What’s offensive about graphic images of abortion victims?

In this post, I pose a multiple-choice question that I hope you will find interesting.  I am posing it in a particular historical context, the “background” to the multiple-choice question, so-to-speak.  Please scroll down to the question, ignoring the background explanation that follows, if you think you already know the background, or don’t care what the background is.

The background

The single-issue group called Abort 67, sort-of “peacefully pickets” British abortion mills, not awfully close to the doors, and without blocking any pavements.  They are trained to speak only when they are spoken to.  They wear video cameras, to protect themselves from frequent false allegations that they have harassed others.  Ironically, this has led to accusations that they harass women, merely by wearing the cameras they wear only to protect themselves against false accusations of harassing women.

GraphicAbortionImagesAheadAbort 67 display what can be viewed as either “protesting” or “educational” pictures, of dead, aborted, human foetuses, depending on one’s bias.

Abort 67 would like the tide of public opinion to turn, rendering abortion “unthinkable” in the minds of the hoi polloi, whose votes the political class ostensibly still needs every five years, leading to a general clamour for the repeal of the Abortion Act 1967.

In the news as I am writing this, is some reactionary petition or other to Parliament, organised with some considerable help from the commercial abortion industry by all accounts, for whom Abort 67’s antics are bad for business.  The signatories of the petition number what amounts to about 0.15% of the death toll of human foetuses whose homicides the hated Abortion Act decriminalised.

The petitioners are not content with The Protection From Harassment Act 1997, which a client of mine is presently using against MI5 (a bit of a struggle), but which none of the abortionist firms have so far bothered to use against Abort 67 (a piece of cake in comparison, if their various press statements about Abort 67 “harassing” women and girls are true).   The abortionists who can’t be bothered to sue Abort 67, prefer instead to whine against the police, criticising the police for not protecting their businesses from free speech dialogue on the streets outside their death factories.  The police have already arrested Abort 67 staff, and then lost in court.  Once bitten, they are twice shy, all credit to them.

Not content with the excellent Protection From Harassment Act, the petitioners would like Parliament to pass a new, special law, mainly just to stop Abort 67 from continuing its work.  They are demanding exclusion zones, of a couple of hundred metres (if I remember correctly) from the nearest point within a parcel of land on which is built a place of trade of an abortion industry service provider.  Within any such exclusion zone, woe betide anybody who speaks ill of abortion, or even exposes, silently and pictorially, what abortion is and does, to whom.  Such exposure of the truth about abortion is harming the abortionists’ trade too much.

The multiple choice question

Enough of the background,  Here is the multiple choice question that I pose, to every reader.

Why are Abort 67’s pictures of abortion victims any more offensive a display than the carcasses hanging up on hooks, in an old-fashioned butcher’s shop?

(Please pause, to think hard about the question, until your brain hurts if necessary, and to answer it in your own words, before viewing the following multiple choices of popular answer, which includes a “none of the above” option at the end, for those of you with an original thought of his or her own on this hackneyed topic.)

Here’s the question again:

Why are Abort 67’s pictures of abortion victims any more offensive a display than the carcasses hanging up on hooks, in an old-fashioned butcher’s shop?

Ready to answer?

Options (please select one)

1. They’re not.  (I.e. Abort 67’s pictures of abortion victims are not any more offensive a display than the carcasses hanging up on hooks, in an old-fashioned butcher’s shop.)

2. Because, unlike the butcher’s carcasses, the deceased abortion victims’ mortal remains depicted, are recognisably and undeniably those of our fellow humans.

3. Because of the ******* patriarchy. ALRIGHT? (You stupid, evil, misogynistic bastard even for asking this question.)

4. Because those who see the pictures might anticipate that horrid people like you will go on to ask exactly this trick question. (Please explain why it is a “trick” question.)  I bet you even believe in the Sky Fairy (or Flying Spaghetti Monster), and want to force me to believe in Him too. Don’t you? Don’t you? Oh please say yes! That’s the argument I really want to have. Oh please let’s talk about religion, instead of abortion images!

5. Because the human appearance of the mortal remains of the abortionist’s victims is upsettingly deceptive.  You see, I believe in the non-scientific metaphysical doctrine of ensoulment/enpersonment (delete as applicable).  I believe that ensoulment/enpersonment (delete as applicable) does not take place until [……. ] (enter a number) days/weeks/lunar months/calendar months (delete as applicable) after conception, because [……………………….. ] (enter a reason for your metaphysical belief here; continue on a separate sheet if necessary).  This deception might upset mothers who are not yet as enlightened as I am, as to the  truth about ensoulment/enpersonment (delete as applicable) subsequent to the individual human’s beginnings.  This ensoulment/enpersonment (delete as applicable) doctrine denialist deception, based merely upon the superficial appearances that mere cameras naively photograph, might dissuade these rather stupid, vulnerable women, who trust cameras and believe their own eyes, from having necessary abortions; mistakenly taking at their deceptive face value, the deceptive images of the remains of the human victims of other mothers’ abortions; because these utter fools simply aren’t enlightened in the deeper wisdom embodied in the ensoulment/enpersonment (delete as applicable) true metaphysical doctrine to which I hold: enlightened enough to know that the abortion victims whose dead bodies were photographed remained less than fully human throughout all of their short lives, because they never reached the age of metaphysical ensoulment/enpersonment (delete as applicable); so it really was OK just to kill them after all, however human their dead bodies looked afterwards, to the camera.

6. Look, I don’t agree with age equality. It is an irrational value judgment. Not all humans are equal.  Such young humans as the victims of abortion, mere foetuses, are most especially not “equal” to their far older mothers.  (Please state clearly your reasons for disagreeing with the application of the widely accepted equality principle to humans of different ages.)  The rational and – what’s that buzz-word? – oh yes, agonising decision for a particular mother may therefore be to abort. Abort 67’s pictures might, offensively, cause cognitive dissonance, in particular feeble-minded women, who really ought to have abortions, rationally-speaking, but who are apt to be deceived by the obvious humanity of the young, but therefore unequal abortion victims depicted, into discomforting doubts as to whether their own foetus-children are fair game to be killed after all, merely because they are so young; potentially, leading them to decide wrongly to keep their babies after all, or at least to let them live, handing them over for adoption at birth.

7. Oh, I don’t know. Maybe something to do with the uterus?  Or the goddess?  Or women’s reproductive rights?  Or rape?  (Yes, rape sounds a promising distraction.)  Or intimate partner violence?  A “mere cluster of cells” perhaps?  (Admittedly a cluster neatly arranged to resemble a human body, or so the camera testifies, but so what?)  Or “reproductive autonomy” (whatever that means – the phrase sounded poignant enough when I first heard somebody else use it)?  Or empowerment of women?  Misogyny maybe?  Richard Dawkins?  Leviticus?  Aw heck, to do with something at least, for sure, even if I cannot quite put my finger on it for now.  Look, I just know that there is a reason the pictures are more offensive a display than the butcher’s shop carcasses, that has nothing to do with them having been people just as important as me, whose lives were cut short.  I just don’t know yet how to explain it properly.  Alright?  I had to choose between the Biology module and the Women’s Studies module.  Do you have a problem with that?  I don’t eat meat anyway.  If I am that kind to oxen, lambs, pigs and poultry, surely I’ve done my bit for mammals in general, without having to annoy the rent-a-quote complainers about Abort 67 on You Tube, by sticking up for humans too.  (Or some such nonsense.)

8. None of the above.  I have another, highly original reason of my own, for thinking that Abort 67’s pictures of abortion victims are more offensive a display than the carcasses hanging up on hooks, in an old-fashioned butcher’s shop.  (Please state what that other reason is.  If you don’t know, or cannot explain the reason coherently, then please just choose option 7 above  instead, not taking it too literally.)

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5 Comments

Filed under Pro-life, Satire and humour

5 responses to “What’s offensive about graphic images of abortion victims?

  1. John, I have personal and theological reasons for being opposed to abortion in the vast majority of cases. Generally, I regard it as legalised murder. Abort 67’s images may be ‘offensive’ to those who favour abortion.

    But that said, I would use a different adjective. Rather than ‘offensive’ I would use ‘distressing’. Last year, when Abort 67 were denied their request for a stall at the Big Church Day Out. they mounted their visual campaign on the road leading to the festival site. Yes, there was a sign a few hundred yards before their display like the one in your photograph, but I had in our car our then 10 and 9 year old children. They had to close their eyes, because these are the sorts of images that are completely unsuitable for them to see – it’s like a 15 or 18 certificate film, in a way. I don’t see why they should have to close their eyes like that on a car journey. And yes, my wife and I have explained abortion to them, and they do understand how wrong it normally is. Furthermore, I had no alternative but to keep driving whilst unavoidably having to see the distressing images. Was that good?

    However much I long to see a sea-change in our culture’s approach to abortion, I would far rather support one of the other campaigning organisations on this vital issue. I think what you describe about the petition is reprehensible when, as you say, there is already legislation available. But I fear that Abort 67 will provoke such troubling reactions by their tactics.

    Incidentally, when the BCDO issue happened last year, I debated with a couple of A67 supporters on Facebook, so I have engaged with them. I understand their point that the right to life is the most fundamental of human rights, but I can’t defend an ‘end justifies the means’ approach, especially when they then manage to alienate potential supporters of their cause.

    • David, I greatly appreciate your comment. I am in some agreement with you. I was concerned to learn that Abort 67 had decided to respond as it did, to the cancellation of its booking of a stall at the Big Church Day Out. I anticipated reactions like your own. However, the situation is somewhat different when the pictures are displayed in a back street close to the premises at which abortions are performed.

      Be that as it may, my question wasn’t whether the pictures might be offensive (or distressing, if you prefer). It was specifically why they were any more offensive (or distressing) than carcasses of livestock in a butcher’s shop. I suggested a range of answers.

      I infer, from your comment that you find the pictures distressing (to yourself, and/or to children), for reason 2, “Because, unlike the butcher’s carcasses, the deceased abortion victims’ mortal remains depicted, are recognisably and undeniably those of our fellow humans.” Is that correct?

      • John, thanks for your reply. I have only just found it, having forgotten to tick the box to receive notifications of new comments – sorry. Rectified now!

        Yes, #2 would be closest to my position, on the grounds that human beings bear the image of God and thus have greater dignity and value than other creatures. I think it’s vital to preserve this doctrine, especially at a time when the ‘we are just animals’ line is used in support of all sorts of life-devaluing campaigns – e.g., euthanasia. I deliberately didn’t opt for one of your categories in my first reply, because (as I am sure you realised) I wasn’t sure I accepted the framing of the question.

        That said, I do not believe in the banning of these images because they are ‘offensive’. I simply believe there are places where they can be displayed and places where they should not be. I would see the issue as analogous to that of film certification. I can go to see a serious adult film (and obviously I’m not using the words ‘adult film’ here as a euphemism for pornography) and expect it may portray certain things in a disturbing way that I can handle as an adult, but which my children cannot.

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