Ruth Speaks Out

This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.


Jenet Erickson: Abortion's culture is antithetical to women's equality

By Jenet Jacob Erickson

This article was first published on August 5, 2018, at Deseret News.

Once again, Roe v. Wade finds itself at the center of a Supreme Court nomination battle. And regardless of whether Roe v. Wade is ever overturned, there is no question that scientific advancements have “remade” the abortion debate. With ultrasound imagery and innovations in neonatology, a developing fetus is no longer referred to as “a mass of tissue,” even by abortion advocates. Public opinion reflects this change. Strong majorities of Americans, across demographic groups, oppose abortions in the second (65 percent) and third trimesters (81 percent). And even in the first trimester, a majority (53 percent) agrees abortion should be illegal when the woman’s only reason is not wanting to have a child.

Whether abortion means terminating a developing life is no longer debated. That is clear. The debate now centers on what abortion means for women. In the face of public support for some abortion restrictions, pro-choice advocates argue, “abandoning abortion rights means abandoning women.” NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue claims that those who advocate for restrictions on abortion are “not really anti-abortion. … They are against a world where women can contribute equally and chart our own destiny in ways our grandmothers never thought possible.”


But Hogue’s claim belies a damaging assumption. One we must take seriously. She assumes that women cannot be equal to men unless they act destructively against their bodies and the developing life they carry. Essentially, women are told that by sacrificing life they can achieve an “equal” life.

As Harvard visiting scholar Erika Bacciochi explains, abortion advocacy assumes a “troubling natural inequality” for women because they get pregnant and men do not. Abortion eliminates that difference so women, like men, can enter into sexual relations without commitment, “free” to become, both socially and economically. But to do so, women must act “affirmatively and destructively” on their bodies to imitate men.

In the words of pro-life scholar Camille Williams, in essence, women are reduced to “defective men,” living “at the mercy of our bodies, too weak, irrational and incompetent to resist irresponsible men who impregnate us, and too politically weak to shape our educational institutions and workplaces” to accommodate the gift of our fertility.

Abortion does not remedy inequality for women. It entrenches it by refusing to acknowledge and respect the sexual difference between men and women. Instead of shaping our educational institutions and workplaces to respect, protect and support women’s childbearing, abortion encourages us to ignore it. Instead of seeking remedies for the challenges and injustices faced by pregnant women, abortion “submits” to them, masking and not responding to the realities women face.

The assumptions underlying abortion have also undermined the responsibility men and women feel for each other, and the life they create. Abortion on demand teaches that relationships are terminable at will — that love, sacrifice and commitment are contingent upon self-interest and fulfillment. It says not only to a developing person, but to the mother herself, “I will love and care for you when it works for me.” But in the rejection of her pregnancy, she is also being rejected. To denigrate the gift of life unavoidably denigrates the person who carries that life.

As sociologist Mark Regnerus’ research found, “Sex among singles used to occur in and during the search for someone to marry. … The average woman could and did count on seeing evidence of commitment before sex, because sex risked pregnancy. … Now having sex and thinking about or committing to marry are two very different things.”

The tragic result is fewer marriageable men, less commitment, and a sexually permissive climate where women are easily objectified. Permissive abortion allows men to be absolved of responsibility for the gift of life that may result from their sexual relationships, whether aborted or not. And so, ironically, since Roe v. Wade, the out-of-wedlock childbearing rate has grown from 5 percent to 41 percent with profound negative implications, especially for low-income women and children. Although abortion is often marketed as a means of planning for child-rearing, easy access to it has undermined our capacity to form the committed relationships children depend upon.

A culture of abortion is ultimately antithetical to the equality women deserve, and it undermines the desire many women have for committed relationships with men as husbands and fathers, and with the children of those fathers. Given the long-term implications of the assumptions underlying a culture of permissive abortion, we can and must do better for women.


Jenet Jacob Erickson is an affiliated scholar of the Wheatley Institution at BYU.


SCOTUS’s NIFLA ruling is as good as everyone says…and better

by Curtis Schube

This article was first published June 29, 2018, at Life Site News.

NIFLA v. Becerra is better than anyone could have expected. The Supreme Court's ruling last Tuesday overturned California's onerous speech restriction on pregnancy care centers. Great news, to be sure. It gets better. NIFLA also overturned speech restrictions on therapists who assist people with unwanted same sex attraction.

Pregnancy centers encourage women to choose options other than abortion. The Court found that requiring such centers to post notices advertising abortion violates their First Amendment Free Speech rights. This is a very good result. However, few commentators have mentioned that the NIFLA ruling impacts attempts to ban so-called "conversion therapy."

Laws which ban sexual orientation change efforts ("SOCE" for short) have increasingly entered the national conversation, most recently in California. Before California's recent attempts to ban all forms of SOCE at any age, California already had such a law in place for minors. The law considered it "unprofessional conduct" to "seek to change sexual orientation" for a minor. Any counselor who violated the law faced professional discipline.

 


 

California's more recent SOCE laws take an even more extreme position. These laws ban all therapy that aims to change, or even reduce, sexual attraction to the same sex. Therefore, a patient who wants SOCE therapy cannot receive that service without risk to the professional counselor.

In Pickup v. Brown, same sex attracted minors and their parents, as well as counselors who wished to provide their services, claimed that this law violates their First Amendment rights to free speech and free expression. The Ninth Circuit, in 2013, determined that counseling is not speech, but rather professional "conduct." The "First Amendment does not prevent a state from regulating treatment," the Ninth Circuit concluded.

The Third Circuit upheld a similar law in New Jersey using the same logic in the 2014 case, King v. Governors of New Jersey. In relying partly upon Pickup, the Third Circuit concluded that counseling is speech (rather than conduct) but classifies that speech as professional speech. The Third Circuit states that a "professional's services stems largely from her ability to apply…specialized knowledge to a client's individual circumstances… Thus, we conclude that a licensed professional does not enjoy the full protection of the First Amendment."

In the NIFLA case, the Ninth Circuit had justified the requirement for pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion as "professional speech," just like the Ninth and Third Circuits had done for SOCE laws. The Supreme Court opinion overturning the Ninth Circuit's NIFLA opinion, specifically identified Pickup and King as examples of "professional speech" protected by the First Amendment. Writing for the majority, Justice Thomas (pictured above) stated: "Some Courts of Appeals have recognized 'professional speech' as a separate category of speech that is subject to different rules." However, "speech is not unprotected merely because it is uttered by 'professionals.'"

This is a paradigm shift in the existing precedents for SOCE bans.

Thomas seized the opportunity to provide protections to many other professions as well. "Professionals might have a host of good-faith disagreements, both with each other and with the government, on many topics in their respective fields." He identifies doctors and nurses who disagree on the prevailing opinions on assisted suicide or medical marijuana as examples of good faith disagreements. So too are lawyers and marriage counselors who disagree on prenuptial agreements and divorces, and bankers and accountants who disagree on how to commit money to savings or tax reform. One would have to conclude that Justice Thomas' intent is to protect all professionals from being regulated on matters of good faith disagreement.

This is a significant victory for free speech, and not only for pregnancy care centers. The "social justice" movement threatens many professionals in the exercise of their judgement and expertise. This Supreme Court ruling has created broad protections for a significant number of Americans who hold professional licenses. In doing so, the Court also reopened the seemingly settled question as to whether SOCE bans are constitutional. This is a welcome surprise from a case originally thought to be limited only to pregnancy centers.

 

 



NIFLA v. Becerra is even better than you think.

Protecting Therapists, not just Pregnancy Care Centers

by Curtis Schube

June 27, 2018

Exclusive to the Ruth Institute

NIFLA v. Becerra is better than anyone could have expected. The Supreme Court’s ruling on Tuesday overturned California’s onerous speech restriction on pregnancy care centers. Great news, to be sure. It gets better. NIFLA also overturned speech restrictions on therapists who assist people with unwanted same sex attraction.

Pregnancy centers encourage women to choose options other than abortion.The Court found that requiring such centers to post notices advertising abortion violates their First Amendment Free Speech rights. This is a very good result. However, few commentators have mentioned that the NIFLA ruling impacts attempts to ban so-called “conversion therapy.”

Laws which ban sexual orientation change efforts (“SOCE” for short) have increasingly entered the national conversation, most recently in California. Before California’s recent attempts to ban all forms of SOCE at any age, California already had such a law in place for minors. The law considered it “unprofessional conduct” to “seek to change sexual orientation” for a minor. Any counselor who violated the law faced professional discipline.

 


 

California’s more recent SOCE laws take an even more extreme position. These laws ban all therapy that aims to change, or even reduce, sexual attraction to the same sex. Therefore, a patient who wants SOCE therapy cannot receive that service without risk to the professional counselor.

In Pickup v. Brown, same sex attracted minors and their parents, as well as counselors who wished to provide their services, claimed that this law violates their First Amendment rights to free speech and free expression. The Ninth Circuit, in 2013, determined that counseling is not speech, but rather professional “conduct.” The “First Amendment does not prevent a state from regulating treatment,” the Ninth Circuit concluded.

The Third Circuit upheld a similar law in New Jersey using the same logic in the 2014 case, King v. Governors of New Jersey. In relying partly upon Pickup, the Third Circuit concluded that counseling is speech (rather than conduct) but classifies that speech as professional speech. The Third Circuit states that a “professional’s services stems largely from her ability to apply…specialized knowledge to a client’s individual circumstances… Thus, we conclude that a licensed professional does not enjoy the full protection of the First Amendment.”

In the NIFLA case, the Ninth Circuit had justified the requirement for pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion as “professional speech,” just like the Ninth and Third Circuits had done for SOCE laws. The Supreme Court opinion overturning the Ninth Circuit’s NIFLA opinion, specifically identified Pickup and King as examples of “professional speech” protected by the First Amendment. Writing for the majority, Justice Thomas (pictured above) stated: “Some Courts of Appeals have recognized ‘professional speech’ as a separate category of speech that is subject to different rules.” However, “speech is not unprotected merely because it is uttered by ‘professionals.’”

This is a paradigm shift in the existing precedents for SOCE bans.

Thomas seized the opportunity to provide protections to many other professions as well. “Professionals might have a host of good-faith disagreements, both with each other and with the government, on many topics in their respective fields.” He identifies doctors and nurses who disagree on the prevailing opinions on assisted suicide or medical marijuana as examples of good faith disagreements. So too are lawyers and marriage counselors who disagree on prenuptial agreements and divorces, and bankers and accountants who disagree on how to commit money to savings or tax reform. One would have to conclude that Justice Thomas’ intent is to protect all professionals from being regulated on matters of good faith disagreement.

This is a significant victory for free speech, and not only for pregnancy care centers. The “social justice” movement threatens many professionals in the exercise of their judgement and expertise. This Supreme Court ruling has created broad protections for a significant number of Americans who hold professional licenses. In doing so, the Court also reopened the seemingly settled question as to whether SOCE bans are constitutional. This is a welcome surprise from a case originally thought to be limited only to pregnancy centers.

Curtis Schube is Legal Counsel for the Pennsylvania Family Policy Institute. He is a 2009 alumnus of the Ruth Institute’s “It Takes a Family to Raise A Village” program.

 



The Real Reason The Atlantic Fired Kevin Williamson

by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

First published April 11, 2018, at The Stream.

Kevin Williamson has been summarily dismissed from The Atlantic. The editor says it was because Williamson advocated that the law should treat abortion as murder. But this is hardly a full explanation of the full social process around this disturbing incident. Williamson did not express that view in The Atlantic’s pages: His opponents resurrected it from a 4-year-old podcast. If the editors at The Atlantic really wanted a “big tent,” (their supposed reason for engaging Williamson in the first place) they could have found dozens of more moderate pro-life advocates.

No, something else is afoot. Let me explain it. This will take more than 144 characters. Bear with me.

The Two Paths

Suppose you are a woman, and a recent college graduate. You aspire to a career in journalism. You are having sex with someone you would not want to marry. Maybe he is married to someone else. Maybe he is hopelessly immature, narcissistic, and/or self-absorbed. But since you are using contraception, you figure its ok.

Then, the unthinkable-statistically-unlikely-but-still-non-zero-probability-event takes place. You get pregnant. You now have four choices:


  • Get married, have the baby, and raise the child together.
  • Have the baby. You both relinquish parental rights and place the child for adoption.
  • Have the baby. You raise the child alone.
  • Abort the child.

The choice you make now will shape your belief system for a long time. There are roughly two paths:

  • The pro-life path: Your decision and subsequent experience convinces you that the child in the womb is a unique and irreplaceable human being. Therefore, you become less inclined to believe that abortion is morally justified.
  • The pro-abortion path: Your decision and subsequent experience convinces you that abortion is a moral necessity.

I think you’ll agree that the woman or couple that chooses life for their child is less likely to support abortion, either before or after that decision. Likewise, many, many women who abort their children become convinced or were already convinced, that abortion is a necessity. They come to believe that even if it is a killing, it is a justifiable killing, and not murder at all. Their experience either establishes this belief or confirms and reinforces it.

Here is why this is relevant to Kevin Williamson.

The Women Who Make Up Mainstream Journalism

Which women, making which choice, are more likely to land a job at a prestigious publication like The Atlantic? Women who have their babies? Or women who abort?

In general, the woman with child-care responsibilities is at a competitive disadvantage compared with the woman who does not. This is especially true during the early career-building phase. (This period of life just happens to be near the peak of a woman’s natural fertility. Which produces another whole set of problems. But I digress.)

I don’t say that a woman who has a baby shortly after college could never have a successful career in journalism. I just say it is unlikely. In fact, I will say something even stronger: In the social universe as it is today, delayed child-bearing is the price of entry into the professions. Contraception, backed up by abortion, is necessary for women to compete. The United States Supreme Court said as much in its decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey , back in 1992. (I hasten to add: this is not the only possible social environment in which women can participate in higher education and the professions: it is just the one our culture has created using the abortion license as its touchstone. But I digress.)

That is why mainstream journalism is dominated by people who believe passionately in unlimited abortion. Their lives as they know them, depend upon it. Likewise, pro-choice women professors dominate the academy, including the legal academy.

What About Women Who Regret Their Abortions?

One exception proves the general rule. Some women who have abortions later become pro-life. These women conclude that they have committed a murder and regret it, sometimes immediately, sometimes after the passage of time. The professional literature on post-abortion mental health confirms this. We have known since the 1990’s that at least 10% of post-abortive women, and possibly as many as 30%, experience regret serious enough to cause mental health issues.

But we seldom hear about these women outside of publications dedicated to the pro-life position. Men are reluctant to say much about women’s feelings about abortion. And the women sociologists and statisticians, who are could study such things are, more than likely, women who cannot relate to such regrets.

It takes a rare warrior like Dr. Priscilla Coleman to study mental health complications associated with abortion. Her fellow academics either don’t want to study the subject or dedicate themselves to tearing her down. Journalists who might cover her studies have no interest in publicizing such results.

Note: I am NOT saying that women professionals conspire to hide or distort evidence, or to drive dissenters from their midst. I AM saying that people who have similar incentives are likely to engage in similar behaviors and hold similar beliefs. They don’t need to plot and scheme and conspire. They study and write about topics that interest them, that they find compelling and believable. The public, in turn, concludes “women are pro-choice” if the women they see in public positions are pro-choice.

The Relevance to Kevin Williamson

There are plenty of pro-life women, some with advanced degrees and great accomplishments to their credit. Anyone who has hung around the pro-life movement knows that women dominate it. But: Women who value their children more than their careers are at a disadvantage in the competition for high-status, high-visibility jobs.

This is all we need to know about why people with pro-abortion views dominate the professions.

And that is why The Atlantic fired Kevin Williamson.


Here’s What’s Fishy about Al Franken’s Resignation and Selective Outrage.

By Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published at Clash Daily on Dec. 13, 2017.

Former comedian Al Franken is resigning his seat as a Minnesota senator. Multiple women accused him of sexual harassment. The most notorious incident was the photo of him groping a female journalist, while she slept.

In his resignation speech, he made this astonishing claim:
“I am proud that, during my time in the Senate, I have used my power to be a champion for women – and that I have earned a reputation as someone who respects the women I work alongside every day.”


 


 

No doubt, Franken is referring to his 100% pro-abortion voting record, as tabulated by both NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the independent site, Vote Smart.

I see no surprise here at all. Voting for abortion on demand, paid for if necessary by taxpayers, is only “pro-woman” in a most peculiar sense. It is “pro-women-deserve-to-have-as-much-sex-as-men-do-and-on-the-same-terms.” This is “equality,” you see.

Just one problem. Men don’t have babies, trans-activists to the contrary notwithstanding. For women to have sex on the same terms as men, they must get rid of the baby.

In a sane world, a man of any amount of wealth, power, and influence would understand that children need their own parents. People should only have sex with someone with whom they are willing to co-parent. Which means, be committed to for a lifetime. Which means, or used to mean, getting married. Preferably before the child is even conceived. This connection between sex, babies, and marriage used to be understood by all social classes.

Any sane person should realize that sex has different consequences for men than for women. But in our world, recognizing and making provision for these differences between men and women is discrimination against women. The ideologues of the Sexual Revolution insist that men and women are identical.

This is the real significance of Franken’s 100% pro-abortion voting record. It is not about “liberation” or “equality” for women. It never was. It is now, and always has been, about providing rich and powerful men sexual access to women’s bodies without having to face the natural consequences.

Men like Franken, Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer have plenty of money, power, and influence. Their privilege should not permit them to do whatever the hell they feel like, and face no consequences. But in our Sexual Revolutionary world, they generally do get to do whatever they want.

As long as they can keep all these pesky women from complaining about being used.

Why do women among the Elite classes put up with it? Delayed childbearing is the price of entry into the professions and elite jobs. Women who are highly placed in politics, law, and media cannot imagine how they would have the jobs they have, without abortion as a back-up for contraceptive failure. That is why so many women among Elites are completely committed to the Sexual Revolution. The fact that some women want their babies, doesn’t dawn on them. Neither does the possibility that some women want their babies’ father to be committed to them. Nor does the possibility that they themselves might be better off in a different, more respectful, more reality-based, sexual regime.

When Franken’s senate colleagues, male and female alike, claimed they agonized over asking him to step aside, you may safely assume they were calculating the political costs and benefits. The real impact on real women: not so much. And calling into question the underlying premises of the Sexual Revolution: absolutely out of the question.

Elites, male and female, in both parties, in business, law, media and academia, like the Sexual Revolution, just the way it is. Their current concern for victims of sexual assault and harassment is strictly for show, and will quickly fade. The men like an ideological system that presents them will a steady flow of willing sex partners. Elite men and women alike like a legal system that permits them to wipe out pregnancies, and hence excuse them from the “inconveniences” of parenthood.

Don’t be fooled by Senator Franken’s faux apologies and his colleagues’ faux outrage. He, and they, are only sorry he got caught.

Image: CC by 2.0; https://www.flickr.com/photos/56881272@N02/6761048993

 


On Important Issues, the Alt-Right and Life-Style Left Agree

By Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published September 2, 2017, at The Stream.

The dust has settled on the clash between the Alt-Right and the Left in Charlottesville. But the labeling (or libeling) of conservatives will be back. Powerful people and organizations on the Left want to link the Alt-Right with the entire Right, as a way of discrediting all conservatives.

I’m a Catholic, pro-life, pro-family Christian. No one would ever expect the Left to speak for me. But the Alt-Right does not speak for me either. In fact, I’ll say something stronger: The Alt-Right and the Life-Style Left have more in common with each other than either of them have with me and my friends.


Here’s why. My friends and I find eugenics self-evidently repulsive. But both the Life-Style Left and the Alt-Right take the correctness of eugenics for granted.

Eugenics Alt-Right and Left

An article entitled, “The Pro-Life Temptation” published on a website entitled, Alt-Right.com, explicitly defends eugenics. “The alt Right appreciates what is superior in man, in the Nietzschean sense … The pro-life position is clearly dysgenic….”

Leftwing advocates for abortion do not tend to promote it as a eugenic measure. But they do promote the idea that a woman may have an abortion for any reason or no reason. And most abortion advocates would consider the desire to avoid a child with a disability a no-brainer of a reason for an abortion.

The Leftist may not have such an elaborate justification as the Alt-Rightist has for why killing a disabled child prior to birth is morally acceptable. But the mother’s desires trump all other moral considerations. If she thinks a disabled child would be too burdensome, expensive or painful to raise, that judgment is sufficient to justify killing the child before birth.

You could call it consumer-sovereignty eugenics. Give the customer whatever she wants. If the consumer of child-services wants a healthy baby, she is entitled to one. If she anticipates having an unhealthy baby, she is entitled to dispose of it.

Pro-Life Ethics vs. “Temptation”

The pro-life Christian takes a different view. Each child is an unrepeatable gift from God. We ask ourselves, “What is God trying to say to me, by giving me this particular child?” Christian families of Down Syndrome children, (are there any other kind any more?) and the Santorum family with their Trisomy 18 daughter Bella, have a profound answer to this question. God gave us this child to teach us how to love. This answer is unintelligible to both the Alt-Right and the Life-Style Left.

The author at Alt-Right.com continues with his diatribe against the “pro-life temptation”:

We on the alt Right have an appreciation of tribalism and identity. We realize that people are not just autonomous individuals. Life gains its meaning through connections to other members of our families, tribes, and nations. …

The unborn fetus has no connection to anyone else in the community. If it is not even wanted by its own mother, criminalizing abortion means that the state must step in and say that the individual has rights as an individual, despite its lack of connection to any larger social group. …

If there were to be a pro-life position that we could accept, it would be based on arguments about what is good for the community. The case would have to be made that abortion is what is decimating the White population and decreasing its quality. While it’s true that a blanket ban on abortion would probably increase the White population in their numbers, it would, no doubt, decrease the overall quality, as well and leave all races stupider, more criminally prone, and more diseased. …

The Left Has No Answer to the Alt-Right

It’s true that the Life-Style Left does not generally make this type of pro-abortion argument. But they also have no coherent answer to it. When pro-life legislators try to restrict sex-selective or race-specific abortions, the pro-abortion crowd has nothing to say except, “No! No restrictions on ‘choice!’” Under their breath, we can hear the embarrassed whisper, “No matter how heinous the reason for the choice!”

Sex-selection abortion is an odious fact. Some demographers talk about “117 million missing girls,” the excess of the abortions of female over male babies. The Life-Style Left surely must know this by now. They tacitly defend it, by refusing to oppose it.

Likewise, they are surely aware that black women have a disproportionate share of abortions. If they weren’t aware of it, Pastor Walter Hoye II, President of the Issues 4 Life Foundation, made them aware of it with his billboards showing cute black babies with the headline, “Endangered Species.” Or “too many aborted.” Reverend Hoye posted these billboards in predominantly black neighborhoods a few years ago, in Oakland and Los Angeles. The pro-abortion people went ballistic.

The Alt-Right supports killing black babies in utero. The Life-Style Left won’t come right out and agree with this view. But they refuse to condemn it.

The Christian Pro-Life Position

The Christian pro-life position is completely different. We are not interested in tribal identities. We believe that every human being is made in the image of God. We really are all equal, in that context, and perhaps only in that context. For every one of us is “wonderfully made.” Yes, even the diseased and disabled, whom the Alt-Right considers “unfit.” Even the “unwanted,” whom the pro-abortion Left literally considers non-persons. The ability to give and receive love is every bit as important to human identity as IQ or health or self-awareness or any of the other arbitrary criteria the pro-abortion people left and right have come up with.

This is why I am increasingly unwilling to position myself anywhere on the Left-Right political spectrum. I am a Catholic Christian. I am not at home in either political party, or in any political movement.

Main Stream Media, go ahead and try to pin the “Alt-Right” label on me. Alt-Right volk, go ahead and attack me for being not part of your tribe. I couldn’t care less. I and my fellow Christians, are truly “not of this world.” “Follower of Jesus” is the only label I want. May I be worthy of it.


How a Christian Child’s Love Won Jane Roe’s Heart

By Ryan MacPherson, a Ruth Institute Circle of Experts member

This article was first published at hausvater.org on January 22, 2009 (36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade).
Book Review: Won by Love, Norma McCorvey (with Gary Thomas), (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998)

In her own small world she was Norma McCorvey, a battered, then abandoned, wife and drug addict, pregnant but not desiring a child. The wider world would know her as “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. The story told there was tragic: a woman gang raped, forced into pregnancy, and denied the opportunity to terminate that pregnancy since abortion was outlawed in Texas. This story, however, was a lie—fabricated by attorney Sarah Weddington, who herself had obtained an illegal abortion and now was on a mission to make abortion available legally. When McCorvey became “Roe,” she provided the tool Weddington needed to push the issue in the courts. But after McCorvey signed “Roe’s” affidavit, affirming the fabricated story as her own, Weddington reneged on her promise to help McCorvey deal with her crisis pregnancy. Weddington did not even so much as telephone McCorvey until four months after the child was born.


The “Roe” of Roe v. Wade did not abort her baby, a child saved, ironically, by an attorney’s need for a pregnant plaintiff in order to sue for abortion access. McCorvey had never even been inside an abortion clinic, though later she would work for one. She was both the victim of deceit and the perpetrator of deception. Marijuana helped her to cope. So did alcohol. And coarse humor, too: “I tell women we aren’t killing little babies on Wednesday; they have to come in Thursday through Saturday to do it.” (150) But her verbal defense mechanisms, like her lesbian relationship with an abortion clinic coworker, only took her deeper into the pit of despair and anger, a bitter mixture of relentless grief and suppressed guilt.

Even “Jane Roe” knew that abortion killed babies. While working at A Choice for Women, she tried to refer a sixth-month pregnant woman to an ob-gyn, but her supervisor insisted that the woman have access to the abortion she was seeking. Unable to cope, McCorvey had to take the afternoon off; she binge-drank for the two weeks following. Back at the clinic, she refused to be assigned to the “Parts Room,” where the remains of aborted children were stored in jars for transfer to a disposal facility, after first being counted and collated to ensure that no body parts were left in their mothers’ wombs following the procedure. She did, however, accept an assignment to console women afterwards, who grieved in the recovery room with confessions of having just killed their babies. No, it was not knowledge that McCorvey or her coworkers lacked; abortion clearly killed babies and devastated their mothers.

Love, not knowledge, was the missing piece in the puzzle of their fractured lives. And “God is love.” (1 John 4:16) God had turned the heart of Flip Benham, an alcoholic pro-choice unbeliever, toward Himself, transforming him into a Christian pro-life pastor who joined Operation Rescue. McCorvey called him “Flip Venom” when Operation Rescue moved into the office space next to A Choice for Women. The name-calling didn’t stick, however, since no venom came from Flip’s mouth. He spoke in love, as did his fellow “rescuers,” including Ronda Mackie and, the most loving and lovable of all, her seven-year-old daughter Emily.

Emily played on the sidewalk in front of the two adjacent offices: her mother’s Operation Rescue and McCorvey’s A Choice for Women. It was a brilliant Operation Rescue strategy: cute children playing gleefully outside, testifying by their casual existence the severe reality behind the “services” provided by A Choice for Women. Emily did more than deter women from seeking abortions; she smiled and greeted, she hugged and conversed with Norma McCorvey, a woman who had given birth to three children, aborted none, and yet facilitated the abortions of many at her clinic and millions through her role as “Jane Roe.” Finally, McCorvey admitted that she loved children. “Then why,” asked Emily, so innocently and so gently, “are you letting the little ones die inside?” (91) Had Pastor Flip asked the question, or any other adult, McCorvey would have responded with her standard mouthful of foul obscenity. For a seven-year-old girl, however, she had no defense. “I never answered her,” she later recalled. “I couldn’t.” (91)

In the months that followed, McCorvey became attached to Emily, and to her mother Ronda. A budding friendship bridged the gap between an Operation Rescue worker and an abortion clinic employee. McCorvey found herself, inexplicably, referring late-term clients away from A Choice for Women and toward Operation Rescue, knowing full well that since late-term abortions had the best profit margin she was sabotaging her boss’s business. One day Ronda Mackie took Norma McCorvey out for lunch and mentioned that Emily had nearly been aborted. Ronda’s fiancé and parents-in-law-to-be had urged the termination of an inconvenient pregnancy, back when Ronda herself was still an unbeliever.

Now the abortion question was too personalized to remain a question; the answer was clear, even to McCorvey, and made clearer still by the love of the Operation Rescue picketers, who never returned McCorvey’s invectives. “I love you,” echoed the voice of little Emily, a survivor of the abortion culture. “I forgive you,” said Pastor Flip, himself a penitent sinner.

Americans mark January 22 as the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, but for “Jane Roe” the real turning point came on August 8, 1995. On that day she “renounce[d] the devil and all his works, and the sinful desires of the flesh” (187). She repented of her drug abuse, her lesbian self-defilement, her hatred toward pro-lifers, and her role in the deaths of the 35 million children aborted in America during the preceding 22 years. When Pastor Flip immersed her in the waters of Holy Baptism, she arose a new person. She had been won by love.

Her story amazes the reader, in places seeming too good to be true. But on closer inspection, it’s too good to be false. Love, not hatred, changes hearts, even the hardest of hearts. The conversion narratives of Ronda Mackie and Flip Benham are encouraging enough; the redemption of “Jane Roe” into “Norma McCorvey, Christian” (177) reveals the Gospel at its brightest. But the message does not stop there; the Gospel keeps shining, as forgiveness in Christ also transforms Connie Gonzales, her former coworker and some-time lesbian partner. Remarkably, “Mary Doe” of Doe v. Bolton—the companion case to Roe v. Wade—also repented. “Doe” (Sarah Cano) joined McCorvey in March 1997 as the two women publicly identified themselves as “new creatures in Christ and children of God” while dedicating the National Memorial for Unborn Children in Chattanooga, Tennessee (236).

Forgiveness does not come easily; Christ suffered greatly and died to make it possible. “It was so hard for me to conceive that the Lord had forgiven me,” acknowledges McCorvey, “especially after so many children had been killed. But He has forgiven me and restored me. And, gradually, I have learned to trust His Word more than my own feelings.” (228) Though painful emotions still return, bringing with them doubts concerning God’s love, McCorvey finds comfort especially in these passages: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17); “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Norma McCorvey’s story concludes with words of hope. “If God can forgive Norma McCorvey—Jane Roe—and her role in abortion, surely he can forgive you as well.” (229) Her conversion reveals not only the limitless love of Christ, but also the effectiveness of Christ’s servants who “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)

For Ronda Mackie, loving Norma McCorvey meant trusting her to watch over her daughter Emily who began regularly visiting the reception room of A Choice for Women. Emily brought gifts of her own artwork, labeled “Jesus loves you, Miss Norma.” A child’s love communicated a message that anti-abortion ranting and raving, with slogans like “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart,” could not. “This is what happens when Christians are willing to face their enemies and adopt the most powerful strategy ever devised—the strategy displayed by Christ’s death on the cross, the strategy of laying down your life so that others, including the unborn, might live. This is what it is like to be won by love.” (240)

McCorvey’s autobiography calls to repentance both the abortion perpetrator and the abortion protester: the one for taking innocent life and the other for too often fighting a culture of death with a culture of hate. Either way, the world needs more people like Emily, a child spared from abortion and a spokesperson of truth in love. And to become like Emily, one first needs Christ, who did not spare Himself, but lived and died for the truth in love. Christ practiced “lifestyle witnessing” to the extreme. The gift of His Spirit empowers others to do the same.

If more people would read Won by Love, then they could understand more clearly the gracious will of God amidst one of our nation’s greatest tragedies. Let’s just hope they don’t keep it to themselves. Christ’s love, communicated in actions and not just in words, transformed America’s most infamous abortion advocate into a Christian defender of purity and life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if no one could ever hear the phrase “Roe v. Wade” without remembering “Jane Roe’s” repentance and Christ’s forgiveness?

Dr. Ryan C. MacPherson is the founding president of The Hausvater Project. He lives with his wife Marie and their children in Mankato, Minnesota, where he teaches American history, history of science, and bioethics at Bethany Lutheran College. For more information, visit www.ryancmacpherson.com.


'Healing Family Breakdown' retreat set

by Crystal Stevenson / American Press

This article was first published October 21, 2016, at AmericanPress.com.

How to heal after the breakdown of one’s family unit will be the topic of the San Diego-based Ruth Institute’s inaugural Louisiana event.

The “Healing Family Breakdown” retreat will be 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, at Our Lady Queen of Heaven’s family center, 3939 Kingston St.

The retreat will include short talks, guided meditation and small group discussions, said Ruth Institute founder and retreat organizer Jennifer Roback Morse.

“Pretty much every family is affected by it in some way or another, if not your immediate family then in the extended family,” Morse said. “We realized based on our scientific research that there is an enormous amount of pain associated with it. Just looking around the culture you can see that people are suffering, but they don’t know what to do about it.”


Morse describes the forms of a family breakdown as adults divorced against their will — such as in cases of adultery or desertion; children who experience the divorce of their parents; children born to unmarried parents; and fostered, adopted or donor-conceived people who don’t know their biological parents.

“A lot of times people feel it’s their fault and there’s something wrong with them, but really we have a lot of structural problems causing this,” she said. “So we wanted to put together something that would help people deal with it in their own lives and also have a bigger picture of why it’s so troubling, and that’s what the retreat is designed to do.”

Morse said the retreat will focus on the child’s perspective.

“Our philosophy is that every child is entitled to a relationship with both of their parents unless some unavoidable tragedy takes place to prevent that, and of course that does happen,” she said.

“From the child’s perspective, anything that involves them not being in a day-to-day relationship with both parents, that’s a breakdown. If you look at it from a child’s perspective, sometimes the family is broken down even before it starts.”

Too many families are suffering alone and in silence, Morse said.

“It’s possible to have some healing. The feelings you have of maybe longing for the missing parent or longing for the relationship to somehow be restored, that’s a perfectly valid feeling,” she said.

“It might not happen; you might not be able to control whether it happens or not. But we want people to feel affirmed that at least it’s OK to have that desire.”

Morse said the conference is open to people ages 15 and older. Cost is $30 per person and $50 per family; attendance is free for members of the clergy. To register, visit www.olqh.org.



Pro-Choice Puritans

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published August 18, 2016 at The Blaze.

For a very short time, Puritanism was the dominant religion in America.

The need to populate a large continent led to lots of immigration of lots of people from different religions. Since then, we Americans have developed a sardonic definition of “Puritan:” a person with the nagging feeling that somewhere, someone is having fun. We have to adapt that to our current times, since now, everyone gets to have as much fun as they want.

The New Orthodoxy, the State Religion, is that abortion is a positive good. And a Pro-Choice Puritan is a person with the nagging feeling that somewhere, a woman doesn’t choose abortion.

California seems to be full of Pro-Choice Puritans. The legislature passed a bill regulating what pro-life pregnancy care centers can say, and how loudly they have to say it. Pregnancy care centers in California are required to announce that abortion is available elsewhere. The state regulates where this signage must be, and how large the type face must be.

Abortion rights activists hold placards outside of the US Supreme Court ahead of an expected ruling on abortion clinic restrictions on June 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. / (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)


Evidently, the Big Abortion Industry feels threatened by these centers. Even very liberal California has 167 privately financed and run pregnancy care centers. This is according to the breathless NARAL Pro-choice America “report,” modestly entitled, “Crisis Pregnancy Centers Lie.” Nationwide, according to this same “report,” there were 2,460 pregnancy care centers, 438 abortion clinics, 839 “Guttmacher clinics,” a term for which I could find no definition, and 1,720 “Guttmacher providers,” again, an undefined term.

The idea that pregnancy care centers are “tricking” or “misleading” women into having their babies is preposterous on its face. The decision to abort is a decision that can be carried out in a single afternoon. But the decision to carry a child to term has to be reaffirmed every day throughout the pregnancy. The woman can change her mind one afternoon, walk into the abortion clinic, and her baby will be gone forever.

The pregnancy care center model is to accompany the mother throughout her pregnancy. I know of centers that help mothers find work or housing. I know of centers that provide the mothers with material assistance through the child’s first year. Many centers provide classes on childcare and healthy relationships. What is so wrong with that?

The Big Abortion Industry’s claims that “crisis pregnancy centers lie,” doesn’t hold water. In a section of the “report” purporting to show how much Pregnancy Care Centers “shame and judge” pregnant women, we find these items:

  • “69 percent of CPCs investigated in Montana displayed or presented fetal “dolls”— models that are often developmentally incorrect, and used to shame and dissuade women from abortion.” What exactly does “often” and “incorrect” mean?
  • “61 percent of CPCs investigated in North Carolina pressured women not to have abortions by providing baby items.” Those big meanies!
  • “In the New York City investigation, 73 percent of the CPC staffers referred to the fetus as a “baby” or “unborn child” and to abortion as “killing,” and 89% of CPCs did so in their written materials.”

Every state in America has some kind of regulation against consumer fraud. The fact is, that these “lies” do not come anywhere near meeting the legal standard for “consumer fraud.” Unless the Pro-Choice Puritans get their friends in the legislature to redefine “fraud” to mean, “failing to use the politically correct euphemisms.”

Let’s be clear: pro-life pregnancy centers are in business to provide alternatives to abortion. They do not want to refer people for abortions. The Big Abortion Industry insists on enlisting their competitors in promoting their business, because their business is not simply providing abortions.

The Big Abortion business is creating the Fantasy Ideology of the Sexual Revolution. They want to convince people that everyone has the right to act as if sex were a sterile activity with no moral or social consequences. Since this is patently untrue, the Pro-Choice Puritans must suppress those who dissent from their Orthodoxy.

If you leave people alone to follow the trail of their experience and the evidence, most people come to realize that sex does in fact make babies. Even contracepted sex sometimes makes babies. The only way to make the Fantasy Ideology appear to be true is to downplay contraceptive failure and the medical risks, psychological problems or just plain unhappiness that sometimes arises from abortion.

A pregnancy care center tells women that contraception sometimes fails. (Most of them have already learned this. Roughly half of women who come for abortions say they were using contraception the month they got pregnant. In this study, it was 54 percent. Not a typo. Look at Table 1.) A pregnancy care center tells women that abortion sometimes has negative consequences. Most of all, pregnancy care centers tell women that having their babies and being good mothers is a realistic possibility for them.

The True Believers can’t allow heresies like these to go unchallenged. That is why I say that the Pro-Choice Puritans are haunted by the thought that some woman, somewhere, wants her baby.


It’s Time to Make Marriage Great Again By Redefining Divorce

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published July 23, 2016, at The Blaze.

Earlier this week, the Ruth Institute sent a letter of commendation and 24 white roses to Charles Chaput, the Archbishop of Philadelphia.

Our letter thanked him for “his clear teaching on marriage, family and human sexuality in the Pastoral Guidelines for Implementing Amoris Laetitia in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”

With all the excitement of the political conventions, why would we spend our time sending flowers to an archbishop? We want to shine the spotlight on the positive things people are doing to build up society.

Figurines of a bride and a groom sit atop a wedding cake. (AP/The News & Observer, Robert Willett)

Figurines of a bride and a groom sit atop a wedding cake. (AP/The News & Observer, Robert Willett)


The archbishop’s guidelines restate the Ancient Teachings of Christianity regarding marriage, family and human sexuality. These teachings are obscured today. No less a theological heavy weight than the mayor of Philadelphia castigated the archbishop, saying the Guidelines were un-Christian!

To be fair to Mayor Jim Kenny, we have to admit that the publication of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, has caused worldwide confusion over Catholic teaching on marriage. Yelling at the pope has become a new cottage industry among tradition-minded Catholic writers. Pulling his words into a sexually indulgent direction has become a cottage industry among progressives of all faiths. And trying to parse out what he really meant has been a full employment guarantee for everyone.

Rather than getting involved in all that, we want to call attention to people who are implementing the unbroken teaching of the Church in a vibrant manner. Focus on what we know to be true and good. Archbishop Chaput’s Guidelines provide a clear and practical statement of ancient Catholic teaching, in the spirit of genuine mercy, incorporating language from Amoris Laetitia.

I believe that these teachings are correct, good and humane. I founded the Ruth Institute for the purpose of promoting those teachings to the widest audience possible. I don’t believe these things because I am a Catholic. On the contrary. It is precisely because I came to believe in these teachings that I returned to the practice of the Catholic faith after a 12-year lapse.

Let me discuss just one issue that has caused a lot of hand-wringing in the past 2 years. Jesus told us very clearly that remarriage after divorce is not possible. If attempted, it amounts to adultery. Why? According to Jesus, Moses only permitted a man to issue a bill of divorce because of “the hardness of your hearts.” (This is the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 19, in case you were wondering.)

At that point, he could have said, “So, I’m going to eliminate this appalling male privilege and allow women to divorce their husbands, exactly like Moses allowed men to divorce their wives.” However, he did no such thing. He didn’t extend the male privilege. He eliminated it entirely. “From the beginning it was not so,” referring back to God’s original plan for creation. “I tell you, anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” One of the “hard sayings” of Jesus, no doubt. But pretty darn clear.

(And please: don’t trouble me with that so-called loophole, ok? The real innovation in modern no-fault divorce law is that it allows an adulterer to get a divorce against the wishes of the innocent party. No sane person can argue that Jesus provided that “loophole” to allow the guilty party to validly remarry.)

The Church teaches that civilly divorced and remarried Catholics cannot receive communion because she is trying to implement this teaching of Jesus. A civilly divorced and remarried person is living with, and presumably having sex with someone, while still validly married to someone else. If the first marriage is still valid, the second attempted marriage is not valid, and is in fact, adulterous. What is so hard to understand about that?

You know who really understands this concept, who intuitively “gets it?” Children of divorce. Kids look into their parents’ bedroom and see someone who doesn’t belong there. “Who is this guy in bed with my mom: my dad is supposed to be there.” Or, “who is this woman in bed with my dad? My mom is supposed to be there.”

At the Ruth Institute, we know there are situations in which married couples must separate for the safety of the family. But we also know that those cases are by far not the majority of cases. No-fault divorce says a person can get divorced for any reason or no reason, and the government will take sides with the party who wants the marriage the least. The government will permit that person to remarry, against the wishes of their spouse and children.

This is an obvious injustice that no one in our society will talk about. The children of divorce are socially invisible. In fact, I bet some of them felt like crying when they read my paragraph above quoting with approval, what might have gone through their little minds. Many of them have never heard an adult affirm their feelings that something dreadfully wrong and unjust took place in their families.

Jesus knew. Jesus was trying to keep us from hurting ourselves and each other. And the Catholic Church has been trying to implement Jesus’ teaching. You may say the Church has been imperfect in her attempts and I won’t argue with you. But I will say that no one else is even seriously trying.

Political campaigns come and go. Political parties come and go. In fact, nations themselves come and go. But the teachings of Jesus are forever. What we do about marriage and children and love reveals what and whom we truly love.

That is why we congratulate Archbishop Charles Chaput for his guidelines. We wish the Archdiocese all the very best. Make Marriage Great Again.

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