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Prolife Outreach at Toronto’s “Imagine No Religion” Conference

Posted by on Sep 24, 2017 in Prolife at Secular Events | 2 comments

(Part 1 of 2 on the Imagine No Religion 7 Conference)

When I invited world-renown atheist writer and scientist Richard Dawkins to visit me at the Pro-Life Humanists display table, I’ll admit I didn’t really expect he’d show up!  But a conversation with Richard Dawkins about abortion was just one of the many highlights of this conference!

 

The Imagine No Religion conference, held June 2-4 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, began for me like most atheist conferences. One after another people stopped by the table to read the display pannels and to inquire about the secular case against abortion. Some stopped just a few moments to grab some literature or giggle over the pro-life condoms. Others stayed upwards of an hour to engage in civil and thoughtful dialogue, with several admitting they would have to give my position some more consideration.

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Location of our display table varies from event to event, but I couldn’t have asked for better at this one! Immediately across the hall from the first conference room doors, there was no way anyone could enter or leave the hall without walking past the table all weekend long. At meal-time, buffet-style food trays were set up down the middle of the hall, which further ensured I could greet nearly every conference attendee individually as they waited in line for the food ahead.

Prime location of PLH booth at Imagine No Religion!

Prime location of PLH booth at Imagine No Religion!

Among those who frequently passed by the table, often stopping to banter or to point someone in the direction of our  “thwart don’t abort” condoms, was renown physicist and writer Lawrence Krauss.  Lawrence and I have built a friendly rapport over the course of our repeat encounters at several conferences. He’s still in favour of abortion (for now?) but he’s a huge fan of our condoms.  He told me his new pickup line is “Hey baby, wanna thwart?” lol!

Lawrence Krauss visits PLH table

Lawrence Krauss visits PLH table

And ever the comedian, Lawrence even gave a nod to our condom slogan when he autographed my copy of A Universe From Nothing:

If you can’t read it, it says “To not make something from nothing, thwart it!”  At least he’s admitting that a fetus is something? 🙂

"To not make something from nothing, thwart it!" - Lawrence Krauss

“To not make something from nothing, thwart it!” – Lawrence Krauss

Not everyone liked our condoms, however.  Although I never discovered who the displeased individual was, someone took it upon themselves to tear the labels off a dozen or so of the condoms.  It was surprising and disappointing to encounter the mild vandalism upon returning to the table, especially since most people were gracious and open to dialogue at this event.  I wish the individual had taken the time to make their thoughts known.  Perhaps they only like condoms when they’re given out by people who support “thwart” AND “abort”?

"Thwart don't abort" condoms vandalised

“Thwart don’t abort” condom labels vandalised

 

But on a brighter note, I  (finally!) got to make a face-to-face connection with Seth Andrews, host of The Thinking Atheist podcast. We’d previously discussed over email his interest in tackling abortion on his show sometime, but now that we’ve met in-person we’ve moved closer to making that happen. He said he’s interested in having me join him on the show when he deals with abortion, and he’s anticipating perhaps making it happen within the next few months… So stay tuned folks!

Seth Andrews, The Thinking Atheist with Kristine Kruszelnicki, The Pro-Life Atheist :)

Seth Andrews, The Thinking Atheist with Kristine Kruszelnicki, The Pro-Life Atheist 🙂

And now what about my conversation with Richard Dawkins?  It’s a story that deserves its own entry!   Check back tomorrow!

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Punishing a Student for Pregnancy Promotes Abortion!

Punishing a Student for Pregnancy Promotes Abortion!

Posted by on May 21, 2017 in Abortion in the News | 0 comments

Abortion clinics in the vicinity of Maryland’s Heritage Academy should be sending the Christian school a thank you card!  Their punishing treatment of a pregnant student ensures that virtually no future students will want to choose life when the costs are so high!

As a New York Times article explained, Heritage Academy students have broken the school’s code of conduct in the past, with such infractions as vandalism, drinking, smoking, and drugs.  They’d been caught, and many had compounded their misdeeds with lies, but none were punished as severely as 18 year-old student Maddi Runkles when she confessed to being pregnant out of wedlock.

Maddi had a 4.0 average, played on the soccer team, and was president of her school’s student counsel, as well as vice-president of the local Keys Club.  But upon confessing her pregnancy to principal Dave Hobbs, she was stripped of her leadership roles and told she would not be permitted to participate in her graduation ceremony (still four months down the road) as a visibly pregnant student.  She was also informed that her fellow students would need to be told what she’d done.

Of course, Maddi could’ve avoided all this shame and punishment by choosing abortion.  It was a solution she admits she considered!  After all, without the pregnancy no one would know she’d broken the no-sex rule. But with the support she was fortunate to receive from her family, Maddi chose to “tell on herself”, and chose to not end the life of her unborn child.

One would think that a pro-life Christian school would embrace pregnant Maddi with compassion and grace.  At very least, that her punishment for breaking the no-sex rule would be no harsher than the punishment for other infractions of the code.  No student is known to have been barred from their graduation ceremony for drinking, vandalism, or drugs!

But apparently the school felt the need to make an example of Maddi.  “She’s making the right choice,” said Rick Kempton, chairman of the board of the Association of Christian Schools International.  “But you don’t want to create a celebration that makes other young ladies feel like, ‘Well, that seems like a pretty good option.’ ”

Right. Better humiliate her in front of the entire school and deny her a graduation with her peers, otherwise girls will be running to get pregnant!  The idea would be hilarious if it didn’t have such real-life impact on young women.

As Maddi tragically put it:

“Some pro-life people are against the killing of unborn babies, but they won’t speak out in support of the girl who chooses to keep her baby. Honestly, that makes me feel like maybe the abortion would have been better. Then they would have just forgiven me, rather than deal with this visible consequence.”

Unfortunately, Heritage isn’t the first school or church community to condemn pregnant women amidst their drive to discourage premarital sex.  Abortion statistics collected by the Guttmacher institute found that between 2008 and 2014, women who identified as Christians had 54% of all abortions.  Of that number, 46% of them had never been married, and 60% were in their late teens or 20’s, with another 25% in their 30’s.  A  study funded by Carenet found that 40% of women who’d had abortions were actively involved in a church at the time of their abortion.  But not only had their church not in any way dissuaded them from abortion, but 2/3 of respondents said they’d felt the church was actually hostile to unwed mothers!

How tragic that it’s Christians — the very people who are most likely to claim to be pro-life — who wind up being responsible for the majority of abortions!  Those who aren’t having abortions themselves are all too often among those making unwed pregnancy look like an option worse than abortion!  They think they’re condoning premarital sex but in reality, the loudest message they’re sending young women is “if you get pregnant you really have no choice but abortion, unless you want to be shamed and ruined!” This school paints a scarlet “A” on any sexually active girl who gets pregnant – an “A” that only that other “A” (abortion) can wash away.

Heritage need look no further than their own staff to see the impact of an attitude of shame toward unplanned pregnancy.  Their 40 year-old athletic director Jessica Klick told New York Times she had two abortions while in her early twenties.

She said she had felt pushed into terminating her pregnancies by her own strict religious upbringing. She was terrified of what her parents would think. When she called a clinic for an appointment, she gave a phony name.

“I went into an abortion clinic knowing I shouldn’t, and God was the last thing on my mind,” she said.

Thankfully for women like Maddi who choose to give birth to the life they brought into existence, not all Christians behave so poorly.  Students for Life, together with initiatives Pregnant On Campus and Embrace Grace are currently collecting funds to give Maddi a proper graduation ceremony as well as a baby shower.  Please consider a contribution if you are able.  Concerned individuals are also being invited to write to Heritage administrator Dave Dodds (dhobbs@heritage-academy.net) to voice their disappointment over the school’s treatment of Maddi.  You can also send a message of encouragement to Maddi here.

Not every young woman will have Maddi’s courage or her supportive family, but none should be treated like an outcast for being pregnant.  Given the high rate of premarital sex even among Christians, there are certainly going to be plenty more Maddis out there.  Even if one believes that the sex that caused the pregnancy was wrong, surely it’s not wrong to be pregnant and to carry and nurture a developing life!  If Christians who form the pro-life majority and claim to be pro-life can’t be the loudest voices of support and love for pregnant women, then they are pro-LIE not pro-life.  No child should have to be sacrificed on the altar of false chastity!

Maddi Runkles ultrasound image

Ms. Runkles, 18, with a framed ultrasound photo of her baby boy. Credit: Nate Pesce for The New York Times

 

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Your Body, Your Choice!

Posted by on Feb 18, 2017 in Reasoned Arguments | 0 comments

I Support Your Right to Choose to Harm Your Own Body!

 

I’ll be blunt: I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone under the age of 40 would choose to smoke!  Having grown up at a time when the ill effects of smoking are so widely known, why would anyone decide to start something that will likely be detrimental to their lives and to their bodies?  I know I personally would never choose to smoke!

But on the other hand, I don’t think that cigarettes should be banned either. We can discourage their use and offer smokers alternatives, but people have the right to knowingly harm their own bodies if they so choose.  It’s true that the government has an obligation to recall or ban harmful products when people expect them to be safe (tainted milk, lead in paint etc) but there’s a fine line when it comes to personal choice and to the adult consumption of products that are known to carry some health risk.

And that’s why I don’t find particularly persuasive the arguments to ban abortion on the grounds that it harms women – be it “abortion causes breast cancer” or worries about “post-abortion syndrome.”  Even if abortion does cause physical or psychological damage, women undergoing a surgical abortion expect a certain degree of risk.  I think the law has no further obligation beyond ensuring that informed consent is received, and that adequate risk warnings are given — akin to the warnings placed on cigarette cartons, perhaps.   Pregnant women, just like smokers, have the autonomous right to choose their own bodily risks.

However, I also strongly support bans to public smoking, and all efforts to make it illegal to smoke in vehicles or in homes where children are present. The difference lies in what the risk taker is doing only to themselves, vs what they are potentially doing to another human being.  In the first case, the smoker harms only his or her own lungs and body.  In the second case, the smoker is imposing his or her personal choice on the lungs and body of someone else.  Often on someone who is unable to consent to having smoke in their shared air.

So if abortion is like all other surgeries, which affect only the body of the one undergoing the surgery, then no one should have anything to say about the personal choice being made.  I may not personally choose to have an abortion, just as I may not personally choose to smoke, but if there’s no second body impacted in that choice, no restrictions should be imposed on their choice.  Offer alternatives and discourage their choice if you want to advocate for a different choice, but don’t take their legal choice away.

… Unless the choice of abortion imposes harm on a second body.

If public smoking and smoking in the presence of minors are banned because of their known impact on others, especially on vulnerable and non-consenting minors, then the law has exactly the same right to impose restrictions on the choice of abortion.  The body that is dismembered in an abortion is not the woman’s body, it’s someone else’s arms and legs and developing brain.  Human bodies don’t begin development at birth, and human beings don’t become fully human and worthy of protection only once we’ve attained completed brain function and adult maturity.  Young and vulnerable humans matter – and they should be protected from the destructive choices of others.

I wholeheartedly agree with the philosophy of “your body your choice,” — even when I personally wouldn’t ever make that choice.  But you don’t have a right to make a choice that has deadly impact on someone else’s body.  No one does.

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Pro-Life Women March on Washington Like First-Wave Feminists Did!

Posted by on Jan 25, 2017 in Abortion in the News | 1 comment

 

Lovely Pro-Life ladies at the Women's March!

Pro-Life ladies (L-R) Jennifer, Stephanie, & Kristine at the Women’s March. Jan 21, 2017

When women first began marching and rallying in Washington, the vast majority of them opposed abortion.  Victoria Clafin Woodhull, who in 1872 was America’s first female presidential candidate, viewed abortion as “equal to the killing of a person after birth.”  This sentiment was shared by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, author of feminist newspaper The Revolution.  On February 5, 1868, Stanton decried “the murder of children, either before or after birth,” and argued that “the remedy [is the] complete elevation and enfranchisement of woman.” Woodhull’s solution was nearly verbatim: “The remedy is in granting freedom and equality to woman.”

To the early feminists, abortion wasn’t part of the solution to women’s inequality.  Instead, they argued, equality was the solution to abortion.

First wave feminists march
The 2017  Women’s March on Washington was supposed to unite women of all stripes in our ongoing battles for social, political, and financial equality.  But when The Atlantic published an article about pro-life involvement in the march, feelings of unity over common ground quickly dissipated.  March co-chair Bob Bland had enthused about the diversity of the event, its emphasis on “intersectional feminism,” and its inclusion of “voices that have previously been either marginalized or silenced.”  But within hours of the article’s publication, pro-life group New Wave Feminists was struck from the list of official march partners after a number of people complained.  It seems some people prefer “diversity” that marches only to their own rhythm.

Never mind that Americans largely oppose abortion beyond the first trimester. A recent Marist poll  found that as many as 80% of women and 6/10 of all who identify as pro-choice favor restrictions later in pregnancy.  And according to a 2016 Pew Research study, 40% of American women believe abortion should be mostly illegal, while most Americans oppose tax-funding of abortion.  But when NARAL and Planned Parenthood became the primary sponsors of the Women’s March, apparently they got to define feminism for all of us.

Pro-life women nonetheless participated in the Women’s March, despite our disappointment with the organizers’ treatment of NWF and with their recent addition of abortion support among their “unity principles.”  The presence of pro-life groups at the march was for the most part well received.  Joining NWF in the 500,000-strong crowd were members of  Pro-Life Humanists, Life Matters Journal, Consistent Life, and Democrats for Life.

Pro-lifers attended the Women’s March because we agree with the mission on the march’s website: to “stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.” We also stand with the principle of non-violence, and agree that “Women deserve to live full and healthy lives, free of all forms of violence against our bodies.” But we reject the violence of abortion, and include the very youngest in our list of marginalized humans worth defending.

Ironically, a Women’s March promo video appears at first glance to agree with us. “Because my life matters” says a line-up of women.  “And so does hers,” replies a visibly pregnant woman as she points to her abdomen.  Except pro-life feminists think the fetal girl’s value shouldn’t hinge on the abstract concept of “wantedness” nor on her age-based capacities, which have her temporarily dependent and vulnerable through no doing of her own.

Pregnant woman in Women's March on Washington video

“Her life matters” … but only if the bigger and stronger people decide it does?

It comes down to this: forty years of abortion hasn’t broken the glass ceiling. Women all too often “choose” abortion because they feel they have no other choice.  We can ALL unite in fighting for non-violent solutions like paid parental leave, equal pay, a living wage, national daycare, job protection, better accommodations for pregnancy/nursing/parenting, better sex-ed and birth control, as well as for rights for LGBTQIA, immigrants, and the disabled.

When Alice Paul, author of the 1923 Equal Rights Amendment, declared abortion “the ultimate exploitation of women,” she voiced what countless women still feel today. When you hear a woman say “I’m having an abortion because I don’t have any other choice” that’s not a herald of freedom and liberation.  It’s a sign that society needs to work harder to elevate women to a place where our fertility isn’t a handicap!

Pro-life feminists will continue to march and to fight for a society in which female bodies don’t have to be just like never-pregnant male bodies in order to succeed in life.  The remedy is still “the elevation and equality of women”, and society owes women better than the violent destruction of their youngest dependents!

As the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians put it: “None of us are free until all of us are free, with all our rights intact and guaranteed, including the basic right to live without threat or violence.”  Non-violence and equality — regardless of gender, age, or location — is something well worth marching for!

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Pro-Life Reason at Reason Rally

Posted by on Jun 6, 2016 in Prolife at Secular Events | 0 comments

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Although the attendance was lower than the projected 30,000 atheists, the Reason Rally was populated enough that a number of pro-life atheists in attendance managed to not cross paths with each other!   (Shout out to those of you who were in the crowd and didn’t manage to find me.  We’ll have to connect next time around!)

Pro-Life Humanists set up our sign at  various spots around the reflecting pool, in order to maximize our exposure throughout the day.  We handed out our pro-life condoms and literature and enjoyed great exchanges with people willing to engage and consider our position.  I even had the opportunity to interact a little with infamous Christian apologists Ray Comfort and Eric Hovind – who were curious and I think somewhat impressed that I would be pro-life despite my atheism.  I didn’t let them rope me into an evangelistic tug-of-war.

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Unbeknownst to us, pro-life atheist Rosemary Geraghty from Life Matters Journal was also doing outreach at the Reason Rally.  Although it’s a shame that we weren’t able to connect, it’s great to know that she was doing outreach in a place where we weren’t.  Together we hopefully made an impact on the event!  Her summary of her own experience at the Reason Rally is well worth reading!

PLH rosemary

I followed up with my time at the Reason Rally by volunteering for the conference the following day.  As a volunteer, I was able to engage fellow volunteers in civil conversations on abortion as well as make a face-to-face connection with several prominent speakers.  One told me that she’d never met a pro-life atheist before, and that it was definitely something she’d have to give some more thought to.

 

Sometimes it’s all about little ripples.  One person at a time, one pro-choice argument diffused and then another…  Every conversation matters.  Even the ones that have nothing to do with abortion but that simply leave a person realizing they’ve just met a pro-lifer they actually liked.

Thanks to everyone who donated to our Reason Rally Gofundme campaign!  Quite literally couldn’t have done this without you!  Thanks for helping us make ripples!

P.S.  Meet Chip!  He’s a pro-life vegan atheist!  We met at the Reason Rally after-party and he’ll be helping us edit pamphlets in the future.  Hooray to Chip!

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(For more pictures see our Reason Rally album on Facebook)

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“Donating To An Atheist Would Be Like Helping The Devil”

“Donating To An Atheist Would Be Like Helping The Devil”

Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Being a Pro-Life Atheist | 16 comments

Visit http://www.gofundme.com/PLH_Reason_Rally

http://www.gofundme.com/PLH_Reason_Rally

PRO-LIFE ATHEIST = Helping the devil?

PRO-LIFE ATHEISTS = “Helping the devil?”

In a way, donating to an atheist would be like helping the devil“. That’s what someone recently told me as I wondered out loud why so many pro-life Christians seem especially reluctant to fund my group’s pro-life educational projects.   I had no idea!  Pro-life Humanists (and all of you out there who are pro-life atheists and/or non-Christians) are helping the devil to save unborn babies – imagine that!  Such monsters we are!  And all this time, Christians have been arguing that abortion is the work of the devil – but somehow so is trying to stop abortion?  And whatever happened to Luke 9:40 “whoever is not against us is for us“?

I launched Pro-Life Humanists a few years ago after seeing that of the many pro-life groups out there who do person-to-person outreach to the general public, there were none specifically equipped to reach the ever-growing atheist and humanist communities.  Many secular young adults and recent defectors from religion want nothing to do with Christians, yet remain unsure about their views on abortion.  Pro-life atheists are uniquely poised to encourage those young people toward a pro-life position, and toward advocacy of non-violent solutions to unplanned pregnancy.

But more to the point, I launched Pro-Life Humanists because, like other pro-life atheists who have aspired to be career pro-life advocates, I’ve been repeatedly turned down from positions in the pro-life movement.   Back in 2001 I was impressed by pro-life leaders Scott Klusendorf and Gregg Cunningham’s  pleas for more full time pro-life advocates: there are more people working full time to kill preborn children than to save them.   Groups like theirs, (which largely only use secular arguments in their public work – a tactic I loved even when I was Christian) have lauded my informal debate skills whenever I’ve joined them as a volunteer.  In my early twenties I received glowing reference letters from both Klusendorf* and the former midwest director of Cunningham’s group.  But since I left faith behind, they have repeatedly rejected my offers to join them as full time staff and to raise my own salary under their organizations’ umbrellas.   They only want staff who are “under spiritual leadership” and who can “join with them in prayer”.

* (See clarification note at end)

Unfortunately, the drudgery and finance of having to start up my own organization just to be able to do pro-life work was further complicated by the challenge of drumming up financial partners to make this work happen.  It seems that not only do most pro-life Christian groups prefer to only hire pro-life Christians, but most pro-life Christians also tend to prefer donating to groups run by fellow Christians.  If you doubt this trend, watch the video of two identical groups fundraising for an identical charity with nothing but “Atheist” and “Methodist” differencing them.  (Incidentally, we get those looks when we attend the March for Life too).  That no other group but a pro-life atheist group can bring the pro-life cause to the inner world of the atheist community doesn’t impress most pro-life Christians enough to make them want to donate to an atheist group – not even one doing something they agree with.    

Last year, a substantial donor and her colleagues backed out on a contribution that could’ve helped us pay our cost of outreach to the American Atheist Convention and American Humanist convention (flights plus $400-$500 table fees, plus $300 conference fees per event).    She had been excited to help until she realized that we not only do pro-life outreach to atheists, but we also are atheists.

Email sent to my colleague Noah from a rescinding donor: "I did not research Kristine's website enough before I offered to make a donation. I did not realize that Kristine herself is an atheist. I thought she just spoke at atheist conventions with her message. I am Christian first and prolife second. I cannot support messages about unborn babies which do not attach the message of God's creation."

Email sent to my colleague Noah from a rescinding donor: “I did not research Kristine’s website enough before I offered to make a donation. I did not realize that Kristine herself is an atheist. I thought she just spoke at atheist conventions with her message. I am Christian first and prolife second. I cannot support messages about unborn babies which do not attach the message of God’s creation.”          [Emphasis added]


Rather than abandon my intended outreach effort, I put the bulk of the cost of both outreaches (about $3000 total) onto my personal credit card and went anyway.  I had high hopes that once pro-lifers saw the fruit of my labour and the atheist minds changed to pro-life, they would get excited about my work and the funds would follow.

I was wrong.  Not about my success – minds were changed at both events (and again at three other events I attended later that summer and fall).   It was exhausting work to stand at a table for 18+ hours on three or four consecutive days, defending the pro-life position to inquiring and sometimes hostile passersby (I even got stopped with questions when I withdrew to the bathroom!)   But despite verbal enthusiasm and Facebook “likes” from fellow pro-lifers in response to the news of pro-choice atheists becoming pro-life atheists, the funding still didn’t come. I got a few hundred very appreciated dollars from one very generous donor and a handful of smaller gifts from faithful friends, but the bulk of the outreach cost remained mine to carry.   I guess we’re still a group of evil atheists, after all.

So it is that while other pro-life peers of mine are bringing in enough funds under established pro-life groups to earn a salary from their pro-life work, I’m quite literally paying out of pocket and going into debt to do mine.  Friends have suggested I should quit and put my own needs first (I suffer from chronic health challenges and other problems that could well be receiving my financial attention) but I continue to resist quitting.  I’m doing this for those who have no voice and whose entire lives are on the line.  I don’t think I have the moral right to walk away from them!

Yes I am an atheist, but I so very desperately want to make a difference, and to help create a society where both unplanned and planned children are given the love and support they and their mothers deserve.   And with the pro-life movement pleading for more full-time career workers, why should I have to content myself with being just another part-time volunteer or at best an online blogger with a limited reach – when I have so much more to offer this movement?

If you’re a pro-life Christian or religious person who grasps the importance of a pro-life presence in the atheist community,  I plead with you to not allow our differences in beliefs to keep you from making our unique outreach possible.  There aren’t enough pro-life atheists to adequately fund our work, and without your help we’re unable to continue changing minds offline to turn pro-choice atheists into pro-lifers.

And of course, if you’re a non-religious prolifer I beg the same of you.  This group exists to bring your voice to our community, and while we’re willing to do the hard work at these events, we very much need your help to make that  work possible.   Unlike the fundraisers in the video I previously mentioned, we can’t count on most atheists (4/5 non-religious = pro-choice) to be enthused about our work either.  So if you don’t help fund us – who will?

Please make a contribution to our latest fundraiser through Gofundme today.   I assure you, we’re not helping the devil – but we’d really like to help save some preborn children, with your help!


——-

(Clarification 28/05/16: The “they” in “they have repeatedly rejected” refers to the “groups like theirs.”  While I received a reference letter from Scott Klusendorf, he himself was not the one who rejected my offer, but rather a member of his staff who told me Scott wouldn’t hire an atheist.  “repeatedly rejected” refers to multiple conversions over a series of weeks and in person with a regional director of Cunningham’s organization with whom I have often volunteered, one conversation with the member of Scott’s team, and a few other conversations over the past few years with other pro-life organizations.  My apologies for the apparent implication that I had directly asked Scott Klusendorf if I could work for him and that he himself had repeatedly turned me down.  Scott has since stated that there is a distinction between “assisting atheist pro-lifers and employing them.” and that he will  “gladly do the former.”)
… I’m not sure the distinction matters all that much to a pro-life atheist who needs job and is trying to be gainfully employed in the pro-life movement.)

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Attacked by Tomatoes at Canadian March for Life!

Posted by on May 13, 2016 in Abortion in Canada | 0 comments

Good argument

Dear pro-choicers:  A tomato is not an argument.  Running down the street screaming “pro-choice!  pro-choice!” and pelting pro-lifers and pro-life signs with mushy fruit does not make your case that a fetus is not a member of the human species worthy of protection.

It does, however, put stains onto the brand-new, not even fully completed, sign we were making with not-so-cheap colourful fabric.  It’s also an act of destructive violence.  But that kind of seems to be par for the course when it comes to abortion.

Sorry you couldn’t stop to chat with us.  As a group of atheists and humanists joined by a queer (lesbian & trans) pro-life couple, we were probably some of the nicest most open-minded pro-lifers you could’ve interacted with at the March for Life.  Thanks for the extra laundry while I’m hobbling around on a broken foot.   Hopefully we can have real dialog at some point in the future.

The new PLH fabric sign (before it got tomatoed)

The new PLH fabric sign (before it got tomatoed)

 

Close-up of some of the tomato stains

Close-up of some of the tomato stains

 

They're here! They're queer!  They're pro-life!  (Our new local allies)

They’re here! They’re queer! They’re pro-life! (Our new local allies)

 

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Leap Year: 50/50 Draw & Prolife Movie Draw!!!

Posted by on Feb 29, 2016 in Pro-Life Humanists - Updates | 1 comment

Raffle Ticket - Pro-Life Humanists 50/50

HAPPY FEBRUARY 29TH!!!
To celebrate the day which comes but once every four years, Pro-Life Humanists is holding a 50/50 draw! Better still, WE’RE HOLDING TWO DRAWS!!   One for 50% of the raffle funds, and one for a pro-life movie!

Simply select below to decide how many tickets you’d like to purchase. $5.00 will get you in the draw with three chances to win. For $10.00 you’ll get even better value with ten chances to win. And for $25.00 you’ll get a zippy THIRTY chances to win half of all the funds this raffle brings in!!

In lieu of paper stubs, once you’ve bought your tickets you will get a confirmation email with a picture of the tickets we’re putting into the raffle bowl on your behalf. On raffle day (March 7th, 2016), one 50/50 ticket will be selected from the bowl by a blindfolded individual (filmed for your viewing pleasure) and the ticket displayed on the blog and FB page. Match up the ticket to the ones in your pictures and 50% of the collected funds will be sent to you – yours to spend, gift or enjoy as you please!

And as I said, we’re holding TWO DRAWS just to make it even more exciting and increase your chances of winning. Anyone who buys at least $10 in tickets will be entered into a second draw to win a copy of your choice of pro-life movie (Juno, Precious or October Baby)

Funds raised go to the educational pro-life outreach work of Pro-Life Humanists.  Thank you for helping us reach pro-choice secularists and change many minds!

Deadline for purchasing tickets is Sunday March 6th, Midnight Pacific Time.

Select Your Chances:





THOSE WISHING TO NOT PARTAKE OF ONLINE 50/50 MAY  MAKE A CHECK CONTRIBUTION :
Make check out to Pro-Life Humanists
541 Parker Street
Gatineau, Quebec
J9H 4S3
CANADA

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Superbowl Ultrasound Doritos Ad Angers NARAL

Posted by on Feb 8, 2016 in Abortion in the News | 6 comments

It’s apparently been too long since abortion supporters had the  Tim Tebow Superbowl commercial of 2010 to fuss over, but thankfully for them they’ve found something new to protest at this year’s Superbowl.    A contest-finalist Doritos ad shows a late-term fetus interacting with his Doritos-eating father during an ultrasound, moving about as though trying to grab a chip from him, and diving out of the womb to chase after it when his exasperated mom throws the distracting Dorito away.



Unfortunately, the people at NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) didn’t find the commercial nearly as funny as most of its viral audience already has.  Instead they bemoaned the “anti-choice tactic of humanizing fetuses”
Superbowl Doritos Ad. NARAL Tweets: #NotBuyingIt - that @Doritos ad using #antichoice tactic of humanizing fetuses & sexist tropes of dads as clueless & moms as uptight. #SB50
That’s right, folks – cause you know, fetuses are these non-human tissue blobs that are merely fodder for dismemberment.  Anyone who might show them as the least bit alive is so obviously just “anti-choice”.   I mean, how dare the film producer, who apparently used ultrasound footage of his own son in the digitally animated imagery, not champion the message that a woman should have the right to choose death, even for a child about to be born “any day now”?

Unfortunately for NARAL, society is the one who’s #NotBuyingIt – and by it, I mean their mythology that human development begins at birth.  While the ad’s depictions are obviously  exagerated for the sake of humour, studies have long shown us that a fetus responds to his/her environment, particularly in the last trimester.  They learn and respond to music and language, they become accustomed to taste, smells and the spices of their culture’s cuisine…   Decades of ultrasounds have pulled open the curtains on the womb and made NARAL’s kvetching over a late trimester fetus seem absurd.

We “anti-choicers” don’t need to “humanize the fetus”.  Fetuses are already human because they are the biological product of two human parents, and because human is a species designation, not a function designation.  From the time their bodies first comes into existence at fertilization, fetuses are growing, biological members of our species.

In fact, that’s the only reason why another highlight of Superbowl’s 50th anniversary, the Superbowl Babies commercial even makes sense. The kids singing Seal’s Kiss From a Rose parody are called Superbowl Babies because they were conceived after their parents’ team won a Superbowl.  They earn their title because their now grown human bodies first came into existence during or shortly after one of the past 50 Superbowls – as opposed to 9 months later.


So, sorry-not-sorry NARAL, but the fact that fetuses aren’t conscious, sentient or ordinarily chasing after Doritos is a question of how old they are, not of what they are.

 

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You Are Cordially Invited to STAY HOME!

You Are Cordially Invited to STAY HOME!

Posted by on Dec 9, 2015 in Pro-Life Humanists - Updates | 0 comments

Classic facial expression of Kevin from Home Alone movie
Not another charity fund-raiser???!   Well here’s a Christmas Ball that you don’t have to attend!  In fact, we want you to stay home (or go do your last-minute Christmas shopping) – guilt-free!

We know that as much as you may want to support your favourite non-profits at this time of year, it can be a real chore to attend a special function!  If means taking a night off from other activities, finding the perfect oufit to wear, ironing it or taking it to the cleaners, driving or busing to the function and hoping you beat traffic to arrive on time for the special music (and this is especially challenging if you and your fellow members live in different states and/or countries!) and if you have kids you need to hire a sitter and worry about their transportation also!   Besides, hundreds of dollars may be spent renting a hall, buying the food, and paying for  all the pretty decorations – wouldn’t you rather see your money support the outreach work of the organization?

Pro-Life Humanists has the ultimate solution – our Stay Home Christmas Ball!  For the bargain price of $15 (ticket options available for those who are or who like to impersonate Bill Gates, as well as for students/limited income) you’ll receive a private link to a holiday playlist full of fun and zany songs, 3 holiday-themed recipes for you to enjoy wherever you are, and if you leave us your mailing address we’ll send you a lovely thank you gift just for taking part in our special holiday event!

UPDATE:  BY POPULAR REQUEST WE’VE ADDED A VIRTUAL PARTY VIA GOOGLE HANGOUTS!  Everyone who has a ticket to our Stay Home fundraiser will also be sent a link to our google hangout where we’ll have the chance to meet one another and connect with other likeminded pro-life humanists and friends!

Every dollar we receive will go toward ensuring that we can continue our valuable mind-changing work.   Every time Pro-Life Humanists sets up a pro-life display table at an atheist convention, we are flooded with people who are curious to hear the secular case against abortion.  At each event we see people change their minds after engaging in dialogue with us for a while, and who either become pro-life or who promise to give the matter some more thought!  We’re bringing pro-life into a world that is predominantly pro-choice and with your help, we hope to attend even more events this year!  Average table fees range from $400-$500, conference admission is around $300, and return airfare usually ballparks $700 (from Canada to the States).  We need to raise at least $1200-$1500 to be able to attend and change minds at an atheist conference.  Your Stay Home ticket will help us achieve our goal!

On December 19th, when you receive your special links, upload to the event page a selfie or family picture with a sign that says “I’m/We’re staying home (or whatever you’ve opted to do that evening) for Pro-Life Humanists!”   That way we can all be apart together!  🙂

Thanks for being part of our cyber-era Christmas/holiday party!  We hope you won’t attend along with us! 😀


Choose Your Ticket


THOSE WISHING TO BUY A TICKET BY CHECK:
Make check out to Pro-Life Humanists
541 Parker Street
Gatineau, Quebec
J9H 4S3
CANADA
(let us know via email or FB so we can reserve you a non-spot)

Stay Home Christmas Ball graphic

 

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Green Party Leader Elizabeth May: Open to Abortion Debate?

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May: Open to Abortion Debate?

Posted by on Oct 14, 2015 in Abortion in Canada | 2 comments

(L-R) Stephen Harper (Conservatives), Elizabeth May (Green), Tom Mulcair (NDP), Justin Trudeau (Liberal)

(L-R) Stephen Harper (Conservatives), Elizabeth May (Green), Tom Mulcair (NDP), Justin Trudeau (Liberal)

With Canada’s next federal election right around the corner, it’s a bleak landscape for Canadians who care at all about the issue of abortion.   Stephen Harper has repeated again and again that he will never touch the issue as long as he is Prime Minister, and both Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau have made it clear that their Mp’s must support the status quo on abortion.

Since 1988, Canada has been one of three countries without abortion laws, resulting in abortion on demand through all nine months, usually tax-funded.   However, according to a 2011 Environonics poll, 77% of Canadians disapprove of third trimester abortions, 58% want restrictions after the first trimester, 54% want tax coverage only on medically necessary abortions or in case of rape, and a whopping 92% of Candians favour a ban on sex-selection abortions, which recent studies and a CBC investigation have shown are happening increasingly in some part of Canada.

In anticipation of the upcoming election, the pro-life community has spent the year campaigning against Justin Trudeau’s prochoice extremism.   With tweets, graphic postcards, and cross-country demonstrations, the #No2Trudeau campaign sought to discourage voters from backing a leader who would bar prolifers from his party and champion unrestricted abortion.

Unfortunately, the NDP leader Tom Mulcair shares the same conviction as the Liberals: no anti-abortion candidate will be allowed to run for the NDP.   If you’re a socialist who thinks women deserve better options than being told to abort the kids they can’t afford, you’ll have no voice in the NDP.

And of course pro-life Conservatives still exist, but true to his word to not reopen the debate, Prime Minister Harper has squashed all private member’s bills.  He voted against MP Stephen Woodworth’s Motion 312, which merely sought an investigation of human beginnings in light of modern science.  Even MP Mark Warawa’s Motion 408, “That the House condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination”  was stomped out despite its wide public support.  A Conservative government may prevent Trudeau’s intended abortion funding overseas, but that’s as good as it gets.

Only Green party leader Elizabeth May, despite being pro-choice, has shown receptiveness to public debate on touchy issues like abortion.  Last November,  during the Q&A at her lecture on Proportional Representation, I asked May in light of Canadian abortion polls:
How is it possible for the majority of us who want some sort of restrictions or protections for the humans in the womb to have any kind of say or representation in parliament, if our leaders refuse to even allow us to have the debate in parliament?

May responded by assuring me that unlike the other parties, the Green party has no whipped votes and therefore “No Green Party member has to vote according to our policies.”   She added:

It is to me not a good situation when any issue is viewed – especially an issue of public policy – as too tough to handle, too sensitive to discuss.  I personally prefer the status quo in not reopening the debate because there are so many hard-won victories for women to ensure legal and safe abortions… but the courts are likely to say to parliament again: ‘You’ve got to have something on the books, we have nothing on the books.”

… I personally am very disturbed by the notion that Canadians  would go get an ultrasound and abort a healthy fetus because they didn’t want a girl.  It’s concerning.  But if we can’t even discuss it in parliament… I’m with you there!  … There are a lot of questions that are profoundly moral questions that are tough to handle.  But our constituents are talking about  them.  If our constituents are talking about it, then I think we ought to be able to talk about them as parliamentarians.

[Hear full question & response]

In fact, upon rejecting the 1969 abortion law, the 1988 Supreme Court told parliament that it was up to them to enact a new and better law with the interests of the later-term fetus in mind.  We’re still waiting for them to do so.  No issue that continues to so widely divide Canadians more than 30 years after its onset  can honestly claim to be a closed debate – even if most of our leaders want to pretend that it is.

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“You’ve Changed My Mind!” Another Atheist Becomes Pro-Life At Conference

“You’ve Changed My Mind!”  Another Atheist Becomes Pro-Life At Conference

Posted by on Sep 24, 2015 in Prolife at Secular Events | 4 comments

We saw another successful weekend of changing minds and rewriting people’s assumptions about prolifers, as  Pro-Life Humanists tabled at Apostacon in Dallas, Texas this past weekend!  Meeting pro-choice atheists one-on-one for relational exchanges and friendly discussion changes minds and influences many!  I am more convinced of it with each new event I attend!  People are infinitely friendlier and more receptive to one another when we’re not hiding in relative anonymity behind computer screens!

Twitter screenshot: Zachary Moore ‏@drzach : Sep 19 Dallas, TX "Shout-out to @kruszer here at #Apostacon. Disagree with her views on abortion, but as a freethinker I applaud her willingness to debate."

[Twitter screenshot – I met this guy and we had a civil discussion off Twitter.  What we’re about!]

This weekend’s atheist conference was our fifth this year!  If you’ve missed the previous updates, here’s the brief summary:  At the American Atheist Convention in Memphis, April 2015, I rubbed shoulders with leaders, speakers, and people of influence in the atheist community such as American Atheists leader David Silverman, “Science Babe”, Tracy Lockwood, David Smalley of Dogma Debate podcast…  None of them became pro-life on the spot but they each walked away having had a friendly exchange with someone who was pro-life, and they’d been given a few reasons to rethink their views.

At the Denver Humanist convention in May I had similarly positive exchanges and conversations on abortion with leaders like Margaret Downey of the Freethought Society, Jennifer Bardi, editor of The Humanist magazine (both of whom I got to know in social settings and formed a friendly connection with) as well as with the current director of The American Humanist Society (“please tell me why you take this stance, cause for the life of me I don’t understand”) and with celebrity physicist Lawrence Krauss (whom I would meet again in Toronto in August).  Better still: five people I’d met throughout the weekend changed their minds to pro-life at a post-conference social event, as we chatted over pizzas and drinks!  Voice to voice, face to face – there’s power in that!

In Niagara/Buffalo at Center For Inquiry’s Reason for Change conference in early June, I made the existence of prolife atheists known (both in hanging out with him and other students before his talk, and during Q&A) to none other than celebrity scientist atheist Richard Dawkins!

Kristine with Scientist Richard Dawkins - Reason for Change 2015

[Kristine with scientist Richard Dawkins – Reason for Change 2015]

A short time later up in Canada at Toronto area’s Non-Conference in August, I had another exchange with Lawrence Krauss (he quite liked the prolife condoms), and had Q&A not been cut short, I would’ve been able to publicly respond to a  general challenge/accusation he made toward pro-lifers during his speech.  My conversation with Mr Deity, another well-known podcaster was also worth noting.  Event after event, our fellow atheists are learning that not all secularists support abortion, and they are hearing good reasons to rethink their slogans!

Physicist Lawrence Krauss - Non Conference 2015

[Kristine with  physicist Lawrence Krauss – Non Conference 2015]

And now that you’re all caught up, you want to know: what did this past weekend’s presence at Apostacon yield?   It began with an unsurpassable opportunity to share a restaurant table with celebrity magician & atheist Penn Jillette of the Las Vegas duo Penn & Teller (they’re also the stars and producers of a few fabulous TV series).  Penn has previously expressed uncertainty about his views on abortion, suggesting that perhaps consciousness was the appropriate line to define a human being, so I was eager to meet him and ask him where he was at now.  He was tired and didn’t say much, but he listened to another guy and I discuss for quite some time, and then he took a pamphlet and said “I’m sometimes asked whether I know any prolife atheists.  Now I can say that I  do.”  Hopefully we’ll have the chance to chat again some time.

Kristine Kruszelnicki with Penn Jillette

[Penn Jillette graciously got up from his meal to hug me & pose with me!]


Throughout the weekend I met a large number of people who were ex-Christians/ex-Catholics who told me they had been prolife up until they left religion.  They were surprised to hear that it was possible to leave faith and still be an advocate of human rights for the pre-born.   I wonder just how many more atheists are out there who have left faith only to join the team of those advocating for abortion, simply because they never met any prolifers like us during their transitional season, and instead adapted their and thinking to that of the majority of their secular peers.

One young man I spoke with had likewise been pro-life in his youth but had become pro-choice after becoming atheist.  He still had conflicting feelings about abortion but felt that development of the fetus mattered as far as whether or not it was ok to put the woman’s bodily rights above that of the fetus.  He agreed that where we are doesn’t change what we are, and I gradually helped him see that how old we are (which is reflected in how dependent, under-developed and non-sentient we are as fetuses) doesn’t either. The preborn are highly dependent and non-sentient not because they’re non humans but because they’re very young humans.  We know they’re human because of their genetic composition and who their parents are, and by the pattern according to which they are developing.  As we discussed the right to die and compared fetuses to temporarily comatose patience, the element of lack of consent (which the assisted suicide patient can give, while a fetus in his current state cannot) really struck a chord and at last he said “Wow.  I don’t have a response to that, so I guess you’ve changed my mind for now.”  I look forward to staying in touch with him and answering any future questions/arguments that might arise!  Another atheist becomes pro-life!

Kristine posing with young man who changed his mind to prolife

[I loved discussing abortion with this great thinker!  Thanks for a good dialog!]


But I’ll never forget meeting Traci.  I had stepped away from my info table for a few minutes to chat with one of the other exhibitors during a lull in traffic when all of a sudden I heard a loud shriek coming from my table.  Walking back I inwardly braced myself  in anticipation of the angry words that were about to fly my way,  until I noticed the woman was smiling ear to ear! “This is amazing!  There’s someone else who thinks like me??  I always cringe whenever speakers are cheering about abortion rights and I never realized there were others like me!  This is SO awesome!”   Traci immediately invited me to join her for diner and jumped in immediately by volunteering to help me cut the remaining labels for our “Thwart Don’t Abort” condoms.   We also discovered a shared love for Doctor Who and a mutual conviction against routine infant circumcision  (see ProLife Intactivists – there are a bunch of us!)   I love this gal!  Welcome to the PLH family, Traci!  😀

My new awesome pro-life atheist intactivist Whovian friend Traci!

[My new awesome pro-life atheist intactivist Whovian friend Traci!]

I love attending these conferences!  I see many of the exhibitors, speakers and attendees repeatedly at different events and I know that their attitudes toward me and towards the pro-life position overall have changed as a result of the ongoing relationships being forged through these events. Pro-lifers used to be evil, small-minded religious bigots to them, but now they’ve danced, eaten and hung out with one who genuinely wants to help women and their children and to create a better world.  Surely exchanges like these can’t help but make positive dents in our cultural landscape.  I hope we can continue to have this degree of impact and more!

We’re a small group (pro-life secularists, atheists, humanists, agnostics and left-minded prolifers represent a very small portion of the pro-life community) and without you standing with us, this work cannot happen.  Traditional pro-life Christians have routinely refused involvement with us on account of our non-Christian and leftist views, which means that it falls to you, our friends and allies in the more open-minded pro-life minority as well as our open-minded diversity-loving pro-choice atheist friends to ensure that pro-choice atheists can be regularly engaged on this issue and that children of pro-choice atheists can be given the chance at life.   I invite you to partner with us and ensure that this work can continue.

Each event costs approximately $1000 $1500 to attend, including conference fees, info table fees and flights (no hotels or restaurants, I travel cheap via couch-surfing and grocery stores so our money is maximized!)

We need:
– 2 trail blazers willing to contribute $100 each
– 5 troopers able to contribute $50 each
– 20 awesome friends backing us with $25 each
– 10 fans loving us with $10 each

Can YOU be one of them and help make our next conference appearance happen?  Can you be part of this novel outreach to a cultural group not being addressed in real-time dialog by any other organization?  Can you help us achieve our next conference appearance where more minds can be changed?  Any amount will help!  Even $5 will collectively matter!

You can make a contribution via paypal or credit (click the button below) or email funds to donate [at sign] prolifehumanist.org)  If you prefer the old-fashioned style, checks can be made out to ProLife Humanists 541 Parker Street, Gatineau, Quebec, J9H 4S3  Canada.  Contributions can be set as a one-time gift of solidarity or as a monthly building block.  Either way, we absolutely need you!

Many thanks for being a part of this!  You’re on the cusp of a new wave in both the pro-life and the atheist/humanist community! 😀

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I Still Can’t Believe He Was Almost Aborted!

I Still Can’t Believe He Was Almost Aborted!

Posted by on Aug 29, 2015 in Pro-Life Humanists - Updates | 0 comments

He’s the gift I never expected to receive at my age, and now I can’t imagine my life without him!  I still can’t believe he was almost aborted!  I mean look at him — can you imagine if I’d done that to him?
~ Noah’s mom with her 5 mth old baby

Noah and his Enamored Mom
People often ask me why I care so much about abortion.  After all, fetuses are small, probably not very sentient if at all, and is there really that much of a difference between having never been conceived vs going from the oblivion of early fetal existence to the oblivion of death?

I now have a new visual for my reply: His name is Noah.  Exactly one year ago this week, I met Noah’s mom while doing a public display on abortion with my friends at the Canadian Center for Bio-Ethical Reform.  Prior to that meeting, Noah was still unknown to everyone but his parents, who were seriously considering abortion.  He was just a first trimester fetus with tiny little body parts and minimal consciousness at best, and he didn’t even have a name yet – all of which would’ve made it easy for a perhaps well-intentioned physician to have his body dismembered and his little life wiped out as thought it had never been.  But he had been, even back then.  And tiny and nameless though he was, those were still someone’s feet, someone’s legs, someone’s beating heart, and someone’s growing brain – yes, even someone’s male genitals for his future bodily pleasures.  And when I think of abortion or I see a photo of a dismembered fetus, I see someone like Noah.  Because abortion would’ve destroyed his body.

One year to the week when I first began encouraging Noah’s mom to not abort, I got to travel again to the downtown mall where I’d met her.  I had the privilege of holding in my arms the now five-month post-birth little boy  who’d unknowingly come so close to being decapitated, disemboweled, and dismembered in a first trimester suction abortion.  Noah’s Mom faced very real challenges when she conceived him.  But she worked hard with the help of others to kill the problems, rather than kill the boy.  I couldn’t be prouder of this brave woman – and be assured this little boy and any others I help save with pro-life work will always have me as an extra “Auntie”!

I can’t stay silent about abortion because it destroys actual growing bodies – just like Noah’s little body, which abortion came real close to destroying forever.  It dismembers the yet nameless Heathers and the Matthews and the Deshauns who have been conceived and and who now exist, and whose tiny bodies have begun what should have been lifelong development as human beings.  Little human bodies can’t be disregarded and destroyed just because they mess up the plans of the bigger human bodies.  Might may seem to make right, but I’m convinced that non-violent conflict resolution must be the path of a civilized society!

I gave Noah’s mom a Precious Feet pin this week, along with a souvenir footprint  kit so she can memorialize his baby feet as they are today.  Noah’s feet were about the size of that 10 week fetal feet pin when I met his mom one year ago.  We’re both thrilled she didn’t end the growth of those little feet, and that those same, now much bigger feet are still around to kick about the world!   We’ll keep fighting for the rest of your generation, Baby Noah, for they too deserve their futures.  Meanwhile, happy trails, wherever your precious feet take you!

 Five month old Noah's feet are much bigger now than they were at 10 weeks (like the pin) when he was almost aborted!

 

Noah Meme1

 

ALSO READ: BABY NOAH SAVED FROM ABORTION; BORN THIS WEEK

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Pro-Life Table at American Humanist Convention Denver

Pro-Life Table at American Humanist Convention Denver

Posted by on Jun 13, 2015 in Prolife at Secular Events | 0 comments

Became pro-life even in case of rape

Marvin, ex-pastor who became pro-life even in case of rape, over the course of a lengthy dialog

 

Thank you!  You’ve opened my eyes!  I never thought about abortion that way before! I always made an exception for rape but you’ve helped me see the innocent one – cause the fetus is innocent too and I never thought of that before!
– Ex pastor, recently new atheist attending his first Humanist convention

Well I don’t think it’ll change how I vote but I can’t refute your arguments and you’ve answered all of mine. I guess I’m going to have to think about this some more.
– Young man at a post-conference social

I haven’t had reason to rethink ‪‎abortion‬ in over ten years. Never thought there were any real arguments to consider!
– Pro-choice young woman

 

The above quotes represent just a few of those I spoke to at the Humanist Convention in Denver who walked away either newly identifying as pro-life in all cases, or whom I knew had had at least some degree of mind-change by the end of our dialog. This was my second conference attendance in 6 weeks, having recently has similar results at the American Atheist Convention in Memphis. But if I’d remained the least bit unsure of the effectiveness of one-on-one dialogue as a pro-life strategy, the Humanist Convention in Denver erased all doubt!

I’m convinced that positive human connection is unparalleled in its ability to change minds on the emotional issue of abortion. That’s not to say there isn’t much we can achieve in our writing and and online interactions (I’m a huge proponent of social media activism), but in the words of one of the pro-choice ladies I befriended in Denver (after bonding with her over an anti-waste rescue mission of a garbage-bound platter of nuts and fruit): “Conferences turn us into three-dimensional people.”  Indeed, no matter how much you may disagree with someone ideologically, it’s really hard to view one another as enemies when you’re sharing toasted almonds from the same snack bag! Friendly discussions, with gentle body language and eye contact not possible online, can take people out of defensive mode and into mutual listening mode.

pro-choice atheist at Denver Humanist Covention 2015

Stephanie, my fellow anti-waste crusader!

As with other events that involve one conversation after another (campus displays like Genocide Awareness Project, Justice for All or Choice Chain for instance) setting up a pro-life info table at a secular conference, where by my estimate close to 99% of attendees identify as pro-choice, can be emotionally and mentally exhausting — to say the least. For roughly 18 hours a day, four days in a row, whether I’m at the info table, at diner, or down in the lobby recharging my phone while waiting for the rain to let up, I’m likely to have someone ask me why I’m a pro-life atheist — I even had someone tell me her abortion story when I went to the bathroom! I know that every word I say that weekend and every tone I choose to say it in can help paint for them a new picture of a pro-life person.

pro-choice gal from Denver Humanist Convention 2015

Kimberly, open-minded pro-choice gal I enjoyed dialoguing with throughout the weekend

“You’re so serene and calm when you talk to people. I don’t know how you always stay so composed with people arguing with you all day long.”
– Pro-choice young lady

I’ve read countless pro-life books and attended fantastic pro-life apologetics workshops over my years in the pro-life movement, and all of them have given me confidence to dialog with reasoned arguments. But it was those who taught me not only what to say but how to say it, that did me the greatest favour! I’m not by nature a serene person in face of argument but I can testify to the wonders of stepping back emotionally, of smiling pleasantly in the face of insult, of making a mental effort to keep one’s voice calm and conversational, and of asking open-ended questions with the intent to understand them. I disagreed with most of the people I talked to at the conference, but I think I liked every one of them! And I hope that’s the sentiment that most of them walked away with. I want them to feel like the next time they see me, be it online or at another conference, that they will want to engage me on abortion again (as one exhibitor whom I met at the American Atheist convention was eager to do when we were both tabling this event). It’s not likely they’ll leave my table pro-life the first time they pass by, but if they leave thinking “that girl really listened to me, and we had at least some common ground” or “I disagree with her but I still like her,” then I have achieved something of value with lasting effect.

Of course, one of the best results of a pro-life presence at secular conferences is that minds often are changed. At the optional social event Sunday night (which I’ll be honest I almost skipped on account of being so exhausted by then) I ended up in an hour and a half discussion with four young men and an ex-pastor. By the end of our conversation, three of the five admitted they agreed with me and couldn’t refute my arguments, and the other two said they weren’t sure yet, but that I’d really made them think. The ex-pastor (whom I quote at the beginning of this post) was so excited and grateful for his new-found clarity that he started right then and there telling some of his friends who’d missed the conversation why they too should be pro-life! Needless to say, I got roped into another long conversation alongside him and it ended up being a late night, but I’ve no regrets!

Since becoming an atheist a little while ago I started rethinking all my views on everything. Abortion is one of those I’m still dealing with but you’ve really made me think! Everything you said made sense. I kind of want to disagree with you but I don’t think I can.
– Young man at post-conference social

Attendees of secular conferences differ from those one might meet at a typical public pro-life display, in that most are ex-Christians and many have been particularly wounded by Christianity. As such, I believe they are more unlikely than your average pro-choice individual to take the time to interact with a religious pro-lifer. That means it falls to pro-life atheists/humanists/secularists who share their common ground to reach this particular audience. As an increasing number of young adults and those of all demographics are leaving religion, many have not yet made up their mind about abortion – we hope to be there to ensure the pro-life voice is one of the voices they will hear within the secular community as they rethink their moral convictions. Won’t you please help us in that goal?

Every dollar you send our way will go toward conference admission, table fees, and flights – in fact, I even couch-surf rather than staying at the hotel, just to ensure that we’re maximizing all funds toward the essentials! With your help we can attend more conferences throughout this coming year (there are at least a dozen more we could attend, but we’re shooting for another three at the moment – at a cost of approx $1000 each). So if you love the results you’re seeing on the blog and the Facebook page, please ensure we can continue this work by making a donation below, sending an email gift to donate@prolifehumanists.org or by sending a check to Pro-Life Humanists c/o Kristine Kruszelnicki 541 Parker Street, Gatineau, Quebec, J9H 4S3 Canada. Bringing a pro-life table to a secular convention is unlike anything I’ve ever done. I look forward to many more opportunities to do it again!

Help Pro-Life Humanists get to another atheist event so the mind-changing work can continue!

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Amazing people I met at the Denver Humanist Convention 2015!

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Dear Pro-Choice Atheists: You don’t own Atheism!

Dear Pro-Choice Atheists:  You don’t own Atheism!

Posted by on Apr 17, 2015 in Being a Pro-Life Atheist | 28 comments

Berenstain Bears title page "No Girls Allowed" modified: No pro-life atheists allowed

Dear pro-choice atheists: Atheism is not your clubhouse.  You don’t get to decide who can or can’t be an atheist and who gets to partake of the atheist community, be it its conferences, its blogs, or its online forums. Yes, pro-life atheists are a minority (19% of the non-religious identify as pro-life) but that doesn’t mean those of you in the majority get to bully us into silence and absenteeism!

I recently attended my second American Atheist Convention and for the most part it was a positive experience.  Those who came by our table found reasoned and philosophical discussion about human rights and whether or not the right to the bodily autonomy of one can supercede the right to life of another.   They shared their arguments and I told them why I believe it’s inaccurate to compare pregnancy to forced organ donation.  Most of them left with a smile, hug or handshake, as well as with a “Thwart, Don’t Abort” condom, and I believe the exchanges overall were mutually civil and often quite pleasant.

Twitter screen grab: had a great dialog with pro-life humanists group

Unfortunately, not all pro-choice atheists at the convention responded to us with the same open-minded grace.  While some simply ignored our table or made sour-milk faces at us as they  hurried by, one young woman tried to rub her pro-choice majority in our face by putting up a Planned Parenthood donation box right next to our table.  It wasn’t an original gesture (as a reaction against our presence, someone had done it in 2012 when I’d tabled with Secular Pro-Life) but it’s still just as rude: Imagine being a meat eater and setting up a donation box to a slaughterhouse right next to a Vegan table just to spite them.*

We already know we’re in the minority here,” I told her gently as she set up her donation bag (on my new pro-choice friend’s table, no less) “Why do you feel the need to further mark the division between us, where we’ve mostly had a spirit of diversity and open discussion all day?”  Her response to my question was a diatribe so hot and angry that it prompted her organization’s leader to later make an apology on her behalf.   Like many I’d chatted with that weekend, I appreciated the leader’s affirmation of diversity among atheists.  Still, the intense animosity of the young woman had been nonetheless disappointing.

There are some among you, my dear atheist peers, who think being secular means making a world of people who think exactly like you.  Those like atheist blogger Greta Christina who a couple days ago wrote an open letter to American Atheists disparaging them for “courting atheist conservatives”.  For the record, I and most of Pro-Life Humanists’ members are quite left wing on most issues (most of us identify as anti-death-penalty, pro-GLBT rights, anti-war, pro-welfare & state-funded daycare, pro right-to-die so long as the dying person makes the choice, anti non-consensual genital alteration, and anti-violence overall – which is why we side against the violent choice of abortion) … but even if our pro-life views came from a larger Conservative philosophy, who gets to decide that we don’t belong in your events?  When did atheism become yours anyway?   Sorry, but I must’ve missed the conference where we elected the Atheist Pope and agreed on a Catechism of acceptable Atheist views and doctrines.

When Christians lose their faith and come to atheism, sociologists like Phil Zuckerman have demonstrated that most leave religion only after first falling out of step with their church’s conservative values.   This creates the illusion that atheist = liberal, but only because liberals are more likely to abandon the religion that doesn’t match their values.   On the other hand, a growing number of people are leaving religion not because their values conflict with their church, but rather because they take issue with the mythologies and so-called sacred writings themselves.  Values which hinged on those writings (standards of sexuality & hetero marriage, for example) usually get tossed or significantly modified, while values like human rights, which were already grounded in a larger philosophy of non-violence and in our understanding of human bodies’ biological beginnings, remain with us.  Becoming secular doesn’t mean we all start thinking alike and churning out cloned liberal conclusions.  It merely means that when we talk about the social issues that divide society, our discussions will no longer be clouded by religious gobbledygook.  Atheists have collectively eliminated the red herring, but that’s not the same thing as having correctly solved all of society’s moral mysteries.

It’s time to stop giving conservatives and pro-lifers the cold shoulder.   My irony metre nearly broke when I heard the same young woman who’d so vehemently opposed the presence of pro-life atheists in the exhibit room, later that day bemoan over a secular podcast just how badly it hurt to be ostracized by her ethnic community for being in a non-believing minority.   Pro-life atheists bleed the same hurts you do!  Many of us have likewise been cut off from very religious friends and family or are unable to spend time alone with our own nieces and nephews because our family fears we might try to dissuade them from their young faiths.  And so long as you’re concerned with not “alienating the millions of female atheists”, remember that most pro-life atheist leaders are females – and we don’t take kindly to being alienated by you either.  We come to the atheist community for the same sense of family and fellowship all atheists do – except unlike other minorities within atheism, pro-life atheists find ourselves being ostracized further and sometimes yelled at, simply because  we support rights for humanity’s pre-born.

Last I checked, American Atheists was not called “American Pro-Choice Atheists”.  Neither is there a group out there called “Center for Inquiry on Everything but Abortion” nor an online forum for “The Thinking Pro-Choice Atheists Who Won’t Think About Pro-Life Arguments” etc.    So please stop moaning that people who are different than you are being allowed into your club.  Atheism isn’t your clubhouse.  It’s our clubhouse – the atheist community belongs to all of us!

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* In the spirit of inclusivity, I’m hoping that American Atheists will select a less divisive charity than Planned Parenthood for future charity events held officially by the conference. Women’s shelter, food bank, animal rescue, children’s hospital, low-income reading program… we have common ground to work with!


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Bridge Building: American Atheist Convention Advantages!

Bridge Building: American Atheist Convention Advantages!

Posted by on Apr 13, 2015 in Prolife at Secular Events | 3 comments

If it’s true that people are influenced by their peers and more likely to accept the ideology of those they like, then a lot can be said for taking interactions about heavy topics like abortion away from the internet and into the realm of the face to face human connection.  After all, abortion is nothing if not a deeply personal and emotional topic.   And while blogs and Facebook debates certainly do have their place, there’s only so much one can achieve through them.  My greatest take-away from my recent conference experience at the American Atheist Convention in Memphis is that it’s a lot harder to vilify someone when you’ve laughed, sang, and swapped smiles/hugs with them!  That works both ways – even with those who are currently our ideological opponents!   🙂

Thursday evening before the conference officially kicked off was a social event that I debated attending but am glad I did!  It began with what is known in geek circles as a “pub quiz” (my youth of Bible study came in really handy for questions about the books of the Bible!) and was followed by a game of Cards Against Humanity with special edition cards related to figures known to the atheist community.  Unfortunately, the CAH game was a special event for a $10 charity donation… to Planned Parenthood.  🙁

Although frustrated that an atheist event would choose a charity that is sure to not be a unanimous choice for all atheists, I decided against making a stand by leaving the event altogether.   Instead I informed the organizer and my table mates that I could not in good conscience make a donation to Planned Parenthood since the good they do in contraception and other health services doesn’t negate the harm they cause in performing abortions.  I was permitted to play without donating (though that sadly meant passing up on the special edition cards) and I’m glad I stayed.  Some of the people I met that evening ended up being those with whom I connected most throughout the weekend.

One of those individuals was David, who despite being pro-choice generously drove me to and from my host home all weekend, printed up my new brochure on his home printer, and even let me use his paper cutter all weekend.   We had some great chats in the car as we went to and from the hotel.  And though we still disagreed by the weekend’s end, our future conversations on Facebook or at future conferences might now have more depth because we connected person to person.

Singing Hasa Diga Ebowai (a song from The Book of Mormon musical) with other exhibitors during the day; and dancing, jamming and singing around the lobby piano at night (with my former debate opponent Matt Dillahunty plunking fabulously on his ukulele) are all relationship-building experiences that can’t really be had online.  We’re one-dimensional characters over the internet.  Two-dimensional at best, when we do a podcast or video.  But we’re real human beings to one another when we interact in person.  Nothing can really replicate or replace that.

Below are just a small handful of the many many great people I interacted with this weekend.   Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to snapping many pictures until Sunday (it was Easter in case you’re wondering about the bunny ears) so these pictures and accompanying stories are but a sampling of the fabulous people I connected with:

David Silverman, president of American Atheists loves the presence of pro-lifers in his community because it fosters diversity!

David Silverman, president of American Atheists loves the presence of pro-lifers in his community because it fosters diversity!

Mary, a pro-choice ally & friend I met during the Thursday social event.

Mary, a pro-choice ally & friend I met during the Thursday social event.

Picture of pro-choice ally and friend

David, pro-choice yet chauffeured me all weekend, lent me his paper cutter & printed copies of my brochure!

Science Babe, one of the speakers. Had a great talk. She's awesome!

Science Babe, one of the speakers. We had a great talk. She’s awesome!

Bishop had the table next to mine. He's open-minded when it comes to abortion. We had some great discussions!

Bishop had the table next to mine. He’s open-minded when it comes to abortion. We had some great discussions!

The lovely Tracy Lockwood, also a speaker. We discussed abortion for a while than found much common ground in our religious pasts. Definitely going to stay in touch! :)

The lovely Tracy Lockwood, also a speaker. We discussed abortion for a while, then found much common ground in our religious pasts. Definitely going to be staying in touch!

Again, I believe attending secular conferences opens doors for future dialog because people see us as real human beings who are friendly, good natured, at times silly, flirty and fun – and that we aren’t evil creatures who hate women.  Of course, none of that guarantees that someone will change their mind and support fetal rights, but at very least, forging relationships ensures that pro-life atheists will have their place in the atheist community and be given a voice.  It’s a voice that’s too long been left unheard.  It’s time to hear: we are here!!

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Pro-Life Presence at American Atheist Convention 2015 Receives Fair Reception

Posted by on Apr 10, 2015 in Pro-Life Humanists - Updates | 0 comments

 

Pro-Life Humanists at American Atheist Convention! Memphis 2015

Pro-Life Humanists at American Atheist Convention! Memphis 2015

“I’m still very pro-choice but I’m glad that this is starting a conversation and introducing a new perspective to the secular movement.  Thank you!”

“I’ve been afraid to tell others that I’m pro-life.  Thank you so much for giving people like me a voice!  I’m ecstatic that you’re here!”

“I’m on the fence about abortion but it’s nice to hear a reasoned argument instead of religious chatter for a change!  You’ve made me think!”

The above comments represent just some of the feedback left in Pro-Life Humanists’ “Anonymous Comment Box” as we tabled this past weekend at the American Atheist Convention in Memphis, Tennessee.   Over the course of four days,  at least 150 pieces of PLH’s pro-life literature were handed out (including a new pamphlet on bodily autonomy arguments), dozens of substantial conversation were had, and countless positive interactions laid the groundwork for ongoing friendly dialog with members of the secular community.

Comment in Pro-Life Humanists box

Going in to the event, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I’d initiated and joined the appearance of Secular Pro-life at the 2012 convention, but our experience there had been so fraught with opposition, push-back and unfounded accusations that we were secretly religious that SPL opted to not return to the atheist convention for the foreseeable future.  Not easily deterred by opposition (or perhaps a glutton for punishment), I’ve held strongly to the conviction that while pro-life Atheists and Humanists are a minority in the secular community, we are a voice that needs to be heard!  The pre-born deserve advocates who are able to articulate a well-reasoned argument – and who better to bring pro-life arguments into the atheist community than pro-life atheists?   Indeed, who but atheists would have even the slightest hope of being received by a community composed largely of ex-believers and skeptical of anything remotely related to religion?

With the exception of one pro-choice outburst late in the day Saturday (more on that in an upcoming entry), the backlash of 2012, didn’t occur in 2015.  Not that our table was received with open arms – not by a long shot.  But neither were we, as one man supposed “the loneliest table [t]here”.  In fact, a steady flow of attendees came by our table hour after hour after hour.  Most came with a spirit of curiosity and many lingered to ponder and discuss the case I was making.  Some were so intrigued and thought-provoked by the secular arguments that they returned repeatedly throughout the weekend to ask additional questions and make further challenges to my convictions.  At times, some of “my regulars”, including those running tables near mine, would stand around debating each other and finding the flaws in one another’s pro-choice arguments (be they related to bodily autonomy or human status of fetus), while I sat back and watched in amusement as they dismantled one another’s claims for me:

“Of course it’s  human, it has human parents!” ….  “Her right to do what she wants with her own body ends when there’s another body involved!”…

 

Thwart!  Don't Abort!  Free Pro-Life Condoms!

Thwart! Don’t Abort! Free Pro-Life Condoms!

By far what served as the biggest bridge-builder was our give-away of pro-life condoms.   With our slogan “Thwart! Don’t Abort!” (brought to life visually thanks to member Ron Cole) we spoke a message of prevention and education which resonated with passersby and spoke volumes to our community’s non-religious approach to abortion:

“At least y’all consistent!”

“Y’all make more sense than the pro-life groups I usually see!”

“I love that you have a more humanitarian and broad-minded approach to your pro-life activism!”

“Thanks for being part of the solution!  I feel like I could talk and work with you guys at least somewhat because we all want to reduce abortions.”

Indeed, Pro-Life Humanists believes that finding common ground is key to fostering a world in which abortion becomes unnecessary and unthinkable.  Pro-choicers aren’t the enemy – abortion is.  The need for contraception and comprehensive sexual education, while at odds with our Catholic pro-life allies, simply makes sense to our pro-choice atheist peers as well as to most of us.   We all want to see a better and more equal world for women!

Thwart Don't Abort!

Did we have any mind changes over the course of the weekend?   If you mean on-the-spot pro-choice to pro-life conversions, then no.  On the other hand, hundreds of atheists have had the opportunity to meet (many for the first time) a pro-lifer who was able to articulate a secular case against abortion, fully devoid of religion and grounded in reason.   Most of my dialogs ended with smiles and either a hand-shake or a hug and for the many who had long written off pro-lifers as “religious kooks”, I consider that to be as great a mind-change as any!

Twitter screen grab: had a great dialog with pro-life humanists group

Many people signed up for our email list, including several pro-lifers who were thrilled to have a representation!  Three times as many pro-choicers than pro-lifers signed up, eager to continue in dialog and receive ongoing information from us.  Thanks to the in-person connections I made this weekend, I’ve also received a number of invitations for podcast interviews and guest-blogging in the near future, as well as invitations to have a table at three or four more upcoming atheist conventions (that’s where you come in – we can only bring a pro-life voice to these sorts of events if your contributions make that possible!  Table fees range from $250 – $400, not including flights/general conference admission.)

Check the blog tomorrow for a small handful of pictures of some of the awesome pro-choice and pro-life people I connected with in Memphis, and with whom a bridge to friendship and dialog has now been built.  Evidence shows that people are more likely to accept the ideology of their friends, and if that be the case, it’s one more point in favour of making face-to-face and hug to hug connections at conventions!  It’s a lot harder to vilify someone you’ve laughed, sang, and swapped smiles/hugs with – even if you’re currently ideological opponents!   🙂

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Baby Noah Saved From Abortion; Born This Week!

Baby Noah Saved From Abortion; Born This Week!

Posted by on Mar 6, 2015 in Pro-Life Humanists - Updates | 14 comments

I do public pro-life activism on a regular basis, but I’ll readily admit that I don’t always enjoy it.  The sun irritates my migraine-prone eyes and head, cigarette smoke, as well as perfumes and car fumes, routinely burn my lungs and make me nauseous, and by the time our activism is over, my feet and legs are sore from standing in one spot. If all that weren’t bad enough, I really can’t say I enjoy having complete strangers yell and curse at me for a couple of hours as I try to engage passersby in productive discussion about their beliefs on abortion.

I wasn’t feeling particularly effective one late August afternoon while I was engaged in a Choice Chain display as part of the Canadian Center for Bio-Ethical Reform’s 2014 Crash Course – a week of intensive training. While I do enjoy a healthy discussion/debate and had really wanted to practice my newly acquired pro-life arguments, the crowd we faced that humid afternoon was hostile, and I found myself longing for the end of our activism time, and for our return to the shade and air conditioning of the training locale. No one in the downtown square that day seemed to want to talk about the morality of abortion itself – they all seemed more upset that children might see our abortion images than they did about the fact that 300 Canadian children per day were being dismembered and killed by the procedure shown in the images.  I felt like I was wasting my time and giving myself a headache for nothing.

As we neared the end of our activism time, I stifled my annoyance over the lack of productive dialog as I explained to someone for what seemed like the countless time that if there was a way to show these images only to adults and to women considering abortion, we would do that. It is indeed unfortunate, I told the gentleman before me, that some parents might be called upon to explain to their young children that while they are loved and safe, other babies aren’t being protected, and the people showing the pictures are trying to help save those babies. Undoubtedly, some parents’ frustration has less to do with the kids’ reaction (the younger of whom are more confused than disturbed) and more with their own guilt at having to justify their legal support of what their older children can recognize as an act of violence against babies.  Nevertheless, lives take precedence over feelings. “We’re here in the public square because a lot of people don’t know what abortion does to pre-born children.” I told the man. “Any one of these women walking by our signs today might be pregnant and may reconsider doing this to their pre-born as a result of seeing these pictures.

Yeah, and I’m one of them.” said a soft-spoken woman who’d been listening in, unnoticed by me until then. The angry man I’d been engaging vanished into thin air as I took the young woman aside and encouraged her to share her story. She was in an abusive relationship and her partner was threatening to kill her if she didn’t “get rid of it”. She was afraid to leave him or to report the abuse to the police for fear of getting him in trouble – a classic abortion advocate’s case study of a woman who “needed” an abortion because of circumstances unsuitable to the presence of a child. Instead she’d found in us a group of people who wanted to help her kill her difficult circumstances rather than kill her child (and possibly remain in her detrimental circumstances with a bad-news man).  She’d been unable to leave the abusive relationship for herself, but once I helped her realize that she was a mother and now had a duty to her child as well as to herself, she found the courage to leave the abuser and to choose life for her child.

Over the past 7 months I’ve stayed in regular contact with the young woman, doing what I could to ensure she was in a safe place and had access to the support and resources she needed.   Yesterday  morning I awoke to a delightful text message with a picture of baby Noah, born March 4, 2015.  It was followed some time later by another text: “Very tired… In pain but so happy I had him! I am in love now with him!

Baby Noah, saved from abortion.  Born March 4, 2015.  A result of Canadian Center for Bio-Ethical Reform Choice Chain

Baby Noah, saved from abortion. Born March 4, 2015.

From now on, when people tell me that public displays of abortion victims accomplish nothing, or that we should keep our signs out of the public square, I will show them this picture of Noah –  a bundle of beauty who had been days away from becoming dismembered medical waste when his mother saw images of abortion victims and allowed him to keep living.  And when I’m tempted to stay home from pro-life activism because I don’t think I’m at my physical and mental best, I will recall that August day and realize that the pictures speak for themselves –  if we simply dare stand up and use them.  We don’t need to always enjoy public pro-life activism, but for the sake of all the Noahs and their mothers out there, we do need to do it!

ALSO READ:  I CAN’T BELIEVE HE WAS ALMOST ABORTED (When I meet Noah & get to hold him for the first time)

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Unwanted Pregnancy: Forced Organ Donation?

Unwanted Pregnancy: Forced Organ Donation?

Posted by on Dec 18, 2014 in Reasoned Arguments | 19 comments

black & white war-era operation room

Welcome to The Abattoir, the center for forced organ harvesting of pro-lifers!

I was recently nominated to have my organs harvested by force in order to save the lives of other people.  I was chosen along with an impressive list of conservative politicians (which is odd in and of itself, since I’m quite lefty in most of my ideologies)  including Sarah Palin, George W. Bush, Michele Bachmann, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, and Rick Santorum, as well as a number of prominent pro-life leaders (and more strangely, Richard Dawkins, though I’m still baffled that he made the list!)

Why will I be strapped down while my organs are removed against my will?   Perry Street Palace, a blog produced by writer Iris Vander Pluym explains:

All involuntary donors must meet one very specific criteria: they would eagerly and happily force other people to donate lifesaving organs without their consent. Since they feel so very strongly about this particular principle, it is only right and fair that they live by it!

In other words, if you’re pro-life, your belief that a woman “should continue a pregnancy against her will” is no different than forcing someone to donate a kidney against their will.  After all, the Abattoir entry emphasizes, “we’re saving lives!”

The argument isn’t new, of course, but built off of the Famous Violinist bodily autonomy argument crafted by Judith Jarvis Thompson over 40 years ago. Thompson argued that even if the fetus were a human being with the right to life, no one has the right to use someone else’s body against their will, not even if their life is in danger.  Pluym extends the analogy by arguing that those who advocate “forced childbirth” should experience the equivalent via forced harvesting of their own organs.  Yet while her tongue-in-cheek series of mixed metaphors is creative and somewhat entertaining, it still fails to take into account some of the crucial differences between pregnancy and forced organ harvesting.

For one thing, a stranger has no moral obligation toward another stranger.  In fact, that’s one of the many reasons why Thompson’s violinist is not the strongest version of the bodily autonomy argument, and therefore neither is Pluym’s Abattoir.  It certainly is tragic that thousands of people die annually from organ failure, while so many others take their healthy organs to the grave or crematorium because they’re not registered organ donors* (even if they think they are).  But if I am not morally obligated to feed the homeless man in the park, even though it’s a nice thing to do, I am certainly not morally obligated  to provide him my kidney.

I prefer to respond to the stronger version of the bodily autonomy/organ donation argument that is more analogous to pregnancy in that it involves a parent and child.  A parent does have an obligation to provide basic care for their children (food, shelter, protection from harm) and doing so is more than just a nice optional thing to do. On the other hand, trips to Disney world, private helicopter rides, and yes: organ donations do not fall under basic care and baseline obligations.  So if a parent is under no obligation to donate any part of their body to a born child  – not even an organ that is needed to save their child’s life, then isn’t the abortion advocate justified in arguing that even if a fetus had equal rights as a member of our species s/he still would have no more right to his/her mother’s uterus than the born child has to his/her mother’s kidney?

Unfortunately for the abortion advocate, that’s as far in that direction as this comparison will take us.  While it is arguably true that a parent is under no obligation to donate a kidney to save their dying born child, neither may a parent directly end that child’s life.   They furthermore may not abandon their dependent born child without transferring the care of that dependent onto another caretaker, in the event they find themselves unable or unwilling to continue care.  So if we’re arguing for equal treatment of born and pre-born offspring when it comes to access to organs, then a parent of a pre-born dependent would have a similar obligation to continue the care and feeding of that offspring, and to at very least not actively end their life via abortion.

Which analogy is more fitting to pregnancy? Is pregnancy comparable to extreme care like organ donation, or is it more comparable to the basic care of feeding, sheltering and maintaining the overall well-being of one’s offspring? In fact, a child dying of kidney failure may die because her parents were passive and did not donate their kidney, but as with Thompson’s violinist, it is ultimately the illness that will cause the death.  On the other hand, in an abortion a child dies not because she is sick and her parent didn’t act to save her life, but rather because her parent actively ended her life.  The first child is denied someone else’s organ, which exists in someone else’s body for the functions of their own body, while the second child is denied basic ongoing care and food – which all humans have a right to. That different body parts are involved in feeding a born child than in feeding a pre-born child doesn’t change a parent’s inherent obligation to their offspring.

Sometimes parents need to use their bodies to care for their dependents. Imagine leaving an infant to starve on the floor because he has no right to your arms. Younger human beings require more bodily resources earlier in life than later, because that’s how human beings develop.   Human bodies start out small, fragile, and needy;  with time they mature and become bigger, stronger and more independent.  Just as a parent must wheel or carry an infant everywhere they go, because the infant’s level of development doesn’t allow them to walk independently, so too a fetus will place more demands on his/her parent because of his/her age and developmental stage.  It so happens that pregnancy is the only way to feed, shelter, and protect developing members of our species when they are at their very youngest and weakest.

What obligates a parent to the basic care of their own offspring is not that they had sex (the writer of The Abattoir seem confused about that – “Had sex? Organ donor!“).   It just so happens that humans are creatures that reproduce sexually.  Our offspring don’t force themselves into our uteri and demand to be fed, but rather come into dependence upon their parents by their parents’ actions.  Still, what obligates a parent to their offspring is that they have created and brought into existence a dependent and wholly vulnerable member of our species.  And while we may quibble about the duties parents have toward their offspring and whether or not a parent should ever be obligated to donate their kidney (perhaps if they’d been the one who’d damaged or sold their child’s kidney in the first place?) one thing is certain: no parent has the right to dismember or poison to death their dependent child just to maintain their own independence.

Therefore I’m sorry Ms Pluym, but  I won’t be joining your forced organ harvesting program since your analogy falls apart and bears no true resemblance to pregnancy and the dependent relationship between parent and child.  Continuing a pregnancy is not about “saving a life”.   Rather it’s about not ending a life that barring illness or violence will continue to grow and develop toward human adult maturity the way we all do.   The dying can be saved, but the living should be allowed to keep living.  So strap me down and cut me up if you must, I maintain that parents should be “forced” to not intentionally kill their dependents.

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* Please do ensure that you are registered in your state or province as an organ donor upon your death – Pluym raises a good point there.  In many provinces/states one must do more than sign a donor card, so please look into the rules for your local area.  And even though talking about your inevitable death may be unpleasant, make sure your family/next of kin know your wishes (you won’t be around after you die to ask them to please not cremate everything and to go ahead and help someone else live with the organs you no longer need.)

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Yes, There Are Pro-Life Atheists Out There. Here’s Why I’m One of Them …. (Friendly Atheist Blog Repost)

Posted by on Nov 4, 2014 in Reasoned Arguments | 5 comments

In March 2014, Hemant Mehta of Friendly Atheist blog asked me to guest-blog about why I was a pro-life atheist. The post was met with much impassioned interest from individuals on both sides of the fence.  As of November 2014 there are approximately 3500 comments on the original post, not including the countless secular bloggers who subsequently addressed my post on their own blogs, and generated comments among their own readership.  Some of these rebuttals merit a response, and I hope to answer to several of them in the coming weeks, now that my calendar has a little room to breathe!

Hemant Mehta is a good guy, though we still disagree on abortion, and it saddens me that he has taken a lot of flack (more on that later) from some members of the atheist community for even letting ‘anti-choice’ folk like myself and Secular Pro-Life’s ladies have a voice in the atheist community.  Some atheists feel that there is only one way to be an atheist, and I’m pleased that Hemant is not so narrow-minded his own thinking! So do check out the original piece on his blog and join in on the discussion and debate over there if you haven’t already. Certainly do follow his blog if you’re looking for good reading on the atheist community. Anyone honest enough to seriously examine issues they disagree with is more than ok in my book! (Plus he actually is as friendly as his blog name suggests).

I am reposting my original piece here in its entirety, including a few modifications and a paragraph on equal consideration of interests that Hemant opted to cut for space and clarity, but which I believe belongs in the piece.

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Yes, There are Pro-Life Atheists Out There.  Here’s Why I’m One of Them:

There was a time when the lines seemed clearer and the slogans said everything. Pro-lifers were Jesus-loving Pope-followers with a passion for sticking rosaries on ovaries, and atheists were quick to respond with “Keep your theology off my biology!”

But then lines began to blur. Atheist and civil libertarian journalist Nat Hentoff said that “Being without theology isn’t the slightest hindrance to being pro-life.” Atheist philosophy professor Don Marquis declared abortion is “immoral” because it denies developing fetuses “a future like ours.” The host of CFI’s Point of Inquiry, Robert M. Price, author of books like Jesus is Dead and The Case Against the Case for Christ, called abortion “second-degree murder” on one of his podcasts.

Well, at least we still have the “Four Horsemen” safely in our ranks, right? Not quite. Even our beloved Christopher Hitchens considered “the occupant of the womb as a candidate member of society.” He also argued that “the unborn entity has a right on its side” and identified himself as involved with the pro-life movement.

What the heck are we atheists supposed to do with all our “Keep your rosaries…” stickers now?

Sorry, Virginia, there really are pro-life atheists. American Atheists President David Silverman wasn’t wrong when he told a reporter at CPAC this week, “I will admit there is a secular argument against abortion” (even if he didn’t agree with that position himself).

When I partnered with fellow atheists from Secular Pro-Life to bring a display table to the 2012 American Atheists Convention, some bloggers really wanted to believe we were lying about our atheism, but it turns out we’re all True Scotsmen. The latest Gallup poll suggests that 19% of those identifying as atheist, agnostic, or of no religious affiliation also identify as pro-life.

While that number is likely a bit smaller among absolute atheists and freethinkers, my by-atheists-for-atheists organization Pro-Life Humanists is constantly growing, as every week I connect with at least one or two more pro-life atheists from around the world and across social media. Some are still closeted and think they’re the only pro-life person in their local secular community. I am confident most of them are not alone. Our global atheist community is more diverse than we’ve been led to believe, and many pro-life atheists walk among us. Welcome to a new chapter in secularism!

Many people have a hard time understanding why I might be a pro-life atheist. Here are my responses to some of their more common objections:

It doesn’t matter whether or not the fetus is a human being, because women have bodily autonomy rights and no human can have non-consensual access to her body.

Well not so fast. If the fetus is not a human being with his/her own bodily rights, it’s true that infringing on a woman’s body by placing restrictions on her medical options is always a gross injustice and a violation. On the other hand, if we are talking about two human beings who should each be entitled to their own bodily rights, in the unique situation that is pregnancy, we aren’t justified in following the route of might-makes-right simply because we can. Bigger and older humans don’t necessarily trump younger and more dependent humans. Rights must always be justified and ethically grounded lest they become a tool of tyranny.

Before we address the question of bodily autonomy in pregnancy, let’s meet the second player. What does science tell us that the pre-born are? To be clear, science doesn’t define personhood. It never could. When I debated Matt Dillahunty on the issue of abortion at the 2012 Texas Freethought Convention, I’m afraid that as a first-time debater I really wasn’t clear enough on this point — and was consequently accused of trying to obtain rights from science. Science can’t tell us whether it’s wrong to rape women, torture children, enslave black people, or which physical traits should or should not matter when it comes to determining personhood. Science may be able to measure suffering in living creatures, but it can’t tell us why or if their suffering should matter. However, biological science can tell us who among us belongs to the human species.

Like all species that reproduce sexually, humans reproduce after their own kind.  Their sexual cells, sperm and ovum, cease to exist individually and become a new substance that is not the mother and not the father but a new body altogether.   Unlike sperm and ovum or other human cells, the newly formed zygote  has the built-in capacity to develop itself through all stages of human development.  As Christopher Hitchens aptly said:

The original embryonic “blastocyst” may be a clump of 64 to 200 cells that is only five days old. But all of us began our important careers in that form, and every needful encoding for life is already present in the apparently inchoate. We are the first generation to have to confront this as a certain knowledge.

But embryos and fetuses can’t be our equals — they’re not fully developed yet! They aren’t self aware or sentient! They can’t survive on their own!

Well, of course they can’t. But why isn’t a fetus self-aware or sentient? Why hasn’t an embryo developed a functioning brain or the capacity to breathe on its own? Isn’t it merely because she or he is younger? Isn’t that just the way human beings at their age and stage naturally develop and function? While we wouldn’t give our car keys to toddlers on account of their current capacities, neither would we kill them for not having reached a developmental milestone yet. If we deny personhood and justify the death of a fetus simply because he or she has not developed to the point of sentience yet, that makes abortion the deadliest form of age discrimination.

Entering the realm of philosophy and ethics to discuss rights and personhood, we see that history is ripe with examples of real biological human beings whose societies arbitrarily decided they didn’t qualify as equals, on account of criteria deemed morally relevant at the time.  At one point (and still, in many ways, today), it was skin color, gender, and ethnic background. Now, we can add to that list consciousness, sentience, and viability. We haven’t evolved so fast in 50 years as to be immune from tribalistic us vs. them thinking. If science defines a fetus as a biological member of our species, is it possible that our society is just as wrong in denying them personhood as earlier societies were in denying personhood to people of the “wrong” colour, ethnicity, or gender?

Any criteria we use to disqualify the pre-born human being from personhood could just as easily exclude some born humans as well.  If self-awareness is to be the dividing line, anyone unconscious or in a coma might not be considered a person, while those in a heightened state of awareness due to drugs would trump the rest of us. If we decide that the ability to suffer and feel pain is what counts, then any born person with Congenital Insensitivity to Pain can be stripped of equal rights and killed. If higher brain function or a greater degree of health are what matter, then anyone with a higher IQ or a greater longevity and health than your own should be free to decide that your unfortunate quality of life makes your existence not worth continuing. Only the pro-life position — that all human beings should be granted the common right to continue their lives as human persons, regardless of their age, stage, gender, sexual orientation, race, or physical form and abilities — is truly egalitarian and fair for all human beings.



But so what? Even if the unborn are human beings worthy of personhood even in their earliest stage of development, under normal circumstances, no one has a right to use someone else’s body against their consent.

This is true. And, likewise, under normal circumstances no one should be killed for being too young to care for themselves independently. Unfortunately, pregnancy is completely unlike any normal circumstances or normal human relationship. What happens when both a woman and her developing fetus are regarded as human beings entitled to personhood and bodily rights? Any way you cut it, their rights are always going to conflict (at least until womb transfers become a reality). So what’s the reasonable response? It could start by treating both parties at conflict as if they were equal human beings.

Eighteenth century philosopher Jeremy Bentham put forward a solution known as Equal Consideration of Interests which I believe can well apply to the conflict inherent in pregnancy.  Bentham argues that where an act affects only two entities,  if what one party stands to lose is greater than what the other stands to gain, then that act should not be done.  Philosophers like Peter Singer have used this principle to argue that in the animals vs humans conflict, animals stand to lose much more in being eaten (their entire lives) than humans stand to gain in eating them (temporary satisfaction) and so conclude that meat eating is immoral.  Applying this principle to abortion, the pre-born stands to lose far more if she is aborted (her entire life) than her mother facing a normal pregnancy stands to gain if she aborts (her bodily independence a few months sooner).   It’s not much contest to see which party has the most to lose in this conflict of competing interests.

A woman has a duty to protect and to feed her pre-born child just as much as human society has already determined that parents have an obligation to nourish and protect their dependent born offspring.  The more vulnerable and dependent someone is, the more we are obligated to not abandon them. That a fetus is singularly dependent on one woman for the duration of nine months is not an argument for abortion, but against it. If an unrelated infant were abandoned on your doorstep miles from civilization with no one in a position to reach you and release you of your charge, would you not be obligated to at least provide basic life-sustaining care until such a time as care could be passed on to another person? Would this not be true even though you did not consent to the arrival of the dependent human, who was in fact forced upon you? Would you be any less obligated to try to keep this child alive if doing so was wearisome and taxing on your body, though not life-threateningly so? If this is true of one’s duty to sustain a vulnerable and dependent stranger until care can be passed on to another, how much more obligated is a woman to feed and sustain her own prenatal offspring the only way humans of that age can be fed and sustained – via pregnancy?

And there you have an introduction to an abortion debate that is void of Bibles, popes, and rosaries. I realize that this brief secular case against abortion undoubtedly raises as many questions as it has answered. After all, if we make abortion illegal, won’t that make them more dangerous for women? Do we believe women who have abortions should face jail sentences? Should fetuses be counted in the census, and if so, what happens when a woman miscarries? Are we trying to put a stop to the work of Planned Parenthood and other women’s clinics? To adequately deconstruct these concerns would require lengthy articles unto themselves, which is why I hope this will be the beginning of ongoing dialogue amongst atheists on this matter.

I understand some of the concerns that people have about the pro-life position. Can we grant fetuses rights without endangering and hurting the lives of women? Indeed, no one wants to see women injured or harmed in a dangerous illegal abortion! And therein lies a conversation that a civilized society must have if we are to truly treat every member of our species with equality. Can we legally condone one human being killing another human being because one might otherwise risk her life and health to do so? Or are there better ways to address the problems that drive so many countless women to feel they have no choice but abortion?

Pro-life feminist Frederica Mathewes-Green once said “No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.” Abortion advocates correctly perceive the trap, but they merely offer the woman a sterile knife to aid in the amputation. Real help does not sacrifice one human life at the expense of another but goes to the source of the trap to unscrew the hinge and free both

If we all work together to come up with real choices for women — better birth control, better maternity leave, subsidized daycare, a living wage, flexible work schedules, better schooling options, more attractive open-adoption and temporary foster care options, etc. — abortion may roll itself into the world of obsolescence, regardless of its legal status.

That being said, if the pre-born are human members of our species and worthy of recognition as human persons, we have just as much of an obligation to protect them from the choices of other human beings and to ensure that violence against them is not legal and condoned.

I’m an atheist and I’m pro-life because some choices are wrong, violent, and unjust — and I want to do whatever I can to make abortion both unthinkable and unnecessary.

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Are Parental Obligations Voluntary?

Are Parental Obligations Voluntary?

Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in Reasoned Arguments | 1 comment

Abandoned baby Genesis Hailey found in bushes

Hong found abandoned baby in remote industrial area bushes

On June 24th, 2014, CNN reported that a  Houston, Texas jogger named Hong Nguyen found an abandoned baby in the bushes of an unpopulated industrial area.  Baby Genesis had already been missing six hours, after the vehicle in which she’d been riding was carjacked from a local gas station, but was thankfully found mostly unharmed and crying in her carseat.

Hong Nguyen called 911 and postponed her jogging plans in order to remain with the baby until help arrived and care of the child could be passed on to someone else.  Hong wasn’t the girl’s mother, yet Genesis was a vulnerable  and dependent 8 month-old, and for the time-being this stranger was the only person around for miles who could care for her and ensure her ongoing survival.

Now let’s suppose that rather than staying with the baby, Hong had instead decided to exercise her autonomy and freedom, and had gone on with her jogging.  Would anyone think that she had done the right thing?  Hong could’ve argued that the fact that she was the only person around who could care for the child put an unfair burden on her alone.  She could’ve pointed out that she hadn’t chosen to become a nanny or a babysitter and she’d never consented to have this baby put in a position of dependence upon her.  Would anyone applaud her choice to jog away?

I suspect that most people would be horrified and quick to point out that it’s precisely because there was no one else to keep Genesis alive that Hong was obligated toward her.  The fact that Genesis was so very vulnerable and utterly dependent was the very reason why she was entitled to care and protection.

How peculiar then that abortion takes these very ideals and turns them upside down.  The fact that the preborn can’t surive on their own is used to discount their right to keep living, and to jettison their lives.  The fact that no one else can care for that particular child is used as a reason to justify abandoning ongoing care for that developing prenatal being.

What is it that nullifies the obligation in one case while not in the other?   Is it perhaps the personal and intimate demands of pregnancy, in that a pregnant woman must use her own body to keep the child in question alive?   If Hong were a nursing mother and help had been delayed long enough that Genesis was in danger of dehydration, would she have been justified in letting Genesis die in order to not have to use her own body to sustain a child she’d never planned on feeding?

Yes it’s true that Hong had a choice, and so does any parent of a dependent child – pregnant women included.  But just because one can choose to abandon an unexpected and uninvited child doesn’t mean one is justified in doing so.   And if this is true of one’s duty toward a dependent and vulnerable stranger, how much more ought it be true of the parent of a biological offspring, who in most cases is directly responsible for their offspring being in a position of dependence upon them in the first place?

It’s time to reject might-makes-right thinking.  Young and vulnerable humans have a right to be fed, sheltered, and protected by their parents according to their specific developmental needs – precisely because of their dependency and vulnerability.  “Genesis” means “beginnings”, and as we consider the story of baby Genesis and the care of a stranger, let’s not forget our own vulnerable beginnings in life.  No human should be violently decapitated and dismembered simply because they can’t yet fend for themselves or survive on their own.

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Recommended pro-life reading: the essay DeFacto Guardian, which goes into depth on the above ideas.

Abandoned baby Genesis Hailey found in bushes

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Dear Pro-Choicers: Why Are You So Angry?

Dear Pro-Choicers: Why Are You So Angry?

Posted by on Aug 29, 2014 in Potpourri | 21 comments

Abortion Victim Photography displayed in Hamilton, Ontario
I don’t think I’ve ever been cursed at quite so many times in a four-hour period as I was today. I lost count of the number of times I was called vile and vulgar names, flipped the bird, or F-bombed. I’m sure yelling obscenities to strangers – even strangers you disagree with – isn’t normal behaviour for you, the pro-choice individuals who walked past our abortion display, so I can’t help but wonder why our opposition to abortion stirs up such emotion in you.

I was on the streets of Hamilton, Ontario today as part of a training course with the Canadian Center for Bio-Ethical Reform – an organization that uses abortion victim photography as a tool to educate the public about the human rights violation that is abortion. We use the images because they convey a terrible truth that cannot be rightly understood with words alone, and because victim imagery has been a proven tool of success in social reform movements across the centuries. Even more importantly, we use such imagery because when people see the violently dismembered bodies of the youngest members of our species, many of them change their minds about abortion – and their children’s lives are saved.

But many of you are angry when you pass by our signs, and I fail to understand why.  After all: you’re pro-choice. The violence depicted in our pictures is the aftermath of one of the choices you support – so why does its reality upset you? Abortion takes a developing human fetus and tears him or her limb from limb. If you’re sure that’s a perfectly fine thing to do, why are you angry with us for showing others what that choice looks like? Surely it’s not merely that we disagree with you on this issue – you don’t curse at everyone who holds views different from yours, do you?  I suspect it’s not really the bloodiness that bothers you either – how often have you cursed at the grocery clerk for having bloody animal parts on display in the meat department?

One of the angry individuals who approached me yesterday complained that children might see the images. I explained to him that while we’re not targeting children, we must prioritize the lives of preborn children over the feelings of born children. “Women are walking past these signs,” I told him, “who are pregnant and considering whether or not to do this to their preborn child.” A woman standing nearby said quietly: “Yes, and I’m one of them“. We were able to counsel her to leave an abusive environment for her sake and that of her child, and with our support she’ll be breaking the cycle of violence by giving her child life. Yell at us all you want; she and her child and the countless others we’ve saved are worth your abuse – and those pictures won’t go away until abortion does!

The next time you’re tempted to curse and shout obscenities to someone holding the image of a preborn victim of abortion, please ask yourself why that image bothers you so much. If these images are too disgusting and awful to look at and to accept as the reality of choice, then perhaps the procedure these pictures expose is too disgusting and awful to continue supporting.

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Meet the Pro-Life Atheists 3: Julie Thielen

Meet the Pro-Life Atheists 3: Julie Thielen

Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in Pro-Life Atheists - Meet our family | 0 comments

We’re back with another edition of “Meet the Pro-Life Atheists”.  The lovely gal I wish to introduce to you as our latest “celebrity pro-life atheist” is none other than the ever-sassy, brilliantly-artsy, cat-loving, Siouxsie Sioux-adoring, gothic chick Julie Thielen – aka Cannibal Rose!  Our dear Julie recently underwent major surgery and survived like champ to see another birthday (it’s today, hip-horray!) … so now seems like as good a time as any to let you know a bit about the lady we’ve all been rooting for!

I was only able to acquire a picture of her feline babies (a picture which I’ve prettied up for this grand occasion with some text and a nice Sioux frame to boot!), but when she’s all better and feeling glamorous again, I’m sure she’ll grace us with a “I’m an anti-theist and I’m pro-life” portrait – right Julie? 😉

Julie Thielen (Cannibal Rose)  pro-life atheist

Kristine, PLH:  So first things first: Julie, I’ve often heard you describe yourself as anti-theist as well as atheist. Why is that?

JULIE:  I would say I’m an atheist because of a sheer lack of any kind of evidence to prove that there is or ever was a god. In fact, science is good evidence AGAINST it. I’m an anti-theist because of the horrific and horrendous damage religion has unleashed upon this world – much of it continuing to this day: The subjugation of women, homophobia, genital mutilation — and I place male infant circumcision in that category too — and so much more.  It sickens me!  Religion is the enemy of peace and equality, and should be actively battled.

Kristine, PLH: How long have you been an atheist?

JULIE:  I was raised by an Evangelical Fundamentalist Christian, but started asking unpopular questions quite early in life.  By age 16 I was an agnostic.  I really didn’t believe in any higher power, but it was a scary transition to make, so I baby-stepped it.  At 19 I took the plunge and came out publicly as an atheist.  This was 21 years ago.

Kristine, PLH:  So as far as your views on abortion are concerned, were you ever in favour of abortion? If so, why?

JULIE:  Yeah, I once considered myself pro-choice. It was more of a default position. “Don’t you want to support women? Shouldn’t a woman control her own body?”  Those things sound simple, but they’re misleading and loaded questions to a young mind (and I do mean young — I was a pre-teen).  I lacked the ability to critically think about the issue.

Kristine, PLH:  Did you ever have a personal encounter with abortion that marked you or influenced your thinking in any way?

JULIE:  When I was 14 a friend thought she was pregnant. She was consumed with ending the pregnancy and I, thinking I was being a good friend, tried to help her.  She needed money for the abortion, she needed a ride to the clinic — I tried to help her arrange these things.  It turned out she wasn’t pregnant, which was a great relief to both of us!    But the experience really started me thinking.  By then I’d begun taking biology and learning about genetics.  I realized that a fetus is a human being, not a mere “product of conception”, and once gone, irreplaceable.  I realized my friend had never even though of the fetus.  That baby was the last thing on her mind — aside from her drive to expel it from her body and mind.  I thought, “wow, how utterly selfish.”  No one is disposable. I truly felt like I dodged a bullet when she found she was not pregnant, and I was ashamed at my part in trying to “help” her.

Kristine, PLH:  You say biology influenced you, can you elaborate on that?  Most atheists see the same biological and genetic facts you did, and yet they determine that a fetus isn’t fully human, and they come away supporting the so-called “woman’s right” to abortion.

JULIE:  I view abortion as a women’s and human rights issue.  We need to protect the vulnerable. When a sperm meets the egg you have a complete, unique human being. Not a nectarine, not an Allen wrench, not an armadillo. A human being.  At no point in gestation does this creation GAIN humanity — it already is human.  All it needs is time and nutrition to mature into an older human who will travel out of the uterus into the outside world.  This life is no less valuable than the woman carrying it.  And the sheer fact that statistically speaking, females are more frequently aborted simply because of their gender makes my blood boil!

Kristine, PLH:  Many atheists would argue that freedom is a hallmark of a secular culture and that abortion restrictions impede freedom and individual autonomy, how would you respond to that?

JULIE:  Life is the hallmark and benchmark of all culture. Without it all other rights are meaningless, including freedom.  I believe very strongly in individual autonomy — and children in utero are very much individuals.  It is not the pregnant woman’s body dismembered and thrown out as biological waste, it’s someone else’s.

Kristine, PLH: How has the atheist community responded to your views?

JULIE: Most atheists deride me for being pro-life.  Sadly it can get pretty nasty rather quickly.  Personal insults from pro-choice atheists aren’t just common, but the norm.  Thankfully I have found a good group of fellow atheist ‘lifers who are quick to come to my aid when I am attacked.  We all do it — we have to be there for each other.  And our numbers are slowly growing.

Kristine, PLH:  Have traditional Christian pro-lifers received you any more graciously?

JULIE:  Ha!  Traditional Christian ‘lifers can’t stand me!  I get more hate from them than I do from atheist ‘choicers!  Occasionally I get lip service to the tune of “Oh anyone who saves babies is okay with me!” but that quickly shrivels and dies when I rebuff their attempts to interject their religion into everything.  I choose to avoid traditional ‘lifer groups because frankly, they nauseate me with their religious heavy-handedness and opposition to birth control.

Kristine, PLH:  What do you think we as atheists have to offer the pro-life cause that others may not?

JULIE: Atheist ‘lifers have so much to offer!  ‘Choicers view ‘lifers as crazy religious zealots stuck in the 18th century.  We, atheist ‘lifers, can show them that an imaginary sky daddy has absolutely nothing to do with opposing abortion.  That science, compassion, and equality (not to mention basic human rights) back us up.  ‘Choicers are  generally more receptive to someone who isn’t religious than to someone who is religious.

Kristine, PLH:  What would you like to see Christian pro-lifers do differently in the future of the pro-life movement?

JULIE: I would like to see Christian ‘lifers leave their religion at the door, and focus more on biology and equality. They also need to lose their antiquated notions regarding birth control!  It’s no surprise to me that the states with the highest percentages of Christians are also the least sexually educated, and wind up with the highest rates of teen pregnancy.

Kristine, PLH:   What is your vision for a secular yet pro-life world? How do you feel we can best reduce the numbers of abortions and help women at the same time?

JULIE: Remove the perceived need for abortion.  Universal health care and social safety nets are a must!  Don’t just fight for the child to be born, ensure that the child (and mother) have the resources they need to be healthy and stable.  That is imperative!  A better, revamped adoption and foster care system is needed — these are not “throw away kids”, they’re OUR kids — give them a chance… Pregnant and parenting students need to be accommodated in their schools, not punished…  Raise the minimum wage to a living wage… Those are just a few things.

Kristine, PLH:  Anything else you’d like to tell the world while the PLH mic is in your hands, Julie?

JULIE:  Being pro-life is so much more than opposing abortion. It’s about embracing life in all forms. I stand against the death penalty, violence and war. I stand for animal rights, vegetarianism/veganism, birth control, social safety nets and universal health care.  I say: be a part of the solution or get out of the way!

Kristine, PLH:  Thanks and lots of love to you.  Speedy recovery and a happy birthday from all your friends here at Pro-Life Humanists.  I personally look forward to working with you on many future projects to come!   And as you so aptly say: Squeeeeee!  🙂

And to everyone else, if you loved this, be sure to check out our previous pro-life atheist celebrity interviews!
And if you’d like to see more from Cannibal Rose, she’s got an awesome Cafepress shop with clever stickers you may enjoy. 🙂

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Giving Downs a Hand Up – Down Syndrome Kids Can Achieve Great Things!

Giving Downs a Hand Up – Down Syndrome Kids Can Achieve Great Things!

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 in Book & Media Reviews, Potpourri | 0 comments

*** NOTE: Please get your $5 ebook copy of
Real Families, Real Stories: Celebrating Life With Down Syndrome
By Stephanie Sumulong
TONIGHT, as every copy sold before the end of July 2014 will be matched by a generous donor, for distribution to families who have just received a Down Syndrome diagnosis.***

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Lauren Potter, actress in TV show 'Glee'

Lauren Potter, actress in TV show ‘Glee’

Young adult Jessie Huggett is a member of Propeller Dance, a troupe of contemporary dancers in Ottawa Canada that has been voted “Best Dance Show” of 2009 and 2005 by the Ottawa Xpress Newspaper. She’s also a senior member of the Dandelion Dance Company, has been a “20 Under 20” National Youth Award Finalist, and was the 2005 recipient of the Jane Cameron Award (an award named after an Alberta Canada artist, born with Down Syndrome in 1949, whose colourful tapestries, remarkable paintings and poetry were commissioned by Prime Ministers and national magazines.)

On prime-time television, California-born actress Lauren Potter has been wooing audiences in her roles as Becky Jackson on the hit television series Glee.  She’s one of a number of actresses to hit big screen and television, including Jamie BrewerAndrea Friedman, Paula Sage, and actors Chris BurkeStephane GinnszTommy JessopPablo Pineda, among others.

American sculptor Judith Scott, born in 1943, is another individual you may have encountered if you’re a patron of the visual arts.  She’s an internationally renowned American fiber artist who worked at the Creative Art Center in Oakland, California.

What do all these individuals have in common?  If you haven’t already guessed from the topic of this post, every individual named above has Down Sydrome (in fact, Judith Scott was born a deaf mute as well!).  Down Syndrome is a condition caused by an extra chromosome in one’s DNA, and is so horribly misunderstood that 90% of Down diagnoses end in abortion.  A number that shockingly, some abortion advocates don’t find high enough!

It’s not merely in the arts that many individuals with Downs have achieved great things.  In 2013 Dr. Karen Gaffney became the first living person with Down syndrome to receive a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Portland, for her long-standing humanitarian work in raising awareness about the capabilities of people who have Down syndrome.  She is an accomplished sports figure, public speaker, and advocate.

Also in 2013, Megan McCormack became the first person with Down Syndrome to graduate with honors from a technical college in United States. She earned her degree in education and was at the top of her class at Bluegrass Community Technical College in Kentucky.  She even recently got her driver’s license!

Again in 2013 Angela Bachiller became the first person with Down Syndrome to be elected as a councilwoman. She works at the Ayuntamiento (municipality) of Valladolid, Spain, and is expected to continue her political career.

As we become increasingly inclusive, many individuals with Downs are surprising us and excelling at opportunities most of their contemporaries not previously been given.  Some have become young entrepreneurs.  Others, like  Eli Reimer have made history in sports.  Eli became, in 2012, the first person with Down syndrome to reach the Base Camp of Mount Everest.  In 2013 Owen Groesser, a junior in high school with Down Syndrome managed to catch the coveted attention of the ESPN sport center after scoring two 3-point baskets with his special move.

Of course, not all individuals with Down Syndrome go on to become famous artists or do great things in society – but then again, the same is true of those of us in the population of the “normal”.   A woman I met in at the last Propeller Dance performance in Ottawa wrote a book called “Teach me, I can learn” (which I also recommend readers purchase), about her daughter Lorena who has Down Syndrome and faced discrimination in the Canadian school system.   Her book clearly showcases that life with a special needs child can be hard, but with the right support systems and love,any child can achieve a happy and productive life!    With adequate support most can go on to hold jobs, become volunteers in the community, and some, like the couple showcased in the documentary Monica and David go on to find love.    Down Syndrome is not a death sentence, nor a guarantee of a terrible life!  In fact, the stories in Real Families, Real Stories: Celebrating Life With Down Syndrome 

We stand at a crucial point in history, as the numbers of those who fight for euthanasia of the disabled are increasing alongside the the rise of disabled-rights advocates.  Advocacy groups like The International Down Syndrome Coalition often include members of the Down Syndrome community themselves, and are seeing society become increasingly inclusive of those with special needs. But with the vast majority of children diagnosed with Down Syndrome still being terminated as a life not worth living, it’s clear that human rights advocates like you and I have a long way to go!

Buy your copy of Real Families, Real Stories: Celebrating Life With Down Syndrome today for only $5 and help get this book into the hands of families who might otherwise abort their child with DS.   Parents need to know there are resources and help for them and for their children, and that if they really can’t handle the task, that there is a waiting list of couples who will adopt a child with special needs, including Down Syndrome (over 200 families currently on the DS waiting list).   Let’s help fight “chromosomalism”!  These human beings deserve human rights too!  

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What Do Canadians Think about Abortion?

What Do Canadians Think about Abortion?

Posted by on Jul 1, 2014 in Abortion in Canada, Abortion Politics | 4 comments

Canadian flag with 12 week fetus in red parts

Happy Birthday Canada! It’s July 1st, Canada’s national holiday. I know you’ve got BBQ’s and fireworks to get to, but please allow me to interrupt your celebrations for just a moment as I turn your attention to the 3 million Canadians who aren’t here to celebrate with us.

What do Canadians really think about abortion? Our politicians would have you believe that Canada is a pro-choice nation and that the issue is settled, with no need to be revisited in parliament.  Is that the case?  Since 1988, when the 1969 abortion laws were struck down with the Morgentaler Decision, Canada has been one of three countries in the world with zero laws on abortion. Despite individual hospital and provincial restrictions, abortion is legal in Canada throughout all nine months, for any reason at all – and in most cases, they are paid for by our tax dollars.  (That’s right: essential dental care isn’t covered, but elective abortions are!)   … And the vast majority of Canadians agree with this, so we have nothing to talk about in parliament and can go back to our burgers, right?

Hold the mustard!  According to abortion polls (which admittedly vary widely, depending on how the questions are asked) by such firms as Angus-Reid, Ipsos-Reid, Abacus and Environics, only 30% of Canadians fully agree with the status quo which current government parties seek to uphold (no abortion restrictions and tax-funded coverage of almost all abortions).  That’s right.  At least 70% of Canadians are not in complete agreement with the unchallenged law as it currently stands!

– According to a 2011 Environics poll:

77% of Canadians believe abortion should be illegal in the 3rd trimester

58% believe abortion should be illegal in the 2nd & 3rd trimesters

– 92% believe that sex-selective abortions should be illegal

54% want tax payers covering only medically necessary/rape abortions (13% want no tax funding at all, with only only 30% agreeing with our current coverage)

– 70% would support legislation making it a separate crime to injure or kill a fetus during an attack on the mother.
(See also Environics, 2007; Angus-Reid, 2008)

So Happy Canada Day! Enjoy the festivities – but be ready to get back to our work when the day is done! It’s time to let Canadians know that if they are not at ease with tax-funded abortion on demand through all nine months, that they are in the majority, not the minority! And it’s time to make sure our government is speaking for us, not shutting pro-life voices out of parliament!

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For more polls and sources see:
Wiki Page: Abortion in Canada
Abortion in Canada: Thirty Years of Surveys Show Canadians Oppose Unrestricted Abortion
We Need a Law: Resources, Abortion polls

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March for Life Memories

March for Life Memories

Posted by on Jun 29, 2014 in Pro-Life Atheists in Media, Pro-Life Humanists - Updates | 3 comments

If you’re not following us on Facebook (and if you’re not, you totally should be!) you may have missed the link to this friendly news coverage and its mainstream media shout out to Pro-Life Humanists and to secular pro-lifers in general.  The video is well worth your time, I assure you! Watch as Sun News journalist Faith Goldy takes a humorous bite out of the pro-choice protesters who’d gathered to oppose the March, and hear her share her personal thoughts, as someone who used to be pro-choice:

Click to view video of Faith Goldy, Sun News Media coverage of March for Life 2014

Click to view video of Sun New Media coverage of March for Life Pro-choice Protesters; Faith Goldy Reporting

Notwithstanding the overt religiosity of the March for Life (which I’ve previously written about) Pro-Life Humanists had a great time at the 2014 March for Life, which took place in May. We met a surprising number of kids from Catholic schools who admitted they were secretly atheist, despite their Catholic school attendance – and that many of their peers were atheist as well. We were able to assure them that as they opt to come out as atheists in the future, they can still be pro-life, and that we’ll be there to welcome them as they leave the fold.

Overall, the theists at the March responded courteously to our atheist presence, with a few people even making generous donations toward our pro-life outreaches to the atheist community. Many others, on the other hand, were far more skeptical and made no secret of their disgust or disappointment with our atheism. Upon reading our fundraising handout, one woman protested: “But why do you have to bring your non-belief into this? Why can’t you just be pro-life without emphasizing that you don’t believe in God?” I explained to her that while it would be nice to just be able to talk about the preborn and the social issues that play into abortion, that we had to emphasize non-belief precisely because pro-life has been intermingled with religious belief for so long! By establishing ourselves as a pro-life group by atheists for atheists, we are allowing the debate to clearly be about abortion rather than about religion. We’re not at pro-life events to attack the faith of our religious pro-life allies, but neither do we wish to humour and entertain those beliefs when the emphasis ought to be on the preborn.

It’s unfortunate that many pro-lifers do not seem able to separate religion from pro-life action. “How about instead of bringing pro-life arguments to atheists, I talk to you about why you shouldn’t be an atheist?” one man offered. When I smiled and politely declined the offer, the man shrugged, crumpled up our flyer and tossed it into the trashcan – right before my eyes! I guess for some people there’s no real point in saving atheist babies from immediate abortion if they can’t save atheist parents’ souls from future hell. Forget about bringing pro-life arguments to atheists, I guess. Let atheists become theists and only then will they be welcome as pro-life activists. 😛

But we take hope. People are leaving religion and embracing atheism in droves – and as they start to ask questions, Pro-Life Humanists will be there to help our pro-life peers find hope and life outside the church. And once they’re out, we’ll still be there to ensure that they don’t leave behind the Religious Koolaid only to swallow the Pro-Choice Koolaid. Nearly 1 in 5 non religious individuals identifies as pro-life, and with our efforts, those numbers will only continue to grow!

Pro-Life Humanists and atheists march with nun in foreground

Pro-Life Humanists at March for Life 2014

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Yes There are Pro-Life Atheists (Part 1: David Silverman Controversy)

Yes There are Pro-Life Atheists (Part 1: David Silverman Controversy)

Posted by on Apr 30, 2014 in Pro-Life Atheists in Media | 2 comments

David Silverman

If the atheist community thought all atheists were pro-choice, they know better now.  The atheist blogosphere has been in a flurry over the past two months as secular writers, tweeters, and bloggers attempt to grapple with the existence of secular arguments against abortion.   On March 7th an article was published in which David Silverman, head of American Atheists acknowledged to a reporter  that secular arguments exist.  Although he’s made it clear that he doesn’t agree with the arguments and was merely trying to side-step a deviation from his main point, the mere nod toward the existence of non-religious arguments against abortion threw many into a very upset frenzy.

The wave of uproar had no time to recede before Hemant Mehta published on March 11th the guest-blog he’d asked me to write, which was entitled  Yes, There Are Pro-Life Atheists Out There. Here’s Why I’m One of Them.  The deluge of bloggers and commentators attempting to refute and rebut my arguments has been surprising, and at times nearly overwhelming  (especially since I’ve been traveling/speaking and coping with health challenges during the past couple months), but I’m in the process of crafting responses to the more pertinent comments and rebuttals.

If you follow Pro-Life Humanists on Facebook or on Twitter you’ve seen a number of the many responses to have come our way, and in the coming days I intend to showcase more of them. Some are worthy of rebuttals, others are worthy of a face-palm.  Among the responses was the oft-repeated idea that atheists ought not even entertain secular arguments against abortion.  Many argued that we should be shunned/ignored and given no voice in the atheist community because to question abortion rights is to question the “fundamental humanity of women”.  Others lamented “They’re infiltrating our conferences and our blogs and our forums and our magazines…”   Apparently pro-life atheists aren’t actually atheists and the “our” is theirs, not truly OURS inclusively.   (More on that in the next post.)

They're invading OUR events... sorry they're ours too

Below is a small sample of the varied blog “gems” that surfaced during the initial days of Silverman’s comment.   I’ll soon be posting the best of the comments from the rebuttals of my Friendly Atheist piece, followed by my own rebuttals to those – so be sure to check back in shortly.

And I apologize in advance to those of you with sore necks and headaches: the amount of head-shaking and face-palming you’re going to want to do in response to some of these, is probably going to hurt!

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So David Silverman is getting a lot of grief over this statement at CPAC:

“I will admit there is a secular argument against abortion. You can’t deny that it’s there, and it’s maybe not as clean cut as school prayer, right to die, and gay marriage.”

He’s right, you can’t deny that there is. It’s a shitty argument based on poor facts, but it is nonetheless secular.

JT Eberhard (Dave Silverman is Not Anti-Choice)

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Not all atheists are humanists, and not all atheists are skeptics. It is vastly unfortunate that a trait I thought would really help to separate the wheat from the chaff doesn’t quite do the job. There are immoral and bigoted atheists. There are atheists who believe, firmly, in the existence of Big Foot, atheists that don’t vaccinate their children, atheists that believe in homeopathy, and even atheist misogynists.
Enter Secular Prolife.
… they qualify as certifiably misogynistic. They hold that a fertilized egg is a person and worthy of certain rights, namely life. They dismiss the rights of the woman as secondary and claim a moral high ground in defending embryonic and fetal personhood. Being ignorant and/or misogynistic while being secular is very possible, if incredibly sad and infuriating.

~ Shannon Nebo, aka Secular Sunshine (What Did David Silverman Actually Say?)

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If by ‘secular argument,’ you mean ‘a belief based on personal feelings,’ then, sure, there’s a secular argument against abortion. There could be a ‘secular’ argument against puppies, in that case. If you’re using ‘secular’ to mean ‘a logical, science-based, or rational’ belief, then no, there is no ‘secular argument’ against abortion. The supposed ‘secular arguments’ against abortion are rooted in misogyny, a lack of understanding of science, and religious overtones.

Sarah Mowgli  (Is There a Secular Argument Against Abortion?)

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I like this next guy, even if we disagree.  He responds to Sarah’s assertion (above)

Sarah, not everything you (or I, for that matter) dislike or disagree with is based in misogyny, stupidity, or religious fundamentalism, and it’s high time people stop using the m-word as the ultimate trump card to which one cannot possibly dare to reply.

Of course there are logical, science-based, and rational arguments against abortion. They may turn out to be ultimately unconvincing, or countered by better arguments — as I believe they are — but they certainly exist.

Massimo Pigliucci (David Silverman and the Scope of Atheism)

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I’m… upset that by hedging on this issue, [Silverman] gives cover to people who think he means there’s a valid, cogent argument against the right of a mother to choose whether to be pregnant… And since the only such argument that I’ve seen generally goes “science says life begins at conception because science”, “because nerves”, “because heartbeat”, et cetera, without much backing, it’s a pretty shaky argument…

… The religious arguments against abortion are all based on the idea of a soul, and even if you remove the belief in religions and souls, the rest of the arguments that remain against abortion are simply justifications, artificially created scaffolding to attempt to retain arguments that were previously held aloft on the skyhook that is God. So burn that scaffolding down. It’s made of cardboard tubes and bailing twine anyway — should be easy enough for anyone with the courage of their convictions, right?

~ Jason Thibeault (David Silverman’s “Darwin Was Wrong” Moment)

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You really don’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface of all of these supposedly secular arguments to smell the stink of repressive Christian culture.  In fact, I just did a presentation in February for the Secular Humanists of Southern California on how thinly veiled secular anti-choice arguments are.

~ Lilandra (What really matters…The So-Called Secular Arguments Against Choice

Lilandra then posts a picture of Secular Pro-Life’s “For the embryology tells me so banner” and adds :

I don’t want to belabor the point but here is a photo from Secular Pro-life‘s website to just show you how they basically just spin religious arguments into secular ones.

SPL - for the embryology

 

My face hurts!  I’ve run out of appendages to face-palm with!  I think Lilandra’s desperate attempt at pegging pro-life atheists as “non believers that shed their religious beliefs but still harbour remnants of their former beliefs like a virus” has somehow gotten in the way of her sense of irony and humour.  Come on!  Anyone with even a cursory access to Christian culture has heard the old Sunday School song “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”  It’s clear to me, and I imagine to most people, that SPL is intentionally spoofing Christian culture.  But certainly anyone who who spoofs Christian culture is not a fully liberated atheist!  – Can I get a Ramen to that?   😛

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Anyway, as I mentioned above, in the subsequent posts I’ll be sharing the comments and “rebuttals” that followed my post on Hemant Mehta’s Friendly Atheist Blog and responding to some of them.  Feel free to light your fires, and may the better arguments win.  I think the honest reader will be able to ascertain that we’ve got a lot more than leftover religion, cardboard tubes and bailing twine!

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Women’s Rights ARE Under Attack! (The Stoning of Soraya M.)

Women’s Rights ARE Under Attack!  (The Stoning of Soraya M.)

Posted by on Feb 25, 2014 in Book & Media Reviews | 4 comments

Graphic scene from movie depicts Soraya covered in blood while being stoned

Scene from The Stoning of Soraya M.

Women’s rights are under attack!  What do we do?  Stand up, fight back!”   That’s the rally cry of North American feminists.  And they’re right – women’s rights ARE under attack!   But not in North America.  Not even close to what women are facing around the world in far more oppressive countries!

I just watched The Stoning of Soraya M. and I am angry!  Among other things, I am quite sick of “Women’s Rights” being co-opted by the abortion lobby!  You want to see what real oppression looks like?  Watch the cinematic reproduction of the true story of a young mother named Soraya!  Stories like hers are taking place throughout the world, largely where Islam and Sharia law are the rule of the land.  Soraya was abused by her husband without recourse, backed into a situation where she would’ve been powerless and penniless if she’d consented to the divorce he wanted, and when her husband accused her of adultery in order to be rid of her immediately without having to return her dowry, she had absolutely no opportunity to defend herself.  In one day she was accused, convicted on the word of her husband and a lying witness, and sentenced to death by stoning.  That is oppression!

In many places around the world, women are routinely beaten by their husbands.  They are born to serve men and are considered lower than animals.  These women’s entire purpose is to be given in marriage, to fulfill a husband’s sexual desires, cook his food, clean his house, and raise his sons.  Daughters are his property to barter and trade with other men. In some countries they are viewed as a burdened and drowned or aborted for not being sons.  They are rarely educated and rarely given the chance to be anything other than a man’s unpaid servant. Because, as Soraya’s husband put it, “It’s a man’s world.”    Yes, that is oppression!

The Stoning of Soraya M.  spares us no detail, and we are made to watch in real-time and minute by minute detail as Soraya is taken on a death march, tied and buried waist deep, and as stone after stone after stone hits their sickening mark with graphic results and heart-wrenching thuds.  The entire movie can be rented on Amazaon for $3.99 (see link below) but I dare you to watch the ten minute stoning sequence here. Knowing that this is still happening on a regular basis all around the world, I want you to watch and see what it really means for women’s rights to be under attack:

I want to fight for the rights of women like Soraya.  I want to see them have access to education, to be employed and paid fairly and to be able to provide education for all their children. I want to see their culture respect women’s voices in society and not regard them as subservient sex slaves and housekeepers.  I want to see them have access to real legal support, to fair divorce settlements, to women’s shelters should they need to escape a bad marriage. I want to see women like Soraya be given basic dignity and human rights, with the chance to live and to walk down their streets with heads held high – in a man and woman‘s world! I believe in women’s rights, and I’ll do whatever I can to fight for women like Soraya who have no voice. Females, (both born and unborn) who are being killed and discriminated against just because they are female.

And no – you do NOT get to equate a woman’s right to live without being beaten, silenced, or stoned with your desire to dismember your preborn children to be rid of them sooner.  Shame on you if you make a mockery of the real oppression faced by women all over the world, and if you dare pretend that your rights are under attack by the mere suggestion that you may have to walk around pregnant for nine months before passing your unwanted child on to someone else. Don’t cry me a river about bodily integrity if you don’t have rocks flying at your head but instead are walking around making free decisions about your life and sexual choices. You have access to multiple forms of contraception and opportunities that countless women around the globe won’t ever know, and yet nearly half of women having abortions simply did not use a contraception method the month they got pregnant) It’s time to stop playing the victim and take charge of your sex life. You’re not under attack!

Yes, life could still improve for women in the western world. We could use better daycare and maternity leave options, guaranteed equal wages, flexible school and work telecommute solutions… but comparatively, a trot around the world should make us all realize we’re really not that bad off! It’s time to stop co-opting “women’s rights”.

By: Kristine Kruszelnicki
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Rent and watch online:

Purchase the book:

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A Pro-Life Atheist’s Video Shared With The Friendly Atheist’s Readers

A Pro-Life Atheist’s Video Shared With The Friendly Atheist’s Readers

Posted by on Feb 18, 2014 in Pro-Life Atheists in Media | 0 comments

Posters advertising pro-life atheist talk were destroyed

Posters advertising pro-life atheist talk were destroyed

Congratulations to Kelsey Hazzard from Secular Pro-Life who made a nice splash both prior to and  following her presentation “Pro-Life Without God” (see video below).

After the pro-life student club she was speaking to at the University of Georgia experienced vandalism of the posters announcing her upcoming talk, (a sadly all-too-common occurrence that I’ve seen repeatedly in my decade and a half of haunting the halls of various universities), the censorship was featured in a number of print and online publications. One of these publications was The Friendly Atheist’s Blog who made a point of emphasizing his displeasure regarding the censorship.

“Obviously, those actions are to be condemned by everybody. That’s the way you respond when you have no good arguments on your side. If you really think they’re wrong, let them advertise as they wish, then dissent in a productive, meaningful way.

(Yay for Hemant Mehta! I love that kind of intellectual honesty!)

He also added:

“I’m amazed that I haven’t seen a presentation like this at any of the atheist conferences I’ve ever been to. (At least I can’t remember seeing one like it.) If conference organizers are trying to reach out to a broader spectrum of people, Kelsey seems like a natural choice for a poised speaker who has a very different perspective to bring to the secular table. Even if you think she’s way off base, she represents not-an-insignificant portion of our community. It’d at least be interesting to see the two sides of this argument hash things out in front of a crowd.

So again, congratulations to our pro-life atheist comrade from our sister organization. Hopefully the speaking opportunities will indeed be offered to pro-life atheists at future conferences! I’m currently waiting to hear back from the American Humanist Convention since their former president has recommended me as a speaker. Good things ahead for pro-life atheists!

Kelsey’s presentation:

And do go read The post on The Friendly Atheist and join in the conversation. Not all pro-lifers interacting with The Friendly Atheist community are well-versed in pro-life reason or even atheist for that matter. Let’s make sure our voices are heard!

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The Pregnancy Project: Breaking Stereotypes

Posted by on Feb 13, 2014 in Book & Media Reviews | 2 comments

New blog category: introducing “Book & Media Reviews”, for the many times abortion and unplanned pregnancy appear in film, TV, movies, and books! Behold your first: The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir

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Gaby Rodriguez poses with actress who plays her

Gaby Rodriguez (right) posing with actress who plays her on film.


Despite being a low-income Latina and daughter of a teenaged single Mom, Gaby Rodriguez exceeded many people’s expectations. An honor-roll student on countless school committees, squad captain, member of the leadership team, and already recommended by several teachers to the college of her choice, Gaby was a top contender on nearly everyone’s “sure to excel” list… Until her senior year, when she announced to her school and family that she was pregnant. While some, like her leadership class teacher, said encouraging things like “Well, I don’t see why you can’t be a leader and a mom”, most reactions from peers, teachers and family were cold and cruel:

“I always knew she’d get pregnant. All the girls from her neighborhood do.”

“She’s so stupid. She just threw her life away.”

“She’ll never go to college now.”

“I wonder if she’ll even graduate.”

“Her boyfriend’s going to bail.”

“She had a real chance at a future and now she’ll never amount to anything. Her life is over.”

As Gaby walked the halls of her school that year, she and her closest confidantes kept track of comments that were said to and about her. She and her boyfriend Jorge bore a full barrage of negative expectations, and she witnessed how fast those around her began to look down and devalue her potential once her belly began to grow. She wanted desperately to show them all that she was still the same intelligent and potential-filled young lady she had been before she became pregnant – and in fact she was

… Because Gaby wasn’t pregnant.

Gaby Rodriguez, now the author of a book entitled The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir and subject of a Lifetime Network Movie by the same name, faked a pregnancy for her senior project in high school, in order to showcase and rebuke the endless stereotypes put on teen Moms. Many of those stereotypes become self-fulfilling prophecies as society fails to encourage the young ladies to do any better for themselves, and tells the young dads they’re doomed to never have a normal life again – which only furthers the statistics and stereotypes as more and more of them fall in line with the negative expectations placed on them.

Why do we not come alongside a pregnant young lady and tell her “it won’t be easy but it can be done – and we can help?” On page 111 of her book, Gaby highlights the example of the four-minute mile. Prior to 1954 doctors and scientists said it was physically impossible for a human body to run a mile in under four minutes. No one had ever done it and it was believed one would die in the attempt. But just as soon as one man did it, he was quickly followed by another runner after another, and by 1957 sixteen runners had beaten the four minute mile. It seemed that once they knew it could be done, it entered their realm of possibility. The human mind is susceptible to that kind of conditioning – so why is society so quick to restrict the vision of possibility for young teens by telling them they are bound to have miserable lives if they have a baby?

I’ll let Gaby share her thoughts on the matter in this brief excerpt: (The Pregnancy Project, page 124-127)

The thing is, I understand where the negativity comes from. People say these things because they’ve seen other other young, unmarried parents mess up their lives. It would be unrealistic to expect everyone to say “Congratulations!” and cheer about it — and that would probably be harmful to others, because other teens might see the positive attention and want some of it for themselves… leading to more teen pregnancies.

No matter what, I knew that the focus had to stay on avoiding teen pregnancies in the first place. But once the act is done, why throw teen parents under the bus? Whether a committed couple’s birth control failed or someone got drunk at a party and had a one-night stand, the result is the same: There’s going to be a baby. What good does it do anyone to sit around insulting the parents? What positive result can possibly come of it?

If anything, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Teen moms don’t usually stop at one child. You’d think that they’d have hard lives and never want to get into that predicament again, but it often doesn’t happen that way. One in four teen moms gets pregnant again within two years. They wind up having second and third kids without being in solid marriages, but why? Maybe it’s because they’ve been told they’re screwups and that their own lives are over now anyway, so they figure this is all they can do in life. Maybe they become desperate for affection because they’ve been so ostracized. I can’t be sure what goes on in everyone’s minds, but can make guesses based on how I felt during the experiment.

… A message board post from a teen mom echoed what I was feeling. “When you get pregnant as a teenager, a lot of people give up on you and treat you like garbage, no matter how smart or nice or hard-working you were before,” she wrote. “Nobody wants to ‘encourage teen pregnancy’, so they feel it’s their duty to make you suffer. It is painful and scarring and it’s why a lot of teen moms drop out.”

I believe that once the news is announced, the focus needs to be on what now? For the benefit of society, it’s in everyone’s interest to make sure this baby doesn’t grow up to become a criminal, or a lifelong welfare recipient. Its entirely possible for the children of teen moms to do great things — you don’t need to look any further than President Barack Obama for proof of that. His mom was eighteen when she had him. Or Eric Clapton, Oprah Winfrey, even Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez — all were reared by teen moms, and no matter what you think of them, they’re all hugely successful in their fields.

So why not focus on that? Why not see President Obama’s mom as the four-minute mile of teen pregnancy? If she was able to finish her education, attain a successful life, and have one of her children grow up to become president of the United States, then we know it’s possible. With enough support and encouragement, maybe the teen dads would stick around, and maybe the teen moms would finish their education, get better jobs, and stop repeating the cycle.

We won’t win this battle by finger-pointing and gossiping. We win it by educating, talking, and lifting each other up. We win it by being decent to one another.

I think Gaby Rodriguez is quite right. She identifies in her book as being “very much pro-life” (page 89) and while she doesn’t say so explicitly, it’s not hard to see why many teens and young single women succumb to abortion precisely because they are so terrified by the refrain of “it’ll ruin your life!”. Women deserve better than that. If we truly care for their well-being and that of their children, our focus needs to be on offering women real support and real choices. Having a child will change a woman’s life (and that of her partner) especially if she chooses to raise the baby herself, but it doesn’t have to end or destroy it. It’s up to all of us to give her the encouragement and support she needs to not end her child’s life. She shouldn’t have to do it alone.

Order Gaby Rodriguez’ book here:
:

and order the movie for online viewing for only $3.99 here:

(By using these links for your purchase Amazon will provide PLH a 15% kickback – Thank you for shopping through us for all your Amazon purchases!)

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