Victim Images

Why we show the image of the murdered unborn

Run 2 The Battle is a project of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform of Maryland (CBR).  As such, we encourage Christians to incorporate the image of abortion's victim into their abortion-abolition efforts.

Victim images are possibly the most powerful tool available to the abortion-abolitionist.  The practice of abortion thrives off silence, anonymity and misconceptions.  People doubt the humanity of the unborn child and are apathetic over the violence committed against them.  Victim images cut through all this and demonstrate, in a way words cannot, that abortion is the callous murder of an innocent human being. 

Pro-lifers who are uncomfortable using victim images usually raise two objections: 
1.  The images don't work
2.  Using images is unethical (or un-Christian).

Do victim images work?
No social reformer ever succeeded without using the most powerful images at his or her disposal.  Anti-slavery reformers in England and the USA used gruesome images of slaves being beaten and of their scarred, damaged bodies to demonstrate the inhumanity of slavery.  Images of children covered in coal dust and dirt, publicly released, helped end exploitative child labor in the early 20th Century.  Civil Rights workers of the 1950s and 60's recorded footage of racists brutally beating and maiming African Americans to convince the public that segregation was not a benign institution.  Peace activists used horrifying images of soldiers killed and wounded in battle to end the Vietnam War.  Images of the Nazi Holocaust are shown on television, printed in school textbooks and incorporated into films like Schindler's List (1993), a copy of which was donated to every high school in America.  Reformers of all kinds use the image of the victim to alter public opinion and end injustice.  Why should fighting abortion be any different?

Anyone who thinks that victim images "turn people off" should try using them (correctly) and see what happens.  While certainly many pro-abortion people become angry, other people are fascinated by what they see and eager to learn more.  Even when the viewer responds with hatred, the images have not failed.  Indeed, the fact that the image elicits this reaction demonstrates that the humanity of the Unborn has been made obvious.  They would not be so angry if we showed them a picture of a dead frog.  In summary, it doesn't so much matter what they think about the messenger, so long as the message is received. 

Finally, it is often said that victim images "make the pro-lifers look like idiots".  While it is true that pro-abortion persons (not so much the general public) imagine pro-lifers to be raving, aggressive lunatics, this is not the fault of the pro-life movement, which if anything has conducted itself in an extremely passive and quiet manner for most of the past 40 years.  This image is an intentional fabrication created by people who have an invested interest in demonizing us.  They will continue to do so whether we use victim images or not, so it is foolish to take the bait and put our images away.  

Victim images, rather than being a handicap to the abolition of abortion, are in fact our most powerful weapon. 

Are victim images unethical?
It is often objected that victim images damage people psychologically, in particular post-abortive women and children.  Such claims are hardly substantiated.  However, what if they were true?  Would the fact that viewing murder disturbs people be an argument for or against using victim images?  Yes, the images are offensive.  They picture something offensive.  People ought to be disturbed, even horrified.  We should lose sleep over this.  We should feel traumatized.  Extreme grief and sorrow are  appropriate responses to atrocity.   We would naturally assume something was mentally wrong with a person who had witnessed a horrifying tragedy yet seemed perfectly ordinary and free from concern.

No, children should not have to see terrible images of slaughtered kids.  But neither should children have to grow up in a country where human life is thoughtlessly destroyed.  If we do not show the images in public, abortion will continue and the value of life will continue to be diminished.  We live in desperate times and we must take desperate measures to make things right again.  The feelings of the born are not as important as the lives of the Unborn.

Yes, post-abortive women feel angst at viewing victim images, especially if they have not yet repented from their abortion and found spiritual healing.  But do we really expect these women to do that without facing up to what happened?  Repentance is not possible while someone is in denial.  Healing cannot come before grieving.  The post abortive woman is living a lie, and her fleshly being resists any attempt to introduce truth.  This will happen whether the woman is shocked by a picture or gently persuaded by words.


Conclusion
All objections to the use of victim images can be answered by appealing to moral consistency:

Imagine that you live in Germany while the Nazi party is just beginning to take control.  Assuming you had access to images of what they planned to do to the Jewish population of Europe, would you show the images publicly or not?  Do you think it might persuade people to reconsider voting for the Nazis?  Would you hesitate to use them because someone might be offended or traumatized?




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