USE OF “Abortion Victim Photos” or “Abortion Victim Photography” IN PRO-LIFE WORK

Citizens For A Pro-Life Society

USE OF “Abortion Victim Photos” or “Abortion Victim Photography” IN PRO-LIFE WORK

CPLS DIRECTOR URGES NEW DISCUSSION ON USE OF
“GRAPHIC IMAGES”
IN PRO-LIFE WORK

The use of graphic images of abortion victims in pro-life work has in more recent decades become a point of conflict and debate within the pro-life movement itself, especially the public display of such images. Monica Migliorino Miller’s recently published article is an unprecedented comprehensive examination of this issue. Published in the September 2013 New Oxford Review
The article it is now available on the NOR website for a limited time at: http://www.newoxfordreview.org/article.jsp?did=0913-miller
THE ARTICLE IS POSTED ON THIS SITE AT: http://www.prolifesociety.com/prolifesociety/pages/ArticlesAndPublications/norGraphicImages.pdf
The author has herself retrieved hundreds of aborted babies from trash containers and spent hundreds of hours photographing the bodies. Miller argues strongly that photos of abortion victims play a vital role in the efforts of the right-to-life movement to establish respect for the lives of the unborn and abolish the injustice of abortion. Among other areas of discussion Miller provides a history of the use of these images in the pro-life movement. However, she urges that the time has come for the movement to evaluate which photos of abortion victims are most effective. This means pro-lifers should be more critical and sophisticated in the selection of photos displayed in public, in literature and educational materials. She states: “Not all abortion victim photos are equal” and goes on to explain that it is a mistake that the “gorier and bloodier the image, the more effective it will be in depicting the injustice of abortion.”
Miller agrees that abortion victim photos will innately contain graphic elements, but argues that such aspects of the photos must be secondary to the subject of the abortion victims presented in the photos. To the viewer of a “graphic image” the abortion victim must be immediately recognizably human. Miller explains:
“Blood and extraneous uterine matter should not overwhelm the aborted baby in the photo. Indeed even a kind of mathematical ratio can be used to evaluate the usefulness of a graphic image. If the blood and gore is more than or even equal to the actual baby—such a photo should be set aside in favor of an image in which the actual human victim is primary. It is not only or primarily the violence of abortion that pro-lifers should display to the world, but the actual hidden and silent human victim of abortion will be the focus of the more effective images.” Miller continues:
“The viewer of the image of an aborted baby should be able to identify with the victim — not simply be shocked or repulsed by the blood-drenched image. The photo should provoke pathos, pity, sorrow, and a response to the injustice done to the baby, whose humanity is obvious in the midst of the tragedy and violence. To the majority of viewers whom pro-lifers are trying to reach, that first glance is the most important — indeed, it might not just be the first glance but the only glance — and thus its impact in drawing the viewer into the humanity of the victim cannot be squandered.”
Miller also urges that the pro-life movement drop the term “graphic images” when referring to photos of aborted babies. Many abortion photos—even effective ones are indeed extremely “graphic images”—but the term itself does not capture or encompass the essence of this type of photography. She states: “The movement needs to stop using that term. Instead we should refer to these pictures as “abortion victim photos” or “abortion victim photography.”
Distinctions exist between a graphic image that instantly repulses the viewer, an image with an appropriate proportion of extraneous graphic elements, and photos of abortion victims that certainly are disturbing, but in which the blood and gore is nearly absent. Miller’s article calls for a deeper appreciation for these distinctions and states: “Those who oppose the use of ‘graphic images’ need not necessarily oppose photos of abortion victims per se. Whatever side one may take in the debate, given that a difference exists between an excessively graphic image and an image of an abortion victim — between a repulsive image and a disturbing image— pro-lifers who object to the use of all abortion-victim photography should reexamine and move beyond that objection.”
Miller states: “There are many great pro-lifers who are dedicated to the display of abortion victim photos. What they do is essential to the movement. Their work should be supported and encouraged. I simply want to urge those of us on the front lines to look at abortion victim photos in a new way—to not be threatened or afraid to re-evaluate what we are doing and urge the selection of photos in which the tragic victim of abortion ‘however graphic’ is primary and obvious.”

LEARN MORE:

http://www.prolifesociety.com/prolifesociety/pages/start/startup/home.aspx

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