War Causes Abortion

Posted on July 18, 2017 By

by Rachel MacNair and Catherine Coyle

This is a condensed version of Chapter 4 in Peace Psychology Perspectives on Abortion. References are in APA style – authors in parentheses, full citation at the bottom.

Left: Rachel MacNair. Right: Catherine Coyle

War as an Instrument of Unchosen Abortion 

In an article entitled “Abortion and War,” Emanuel Charles McCarthy (2011) points out what is obvious upon paying attention to the point:

Emanuel Charles McCarthy

 As I read the triumphant headlines in the newspapers day after day—“U.S. Pounds Iraq from Air”—and saw the pictures of missiles streaking into Iraq, I could not help but hear the silent screams of all the little Iraqi children in utero who were having their lives ripped from them. The lucky ones were the ones who took a direct hit. The ones, who were aborted because of percussion, vibration or because of the terror, trauma, malnourishment and/or exhaustion visited upon their mothers by war, would probably have suffered less agonizing deaths at the wrong end of a suction machine in an abortion clinic. . . . Modern industrial war, once unleashed, produces an instant Auschwitz for the unborn—that’s fact, not conjecture. Mass abortions are the necessary and one hundred per cent inevitable consequence of modern war. (McCarthy, 2011, p. 1- 2)

To cite a specific case to show how this works within the dynamics of war, Jon Lee Anderson, a writer for The New Yorker, said in a March 24, 2003 interview with Charlie Rose on Rose’s PBS show: “My driver, a sweet Iraqi man, was bitter today because one of his daughters suffered what he called an involuntary abortion during last night’s bombing due to fright. She was 3 to 4 months pregnant.” This was by way of illustrating how Iraqis who opposed Saddam Hussein might nevertheless turn against the United States if the destruction became too great.


War as a Pressure for Abortion

There is very little empirical study of war as a pressure for women to abort pregnancies that would have been desired in the absence of war. There has been some documentation in news reports that indicate this has occurred; for example, The Washington Post (Pomfret, 1993) reported that Srecko Simic, chief of obstetrics at Kosevo hospital, did a study there and found that during the siege of Sarajevo there were three abortions for every pregnancy carried to term, with rates of prematurity, stillbirth, and death within seven days of birth also skyrocketing.

Mary Meehan

Mary Meehan (2012) wrote a magazine article with cases indicating how this dynamic works:

In 2007, Iraq’s Red Crescent Society reported that over one million Iraqis had been displaced by violence or the threat of it. ABC News, covering the Red Crescent report, said many pregnant women in that situation were having abortions “because they are unable to get medical care for themselves and their unborn.” (Meehan, 2012)

She also points to a case reported in The Washington Post:

[A] 33-year-old woman . . . said she struggled for weeks, trying to decide between her religion and her love for children on the one hand and her inability to support a newborn baby on the other. Finally she went ahead with the abortion.

The Catholic mother of two said she spent the night crying and praying . . . “I would never do this in peacetime and God knows I wanted that child, but there is no food for him in my house,” she said. “There is nothing. What could I do?” (Pomfret, 1993).


Rape as a Weapon of War

Rape of thousands of women has been used as a weapon of war throughout history – a strategic decision to spread terror and humiliation (Moore, 2010).   As Jina Moore summarizes:

Rape has been a consequence of military defeat for millennia. But in the last 20 years — from Bosnia to Rwanda, from Colombia to the Democratic Republic of Congo — sexual violence against women, and sometimes even against men, has become a strategic military tactic designed to humiliate victims and shatter enemy societies. And increasingly, governments presiding over peaceful countries are using mass rape in deliberate and targeted campaigns to spread terror and humiliation among political dissenters, often during election seasons. The strategic use of rape has been recognized by international courts as an act of genocide and ethnic cleansing. (Moore, 2010)

Massive rapes will likely lead to feticides and infanticides, both voluntary and pressured, among those impregnated. There will also be numerous suicides among such women. The whirlwind of war harms many people who are never counted in the battle casualties.

One study investigating the psychological consequences of rape in the wars following the break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s contained quite a bit of information about women who were impregnated by the rapes (Loncar, Medved, Jovanovic, & Hotujac, 2006). Out of a very large population of refugees (1,926), they focused on the 55 women who confirmed having been raped.

Unsurprisingly, they did find that there were many negative and intense aftereffects. Rape normally has such an impact. Additionally, in the case of rapes within war, the normal kinds of post-rape therapeutic interventions were rendered unavailable by the war itself.

Of the 55 women, 29 got pregnant; this rate of over half is well out of bounds of the portion of women who get pregnant by rape outside of war circumstances. The authors have no explanation for this, but one possibility is that those rape victims who get pregnant may be much more likely to admit to being raped. The pregnancy makes the rape harder to deny and makes the event much more firmly established as a completed trauma.

Of the 29 impregnated, 17 had an induced abortion, which means that 12 did not . . . authors found that the strongest predictor of the outcome of deciding on an abortion was suicidal thoughts and impulses.


Implications for Meeting Women’s Needs and Rights

The most obvious implication for anyone in the field of peace psychology is that we should prevent all wars. Falling short of that, however, there are still things that can be done.

UN Resolution 1820 does give governments, legal counsel, and grassroots activists a basis upon which to act. As with all high-sounding rhetoric, it does require much work on the ground to make it happen.

United Nations peacekeepers in theory help prevent wars, or prevent further outbreaks after wars have mainly wound down. Accordingly, they get immunity from prosecution, to keep local governments from interfering with their work by bringing unfair charges. However, women and girls in war-torn areas are vulnerable. Sometimes, because of extreme poverty, they sell sexual favors. There is also outright rape. As a result, a campaign has been launched with the specific goal of removing legal immunity for sexual exploitation and assaults committed by U.N. Peacekeepers, called Code Blue.

All women who have been sexually exploited are traumatized and need psychological support ranging from tender loving care to professional counseling. Some of the women will have had abortions or go to the extreme of infanticide, and their reactions to this will vary according to cultural beliefs and individual predilections. Some of the women will give birth to the children and place them for adoption, and their psychological aftermath can vary depending on whether this was a well-facilitated international adoption (there are an ample supply of eager adoptive parents) or whether government blocking of adoption is part of the war situation.  Yet others will choose to give birth to and raise their own children. However, the background of hatred in which the child was conceived may require special attention for compassionate care of both mother and child.

Post-war reconciliation: The need to ease tensions after a war, both for the people involved and to prevent another round of war, is always especially difficult.  It is even more complicated if rape was used by one ethnic group against another.  When people regard “rape-babies” or “scum-babies” as worthy targets of their prejudice, it adds fuel to the ethnic tensions commonly causing the problem in the first place. Emotions will be raw on this point, whatever options the women and their families choose. They will need to be taken into account in the post-war reconciliation efforts in which peace psychology excels.


Loncar, M., Medved, V., Jovanovic, N. & Hotujac, L. (2006). Psychological consequences of rape on women in 1991-1995 war in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatian Medical Journal, 47(1), 67-75.

McCarthy, E. C. (2011). Abortion and war. Retrieved from http://www.centerforchristiannonviolence.org/data/Media/Abortion_and_War.pdf

Meehan, M. (2012, January 16). In harm’s way: Children, born and unborn, trapped in wartime. America: The National Catholic Review. Retrieved from http://americamagazine.org/issue/5126/article/harms-way

Moore, J. (2010). Confronting rape as a war crime: Will a new U.N. campaign have any impact? CQ Researcher, 4(5). Retrieved from http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqrglobal2010050000

Pomfet, J. (1993, August 12). Besieged Sarajevo, no place for a baby. The Washington Post, A-18.

United Nations (2008). Resolution 1820. Retrieved from http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/CAC%20S%20RES%201820.pdf


See the list of all our blog posts, put in categories.

For more of our blog posts dealing with psychology, see:

Violence Bolstered by Professional Contradictions

The Creativity of the Fore-closed Option

Where Violence Begins

Excerpt – Peace Psychology Perspectives on Abortion, Introduction

Our next post, Abortion and War are the Karma for Killing Animals, was originally written as a comment to this post, but was lengthy enough to make its own post.


abortionconnecting issuesconsistent life ethicrapewar and peacewar policywomen's rights

Abortion Doctor Says: We are the Executioners

Posted on July 11, 2017 By

by Sarah Terzo

Sarah Terzo

Pro-choice author Magda Denes, Ph.D., interviewed abortionists and clinic workers for her book In Necessity and Sorrow, Life and Death inside an Abortion HospitalSurprisingly, many of the abortionists she interviewed admitted that they were terminating life.

One abortionist made it very clear that he knew he was killing. He speaks first about how strange it was to be treating premature babies and helping them survive while at the same time killing preborn babies of the same age elsewhere through abortion:

You have to become a bit schizophrenic. In one room you encourage the patient that the slight irregularity of the fetal heart is not important – that she is going to have a fine, healthy baby. Then in the next room you assure another woman on whom you just did a saline abortion, that it’s good that the heart is already irregular… She has nothing to worry about, she is not going to have a live baby.

The abortionist then describes how doing late-term abortions was easier for him because he started doing earlier abortions and “worked his way up” to the later ones. Because he was used to killing younger children, he was able to desensitize himself, which helped him progress to killing older children. These older babies actively reacted to his attempts to kill them.

At the beginning we were doing abortions on smaller fetuses… And the kicking and heartbeat did not manifest itself as much. I think if I had started with 24 weekers right off the bat, I would’ve had a much greater conflict in my own mind if this was the same as murder or not. But since we started off slowly with 15-16 weekers, the fetus just never got consideration. Then gradually, the whole range of cases started to become larger. All of a sudden, one noticed that at the time of the saline infusion, there was a lot of activity in the uterus. It wasn’t fluid currents. It was obviously the fetus being distressed by swallowing the salt solution and kicking violently through the death trauma. You can either face it, or turn around and say it’s uterine contractions. That, however, would be repressing, since as a doctor you obviously know that it is not.

He is speaking about saline abortions, an abortion method that was frequently used in the 1970s and ’80s but is less common now due in part to the large numbers of babies who were born alive, including Melissa Ohden. In this type of abortion, the abortionist injects a toxic saline solution into the mother’s womb, which slowly poisons and kills the child. It can take hours for a baby to die this way.

The abortionist says he never tells the women that their babies are struggling for their lives:

Now whether you admit this to the patient is another matter. Her distress by unwanted pregnancy is to be the primary consideration, ahead of any possible consideration for the fetus.

Then he makes the big admission:

“We just have to face it. Somebody has to do it. Unfortunately, we are the executioners in this instance.”

This abortionist compares himself to a person who kills convicted criminals. He casts himself as an executioner in order to justify his actions.

In making the comparison, the abortionist is saying that yes, he is killing, but the killing is acceptable. In our society, we don’t view those who execute criminals as murderers.  It is, we say, justifiable killing.

The abortionist is able to tell himself that he isn’t the only one killing; executioners kill criminals all the time. If there was no capital punishment in America, and the value of life was always respected, would it be harder for the abortionist to justify his actions? There are many arguments against the death penalty, but one of them is that a nation that accepts the killing of criminals is more likely to accept the killing of other groups of people. The institution of capital punishment opens the door to further violence, because it makes killing, at least in some circumstances, acceptable. If we can kill undesirable adults, why not kill undesirable fetuses?

If our nation took a strong stand against taking human lives, even those of criminals, would it make abortion less acceptable? In the way that killing small babies made it easier to kill large babies, does the acceptance of the death penalty lead to the acceptance of other types of killing?

Violence tends to beget violence, and having the death penalty affects society in subtle ways. In this case, it has given an abortion doctor an excuse, a rationalization that makes it easier for him to end unborn human lives.

This is just one more reason to oppose the death penalty, one among many. The possible execution of innocent people, the unjustness of taking a human life for reasons other than self-defense, and the way legalized killing affects society- these are all reasons to oppose capital punishment.

The truth is, all life is valuable. A consistent life ethic leaves no human being out.


See the list of all our blog posts, put in categories.


abortiondeath penalty

Breaking Stereotypes in Fearful Times

Posted on June 27, 2017 By

by John Whitehead

John Whitehead

Several incidents of terrorism that occurred in the United Kingdom this spring—the suicide bombing of a concert in Manchester, two attacks in London by men using trucks and knives—have understandably received much attention and provoked much horror and outrage. Along with such appropriate responses as sympathy for the victims and their families and anger at the perpetrators, the terrorism has also elicited negative responses. Because the terrorists were motivated by a strain of ISIS-affiliated Islamic extremism, some people have reacted by attacking Muslims generally. US President Donald Trump renewed calls for a ban on people from six Muslim-majority nations being allowed into the United States. Negative attitudes toward Muslims have prompted violent incidents such as a man harassing a Muslim woman in Portland, Oregon and killing the men who tried to protect her or an attack on worshippers at a London mosque that killed one man.

Given such a backdrop of terrorism provoking further terrorism, as well as religious stereotyping, certain important facts about Muslims and violent incidents such as the recent UK attacks need to be remembered. Bearing this stereotyping-breaking information in mind can prevent responses to terrorism from being marred and undermined by bigotry.


Islam contains traditions that discourage terrorism and promote limitations on violence.

 While Islam is not formally pacifist and holds that violence can be justified (a characteristic it shares with most major religions and notable secular ideologies such as Marxism), Islamic tradition contains elements that encourage the restraint of violence. The Qur’an, the words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad, and the interpretations of Islamic jurists offer support for limitations on the conduct of soldiers in war. Such limitations directly contradict the indiscriminate violence of terrorism.

A Qur’an passage reads “Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors” (2:190). Some scholars interpret this passage as meaning that Muslims can validly fight against enemy combatants (such as soldiers) who are directly engaged in waging war but not non-combatants such as children, women, or the elderly.

In the same way, a hadith (a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad) states “Do not kill an elderly [person], or a child, or a woman.” Muhammad gave more detailed instructions on conduct in war when he told his troops, before battle, “In avenging the injuries inflicted upon us molest not the harmless inmates of domestic seclusion; spare the . . . female sex; injure not the infants at the breast or those who are ill in bed. Refrain from demolishing the houses of the unresisting inhabitants; destroy not the means of their subsistence, nor their fruit-trees and touch not the palm.”

Later, Abu Bakr, the first Khalifah (successor to Muhammad as leader of the Muslim community), commanded his army “Do not mutilate the dead, nor to slay the elderly, women, and children. Do not inundate a date palm nor burn it. Do not cut down a fruit tree, nor to kill cattle unless they were needed for food. Don’t destroy any building. Maybe, you will pass by people who have secluded themselves in convents; leave them and do not interfere in what they do.”

Various Islamic jurists have laid out differing rules of war, but the notion that certain people, particularly women and children, should be classified as non-combatants and protected from harm is a common theme. The notion of treating wartime captives (what today we would call prisoners of war) well is reflected in the Qur’an’s passage “And they feed, for the love of God, the indigent, the orphan and the captive” (76:8). Muhammad also stated “I command you to treat captives well.”

More recently, some Muslims took a stand against the most indiscriminate killers of all, nuclear weapons. In the 1980s, at the height of the Cold War arms race, Inamullah Khan, secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), condemned such weapons, saying “Nuclear weapons are not weapons of war. They are instruments of mass extermination.” Khan endorsed “universal and non-discriminatory” nuclear disarmament. Major General Rahim Khan, a retired Pakistani military officer, wrote a similar critique of nuclear weapons at this time and also called for disarmament. Muhammad Munir, a law professor at the International Islamic University, interprets Islamic tradition to reach the conclusion “the use of nuclear weapons and WMDs is totally prohibited in the Islamic [laws of war].”

Last, and perhaps most directly relevant to contemporary concerns about terrorism, 126 Muslim scholars and leaders signed in 2014 an “Open Letter to Al-Baghdadi.” Addressed to the head of ISIS, known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the letter is a lengthy condemnation of the terrorist organization for departing from Islamic tradition. The letter condemns ISIS for killing innocents, emissaries (such as journalists and aid workers), prisoners, and fellow Muslims, as well as abusing the concept of jihad. The letter’s condemnation of ISIS’ killing Muslims points to another important consideration.


Muslims are the main victims of extremist groups such as ISIS or Al Qaeda.

A review of ISIS-linked terrorist attacks that took place outside Iraq and Syria between June 2014 and July 2016 reveals a striking statistic. The majority, by far, of people killed in the attacks came from Muslim-majority countries such as Egypt, Libya, Niger, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Not all the victims were Muslims (some were tourists or members of religious minorities) but many were—indeed, several attacks took place outside mosques. A similar study of al Qaeda attacks between 2004 and 2008 concluded that the “overwhelming majority of [al‐Qaeda] victims are Muslims living in Muslim countries, and many are citizens of Iraq, which suffered more al‐Qa’ida attacks than any other country courtesy of the [al-Qaeda in Iraq] affiliate.” The May bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed 150 people and may have been the work of a Taliban-linked group, also shows that extremists have no reservations about killing fellow Muslims.

The significant Islamic traditions that support restraint in war and respect for non-combatants, as well as the practical realities of terrorism’s devastating effects on Muslim communities, should act as powerful antidotes to the dangerous “Muslims as terrorists” stereotype. Moreover, such traditions and realities show that those wishing to counter terrorism should make common cause with Muslims in that struggle.

Muslim Peace Fellowship logo

historyIslamnuclear weaponsReligionterrorismwar and peacewar policy

The Reynolds Family, the Nuclear Age and a Brave Wooden Boat

Posted on June 20, 2017 By

by Jessica Renshaw


Note: This is the text of Jessica’s talk at the June 17, 2017 Ban the Bomb March in Los Angeles.

Jessica Renshaw

I want to tell you a story—a true, personal story.  (To save time, I’ll just tell you I’m 73!)

I was one year old when nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Six years later our family moved to Hiroshima.  My father, Dr. Earle Reynolds, was a scientist.  The Atomic Energy Commission sent him to study the effects of radiation on children exposed to the bomb.

For 3 years, Dad studied 4,800 children. In his spare time he built a 50-foot yacht named Phoenix of Hiroshima. In 1954 Dad submitted his findings on the dangers of radiation to the Atomic Energy Commission. Then our family sailed the Phoenix around the world. Three young yachtsmen from Hiroshima went with us. This was only 9 years after our countries had been at war with each other.

We sailed around the world for 3-1/2 years.  Two of our Japanese crew flew back to Hiroshima but Niichi Mikami stayed with us.  When we reached Honolulu in 1958, we were looking forward to sailing home to Hiroshima.

But the United States was testing nuclear weapons in the Pacific.  Our government had just issued an injunction forbidding American citizens to enter that zone.  It covered 390,000 square miles of ocean.  We had to sail through that area to get back to Japan.

The same Atomic Energy Commission which had hired Dad to find out the dangers of radiation was in charge of testing nuclear weapons.  My dad had written up his findings that radiation causes cancer and is not healthy for human beings.  He knew that added radiation from each nuclear test was poisoning the world’s air and seas for decades to come.  But the Atomic Energy Commission had suppressed Dad’s findings so they could assure the American public that nuclear tests are safe.

My father the scientist became my father the activist and  our pleasure cruise became one of protest.  In 1958 I was 14, my brother Ted was 20.  Our family and Niichi Mikami chose to sail the Phoenix into the test zone as a protest against nuclear testing.  Dad was arrested, tried and convicted of trespass.  Our government would later blackball him so he never got a job in his field again.

In 1961 we sailed to Nakhodka, USSR to protest Soviet nuclear testing—a normal American father, mother, 23-year old son, 17-year old daughter, a yachtsman friend and two cats.  By this time we had letters and telegrams from hundreds of survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, appealing for a nuclear ban. We had a good talk about peace with the captain of the Soviet Coast Guard boat which stopped us. But he refused to take the appeals.  He turned us away.

Back in Japan, we felt we had made no difference.  My mother, Barbara Reynolds, felt a responsibility to get the appeals to the leaders of the world.  On Christmas Day, 1961, she sat in the Hiroshima Peace Park, at the foot of the monument dedicated to the children killed by the atomic bomb.  She fasted and prayed there all day, appealing to the God she did not yet know personally — for wisdom to know what to do with all the appeals of the hibakusha, the bomb survivors.

The answer came: the hibakusha themselves must take these appeals to the world! With the city’s blessing, my mother accompanied two survivors on a Peace Pilgrimage to the leaders of the nuclear nations and to the United Nations.  Then she accompanied 25 of them, from both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on a World Peace Study Mission.  When my mother died, the grateful hibakusha erected a monument to her in the Peace Park—their Ground Zero.

The Phoenix of Hiroshima, the brave wooden boat that took us into the Pacific test zone and to the USSR, is now at the bottom of the Sacramento River.  Many people are trying to raise and restore her as a historic artifact, a piece of history.  That website is phoenixofhiroshima.org.

Now, finally, we have hope.  The United Nations is considering a ban on nuclear weapons.  The children my dad studied when I was a child myself are in their 70s, 80s and 90s. They are coming to the UN with an appeal signed by nearly 3,000,000 people expressing their own unique, single, heartfelt message:  Don’t let what happened to us happen again anywhere to anybody! 

Let us stand in solidarity with the hibakusha: No more Hiroshima!  No more Nagasaki!


Editor’s Note: When Jessica Renshaw first contacted us, she said:

“My life . . . has been devoted to two major causes: pro-life and anti-nuke . . .

I have two pro-life books out: GIANNA: Aborted and Lived to Tell About It  and a novel, Compelling Interests. I have one anti-nuclear book out, To Russia with Love, about a protest voyage by yacht our family made in 1961, and have just published another one, The Reynolds Family, the Nuclear Age, and a Brave Wooden Boat.

I felt such relief, like two parts of me merged and were made whole, when I found your website! My causes really are just two consistent aspects of my concern.”

Rehumanize International at the New York City June 17 March


For more of our blog posts on nuclear weapons, see:

Nukes and the Pro-Life Christian: A Conservative Takes a Second Look at the Morality of Nuclear Weapons (Karen Swallow Prior)

Rejecting Mass Murder: Looking Back on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

See the list of all our blog posts, put in categories.


nuclear weaponsorganizingpersonal stories

Would Nonviolence Work on the Nazis?

Posted on June 13, 2017 By

by Rachel MacNair


While it took time to realize the extent of the Nazis’ brutality, the night of November 9-10, 1938, gave intense warning that Jews were in great danger. Hundreds of synagogues and thousands of businesses were attacked with sledgehammers. Several dozen Jews were killed, in what became known as Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. People around the world were shocked.

Beyond words of outrage, one obviously necessary action to protect people and to protest most strongly was for countries to take in Jewish immigrants. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt asked Congress to allow those already in the U.S. on visas to stay; it would be inhuman to return them. But he didn’t ask for the quota to be raised to allow more in.

Members of the Heldenmuth family board the SS St. Louis in Hamburg harbor

In May of 1939, the transatlantic liner St. Louis with 937 mostly Jewish passengers set sail from Hamburg with permission to land in Cuba.  The permission was revoked, and all but 28 were denied entry. They begged for entry into the United States as they passed Miami and were denied. Most were sent back to Nazi Germany.

After Kristallnacht, Brazil actually added an immigration requirement of a baptismal certificate dated before 1933, a Christian document no Jew would have.

The question of whether nonviolence works with people as vicious as the Nazis runs up against this basic point: at the beginning, when the problem was clear enough and the numbers of people killed were in the dozens rather than the millions, the nonviolent approach needed was simple, clear, and insufficiently tried.

But while it’s all very well to point out that things should be nipped in the bud, what can be done when things have in fact gotten out of hand?

When the Nazis took over Denmark, Danes organized a Freedom Council. Though there was some sabotage, the Council found through experience that massive nonviolence worked better. When staging strikes brought more bloody action from the Germans, workers would go to work but then leave early, claiming the curfew made them need to tend to their gardens.

The most dramatic and clearly successful part of the Danes’ resistance to the Nazis was the rescue of Danish Jews. The Nazis arranged to start arrests at 10 PM on Friday night, October 1, knowing that Jews were likely to all be home for Rosh Hashanah. But the Danes got a warning that this was the plan. They sent word around so quickly that all the Jews went into hiding in hospitals, people’s homes, and other places.

So a German order on October 2 said all non-Jews must turn Jews in. Organizers decided to send the Jews across the lake to Sweden, which the Nazis had not yet reached. During the night about 7,200 people, almost all the Jews of Denmark, were smuggled onto anything that would float.

They all made is safely to the Swedish shore. Then came word that the Swedish king, being afraid of the Nazis, was refusing to give them asylum. But Niels Bohr, winner of the 1922 Nobel Prize for physics, had Jewish ancestry on his mother’s side and had escaped to Sweden already. He sent word to the king that if the refugees were turned in to the Nazis, he would turn himself in with them. The king immediately allowed the refugees in.

The Bulgarian king and parliament, on the other hand, went along with the Nazis and proposed a “Law in Defense of the Nation” that would basically outlaw Jews. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church and many Bulgarians flooded them with letters not to pass it, but they did anyway. The plan was to begin by deporting 20,000 Jews. But on May 24, 1943, there was a huge demonstration. It began with a rally at a synagogue in Sofia and turned into a large march. The march was broken up by clashes with the police. But government officials were alarmed, and the deportations never happened. The cattle cars remained empty. The saving of Bulgarian Jews was a massive nonviolent action by the Bulgarian people.

Nonviolence in defense of Jews also occurred in the very heart of the Nazi empire: “Rosenstrasse” was the name of the street in Berlin where this remarkably effective protest happened. The Gestapo picked up Jewish men in Berlin who had non-Jewish wives. The wives demonstrated outside their husbands’ prison and demanded their release. They were persistent.

Gestapo headquarters were close by. A machine gun could have wiped the women out. They never fired. Instead, the government negotiated and let the men go. This wasn’t a trick; most were found to be still alive at the end of the war. (This protest is dramatized in the movie Rosenstrasse).

Left: from the movie.  Right: Part of the memorial “Block der Frauen” by Ingeborg Hunzinger


These are a few examples; many more could be cited – we haven’t even started on the trouble that the Nazi leader Quisling had in Norway. And of course thousands more Jews were saved by brave souls through an underground railroad.

But the consistent-life mind will naturally be curious about more than war and genocide. How did it build up into such a monstrosity?

Jurist Karl Binding and psychiatrist Alfred Hoche published a book in 1920 called Life Unworthy to be Lived, which helped set the ball rolling. Euthanasia of disabled people was rampant in the hospitals of Germany before the concentration camps were set up, and eugenics that kept the “undesirable” people from reproducing had advanced to widespread abortion by the time the principle was extended to the idea that being Jewish (or Roma/Gypsy, or homosexual, or a member of another group viewed as inferior in Nazi ideology) constituted a disability to which the same “medical treatment” of death should apply.

For years now, the Nazis have served as a lesson about opposing violence: protecting the innocent and vulnerable – unborn and recently born children, people with disabilities, targeted minority groups of any kind – is not only inherently worthwhile, but is crucial to preventing escalation. Genocides don’t come full-blown. They start out small and grow. To stop large horrific slaughters, we most oppose the killing of any human being. If the most vulnerable are protected, then the rest of us are safer too.



For another of our blog posts on the dynamics of the world wars, see:

Self-Defeating Violence: The Case of the First World War

See all of our blog posts put in categories.



What Do Men Have to Say on Abortion?

Posted on June 6, 2017 By

by Rachel MacNair

Every once in a while the charge comes up that since men can’t get pregnant, they shouldn’t have any say on public policy on abortion.

This is a rather odd position, inasmuch as no pregnancy every occurred without male participation somehow. And the behavior men have in response to their own start at fatherhood can have a huge impact on how the mother sees it.

Nevertheless, the idea is prevalent that abortion is a “woman’s rights” issue and therefore only women should be active on it.

One response consistent lifers have made is an analogy: women aren’t drafted, but still have a right to a say on public policy regarding conscription.

But when I’ve dealt with this question in public speeches, I’ve found this short answer to be remarkably effective: “My experience is that when men get all worked up over the fate of little tiny babies, it improves their character.”

That generally brings a chuckle, and no further argument.

But I’d like to turn the argument around. I propose that it’s the so-called “pro-choice” men that actually need to have trepidations about asserting their viewpoint. Because they’re the ones that have to assure us they really do mean that they see abortion as a “woman’s right,” and not as a remarkably self-centered, male-centered way of saying they’re entitled to have women as sex objects that can be vacuumed out and re-used.

I have a set of limericks I wrote on this, years ago. This one was based on an actual remark overheard in a male state legislator’s office in New York:

Oh, how grateful we are to the Court

Giving women the right to abort

If abortion weren’t lawful

Just imagine how awful –

For the men, who must pay child support.

And this one was based on the knowledge that the Playboy Foundation was a major contributor to abortion supporting organizations, the meaning of which seemed to slip right past the people in those organizations:

To keep legal abortion secure

Contributions from Playboy were sure

Then it happened one day

One receiver said – hey!

We’re not certain their motives are pure!

And then we have this one based on a photo I saw. The wording of the sign was different, of course, since I was making mine fit a limerick, but the meaning was the same:

“Keep your laws off my body – no ban!

This is my body – I make the plan!”

Said the sign, plain to see

Please explain it to me

Why the person who held it’s – a man?

(or please answer this quiz:

Why is her body his?)

More recently, we have the following tweet from an outfit that seriously ought to have known better: “The Daily Show” which used to be Jon Stewart’s show and is now Trevor Noah’s. It’s a comedy show that uses the daily news as its subject matter and has a clear liberal bent. The tweet did raise quite an on-line ruckus. It was in response the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decision in the summer of 2016 knocking down the abortion clinic health regulations in Texas (note the number of likes on the bottom line after the heart):







The male-centered, irresponsible, and incredibly callous approach in this tweet startled a lot of abortion defenders.

But they were startled only because they have blinders on, with their “women’s rights” rhetoric. The only thing unusual about that tweet was that someone actually said explicitly in public what’s more commonly a private attitude.

Men who are willing to work hard to help out with babies – especially those they helped create, but also other people’s – these aren’t the men who need to worry about saying what they think about abortion. Men whose callousness towards those babies might also be similar to the callousness toward women they have sex with – those are the men who need to be careful about what they say on the topic.


For more of our blog posts on men and abortion, see:

If Men Could Get Pregnant

The Myth of Sexual Autonomy

See the list of all our blogs posts, put in categories.



Activists Reminisce: An Oral History of Prolifers for Survival

Posted on May 30, 2017 By

Excerpt from Chapter 12, Consistently Opposing Killing

Note: This comes from a conference call done for a chapter in the anthology, Consistently Opposing Killing: From Abortion to Assisted Suicide, the Death Penalty, and War, published by Praeger.

Juli is Julianne Wiley (also known as Juli Loesch); Rachel is Rachel MacNair. Mary Rider was also on the call.

The last meeting of Prolifers for Survival was the first meeting of the Seamless Garment Network; we have since changed our name to the Consistent Life Network. The excerpt starts with the beginning of Prolifers for Survival.


Juli: As I remember, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident happened in March, 1979. In May they did a huge anti-nuclear march and we went to that. We had talked with or had a beer with people in the peace movement we knew were prolife, and got about nine of us to hand out about 50,000 leaflets.

Mary Meehan: It was a good beginning, and people were friendly.

Juli Loesch / Julianne Wiley, in 1980s

Juli: It was great. It was a beautiful day, and a couple of the pro-abortion peaceniks came up and sort of listlessly told us that we weren’t allowed to leaflet. We remarked that we hadn’t seen the newspaper that morning, and hadn’t realized that the Bill of Rights had been rescinded. They sort of said, “oh, you assholes,” and walked listlessly away. That was 1979, and was the anti-nuclear power movement mostly.

But then Reagan became president in 1980, and the Left switched into an anti-nuclear weapons movement again. I felt energized by that, because to me nuclear weapons and abortion were perfect bookends, symmetrical images of each other. They both involved a frank commitment to targeting innocent targets, and they both depended on the calculated willingness to destroy them deliberately. Looking at it from a reasonable definition of murder – the deliberate killing of innocent persons – it was to me not debatable. I mean, it was not like nuclear power which had calculable risks that could be compared against other risks. Or even conventional war, which can have degrees of limitation, which makes a just war preferable to an unjust peace. The two issues struck me as being so absolute they set up a kind of a north and south pole, a whole magnetic force that drew in a lot of other issues because of the clarity of those two.

Rachel: But the Mobilization for Survival of Boston didn’t see it that way. I remember when Prolifers for Survival tried to join the Mobilization for Survival. The Boston Chapter sent out a letter, very exercised about the prospect. Do you remember that?

Juli: Oh yes, they offered to dismantle the entire Mobilization for Survival if we contaminated them by our membership. They were willing to destroy their movement rather than allowing in this tiny prolife entity. Evidently they thought pro “choice” was more important than survival of the planet.

Rachel:   I remember at the time thinking the Communist Party has front groups that are members of this coalition. The whole point of having a coalition is that you set aside disagreements on other things to focus on the one thing.

Juli: Exactly. I would have been willing to march beside hot and cold running Trots [Trotskyites] to stop the nuclear arms race. But that kind of latitude was not permitted.

Mary Meehan

Mary Meehan: Well, there was a debate at the Mobe [Mobilization for Survival] convention in Pittsburgh, remember that? Later they let me write a little piece against their taking a position on abortion at all, and someone else wrote one saying they should. I think we did at least get some people to take another look at it. I guess they never accepted PS as a member. Or did they?

Juli:   Oh, no.


[Co-editor Stephen Zunes notes: There were then over 200 member organizations, which makes the upset about PS’s application all the more ludicrous. Also, my recollection – I was on the national staff of Mobe at the time and was PS’s strongest advocate among them – was that Juli withdrew their application rather than split the organization, so the application was neither formally accepted or rejected.]

Rachel:   I remember a memorable line from the Boston letter: all prolifers are “racist, classist, misogynist, anti-choice reactionaries.”  We set it to music and put it on T-shirts: “Another Racist, Classist, Misogynist, Anti-choice Reactionary for Peace.”

Juli: Yes. The sad thing is when that faction of the Left sinks its fangs into the peace movement, they sink their fangs and claws and suck the life out of it. They take the peace camp and the peace T-shirts and peace sandals and put them on. So you think you have a peace movement, and what you really have is a raving Left movement that’s dressed itself up to look like a peace movement. Because the people who have really thought long and hard about the spiritual, psychological, and social requirements of nonviolence are repelled by them, and yet those are the people who ought to be the peace movement.

Mary Meehan: I saw the anti-war march in Washington last weekend, and I saw some of the same hard-edge stuff that’s always bothered me. But I also saw some very deeply committed, and probably decades-long-committed, peace people.

Rachel MacNair, in the 1980s

Rachel: What hops to my mind is how many peace movement people wouldn’t consider the prolife movement because of how turned off they were by people like Jerry Falwell, Jesse Helms, and George Bush.



Juli: Oh sure. Most people, myself included, when you look at a complicated problem, start off by seeing where your friends are. Because you trust them. There’s nothing wrong with that. Your friends are honorable and intelligent people, and you consult them to see what they believe in. But that turns into a camp or culture of the Right or a camp and culture of the Left, not based on real thinking or real dialog – just a desire to move with your particular herd. Us against them, which arouses the most pleasurable, pervasive, and vile passions.

Rachel: And is exactly what the peace movement knows better than to do.

Juli: Yes. It was wonderful to have an organization like Prolifers for Survival for a while that tried to respect both of those cultural camps, and understand them, and listen to them, and to act winsomely – is that a word?

Mary Meehan: It is, a good one.

Juli: To act winsomely towards both sides to talk about serious issues that concern all of us in our hearts and souls.


See the list of all our blog posts, put in categories.

For more of our blog posts on Actions and Adventures, see:

The Adventures of Organizing as a Consistent Lifer

Violence Bolstered by Professional Contradictions

Mourning After & Hoping for the Future, We Call for a Consistent Life Texas!

My Day at the Democratic National Convention

Adventures as a Delegate to the Democratic Party Convention

A Tale of Two Cruises

The Marches of January (2017)

Progressive Prolifers at the Progressive Magazine 100th Anniversary Celebration


A Pro-Life Feminist Critique of the “Rape and Incest Exception”

Posted on May 23, 2017 By

 by Rachel MacNair

Pregnancies resulting from the horror of a rape or incest are often proposed as cases where there should be an exception to allow or fund abortion even when it’s not allowed or funded for other pregnancies.  I’ll propose several reasons why this is a bad idea.

We Oppose Abortion as Violence, Not as a Result of Sex

Ruth Graham, a pro-choice Slate writer, recently discussed the “rape exception”:

“An exception to a rule often illuminates the rule’s essence. Take the rape exception to abortion restrictions. If abortion is what opponents say it is—the killing of a human being—then it’s not clear why the circumstances of conception should affect its legality. But if abortion restrictions are also about punishing women for sexual behavior, then a rape exception makes perfect sense: If it’s not her ‘fault she got pregnant, it’s only fair that she should be exempt from punishment.”

The way I’ve always put this point is: we don’t oppose abortion because we have a hang-up about what kind of sex the woman had. And of course we absolutely don’t regard having a baby as “punishment.”

Aimee Murphy

Aimee Murphy, co-founder of Rehumanize International, offers her personal experience: “I shared  . . . my story of how I became pro-life; how I was raped at 16 and months later thought I was pregnant – by my rapist, no less. How my rapist had threatened to kill me if I didn’t have an abortion. How I had realized that I couldn’t be like my rapist and use violence against those who were inconvenient or smaller than I and how I rejected abortion as an option.”

The question that needs to be asked of those who favor a rape exception, or who think that the pro-life position they normally oppose becomes especially extreme if there isn’t even a rape exception, is:

Rebecca Kiessling

Are you willing to look a woman straight in the eye and tell her, “I know you were conceived in a rape, and therefore, your life has less value than other people’s lives”? If so, one woman to do that to is Rebecca Kiessling, an attorney and international speaker. She’s good at straightening people out on this point quickly.



Legislation is a separate question. We might well put up with a “rape and incest” exception if needed for passage of a pro-life law. It’s better to get something imperfect passed than to get nothing at all. But that’s legislative strategy, where compromises are expected. It’s not principle.

On principle, we want to make abortion unthinkable, no matter what the legal status is.

Adding to the Trauma

Asserting that it’s somehow obvious that there should be an exception for rape is saying that pregnancy through rape is so horrendous that it’s worth killing an innocent child in order to avoid it. That’s outrageous pressure for an abortion. What the mother needs is support and care and a listening ear. She certainly doesn’t need any more stigma.

In some cases, people will even assume she’s lying about having been raped – surely she would have aborted if her story was true. Women already have enough trouble being believed.

Raped women have already been through one traumatic experience. The trauma of having a doctor reach up inside and tear her baby to shreds is not one she should be expected to face. Those who push a rape “exception” think they’re turning back the clock. But once a baby is there, her mother should not be pushed into another trauma.

What sounds especially strange to the pro-life feminist ear is when people assert that she shouldn’t have to bear the rapist’s child. How blatantly patriarchal! It’s her baby.  Isn’t she entitled to be regarded as the mother of her own child?

In reality, at least half, and in many studies the majority, of women with a pregnancy resulting from rape choose not to abort the baby. Many of these babies are placed for adoption, but a large portion of women do choose to raise them.

Laws have considered abortion and adoption, but are often woefully lagging for those mothers who do raise their own children, especially on the crucial matter of visitation and custody rules. Shauna Prewitt became an attorney after she was startled to find the man who raped her trying to get joint custody rights to her daughter. She wrote an excellent Georgetown Law Journal article on the limited legal protections for women who become mothers through rape.

Shauna Prewitt

Women do get to give birth to and raise their own children, so the fact that many US states, and probably many other countries, haven’t thought through how to protect them may be one of the consequences of just assuming that of course they wish to abort.

As for incest, where people are generally thinking of minor girls sexually abused by a father or brother, most people who propose this as an exception haven’t thought through this most basic question: who do you think might be the one to bring the young woman in for the abortion? Abortion clinics can help cover up the crime.

Adding to the Rape

Much of the argument over the rape exception presumes that the idea of women getting impregnated through rape is a fact to start with, not to be questioned. I’d be a lot more comfortable if those arguing would at least preface their remarks by pointing out that rape is an outrage, and shouldn’t be tolerated, whether pregnancy happens or not. Rape prevention measures aimed at men are the very first way to address the problem.

But there also seems to be an assumption that only a given amount of rape exists, independent of what we say about abortion.

Consider: what is the message that a “rape exception” might give to potential rapists?

To give an illustration, here’s the story of a student nurse (Dr. F did do abortions at a different facility):


It was my job to assist the doctors. I scrubbed with Dr. F. While scrubbing at the sink, Dr. F. kidded me about my size. He said that birth control pills would put some weight on me. He asked me if I was on them. I didn’t need to be. He then said he would give me a prescription. . .

[Later that day] Just as I was leaving the lounge, Dr. F. was, as it appeared, on his way to the doctors’ lounge. He said, “come here,” and started walking down the hall. I said, “I’m not going in there.” He then said, “that’s not where we’re going.” I then asked, “where are we going?’ Then he said, “you never ask a doctor where he’s going.” Then he grabbed my arm and pulled me down the stairs. . . . Still holding on to me, he took me down the hall on the left as you leave the stairs. He pulled me into a dark room on the left. . . .

Thinking I could reason with him, I begged him to let me go. . . . I kept pulling away and he kept tightening his grip on my arms. Then he said, “we’ve got to work out something.” I said, “no!” He seemed to really be mad and I pulled away to head for the door and he jerked my arm. . . . He raped me. He then backed away from me and as I stood there crying, he said, “I knew there wouldn’t be another time or place.”

(Affidavit, The State of South Carolina vs. J. F., Case No. 30159.)


For men of that mindset (and we have no idea how many there are), abortion is available as a service to them. They’re entitled to sex with any woman they want. After all, all the woman has to do if pregnant is “exercise a constitutional right,” which doesn’t seem so bad. So her consent to the sex is beside the point.

Pedophiles and incest perpetrators often take the same attitude. Sex traffickers regularly take women in for abortions to make them re-usable (for documentations, see Chapter 3 of Peace Psychology Perspectives on Abortion). With these long-term forms of abuse, the abortion clinic helps the perpetrators and can be regarded as an accomplice to the crime.


See the list of all our blog posts, put in categories.

For more of our blog posts on law and public policy, see:

Who the Law Targets

Why the Hyde Amendment Helps Low-Income Women

Noncooperation with Planned Parenthood

Removing Health Care Access is an Act of Violence


abortionrapesex trafficking

Self-Defeating Violence: The Case of the First World War

Posted on May 16, 2017 By

by John Whitehead

John Whitehead speaks to a visitor at our March for Life Expo table

The United States recently reached the 100th anniversary of American entry into the First World War. Although American businesses had provided arms and money to the Allied nations (which included Britain, France and Russia) in their war against Germany and the other Central Powers, US President Woodrow Wilson had sought to avoid sending American troops to fight in the war.  American support to the Allies led to an escalating series of confrontations between the United States and Germany, however, in the winter and spring of 1917. Wilson eventually called for a declaration of war, which the US Congress gave to him on April 6.


Portraying the conflict against Germany and alongside the Allies as a struggle between autocracy and democracy, Wilson justified the US war effort by saying “The world must be made safe for democracy.” However, far from matching Wilson’s words —or the idea of “a war to end war” that became associated with the First World War—the war was an object lesson in how violence can lead to still more violence.

Although the United States and the other Allies eventually won a military victory over Germany, the costs were staggering, even for the victors. Some 9 million people died during the war years of 1914-1918. This included roughly 116,000 Americans—more than the number of Americans killed in the wars in Korea and Vietnam combined.

Also, on the American home front, the war had consequences that made a mockery of Wilson’s claims to be fighting for democracy. After the Declaration of War, Wilson engaged in what one commentator called “war against the Constitution.” Dissenters against the war and conscription for it were charged with espionage or sedition, and many served prison terms. Wilson even asked the Congress to set up detention camps to quarantine “alien enemies.” Such repression was consistent with other Wilson policies: an extreme racist, he encouraged re-segregation of the previously integrated federal Civil Service. (The pattern of opposing democracy at home while claiming to be fighting for democracy abroad repeatedly shows up in American history.)


Propaganda posters from the First World War. These works are in the public domain in the United States because they were published before January 1, 1923.


Moreover, neither democracy nor peace followed the end of the First World War in Europe. Roughly 15 years after the war was over, defeated Germany became a dictatorship under Adolf Hitler. He would start the still-deadlier Second World War.

Historians and other analysts of the world wars have debated why the first was followed by the second. In particular, the question of whether the Allies’ treatment of Germany after the First World War helped cause Hitler’s rise has been answered in varying ways. What’s hard to dispute, however, is that Nazism’s rise and the Second World War wouldn’t have occurred without Allied victory in the previous war.

What would have happened if there had been a German victory in the First World War? Certainly there were good reasons to dread such an outcome since the German regime of the early 20th century could be repressive and cruel. Nevertheless, its rule in Europe would scarcely be comparable to the Nazis’ rule in the 1930s and 1940s.

As the historian Niall Ferguson noted, in a post-World War I Europe where Germany had been victorious, “Adolf Hitler could have eked out a life as a mediocre postcard painter and a fulfilled old soldier in a German-dominated Central Europe about which he could have found little to complain (The Pity of War: Explaining World War I, p. 460). By declaring war on Germany in 1917 and ultimately sacrificing so many lives to defeat it, the United States was paradoxically helping to make possible a far worse future—one that better warranted the extreme rhetoric Wilson had invoked at the time.

This historical interpretation should not of course be used to justify or endorse the German war effort in the First World War. The only outcome people should have strived for during 1914-1918 would have been for everyone to come to their senses and stop the war and all the governmental cruelties on both sides that went with it.

The point is not that either side in the First World War was preferable to the other, but that the war ultimately made possible a more catastrophic situation than the one the victors had fought the war to prevent.

Although the link between the First and Second World Wars is one of the more dramatic examples of violence bringing about the outcome it was supposed to prevent, it’s hardly the only one. During the American War in Vietnam, the US war effort against North Vietnam led the United States to bomb and send troops into then-neutral neighboring Cambodia. Although intended to hinder the North Vietnamese (and allow the United States to disengage from the conflict), these actions instead contributed to conflict and civil war in Cambodia.

The ultimate result was the murderous Khmer Rouge coming to power in Cambodia. Over 1 million Cambodians were deliberately killed under their rule. One escalation of violence led to another.

American policy toward Iraq may be another example of this same principle. Consistent Life Network endorser Stephen Zunes has argued, in the book Consistently Opposing Killing, that the American-led bombing campaign against Iraq in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the years of economic sanctions on Iraq that followed had a devastating effect on the Iraqi middle and skilled working classes. These were precisely the parts of Iraqi society that could have led a nonviolent resistance movement to Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Instead, the United States and other nations’ policies impoverished these classes or forced them to emigrate, while making Iraqis more economically dependent on Hussein’s regime. Hussein continued to rule in Iraq, and this perhaps made the eventual American-Iraqi war of 2003 more likely.

The tendency of violence to lead to the opposite of what it was supposed to accomplish isn’t limited to the violence of war. While some might excuse the violence of abortion on the idea that it would allow women with unwanted pregnancies to avoid falling into or remaining in poverty, abortion might have the opposite effect. Consistent Life Network Vice-President Rachel MacNair has argued that the negative psychological and relationship effects of abortion may make it harder for women to escape from poverty. Moreover, Pro-lifers for Survival founder Julianne Wiley has argued that access to abortion allows men to behave as if babies are born not because of anything men did but solely because of the woman’s decision not to have an abortion. As a result, men become self-righteous about thinking they don’t really even owe child support, a rather minimal way of being responsible, thus leaving new mothers in the lurch financially.

Similarly, one way to justify the death penalty is the idea that it saves lives by deterring criminals from committing murder. The vast majority of criminologists who study this issue don’t believe it has that effect. In fact, it may be the opposite: potential murderers may see the executions as an example to follow. This is one explanation for why the murder rate in US states with the death penalty is higher than the murder rate in states without it.

To be sure, that violence is sometimes counterproductive should not be the only reason for opposing it. Even if an act of violence did accomplish what it was intended to do, that wouldn’t necessarily justify such an act. Many sound arguments can be made against war, abortion, executions, and other forms of violence, and advocates for peace and life shouldn’t rely on just one.

Nevertheless, the ways in which violence can perversely compound the problems it’s meant to solve is a significant testimonial against resorting to violence in response to problems.


See the list of all our blog posts, put in categories.

For more of our blog posts reflecting on the dynamics of violence, see:

Guns and Abortion: Extremists Resemble Each Other

Where Violence Begins

When “Choice” Itself Hurts the Quality of Life

For more of our blog posts on war policy, see:

Rejecting Mass Murder: Looking Back on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Three Reasons for Opposing the US Bombing of Syria


abortiondeath penaltyfeminization of povertyhistorywar policy

Removing Health Care Access is an Act of Violence

Posted on May 9, 2017 By

by Lisa Stiller

Editor’s note: Many pro-lifers are celebrating the fact that a measure ending Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood is included in the American Health Care Act (AHCA) that was passed by the US House of Representatives on Thursday, May 4. Planned Parenthood does a huge number of abortions and is a major advocate for them, so noncooperation by removing taxpayer dollars has always had our support. We’ve written about the goal of taxpayer defunding, recently and a while ago.  But one of our Board members asks: can it be done better, without being associated with a bill like the AHCA?


Lisa Stiller

I have many concerns about the AHCA.

The bill in its original form would have taken health care access from approximately 14 million people by 2018 and from 24 million people by 2026, according to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates. Votes were taken before new estimates for the updated legislation were done.

The revised legislation gained support from some of the “moderate” Republicans who thought the bill in its original form would have done too much damage to their constituents. Adding $8 billion to a pot to help people with pre-existing conditions pay those sky high premiums won them over. But the total of $23 billion is still a totally inadequate amount of money for the purpose, and past experience with “high-risk pools” is that they don’t have a good track record.

As an advocate for the Consistent Life Ethic, I believe in the dignity of all life, and that all life should be protected, from conception to natural death. I do not believe in acts of violence towards anyone. I believe that poverty, because its presence brings a much higher chance of a shortened life span and erodes the dignity of life, is really a form of violence, and a life issue.

People who lack access to affordable, quality health care have a much higher incidence of death as a result. Barriers to preventative care due to expense; poor diet, housing, and education; and lack of resources for low income people in many areas all contribute to higher rates of death among the poor, a disproportionate number of whom are minorities and women.

Jimmy Kimmel with Billy in a photo shared on Twitter by his wife, Molly McNearney

Even people not suffering poverty can have life-threatening conditions and die without decent health-care coverage. The very affluent late-night talk show host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel revealed recently how his son Billy, born April 21, 2017, had a heart condition that needed immediate expensive surgery. Kimmel acknowledged that although he could afford the care, he realized that most others would have greatly struggled. Kimmel ended his heart-felt story with a plea for health care funding, saying, “No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life. It just shouldn’t happen.”

The Republican legislation also calls for about a 25% cut in Medicaid funding over the next ten years and cuts the subsidies to low and moderate income families which helped them to pay premiums. Instead, it ties subsidies to age, which might benefit some younger people but would send premiums skyrocketing for those who are older.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (08/12/2016), the Affordable Care Act reduced uninsured rates among the nation’s low income population by 11-12% between 2013 and 2015. About 20 million people gained access to health care, many as a result of Medicaid expansion.

Access to affordable health care addresses poverty, saves lives, and improves the quality of lives of tens of millions of people and every community. Removing health care access from 24 million people is an act of violence. It will result in higher unnecessary death rates, and it will contribute to more low-income Americans once again having to choose between health care, housing, food, and utilities.

Therefore, because of its impact on alleviating the effects of poverty, I am deeply concerned about the effect of the current legislation on low and moderate income Americans.

Furthermore, the present administration believes itself to be “pro-life.” Trump and most of the Republicans campaigning for Congress billed themselves as the people who would save millions of babies from abortion.

Yet the new health care bill allows states to eliminate the essential benefits protected by the ACA – including maternity care!

The Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s own research arm, claims that almost 75 percent of abortions occur because women feel they do not have the resources to care for a child. That would include prenatal care and care for the child after birth (medical, day care, housing, and job training/education expenses).

I believe that “pro-life” is much more than simply opposing abortion. The very reason to use the term “pro-life” instead of just “anti-abortion” is because it means supporting pregnant women and children and families, and advocating for those things that help families overcome poverty such as health care, child care, decent housing, and access to education. Being prolife continues after the child is born.

The current ACHA bill allows states to remove care for babies before they’re born, and cut access to care for families, including children. I do not believe that is pro-life.


For more of our blog posts on public policy, see:

Why the Hyde Amendment Helps Low-Income Women

Defunding Planned Parenthood?

Noncooperation with Planned Parenthood

Our Experience with Overturning Terrible Court Decisions


See the list of all our blog posts, put in categories.