I was at the Fortnight for Freedom Mass last week and outside the basilica a group lined up with graphic abortion signs. To be honest, it was a bit uncomfortable. So I’ve been trying to get my thoughts right on this when I came across a piece by Kristen Walker at Live Action. She’s a strong pro-life voice with more than a dash of snark and I’ve never met her or contacted her but I like her writing. But she doesn’t cross the line with the snark if you know what I mean.
She recently wrote a piece on how a graphic image of an abortion helped to change her from radically pro-choice to pro-life but then she warned against using graphic images.
When I asked her for photos, she produced them. And at the moment I saw that first photo, I knew with a horrible finality that it was wrong. It was not okay and could not be okay, for any reason. It was the mangled body of a baby that had been killed.
I looked at more pictures of even tinier people, their faces almost but not quite featureless, all gossamer skin and pale blue veins and alien eyes. They were not pre-humans; they were humans, in their early stages. I knew this looking at them. “I used to be that,” I thought. I felt the same feeling: that it would be killing to end this life, that it could not ethically, logically, or scientifically be anything else.
When I left my friend’s house, I was pro-life. I hated it. I felt this new identity – this awful pro-lifeyness – twisting in me like a snake. I wanted it out.
So why is she against graphic images of abortions if they changed her life?
…if my friend, instead of having the conversation with me, had thrust those photos in my face before she explained her argument, I would have been disgusted and stopped listening. If she had had a graphic image on a bumper sticker on her vehicle, I would never have brought the subject up, and would not have listened if she had. Would I have been stupid and wrong? Maybe. But it wouldn’t have mattered, would it? I would have remained pro-abortion.
I had seen graphic images of aborted fetuses before. Almost everyone has at some point. But – how do I explain this? – I did not see them.
In one case, I was attempting to find a website, typed in the URL incorrectly, and ended up with a giant photo of a mangled unborn baby in my face. I remember this well, because it helped form my resentment of the pro-life cause, and helped make me stalwart in my support for abortion “rights.”
It sounds crazy, but pretty much every former pro-choicer I know has told me the same thing. The truth is, unless someone is ready to see the image, she will not really see it.
On that I most definitely agree. I think images of the unborn in the womb are much more effective than pictures of dead babies. I think people instinctively turn away from violent pictures but pics of the unborn happily sucking their thumb in the womb draws people in.
But I don’t have a great pro-life conversion story. Even when I was pretty much an atheist I was a pro-life atheist. I just didn’t see the logic of making up a moment when a blob of tissue magically becomes a human being. But I would suggest that there are some people out there who have seen a picture of an aborted baby and it stuck in their brains. Some people are ready to see it but they don’t know they are.
I think the question is whether we should be forcing these images on people. I think probably not but I think at abortion clinics it’s perhaps a last line of defense as women are heading into the clinic. So I kind of get it there.
In the end, I think showing them makes me uncomfortable but I suspect that those pics have saved lives. I’m sure they have.
These folks are pointing out that human beings are being killed and people don’t believe them. So they show pictures. I absolutely understand it. But I think it does contribute to the image of the angry pro-lifer which doesn’t really help us.
In the end, I guess I would just urge folks to think for a few moments about what sign will do the greatest good. Pray on it. Think on it. Whatever you decide we’re all on the same side.
You can read Kristen’s piece by clicking here.