Sometimes I feel like going out and yelling to the man who is dropping off his girlfriend at Planned Parenthood for an abortion and screaming at him for being a coward because at some point he needs to face God’s righteous judgement.
But I don’t.
Why? Because I know that it’s not going to stop him. It’s not going to help him. In fact, he and I will just start screaming at each other while his scared girlfriend runs right into the hands of those who will betray her and rip her child apart piece-by-piece.
This is strategy. And maybe it’s time to start rethinking the strategy of the pro-life movement as it ushers in a new generation, especially the use of graphic images.
They are important but using them wisely is part of strategy too.
Seeing abortion victims is vital for many people when they are in the midst of transforming into an activist. There are certain times when abortion victims must be shown.
But it’s not all the time.
Some of the videos from the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) have shown children who have been killed by Planned Parenthood - “fresh” abortion victims being dissected for their parts.
This is a time where many who have sacrificed so much in our movement believe their work promoting abortion victim imagery for the past decades has been validated. But the champagne corks need to stay on a little longer.
While the images of the little broken boy in the third and fourth CMP videos are extremely powerful, it’s important to note a couple of reasons why they were so, beyond the shocking sight of his body.
Firstly, the viewer had opted-in to watch the video after being warned the images were going to be disturbing. Secondly, it was Planned Parenthood, the so-called credible health care provider, and not the “crazy” pro-life activist, as they so lovingly call them, who was showing the world what abortion looks like.
Did the sight of the little boy, and his clearly visible ‘war-torn’ legs and arms make the videos the powerful force that they are? No. The first two videos, which have the most online views and news articles, didn’t feature any images of aborted babies.
In fact, the CMP videos made national headlines for 13 consecutive days, triggered three congressional investigations, the defunding of Planned Parenthood in three states, and 13 state investigations before a single abortion victim was shown.
It appears there are multiple ways to cause uproar about abortion. One of them is victim imagery.
It was the callousness of the Planned Parenthood officials in discussing abortion and how they were willing to alter the procedure to get more usable parts to sell, which struck the heart of the American consciousness.
It was Dr. Deborah Nucatola sipping wine and eating salad while casually discussing how she could “crush above or crush below” to get less mangled organs, which got Megyn Kelly and other national media to pay attention.
Did the images help in convincing some that abortion is morally wrong? Possibly. But they weren’t the be all and end all.
These images are just the beginning of our work to end abortion. They very well could help push down the first domino, Planned Parenthood, and defunding them of the more than $500 million a year they get from taxpayers. But more work will need to be done to achieve our objective.
We literally have millions of Americans who have been complicit in abortion. Many of them are hurting. We aren’t going to get them to vote against pro-abortion politicians or speak out about how Planned Parenthood betrayed them until they seek healing. Why? Because if you’ve been complicit in an abortion, you cannot say abortion is bad or wrong - because that would be saying you are bad or you were wrong.
We must utilize new strategies when determining how to transform our culture to reject abortion. Unlike the early 1900s and 1950-60s when images of child labor and civil rights abuses shocked our nation, we live in a different time.
A girl goes to Google instantly after getting a positive pregnancy test. She searches for abortion. The images are there. We see proof of this every day when young women outside of Planned Parenthood tell the pro-life sidewalk counselor that they just “can’t have their baby right now.” They don’t say blob of tissue or fetus - they say baby.
And with a generation that has grown up with moral relativism as the philosophy de jour, reaching people with the plain facts just doesn’t cut it anymore. Students have told me: “Well, your truth isn’t always my truth.” You can’t show people graphic images and expect their views and behaviors to change. Their hearts have to be ready to accept it.
When our team is out on campuses this fall, starting and training hundreds of Students for Life groups, the images will be a tool in our toolkit, just like these CMP videos. However, the real culture change, the one that must take place in order for us to transform our culture to reject abortion, will happen through personal conversations and relationships. That’s our strategy.