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Friday, December 20, 2013

NCRTL News, Delivered to Your Inbox

Did you know NCRTL sends out email alerts and web newsletters? We do! Our e-alerts are great for keeping up to date with the latest pro-life happenings in North Carolina. 

When the General Assembly is not in session, we send out biweekly email newsletters packed full of news, information about upcoming events, blog posts, and anything else we think you should know. It's an easy way to stay informed, and because we only send them every two weeks, you won't feel overwhelmed with emails. 

During the legislative sessions, we send out action alerts so that you know exactly what's happening with our pro-life legislation. You'll learn about the bills we're supporting or opposing, as well as what you can do to help. Sometimes all we need is for our grassroots supporters to call their legislators about a particular bill, but if something really important is happening, we may ask you to come to the Legislative Building for a pro-life presence!

Last summer, our legislation drew so much attention that Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups rallied and lobbied in pink T-shirts, so we asked our supporters to come in wearing blue. We sponsored a Pro-Life Information and Lobby Day in April, and when our bills were up for vote later in the summer, we urged everyone to show their support by sitting in the galleries during debates. 

Signing up for e-alerts is a simple first step in becoming more acquainted with NCRTL's life-saving work. If you've ever wanted to be more knowledgeable about North Carolina's pro-life activity or more active in the movement, consider signing up!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Prayer Breakfast, Rally, and March for Life Coming Soon!

On Saturday, January 18th we will be commemorating the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade with our annual prayer breakfast, rally, and March for Life. 

The Prayer Breakfast for Life, founded in 2000, brings together committed pro-lifers who are eager to celebrate our victories and become energized for another year of life-saving work. 

Steven Mosher
This year's featured speaker is Steven Mosher, president of The Population Research Institute, an internationally recognized authority on China and population issues, and an acclaimed author and speaker. He was worked tirelessly since 1979 to fight coercive population control programs and has helped hundreds of thousands of women and families worldwide. 

This year, the Prayer Breakfast for Life will be held at the Sheraton in downtown Raleigh. The doors will open at 9 in the morning, with the buffet opening at 9:30 and the program beginning at 10 o'clock. Ticket pricing, directions, and more details about the program can be found on our website here

The Rally for Life will begin at 1pm in Nash Square. Confirmed speakers include Barbara Holt, president of NC Right to Life, Steven Mosher, president of The Population Research Institute, the Very Rev. Michael Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh, and William Moore, 2014 Scholarship for Life recipient and NRL Academy graduate. 

This event is most effective when lots of people attend, so bring a crowd! Families, church groups, and youth groups are especially encouraged to attend. Your presence has an influence on all who see you, and you will be making a stand for life! 

Following the rally there will be a March for Life through the streets of Raleigh, with refreshments at the end. NCRTL will also provide literature and pro-life materials for anyone interested. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Pro-Life Essay Contest!

Attention students! Are you pro-life? Have you ever thought about why? This is your chance! 

The annual National Right to Life Pro-Life Essay Contest is accepting submissions beginning December 16, 2013 and ending January 22, 2014. Each essay should address the subject "Why I am Pro-Life" in 300-500 words (1-2 typed pages). The competition is open to students in grades 7-12, and participants are split into categories based on their grade level. 

This essay competition may not strike you as important, but there are several reasons why students should participate. 

On the most basic level, this is a great opportunity to practice and improve writing skills. Not only will this help students excel in their classes at school, it will also help them on college aptitude tests and beyond. Even if you don't plan to enter a field that requires frequent papers, you should still have a solid foundation in writing. Oftentimes, people will see your writing samples before they meet you; do you want their first impression to be, "This person doesn't write well?" Whether you're writing a resume, an email, or a dissertation, you need to know how to formulate your thoughts clearly. 

From the pro-life perspective, the ability to express opinions well is vital. Did you know that college-aged women are more likely to have abortions than any other demographic? Too many young men and women grow up never thinking about why they are pro-life, making them vulnerable to the cultural mentality that abortion is just another choice. Students should think through the "whys" behind their pro-life beliefs before they're faced with a challenging situation. This essay contest requires students to think critically on the subject--500 words may sound like a lot, but people have written entire books on why they're pro-life! To do this assignment well, students will have to work to find and express the heart of their pro-life beliefs. 

This is also a chance to learn and share with your family and friends. Part of fostering a pro-life culture is allowing our pro-life education to grow with us. Young children may not need to know the graphic details about abortion, but they are fascinated by fetal development. Kids often look up to older siblings, and if they witness you openly sharing your thoughts on pro-life issues, they will remember. Someone who grows up knowing a baby is a baby and who takes the time to understand why he or she is pro-life is much more likely to make life-affirming decisions or counsel others to do so when they are older. You never know what seeds you may plant in someone's heart. 

Finally, what a great opportunity to learn something new, write about something you care about, and possibly win some money! You have to admit, it's a pretty good deal.

For more details about the requirements for the competition, please visit our website

Thursday, November 14, 2013

We're Publishing a Resource Book!

Do you ever wish you had a list of all the pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes, or adoption agencies at your fingertips? Want to read the text of a pro-life law and see whether your representative voted for it? Need a chart of statistics related to abortion in North Carolina, or maybe some fact sheets to study up on an issue?

Look no further! In January 2014, NCRTL will be releasing its updated Resource Book, a helpful and handy compilation of all kinds of pro-life information. Everything you may need to educate yourself or a friend will be bound into one convenient book available to anyone who wants one. 

It's cheap, too! We're only asking a donation of $10 for each book. Not only does this money go to a great cause, it also buys you a valuable resource that you can use for years! 

Another great feature of the NCRTL Resource Book is that it features ads from local businesses and organizations, so you can find other pro-life members of your community to support. If you know of a church, business, or individual you think would like an ad in our book, tell them to contact us. Advertisers get a free copy! 

So if you're interested in finding out more, pre-ordering a book, or advertising your organization, check out our website!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act Introduced in the Senate

Yesterday, November 7, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in the Senate. This law, which passed in the House in June, would protect unborn children after 20 weeks old, the age at which medical and scientific evidence agrees that babies can feel pain.

As medical technology continues to develop, an increasing number of studies indicate that preborn children are fully capable of experiencing pain by no later than 20 weeks after fertilization. Doctors also have reason to believe that at this stage of life, babies feel pain more intensely than do adults or even newborns because they have not had the time to develop resistance to pain. It should come as no surprise to pro-lifers that our country holds a curious double-standard when it comes to the unborn. Premature infants, for example, are treated like any other patient even as other babies their age are being aborted. Earlier this year, Americans were horrified to learn that abortionist Kermit Gosnell's preferred method was nothing short of infanticide...but only because he delivered his tiny victims first. During fetal surgery, doctors provide both mother and child with anesthesia.  

Even former abortionists admit that they witnessed the babies' distress during the abortions they performed. This, of course, should be obvious: abortions after the first trimester are all surgical, and the babies are literally ripped apart limb by limb. Not only is this a gruesome way to die, it's barbaric, especially considering the excruciating pain they must experience in the process. 

You can see why the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is so very important, so please help in any way you can! Here are some suggestions:

1) Educate yourself. Websites like and are both good places to start learning about fetal development, abortion procedures, and fetal pain.

2) Educate others. Share what you've learned! Talk to your friends and family members, re-post graphics and facts on Facebook, pin this on Pinterest, tweet using #TheyFeelPain, and whatever else it takes to inform others about the pain babies feel during abortions.

3) Sign the petition. Let Congress know you approve of legislation protecting pain-capable children!

4) Contact your Senators and tell them you support the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. You can also thank Senator Richard Burr, who co-sponsored this landmark piece of legislation!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Got Stories?

Hey pro-lifers, we need your help!

You see, being at the fair for the past week, we've learned a few things.... A lot of people are interested in what we have to say. A lot of people need to hear what we have to say. And a lot of YOU have incredible personal stories about what we do and why we do it. 

So here's our idea: 

Do you have a pro-life story to share? Were you adopted? Did you or someone you know consider abortion but chose life? Have you had upsetting experiences with doctors who were not pro-life? Were you once pro-abortion and had a conversion experience? Have you had any conversations about life that left an impression on you? 

If you can say "yes" to any of these questions (or ones like them!), we invite you to share them with us, and we will publish them on this blog. 

Here are a few ground rules, though.

1) Keep it at or below 500 words. If your story is shorter, great! We can publish several at the same time. If your story needs significantly more than 500 words to be told, perhaps we can consider a guest post.

2) Abortion and euthanasia are not pretty subjects, but remember that many other people have been hurt by them, too. Please avoid bad language, graphic descriptions, and angry outbursts.

3) Don't over-share. While we appreciate your willingness to share with us, we ask that you be mindful of the privacy of others. Consider changing names and locations (just tell us if you've done so) and leaving out specific dates, especially if other people are involved in your story.  

4) Using "Pro-Life Story" as your subject, please email your story to Erin at 

Thanks in advance!

*NCRTL reserves the rights to decide what gets published and to make minor editorial changes as necessary*

Friday, October 18, 2013

Euthanasia: Why Not?

While the cultural battle rages most obviously around abortion, another threat to human dignity, euthanasia, has been in the background for decades. And while many will concede that the killing of an innocent child is morally questionable, they might disagree when it comes to euthanasia. After all, isn’t it more compassionate to allow someone to avoid the pain, embarrassment, and drawn-out suffering that old age so often brings? And aren’t those of us who want to force Grandma to live against her will somehow doing something inhumane? For Christians, it may be most natural to respond that only God may choose when we die and that people have dignity at every age, but with the average secular American, this tactic won’t work.

Fortunately, there are intelligent ways to argue against euthanasia without resorting to religious beliefs, and the easiest way to learn them is to divide the arguments into two categories: autonomy and quality of life.
The basic premise of the autonomy argument is that people should have the right to decide when they want to die. Proponents of euthanasia want laws allowing the elderly and terminally ill to have this option, but it’s impossible to limit this “right” to only certain people. What if an eighteen year old has been dumped by her boyfriend and decides that life is no longer worth living? Most people would agree that this is no reason to allow her to kill herself, but a law preventing such cases could be challenged on the basis of discrimination. In the Netherlands, for example, euthanasia was once limited to the terminally ill; today, children as young as twelve may legally seek assisted suicide, and doctors have more power over their patients’ lives than ever before.
Another way to address autonomy is to explain how those seeking suicide are never truly autonomous. Two separate studies, one conducted in Missouri and the other in Great Britain, found that of those considering suicide, 93% suffered from a mental disorder that impaired rational decision making. Another study discovered that of the terminally ill, 24% expressed a desire for assisted suicide, but of that 24%, every single patient had a mental disorder. In other words, in the overwhelming majority of cases, depression or another mental disorder, not the illness itself, caused suicidal thoughts, and mental illnesses are treated separately. Remember, too, that it’s terrible to assume that because someone is terminally ill, they should want to die. Most people who receive a terminal diagnosis are sad because they want to continue living.
This brings us to the quality of life arguments. These are harder to argue because they are much more personal; people are concerned about living in pain, facing a life of disability, or being a burden upon a loved one. What most people don’t realize is that we have the ability to control pain in up to 99% of cases. Too often, however, doctors and nurses do not receive adequate education in pain management, leaving them helpless or unsure of themselves when their patients are suffering. Instead of focusing on euthanasia, we should work for greater education in pain management so that healthcare providers at a clinical level can use it. After all, killing someone in pain does not solve the problem of pain, and we shouldn’t solve problems by killing people.
Also within the quality of life category is the disability argument; in our culture, it is far too commonly assumed that because someone has a disability, that person’s life is not worth living. Besides being incredibly discriminatory, this is just wrong, and certainly not compassionate or respectful. Allowing a disability exception within euthanasia laws just says that anyone who doesn’t meet our standards is disposable. A better response is to work as a society to be more accommodating; for example, we already require new buildings to be handicap accessible, indicating that we value people in wheelchairs despite their inability to walk. Many people with disabilities will tell you that they only feel different when other people treat them that way. Somehow, I suspect that being told they qualify for assisted suicide isn’t what they have in mind when it comes to equality.
Finally, people are frequently concerned about dying alone or being a burden on their loved ones. However, telling the elderly that we will be “compassionate” and allow them to die is actually confirming their fears of being burdensome and unlovable. Instead, telling Grandma that we will care for her and love her no matter what is much more reassuring; it says that we value her as an individual, and not because she’s “useful” or self-sufficient. Caring for others and allowing ourselves to be cared for is part of the human experience, and no one could survive long without other people there to help them.
Many proponents of euthanasia may never have heard persuasive, rational arguments against it, so hearing the subject presented in this way might be the key to more fruitful discussion. For anyone seeking more information or interested in learning where these studies come from, National Right to Life has an excellent series of articles on euthanasia (found here), as well as other issues of medical ethics.

 (A version of this article was first published on Ignitum Today)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pro-Life 101: Final Thoughts

*This is the seventh and final installment in a series of posts on pro-life apologetics based on the “When They Say, You Say” talks developed by Olivia Gans Turner and Mary Spaulding Balch. While reading in order is not strictly necessary, you may find it helpful. Post 1Post 2. Post 3.  Post 4. Post 5. Post 6. 

Over the last couple months, we've broken down the pro-abortion arguments into five categories and discussed how to address each one. We've also talked about how language influences what we say. Today we'll wrap up our Pro-Life 101 series with a few more thoughts.

While the main arguments fall into the five categories already mentioned, sometimes people will slip into a sixth....the ad hominem attack! When there's nothing left to say, you will become the target. The following are some common ones:

You're a man. 

You're too old to have children.

How many children have you adopted?

Remember, abortion is a human rights issue. It doesn't matter if you're an older man who's never had children--you have a right to speak up for your fellow humans! Always go back to your basic talking points, that life begins at conception and that mothers deserve better care than abortion. 

Your conversation may not change someone else's mind, but you never know what seeds you may plant or who else may be listening. And of course, your words are only a small part of what it means to be pro-life. More than anything else, the witness of your life, the things you do with it, will change the world. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Forty Years of Pro-Life Work!

While 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the tragic Roe v. Wade decision, this year also marks 40 years of life-saving work in North Carolina. On Saturday, September 28, NCRTL celebrated the occasion with 160 friends and supporters at a banquet in Greensboro. 

Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest
The evening began with a reception with Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, who greeted guests and posed for pictures with them. Forest is only the second Republican lieutenant governor to be elected in North Carolina since 1897, and he has been active in pro-life work for many years, including acting as former chairman of the board of Wake Forest Pregnancy Support Services.

Following the reception, guests were seated for dinner and the evening’s program began. After leading the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance, Allen Morris, director of Concerned Methodists, presented Barbara Holt with the group's Trooper for Christ Award. Morris explained that while the award traditionally goes to members of the Methodist church, the organization felt that Holt deserved recognition for her years of devotion to pro-life ministry.

Guests waiting for the program to begin
Holt then gave some updates about NCRTL’s progress in recent years. As you know, North Carolina has passed some important pro-life legislation, including the Woman’s Right to Know/informed consent law, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, a ban on sex-selection abortion and webcam abortions, opting out of federally funded abortion in the health care exchange, and increased regulation of abortion facilities. Holt also talked about the success of NCRTL's first Camp Joshua and our increased presence on social media sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

NRLC President Carol Tobias
Guests were then treated to an address from special guest Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. Tobias commended NCRTL for not only the laws passed, but also for the number of pro-life members elected to Congress. Tobias encouraged North Carolinians to keep up the good work, noting that the pro-life movement is one characterized by love. Even though we may never meet the people we work so hard to save, she said, the fruit of our efforts is important nonetheless.

Lieutenant Governor Forest, the featured speaker, also spoke positively about the progress made in North Carolina. He recognized the legislators in attendance, saying that although he is the one often in the spotlight, the citizens owe their gratitude to the hard-working members of the General Assembly who face so much opposition for being pro-life.  Forest focused much of his speech on the need to return America to her roots. The misrepresentation of separation of church and state, he said, is responsible for the culture today because once you remove God from the public sphere, you lose respect for human life, too.

The evening’s program ended with a benediction, but many people stayed afterward to chat with one another. It was truly wonderful to see so many pro-life people enjoying each other’s company, and we at NCRTL are blessed to have all of your support!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Pro-Life 101: The Hard Cases

*This is the sixth installment in a series of posts on pro-life apologetics based on the “When They Say, You Say” talks developed by Olivia Gans Turner and Mary Spaulding Balch. While reading in order is not strictly necessary, you may find it helpful. Post 1Post 2. Post 3.  Post 4. Post 5.

Rape. Incest. Fetal Abnormality. These constitute what we call “the hard cases,” because they are incredibly personal and emotionally charged. Many people are afraid to talk about them, but you shouldn’t be. Discussing the hard cases requires compassion, sensitivity, and reason, just like everything we’ve talked about so far.

Abortion advocates often bring up the hard cases because they know they carry emotional weight and tend to shake up their pro-life peers. Even those who are otherwise pro-life hesitate when it comes to abortion in the case of rape and incest.

When you look at the statistics, though, you’ll notice that the vast majority of abortions aren’t for the hard cases at all; in fact, rape and incest account for less than 1% of all abortions. In total, rape, incest, life of the mother, and fetal abnormality are the reasons given for only 7% of abortions. It is very important not to downplay the tragedy behind these statistics. You should bring this up to illustrate that there is not an overwhelming need for abortion in these circumstances, but be careful: you cannot reduce the suffering of rape victims to a small statistic in the abortion debate.

So what do we say about abortion in the case of rape? First, remember that rape is a disgusting, violent crime. Whatever you do, start by acknowledging the woman’s pain; she is the innocent victim of a terrible ordeal, and she needs your love, compassion, and support, not your judgment. Pro-lifers are (falsely) accused of caring more about the baby than the mother, and you want to avoid that.  However, when rape results in pregnancy, a second innocent victim is at stake.

Too often, when a woman conceives after rape, counselors encourage her to abort her baby. On the surface, this seems like a reasonable solution since she was forced into her situation. Upon closer analysis, however, this line of reasoning falls apart. Regardless of how he was conceived, the baby is still a unique, innocent human life. Abortion is a death sentence, but it punishes the child for the crime of his father. We forget that the child has two parents—he is also his mother’s, and when we pressure her to abort, we turn her into the aggressor against her own child. Rape victims are already traumatized, and women who have abortions often suffer emotionally, physically, and psychologically for the rest of their lives. When a woman  is pressured into abortion after being raped, then, she often feels like she has been victimized twice.

In the case of incest, which almost always involves the abuse of a minor by an older relative or family friend, abortion not only takes an innocent life and further traumatizes the mother, it also shields the criminal. He pays for his victim’s abortion and resumes his abuse, unbeknownst to those who would protect her. In this way, abortion allows the cycle of abuse to continue, and, again, only adds to the mother’s pain.

But won’t carrying her child to term only distress the mother further? We often hear that women who are pregnant after rape will relive their rape every day. However, studies have shown that women who continue their pregnancies after rape actually heal better than those who abort. Rather than trying to cover up her experience as something shameful, she is able to cope with it in an open, healthy manner. Like grieving, recovering from a rape is a process that takes time. Women reported that although they were afraid at first, in the end they felt that giving life to their child was a special way of redeeming their horrible experience. Instead of compounding the violence of the rape with an abortion, they brought something good and beautiful to the world.

Just as a child conceived in rape has the same dignity, value, and right to life as a “planned” child, so does a baby diagnosed with fetal abnormalities. It’s never easy for parents to hear that their very much wanted baby might have a lifelong disability or perhaps not survive outside the womb, but this does not make abortion the acceptable solution.

We should never judge the worth of a life based upon an arbitrary standard of “quality.” All lives are unique and valuable, and to say otherwise is to establish a dangerous precedent that opens the door to euthanasia. If we say that babies in the womb should be aborted due to disabilities, what’s to prevent us from extending that principle to those outside the womb with disabilities? Modern technology has made it much easier to accurately diagnose problems before birth, but sadly our medical professionals often use this as a means of advocating the abortion of these “less than perfect” children instead of using it as an opportunity to better equip themselves to care for those children’s medical needs.

Even when parents receive a fatal prenatal diagnosis, we know that it’s better for them to continue their pregnancies, just like those pregnant through rape. Many times, parents are excited about their baby and have already picked out names and planned for their future with their baby when they receive the diagnosis. They’re already grieving the life of their baby…before their baby has died. Abortion, rather than acknowledging that baby as a valued family member, turns him into a problem that must be destroyed. In contrast, those with experience at perinatal hospices know that treating the baby as a valuable human being, regardless of how long he lives, brings much greater peace and healing to his family. Families are able to celebrate their newest member’s brief life and are allowed to grieve naturally. Their baby isn’t treated as a problem, but as a blessing.

These cases are all difficult and entail much suffering, but abortion only adds to that suffering. Sympathy, compassion, and love are needed when we talk about them, but so are facts. No matter how a baby is conceived and no matter what disabilities he may have, he is still a unique human life, as fully worthy of our protection and love as his parents.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pro-Life 101: Back-alley Abortions

*This is the fifth installment in a series of posts on pro-life apologetics based on the “When They Say, You Say” talks developed by Olivia Gans Turner and Mary Spaulding Balch. While reading in order is not strictly necessary, you may find it helpful. Post 1Post 2. Post 3 Post 4.

Abortion advocates often state that if abortions were difficult to obtain or illegal, thousands of women would die or be horrifically maimed in back-alley abortions. They even insist that abortion is safer than childbirth and much less painful. These arguments can be intimidating because they rely, to an extent, upon statistics. No worries! We’ve broken down some basic facts to get you started.

First, let’s look at the claim that thousands of women will die because of unsafe illegal abortions. Did you know that in 1972, a year before abortion on demand was legal, the Center for Disease Control reported only 39 maternal deaths from illegal abortions? While it’s truly sad that these mothers and their children died in such a horrific way, this statistic doesn’t even come close to the thousands of deaths that abortion advocates talk about.

Furthermore, illegal abortion-related deaths were rare because by the 1960s, most abortions were performed by physicians (yes, even though it was illegal) and medical technology had improved enough to prevent or treat many problems that previously would have been deadly—including complications from childbirth and basic illnesses like the flu. In 1960, Dr. Mary Calderone, former director of Planned Parenthood, wrote “Abortion, whether therapeutic or illegal, is in the main no longer dangerous, because it is being done well by physicians.” In other words, so long as women did not attempt self-induced abortions, their risk of death was relatively low, even 13 years before Roe.

But what about that “5,000-10,000 deaths” figure we always hear about? Simply put, it was a fabricated statistic. In his 1979 book Aborting America, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, former director of NARAL, wrote “I confess that I knew that the figures were totally false and I suppose that others did too if they stopped to think of it. But in the ‘morality’ of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?” As already mentioned, a look at the true figures demonstrates the truth in Dr. Nathanson’s words: relatively few women died from illegal abortions.

Of course, just because thousands of women didn’t die from abortion doesn’t mean abortion is ever “safe.” After all, at the end of every abortion is a dead baby, and many post-abortive mothers suffer from physical, emotional, and psychological complications. We know, too, that even though abortion is widely available and medical technology better than ever before, women still die during abortions, even legal ones. A quick Google search brings up the tragic stories of Tonya Reaves and Jennifer Morbelli, two young women who died after botched legal abortions performed by licensed physicians.

Another point, too, is that many expectant mothers seek abortions because they can. Since abortion is legal, these vulnerable women rationalize that “it’s legal so it must be okay,” even if they know they are taking the life of a child. How many mothers facing unplanned pregnancies opt for abortion just because it’s the fast and “easy” solution to their problem? How many of those mothers would consider abortion if it wasn’t legal and, to an extent, accepted in the United States? Within ten years of Roe, the number of abortions per year shot up from 744,600 (1973) to over 1.5 million. Today, that number has leveled at about 1.2 million abortions per year, but many post-abortive mothers will say that they only had an abortion because it felt like their only choice.

Sometimes abortion advocates will try to make the case that “safe” abortions reduce maternal mortality rates. Fortunately, studies show that it’s not the availability of abortion that saves mothers’ lives, but better access to medicine and healthcare. In fact, countries where abortion is illegal have a lower maternal mortality rate! In the US, the maternal mortality rate actually increased from 10.3 in 1999 to 23.2 in 2009. In Chile, where abortion has been illegal since 1989, the maternal mortality rate dropped 69.2% within 14 years. Chile now has the second lowest maternal mortality rate of all the countries in North and South America. For a fascinating summary of maternal mortality figures around the world, National Right to Life has an excellent handout detailing some of these trends.

Don’t let the numbers scare you! A little research and common sense is all you need to know that abortion doesn’t save lives, it takes them. Although pregnancy and childbirth can be dangerous, they are natural functions of the female body, and with our ever-increasing medical knowledge and availability, there is no reason to believe that abortion is somehow a safety net. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pro-Life 101: Every Child a Wanted Child

*This is the fourth installment in a series of posts on pro-life apologetics based on the “When They Say, You Say” talks developed by Olivia Gans Turner and Mary Spaulding Balch. While reading in order is not strictly necessary, you may find it helpful. Post 1. Post 2. Post 3

 This third category contains responses to the social arguments for abortion. Social arguments include concerns about the ability of poor families to care for children, unwanted children, and child abuse. Oftentimes people are only repeating what they’ve heard (and have not thought through the subject well themselves), and it’s best to assume that they have good intentions. In order to win hearts to the pro-life movement, you must recognize their compassion for what it is, even if it’s misplaced or uninformed.

The main premise of social arguments is that it is in both the parents’ and the child’s best interest to abort. An unplanned pregnancy will only add to the burden of parents struggling financially. Parents who don’t want their children will be more inclined to abuse. Children born into such families will suffer poverty or abuse. And because nobody wants to increase child abuse or poverty, they look at abortion as a reasonable and even responsible solution to the problem. Our job, then, is to persuade others lovingly that while these are good concerns, their conclusion is incorrect and better solutions exist.

What exactly does the slogan “every child a wanted child” mean? At first glance, it looks great: everyone wants to be wanted and loved! But the implications are much more negative. First, this suggests that value is equated with being wanted, and we know that simply isn’t true. We set a dangerous precedent when we say that someone only has worth when she is wanted by someone. With reference to abortion, “every child a wanted child” quickly becomes “and every unwanted child aborted.” This mentality of killing anyone who isn’t “wanted” endangers everyone living. As soon as we assign value based upon an arbitrary standard, anyone who does not meet that standard is at risk.

More importantly, is any child truly unwanted? At any given time, thousands of couples are on the adoption waiting lists, hoping for a child. Even children with disabilities, who are undervalued by our culture, have families lining up to bring them home. Just this summer, for example, hundreds of couples volunteered to adopt an unborn baby whose parents were considering abortion after discovering he had Down syndrome. While adoption is a difficult decision requiring great self-sacrifice on the part of the birthmother, it has a happy ending. By making an adoption plan, a mother not only gives life to her baby, she gives life to a completely new family. The same cannot be said about abortion.

It’s also good to note that feelings about pregnancies change. It’s common for mothers to have mixed feelings when they learn they’re pregnant, but over time they begin to bond with their unborn baby, especially when they can feel him moving. Every woman has a different timeline for when she bonds with her child, and for some mothers, it might not be until after birth. Regardless of how women feel about their pregnancies, though, we need to remember that the decision to abort is a serious matter, and a temporary emotion is not enough to justify the taking of a life. Too often, expectant mothers who feel trapped into abortion live with regrets for the rest of their lives.

But what about poverty? First of all, aborting the newest member of the family will not solve the problem of poverty. Someone’s financial situation and unplanned pregnancy are two different issues, and a poor mother who has an abortion remains a poor mother, with the additional pain of knowing she killed her child. We don’t condone the arbitrary killing of poor adults, and neither should we advocate the killing of their unborn children! Even if parents don’t feel like they have the financial resources to raise a child, there is help available. Pregnancy care centers across the country exist to support women as they face difficult pregnancies, providing free care, classes, and supplies. Besides material support, the workers at pregnancy centers often form friendships with the clients, providing much-needed emotional support, as well. Unlike abortion facilities, pregnancy care centers empower women and their families with education, resources, and the tools they need to succeed. 

Despite all this, many people are concerned that if parents are “forced” to care for an “unwanted” child, the abuse rate will escalate. If that is the case, it would make sense for cases of child abuse to decrease after the Supreme Court ruled abortion on demand legal, right? Wrong. In 1973, the National Center of Child Abuse and Neglect reported 167,000 cases of child abuse. In 2011, an estimated 681,000 cases of child abuse were reported. This is in spite of increasing standards of safety, such as background checks and training for anyone working with minors, as well as approximately 1.2 million abortions per year. 

So why does the abuse rate go up with the abortion rate? One reason might be that women suffering from post-abortion syndrome are more likely to struggle to bond with or care for subsequent children. Another reason is that an abortion culture promotes a very negative view of children. Planned, wanted unborn children are babies; unplanned and unwanted unborn children are disposable clumps of tissue. When abuse takes place within the womb, we call it abortion and say it’s a woman’s choice. When abuse takes place outside of the womb, it’s a crime. Is it any wonder that as children are no longer seen as gifts within the womb, they aren’t seen as gifts outside of it, either? When children become commodities, we lose the understanding of them as persons.

Abortion has become so customary that it doesn't even occur to some people that it is part of the problem, not the solution. As pro-lifers, it is our duty to address these issues with great love. Our culture is broken and needs to be retaught the value of each person, born and unborn. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pro-Life 101: “A Woman Has the Right to Control Her Body”

*This is the third installment in a series of posts on pro-life apologetics based on the “When They Say, You Say” talks developed by Olivia Gans Turner and Mary Spaulding Balch. If you missed the first two, read part one here and part two here.

One of the most popular pro-abortion arguments is reproductive freedom, i.e. women have the “right” to do what they like with their bodies, including aborting their children. This line of thinking encompasses other common catchphrases such as “I’m personally opposed, but…,” “abortion is a private decision between a woman and her doctor,” and “everyone has the right to choose.”

The United States was founded on the principle of liberty, and Americans often take for granted certain rights that other people are denied, such as the freedom to vote. However, even in the United States our rights have their limits. Freedom of speech, for example, does not allow someone to shout “fire” if there isn’t one. The right to bear arms does not mean gun owners can shoot other people at random. In short, we are not free to injure or endanger another person.

How does this apply to abortion? At the most fundamental level, the unborn child is a separate person, and common sense tells us that if a baby in the womb can have a different blood type and different sex than the woman carrying him, he is a separate individual. We can’t leave the baby out of the conversation when talking about rights!   

With this series of arguments, though, it’s not enough to bring out your humanity of the unborn facts and leave it at that. You’ll need to listen to what the other person is saying and address his or her arguments more specifically. With that in mind, here are some common objections and the pro-life responses.

A woman shouldn’t be forced to carry a pregnancy.

Are women ever “forced” to be pregnant? With the exception of victims of rape and incest, who we’ll talk about in a later post, the vast majority of pregnant mothers willingly engaged in sexual activity. Since pregnancy is the natural outcome of sex, and since all contraceptives have a failure rate, every sexually active person should be aware of the possible consequence. By the time a woman finds out she’s pregnant, it’s too late. She can’t just “undo” her pregnancy, because she’s already a mother. This does not mean she’s without options or doomed to a life without an education or career, though! There are a growing number of resources available to pregnant and parenting students, and resource centers all over the country exist to help women facing unplanned pregnancies.

Remember, too, that pregnancy is a temporary condition. No one is pregnant forever, but abortion is permanent. When someone breaks her leg, doctors usually tell her to wear a cast for a couple months. Is this uncomfortable? Sure. Inconvenient? Probably. But it’s not permanent; the doctor isn’t asking her to wear a cast forever. Nor is the doctor offering to amputate the leg or kill the patient as a “quick fix” to the problem. Similarly, abortion is an extreme reaction to what is a temporary inconvenience.

It’s a private decision between a woman and her doctor.

Obviously, with this one you’re going to want to go back to the humanity of the unborn baby first, but there are a few more points to keep in mind.

First, when we give doctors the freedom to make arbitrary decisions about ending life at one stage, we’re opening the door for an overall decrease in the respect for life at any stage. The unborn are the most vulnerable members of our society, but they’re not the only ones. The disabled, elderly, and anyone else not up to the standards of “perfect” health shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not someone else is going to decide the quality of their life for them. Life is always valuable.

Second, most mothers seeking abortions don’t consult their regular doctors; they go to abortion facilities. It’s unlikely that they will have any kind of relationship with the abortionist or even know his or her name. Any information the abortionist has about the patient comes from information that she provided, not from her regular doctor. The patient may not ever even know her abortionist’s name. The truth is, the notion of abortion being a decision made between a woman and the doctor who knows her is a fallacy; in the majority of cases, it’s a brief meeting of strangers.

Women will never be equal to men without abortion.

Image Source
The ability to bear children is a gift unique to women. As long as we insist that women will “only” be equal if they kill their developing children, women will be “second class” citizens. We wouldn’t tell a black man that he can “only” be equal if he changes his skin color. Fertility is not a punishment, and a baby does not equal failure. The original feminists would be horrified to know that today’s women believe their very femininity holds them back. The day we accept the ability to grow a completely new person as a uniquely female superpower, the world will be a better place.

Some women have no other choice.

How tragic. If a mother feels like abortion is her only option, then we have failed her as a society. No one should have to believe that killing her child is the only way to keep her job, maintain a familial or romantic relationship, pursue an education, or any of the countless  reasons women feel pressured into abortion. This reasoning betrays the lie of abortion as a “choice.”

I’m personally opposed, but….

It doesn’t matter if you’re a man, woman or child. For all the reasons already listed, an opinion means very little when you consider the facts. Moreover, there have been nearly 55 million abortions in the last 40 years; whether you know it or not, someone close to you has most likely had an abortion. This issue has affected everyone.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Pro-Life 101: "It's Not Human"

*This is the second installment in a series of posts on pro-life apologetics based on the “When They Say, You Say” talks developed by Olivia Gans Turner and Mary Spaulding Balch. If you missed the first one, catch up here.

Did you know that most pro-abortion arguments fall into one of five categories? Over the next several weeks, we will be taking you through each argument and presenting some practical tips for responding well. Whether you’re a seasoned member of the pro-life movement or just a rookie, you’ll find something worth reading!

One of the arguments we hear is that an unborn child is not a human being. This may come up in one of several ways, such as, “It’s just a blob of cells,” “The fetus is only a potential human being,” and “It’s not a person; it has no meaningful life.” Thanks to modern technology, though, not only is this particular attack losing credence, it’s also easy to disprove. Let’s start with some basic facts about fetal development.

Not human? Really?!
Science tells us that from the moment of fertilization, a genetically complete, unique, individual human person exists. Although the baby may look like a clump of cells during his first few days of life, he is not just a “potential life,” he is a life! His DNA contains all the same information it will always have throughout his life. Sex, eye color, height, and his grandpa’s nose are already present; all he needs is time to grow and develop these features.

After about a week, the unborn child, now in the embryo stage, has implanted in the uterus. By the time he is 18 days old, he already has a beating heart and a visible spinal cord. His growth is rapid and almost miraculous. Within just a few weeks, he will have all the body parts he will have as an adult. In six weeks, the unborn child has grown from a single-celled person into a person with definable features and every organ system in place.

Just as an infant does not look exactly like the adult he will become, so an embryo in the early stages of development does not look exactly the way he will at birth. Who are we to say that his life is without meaning? Arguably, the infant needs as much or more care than the unborn child because both are entirely reliant upon outside help in order to survive, but there are few people who advocate for infanticide (sadly, we can no longer say that “no one” advocates for infanticide). We cannot judge a life’s worth based on arbitrary standards of quality or care; rather, we must give each life the same objective value, based simply on its merit as human life.  

It’s important to remember that the vast majority of abortions take place between the seventh and twelfth week of pregnancy—long after the babies have beating hearts and detectable brainwaves. These facts might anger some people, but you can be confident in the knowledge that what you are speaking is true and has nothing to do with opinion, ideology, or religion. “Don’t force your religion on me” falls under this category of argument because it has the same answer: No matter what you believe about the existence of God, it’s indisputable science that at fertilization, a new life comes into existence.

One of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal is the ultrasound image. Within the last several decades, the use of the ultrasound has gone from nonexistent to routine practice. As technology improves, so do the images of the unborn children. Today’s pregnant mamas can take home 4D ultrasound videos of their babies yawning, stretching, and sucking their thumbs! This is one reason why it is so important that all pregnant mothers have the chance to view an ultrasound of their baby. In your own conversations, have an ultrasound image or fetal model available to show people. “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and although your picture and words may not change minds, they may plant seeds in peoples’ hearts. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pro-Life 101: Using Our Language to Frame Our Arguments

"Did I really just say that?!"
Anyone familiar with the abortion debate knows the discrepancy in the language those on each side use. Even if you’re not always consciously aware of the differences, you’ve probably noticed that some people say “fetus” while others say “baby.” The language we use helps frame our arguments, and today we’re going to tell you some simple ways that your vocabulary can strengthen your pro-life witness.

You may be aware that when the mainstream media talks about the pro-life movement, they don’t say “pro-life.” At best, we are “anti-abortion,” but often we are just “anti-choice.” See what they did there? It’s that simple to turn a positive connotation into a negative one. This is just one example of how language shapes our arguments, and it illustrates just why we, as pro-lifers, need to be so careful with the words we use. Without even meaning to, what we say can work against us. For example, how often have you said “pro-choice?” Our opponents are NOT “pro-choice,” they are “pro-abortion,” and to say otherwise implies that abortion IS a choice.

Since it’s easy to get caught up in their terminology without realizing it, let’s look at some of the common words and phrases to avoid in pro-life situations, as well as other things to say instead.

First, “choice.” This otherwise harmless word is loaded when it comes to our subject. As Americans, we like being able to choose what to have for dinner, the career we want, or where to spend our vacations. “Choice” is good, right? Not when it comes to abortion. Unfortunately, the pro-abortion side has commandeered this word, and since we are not for “choice,” that makes us the bad guys. Try to use words like “option,” “decision,” or “alternative” instead. Using the word “choice” in a conversation about abortion is to adopt their language, and we want to avoid that as much as possible.
Example: Mothers facing crisis pregnancies have more options than abortion.

“Fetus.” Though this is a medical term and means “unborn young” in Latin, today our opponents use “fetus” to detract from the humanity of the unborn. Unless you are having a scientific discussion, avoid “fetus” and use words like “baby” or “unborn child” instead. When people hear the word “baby,” a clump of cells is not what they imagine.

Example: “Just six weeks after fertilization, the baby already has all the limbs and organs his adult body will. He even has detectable brain waves!”

“It.” NEVER refer to an unborn baby as “it.” It’s hard to remember to refer to a baby of unknown sex by anything else, but “it” is one word you should eliminate when referring to a human person. If necessary, pick a name for the baby. Not only does this humanize “Junior,” it also gives him a sex for you to refer to. When you’re talking about the so-called “War on Women,” consider using “her” to refer to the unborn baby; it’s a subtle reminder that the unborn women should be part of the debate, too.

Example: “At fertilization, the unborn baby is not just a clump of cells. He’s a genetically unique human person with his own DNA. All he needs is time to grow!”

“Pregnant Woman” or “Woman.” Call her a mother! After all, if you believe that life begins at fertilization (and you should), then motherhood begins at fertilization, too. This also emphasizes the baby’s role in pregnancy.

Example: “It’s tragic that mothers in crisis pregnancies feel that abortion is their only option.”

“Doctor” and “Clinic.” These words imply that abortion is just like any other medical procedure. For obvious reasons, always say “abortionist” and “abortion facility.” Don’t be afraid to call them what they are!

Example: “Every time I pray at the abortion facility, I pray that the abortionist will have a change of heart.”

Finally, “murder.” Although it’s often best to avoid euphemisms, in this case it’s better to use a more gentle word, like “killing.” Remember, expectant mothers are under a great deal of pressure to abort and are often misinformed about their baby’s development; they don’t need to feel judged by you as a murderer. Keep in mind, too, that we are portrayed as self-righteous, insensitive, and violent. Casual usage of terms like “murder” only contributes to this image.

Example: “When there are so many couples waiting to adopt, why does our culture try to persuade young mothers that killing their unborn children is their best option?”

Although there are more words that we could talk about, you get the point. Ultimately, the important thing to remember is that ANY voice for the voiceless is wonderful, but it’s good to have the tools to effectively present your side, too.

This is the first installment in a series of posts on pro-life apologetics based on the “When They Say,You Say” talks developed by Olivia Gans Turner and Mary Spaulding Balch. 

To read part 2, part 3, or part 4, click on the links!