Here’s the video, featuring my favorite pro-life speakers Scott Klusendorf. Scott is the founder and President of the Life Training Institute. LTI’s mission is to make a rigorous, rational defense for pro-life positions with respect to a variety of ethical issues. If you listen to Scott, you will learn a lot, and learn it from someone who has been tested on the battlefield of ideas.
right to life of the unborn
end of life questions
40 minutes of guided discussion, 20 minutes of Q&A. This video was apparently recorded in the summer of 2016.
the 1-minute case for the pro-life position (excellent)
dealing with those who dismiss the pro-life case as religious
how and when do people win arguments?
how does one get better at discussing moral issues?
who are some of the best books to get informed about life issues?
what are some of the best books from the other side?
what is the SLED test? do pro-abortion scholars accept it?
if abortion were illegal, who should be punished and how much?
is it inflammatory and dangerous to say that abortion is killing?
Assisted reproductive technologies:
how should we speak to people considering ARTs?
what is the underlying issue in ART discussions?
should pro-lifers be opposed to all use of ARTs?
what should pro-lifers think about surrogacy?
which books provide an introduction to ART ethics?
End of life issues:
what is the central issue in end of life discussions?
should treatment always be continued or are there situations where treatment can be withdrawn?
if a student wants to take courses in bioethics, where should they go to take courses or do a degree?
what is the policy situation for pro-lifers in terms of legislation and SCOTUS decision-making?
what are some policies that pro-lifers can support as incremental measures that move the issue in the right direction?
I liked this discussion. I tried to listen as someone new to the issue and he did a good job of not assuming any prior knowledge of the debate. My favorite part was his survey of books and arguments on the other side, and what they say. I don’t think that most people realize what the implications of the pro-abortion worldview really are for things like infanticide, and so on. The discussion about who should be punished for abortion and how much was new to me – and that actually came up during the last election, during the GOP primary. Personally, I would let the woman get off, and just prosecute the doctor.
It’s very very good to listen to crystal clear thinking on these controversial issues from someone who has encountered the other side in their writings, and in public debates with them. Not to mention having to interact with people making decisions in these areas.
I get into debates about abortion, and sometimes my opponent will complain that if Roe v. Wade were overturned, then thousands of women would die in illegal abortions. Well, if that ever happens to you, this post will help you to know how to respond to it.
First of all, if Roe v. Wade were overturned, then each of the 50 states would pass legislation deciding when abortions would be legal.
Red states are more pro-life than blue states in this map. For example, New York is ranked #6, and Tennessee is ranked #45.
So, if a woman did have irresponsible sex with a hot bad boy, then she easily could terminate her child in one of the blue states.
Second, the number thrown around by abortion advocates is not accurate. It’s simply not true that “thousands of women” were dying from poorly-performed abortions when abortion was still illegal. Actually, abortions were performed by trained medical personnel, but it just wasn’t reported to the police.
Erica Sackin, a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman, directed us to a 2014 policy statement issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG): “It is estimated that before 1973, 1.2 million U.S. women resorted to illegal abortion each year and that unsafe abortions caused as many as 5,000 annual deaths.”
There is no citation in the statement for the estimate of “as many as 5,000 annual deaths,” even though many of the other sentences are carefully documented. None of the citations around this sentence supports the figure, and there is no explanation about how it was calculated.
[…]Meanwhile, Sackin also sent a variety of reports, many of which were referenced in a footnote in a document published by NARAL Pro-Choice America. One of the citations especially caught our eye: Frederick Taussig, “Abortion Spontaneous and Induced: Medical and Social Aspects,” (1936).
Why was a study from 1936 being cited? Because in 1936, we didn’t have antibiotics! People were dying all the time from any kind of surgery – not just abortion.
The advent of antibiotics such as penicillin and improved medical procedures suddenly made abortion less risky. Another prominent researcher, Christopher Tietze, argued in a 1948 paper that the number of deaths from abortion was rapidly declining because of three reasons: contraceptive methods had improved so fewer women were getting pregnant, abortion providers were getting better at avoiding infections, and many lives had been saved because of the introduction of sulfa drugs and penicillin.
[…]The data collected by Tietze showed 2,677 deaths from abortion in 1933, compared with 888 in 1945, with much of the decline in septic cases associated with illegal abortions. (The numbers also include deaths from “therapeutic abortions,” permitted by law, and “spontaneous abortions.”)
By 1959, a leading researcher wrote: “Abortion is no longer a dangerous procedure. This applies not just to therapeutic abortions as performed in hospitals but also to so-called illegal abortions as done by physicians. In 1957, there were only 260 deaths in the whole country attributed to abortions of any kind. In New York City in 1921, there were 144 abortion deaths, in 1951 there were only 15.”
The writer was Mary Steichen Calderone, at the time medical director of Planned Parenthood. She attributed the decline in the mortality rate to antibiotics and the fact that 90 percent of illegal abortions were done by trained physicians.
OK, so abortion advocates cite the study from 1936, which already relies on questionable estimates, because they know that the later numbers are far, far lower – thanks to the widespread use of antibiotics. They’re lying, essentially, because lying helps them to persuade people who think with their feelings, and don’t look too closely at facts.
My third point is simple. Even if women hurt themselves during abortions, that wouldn’t be a reason to legalize abortion. Bank robbers hurt themselves during bank robberies, and drug dealers hurt themselves during drug deals. We do not legalize criminal activities just because criminals get hurt during the commission of those activities. So the real question is, what is the unborn? If the unborn is a living human being, then abortion on demand takes the life of an innocent human being without justification, and should therefore be illegal.
UPDATE: My pro-life friend Nathan sent me a fourth response:
There is a difference today that did not exist in 1973. We have a pro-life movement. We have over 2,000 pregnancy care ministries and clinics operating throughout the continental United States. I highly doubt these clinics will just disappear overnight if abortion became illegal nationwide. Women and children will still be in need, and the free market principles that enable charity to flourish will be there to help.
Given this reality, will proponents of abortion now finally step forward to help provide the support to women necessary so they never have to choose a back alley abortion? Given how they have worked themselves into a panic about rusty coat hangers, it seems they would be the most motivated to do so. The fact many don’t seem to want to do so is telling: They just want to justify their own support for abortion, regardless of whether it helps women or not.
Grr, my annoying co-workers are at it again this morning. This time, it’s the man who annoyed me about overpopulation fears, which I responded to earlier this week. He says to me this morning that Alabama is going to have a big problem with violent crime because they’ve stopped abortions. These sorts of views are common among TV-watchers, but not among those study-readers.
Abortion may prevent the birth of “unwanted” children, who would have relatively small investments in human capital and a higher probability of crime. On the other hand, some research suggests that legalizing abortion increases out-of-wedlock births and single parent families, which implies the opposite impact on investments in human capital and thus crime. The question is: what is the net impact? We find evidence that legalizing abortion increased murder rates by around about 0.5 to 7 percent. Previous estimates are shown to suffer from not directly linking the cohorts who are committing crime with whether they had been born before or after abortion was legal.
And now, let’s see the Life Site News article:
Law professors John R. Lott, Jr. of Yale Law School and John E. Whitley of the University of Adelaide found that legalizing abortion increased murder rates by up to seven percent. They concluded that legalizing abortion is a contributing factor to the great increase in out‑of‑wedlock births and single parent families, which in turn contribute to increased crime rates. Since 1970, the percentage of single‑parent households in the United States has nearly tripled, from 11 percent to 32 percent, and the percentage of out‑of‑wedlock births has nearly quadrupled, from 11 percent to 43 percent of all children.7 Children born out-of-wedlock and raised by only one parent have a significantly higher incidence of crime.
There are many other fundamental problems with the conclusion that legalized abortion leads to a decrease in crime.
Statistician David Murray confirmed that young males between the ages of 17 and 25 commit the majority of crimes. However, if abortion had reduced crime, the crime rates in the United States would have dropped first among young people. They did not. Instead, the number of crimes committed by older people dropped first. Nearly 60% of the decline in murder since 1990 involved killers aged 25 and older — who were born before Roe v. Wade.8
Murray also found that other nations with high abortion rates showed a large increase in crime about eighteen years after they legalized abortion. For example, in Great Britain, which legalized abortion in 1968, violent crime has been rising steeply since about 1985 ― exactly when it should have been declining, according to the Donohue‑Levitt thesis. Additionally, Russia, with the highest abortion rate on earth, has experienced a tidal wave of every kind of violent crime following the breakup of the Soviet Union.9
FBI statistics showed that the murder rate in 1993 for 14‑ to 17‑year‑olds in the USA (born in the years 1975‑1979, which had very high abortion rates) was 3.6 times higher than that of kids who were the same age in 1984 (who were born in the pre‑legalization years of 1966‑1970). Additionally, since Black women were having abortions at a much higher rate than White women, we should have expected the murder rate among Black youth to have declined beginning in about 1991. Instead, it increased more than five hundred percent from 1984 to 1993.10
Finally, the huge increase in violent crime that peaked in 1991 and then began to decline is more closely related to the crack epidemic, not abortion. The Donohue‑Levitt study confirms that the crime rate rose and fell exactly where crack cocaine was most easily available ― in the large cities and among young Black males.11 This is also confirmed by the rise in crime during the time period 1984 to 1991, after a decline from 1980 to 1984. If abortion were the primary cause of a decline in violent crime, the crime rate would have been relatively stable during the time period 1980 to 1991.
And if you’re wondering what caused the decline in violent crime rates in the 1990s, the answer to that is that it was multiple factors. Better policing, mandatory sentencing laws, legalized concealed carry laws, and other factors were responsible.
Abortion and child abuse
Sometimes, pro-abortion people put forward a similar argument about abortion preventing child abuse. This argument seems intuitive, but from an evidence point of view, it’s false.
Here’s a report from Life News about a study out of Bowling Green State University.
For decades, evidence has existed showing abortion contributes to a rise in child abuse. Now a new study by a post-abortion research institute and Bowling Green State University professors finds that women who have abortions are more likely to abuse their children.
Published in the medical journal Acta Paediatrica, the study found that women who have had abortions are 2.4 times more likely to physically abuse their children. Pro-life advocates say it proves the need for providing women with post-abortion counseling to help deal with the emotional trauma of the abortion.
[…]The authors suggested that “emotional difficulties and unresolved grief responses” from pregnancy loss, whether voluntary or involuntary, could have a negative impact on women’s mental health and lead to unhealthy parenting responses.
According to the Illinois-based Elliot Institute, which released information about the study’s findings, prior surveys “have linked pregnancy loss to an increase in grief reactions, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, all of which can have a negative impact on parent/child relationships.”
The post-abortion research group also points to a 2002 study published in the Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology that found abortion has been linked to an increase in substance abuse and thoughts of suicide, which could also contribute to child abuse.
The new study also found that women who had more than one miscarriage or stillbirth were more likely to engage in child abuse than women who had just one. However, women who had abortions were more likely to abuse their children whether they had one or more than one abortion.
“Regardless of the specific mechanisms at play, maternal history of one induced abortion does appear to be a marker for increased risk of physical abuse,” the authors concluded.
Whenever I read about how studies contradict people’s intuitions about what will and will not work, it makes me sad that so many people who live life on intuitions and feelings are still allowed to vote. If only we had a society where reason and evidence were seen as indispensable for building up your view of the world.
By the way, if you’re looking for a good article for debating other aspects of the Alabama pro-life law, my friend William, who loves to debate everything, and he always wins, just posted this article about 9 myths about the Alabama pro-life law.
General advice on countering your co-workers
I found that if I passed on TV and movies, I could buy pretty much any book I wanted that has research-based responses to these common questions from secular leftists. All it takes is a commitment to dedicate your book-buying budget to the task of responding to challenges, instead of producing feelings.
I notice a lot of Christian women in my office reading fiction books, while the Christian men are always talking about TV and movies. Fiction and entertainment are useless for putting forward Bible-based views and supporting evidence in controversial discussions. Instead of wasting your money on fiction and entertainment, listen closely to what people in your office are saying, and then purchase and train with resources that help you to serve God in these discussions. Bible verses and prayers alone will not equip you to serve in difficult situations.
I had lunch with one of my co-workers on the secular left recently. I asked him what his biggest concern with the world. After telling me that he was a “libertarian”, he said that he was alarmed that people were having too many babies. I asked him what he wanted to do about it. He said keep abortion legal, and use the government to stop people from reproducing. Some libertarian!
Anyway, he was just factually wrong about the overpopulation, and I had to launch into a long, detailed explanation of replacement rates, birth rates across the world, and how the prosperity created by capitalism has caused birth rates to decline in even poorer countries. I also explained to him that once a country dips below the replacement fertility rate (2.1 births per woman), it never returns. I concluded my refutation of his assertion by stating that he should be more worried about underpopulation than overpopulation.
Anyway, I had to repeat the same explanation again with another secular leftist that same week. So when I saw this recent Daily Caller article about a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control, I figured I might as well equip you guys to respond to other people with the same wrong view.
The United States birth rate hit a record low in 2018 with numbers reflecting the lowest birthrates in the past 30 years, reports say.
A new report from the National Center for Health Statistics at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that almost every age group of women under 35 showed birth rate declines in 2018. The provisional number of births in the U.S. in 2018 was 3,788,235, down 2% since 2017. For every 1,000 women, the fertility rate declined 2% from 2017 to 1,728.0 births.
Birth rates had reached a record low in 2017 as well, marking a continuing trend of declining birth rates over the past four years, according to CNN.
[…]These 2018 birth rate numbers are below the necessary threshold needed for population replacement, which is 2,100 births per 1,000 women, CNN reports.
So we’re down to 1.73 births in the USA, which is below the 2.1 rate needed to maintain current population levels.
This new report isn’t an outlier. It confirms what we knew about from previous reports.
A report issued last month by the Pew Research Center found that immigrant births fell from 102 per 1,000 women in 2007 to 87.8 per 1,000 in 2012. That helped bring the overall U.S. birthrate to a mere 64 per 1,000 women—not enough to sustain our current population.
Moreover, the poor, highly fertile countries that once churned out immigrants by the boatload are now experiencing birthrate declines of their own. From 1960 to 2009, Mexico’s fertility rate tumbled from 7.3 live births per woman to 2.4, India’s dropped from six to 2.5, and Brazil’s fell from 6.15 to 1.9. Even in sub-Saharan Africa, where the average birthrate remains a relatively blistering 4.66, fertility is projected to fall below replacement level by the 2070s. This change in developing countries will affect not only the U.S. population, of course, but eventually the world’s.
Now I have a couple tools for you to share to those people who might have irrational views of this issue.
This video explains what’s wrong with overpopulation fears:
And this one explains what the replacement rate number is:
You can share those for people who don’t have time to read. It at least makes the point, even if it doesn’t link to a reputable report.
A useful podcast
This podcast featuring famous economist Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse will be useful for you to understand why the overpopulation myth is something you should be concerned about.
I follow Senator Ted Cruz on Twitter, and he tweeted out a video posted by the legislator in question. The legislator, from Philadelphia, is a Democrat. And he thought it would be a great idea to go to the local Planned Parenthood clinic, and film himself in an interaction with an elderly woman who was praying outside.
A pro-abortion Democrat lawmaker posted a video of himself harassing a peaceful pro-life protester while invoking his office last week in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania state Rep. B**** S*** repeatedly bullied the pro-life woman in an unhinged rant as she stood alone outside a Planned Parenthood in his district in southeastern Pennsylvania.
S*** called the woman a “racist” and her sidewalk counseling “grotesque.” He followed her around, hurtling insults at her; and at one point, he got in her face with his camera and ignored her requests to leave her alone.
He wanted to get the woman’s address for some reason, maybe for vandalism, or something more violent. He’s famous for being an openly gay college football player, so he’s definitely strong enough to be a physical danger to her. People like to talk about toxic masculinity and bullying, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better example of toxic masculinity than from this bully. He clearly has no idea how his greater height, physical strength, etc. would be perceived and experienced by an elderly woman. Or maybe he does, and he just doesn’t care.
I think a lot of Democrats like to think that they are representing women, but they are only nice to women who agree with them. If a woman is pro-life, or has actual Christian convictions, then this is how they get treated. This interview of the Democrat reports him saying that he’s an atheist. I thought it was interesting how a self-confessed atheist started lecturing a religious person on how to be religious. Not sure why so many godless people think that they should be trusted as an authority on religion. His biography says that he was raised Catholic and stopped attending church at 16. Whatever was going on in his head at the time, you can be sure that it wasn’t evidence that convinced him to do that.
Now a man is designed to have an inclination to protect children, animals, anything weak, from strong aggressors. But abortion changes all that. When a man decides that inconvenient children can be killed for the benefit of the selfish adults who made her, then all bets on morality are really off. He’s willing to kill an innocent unborn child that gets in his way. So anything is possible. She should really be afraid of him, even there in broad daylight.
I think the lady did the right thing, by calling the police.
Town Hall reports that he may have broken a state law:
Pennsylvania Democratic State Rep. B**** S*** thought it his duty to videotape and harass a pro-life woman protesting against abortion outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in his district, repeatedly telling the unnamed woman he had the same constitutional right to film as she did to protest. While Americans have the right to record protesters in Pennsylvania, the state also has a strict a two-party consent state, meaning even in public both parties involved in a conversation must give consent to be audio or video recorded. At various points in the video, Rep. S*** indicates he wants to have a conversation, to each time the women says no and does not give permission to record.
But this is Philadelphia, the city of Kermit Gosnell, so they have a habit of overlooking violence against women if abortion rights are at stake.
Life News says that this isn’t the first time that he’s tried to use coercion to bully those who disagree with him:
LifeNews recently learned of a second video that S*** posted several weeks ago where he made a similar request. He offered his viewers $100 to identify four pro-life women who were peacefully praying outside the same Planned Parenthood.
His requests suggest that the state representative may be trying to intimidate pro-life advocates through doxxing, an online practice where a person’s name and contact information are posted publicly online usually to encourage harassment.
The women, who he called “pseudo-Christians”, were just praying outside the clinic. I guess he thinks that if they were really Christians, then they’d endorse homosexuality, abortion, and the entire secular leftist platform – something which would be at odds with the Bible, and Christianity down through the centuries. But I guess his need to not feel “shamed” is more important than their freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. His feelings matter more than your rights, so he’s justified in silencing you.
I have spent a lot of my life studying scientific, philosophical and historical evidence for theism in general, and Christianity in particular, but there is another argument for Christianity that is personally convincing to me… although I would never use it in a debate. And that argument is how the Bible describes sin. I read how the Bible describes sexual sin in Romans 1, and then I see how sexual sin sometimes causes people to hate others and to use force to coerce, silence or destroy them. This is why the Bible calls some behaviors “sinful”, because people who do them know it’s wrong, but they think they can make the guilt from rebellion go away by coercing those around them to celebrate the sin. By the way, I include abortion, divorce, adultery, premarital sex and even drug or gambling addictions as sins.
He seems to be unable to control his temper when faced with people who haven’t turned their backs on the God of the Bible, and who are actually doing hard things in order to promote the moral values of the God of the Bible. There is something about Christians taking God seriously that offends him, and his response to their authentic self-sacrificial service to God is hatred and violence. It’s probably a good idea for us who take the Bible seriously to be seen acting self–sacrificially on our convictions. It bothers atheists, and that’s a good thing.