On Tuesday night, I had the pleasure of speaking at the University of Mary Washington. The Students for Life club deserves major credit for putting together such a diverse panel.
I went first, and was immediately followed by a devout Catholic who talked about the virtue of chastity and how life is a “gift from God” (quite the contrast). Third up were the Hanrahans, five-time adoptive parents from Richmond. They have a wonderful story, and their actions speak very loudly indeed.
Side note: the Hanrahans mention in passing that they’re Christians, but it’s not a focus of the talk. In a conversation I had with them, they described themselves as “drinking Protestants” (meaning mainline, non-evangelical Protestant), which I found amusing. And the pregnancy resource center they run? It’s not faith-based, which means anyone can volunteer. Go Hanrahans!
Fourth was Kristen Day of Democrats for Life, who challenged us to think beyond petty political alliances. And finally, Susan Jaramillo spoke about her three abortions and working through her grief and guilt. She found healing through religion, so her comments are in that vein.
Enjoy the video! And for those of you who can’t watch, a transcript of my introductory comments is below.
Thank you so much, and thank you for the warm welcome here at UMW. As she said, I’m the president of Secular Pro-Life. Many people think that the pro-life position is simply a religious position, that it’s just a “religious issue” or a “social issue.” That’s not actually the case.
At this point in our forty years of debate, it’s actually pretty settled what the science and biology of the problem is. “Clump of cells” has kind of gone out of style now. If you look at the people who are really active in the pro-choice movement, the people who are leaders of organizations or are working in the abortion clinics, they will say very openly that a fetus is a human life and that abortion ends that life.
So the basic facts of the matter are pretty much settled. The question then becomes an ethical question: is it okay? And I firmly believe that you don’t have to be a Christian to have a position on that issue: to say that, in these circumstances– where a fetus is helpless, relying upon the rest of us as a community for survival– killing is wrong. I do not think that is at all a religious position. It’s certainly a debatable thing, people of various views can have honest disagreement. But you do not have to be religious to be pro-life. So that’s the bottom line of Secular Pro-Life, and I welcome your questions on that.
The subtitle of this panel is “A discussion of what’s best for the woman and the child,” and I thought a good way to start looking at that question would be to look at the reasons women have abortions. There’s been quite a lot of research on that question, particularly from the Guttmacher Institute, which very strongly supports abortion, in fact. And the findings are pretty much what you would expect: it’s largely financial, “I can’t afford a baby right now.” “Having a baby would interfere with my education” is another dominant reason. A disturbingly high number cite pressure from the father of the child or the grandparents of the child, which is very common, actually, and raises the question of how much of it really is “her choice.”
But what I find interesting about these findings is what’s not there. Because you will never see, on this list of reasons for having an abortion, “I feel like an alien parasite has invaded my body.” It’s not even a fraction of a percent of women, who have abortions for that reason. Which is so funny, because you’re always hearing about, you know, “my right to my body,” “my body, my choice.” It has really nothing to do with bodily autonomy. You know, the reasons women have abortions, have nothing to do with pregnancy! They have everything to do with the baby that will be born.
And so, what do we do with that information? If any of those reasons were to be given after pregnancy, as a justification for infanticide, we would think “Oh my gosh. This woman needs real help, if she feels so desperate that she thinks she has to kill her infant to get by. We’ve got to help her out.” And it should be the same way with abortion, because abortion is happening for those reasons. If we’re going to end abortion, we have to provide support for pregnant women in crisis. Thank you very much.