Now Friends on Facebook

Let’s take a look at Kelsey Hazzard, the founder and president of Secular Pro-Life. (She and Hemant are now Friends on Facebook. You can say that in a James Earl Jones voice if you want to.)

Kelsey Hazzard is the founder and president of Secular Pro-Life. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and a legal fellow at Americans United for Life. She is also the author of the pro-life novella “Cultivating Weeds.”

Ok then let’s take a look at Americans United for Life.

Americans United for Life, the nation’s premier pro-life legal team, works through the law and legislative process to one end: Achieving comprehensive legal protection for human life from conception to natural death.The nonprofit, public-interest law and policy organization holds the unique distinction of being the first national pro-life organization in America— incorporated in 1971, before the infamous Roe v. Wade decision.

AUL’s legal team has been involved in every abortion-related case before the U.S. Supreme Court since Roe v. Wade, including AUL’s successful defense of the Hyde Amendment before the Supreme Court. AUL’s legal expertise and acumen set the bar in the pro-life community for the creation of effective and defensible pro-life positions. At the state, federal and international levels, AUL works to advance life issues through the law and does so through measures that can withstand judicial obstacles so that pro-life laws will be enforced. AUL knows that reversing Roe v. Wade can be accomplished through deliberate, legal strategies that accumulate victories, build momentum, and restore a culture of life.

That’s all bullshit. Abortion isn’t a threat to life. Abortion isn’t a culture of death, or the opposite of a culture of life. The way to protect human life is not to ban abortion. It’s all bullshit. The real threats to life are disease, poverty, violence, war, workplace hazards, environmental hazards, accidents, lack of education – systemic problems, social problems, problems of inequality and malpractice. Forcing women to bear children they don’t want to bear is completely tangential to all of that, and in fact greatly increases the risks to life for the woman.

So it’s all bullshit. All of it. It’s people blowing smoke for the sake of some kind of obstinate sentimentality about the fetus…except when it’s just plain old god-bothering disguised as obstinate sentimentality about the fetus.

These people are deadly enemies of women; make no mistake about it.



  1. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Always nice when secular people work with those who have an explicitly religious agenda. Friendly even.

  2. says

    “culture of life”/”culture of death” is straight out of the Catholic Big Book of Sanctimonious Slogans. It’s not quite-exactly-explicity religious, but it appeals to the same fuzzy feel-good sentiments.

    SPL increasingly looks like a bunch of Useful Idiots for the religious anti-choicers.

  3. ema says

    Being friends with a person whose job it is to 1) ban safe and effective medical procedures, and 2) insure pregnant patients become wards of the State, unable to make their own medical decision is not something one would expect from an ally.

  4. Blanche Quizno says

    Considering that abortions are the #1 most popular elective surgical procedure, I really think that, for all their success in shutting down access to abortion clinics, they’re really swimming against the tide – most Americans are in favor of access to abortion in at least SOME circumstances, regardless of whether they identify as “pro-life” or “pro-choice.”

    The Republican Party made a major error in interpreting recent polls showing a majority identifying as “pro-life” as the green light for a no-abortions-under-any-circumstances policy; they lost spectacularly.

    That’s the danger of an echo-chamber – it reflects your own opinion back at you, so you’re getting no useful information. Just because you like something doesn’t make it true, after all. It’s the same with these “pro-life” groups. They’re completely out of touch with reality, so they will be unable to succeed.

    And what’s with those women thinking they have any right to control what happens with their own bodies?? #UpForDebate

  5. Kaveh Mousavi says

    What the hell is a pro-life novella? Also, the name “Cultivating Weeds” is very misleading. I might have bought it as some kind of instruction book or something.

  6. Michael Payton says

    *wades cautiously into issue*

    I’ve done a number of debates against both secular pro-life groups and secular anti-euthanasia groups. Against people like Jose Ruba and Alex Schadenberg.

    In both cases the use of the term “secular” is purely nominal. The groups are both promoted and funded by religious organizations. They only use the term secular to distance themselves from religion. It makes it easier for them to claim some type of legitimacy.

    The arguments they present too, actually are secular, in the sense that they don’t invoke any particular religious commitments. But they often have these, for lack of a better term I’d call, spooky metaphysical commitments. That life is some immediate, well defined and and perfectly coherent concept that doesn’t reduce to any further concepts of personhood or biological function. Or that the act of assisting someone’s death, is always killing and killing is always wrong. Regardless of whether the person wanted to die and had good reasons to do so.

    I wouldn’t call these religious beliefs, but they bare a number of the same hallmarks as religious beliefs in that they’re irreducible and they are held extremely dogmatically.

  7. says

    That’s certainly exactly how it appears to me – that the slogans aren’t explicitly, literally religious, but that they reek of religion all the same. Spooky metaphysical commitments seems to me to be a fine way to put it.

  8. screechymonkey says

    So, if I formed the Secular Coalition for the Firing of Atheist Teachers (we have totally secular reasons, like “religion is good for the Little People even if I don’t think it’s true,” and “well, the vast majority of children aren’t atheists, so atheist teachers can’t relate”!), would Hemant be my Facebook Friend? What about the Secular Society for the Deportation of Non-White People (hey, that Charles Murray can give us some secular justifications!)?

    Or does his intellectual interest end when it’s his rights being attacked by “fellow secularists”?

  9. says

    Somewhat tangentially: I’ve never figured out what it means to be Facebook Friends with anyone. When I first got on FB, I almost immediately accepted a bunch of friend requests from people I knew in high school — 35 years previously. After a while I realized that I wasn’t friends with most of them back then, had even less in common with them now, and didn’t care what they were up to (nor they me, I imagine). Then there’s our devout Catholic (and, of course, pro-life) friend that we’ve rather drifted away from, but she’s still in the list, along with a few other old Christian friends. Add in the current crop of atheist/skeptical friends, a few relatives, and my Friends list looks pretty damned eclectic. And I can’t possibly keep up with everything they all say in the course of a day.

    But starting “friendship” with someone I profoundly disagree with, at this point? Maybe FB needs a “frenemy” category ;-).

    BTW: Kristine K is local to us, often comes to events, and we know her personally. There have been one or two, um, discussions, but otherwise a strategic avoidance of Certain Issues.

  10. Jean says

    Achieving comprehensive legal protection for human life from conception to natural death.

    Funny, I don’t see anything against the death penalty on their site (granted it was just a quick look).

  11. says

    Yes that is an excellent point Jean. Anyone who is against abortion because it violates the sanctity of life should in principle be against the death penalty too.. I used to believe in the death penalty and was anti abortion once so maybe I should try not to sound too superior here. But I did over time change my opinions. I wonder how many though are never going to do that however. .It is alright to protect babies that are not actually babies but maybe just a collection of cells but murderers cannot be protected. Well that is a moral position being invoked there. And although I do not agree with it I can understand it. But it does invalidate the notion of the sanctity of life however as I previously mentioned. So If you do believe in that then it should apply to all not just some. Once you start moving the goalposts then you have lost the entire argument

  12. hjhornbeck says

    [Note: All links point to cached websites, in case you think these sites should be deprived of page hits. I’ll also give warning before linking to pages with graphic images.]

    Michael Payton @6:

    I’ve done a number of debates against both secular pro-life groups and secular anti-euthanasia groups. Against people like Jose Ruba and Alex Schadenberg.

    Huh, small world! I know Ruba. He’s one of the founders of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform. They specialize in secular arguments; search their roadmap for the anti-choice movement, and you’ll find exactly two references to religion (they note “Christian churches” as one place people can turn for support, and there’s a namedrop of a Christian purity movement as someone tackling the same issue from a different angle). Ruba, alas, is no longer with the CCBR [IMAGES]:

    Jojo is a big fan of C.S. Lewis, and likes to point out that he said to love is to want the other’s good; it is to be other-focused, not self-focused. Jojo has most certainly demonstrated that in his life, not only giving so much to babies he’s never met, but using his non-CCBR time to give again, through his church (where he’s a youth pastor) and through the ministry, Faith Beyond Belief, he started years ago and is now transitioning to full-time.

    Emphasis mine. Yep, he’s a long-time Christian apologist. In fact, the first time I met him had nothing to do with abortion, but with the apologetics course mentioned here:

    Much of what Jojo has learned comes from his work speaking on the need to defend innocent people from abortion. Jojo has taught pro-life apologetics for both Christian and secular audiences for over 12 years. In that time, he saw how easily people embraced moral relativism and learned how to effectively challenge this worldview. As a Christian apologist, Jojo teaches Faith Beyond Belief’s worldview course. This includes 11 topics that Christians should understand about their faith, starting with an explanation of why truth matters.

    Huh. A secular anti-choice group was founded and guided by an outspoken Christian apologist. When you start digging into their website, it doesn’t take much to find out the secular portion is just a facade [IMAGES].

    Michael Payton @6:

    The arguments they present too, actually are secular, in the sense that they don’t invoke any particular religious commitments. But they often have these, for lack of a better term I’d call, spooky metaphysical commitments. That life is some immediate, well defined and and perfectly coherent concept that doesn’t reduce to any further concepts of personhood or biological function.

    Yep, I’ve noticed that too. All they really do is play word substitution. Life begins at conception because God science says it does. Fetuses are full persons because God human rights legislation says they are. Once the answer is settled, they go looking for the evidence to support it. In some sense, I’m happy they’ve been forced to this; you can’t really interrogate God on what He said, but you can ask if science or human rights really do support the anti-choice view.

    In the long term, it’s guaranteed to backfire.

  13. Silentbob says

    I haven’t seen anyone else mention it, so I thought I’d let you know Hemant has posted a follow-up linking to a rebuttal on FtB and including his defence for the original post. He’s unrepentant:

    If you disagree with the points Kristine made, as I do, then let’s confront those arguments on their merits, not condemn the fact that they were posted in the first place. They’re going to be out there one way or another; I’d rather have them hashed out on my home court where I know I or my commenters will respond swiftly and thoroughly.

    As for why he posted the argument as a guest post without comment:

    I was curious how she would approach the opportunity to write a guest post, knowing that it would be seen by a crowd that fundamentally disagreed with her. Many of the commenters here did an excellent job of countering her points. When I initially read the piece, I knew I disagreed with her, but I couldn’t articulate the reasons very well; I’m much better equipped to do that now.

    He says he’s “amazed (but not surprised)” people got so upset.

  14. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    “from conception to natural death”

    So they will be in favor of withholding procedures that interfere with that natural progression and a totally natural death … no vaccines, no antibiotics, no IVs, no blood transfusion, no oxygen, no surgery, no chemotherapoy? Just let death happen in the old-fashioned natural way?

  15. hjhornbeck says

    [NOTE: Any link to an anti-choice site is cached, in case you want to deprive them of page hits. I’ll flag any that contain graphic images, though I do have an ad-blocker installed.]

    Silentbob @13:

    He says he’s “amazed (but not surprised)” people got so upset.


    Further to my earlier comment (it may still be in moderation), I’m sure most of you have heard of the Genocide Awareness Project. They’re those people who wave around bloody photos while crying FREE SPEECH, who try to whip up emotion but decry violence due to emotion.

    What you may not have known is that the campaign is 17 years old. While I only have explicit mention of this since 2007 [small graphic image], it appears likely the project has always been about targeting secular society. They aren’t alone either; some digging reveals the anti-choice movement has been focused on secular arguments for a long time, and it’s a common tactic.

    I’ve said it before several times, but it’s worth repeating again: “secular arguments” is the “intelligent design” of the anti-choice movement. If Silverman had said he’d been interested in “teaching the controversy,” very few people would be defending him. This coded religious meme gets a pass, though, either because it isn’t as well known or because it’s against an “acceptable” target.

  16. says

    @15: Yes, Libby Anne pointed out the other day that the arguments she was taught, when she was involved, were secular insofar as they didn’t mention religion. The analogy to Intelligent Design and Creation Science is a good one outwardly it’s all about genetics this, isotope dating that, and fossils the other. It’s because: 1) they get the science wrong and 2) they can never quite shut up about Jesus, that the lab coat keeps slipping to reveal the clerical robes beneath.

  17. Wylann says

    So they’ve been involved in ‘every’ anti-choice case that’s been argued before the SCOTUS? I wonder how many death penalty cases they’ve at least filed an amicus brief for? Also, do you suppose they support anti-war causes, or maybe even support cases for conscientious objectors?

    Without digging into their website, I’ll make a bet… They, like the overtly religious groups are not pro-life. They are anti-choice.

  18. cuervocuero says

    If they’re the stalking horse equivalent for abortion that ID is for Origins of Life, (and given their language, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they are and they’re sniggering up their sleeves at the rubes buying the ‘secular’ talk), would that explain why SPL is as adamant about a fetus being the equivalent of a born, grown woman as its ‘religious’ fellow travellers?

    The IDeologue shtick is about

    “various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact. Fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, wings, etc”

    (the ‘Pandas and People’ thumbprint exposed in the Dover trial)

    which bolsters their stance that humans as a species (or kind as they are fond of spouting) are special snowflakes (despite the fact that we’re apparently degenerate because the dna was more pure back then and our ancestors were all giants)

    “began abruptly” sounds like all the parts are there !JustAddWater!, which seems to walk hand in hand with the Creation at first knowing glance of ovum and sperm (or sinning in the heart of the uterus owner, with all the talk of Obligations and Duty) of a ‘preborn’ as pushed by the Zygotes Uber Alles Human Person With a Growth Around It That Could Prove Dangerous to Its Survival If Not Sovereignly Husbanded For Nine Months.

    So, what’s the the cdesignproponentsists equivalent to be found?

  19. hjhornbeck says

    cuervocuero @19:

    So, what’s the the cdesignproponentsists equivalent to be found?

    I wish I knew of one. “cdesignproponentsists” only came out because of evidence-gathering for a court case; I’ve never heard of a similar situation on the anti-choice side. Something more likely would be a “wedge document,” but I’m not aware of one.

    Besides, we already have organizations like the Center for Bioethical Reform, which runs two campaigns featuring graphic photos. Here’s the second [GRAPHIC IMAGES]:

    The Matthew 23:23 Project is an offshoot of the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) and is also built on the public display of large format abortion imagery. Whereas GAP is directed at the secular community, using civil rights based arguments, Matthew 23:23 is directed at the spiritual community, using biblically based arguments.

    Emphasis mine. Most anti-choice organizations do little to hide their religious affiliations, which makes it easy to peel back the secular facade.

    So while I don’t have a document stating “here’s an idea, let’s target secular society,” I can point to a “secular” group explicitly targeting secular society. It’s close enough to convince all but the most hyper of hyper-skeptics, I reckon.

  20. hjhornbeck says

    And further to my last comment (probably still in moderation), I just stumbled on this:

    The graphic images may be the same, but a new generation of anti-abortion activists is taking the campaign to previously untravelled territory. Seven years of Conservative rule have made the improbable seem possible, and the activists – skewing younger and younger – have broadened their sights.

    Long a mainstay of campuses and major intersections, they are now showing up at Toronto high schools with regularity. […]

    It’s a systematic campaign – one for which the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform is happy to take credit. Its executive director, Stephanie Gray, says they have been visiting GTA schools five days a week since January.

    Subverting the anti-choicers’ traditionally grizzled image, Gray, 32, says she is the oldest among a staff of 16 that is distributed almost evenly between offices in Calgary and Toronto. At protests, they’re supplemented by a volunteer corps, who Gray estimates range from their late teens to late 20s.

    They avoid any mention of religion.

    I am most caught off guard by how forthright Gray is. The things pro-choicers describe to me with horror, she details with chipper enthusiasm.

    “Our team goes out five days a week during peak times of engagement, which near high schools would be basically over the lunch hour… and we stand on public sidewalks and ask [students] what they think about abortion and basically bring what’s in the darkness into the light.”

    Why have they all of a sudden turned their attention to high schools? “It is a newer strategy of ours, and we’re big on constantly evaluating and improving upon what we do.”

    Emphasis mine. I can back up Gray’s statement; I’ve noticed in the past few years that the CCBR haven’t been coming to the university as often, while at the same time my network of friends have been complaining about protests at high schools and over intersections. I once walked out of a movie showing of a documentary on feminism and right into a line of fetus photos. A staffer from a sexual health clinic complained they’d been protesting at their events for years.

    Don’t underestimate the anti-choice movement. They are well-funded, highly motivated, and smart.

  21. hjhornbeck says

    Well well well, so much for catching up on Hyde’s work:

    This thesis offers an overview of the new rhetorical strategies of persuasion being implemented by the contemporary English Canadian anti-abortion movement. This thesis analyzes the main arguments, philosophical principles, narratives and other important rhetorical strategies used by the contemporary anti-abortion movement in English-speaking Canada. It seeks, in other words, to explain how the anti-abortion movement talks to Canadians and how it attempts to persuade them of anti-abortion views.

  22. hjhornbeck says

    From the document I linked to:

    These pro-abortion victories were in part made possible by three main problems with the anti-abortion movement fetal-rights line of argumentation. The first problem for the anti-abortion movement is that which is always encountered with any rights-based argumentation: rights clash and collide, and ultimately contending rights cannot co-exist. The competing nature of rights has led to an awkward stalemate “in which people are left in an uncomfortable state of puzzlement as they attempt to ̳juggle‘ or otherwise resolve, the opposing ̳rights‘ of the woman and the foetus.” Problem number two: the anti-abortion movement‘s narrow emphasis on fetal-rights has created [the] feminist rebuke of the anti-abortion movement as “anti-woman”, and thus ignoring the woman and her experience. The third problem facing anti-abortionists is the societal backlash (even from supporters) that has resulted from the use of violent, visual imagery and religious-based arguments for the sanctity of life.

    I believe that in attempting to overcome these three obstacles, the anti-abortion movement has been forced into a quantum shift in its rhetorical justification for why abortion should be banned. Accordingly, this thesis will argue that new anti-abortion discourse is increasingly moving away from a religious line of argumentation and towards a ̳pro-woman‘ anti-abortion discourse centered on women‘s negative experiences with abortion. As such, contemporary anti-abortion discourse has become a softer, gentler version of its former self.

    Emphasis mine. This will make for a very interesting read…

  23. hjhornbeck says

    cuervocuero @19:

    So, what’s the the cdesignproponentsists equivalent to be found?

    Huh. I may have found something pretty damn close.

    We started [the Center for Bioethical Reform] in 1990, and we exist to re-invent the pro-life movement. I began with the assumption that we were losing this battle, that we were losing it badly and in every significant way. […]

    There are many prolife moderates who in an attempt to justify their tepid, anemic approach to pro-life activism, say that we are winning and that all we have to do is to stay the course. We reject this idea. Our view is that the vast majority of time being invested in the pro-life movement is being invested in Crisis Pregnancy Ministries, and that the vast majority of women in crisis pregnancies don’t go anywhere near these centers; they go straight to abortion clinics. The enterprise in which we are investing the greatest amount of time is being largely ignored by the women to whom it was designed to appeal. The enterprise in which we are investing the greatest amount of money, which is lobbying, is not producing any measurable result because legislation which would restrict abortion in any meaningful way is being immediately overturned by the federal court. I would say it is time to take a fresh look at what we are doing, re-define the problem, try to get a clearer sense of why what we are doing isn’t working, and then devise a new strategy and find tactics to implement that strategy.

    Gregg Cunningham goes on to talk about what inspired and shaped his group, in great detail. It’s also notable that he freely mixes secular and religious targets, while talking about “the church” as if he’s a part of it.

    Yes, this is very carefully targeted. When we do this on a university campus there is actually an enormous amount of preparation, and we do a great deal of follow-up. We start pro-life organizations on the campus where none had existed previously, we greatly strengthen currently existing pro-life groups by increasing the size of their membership, by donating to them all kinds of educational resources they can use, we help recruit students to volunteer at the local crisis pregnancy centers. We do a myriad of things of that sort. The same is true of churches.

    We’re going to be launching a project in church venues by picking one large church whose pastor will not preach against abortion—we’re going to put these signs outside the church every Sunday until he does. And we’ll have a very long list of things that the church could be doing and should be doing, and when the church is ready to start doing these things, we’ll move on to the next church. We want pastors to wonder whether their church is going to be next, and if pastors aren’t going to tell the truth about abortion inside, we’re going to tell it outside. […]

    The church has failed miserably. A narrow majority of Catholics now believe that a woman should have a legal right to kill her baby. The numbers are almost as bad in the evangelical churches. The church is in near total collapse as a witness against abortion. With regard to the government, the Democratic party is viciously pro-abortion and the Republican party is in full retreat. We can’t find teachers who are willing to tell the truth about abortion in any balanced way, so the educational establishment is against us. The entertainment industry is against us, the news media are against us. Who is it that’s supposed to get the culture ready when every institution that’s supposed to have responsibility for influencing the culture’s norms and values is monolithically pro-abortion or cravenly cowardly? The people who are claiming progress are living in a dream world.

    Did I mention Gregg Cunningham is a longtime Republican, serving in the Reagan administration, and therefore quite familiar with the rhetorical tactics of the “New Right?”

  24. hjhornbeck says

    OK, this is my last post on the subject, as I think I’ve nailed the final piece:

    Gregg Cunningham: We are a secular organization, we’re not a Christian organization, but we are an organizations comprised of Christians, and the thing that motivates us personally is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Game, set, and match, at least for the most influential anti-choice group out there (in my estimation).

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