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Why Don’t You Use Abortion Photos on Your Shirts?

Why Don’t You Use Abortion Photos on Your Shirts?

Jun 05, 2006 / By: Michael Spielman
Category: Responses to Readers

The following is my response to an important strategic question raised in a recent email. The initial email query is listed in red. My response follows.

Congratulations and God's blessings on your excellent web site. One question, unless I missed something, it appears that you don't offer any apparel that features images from your video of the aborted babies. If that is indeed the case, why did you make that decision? I agree with you that those images are the most effective and efficient way to convert someone from an abortion supporter to an abortion opponent. If i'm correct in assuming that you've made a decision to try to accomplish your mission without using the most powerful weapon in your arsenal, it would be interesting if you could share at least part of the rationale behind that decision. Again, great web site and great work.

Thanks for the inquiry, good question. There are actually a number of reasons why we don't have abortion images on the shirts themselves. Here they are in no particular order:

Photographs do not reproduce well on fabric. There is a reason you almost never see full-color photographs on commercially produced apparel. The colors wind up washed out, they fade quickly and most of the fine detail is lost.

Photo shirts usually look "cheap" (for lack of a better word). We're trying to establish credibility for Abort73.com among a fairly shallow and image-driven demographic. We want the apparel to come off as professionally as possible so that the website won't be written off out of hand. Photo shirts carry with them the baggage of mall kiosks where grandmothers purchase individual sweatshirts, mugs or totes with pictures of baby Johnny or their beloved poodle (that's a generalization, I know, but one with fair basis).

Almost nobody would wear them. It is hard to get people who oppose abortion to actually start doing something about it. Putting abortion photos on our shirts would keep all but the most die-hard activists from ever wearing them. I want something that thousands and thousands of high school and college students will wear to campus, even if they aren't naturally bold. Furthermore, while college students can pretty much get away with wearing whatever they want, middle and high schools would almost certainly prohibit shirts with actual abortion photos on them (and that would be a hard ruling to challenge).

Abortion images, by themselves, provide no context and are prone to all sorts of misunderstanding, ridicule and animosity. Computer imaging has made the reliability of photographs increasingly suspect. One of the most common reactions to abortion photos is, "Those are fake!". If you're looking at the pictures online at Abort73, you can click over to have the accuracy of the photos and the accuracy of the age captions immediately verified. If you just see an abortion picture passing by on the street, you can't do that. Also, if you see a picture in isolation, you might think, "That's not what the average abortion looks like." Or, "That must be a late term procedure". Or, "That rarely happens." If you're looking at the pictures online, all of those wrong assumptions can be quickly corrected. Personally, I have spent a great deal of time standing with abortion images on college campuses and have often observed groups of nay-sayers who will stand at a distance and laugh at the display and assure all who will listen to them that we're just a bunch of freaks who are trying to force our religious agenda on them. If any of those listening students will actually come and talk to me, I can give them good evidence to the contrary, and I have a better than fair shot at changing their minds about abortion. Most students don't come up to talk, though, and I fear many of them walk away with the false assurance that opposition to abortion is just a radical agenda driven by a small fringe group. Abortion images, as crucial as they are to the case against abortion, must be presented strategically, and I'd much rather show students what abortion looks like within the far more stable and comprehensive context of the Abort73 website than on a passing shirt. Our goal is to "normalize" opposition to abortion, and we feel we can better do that by employing less explicit t-shirts to draw people into the more explicit website.

Abortion photos can only "prove" that surgical abortion is wrong. Another big problem with relying only on abortion images is that there are no photos capable of communicating the injustice of chemical abortions, embryonic stem cell research and abortifacient forms of birth control. Until the 5th or 6th week after pregnancy, the developing embryo doesn't look very human (though it does look exactly how a human should look like at that point in development). Therefore, we must couple the use of abortion photos with well-communicated arguments which speak to the essence of human development and human existence. Overly relying on pictures can actually make the case against abortion seem much weaker than it really is. It would be like going into a murder trial with nothing more than a grisly photo of the victim. That photograph is hugely applicable to the case, but it must be presented within the proper context of explanation and verification to do any good.

Ultimately, our decision to not use photos on the shirts is strategic, and admittedly subjective. I admire the courage of those who are willing to wear shirts with abortion photos on them, but I feel the overall prospects for eliminating abortion are better with our approach. For more of the rationale behind our shirts, visit: http://www.abort73.com/HTML/III-A-3-shirts.html Thanks so much for your time and interest...

Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. You can also find him on Facebook and Google+. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.

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