When an Abortionist is the Star, the Babies are the Losers
Abortionist Leah Torres is no stranger to controversy. She has a huge following on twitter and actively advocates for abortion, while educating – according to her personal brand of science – on the dangers of pregnancy. Last week, she drew heavy criticism from within and without the pro-life community for her comments about her abortion technique:
“You know babies can’t scream, right? I transect the cord first so there’s really no opportunity. If they’re even far enough along to have a larynx.”
Although like many others, I concluded that Torres was referring to the vocal cords, she says she was actually referring to the umbilical cord. [See Dave Pellowe’s article and interview with Leah Torres here.] And, while umbilical cord transection is a technique that is sometimes used for second-trimester abortions, it has mixed outcomes for mothers.
In any case, it seems irrelevant which cord is being cut: umbilical, vocal or spinal; for the abortionist, they all lead to the result they’re after: a dead baby.
A Unique Perspective on the Life Issues?
Leah Torres’ involvement at a recent Australian conference caused a great deal of confusion within the pro life community. While it isn’t clear whether she was invited or whether she invited herself, it is a fact that she travelled from her home in Utah to attend the conference, and was listed second in the catalogue of speakers. Her talk hasn’t yet been made available to the public, but attendees say that she spoke for only a few minutes. She also participated in a roundtable discussion during the conference and socialised with attendees afterwards.
We could be forgiven for thinking that this had been arranged by an ostensibly disinterested organisation – one involved with evaluating the state of the current law or with funding for all pregnancy options. Indeed, the organisers’ bios seem to confirm this: one is described as maintaining a ‘distinct level of concerned neutrality.’ another wishes to provide excellent ‘pre and post decision/ choices counselling.’ It would be no surprise to see an abortion provider attending such a conference, and indeed, as much as it offends the sensibilities of pro-lifers, organisers would be remiss if they failed to seek the opinion of the abortion lobby.
However, the summit was organised by the pro-life organisation, Abortion Rethink. It was entitled, ‘Building the Case for Care’ and described as a ‘360 degree analysis of what it means to be responsive to women in our Australian community who are considering terminating a pregnancy.’ The organisers hoped that by focusing on the needs of pregnant women, Queensland politicians would be persuaded to resist decriminalising abortion in the state – a push that is underway again at the moment. Abortion Rethink supports amending the current law to include anti-coercion legislation and cooling-off periods, in an effort to lower demand for abortions. They are also keen to facilitate dialogue between anti-abortion and pro-abortion activists, in an attempt to find common ground.
The lineup of speakers was quite impressive, with many facets of care for mothers and prolife activity covered. However, the presence of an active abortion provider/advocate made quite a contrast to the other speakers. As prominent Australian educator and researcher, Debbie Garratt, writes:
It is hard to imagine that such a radically pro-abortion advocate with a disdain for pregnancy or for any protections around abortion, even for minor girls has anything to offer the Australian public. It is also difficult to know what her own agenda is in participating in such an event as the sole abortion advocate, when she has such radical views, or what the outcome of such participation might be.
All very good points, since some of the very protections despised by Leah Torres are being promoted by Abortion Rethink!
Leah Torres, Celebrity Abortionist
We’re told by the organisers that Leah Torres is keen to see abortion numbers drop, and that her presence attracted several pro-abortion MPs who may not otherwise have attended. These MPs were presented with some of the scenarios of crisis pregnancies, and the three options – motherhood, adoption and abortion. An objection could be made that Leah Torres wasn’t there to promote abortion; but if she was not there to dissuade MPs from the option of abortion, then by her presence, she confirmed abortion as a legitimate option.
The one thing which pro-abortion MPs may have never seriously considered – the fact that pre-born children have human rights – did not appear to be part of the presentation. The intricacies of Leah Torres’ baby-killing techniques likewise were absent. Presumably the pro-abortion MP’s hadn’t seen Torres’ callous tweet. If they had, it may have done more to convince them of the atrocity of abortion and of the humanity of the unborn child than any speaker could.
What is the value of the testimony of a liar?
We are right to question the wisdom of having a deceiver speak at a pro-life conference.
Although a highly trained medical specialist, Leah Torres has publicly made many, many fallacious statements and holds to many bizarre philosophies. Here is some of the misinformation she promulgates: abortion doesn’t harm women, mandatory waiting periods are dangerous, pre-born babies under 27 weeks don’t feel pain. [Strange, they have the ability to scream, though?] As seen in Dave Pellowe’s interview, she states that childbirth is far more dangerous than abortion. [She also believes that parents of minors don’t have the right to know about their child’s abortion – not a lie, but a very dangerous opinion for a doctor to have. This policy ensures that sexual abuse of children and human trafficking are hidden from scrutiny.]
In her interview, she also states that ‘life is a philosophical idea’ and not a biological reality. She believes that life only begins when a woman believes it begins. She also believes that motherhood is a construct; women don’t have any personal responsibility towards the children they conceive. She is completely averse to the word ‘destructive’ being used to describe abortion. She never wants to give birth and can’t understand why anyone would want to do so. All these ideas indicate a wilful ignorance, even a level of sociopathy.
Yet, she was asked to address a group in whose hands the fate of abortion legislation for an entire state rests.
Coercion is Not a New Story
Soon after the conference, Torres tweeted that she didn’t know that abortion coercion existed. Abortion Rethink retweeted her and were in turn shared by some people I really respect. But I found her statement very hard to believe. Torres has actively fought against anti-coercion laws in her own state of Utah, claiming they cost lives. I suppose it is possible that an extremely well-informed, well-educated lobbyist could avoid reading the submissions and claims of her opposition. However pro-lifers usually take an active interest in the abortion industry’s arguments, and I’d assumed the converse would be true.
But, even if she had failed to acknowledge the pro-life community’s consistent claim that abortion coercion is common, this does little to suggest a change of heart. An abortionist who truly experienced an awakening of conscience would see that even fully-consented abortions are totally immoral; they are fatal to pre-born human beings. To repeat, consenting abortions are as brutal, unjust and horrific as coerced ones – and can even take more of a toll on an aborting mother, because of her full consent to killing her child.
Another point regarding coercion: it could be said that abortion providers, in providing their grisly service are, ipso facto, coercing. That Open For Business sign on the door is inducement enough for some desperate women.
The horror that Torres claims to feel at the thought of performing a coerced abortion is not at the thought of taking the life of a child who was wanted. Her horror is at the thought of violating a woman’s bodily autonomy. Bodily autonomy is the principle her justification for killing babies is built upon. It is her god; she worships the idea and in its glaring blaze, the lives of countless baby victims lose their intrinsic value. There is no sense of objective right or wrong in her evaluation of an abortion decision: it is completely dependant on the wish of her patient, thus the decision must be purely voluntary in order to be valid. In her eyes, the only sin is that women can’t freely exercise their reproductive rights by choosing abortion.
Cooperation with Evil: the Sin of Scandal
According to principles of ethics, there are several ways of cooperating with evil: by directly contributing to the evil, even if our goal is good; by contributing indirectly, if it can be avoided or unless we have no better option and the benefit outweighs the potential evils; or by publicly causing confusion about identity or policies – the sin of scandal.
It causes scandal when the motives and intentions of the pro-life movement are called into question.
Due to the inclusion of a practising abortionist at a pro-life event, members of the general public may come to believe that at last, pro-lifers are willing to accept that abortion may be necessary in some circumstances. That now, progress can be made. That all we need to do is ensure that women aren’t being coerced and that they have access to adequate post-abortion support, and then they will make the best ‘choice’ for their situation.
If this sounds like too much of a stretch, then consider what is happening in the US.
The New Pro Life Movement
I sometimes nearly despair when I read some of the comments by those who identify as the ‘New Pro Life Movement’ (NPLM), and others like them. It almost sounds as though, if there was some way to ensure that abortion didn’t harm women, then there would be nothing wrong with it. I want to ask these people, “If abortion was good for women, wouldn’t it still be wrong?”
If that sounds like an exaggerated view, then consider this: members of the NPLM seriously believe that women are sometimes better off choosing abortion. This, from a ‘pro-life’ group!
The aims of the NPLM are to reduce demand, and to find common ground with abortion advocates. (Sound familiar?) They say that abortion providers are keen to see numbers drop. (Ditto?) They believe women are the primary focus of the abortion debate, and that once their needs are met, the number of abortions will drop. (Also sound familiar?) Fr. Terry Gensemer has written an excellent article about the NPLM, which I urge you to read here. I’ll quote his closing paragraphs in full:
As a movement, we all try to hold the title of ” truly pro-life,” and decide for ourselves what that ought to mean. We’ve condemned harsh, negative phrases like “anti-abortion” or “anti-choice,” instead favoring more relevant, approachable terms. In many cases, we’ve lost sight of the essence of our movement or have sacrificed our purpose in order to be more accepted by society.
It would be ridiculous to expect all those who claim the label of “pro-life” to fit the same mold. We all come from different backgrounds and hold different values; however, in our differences, we must be cautious that we do not place our own desires over the lives of preborn children in need. We must remember that to be pro-life, first and foremost, we must be anti-abortion.
We Can’t Trust Feelings
Attendees at the summit assure concerned pro-lifers that the day was ‘spirit-filled’, and that there was a wonderful atmosphere. These feelings are meant to allay our fears. I’m reminded of some other recent occasions when feelings have been paramount, and tendered as proof of goodwill and a just cause. One was in federal parliament, on the occasion of the announcement of the postal vote outcome. Marriage equality advocates laughed and embraced, and then teary-eyed, told journalists of the wonderful feeling of solidarity in the chamber at that moment.
Members of the LGBTI community echoed their sentiments and their assurances of the legitimacy of their cause at the street-party afterwards. How could anyone doubt that theirs was a righteous movement, when there were so many positive vibes in the air?
It’s likely that attendees at the Satanic Temple AGM also feel there is a wonderful atmosphere, and that some poor warlock who couldn’t make it really should have been there to experience it. I’m sure adultery feels pretty good at the time, too. Afterwards, the damage control begins, and it may not feel so good then.
No. Feelings do not confirm the legitimacy or otherwise of a conference’s aims or intents.
We’re supposed to look for the Good, not invent it.
While some Australian pro-lifers remain hopeful that Leah Torres is on the road to conversion, only time will tell. Her twitter-feed has been quiet since she arrived back in the US – one of her last stated that she had some more investigating to do. Let’s hope and pray that she does have a change of heart – she would certainly not be the first abortion provider to do so.
As for the state of Leah Torres’ soul, well, we can’t judge that, but Christians we should be concerned about her salvation and we do have the obligation to attempt to convince obstinate sinners of the truth. This means some attempt at pointing out her errors. Unless organisers made this attempt, then they have failed in their Christian duty and failed the babies. The message that Leah Torres is likely to have taken from her invitation is not that, ‘we hate your sin but love you because you have dignity as a human being’, but rather, ‘we value you for being an abortionist.’ Would she have even been there, had she not been an abortion provider? It’s possible but improbable. It was this qualification that led to her being accepted as a speaker.
From what I’ve read, most abortion providers and enablers convert when they acknowledge the humanity of the pre-born child. This was certainly the case with some famous converts to the pro-life cause: Bernard Nathanson, Abby Johnson and Anthony Levatino.
Abortion will never be eliminated until the rights of the unborn are recognised.
If we always limit our focus to women’s rights and reproductive health, rather than on the babies themselves, the pro-life stance will remain merely an option, not an imperative. In fact, concentrating solely on women, while relegating the baby (and its father) to a footnote, is the tactic of the abortion lobby.
Abortion isn’t wrong because of the damage it does to women – as tragic and as horrible as that damage can be.
Abortion is wrong because it takes a human life.
While abortion providers and optimistic pro-lifers debate in measured tones about the common ground that is a pregnant woman’s womb, babies are dying. Abortion kills babies and abortion providers are the killers. Perhaps that’s the only common ground that needs to be agreed on.
What do you think? Should a practising abortionist be allowed a platform at a pro-life conference? Let me know in the comments below.
[Before writing this article, I contacted a representative of Abortion Rethink and told her of my intention to write my opinion of recent events, and asked her for a statement. After a short exchange, she ultimately asked me not to disclose our conversation.]
Editor, The Freedoms Project
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