I am grateful for the comments that I sometimes receive from those who disagree with the use of graphic images of aborted babies. As with any particular method or project, one must do research, planning, and then careful analysis of the results of the project.
This is exactly what we do with the use of graphic images. If you examine websites like that of the Center for Bioethical Reform, www.abortionNo.org, you will see that the impact of these images helps women in crisis pregnancies to change their minds about aborting their children, helps post-abortive men and women to come to terms with what they did (an essential step toward healing), helps neutralize and convert pro-choice activists, and helps pro-life people to dedicate themselves even more deeply to the struggle.
Neither Priests for Life nor the Center for Bioethical Reform maintain that using graphic images is the only pro-life project we should engage in. Anyone familiar with our work knows the broad range of projects and programs we are involved in.
We do point out, however, that there is no statistical evidence to support the assertion that graphic imagery turns people away from the pro-life cause. The experience of those who use these images corresponds with the lessons that we learn from other social reform movements: only when enough people see the injustice is there enough momentum created in the nation to eliminate it.
Nor would it be fair to assume that portraying the very horrible reality we are all fighting is somehow at odds with a "loving," "compassionate," or "positive" approach. Again, social reform history, and Biblical history, teach us that "good" is not always the same as "nice," and that love and compassion can be pretty tough, especially on those in society who insist on hiding from the injustice in which they are complicit.
There are many varied tasks needed to achieve our common goal of ending abortion. In evaluating any particular approach, it is essential to do so based on the objective evidence of history and experience. And that evidence is not lacking regarding visual imagery. One would need a pretty dramatic rationale to think that the pro-life movement is exempt from the principles of social reform.
If you can think of one, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fr. Frank Pavone