Are Graphic Pictures Effective in the Abortion Debate?

The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform uses a convoy of large trucks to display oversized prolife photographs in their Reproductive Choice Campaign to those on freeways and city streets. These displays receive many different responses. Among them, the following:

From a Physician...

While on the freeway here in San Diego, I came across two of your "illustrated" trucks. The pictures were so disgusting that traffic refused to pass them, staying well behind and clogging lanes...causing potential traffic accidents.

Since you seem compelled to shock people and misrepresent the abortion debate, you then won't mind if I tell you that you're simply * nuts! Keep this * off my roads.

If you think you're gaining support, you're * stupid as well as nuts.

Nothing like * moral crusaders like yourselves to make me affirm my opposition to the kind of archaic, fundamentalist, jingoistic * you people portray as "sensible reasoning."

You're doing a great job of making converts to the other side.

H.H., M.D.

Dear Dr. H.,

Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughtful insights on the influence our Reproductive Choice Campaign is having on motorists in San Diego. I am puzzled, however, by one aspect of your note. Our photos are neither polemical nor judgmental. They merely depict aborted human embryos and early fetuses with age captions adjacent to the word "CHOICE." If abortion is such a good idea, why do pictures of it make its proponents so angry?

And by the way, ad hominem ill-become a man of your expansive vocabulary and obvious erudition. We would never resort to name calling (it is a poor substitute for a well-reasoned argument) nor would we dream of trying to "convert" hard-core, dogmatic, pro-abortion ideologues.

Our photo campaign is aimed at rather more objective viewers in the undecided middle. If the feedback we regularly receive from that demographic is a reliable indicator of success, I would say we are doing pretty well.

Gregg Cunningham
The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform

From a Pregnant Girl...
(The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform received the following email survey.)

Did seeing the trucks and viewing the pictures of the aborted babies have any influence on your thinking? "Yes."
Do you support or oppose legal abortion? "I am prolife."
Have you seen the images before? "Yes."
How much thought have you given to abortion? "Lots."
What influence have the pictures had on you? "I'm a 22-year-old Spanish girl. I got pregnant by my ex-husband. He wants me to get an abortion and he says that he is not going to be responsible for my child. I was thinking on it. I'm in college and I haven't done anything yet.
But I was looking at these pictures and this is horrible. I don't know how people can easily kill like this. I'm going to keep my baby. I know we are going to be happy. This is hard for me, especially now that I'm only 6 weeks pregnant and I don't have support even from my family. They want me to get an abortion because they say that I'm only 22. They want me to be a professional. I'm not going to kill my baby. I love my baby. My baby is part of me.

This article appeared in the Winter 2001 issue of Eternal Perspectives.