Monday, February 22, 2010

Good, Secular Organizations:

As I had mentioned after this year's March for Life, I'm uncomfortable with how strong the religious message of the pro-life movement is - even though I agree with it 100%. Soon after the March, I contacted to see how they felt about the issue. Was the religious language alienating? Did it make them reluctant to participate? Less willing to identify as pro-life?

I mentioned the 4 points on which I am uncomfortable with the religious assertions in the pro-life movement:

1) In this country, they cannot and should not be the basis of policy or law.
2) I'd imagine that non-religious pro-lifers might feel alienated by them and/or not be comfortable attending events like March for Life without feeling like they're endorsing something they don't believe.
3) They lack authority in the eyes of a lot of the people we're trying to talk to.
4) You often see someone make an entirely secular argument against abortion only to receive a response along the lines of "Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!" Pro-choicers discount all pro-life arguments as religious and therefore irrelevant based on the fact that the most prevalent pro-life arguments are religious.

Here, with her permission, I'm quoting in its entirety the eloquent response I got from Kelsey Hazzard, President of did participate in the March for Life. We stuck out. Quite a few people asked to take pictures of our banner; I caught others trying to take a shot without being noticed. We also had a table at the Students for Life of America conference, where we talked to campus leaders about encouraging religious diversity in their organizations.

I'm actually a Christian too, but like you, I am uncomfortable with the religious overtones at the march. The Catholic language and symbolism used (I'm Protestant) has a more isolating impact than many pro-lifers realize. The atheists and agnostics who make up the backbone of would say that yes, the pro-life movement is alienating the non-religious. I've gotten many emails from non-theists thanking me for creating a pro-life group where they can belong. Without, many of them would either be lone wolf pro-life bloggers, or doing no activism at all. A group effort has a much stronger impact than the individual efforts of its members; unfortunately, the non-religious pro-life movement has historically not been well organized.

I agree wholeheartedly with point #4. One of our principal missions, aside from making the pro-life movement more inclusive, is to fight the religious stereotyping by abortion advocacy groups. The truth is that most pro-lifers, even the most religiously devout, rely on secular justifications for their position. If I became an atheist tomorrow, I would still oppose abortion because I am well-acquainted with the facts of prenatal development, the principles of human rights, and the effect of abortion on women.
On the question of whether it's better, based purely on the numbers, to focus on the religious: absolutely not! Since you were at the march, you undoubtedly noticed the strong presence of young people. Millenials have been called the "pro-life generation" because this age group opposes abortion more than any other. Another interesting fact about this generation is that a quarter of people between the ages of 18 and 29 practice no religion. The older, more religious pro-life leadership is going to be in for a shock. We're here to help the pro-life movement adapt to these new dynamics.

Feel free to quote me in your blog. You can talk to people in our
facebook group, too. Everyone is friendly.
Have a great day,
Kelsey Hazzard
President of
I encourage you to visit at their website or their Facebook page and support their efforts!


  1. We have some great conversations in the Facebook group. Thanks for this entry!