Monica Miller

Why graphic images need to be displayed: from the woman who took the photos

Monica Miller
By Monica Miller
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The following is a guest blog post by Monica Migliorino Miller Ph.D., director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society and author of Abandoned: The Untold Story of the Abortion Wars (St. Benedict Press, 2012). Monica Miller is the same photographer who took many of the photos of aborted babies being used in pro-life demonstrations.

February 4, 2013 (ProlifeAction) - On the 40th anniversary of Roe. v. Wade, Simcha Fisher posted an article at National Catholic Register online entitled “Eight Reasons Not to Use Graphic Images at the March for Life.” Simcha’s negative view of graphic images is part of a larger debate within the pro-life movement on the use of abortion victim photos, and I now offer this rebuttal.

Simcha prefaces her eight reasons by stating: “A public place is not the place to use these images — ever.” Simcha makes it clear that she does not oppose the use of graphic images in certain contexts, but she attempts to argue that they should never be used in a public forum.

Simcha contradicts her own position when she states that seeing the photos caused her to “be shaken out of a vague, fuzzy support for the pro-life cause into the realization that this is a life and death struggle — real life and real death.” If so, then why oppose the public display of the tragedy of abortion when others, too, may be shaken into the same realization? Here are Simcha’s reasons and my response to them.

Objection One: Children Will See the Photos

Simcha argues that since parents do not allow children to watch gruesome slasher movies, with fake blood and violence, children should not be exposed to real violence, and in this case the violence of abortion. Of course the display of graphic images is not deliberately aimed at children and they are not entertainment.

I would argue that the pro-life movement has an obligation to publicly reveal the injustice of abortion, to indeed — as she already acknowledged — awaken dead souls to America’s national tragedy. Even as pro-lifers we can fail to realize the crisis that legalized abortion represents — a social/moral crisis that sends 3,500 innocent people to their deaths each day with the sanction of law.

This crisis requires that the truth be publicly exposed — and the magnitude of the injustice that we face overrides the possibility that children will see the pictures. It simply makes no sense to forego the public exposure of our national slaughter that has sent tens of millions of children to their deaths for the sake of sparing children who might see the photos and who might be affected by them. The horrific injustice of abortion and our nation’s continued support for it requires that the photos be shown — despite the possibility of children seeing the disturbing images.

This is not to say that pro-lifers should be insensitive to this potential problem. Pro-life demonstrations and especially Face the Truth tours should post visible warning signs. Doing so goes a long way to mitigate the concern that children will be exposed to the violence of abortion.

On a more personal note, my own children as early as the age of five held graphic images in public demonstrations with me at their side. They have suffered no negative effects in any way. Rather this built up their resolve to oppose abortion.

Furthermore, I have vast personal experience with parents whose children have seen the signs and I can say that the way parents themselves respond to the images influences the response of their children. If the parents are angry and upset — so will the child be. But if the parent exhibits a sense of peace and explains to the child what happened to the unborn baby in a way that children can understand, potential trauma is much alleviated.

Nevertheless, to impose as requirements that children will never see the photos or that they will never be upset by them are simply unjustified demands in light of the need to reveal the truth about abortion in order to bring this injustice to an end.

Objection Two: The Photos Will Upset Post-Abortive Women

My response to this is similar to the response above. Yes, the movement rightly needs to be sensitive to the needs of post-abortive women, but again, the primary victims of abortion are the millions who perish under the law in a violent death, in a nation that at least tolerates such killing and at worst advocates such killing. The enormity of the injustice requires that the public be awakened to the slaughter.

No pro-lifer is forcing post-abortive women to look at the bloody remains of an aborted child. That is not the purpose of a demonstration that uses graphic images. And there simply is no one-size-fits-all response of post-abortive women to such images. It makes no sense to stop showing the photos in order to spare post-abortive women who may become upset when these very photos actually prevent women from choosing abortion and thus spare them a lifetime of torment.

On the display of graphic images, well known pro-life activist Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, stated: “As a woman who has had two abortions, I am grateful that the truth is being shown, so that others can avoid this pain in the first place.”

Objection Three: The Photos Will Upset Mothers

I can honestly say that in 37 years of activist activity, and as a mother of three born children and the mother of three miscarried children, I have never known any mother to be affected by abortion photos in a psychologically negative manner.

This is not to say that certain mothers do not experience deep sorrow at the sight of these photos or re-live a sense of loss regarding their miscarried babies. But such a response is not negative — it is simply human, and again in no way does the arousal of such sentiments and emotions justify keeping the victims of abortion hidden from the general public for the sake of bringing an end to abortion.

Objection Four: Showing the Photos Dishonors the Child

Famous humanitarian and concentration camp survivor Elie Wiesel stated: “To forget murder victims is to kill them twice.” The photos of the aborted unborn and their public exposure in no way dishonors these children. Abortion kills real people, it assaults the life of a personal someone — a personal someone that the very act of abortion meant to keep hidden forever, to blot out a life as if he or she had never lived.

When a pro-lifer photographs that victim and exposes the injustice done to that victim — short of a humane burial, this is the highest possible honor that can be given to that aborted child. When a graphic image is displayed — it is that child who speaks.

The abortion photo is the only real way we can say these particular hidden, unwanted persons lived once, that their lives matter, and through the photos we can contemplate the injustice they suffered and be aroused to do something about it!

Objection Five: Showing Graphic Images Gives Pro-Lifers a Bad Image

Simcha said that anyone who publicly displays graphic images “come[s] across as a lunatic.” She was quick to add that such a person is “not a lunatic” yet she believes that such pro-lifers “sure look that way.”

I have spent countless hours on Face the Truth Tours, planned hundreds of demonstrations with graphic images and certainly some of those who observe us think we are “lunatics.” However, there are just as many, if not indeed the majority of those who see us who understand that we are protesting an injustice — that we are making an issue out of it and who, even if they don’t agree with us, treat us with respect for taking a stand.

When Simcha believes those who display graphic images are viewed as “lunatics” I suspect that she is revealing her own personal repugnance of pro-life activism and her own fear of being misunderstood than is the actual case when it come to this type of pro-life demonstration.

Objection Six: Graphic Images Push Women Into Abortion

Simcha agrees that graphic images have saved lives — that woman intending to abort changed their minds after viewing the images. However, she argues that such photos should not be used because some women are so repelled by them that they “freaked out and rushed into the clinic.”

The problem with her whole argument here is that every baby was schedule to be killed and that none of them would be alive unless the reality of abortion was present to the abortion-bound women. In other words, through the graphic images some babies were spared abortion who would otherwise be dead! So — this is not an argument against graphic images — but an argument in their favor!

However, there is one valid point that she inadvertently makes — namely that in a sidewalk counseling situation there should be no graphic posters near the entrance to the clinic if pro-lifers have an opportunity to talk to the women. The pro-lifer needs to be able to engage the woman one-on-one — to really counsel her as a friend. The pro-lifer will have expanded the opportunity for personal engagement with the woman in this singularly most sensitive, urgent moment if the trappings of a protest are not there.

Objection Seven: Graphic Images Desensitize Pro-lifers to Abortion

As someone who has taken the broken bodies of the aborted unborn out of the trash, spent hundreds of hours up-close with these victims photographing them, and attended countless demonstrations with the posters of abortion victims, I can honestly say such exposure has not hardened me to the injustice of abortion.

I know of no committed pro-lifer who is less resolved to fight the injustice of abortion due to repeated exposure to the victims. Indeed, as I said in my book, Abandoned: The Untold Story of the Abortion Wars — a book that, by the way, contains eight photos of aborted babies — “Once you see the bodies with the right mind, you can never go back. They have taken you into their world.”

Objection Eight: People Will See What They Want to See

This is Simcha’s weakest argument. Basically she says that since those who support abortion will deny the authenticity of the abortion victim photos, pro-lifers should stop showing them. This is like saying, since there are those who deny that the Nazi Holocaust ever happened, the photos of concentration camp victims should cease to be displayed.

Who cares if the enemies of life deny the truth of the photos? This is no reason not to show them. The reality still needs to be exposed no matter whom or how many wish to deny the truth. Simcha’s argument here simply cannot be taken seriously.

Conclusion: Abortion Photos Are a Necessary Element of the Pro-Life Cause

There is simply no social reform movement that did not make use of images of injustice to advance its cause. This is because images of injustice speak and change hearts in a way that no speeches, political strategies, facts and statistics could ever do.

Some, like Simcha Fisher, argue that the viewing of abortion images should be infrequent and completely voluntary. However, this means that only those in our pro-death nation who are willing and motivated to check out a website, read a book with graphic images, seek out pro-life literature that contains them will ever be confronted by the reality of the abortion atrocity. And so we are talking about the very few!

If the movement relied solely on a voluntary audience, we would not educate those millions of people who need to be exposed to the tragedy of our national slaughter and have their consciences awakened. And it is painfully obvious that the movement cannot depend on the media to do this for us.

Fifty-five million people have been put to death in our national crime. The majority of the public has yet to be awakened to this atrocity. The showing of images of the victims — images that primarily communicate the humanity of the victim — are a necessary part of the pro-life effort to end the killing of the unborn.

The photos tell a terrible truth that would otherwise remain hidden — and our movement would be seriously impoverished, perhaps even crippled — without the telling of this truth.

Reprinted with permission from ProlifeAction. 

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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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Protecting marriage isn’t enough – we must oppose gay ‘civil unions’ too

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

Philippe Ariño, one of the original initiators of the French “Manif pour tous” rallies against the legalization of same-sex “marriage” in November 2012, is suggesting that opposition to the law and its probable developments needs to be coherent and complete if it hopes to be efficient. In a recent and widely-circulated article published on his blog, he writes that the objective must be to put an end to legalized “civil unions” as well.

Ariño, a non-practicing homosexual, left the “Manif pour tous” by March 2013, criticizing the movement’s figurehead, Frigide Barjot, for her stands on “homosexual love” and her insistence that civil unions were not only acceptable, but should benefit from a more favorable legal framework. Barjot herself was to be ousted from the organization for the same reason, but the “Manif pour tous” still takes care not to antagonize and avoids clear-cut condemnation of certain “homosexual rights” so as not to appear radical.

At the “Manif pour tous” summer university this weekend, leader Ludovine de La Rochère underscored the fact that the socialist government would certainly not reverse the same-sex “marriage” law, adding that it would be useless to demand its abrogation as long as Hollande and his government is in power.

"‘Marriage for all’ and [civil unions] form a whole, and the glue which holds them together is the belief in and the justification of homosexual identity and love."

Not so, argues Ariño. His warning in view of the group’s upcoming rally against “familyphobia,” gender ideology, surrogate motherhood, and artificial procreation for homosexuals on October 5 in Paris pleads for consistency. He gave permission to LifeSite to translate his text and publish its most significant passages.

“Why should we not limit ourselves to demanding the abrogation of the ‘same-sex marriage’ law – the few of us, that is, who are beginning to realize that we should demand it! – and why must we demand what is most necessary: the abrogation of the ‘PACS’?” he writes.

The PACS, or French “civil solidarity pact” is a civil union open to all, including homosexuals. It is slowly replacing normal marriage as it includes less obligations and can be dissolved unilaterally at any time through a bailiff’s letter.

Ariño calls it “totally illogical, unrealistic and useless, when opposing gender ideology, surrogate motherhood and even ‘marriage for all’ to do so without demanding the abrogation of the PACS, even if many will argue that “when asking too much you get nothing at all.”

“I would say on the contrary that it is because we did not make this minimal demand that we will find that everything will be imposed upon us one small step at a time! I’m telling them that it is they who are exaggerating and that they have not taken the full measure of the gravity of the PACS, and the 180° turn it is imposing on the whole world,” he answers.

Opposing civil unions mentally and in private is not enough, says Ariño, and remains a form of “cant”: “They have simply not understood the PACS and its symbolic impact; deep down they have justified it because they have found its ‘excrescence’ – same-sex ‘marriage’ – a ‘great deal worse’. ‘Marriage for all’ and PACS form a whole, and the glue which holds them together is the belief in and the justification of homosexual identity and love.”

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Ariño goes on to criticize the principle of public recognition of homosexual couples: “Civil union is the first-ever law in the world to have been based on people’s sexual orientation, it is the first homophobic law which reduces men and women to their so-called homosexual identity or practice, the first law to have established homosexuality as a society’s operating model. That is why it is extremely serious, perhaps even more serious than ‘marriage for all’, despite appearances and the invisibility of its ramifications (concerning parentage and marriage). It does no less harm than ‘marriage for all’ as its aim is symbolically identical: recognition/social justification of homosexual as a universal model of love, equal to any other.”

The “Manif pour tous” is often too “lukewarm,” he adds, more intent on defending a political standpoint than fully assuming its opposition to “marriage for all” in a non-partisan manner, and failing to understand the “symbolic and ideological relationship between civil union and ‘marriage for all,’”, or even the link between legalized same-sex “marriage” and surrogate motherhood.  For fear of being taxed with political extremism or homophobia, “these militants refuse visibly to appear as Catholics” and try to find “scapegoats” on their right or on their left. Ariño accuses them of fooling themselves into believing that politicians (like Nicolas Sarkozy) who are in favor of civil union will one day abrogate same-sex “marriage” or even oppose surrogate motherhood.

The figureheads of the “Manif pour tous,” whatever their “courage” and “goodwill,” and their “hopes of changing things gradually, from the inside,” do not understand the “gravity of civil unions,” thus abstaining from clear demands in the name of “realism, patience, political strategy, Hope, humility.” “It is better to make progress little by little than to ask for the impossible, they say – but who apart from them and their gay-friendly opponents is saying something is impossible?”

“Their method of ‘advancing step by step’ is not good in itself; besides, it is precisely the technique of our adversaries, showing that we are imitating them and losing sight of the realities of civil union, ‘marriage for all’ and homosexuality”, writes Ariño, accusing proponents of the method of a “lack of courage” and of “playing into their adversaries’ hands by artificially dissociating marriage from fertility, laws from those laws’ intentions, laws from their consequences.” “The PACS is but a piece of paper, a rubber check signed less than 15 years ago. But the majority of opponents to ‘marriage for all’ tremble like fledglings at the idea of being too radical – while it is precisely their lack of radicalism that doesn’t pay,” he concludes.

Philippe Ariño is a non-practising homosexual. As a Catholic, he advocates chastity, denouncing both homosexualist activism and the modern concept of “heterosexuality,” insofar as sexual union should only take place between a man and a woman in accordance with God’s plan for life-long marriage.

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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

Belgium approves euthanasia for rapist serving life sentence

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

Belgium’s Minister of Justice approved a euthanasia request Monday from a convicted rapist serving a life sentence.

The Brussels court of appeal will review the case September 29, but Belgian media report it is expected simply to record the existence of the agreement between the man and the government.

This would not be the first euthanasia of a Belgian prisoner – a terminally ill man who had already spent 27 years in jail was legally killed two years ago – but in the case of Frank Van Den Bleeken, the euthanasia request is being linked to the conditions of his imprisonment.

Van Den Bleeken, 50, has spent close to 30 years in prison. He was sentenced to life-long imprisonment for several counts of rape, one of them followed by murder. He has been declared irresponsible for these acts because of psychiatric disorders and does not want to be released from prison, considering himself to be “a danger for society.” Despite having repeatedly asked for psychiatric treatment, none has been forthcoming in the absence of any Belgian institution prepared to take up this sort of patient.

The convicted rapist says his psychological suffering is “intolerable” and it is on these grounds that three doctors decided last May that Van Den Bleeken should be entitled to euthanasia – even though he has also asked for a transfer to a Dutch institution where psychiatrically ill criminals receive adequate treatment and care.

He presented both demands to the minister of Justice via an emergency procedure. The Brussels appeal court decided that the minister, Maggie De Block, was not competent to order a transfer to the Netherlands but that she could decide to grant his request for euthanasia. The decision is being called a purely “medical” one by the minister who told the press that she confined herself to following the doctors’ opinion.

A previous euthanasia request made by Van Den Bleeken three years ago was rejected on the grounds that all had not been done to ensure that he would suffer less and that other options than death were available.

Now, even though it is clear that the prisoner would find more humane conditions of detention in nearby Holland, that he is conscious of the gravity of the acts he commits under the pressure of his mental illness, and that he is in need of medical care, the decision to make him die reads as a further trivialization of euthanasia in a country where an ever-increasing amount of psychological motives are being accepted to justify “mercy-killing.”

As in all the states of the European Union, the death penalty does not exist; it was abolished in Belgium in 1996. Rapists and murderers can find themselves sentenced to life-long sentences with no hope at all of ever being freed, a perspective which some find worse than death.

Since Van Den Bleeken’s story received media coverage, including a televised interview at the end of 2013, fifteen other prisoners have contacted the “UL-Team,” an information center for end-of-life questions, euthanasia expert Wim Distelmans told the media this Tuesday. He said those numbers are expected to rise. Distelmans is known for his support and active participation in cases of euthanasia for psychological reasons.

No date has been fixed for Van Den Bleeken’s death but his family has indicated that a doctor willing to perform the act has been found. Once the appeals court has given its ruling the prisoner will be allowed to leave the Turnhout prison where he is interned at present, and will be transferred to an unnamed hospital where he will be able to say goodbye to his family before receiving a lethal injection.

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Sen. Rob Portman, R-OH http://portman.senate.gov
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First GOP senator to back marriage redefinition may run for president in 2016

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By Ben Johnson

The first Republican U.S. senator to support same-sex “marriage” is considering running for president in 2016 – if he is re-elected this year.

Sen. Rob Portman, the junior senator from Ohio, told reporters he would decide about campaigning for the GOP presidential nod during a recent visit to New Hampshire, home of the first in the nation primary.

“I’m focused, as you can tell, on 2014 and on doing my job as a senator,” he said, according to The Daily Caller. “After the election, I'll take a look at it.”

Portman became the first Republican senator to support same-sex “marriage” last March, citing a two-year “evolution” that took place after he learned his son, Will, is homosexual. He announced his change of heart shortly after he “held a dozen meetings with big New York donors” who did not believe the GOP sufficiently championed the cause of redefining marriage, in his capacity as vice chairman of finance for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), according to Politico.

That provoked a backlash from pro-family leaders in the state, who warned Portman's move – which is at odds with the Republican Party platform – would splinter the Republican Party.”

That splintering could be seen on the pages of Ohio newspapers this month.

Lori Viars, vice president of Warren County Right to Life, wrote a column entitled, “Why Conservatives Are Dumping Portman.” She recounted asking then-Congressman Rob Portman if he would vote for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the 1990s.

“I thought he'd give me a quick yes and that I'd be on my way in search of air conditioning. But Portman would not answer my question. I pressed him, and again he deflected,” she wrote. “On my third (more emphatic) try, he got angry with me. He clearly did not want to take a position on DOMA. At the time, his son would have been in preschool.”

“Whatever his reason, Portman's flip-flop puts his presidential ambition at a disadvantage,” Viars wrote.

That garnered a ripping riposte from Mike Gonidakis of Ohio Right to Life, which was published as a letter to the editor. He accused Viars of “recklessly question[ing] Sen. Rob Portman's commitment to the pro-life cause.” Portman has a zero percent vote rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America and, while representing his conservative southwestern Ohio district voted against taxpayer funding for abortion at home and overseas, in favor of the partial birth abortion ban and protecting babies who are born alive during botched abortions, and against human cloning.

Still, Viars is not alone in distancing herself from the senator. Ohio's social conservative group, Citizens for Community Values, now lists Portman as an "unacceptable candidate."

In August 2013, Cleveland Right to Life criticized Rob Portman's stance. National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) President Carol Tobias sent a letter to CRTL, saying it had chosen to “disaffiliate” itself with NRLC because it had “issued public criticisms of and implicit political threats against a U.S. Senator who has supported the right-to-life position on every vote that has come before the Senate, and who is a sponsor of major NRLC-backed bills – because the chapter disagrees with his position on a non-right-to-life issue.”

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Aside from his stint in the U.S. Senate, the 58-year-old served 12 years in the House of Representatives and acted as U.S. Trade Representative and Director of Management and Budget under the George W. Bush administration, holding each office for one year, respectively. He largely favored free trade and voted for the 2002 authorization for the use of force against Iraq.

He has prepared presidential and vice presidential candidates for debates and has twice been considered for the vice presidential nomination, in 2008 and 2012.

Polls show Portman a virtual lock for re-election to the Senate. But the largely unknown, not especially charismatic senator does not register in polls for the presidential nomination of a party that is still committed to the traditional concept of marriage and family. 

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