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Friday, February 8, 2013

Unborn Parasite?


[Today's entry is re-posted from "Yeah, but..."]

Disclaimer: I know both pro-choicers and pro-lifers who understand fetal development. The following post is not meant to address everyone, but to specifically address the people who remain ignorant.

Mary Elizabeth Williams at Slate.com wrote a piece explaining that she understands abortion takes a human life, but that "some lives are worth sacrificing." Obviously I disagree with her general take, but I thought this paragraph was quite true:
I have friends who have referred to their abortions in terms of “scraping out a bunch of cells” and then a few years later were exultant over the pregnancies that they unhesitatingly described in terms of “the baby” and “this kid.” I know women who have been relieved at their abortions and grieved over their miscarriages. Why can’t we agree that how they felt about their pregnancies was vastly different, but that it’s pretty silly to pretend that what was growing inside of them wasn’t the same? Fetuses aren’t selective like that. They don’t qualify as human life only if they’re intended to be born.
It's no secret that most people make decisions based on emotions more than rational thought. One side tends toward the vague and impersonal (clump of cells, products of conception) or hostile (parasite, invader) while the other side goes with the personal (daughter, son, child) and helpless (preborn, unborn, baby). And so on.

I've seen pro-choicers mock pro-lifers for using photos of full grown babies, pointing out that the majority of abortions take place before 8 weeks gestation, and accusing pro-lifers of playing emotional manipulation by confusing everyone as to what's actually being destroyed here. I've heard pro-lifers loudly wonder why pro-choicers never depict fetal development at all, pointing out that pro-choicers tend to leave the fetus out of the equation entirely, and claiming pro-choicers deceive people with a "nothing to see here, folks" approach.

Of course what the fetus looks like should have about zero bearing on whether the fetus deserves rights or protection, but for the record:


If pro-lifers only used pictures of actual embryos and early-stage fetuses, do you think it would change the abortion debate? Do you think it would be a good idea? Is it more important to be emotionally captivating or precisely accurate?

14 comments:

Antiabortionmemes said...

If you're pointing out the utter arbitrariness of any magic line other than conception, and especially the 'birth' line, after which the thing in question magically becomes a person, or illustrating how certain popular pro-choice arguments apply to infants and toddlers as well, then pictures of the born are appropriate.

Jameson Graber said...

I do think it's our emotional attachments that ultimately determine the outcome of a moral debate, but that can be easily mistinterpreted to mean "try to tug at heartstrings as much as possible at all times." I think the pro-life movement often fails to capture people's emotions precisely because it overdramatizes things. If you want to appeal to people on an emotional level, don't post big bloody pictures of fetal corpses at the March for Life, write a movie like Juno. The pro-life movement is often too passionate to be either sensitive or sensible. So I think it would be a good idea to stick to pictures of embryos at an early stage, both for the sake of accuracy and for the sake of restraint.


Of course, I admit I have a general distaste for all things tacky. Thus, I get really tired of the pro-life movement endlessly obsessing over excessively adorable pictures of infants. Real life is not that cute.

Yvonne said...

I think, where possible, moving ultrasound images would be good since it is hard for some people even understand still images of a fetus. The feet and hands of the prolife movement pin also show that the baby is a human. I'm all for images but I would say that I like to have the warning of what is coming, I wouldn't post aborted babies e.g. on my facebook page but I might link to an article containing such images. I don't want to put off people who might actually read on and take a look. I think there is a huge place for medical images so that people do understand what is going on. Where images are used I think it is really, really important to check the source and to know exactly what the image is and also to mention if there are multiple images in a set of the same baby. References are essential for if people reading want to check it is all genuine.

Bill Samuel said...

The truth is that pro-lifers often use pictures of the unborn, so any thesis that our side only shows the fully developed baby is simply incorrect. IMHO, pro-lifers should use both pictures of the unborn at various stages of development and of them as they look after they're born. These are different aspects of the truth. The pregnant woman naturally thinks of both the baby as is and as will be after s/he is born. Sonograms are great at showing the truth that the baby already looks like a human being even by the time most pregnant woman have their pregnancy conclusively determined.

Sarah said...

It is always better to be completely
factual. Always. There is no way to argue over emotions. It has to be facts.

Dolce said...

I don't think that pro-lifers stick exclusively to born pictures of babies by any means. In fact, the only reason that I have any kind of idea of what unborn children look like as they grow is because I read pro-life blogs! That being said, while abortions usually do occur early on in the pregnancy, I think that pictures of born babies still have a place in the debate. Most people do not think of the fetus as a human, and seeing what that fetus will grow into if he or she is allowed to do so can have an impact.

Dolce said...

I'd also like to point out that many extreme pro-choicers like to call our posters and literature 'fetus-porn' so obviously pro-choicers see us using photos of unborn children!

Isaac Hochrein said...

Facts are great, but statistics do not motivate people to change their behaviors: it has to be a personal appeal. We can cite stats over how 1/4 of all pregnancies end in abortion, but unless people see the unborn as worthy of protection, there won't be any progress. I think using accurate fetal prenatal pics are a great tool.

Kara Baylog said...

The images I have seen used by pro-choicers are either the zygote or even more deceiving, a glass of blood, followed by a triumphant, "I don't feel bad about that!" Of course for an 8 week, there is much more blood than actual fetus, so I think it is a way of avoidance - clinging to a safe symbol that doesn't offend their position - much as pro-lifers cling to 22 week fetuses when talking about all abortions.

I think it is a good idea to be honest in the debate, and use pictures that apply to what you are talking about. If you are talking about partial birth abortions, yes, show those late stage fetuses. If we are talking about the pill, use the 8 week. It is a pipe dream to be sure, but maybe pro-choicers will use honest images for what they are fighting for as well - not a jar of blood. Then a real debate can begin.

Jim Manswell said...

EVERY life in the womb wants to be born. That is nature. Stopping it is a huge corruption of the natural way of things. It is not a cyst or a boil. It is human....human life.
Every culture on this earth knows that when a woman gets pregnant she is with child and will give birth to the human life inside her....Plain common sense.

C.S. Burgess said...

Nature aborts more babies than doctors could ever hope to keep up with.

海 蜂 said...

Interesting how what it ACTUALLY looks like is still closer in resemblance to the first/"what prolifers think I look like", than the 2nd. It's clearly alive.
Also as a mother having seen a 12 week ultrasound scan that shows facial feautures, a beating heart, and individual fingers, regardless on whether I took a pro-life or a pro-choice stance, I would never be able to say objectively or otherwise that the fetus isn't human. And, not to put too fine a point on it; if anybody were to tell me as I came out of the scan room that my child was no more than a bunch of cells, well then my response would be "then so are you".

海 蜂 said...

Perhaps this is just clinging to a straw here, but frankly I'd be concerned about the mental health of anybody who equates a fetus to porn.

guest said...

This is only true before implantation. So the first week... Most abortions occur after that.