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A cup of coffee among friends at the University of North Florida

A cup of coffee between friends

A cup of coffee among friends.

A week and a half ago, the U of North Florida (UNF) Spinnaker (student newpaper) printed an op-ed piece critical of the GAP project.  A few days later, I offered a rebuttal, which was printed in its entirety in the most recent issue.  Awesome!  Next to my letter was another pro-life op-ed piece, this one by another Spinnaker editor.  Hurray for The Spinnaker!

I was pleased that The Spinnaker printed my letter.  They also appended to my letter some final comments of their own, essentially a rebuttal to some of my points.  No problem; we welcome debate.  But I did want to respond, so I sent them this e-mail over the weekend:

Dear Spinnaker Editors,

I just wanted to sincerely thank you for printing my letter in your February 29, 2012 edition, along with another column from the pro-life side of the debate. I do appreciate you allowing commentary from both sides of the debate on our Genocide Awareness Project. Even if we disagree on key points, you were fair to print both sides.

I did want to respond to your comments that appeared at the end of my editorial in the paper. Not trying to be argumentative, but I thought I should address some of the points you raised.

Think of it as a friendly chat over coffee. In fact, I’ve attached a cup of coffee. From several hundred miles away, e-mail is the best I can do. Please feel free to print it out on your printer and share a cup with each member of the staff! You’ll note that it’s a bit flat, but still steamy. Try that with the US Postal Service!

Anyway, you said that your reference to “bloody babies” made no link to abortion victims, just to the photos the GAP displayed. I can’t think of any bloody babies we displayed other than abortion victims. Most people don’t think about abortion victims as “bloody babies”, and that is exactly why we want them to be seen, because that is exactly what they are.

As to the differences between the miscarried fetus, the aborted fetus, and the fetus in the womb, they are very different. The aborted fetus has generally been torn into pieces. In fact, one part of the abortion procedure is to reassemble the pieces to make sure that no part of the fetus has been left inside the uterus, which could create a serious infection. On the other hand, the miscarried fetus is generally not torn apart, although it can happen, depending on how the baby is removed. Miscarriages can occur spontaneously, which normally results in an intact embryo/fetus. If they find the baby dead and have to induce labor, that also can result in an intact fetus. At least it did for ours, who died at 19 weeks. We had another that died earlier in pregnancy, and the removal did (I was told) damage the body beyond any recognition or recovery.

Regarding living babies in the womb, obviously they have not been torn apart and therefore look nothing like the aborted babies we displayed.

You say that you did not describe a fetus as “just a blob of tissue.” Perhaps you didn’t explicitly make that claim, but when you advocate a debate about abortion in which the facts of abortion are hidden, you invite people to believe the myths that the abortion industry has advanced, including the myth that the unborn child is just a blob of tissue. It isn’t necessary for you to claim that the fetus is a blob of tissue, because for so many, that is the default assumption. That’s why it is up to us to prove otherwise. Pictures are, for most of our audience, the most effective proof we have.

Finally, you said that you didn’t encourage readers to be pro- or anti-abortion. Perhaps not explicitly, but the effect of your message is still pro-abortion because you don’t point people to the most important issue … whether or not the pre-born child is a human being whose life we must respect in the same way that we respect the life of a born child. We are more than willing to have a debate about our strategy and tactics, but the debate over abortion really centers around the questions of (1) who the pre-born child is, and (2) how must he be valued.

You were skeptical of our comparison of abortion to genocide. Obviously, abortion is nothing like genocide … IF. If pre-born children are not living human beings, then abortion does not kill humans and there are no relevant similarities between abortion and genocide. But if pre-born children are living human beings – science tells us they are – then abortion kills 1.2 million living humans every year in the US. If not genocide, what else would we call it?

UN General Assembly Resolution 96, adopted in 1946, describes genocide as “a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups, as homicide is the denial of the right to live of individual human beings …” Resolution 96 goes on to say it is a crime “whether committed on religious, racial, political or any other grounds …” (emphasis added). With abortion, the “entire human group” denied the right of existence is unwanted, pre-born children.

If it is wrong for whiter people to kill darker people for something they can’t control (the color of their skin), how can it be OK for older people to kill younger people for something they can’t control (their age)?

Blessings to all of you,
Fletcher

A Tale of Two Women

Nicole and Stephanie at Open Mike.

Nicole and Stephanie at Open Mike.

As I reflected on the range of emotions from our GAP excursion to Florida, the opening lines from Charles Dickens’ great novel came to mind:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness … it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair …

Hope that’s not too literarial for all you people in Rio Linda.

Anyway, I am hopeful for the future when I think about the team of young people who accompanied us to the U of North Florida (UNF) and Florida State U (FSU).  They gave of themselves so freely, so that others might live and live more abundantly.  I was blessed to be with them.

But I can’t escape despair when I reflect on some of the students we encountered – students who believe that unrestrained sex (anywhere, anytime, with anybody) is another “entitlement” to be demanded, rather than a curse to be avoided.  They don’t know about — indeed, they don’t want to know about — the physical, emotional, and spiritual dangers inherent in the lifestyle they’ve embraced, not only for themselves, but for others as well.

The ups and downs of the week were personified by two young women we met along the way, Julie and Brandi.

“I cried until I couldn’t breathe.”

We had been to UNF in 2009.  As with every GAP, many students had said our pictures had changed their minds.  But we didn’t know about Julie.  She was a freshman at the time.

Fast-forward to February 21, 2012.  CBR staffers Nicole Cooley and Stephanie Gray had been holding “Open Mike” for nearly 2 hours.  They had withstood an intense barrage of pro-abortion artillery.  Just before they were about to close it down for the day, a young lady stepped forward and asked for the microphone.  She remembered when we came before.  She had been pro-choice.  She had been really angry.

“I thought your pictures were disgusting,” she said of that first encounter, “but they followed me home.  They followed me for several days.  And I went online and looked up a video of abortion.”

After seeing that video — likely the Choice Blues video featured on AbortionNo.org, a CBR website — she said, “I cried until I couldn’t breathe.  I changed at that moment from pro-choice to pro-life.”

What a blessing to hear those words!  On this day (in 2012), Julie had actually left campus for the day but had come back to complete a forgotten errand.  She parked where she doesn’t usually park.  She didn’t know why.  She walked a route she doesn’t usually walk.  She didn’t know why.  Then, she saw the Open Mike and decided to speak.  I told her that God had arranged it for her to come and give us much-needed encouragement!

She said we were changing many more hearts and minds than we could imagine. See Julie tell her story in the video below!

“That’s what vaccines are for.”

At FSU, it was clear that Brandi is quite intelligent, but like most of us, she struggles to blindfold her own prejudices, even for a few minutes.  She was much more interested in lecturing than listening.  Nothing I had to say could possibly be worth considering.  I’ve been around teenagers before, so I’m familiar with the disorder.

She did, as I recall, accept our position that preborn children deserve protection in the 3rd trimester, but I don’t think she ever told me what morally relevant criteria makes it OK to kill a 2nd-trimester child.

It is difficult to advance a coherent argument when you’re being interrupted at every turn.  We think it was their plan to come out en masse and interrupt each of us in mid-sentence so that nobody could hear us finish a complete thought.  Most of the time, she was interrupting to lecture me on things I had already tried to say myself.  Finally, I interrupted her, “Brandi, I’ve got a PhD in engineering, I know the difference between science and philosophy.  I know the difference between facts and conclusions.”

She asserted that even though the preborn child has structures you can see, they are not persons because the cells are yet undifferentiated.  (Which isn’t true, by the way.)  Anyway, the obvious question, which I did manage to get out, was, “Why should we accept your assertion that personhood should depend on degree of cell differentiation?”  I got no answer.

At that point, she changed the subject to contraception.  (CBR takes no position on contraception, but we do oppose any agent that acts as an abortifacient.)  She asked why we don’t hand out contraceptives, as if they are the silver bullet that would end abortion, if only we would distribute our fair share.  I replied that 54% of all abortions were performed on women who used contraceptives in the month in which they got pregnant (source).  People at FSU have ample access to inexpensive (if not free) contraception, but they still get abortions.

She countered with the unsubstantiated claim that the 54% reported by Guttmacher were largely people who ran out of contraceptives mid-month and could not afford to buy more.  [Note how silly this is: people are too poor to pay for a $1 contraceptive, but they can afford a $500 abortion .]

I told her that contraceptives fail, and it is not our goal to merely reduce the number of abortions.  Our goal is to get rid of the whole bloody mess.  And besides, I said, we have no desire to encourage people to put themselves at risk for deadly STDs.  Condoms fail, and even when they work properly they are only marginally effective against some diseases, particularly human papillomavirus (HPV).

That’s when she said, “That’s what vaccines are for.”

I was surprised by her candor.  “Brandi, is that the best you can do?  Counsel people to put themselves at risk for deadly diseases and depend on a vaccine for protection?”  As any safety engineer will tell you, the first rule for minimizing risk is to remove the hazard altogether.  But Brandi would encourage teenagers to engage in potentially deadly behaviors with only a thin layer of latex as protection.  Oh yes, the latex and a vaccine.

Or is it 25 different vaccines?  When I was Brandi’s age, there were really only two STDs.  It had been that way for centuries.  Now, a mere 40 years later, I’m told there are more than 25 different STDs.  The Associated Press reports that 1 in 4 teen girls has at least one.  What changed?  More contraceptives?  More Planned-Parenthood-style sex education?  More reckless and deadly behaviors?  Yes, yes, and yes. Of course we don’t oppose truthful education, but we do oppose encouraging teenagers to engage in reckless and self-destructive behaviors.

Perhaps latex and vaccines are the best Brandi can offer.  People on the Left apparently believe that people are so helpless, they cannot possibly control themselves where sex is concerned.  So instead of addressing reckless and deadly behaviors, they insist on latex and vaccines.

And they insist on it, not only for their own children, but for ours as well.  And the rest of us should pay for it.  And when our children get sick anyway — many will — too bad.  And when they get pregnant anyway — many will — the rest of us should pay for the abortions.  No thanks.  Leave me and my family out of it.

Our culture has become a cesspool, deadly for some, and I fear that the worst is yet to come.  Our only hope is a miracle.  Fortunately, God is in the miracle business.  If we pray and fast and sacrifice much, who knows what He will do?

Perhaps the Brandi of today will be the Julie of tomorrow.

Notes:

  1. Wikipedia reports that the typical failure rate for condoms is 15%, and the perfect-use failure rate is 2%.  Those numbers are for pregnancy prevention over a 1-year period, not the prevention of STD transmission.  A woman can become pregnant only a few days a month; a person can contract an STD on any and every day of the month.  The more times a person engages in sex, the more opportunities for condom failure, so a person’s cumulative risk for catching an STD increases every time.
  2. Since returning from Florida, I have run across a 2011 paper by Peter Arcidiancono (Duke University), Ahmed Khwaja (Yale University) and Lijing Ouyang (Centers for Disease Control).  They concluded, “Programs that increase access to contraception are found to decrease teen pregnancies in the short run but increase teen pregnancies in the long run.” (Source)  More good information here.

UNF student praises GAP project

UNF GAP Team

UNF GAP Team

Got a nice e-mail from Michael Oliveros, a student at the University of North Florida (UNF):

It was really nice to see you on campus, since I am around a very pro-choice environment so much.  I am really excited about the pro-life club that you are starting!  It will give me a way to express my pro-life views, as well as a place for support, and to be around people of like mind.

Again, I’d like to reiterate how appreciative I am of you all coming out.   I commend all of you for your courage in being a voice for these babies, and for standing up for life.   I hope and pray that I can have the same courage and dedication that all of you have as I become a part of this pro-life club.

God bless, and all of you are in my prayers!

Michael Oliveros

Thanks to all of you who support our work!  You make it possible!

You should be ashamed!

Warning signs at UNF

Warning signs at UNF.

Got a comment today on a previous FAB posting.   Read Mari’s comment here (Comment 1).

My response follows:

Marie,

Thanks for commenting on the GAP project at UNF. Yes, we know that the abortion pictures are extremely disturbing. They are difficult for you to look at, because you have a functioning conscience. That’s a good thing.

Please permit me to address some of the specific points you raised.

You say that you would have no problem with us handing out pamphlets to people who wanted them. But these methods appeal to you because they would make it easy for you to ignore the injustice you now find so disturbing. Your complaint reminds us of what they said to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when he marched against racial injustice. They wanted him to confine his activities to the Black church, so they could ignore the injustice he sought to correct. They didn’t want to be bothered. And as long as Dr. King didn’t bother them, they were OK with it.

But Dr. King knew that in order to change the status quo, he had to show people that racism was much worse than they imagined. It was pictures of Black men and women being attacked with dogs and water cannons—those pictures appearing on TV and in magazines reaching millions of American households—that turned the tide against segregation in the South. We have no hope of correcting the injustice of abortion unless we expose it.

Our operating principle actually comes from the King family. Dr. Martin Luther King said that, “America will not reject racism until America sees racism.” His niece, Dr. Alveda King, now says that “America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion.” That’s why we are working to make sure that every American sees abortion for what it is, an act of violence that destroys a growing child.

The fact that you and others find baby-killing disturbing is actually encouraging. The people who worry us are the ones who don’t care about it.

You said you came to the campus to learn. You learned something today. First, you learned that the preborn child is a living human being, even in the first trimester of pregnancy. Second, you learned that abortion is an act of violence that destroys a living human child. This information will be very valuable to you, if you want to do the right thing.

Speaking of learning, doesn’t it bother you that so many people and institutions have conspired to tell you only lies … lies about who the preborn child is and lies about what abortion does to her. The education system, the media, the entertainment industry, the government, and others have all conspired with the abortion industry to make people believe that the preborn child is just a mass of cells and abortion is just removing a benign medical procedure. Had they told you the truth, we would not have been compelled to come to your campus.

You say that we are exploiting unborn children by showing their pictures. How so? If we are exploiting these children, then isn’t it equally true that the Holocaust Museum in Washington is exploiting European Jews by showing pictures of their dead bodies? You can’t go to any Holocaust museum or read a book on the Holocaust without seeing a disturbing photo of dead Jewish bodies.

You say you had no choice in the matter of whether to look at the photos or not. Actually, you could have turned your head away from the pictures and walked right on by. We watched many people doing exactly that. Apparently, you didn’t turn your head; the fact that you are so disturbed suggests you studied the images very carefully. We’re glad you did, but it was clearly your choice to study them or not.

And even if it is true that you had no choice but to see the photos for a few seconds before you were able to avert your gaze, are you so selfish as to be unwilling to endure a few moments of discomfort in other to save another person’s life?

You say that we should be ashamed. It reminds me of something Louis Hine said. In the early 1900s, he displayed photos of very young (adolescent) children working in coal mines, textile mills, etc. He wrote in his memoirs that some people were more angry at him for showing the pictures than at the industrial bosses for abusing the children. It is the abortionist who should be ashamed for killing the children, not us for exposing the truth.

For more information about abortion—no matter what you decide, you want your decision to be informed by the facts—visit www.AbortionNo.org.

GAP display at the University of North Florida (UNF)

GAP display at the University of North Florida (UNF).

Pro Life on Campus at U of North Florida (UNF)

CBR's Nicole Cooley explains the comparison of abortion to slavery.

CBR's Nicole Cooley explains the comparison of abortion to slavery.

We’re up and running with our pro-life display at the U of North Florida (UNF), an important and growing university in Jacksonville.  Our pro-life GAP display is situated on the main sidewalk leading from the Student Union to the academic buildings.

It’s a busy day on campus.  We’re seeing lots of student tours.  In fact, this might be the perfect day to reach high school students.   We’re guessing many of them (and their parents) are out of high school (and work) for Presidents Day, so this is a logical day for them to schedule a university tour.

A crowd gathers at the University of North Florida

A crowd gathers at the University of North Florida.