I’m not supposed to play favorites but I do. In fact, I have a favorite pro-life group based out of Phoenix, Arizona. They are called Voices for the Voiceless (or VFTV, see www.VFTV.org). The thing I like most about the group is that a young man named Josiah Friedman when he was only fifteen founded them. Six years later, some of the leaders are still in their late teens. Arguably, these young people have already done more to advocate for the unborn than most pro-lifers will do in an entire lifetime.
When VFTV started it was basically a hub for the student pro-life movement across the state of Arizona. The group held events and tried to reach out to general audiences in an apologetics-based format. Some of their marketing techniques were quite appealing. They held rallies in close proximity to the Arizona State University campus. At the rallies, they wore tee shirts and held signs saying, “We are the 78%.” It was a poignant reminder of the fact that only 78% of their generation has survived Roe v. Wade. On the other hand, 22% of their generation fell to a decision predicated on women’s rights. That includes roughly 22% of unborn women.
Now, VFTV has started to shift its emphasis away from reaching out directly to the masses with apologetics. Instead, they are seeking to help committed pro-lifers develop specific skills so that they, in turn, can reach the masses. The skills sets they seek to develop range from art, to performance, to social media and photography. This new direction has resulted in some interesting new projects.
Perhaps the most interesting of those new projects is called “Exposures.” It is a photojournalism project that involves street interviews on the topic of abortion. (I had a chance to participate in one of the interviews last weekend in Flagstaff). Each brief interview involves a few basic steps.
First, a pair of photojournalists approaches someone on the street, explains that they are doing a photojournalism project, and then requests permission to take a picture of the interviewee and to ask a couple of questions. Most are surprisingly willing to have their picture taken and to answer the questions.
After the picture is taken, interviewees are asked the open-ended question, “How do you feel about abortion?” Then, they are asked the more specific question, “Has abortion affected you or someone you know personally?”
Finally, a release form is signed. Each interviewee is also given a card with the web address of the interview archive. There, interviewees can see their picture and printed responses.
The beauty of this project is that it starts a conversation without being argumentative or confrontational. People are simply invited to express their opinion and then asked if they have a personal story they would like to share. For example, in the interview I participated in on the street in Flagstaff, the woman simply responded to the opinion question by saying “I think it’s cruel.” She responded to the personal story question by saying “No.”
Even those who don’t have strong opinions about abortion (or experiences with it) can go to the website and see some truly remarkable stories. In those stories, they can see how much of an impact this often under-discussed issue can have on the lives of ordinary people. The ripple effects are often broad and enduring.
I would encourage everyone to take the time to go to the Exposures website (http://vftvexposures.tumblr.com) and read each one of the 81 posts currently archived. Abortion is more than just a personal choice. It affects us all. So let the many conversations begin. And let many conversions follow.