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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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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