Salon published an article that surprised me. I almost didn’t read it, because I’m not a big Salon fan; it’s home to many anti-choicers-hate-women screeds, and I still have some lingering distrust from the publication’s anti-vaccine days (although there appears to have been some improvement on that front in the years since Robert Kennedy’s infamous rant). But this article came to me from a trusted friend, so I opened the link.

The title: How to argue with your relatives about abortion: A few arguments that don’t work with pro-lifers and some that might. The lede: “If you anticipate an argument over abortion politics with Aunt Cheryl at this year’s family dinner, read this first.” Already I was groaning. Aunt Cheryl? You know Millennials are more pro-life than Aunt Cheryl’s generation, right?

But I kept reading. I’m so glad I did.

Kudos are due to author Shawna Kay Rodenberg for the single most intellectually honest pro-choice piece I have ever encountered. So please allow me to engage, section by section, with her do’s and don’t’s for convincing Aunt Cheryl. (For the sake of not repeating her entire article, I’m mostly quoting the thesis statements of each paragraph. I do encourage you to read the whole thing.)

First, acknowledge that abortion isn’t only a conservative Christian concern.

This opening made me do a double take. THANK YOU.

Don’t argue semantics like using “anti-abortion” versus “pro-life.”

Agreed, this is a waste of time. Likewise, insisting on using “pro-abortion” for someone who prefers “pro-choice” is also a waste of time.

Remember that her news feed does not resemble yours. If she keeps pro-life company, she is daily inundated with graphic images of mangled babies and brutal videos of late-term miscarriages and forceps-requiring stillbirths being passed off as abortions.

Okay, this is a little much. Yes, I see images and videos of miscarried children—from pro-life parents who suffered miscarriages and want to showcase the humanity of their deceased children. They’re not pretending to have had abortions, nor am I “daily inundated,” and if you want to see footage of actual abortions you may do so here.

A much more common sight in my news feed, I’d say approximately once a week, is the latest news about a woman maimed or injured at an abortion facility. The movement (particularly Operation Rescue) keeps good track of ambulance calls. Health inspection failures, too.

Never say that a fetus is not a baby or argue that it is not alive. Pro-life women are disgusted by the “vagina as magic portal”-style pro-choice argument in which some dark magic takes place during birth that transforms a fetus into a person. Even if you maintain that independent breathing marks the beginning of life, many premature infants cannot breathe on their own, but we still call them infants, not fetuses. Concede the human-ness of the fetus.

Thank you for that. Moving on:

Don’t argue that abortion gives a woman autonomy over her body. In doing so, you infer that the woman’s body is the only one involved, and whether you believe a fetus should have civil rights or not, we must all admit that it does in fact have a body, a tiny physical manifestation. Denying that it does ensures you will lose the argument.

This is the point where I started wondering why Ms. Rodenberg supports abortion at all. Her very next paragraph sheds some light:

This argument also ignores our collective tendency to fetishize maternal sacrifice. Who doesn’t adore at least one of the hundreds of movies in which a woman is transformed by motherhood and makes great personal sacrifices, or even dies, to save her child? American politicians on both sides consistently fail to demonstrate that women have as much value as men or children, so you should not be surprised that Aunt Cheryl is most concerned with the rights of the child.

I also happen to like movies where fathers sacrifice for children, and movies where strangers sacrifice for children. Hollywood should make more of those. Sacrificing for children, paying it forward to the next generation, should be a moral and societal value for all adults, not just mothers. I’m not saying misogyny doesn’t exist—it clearly does—but the solution to women’s oppression is not violence toward unborn children.

Don’t argue against adoption as a viable alternative or say that it’s unreasonable to expect a woman to give up nine months of her life, that she might lose her job, that her health might be compromised. Again, you are likely talking with a person who idolizes maternal sacrifice and does not realize how little she thinks about the experiences of women, who probably voted for a man who boasted about sexually assaulting women simply because he could, just so she could save babies.

Sigh… so many assumptions here. Let me just take the obvious one: Trump’s candidacy was extremely controversial among pro-lifers. A long list of pro-life leaders joined an open letter begging Iowa GOP primary voters to pick anyone else. I myself voted third party.

Don’t talk about exceptions for cases of rape. … Aunt Cheryl will never believe those few cases justify the continued slaughter of millions of innocent lives.

True. Next:

Never contend that abortion is a single issue and there are other issues of equal importance. For the pro-lifer, there is no issue that trumps life. Many of them refer to contemporary America as a “culture of death,” which might be confusing for anti-war, anti-death penalty liberals, but pro-lifers not only support the rights of the fetus; they also tend to rally against Kevorkian-like practices; they do not support mercy killings.

And a lot of us are anti-war and anti-death penalty, too.

Having exhausted the most popular ad hominem attacks and anti-scientific blather used by the abortion lobby, I wondered… what’s left? Here are Ms. Rodenberg’s arguments:

Emphasize the importance of pregnancy prevention. Tell your Aunt Cheryl that the vibrant presence of many organizations advocating for women’s health, such as the leviathan Planned Parenthood, decreases the number of abortions women seek. At least you’re acknowledging that abortion is not ideal and she will appreciate that.

I’m all about pregnancy prevention, but if Aunt Cheryl is actively pro-life, she’ll know that the pro-life efforts to defund Planned Parenthood are not proposed cuts to contraceptive funding; the proposal is to reallocate those dollars to federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) that treat low-income women on a sliding scale. FQHCs have far more locations than Planned Parenthood, and don’t commit abortions.

And now, sadly, we go off the rails:

Unintended pregnancies carry risks for the child, too. … Children of unintended pregnancies are less likely to succeed in school, more likely to be poor and receive government assistance and eventually more likely to participate in criminal activity. In your Aunt Cheryl’s sheltered mind palace, every woman loves her baby. Remind her that is not always the case, that not all women are cut out to be mothers. Of course, she will begin ranting about personal responsibility and accountability.

I don’t know what Aunt Cheryl will rant about, but here’s what I’ll rant about: People are not better off dead because they don’t get good grades in school, you psycho. People are not better off dead because they are poor or receive government assistance. That liberal elite bubble everybody’s been talking about since November 8? Here it is. “Sheltered mind palace” indeed. Have you ever even met a low-income person? Maybe try asking them how they value their lives. And don’t even get me started on the logic that we should kill “unintended” babies because they might grow up to participate in crime. Weren’t you opposed to the death penalty a few paragraphs ago?

Ms. Rodenberg, these are my friends you’re talking about, and there is more than a hint of eugenicist, racist thinking in your argument. This is the point where I stopped engaging politely and with an open mind.

Fittingly, the rest of the article is all about Aunt Cheryl’s assumed Christianity, because we forgot the first paragraph, apparently.

Despite the disappointing ending, this article was still leaps and bounds ahead of most online abortion advocacy these days. I expect Ms. Rodenberg has received or will receive a lot of flack from her compatriots for calling abortion “not ideal,” deviating from the new narrative that abortion is a great thing responsible for women’s success in life.