The Importance of Graphic Images
Pictures help communicate what words, alone, often cannot.
Educators have long understood the appropriateness of using graphic photographs to teach about harsh realities. Nevertheless, the educative use of abortion photos is broadly condemned. This is politically-driven hypocrisy.
Most abortion advocates decry the use of graphic abortion photos as unfair and manipulative. "Shock value" has no place in the abortion debate, they might argue. In reality, abortion images are no more shocking than the act of abortion itself. The pictures, in fact, are far less shocking than seeing an abortion take place in person. It is understandable why those who support abortion do not want people seeing what abortion actually looks like.
Unfortunately, there are many pro-life groups and individuals who have succumbed to this claim that the use of abortion images is inappropriate and ineffective. This mentality has helped aid the cover-up which the abortion industry has so masterfully maintained over these last 40+ years.
First, let's look at the question of appropriateness. In any legal debate, photographic evidence is the most coveted (and appropriate) evidence there is. If you have photographic proof in a murder trial, that's huge. That becomes the backbone of the whole case. No judge in the world is going to tell a prosecutor that he cannot use photographic evidence because it might be too emotionally charged or manipulative for the jury. If that evidence is suppressed, the trial is a farce. If people do not know what abortion actually does, you can talk about it all you want in the abstract, but they will never understand the seriousness of what is at stake.
This is true because there are some realities which are so grim that they simply cannot be adequately communicated through words alone. When high school teachers and college professors teach about the Holocaust, they use graphic images of murdered Jews. When you visit the Holocaust Memorial, in person or online, you see the same pictures. Photographs are powerful teaching tools, able to quickly convey massive and sobering realities. A photographic-free Holocaust education is an incomplete education, and the same is true with abortion.
As to the question of effectiveness, history tells us that graphic photographs of injustice have a unique capacity to change popular opinion. On a smaller scale, but in the same vein, education campaigns about smoking, drunk driving, and sexually transmitted diseases all use graphic visuals as a deterrent against certain behaviors. Cancer eaten lungs, torn and bloody bodies, and herpes ridden genitalia are all highly unpleasant images, but they are far more effective at preventing smoking, drunk driving and teenage sex than words alone. We are a visual culture; we learn by seeing.
Finally, there is one simple question that should be immediately obvious to those on both sides of the abortion debate. Will a woman who is contemplating abortion, and sees a picture of what abortion actually does, be more or less likely to go through with that abortion? There is an abundance of testimony from women all over the world who have seen abortion pictures and decided not to abort. There is no testimony that goes the other way. In other words, while there have certainly been pregnant women who have seen abortion pictures and still aborted, it is impossible to imagine a situation in which these pictures would actually be the deciding factor in convincing a woman to abort, a woman who would not have otherwise aborted.
If abortion pictures are not part of the abortion education, then we're simply aiding Planned Parenthood in suppressing the truth.
This page was last updated on June 16, 2014. To cite this page in a research paper, visit: "Citing Abort73 as a Source."