*A word on graphic images from our President:
I hate these images, as does every pro-life advocate I have ever met. Showing these images to audiences is my least favorite part of my job.
Then why do it? Because they impact the discussion in a way that words cannot. I have experienced it numerous times in front of audiences. The discussion of abortion trends toward coffee talk, something more like smart people knocking around ideas about who should be counted as human beings as an abstract concept. Then the images are seen. They provoke a response. They lay bare the brutality of abortion as an act against another human life. They bring urgency to the question, “Why are we allowed to do this to these human lives?” As Gregg Cunningham points out, graphic images accompany every call to justice. William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson had their diagram of the slave ship Brookes. The movement against child labor had the images of Lewis Hine. The Civil Rights movement had the brutal image of Emmett Till in his coffin and the dogs and hoses of Bull Connor. Pictures confront our emotional apathy and force us to reconcile ourselves to the subject of the images. Even today, the famine in Yemen, the tragedy of children in war torn Syria, and too many other injustices to catalogue in this space only feel real when we are forced to see the victims.
It seems that only time the subject of the illegitimacy in using graphic images is raised is when the victim of intentional killing is an unborn human life.
There can be no doubt that this is what abortion is. The embryo and fetus are both developing human life at an early stage. Abortion is the intentional destruction of that life. The pictures and video below are provided by Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, and they are willing to stand by the veracity of those images in a court of law to any who slander or libel them with charges of publishing lies.
A young man at UNC once asked me why I would ever appeal to something that principally works upon the emotions of the audience. After all, he argued, I would object to abortion even if it weren’t gruesome by nature. I conceded that last point (though I did clarify that the intentional killing of innocent human life is a gruesome moral choice even without gore) but asked him a question in response, “Do those images and the things I said accurately reflect an actual state of affairs?”
He agreed they did. I then asked, “Why would I avoid using them simply because they represent a true aspect of abortion that disposes people to emotionally dislike it? In more simple terms, why would I ever hide a truth because it is uncomfortable for your position?”
Naomi Wolf, a pro-choice feminist author wrote in “Our Bodies, Our Souls” in the New Republic in October of 1996:
“The pro-choice movement often treats with contempt the pro-lifers’ practice of holding up to our faces their disturbing graphics… How can we charge that it is vile and repulsive for pro- lifers to brandish vile and repulsive images if the images are real? To insist that the truth is in poor taste is the very height of hypocrisy. Besides, if these images are often facts of the matter, and if we then claim it is offensive for pro-choice women to be confronted by them, then we are making the judgment that women are too inherently weak to face a truth about which they have to make a grave decision. This view is unworthy of feminism.
Clinging to a rhetoric about abortion in which there is no life and no death, we entangle our beliefs in a series of self-delusions, fibs and evasions. And we risk becoming precisely what our critics charge us with being: callous, selfish and casually destructive men and women who share a cheapened view of human life… we need to contextualize the fight to defend abortion rights within a moral framework that admits that the death of a fetus is a real death.”
Finally, these images are offered in the spirit of truth, but not judgment. The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that we are all sinners. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
When I was younger, I did things that I will never cease to be ashamed of this side of heaven. I have forgiveness through Christ, but I struggle to forget. I do not need anyone to make me feel worse about the man that I was. As a result, I have no interest in making anyone else feel ashamed of their past.
MHM never seeks to condemn individuals but to call us all to a more just behavior toward all human life.