Yesterday, the Center for Medical Progress released another video, a series of clips highlighting conversations with abortionists as they describe their trade. By the end of the day, YouTube had pulled the video down, and the Washington Post reports that a San Francisco judge has ordered David Daleiden and his attorneys, Steve Cooley and Brentford J. Ferreira to attend a hearing where he will consider holding them in contempt of court. The judge had previously blocked the release of any video footage shot at the National Abortion Federation conference, although hours of raw footage was leaked online a year and a half ago (I downloaded and reviewed the leaked footage when it came out.)
One of the questions we are often asked about using abortion victim photography is regarding desensitization. “Doesn’t seeing the images over and over again make you numb to abortion’s horrific reality?” someone may ask. The answer to this question is, quite simply, no. Of course, in order to do a job where you are faced with images of dead children nearly every day, we need to be able to look at the images without really seeing them, but that does not mean that there isn’t times where it hits you, where the images are so real and so terrible that you need to blink back tears and to turn away to calm your twisting stomach. As long as abortion is happening, these images will have an effect on those who really see them, and acknowledge the painful reality that these images are reproduced 300 times every single day.“But,” someone might question further, “what about those who do abortions? How can abortion truly be that awful if people can continue to carry them out, unaffected?” The answer to this is that they aren’t unaffected, and the proof is in the testimonies of those who have worked within the abortion industry. Jonathon Van Maren wrote about these testimonies in a previous blog:
As most of you will know, Youth Defence has always worked to reveal the reality of abortion. For the past twenty five years, this has been part of our central mission, because if we are to have real and meaningful public debate on this issue, then we cannot allow that reality to remain hidden.
Pro-lifers uncomfortable with most forms of educational outreach often pinpoint their discomfort very specifically on one thing: Abortion victim photography makes people upset. There are a variety of responses to this, of course—images of abortion victims should make us upset, because little human beings are being physically torn limb from limb. But often, I point out the fact that regardless of whether we choose to use photographs of abortion victims in our outreach, people will always get upset, and they will always accuse pro-lifers of being extreme. It is the truth that we bring that upsets people, not the method we use to bring it. That’s why pro-lifers have been attacked at Life Chain, while sidewalk chalking, and virtually any other form of outreach you can think of.
I wondered this week if we had reached peak repeal madness when the self-described ‘witches for abortion’ came out to meet the fake abortion pill bus in Cork. But we can probably all be quietly confident that, trapped as they are in a deluded bubble where fawning media coverage is always guaranteed, abortion campaigners will continue to alienate ordinary decent people in droves. For that, of course, we can be eternally grateful.
It was a couple years ago, at a conference of anti-abortion activists in California. I gave a speech on the history of social reform, on how those exposing the reality of abortion were following in the footsteps of the abolitionists, the National Child Labor Committee, and so many other activists who had fought to bring evidence of what was being inflicted on victims before the eyes of the public.
For today, at least, the debate over whether graphic victim photography is effective at raising awareness is over. Emotionally mauling photographs of a three-year-old refugee child washed up on a Turkish beach have sparked a reaction to the ongoing refugee crisis like nothing else has.
When General George S. Patton began to discover barb-wire camps full of dead, dying, skeletal people in 1945, it moved him like nothing in years of blood-stained warfare had. Patton began rounding up German civilians—not to execute them in revenge, but to walk them through the camps, so that they could lay their eyes on precisely what it was that had happened on their watch. Patton knew that the German populace wouldn’t voluntarily visit the camps. He knew they wouldn’t want to see the emaciated corpses and barely-living neighbors they had abandoned. He knew that to see them would be upsetting, if not life-changing.
Planned Parenthood have been caught on video having the most vile, horrific and disturbing discussions possible as they arrange how to best harvest body parts from aborted babies. Senior figures in the global abortion business are seen discussing the best way of killing a baby to make sure the ‘crushing’ is done above or below the organ required for harvesting. They haggle over prices, with one saying she ‘wants a Lamborghini’.
If there’s any word I’ve grown to hate during my years of pro-life work, it’s the word “nice.” We must be “nice,” people urge us. If we are not “nice,” our activism and our outreach will fail. If we are not “nice,” then no one will change their minds on abortion or listen to us. If we are not “nice,” we will never achieve a pro-life consensus. This is, quite bluntly, not true. We must be compassionate, absolutely. We must be charitable, without doubt. We must be truthful—this is essential. If that is what we mean when we use the word “nice,” then I agree completely. But that is not what the critics of pro-life activism actually mean.
People often pose me the question: Why do you guys actually think you can make a difference? Why do you guys think you can actually change public opinion? The answer, obviously, is multi-faceted and rooted in how we know our strategy works. But for today, I’d like to answer that question with a story.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard the argument: “We shouldn’t show pictures of abortion victims because it will hurt post-abortive women!” I resent that argument for quite a few reasons. First of all, it ignores the many post-abortive women who have joined us on the streets, courageously using their stories to help others see the truth about abortion.