Poverty & Imposing Your Beliefs

By R.J. McVeigh, Great Lakes Regional Director

Two topics at hand today after SFLA’s Northwest Regional Coordinator, Lisa Atkins, was verbally attacked on campus earlier this week.

First up – shouldn’t Pro-Life Advocates care about ending poverty?

Simple answer – yes, they should care. And usually they do. But Pro-Life advocates do not advocate ending abortion as an alternative to ending poverty. Virtually all Pro-Life advocates agree that ending abortion AND ending poverty are both righteous causes – and many of them actively donate their time and effort for both causes. However, those pro-abortion-choice advocates who present this false dilemma of, “Either you care aboutThinkstockPhotos-177428066 ending abortion OR you care about ending poverty” ARE in fact arguing that society ought to end poverty INSTEAD of ending abortion. Even worse is that in situations where the questioner is asking about your efforts to end poverty in an accusatory way it is creating an additional mixture of a loaded question as an implied personal attack. So in short, if you’re accusingly asking pro-life advocates (or, really, advocates of any cause) what they’re doing about poverty, or any other world problem, you’re kind of just being a jerk (and not clever).

Second topic – are Pro-Life Advocates trying to impose their beliefs on others?

If you want another simple answer – yes. But don’t jump to conclusions yet. There is a follow-up question: is it always WRONG to try to impose your beliefs on others? When it comes to decisions that only affect the decision-maker, most millennials probably agree that is when it is wrong to impose your beliefs on the decision-maker. But, what about decisions that bring harm to another human being, not the decision-maker? Isn’t that when it is okay, or even morally obligated, to impose the belief that innocent human beings ought to be protected from other people’s harmful decisions? Indeed, virtually everyone supports this principle – when they impose their belief that stealing from them is wrong by locking their house at night, when they impose their belief that police brutality is wrong by protesting,  or even when they impose their belief that imposing your belief is wrong (“You’re trying to impose your beliefs on someone else, which is wrong!”)

When it comes to imposing your beliefs about abortion, the relevant question is, “Does abortion harm anyone besides the decision-maker?” The whole point of being a Pro-Life Advocate is to show people that abortion does harm, even kills, a defenseless, powerless, and innocent human being. If Pro-Life Advocates are correct in the very argument that defines them as Pro-Life Advocates, it is not wrong to impose this belief – in fact, it would be wrong to do nothing about this belief. It would be similar to doing nothing about child abuse.

So while the verbal attacks and faulty logic continue on campus, we will continue to be the voice of reason and welcome honest debate until abortion is ended. Our consciences won’t allow anything less.

Autumn in the Sovereign Zone: Why “It’s My Body, I Can Do What I Want” Won’t Do

 

Reprinted from www.joshbrahm.com

Autumn in the Sovereign Zone[1]

Anyone who has ever heard a conversation about abortion has heard pro-choice statements like:

  • “My body, my choice.”
  • “You can’t tell another person what she can’t do with her own body.”
  • “The fetus is part of her body.”
  • “The fetus is inside her body.”

When a pro-life advocate hears statements like these, a common impulse is to respond by saying, “But it’s not her body; it’s another body!” or “If the fetus is part of her body, does she have two heads and twenty toes?” or, perhaps, “But the unborn is a human being, here’s some evidence for that…”

Not so fast.  The pro-choice statements above are ambiguous.  If the pro-choice advocate is confused about whether the unborn is a separate organism from the mother, then graciously giving him an impromptu biology lesson might be helpful.  In many cases, though, the pro-choice advocate is intending to communicate that the woman can do what she wants even if the fetus is a human being.  Many pro-choice advocates don’t know how to articulate this argument in a way that helps pro-life advocates understand.  The pro-life advocate hears, “The fetus is not human,” but the pro-choice advocate means, “It doesn’t matter if the fetus is human.”

Pro-life people generally think there is one question to answer in order to determine the morality of abortion: “What is the unborn?”  Generally speaking, there is merit to this idea.  For instance, when a pro-choice advocate says abortion should be legal because some women are too poor to have a child, he is begging the question.  He is assuming the unborn is not a valuable human because (presumably) he wouldn’t say women should have the right to kill their toddlers if they are too poor.  If the unborn is human, like the toddler, then we can’t kill the unborn in the name of poverty any more than we would kill a toddler.  In contrast, attempting to give a reason that the unborn is not a valuable human being would make a better argument.[2]

One might be tempted to think that all pro-choice justifications can be accurately summarized as either 1) assuming the unborn isn’t human or 2) arguing that the unborn isn’t human. But as Trent Horn[3] has pointed out, there is a third type of pro-choice justification, one that 3) admitsthe unborn is human and says that the woman can kill it anyway because of her bodily rights.

Learning to Recognize Bodily Rights Arguments

When I first heard this distinction, it seemed foreign to me.  Why would anyone admit that the unborn is a valuable human being and say it’s okay to kill it?  Then I started thinking about all of the conversations I’d had in which pro-choice people made references to the woman’s body and how it didn’t seem to matter to them when I demonstrated that the unborn is a separate human organism.  Could I have simply been misunderstanding them all along?

So I went on the lookout.  If someone made one of the above pro-choice statements, I would clarify if he was arguing that the unborn isn’t human or if he was making a bodily rights argument.  For instance, when someone said the unborn is part of the mother’s body, I asked:

“I want to understand you, but it sounds like you might be saying one of two different things.  Do you mean that the unborn is literally a part of her body, like a functional part or something; or do you mean that because it is inside her body and connected to her body that she has the right to kill it because she can do what she wants with her body?”

Almost every time I have asked this question, the pro-choice advocate has said that he meant the latter.  I ask a similar question when people say that the unborn is inside the woman, such as:

“I want to understand you, but it sounds like you might be saying one of two different things.  Do you mean that the unborn is not a valuable human being because it is inside the woman; or do you mean that even if it is a valuable human being, that a woman has the right to kill it because it’s inside her and she can do what she wants with her body?”

Almost every time, he responds by saying he meant the latter.  Since I began asking for clarification on this, I have found that bodily rights arguments are much more common than I had previously thought.

The pro-life mind is generally oriented towards the unborn: the unborn is a human being, and it should be illegal to kill human beings, so abortion should be illegal.  But pro-choice people are generally oriented differently.  Even if they don’t believe that the unborn is a human being, sometimes they don’t think that issue matters.  The important thing is that women can do what they want with their bodies, no matter what.  If this is the perspective of one of your pro-choice friends, then biological or philosophical arguments that the unborn is a human being are not likely to change his mind about abortion.  Some pro-choice people truly don’t care what the unborn is; the unborn is in the woman’s way, and that’s all that matters.

Pro-life advocates need to get in the habit of asking these kinds of clarification questions.  If we do not clarify, but merely assume we know what the pro-choice advocate means, then it’s likely our conversation will get stuck and neither person will know why.

Some might think, “What’s the use in trying to persuade people who think it’s okay to kill humans?  They’re so unreasonable.  A lost cause.”  I strongly disagree!  While I’ve found some hardcore moral relativists almost impossible to persuade, the pro-choice advocate focused on bodily rights is different.  He is right about something very important: we do have significant rights to our bodies. Yet it is not difficult to make a persuasive case that our bodily rights don’t extend as far as most pro-choice advocates think.

Distinguishing Between Bodily Rights Arguments

Trent Horn has distinguished between two types of bodily rights arguments: the Right to Refuse Argument and the Sovereign Zone Argument.[4]  The Right to Refuse Argument states that even if the unborn is a human being, a woman has the right to refuse to allow the unborn the use of her body.  I will not address that argument here; if you are interested, I recommend “De Facto Guardian and Abortion: A Response to the Strongest Violinist,” Steve Wagner’s summary of the discussion of Justice For All’s philosophy team.

The Sovereign Zone Argument states that even if the unborn is a human being, a woman should still be able to have an abortion because she has the right to do anything she wants with anything inside the sovereign zone of her body. Notice that this is a much more extreme claim than that of the Right to Refuse Argument.  The Right to Refuse Argument says a woman has the right not to be forced to do something, while the Sovereign Zone Argument says she has the right to do anything, as long as it’s to something within her sovereign zone.

If you say something like, “My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins, and abortion kills a baby,” you won’t be addressing this pro-choice person’s concern.  Remember, she has acknowledged that the unborn is a human being.  She doesn’t believe a woman’s right to bodily autonomy gives her the right to kill a toddler, or swing her fist into her neighbor’s nose.  The unborn is different because it is in her territory, in her sovereign zone.  While I haven’t ever heard a pro-choice person use the term “Sovereign Zone” to explain this view, I have talked with many who hold the position I’ve described.  And, it’s an integral part of their pro-choice perspective.

Dismantling the Sovereign Zone Argument

The most obvious problem with the Sovereign Zone Argument is that it entails something that is indefensible: a woman should legally be allowed to do anything to her unborn child, even if it is a human being.  Once I’ve clarified that I am dealing with the Sovereign Zone Argument, I respond with some version of a story I call The Five Years of Autumn to help the person see the problem and hopefully abandon the view.  [5]  If the pro-choice person wants to continue to defend abortion with the Sovereign Zone Argument, he will have to “bite the bullet” in five progressively difficult scenarios.

I want to be clear that this story is not intended to mock anyone, and I don’t ever approve of pro-life people mocking pro-choice people.  I also don’t ever approve of pro-life people attacking straw men instead of actual pro-choice arguments; on the contrary, I think we should go to great pains to make sure we understand pro-choice people’s views and respond to the most plausible versions of them.  I’m not intending to imply that pro-choice people are like Autumn or that they should approve of her actions.  I think a pro-choice person who agrees with the Sovereign Zone Argument should consider the implications of that view as illustrated by Autumn.  If someone justifies abortion with the Sovereign Zone, I do not think he can consistently claim that Autumn should not at least have the legal right to do what she does.

The Five Years of Autumn

Autumn has just completed her doctorate at the age of thirty.  She is pro-choice and has fully embraced the Sovereign Zone Argument.  She believes the unborn is a valuable human being, but that abortion is justified because women have the right to do anything they want with anything inside their bodies.

In the First Year after completing her doctorate, Autumn becomes pregnant.  Her boyfriend is supportive, and she’s excited because she’s always wanted a baby.  Well, that is, she’s always wanted a baby boy.  Her doctor orders an early amniocentesis test at twelve weeks because of factors discovered during genetic counseling with Autumn and her boyfriend.  Though the child appears to be normal, Autumn’s heart sinks when the doctor tells her that it’s a girl.  She wrestles for a few days, and finally decides to have an abortion.  She doesn’t want to have a girl, and her body is her sovereign zone after all, so she shouldn’t have to justify to anyone what reason she has for getting an abortion.

Autumn gets pregnant again soon after and this time at twelve weeks she is relieved to find out that she’s having a boy.  She and her boyfriend eagerly anticipate the birth, until around eight months into the pregnancy when they break up.  Suddenly Autumn goes from being excited at the prospect of raising a baby boy with her boyfriend to the terrifying reality of raising a child all by herself.  She thinks eight months is awfully late to have an abortion, but she considers the sovereign zone of her body.  If it’s her sovereign zone and she has the right to do anything she wants with anything in her body at twelve weeks, why not at thirty-five weeks?  Her state happens to allow abortion up until birth, and she convinces the doctor that her mental strain is sufficient to qualify her for abortion in this late stage.  After she goes through with the abortion, she tells herself that it was the right thing for her.

In her Second Year after completing her doctorate, Autumn starts dating a physician.  She becomes pregnant, and she is somewhat happy about it, but her excitement is quickly overshadowed by a terrible case of morning sickness.  One day her ever-attentive new boyfriend brings home some white pills he has illegally acquired for her.  He tells her he has brought her thalidomide, which will help her to feel better, but could cause their baby to be born with very severe birth defects. He may be born without arms or without legs.[6]  She thanks him for his compassion for her, but declines the pills.  After suffering through three straight days of morning sickness though, she decides she can’t take the discomfort anymore and starts taking thalidomide.  She fears for what may happen to her baby, but she decides that those possible effects shouldn’t stop her from doing what she feels is necessary.  After all, she tells herself, “My body, my choice.”  When she sees her deformed baby for the first time, she realizes just how severe the consequences of her actions are.  But, she thinks, at least she gave him a chance to live, and if he decides later that he would have preferred death to being handicapped, he could make the choice to end his own life when he is old enough.[7]

As she goes into the Third Year after completing her doctorate, she discovers that she doesn’t mind so much having to take care of a deformed child.  Her community doesn’t know she took thalidomide, so they all think she’s a hero for being so strong for him.  When she becomes pregnant again, this time with a little girl, she fortunately doesn’t experience such a bad case of morning sickness, but she still has some of those little white pills left.  She considers the bond her kids would have if they went through the same challenges together, and the way her community would support her and admire her.

She thinks about her deformed infant son and how hard his life will be, and feels selfish for even thinking of deforming another child.  But then again, she considers what her abortion doctor told her about abortion procedures.  If she had the right to have a doctor pull her baby apart while killing it through a dilation and evacuation abortion,[8] why shouldn’t she have the right to take a drug to deform it?  Having an arm pulled off seemed a lot worse to her than just not growing one properly, so if her sovereignty over her body gave her the right to do the one, why not the other?

She considers the possibility that some might argue that it is worse to maim someone than to kill him.  But if people really thought that, why didn’t they go around killing maimed people to help them out of their misery?  She knew happy handicapped people.  And even if it is worse to be maimed than to be killed, who are they to judge her for doing what she wants to with what’s in her body, especially if they’re pro-choice?  She concludes that she doesn’t have to justify to anyone her personal decisions about what she does with her body.  After all, it is a private medical decision between her and her doctor.  She takes the remaining thalidomide and when her baby girl is born, she is pleased to see that she turned out deformed.  She has second thoughts about her decision from time to time, and sometimes even feels like she’s a pretty mean person.  But she tells herself that even if it were immoral, surely no one could tell her it should be illegal.

In her Fourth Year after completing her doctorate, she decides to take an art class at a local university.  She was always artistically talented and had even considered pursuing an art degree when she was in high school.  She seems to have the skill to succeed, but she struggles to come up with ways to make herself really stand out as an artist.  One day a pro-life group comes to her campus with graphic pictures depicting the results of abortion.  The pictures don’t really bother her, but it does occur to her that they are very controversial and attention-grabbing, and this gives her an idea.

She gets herself pregnant three times and has three early abortions, having already agreed with her doctor that she could keep the bloody remains of the embryos and placentas so she can use them for her art.[9]  She succeeds at getting a lot of attention when she unveils her project, though more of it is negative than she expected.  When one critic asked her how she could do such a thing, she fired back at her, “Who are you to tell me what I can do with my body?  What business is it of yours how many abortions I have, when I have them, or why I have them?  It’s my body, so it’s my choice.”

At the beginning of the Fifth Year after completing her doctorate, Autumn breaks up with her physician boyfriend and falls madly in love with a very pro-life man.  She doesn’t tell him about her abortions, her role in deforming her children, or, heaven forbid, her recent art project.  Before they start sleeping together, they agree that if she becomes pregnant, she won’t have an abortion.  She becomes pregnant after a few months, and shortly thereafter, her new pro-life boyfriend cheats on her.  Fueled by her desire for revenge, she forms a plan.

She goes back to her abortion doctor and tells him of her situation and he agrees to help Autumn carry out her plan.  He devises the cruelest possible ways he can hurt a late-term fetus without killing it.  They wait until thirty-eight weeks, then Autumn goes to her doctor’s clinic, where he tortures her child for as long as possible until finally the child dies.

She reflects afterward on how much suffering she caused her child, but reminds herself that her right to do what she wants with her body is absolute.  While many would surely disapprove of her decision, no one, not even the child’s father, has a right to stop her from doing anything to her baby as long as it is inside her sovereign zone.

Cognitive Dissonance with the Sovereign Zone

There is only one question this story is intended to ask the pro-choice person: should Autumn’s actions be legal?  My argument is very simple: if abortion should be legal on the basis that women can do whatever they want with anything inside their bodies, then Autumn’s actions should also be legal.  One could consistently believe abortion should be legal and believe that Autumn’s actions should not be legal, but only if he doesn’t rely on the Sovereign Zone Argument to justify abortion.

As a conversational tool, sometimes it is easier to simply point to the five implications of the Sovereign Zone Argument, rather than walk through a detailed story.

Five Implications of the Sovereign Zone Argument:

  1. There can be no restrictions on abortion at any stage or for any reason.
  2. A pregnant woman can take thalidomide to treat her morning sickness even though it will deform her fetus.
  3. A pregnant woman can take thalidomide to intentionally deform her fetus.
  4. A woman can have multiple abortions for the sole purpose of using the results for an art project.
  5. A pregnant woman can do anything to her unborn child, including having it tortured to death.

In my experience, most people aren’t willing to accept the third “year” or implication of the Sovereign Zone Argument.  Most people do not think a woman should have the right to intentionally deform her child, even if they think she should have the right to intentionally kill it. They know intentionally deforming a child is wrong, so when confronted with the third year, they either try to make a distinction to save the Sovereign Zone Argument, or they abandon it entirely and move on to a new argument.  Every now and then, they change their minds about abortion altogether.  Only on very rare occasions have I met someone who has agreed that fetal torture should be legal.

When I’m in a conversation in which I can tell the pro-choice person advocating the sovereign zone is struggling with her view, especially after discussing thalidomide, I often ask her if she knows how abortion procedures are done.  Often she has no idea.  After describing an abortion procedure, such as suction abortion or dilation and evacuation abortion, I gently ask one of the following questions:

  • Why should a woman have the right to dismember a child if she shouldn’t have the right to deform him?
  • Why is it okay for her to have a doctor rip her child’s limbs off with a suction machine or with forceps, but it is not okay for her to take a drug that causes her child to not grow limbs?
  • Why does she not have the right to cause her child to have a harder life, but she does have the right to deprive him of life completely?

The cognitive dissonance this line of argument creates is extremely powerful.  I suspect that pro-choice views are often driven by a sort of wishful thinking. Many pro-choice people want abortion to be okay, so they rationalize it in their minds.[10]  They think: “It’s not really human anyway,” or, “it’s basically a part of her body,” or even, “maybe it’s wrong, but it should still be legal.”  But while they have spent years rationalizing that killing fetuses is justified, they have not gone through a similar process of telling themselves that it is okay to deform a fetus.  Their moral compasses still function properly once we step away from abortion for a minute and talk about doing something else to an unborn child, something that is obviously immoral. When we bring up the case of thalidomide, we force their rationalization of abortion to come into conflict with their view that it is obviously wrong to deform a child with thalidomide.[11]

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[1] ^ Many thanks to Trent Horn, Steve Wagner, Rich Poupard, Scott Klusendorf and Josh Brahmfor their excellent work, and for helping me to understand the Sovereign Zone Argument.  I heartily recommend their web sites and their work.  Additional thanks to Steve Wagner for serving as my editor. Image courtesy of Justice For All.

[2] ^ For examples of this focus on the question, “What is the unborn?” see Greg Koukl’s article “Only One Question,” and Scott Klusendorf’s article “Only One Issue.

[3] ^ See Trent Horn, “My Body, My Choice,” in Abortion: From Debate to Dialogue – The Interactive Guide, ed. Steve Wagner (Wichita: Justice For All, 2013), p. 95.  Trent is a former Justice For All intern.  See Trent’s blog, www.trenthorn.com, for more information about Trent’s current work with Catholic Answers.

[4] ^ See Trent Horn, “My Body, My Choice,” in Abortion: From Debate to Dialogue – The Interactive Guide, ed. Steve Wagner (Wichita: Justice For All, 2013), pages 95-106.  Trent’s observation that there are two distinct forms of bodily rights arguments was, in my opinion, a groundbreaking development for the pro-life movement.

[5] ^ Thanks to Steve Wagner for the ingenious idea to take the five points of this argument and tell it as a story.

[6] ^ I believe Rich Poupard of the Life Training Institute was the first to utilize thalidomide in an argument against the bodily-rights-based arguments for abortion.  See his post “Do No Harm (Except For That Killing Thing)” here.  Trent Horn applied it specifically to the Sovereign Zone Argument.

[7] ^ I don’t think words can do justice to the effect thalidomide has on a child.  A simple Google image search on the term “thalidomide” illustrates this.  Warning: The pictures are disturbing.

[8] ^ To learn about abortion procedures, seehttp://www.abort73.com/abortion/abortion_techniques/ or “What Are the Facts?  Frequently Asked at Justice For All Events” (www.jfaweb.org/Facts).

[9] ^ Unfortunately, this is based on a true story.  Aliza Shvarts, an art student at Yale, allegedly had multiple early abortions intentionally so she could use the remains for her art project.  When I talk about her in conversations with pro-choice people, I’m careful to specify that it isn’t clear whether she actually did this or not, but that she claims she did it.  I heard of this story as a response to bodily rights arguments from Scott Klusendorf of the Life Training Institute on pages 199-200 ofThe Case for Life.  Trent Horn applied it specifically to the Sovereign Zone Argument.

[10] ^ For the record, I am not claiming that self-deception only exists on the pro-choice side.  I am making a specific comment about how self-deception affects pro-choice people, and how that impacts their response to thalidomide.

5 Ideas to Have a Great Pro-Life Summer!

Summer is the perfect time of year to not only relax and rev up for next school year but also to start planning awesome pro-life activities for next year, form new relationships with pro-lifers in your community and help out local pregnancy resource centers (they never take a break).

So lather on the sunscreen and choose from any of these ideas so you can have an awesome pro-life summer!

  1. Start meeting with your core team of pro-lifers at your school to get to know each other and bounce around ideas for next year. Use our Plan Your Year Guide and start planning events for the fall.

summer 1

  1. Look into what pregnancy resources your campus offers and reach out to partner with them to offer pro-life resources through the Pregnancy on Campus Initiative.

summer

  1. Are there pregnancy resource centers in your community? Get to know them so you can easily refer pregnant students on your campus to them.

summer3

  1. Take time to volunteer for a PRC or maternity home over the summer – maybe organize a volunteer day to spruce up the outside or just call and ask them what they need done.

summer4

  1. Watch our videos from the SFLA East Coast National Conference to get the training you didn’t have time for during the school year. Be sure to save the dates for the Students for Life of America National East (January 23, 2016) and West Coast (January 24, 2016) conferences.

summer5

 

 

Humans & Happy Dolphins

By RJ McVeigh, SFLA Great Lakes Regional Coordinator

I see an apparent problem in common intuitions about value/rights of living things. I believe most people would agree creatures such as dolphins deserve higher value and more rights than other creatures such as squirrels. Why? Most would likely answer it is because of the dolphin’s higher rationality/brain function. Yet, when we look at the humans living around us, it is undeniable that we have varying levels of rationality/brain function ourselves. Despite our varying levels of rationality, we believe humans deserve basic equal rights/value. This seems contradictory, doesn’t it? When we look at animals we say their intelligence determines their value, but when we look at ourselves we say we’re equal despite our individual levels of intelligence.

There is only one way I see to reconcile these two apparently contradictory views most of us share. That is to conclude that the value of living things must be determined by the rationality of their KIND (aka species), not the INDIVIDUAL. We must look at the collective rationality of Humans as a whole, and treat each of them equally based upon that measure; regardless of the specific rationality of any given individual. The same must be done for all KINDS of living creatures – squirrels, dolphins, frogs, space aliens, etc. The result is that all living things of the same species must be treated equally to one another, but that living things of differing species have varying levels of value. All dolphins are the same, all dogs are the same, all humans are the same. But a human child is still more valuable than an adult dolphin, even if that individual dolphin is more rational than that individual human child, because the human KIND is more rational than the dolphin KIND.

This is the only reasonable way I can find to reconcile these intuitions. But the thing is – this is an inherently Pro-life view. This could be called a “substance view”. The implication is that even pre-born humans in the womb MUST be treated the same in regards to their basic rights (e.g. right to not be killed) as a toddler, teenager, or adult would be treated in the same situation.

If you simultaneously believe all born humans are inherently equal, and believe that some animals deserve more rights than others, I think you have to be Pro-life…

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Pro-Life Student Censored at HS in Las Vegas

STUDENTS FOR LIFE CLUB AT VEGAS HIGH SCHOOL CENSORED; SCHOOL GETS DEMAND LETTER

Amy Dockter-Rozar, Principal of West Career and Technical Academy, and the Clark County School District have received a demand letter from the Thomas More Society, on behalf of sophomore Angelique Clark and Students for Life of America. The letter charges that school administrators have unconstitutionally discriminated against Angelique by denying her the right to form a Students for Life club at West Career and Technical Academy.

This is the third demand letter that Students for Life of America and the Thomas More Society have sent this semester in support of high school students who were censored by their school administers.

“No high school administrator has the right to deny pro-life students their free speech rights,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “Brave students like Angelique set amazing examples for their peers both in their own communities and on a national level by standing up not only for the preborn and their mothers facing unplanned pregnancies, but for their own First Amendment rights as well. We are so proud of Angelique, who reached out to Students for Life of America for assistance, and for our attorneys at the Thomas More Society for their help to make Angelique’s Students for Life group an official, school-based club, with the same rights as her peers.”

Angelique Clark, a sophomore at West Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, submitted her application to start a Students for Life club in December 2014. After months of no response from the school administration, she was finally told by her advisor in February 2015 that Vice Principal Mr. Allan Yee had denied the club. Angelique met with Mr. Yee and was given a variety of reasons why the club could not be approved, including that abortion was “controversial,” that a pro-life club would make pro-choice people feel left out, and that there were others “more qualified” to speak on the issue than a high school sophomore.

“I am not asking the administration to agree with my pro-life position,” said Angelique Angelique ClarkClark, sophomore at West Career and Technical Academy. “I am simply asking the school to give pro-life students at West Career and Technical Academy the opportunity to make our voices heard. We want to discuss our view on an important topic – why choosing life is important. This may be a controversial issue, but that doesn’t mean we should lose our right to free speech.”

“Denying students their right to form a pro-life club on the grounds that it’s ‘too controversial’ and ‘not inclusive’ is an affront to the First Amendment,” said Jocelyn Floyd, Associate Counsel of Thomas More Society. “High school administrators should encourage their students to engage in dialogue on important societal issues, not censor the message simply because there are differing viewpoints.”

As Thomas More Society states in their demand letter, the school’s refusal to allow the Students for Life club constitutes a violation of the students’ rights under both the federal Equal Access Act and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. All students who wish to form non-curricular clubs must be treated equally, even if the clubs they wish to form are religious or political.

Students for Life of America and the Thomas More Society request that the principal promptly approve the Students for Life club at West Career and Technical Academy.

Link to the demand letter here: https://www.thomasmoresociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/150521-SFLA-WCTA-Letter-to-Principal-and-Superintendent-Jocelyn-and-Mark-Signature-redacted_Redacted.pdf.

Introducing Kassie Booker!

We are excited to introduce Kassie Booker as our new National Programs Coordinator!

Kassie has been involved in the pro-life movement since she was 14 years old, volunteering and working festivals with Rock for Life. In high school she organized and ran multiple concerts raising money for the pro-life movement. As well as volunteered at multiple pregnancy centers. She has traveled all over the world to Greece, Macedonia, Turkey, India, and Guatemala reaching out to those in need. She spent two years at Liberty University studying Global studies and leading a prayer group on her dorm (2011-2013). Since then she’s been working in Fredericksburg, VA. Hired to SFLA in March 2015 as our National Programs Coordinator. She is passionate about ending abortion, and helping women and children.

Kassie enjoys running on the streets of Fredericksburg, VA with her fiancee Josiah.

It’s a girl!

We are thrilled to announce that Students for Life’s President, Kristan Hawkins, gave birth yesterday, May 14th, to her fourth child and first long-awaited daughter, Gracie Jane Hawkins! Both Kristan and Gracie are doing well. Little Gracie weighed in at 6 pounds 11 ounces and is 19 and a half inches long. Isn’t she adorable?

gracieLike the pro-life activist she is, Kristan asked our team to make a special “I am the Pro-Life Generation” baby onesie for Gracie to wear after she was born, so of course she took it with her to the hospital 😉

If you’d like your baby, grandbaby, or friend’s baby to follow Gracie’s trend-setting wardrobe, pick up a onesie here. We have them in pink and blue from sizes newborn through 24 months.

Thank you for your support of SFLA and please keep Kristan and Gracie and her whole family in your prayers.

US House passes Pain Capable Bill

Today the House of Representatives passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Please see below for a statement from Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America.

“We are so proud that the House has passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and moved to ban abortions after 20 weeks gestation, where the preborn baby has been scientifically proven to feel pain. There is no excuse for the now pro-life Senate not to bring the bill to the floor for a vote immediately. U.S. Senators must go ‘on the record’ as voting for or against the horrific procedure of abortion at this stage in a woman’s pregnancy, where the preborn baby will feel every effort to end his or her life. It is inexcusable that the United States is one of seven nations that allows abortions after five months.”

BIG WIN IN FARGO!

Brigid O'Keefe

Brigid O’Keefe

In a huge win for two courageous young pro-life high school students, Fargo North and Davies High Schools have officially recognized two Students for Life Clubs organized by pro-life students Brigid O’Keefe and Katie McPherson. The approval came in response to a demand letter sent by the law firm of Students for Life of America, the Thomas More Society, on behalf of the students challenging as unconstitutional the schools’ denial of the pro-life clubs.

“I am happy and thankful that the school has approved our club,” said Brigid O’Keefe, a sophomore at Fargo North High. “We are thankful to the attorneys at Thomas More Society and to Students for Life of America for supporting all our efforts.  We look forward to educating our fellow students on the beauty of life at all stages and offering assistance to those in need in our community. I am grateful to Fargo North for approving Spartans for Life, and we look forward to creating a thriving club at our school.”

“This victory should encourage any pro-life student to fight for the right to start a Students for Life club at her school,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “It is often in high school that the first fires of pro-life activism are kindled. Brigid and Katie are great examples of courage, standing up for their pro-life beliefs and fighting to protect the rights of the preborn.”

At Fargo North, sophomore Brigid O’Keefe had submitted her application to start a Students for Life in February 2015. School administrators put Brigid and other prospective club members through extensive questioning, including questions about their religious affiliations, before denying the club.

At Davies High School, sophomore Katie McPherson had been trying to start a Students for Life club since September 2014. For months, the school administration would not even let her apply for her club to receive official status or assign a promised room for “unofficial” club meetings.

On April 8, 2015, Thomas More Society sent a letter to the School District, stating that the District’s refusal to officially recognize the pro-life clubs constituted a violation of the students’ rights under both the federal Equal Access Act and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. All students who wish to form non-curricular clubs must be treated equally, even if the clubs they wish to form are religious or political.

Both schools have now approved the pro-life clubs. Davies Teens for Life members already held their first meeting, and Brigid is planning the first Spartans for Life meeting for next week.

“We are glad that the District and High School Administrators in Fargo have recognized the First Amendment rights of all students, including pro-life students,” said Jocelyn Floyd, Thomas More Society Associate Counsel. “High-schoolers do not lose their right to form clubs and speak their message just because they are pro-life. Rather, they should be encouraged to add their voices to the marketplace of ideas, as the pro-life students at Fargo North and Davies will now be able to do.”

 

VOTE on 20-week ban happening next week!

It has been announced that the US House of Representatives will vote on the Pain Capable bill next week, which bans abortions after 20 weeks, when babies in the womb have scientifically been proven to feel pain.

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said the following:

“We are happy to see that dedicated pro-life leaders in the House were able to work together to stop the Pain Capable bill from having significant loopholes for late-term abortions and put in place the necessary counseling and medical treatment that victims of rape and incest need. As soon as the House passes the bill next week, the Republican-led Senate must schedule an immediate vote. No more time can be wasted in trying to protect innocent life, especially for those who have been proven to feel pain and are viable outside the womb.”