The ProLife Team Podcast 136 | Mia Steupert

Insights from Mia Steupert, a Passionate Pro-Life Advocate


The transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors.

So, so Mia, I’m excited to have you on the Pro-Life Team podcast. Would you introduce yourself as if you were speaking to a group of pregnancy clinic directors? Yeah, Jacob.

Thanks for having me. I feel like I’ve canceled this and rescheduled it five times. So I appreciate the flexibility. It’s a really busy time here at CLI, but I’m, yeah, I’m Mia Stiper. I am the Research Associate for Charlotte Lozier Institute here in Arlington, Virginia at the headquarters and I work on national and state legislative and data analysis. So looking at a lot of state trends in abortion when they release their yearly reports and then working on analysis with my co-worker Tessa, the Senior Research Associate for Charlotte Lozier, and we’ll look at more of the national level trends and then compare it to the data from the states themselves and then Kutmacher Institute and the CDC. Cool. So tell us your backstory.

How did you enter into this space of, you know, fighting for life? Yeah, it’s kind of a, I mean, it’s probably not a unique story, but I think it’s one of God’s grace and God’s goodness.

I grew up Catholic. I’m practicing Catholic today, devout Catholic, and so I try to be and so I grew up in the church, but the church that I went to did a really good job of talking about it in an age-appropriate manner. And then of course talking about it at Mass, but I wasn’t ever really that involved other than when I would go to Mass, fell away from the church when my grandmother passed away. She was really the driving force for my faith and for the pro-life movement and kind of the involvement that I would come to find out that she was involved in and then came back to the faith and college and when I was doing some internships, so I did some internships at pro-life organizations in DC during my time at college to try to start a college pro-life club at my Catholic school. They declined and said it was too divisive. So I just went with a general conservative club on campus and made it into a pro-life club and really focused a lot of our speakers and topics and meetings on the pro-life issue, switched my biology major to a political science major freshman year. End of freshman year and then really just started to realize that if we don’t get the human life issue, right, then nothing in the political realm is going to be okay.

And I think we see that today. I think we see that this devaluation of human life is leading to other issues whether that comes to war or how our economy is centered. And so I got done with those internships, graduated with my master’s in 2021 and came straight to CLI and that’s the only job that I had out of school that wasn’t an internship. So started right off as a library associate with the Lozier Library and then switched to a general research associate at the beginning of 2022. So that is the quick version of the story.

But yeah, happy to talk about that more. Yeah, so tell us about where you, I guess, what’s the most recent chapter in your story? Where have you seen yourself working in this space in the recent months? Yeah, so in the recent months, I’ve been doing a ton of state abortion reporting analysis. I’ve been able to speak at a conference on this with a co-worker on state and national trends and then just putting out a lot of Charlotte Lozier Institute state abortion reports. So whenever a state releases their abortion report, we take it and analyze it. It’s pretty straightforward. It’s factual.

It’s just an analysis of their data and then we’ll, at the end of every year or the beginning of every year, I should say, we’ll, but end of reporting year, we will put out a summary of all of the state’s data. So I’m going to be starting that up soon. And then I really help with just a variety of things.

A variety of things within CLI. So we just put out a new Pregnancy Center report in conjunction with NIFLA, Care Net, and Heartbeat. So working on promoting that and just researching legislation that comes out. I do a lot of work with gestational laws in the state. So just tracking those because that relates obviously to the abortion rates. So looking about how legislative environments impact abortion rates and how these life-saving laws have saved so many lives in states like Oklahoma and Texas. So that’s a lot of what I’ve been doing lately, but I try to keep it mixed.

I try to change it up a lot just so it doesn’t get too monotonous, but I really love what I do and really blessed to do it. So based on the state research that you’re doing when it comes to laws and the effects, where have you seen God’s fingerprints or how has God showed up in that space? I think God showed up with the overturning of Roe v. Wade. I don’t think it would have been possible or I know that it wouldn’t have been possible without him. He had to align everything perfectly according to his plan. And well, I think there’s obviously still a lot more work to be done, especially at the federal level.

It’s only God that Roe v. Wade is gone and that these states were allowed to and finally implement all the laws that they had been working for for years. I think it’s interesting that, you know, a lot of these states like Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma had these trigger laws ready to go. They were kind of predicting that this bad law would go away and bad ruling, I should say. And I think it’s only God that we’re no longer under the grips of Roe and that states are free to choose and that the federal government has the duty and the ability to implement life-saving laws. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. That’s a good reflection.

So based on your work and what you know, working with the research team at the state level, what would be something helpful for a pregnancy clinic director to understand or to know based on your research? What’s something you think might be helpful for them to know in general? Yeah, I think something that I always go back to and you know, I realize that people don’t work in this space every day. So something that seems like that Tessa and I will, you know, talk about every single day that not everyone else is going to know is that there are three of the largest abortion volume states in the country don’t report. So it’s hard to give these pregnancy centers in these states. So California, New York, or not New York, New Hampshire, and Maryland. So those pregnancy centers, we can’t really give them any data other than what pro-abortion organizations can estimate.

So Guttmacher Institute and the Society for Family Planning will estimate the counts in those states, but it’s not coming from the states themselves. So we feel bad that we can’t give these states what we could give people in Arkansas and Oklahoma, but it is hard to, you know, come up with that demographic data for them that could be really useful for them to see, you know, who would most likely be coming to their centers or who most likely would need help because I mean, they follow general patterns in most of the states. I mean, of course, there’s some variation, but a lot of the demographics are the same in the states across the country. So I think what I would say to them is that we’re trying as hard as we can to get the data, but there’s just nothing that we can really do without the state legislatures or the federal government acting upon a uniform reporting requirement. Hmm. Yeah, that’s really, yeah, that’s a good thing to consider and to understand and know. So what’s something that, based on your research, what’s something that you came across that is not commonly known?

What’s something that you’ve learned that is, that seemed unexpected? I think coming into this, I just had absolutely no idea how bad the state of abortion reporting was. I actually, Tessa brought me in on the project. It’s one of our main projects at CLI and she’s done a really good job of teaching me the ropes and it can get complicated because like I said, there is absolutely no federal uniform rule or law stating what needs to be reported. So some states report and voluntarily publish it. Some states have to publish it by law to the public. Some states will report to the CDC, but they’re not required to.

So it’s hard to have a uniform practice of tracking this data because there’s no uniform practice of publishing the data. So I’m actually looking right now at the different laws in the states and just trying to see what they have and if the states are living up to their laws and a lot of them aren’t. So I think that’s not well known. You would think that for a procedure that the pro-abortion side considers to be healthcare, it would be tracked like a healthcare procedure or a healthcare topic like maternal mortality, obesity, cancer, but it’s not. A lot of the states do a good job, but a lot of them don’t do a good job. And I think that’s where we were trying to find one data point that every state reports. And of course, we don’t have that because California, New Hampshire, and Maryland don’t report.

New Jersey is no longer reporting. They informed us. So. Hmm. That’s really interesting that there’s not a single metric that’s uniform across all states. Beyond those few that you mentioned, what is uniform or common outside of those three or four? A lot of the states do publish totals, even if that’s the only thing they publish.

So Washington State publishes a total. It’s delayed.

It’s from 2021. We’re now in the year 2024. You would think that it would be more current. Texas, Florida, West Virginia, and Indiana almost provide quarterly, very up-to-date data. So I know that it can be done. I think it’s just a matter of bureaucratic laziness. But many states do publish the totals.

Many states do publish the total by procedure. So is it a surgical abortion? Is it a chemical abortion? In many states do publish the age groups that the abortions are performed on. And then it kind of goes off from there and it’s not as uniform. So on a personal level, how would you describe your passion or your mission in this work? I mean, I would just say that it’s my life’s work.

I don’t plan on getting out of this topic anytime soon until abortion is unthinkable. I had the choice of going into many different issue areas because I could have specialized, especially in grad school where they let you specialize a little bit more. And this is the area that I chose. I chose the pro-life movement, human sexuality in general, and I’ve never regretted it since. I’ve never regretted it since. I mean, I’m in the office five days a week and I’m just one very minuscule part of the wider CLI team and the wider pro-life movement. I’m just trying to do my part to, like I said, make abortion unthinkable and use the talents God gave me to do so.

So one of my heroes in the pro-life world or on our pro-life team was Sister Paula. She was a nun and she was really good at networking different people and different groups and ideas and promoting higher education. And I’m not Catholic, but I thought very, very highly of Sister Paula. And one of the things that I used to think about, well, I would reflect on how sometimes I would sometimes reflect on how I felt like she was part of the veins in the body of Christ because she was connecting different people and groups and promoting boldness and good counseling services and concepts. What part do you think the research work that you’re involved in, like how would you, if you had to pick a part of the body, how would you describe how you connect and support the body of Christ or this body of believers who make up the pro-life team? I think that’s a good question. I haven’t really thought about it that way, but I also love Sister Paula.

So I would say that we try to be the brains and the heart because I think faith and reason, faith can be found in your heart, but I also think it can be found in your head through reason. So I am a huge proponent and advocate for Pope Benedict and really loved how he presented faith and reason as a tangential and kind of interrelated concept. And not trying to separate them. So I think we present the research, but there’s also a human heart component to it as well. You have to be open to accepting that this research is factual and that it reflects a beauty about creation and reflects a beauty about how God made each and every one of us. So I think that, I don’t know if that’s exactly the answer you were looking for, but just that, you know, we do present the research, we do present the intellectual side of things, we present the science. I think our team is great at doing so, but like I said, we also have to chain hearts and minds.

And so trying to present that research always in a respectful way, always trying to have conversations, like you said, engage different viewpoints and trying to present the other side that doesn’t often get presented. Awesome. Well, so Mia, I’ve really enjoyed having you on the podcast. Are there any final thoughts that you think a pregnancy clinic director or a pro-life leader, you know, you’d like to share in these final minutes? I think just that you never know where God’s going to take you, so just always be faithful. And I feel like, I mean, I’ve met pregnancy center workers and leaders at a lot of different conferences, and they’re some of the most faithful people I’ve ever met. And so that’s not really advice to them as much as just everyone in general.

I never thought that this is what I would be doing in my life. I thought I would be working in national security. I thought I would be doing international relations. And you know, here I am at Charlotte Lozier Institute working every day with the best team. I will give a shout out to my team because they are the only reasons I’m able to do what I do. And I think it’s just to stay faithful and to just keep on with God’s plan. One of my heroes in the pro-life movement is Mike Pence, and I was just reading a book that he had wrote, and it’s called Go Home for Dinner.

And he was talking about, you know, leave the rest of your worrying to God and just follow through with his plan for you. So if it looks like he’s leading you towards working in the pro-life movement, he probably is. And that’s, you know, I did, like I said earlier, I did a few internships at the pro-life, at different pro-life organizations. And so, you know, I thought, well, maybe, you know, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing, but I don’t know. That’s not what I thought I would be doing. So I’ll just keep going and see what happens. And as soon as I started, you know, completely submitting to his plan and his plan for my life, that’s when the best thing that could have happened to me came up, and that’s working at CLI and working in the pro-life movement.

So I’ve got one more question for you. Based on your experience so far in research, where do you see things going? Or what’s something that, you know, what’s a trend that seems to be giving you insight on what might be coming down the road for pregnancy clinic directors or pregnancy clinics in this work? Something that I’ve been seeing a lot of is that abortion is becoming increasingly concentrated in pro-abortion states. So with those pro-life states being able to implement their pro-life laws, those abortion totals are plummeting. Abortions plummeted by 70%, I think, in Oklahoma from the beginning of 2022 to the end of 2022. And so those states that are not implementing pro-life laws, so California, New York, Maryland, Vermont, we need to act on the federal level.

And I think that’s something that the data shows very clearly is that those babies deserve every chance to live just as much as the babies in Oklahoma and Arkansas. I mean, that’s the central concept of the pro-life movement is that everybody’s equal before the eyes of God, the unborn and the born. And where you’re born should not determine whether you live or die. And so something that the data has shown me is just the importance of acting on the federal level to put a gestational protection into place for those babies. When it comes to the pro-life states where abortion has, well, the in-person abortions have decreased. Do you think, what percent would you consider might be going traveling to an out-of-state experience or who may be ordering the pills online and not reporting? Yeah, I would say that the interstate abortion commerce issue, that’s what we call it at Charlotte closure and ordering the pills online are a huge issue.

It’s hard to pin down a specific percentage just because it’s not a trackable action. It’s not something that the health departments keep track of. I think that I was just working on a state’s report. Oh, it was Oregon and surprisingly they actually delineate how many women participate in telehealth services to receive the chemical abortion pills by mail. So that’s one state that does track it. But other than that, it’s really hard to say how many women are going because we honestly don’t know because like I said, it’s not tracked and it’s probably not going to be tracked. Well, thank you so much for Mia for being on this podcast.

Would you close this out by offering a prayer with the idea that those who are listening will hopefully join in and join you in this prayer. Yeah, of course. Heavenly Father, we just come before you today and we thank you for your faithfulness and for your hand and hedge of protection over the pro-life movement and all the babies that have been allowed to be saved not just after the Roe v. Wade position decision was overturned, but in the last 50 plus years through the faithful work of people like Chuck Donovan and Marjorie Dannenfelser and those all of those in the pro-life movement from the pregnancy center workers to the sidewalk counselors to the college students and everyone else who works to defend the unborn and the born. We just ask that you continue to look over our federal officials and inspire them to enact meaningful gestational protections to protect all of your children in the quickest way possible. And I just thank you God for what you’ve done in my life and what you’ve done to bring me here. I thank you for my grandmother who inspired me to go into this type of work and who actually worked in the pro-life movement in Vermont in a very hostile condition and environment.

And I just am so grateful for her example and influence in my life and that everything that you’ve directed me to do has brought me straight to here, straight to Charlotte Losier Institute and nothing that I’ve done in my life is without you and I’m just so grateful and just ask that you bless everyone in the pro-life movement and continue to inspire us to work hard every day in your name. Amen.