We realize many people have sincere concerns about the public display of pictures of abortion victims and that some object to our Face the Truth Tours. Below we offer our responses to the most common of these concerns:
Concern that children might see our pictures and become upset by images of abortion victims is by far the most common objection that we hear during our Face the Truth Tours. We too wish it were possible for children to be shielded from the reality not only of abortion but of so many of life's tragedies.
We also respect the responsibility of parents to educate their children on such issues. That's why we always place Warning signs several blocks in advance of our display, to allow parents and others to choose an alternate route if they would rather not see the pictures.
Nevertheless, some children do see our signs, either because their parents did not see the Warning signs or because they chose to ignore them. While they may find the pictures disturbing as they pass by, we see no evidence that any real harm is done. In fact, a child who sees the truth about abortion may be spared grave harm later in life by avoiding any involvement with abortion.
Many of us who hold these pictures first saw them as children. We found the pictures gruesome and saddening, but their only lasting effect was to impress us with a deep sense of the injustice of abortion.
Our own children often join us on our Truth Tours—children of all ages, backgrounds and personalities. If merely seeing abortion victim pictures for a few moments while passing by really harmed children, you would expect the extended exposure of actually holding the signs during a Tour site to traumatize them. But we see absolutely no indications of this.
On the contrary, our children feel gratified to be doing something to fight abortion. They can appreciate the vulnerablity of unborn babies, being themselves so dependent on their parents. They want to help their unborn brothers and sisters.
In our experience, children's reaction to the signs has more to do with how their parents react. If parents become visibly upset, irate or, worse yet, begin to shout obscenities, then children will become upset. Parents then attribute this to the signs rather then their own overwrought reaction.
Until someone tries to convince a child that abortion is okay, he will know in his heart that it is wrong to take the life of an unborn baby. Children do not want to see other children suffer. Children are naturally pro-life.
We suggest that parents calmly explain to children who see these pictures of abortion victims that we are trying to stop people from hurting babies. When children understand that we are working to protect other children, they are far less likely to be upset by what they see.
For more information on talking to your kids about abortion, see this article by Fr. Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life.
We know that many parents are sincerely concerned about the effect that our abortion victim photos might have on their children. But for some we suspect the real issue is something else entirely.
Such behavior belies these parents' claim to be upset about their children seeing the pictures. Clearly something else is bothering them. Guilt over past involvement with abortion? Defensiveness over a loved one's abortion, which perhaps they encouraged? Shame for having done nothing to stop abortion? Anger at having to face these pictures themselves, with all of an adult's knowledge of what they show?
We cannot know for sure. But for at least some parents, the objection to children seeing the pictures is really an attempt to avoid facing the real issue.
Again, not all parents who object to the pictures are trying to deflect their own problems onto their children. But we ask all parents who raise this objection to honestly assess whether they have confronted the feelings of guilt, shame and anger the pictures may have raised in their own hearts.
Well over three thousand babies are being aborted each day in the United States—over a million per year. Do we dare keep a holocaust of such unfathomable scale hidden for the sake of sparing some children tears?
The abortion victims on our signs never got the chance to be consoled by a parent about something upsetting. Our world will never truly be safe for children as long as the hidden holocaust continues.[Back to Top]
Some are concerned about the effect that seeing abortion victim pictures may have on women who have had abortions. They fear such women may experience adverse psychological and emotional reactions that will further prevent them from seeking the help necessary to deal with their pain and suffering.
This is a serious concern, and we recognize the responsibility that we bear to women wounded by abortion when we expose them to our graphic signs. In fact, many post-abortive women join us on our Face the Truth Tours, and we have learned from their experience and witness.
Our purpose in showing graphic abortion pictures is not to condemn, but to awaken. We are motivated not only by concern for the unborn victims of abortion but by compassion for women who have had abortions. Like the suffering of aborted babies, their suffering so often remains hidden—even from themselves.
We try to help these women take the first steps along the journey of healing. Our display includes pictures of Our Lord which prominently bear the message, "Jesus Forgives and Heals." Volunteers distribute literature [PDF] to passers-by on Project Rachel, a post-abortion healing ministry.
Sadly, there is no way to spare women the pain of confronting the truth about their abortions—that they have been lied to about what abortion really does to an unborn child, and to that child's mother. Nor do we believe it is truly compassionate to delay this necessary first step of the healing process—a journey they might otherwise never begin.[Back to Top]
Displaying pictures of abortion victims reminds the general public that even today, babies are still being murdered in staggering numbers, and that those who value human life from the moment of conception will not rest until abortion is eradicated.
The very reason we are out there on the streets showing abortion pictures is that so many Americans need this reminder. They're not thinking about abortion. Much less are they thinking about the pro-life movement—when they're not thinking of us as extremists, they're not thinking of us at all.
If in the wake of our Truth Tours, a thousand conversations begin with "I saw a bunch of anti-abortion wackos today" and end with a frank, and long overdue, discussion of abortion, we consider our image worth the sacrifice.
Throughout American history, all successful social reform movements—from the movement to enact child labor laws to the civil rights movement—have used images that depict victims of maltreatment and violence. Public support for such reforms could not have been garnered without publicly showing graphic images of the victims.
Consider the case of Emmett Till, a 14-year old black boy who whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi in 1955. Till, who was from Chicago, didn't understand that he had violated the unwritten "rules" of the Jim Crow South until three days later, when two white men dragged him from his bed, savagely beat him, shot him in the head, and threw his body into a river.
Emmett's mother, Mamie Till, insisted on an open casket at his funeral so that the world could see "what they did to my boy." His face was battered beyond recognition, and his body had decomposed after being underwater for several days.
Although his killers were acquitted by an all-white jury, the image of his mutilated body made an indelible mark in people's minds, and helped mobilize the civil rights movement. Shortly thereafter, the Montgomery bus boycott began.
As a loving mother, Mamie Till wanted all to see the brutality that her son endured at the hands of violent racists. So too, out of compassion for the victims of abortion, we want all to see the brutality that they endured under the guise of "choice."
Pro-abortion groups despise us for displaying graphic abortion pictures because they know that it changes hearts and awakens consciences. If we are serious about stopping abortion, we must continue to show the graphic images of its victims, even if we risk being labeled "extreme."[Back to Top]
None of us out there holding pictures of aborted babies can ever forget the injustice done to those particular children. To us, they are not just generic representatives of abortion, but actual babies whose deaths we mourn.
Just as Mamie Till honored the memory of her son Emmett by exposing the brutalities he suffered at the hands of two racists, we honor these aborted babies' memories by exposing the cruelties they suffered. Their lives will not have been lost in vain if other babies are saved because their parents see what abortion would do to them.
What would truly dishonor these children would be to hide the evidence of what was done to them for fear of upsetting some poeple or looking "extreme."
The remains of all the babies whose pictures we hold out on the streets were given a Christian burial. We continue to solemnly honor them by quietly, prayerfully holding their pictures out on the streets—the only baby pictures they will ever have.[Back to Top]