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Dr. Russell Sacco’s photo with 10-week-old baby’s feet

(LifeSiteNews) — Protect Life Michigan, one of the largest youth-driven pro-life organizations in the Great Lakes State, has released a must-watch video titled “Our Strategy to Win the Pro-Life Fight.” 

“Can I be honest? The pro-life movement is getting its butt kicked at the ballot box,” executive director Christen Polo stated. “With these losses, many of us are asking: What are we doing wrong? Are we doomed to lose? How do we overcome the lies of the abortion industry? How do we help people understand our message?” 

These are, she observes, “exactly the questions we ought to be asking,” because “hundreds of thousands of lives are on the line in the 2024 election.” Some of you may remember that Protect Life Michigan (PLM) worked tirelessly during the 2022 abortion referendum, in which some groups insisted on focusing primarily on issues other than abortion – a strategy that is both ineffective and often seems disingenuous to voters. For several years, however, PLM’s team has been working on ways to convert Michiganders to the pro-life cause and experimenting with different strategies. 

“I have good news,” Polo notes in the statement accompanying the new video. “We have a better way. In this video, Protect Life Michigan lays out the evidence for a strategy that works to change hearts and save lives. This is the same strategy we’ve employed for years with great success. Our movement is losing support from our base, losing support from our youth… but there is a better way.” 

What Protect Life Michigan has found through its campus activism is that by showing the victims of abortion, minds are changed. “No successful movement has won while hiding the victim of the injustice they wish to change,” Polo observed. “We must lead with our best argument, which is the photographic evidence of abortion’s destructive consequences. This is our path forward in a post-Roe world. We change the culture by showing the victims of abortion.” 

“What tactic has been proven to change the minds of pro-choice students more often and more quickly?” she went on. “Abortion victim imagery. We can change 30% of people’s minds on abortion in minutes if we use our strongest arguments coupled with our strongest evidence: the images of lives taken by abortion.”  

The experience of other pro-life organizations, such as the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, where I serve as communications director, confirms the experience of Protect Life Michigan. We find that more and more young people wish to join us on the frontlines – we had 85 people on payroll in August of this year – because they get to see minds and hearts changed every day. We recorded over 3,000 testimonies this year; of 5,200 tracked conversations with pro-abortion people over the past 24 months, 27 percent went from pro-abortion to pro-life, and 25% became significantly more pro-life. 

Those anecdotes also translate into statistical data. Polling indicates that 67 percent of those who see an image of an aborted baby feel more negatively about abortion solely due to what they saw – without even having a conversation. Seeing, as it turns out, really is believing. Those who claim that abortion victim photography is ineffective are simply wrong – they have either not experienced the changed minds for themselves (I have seen it and experienced it countless times), or they have not reviewed the hard anecdotal and statistical data. (That, it must be said, does not reflect well on those who decry an effective strategy from a wealth of inexperience.) 

As Christen Polo noted: “Social reform is vastly different from marketing. Marketing’s goal is to positively attract you to a product or person. Social reform’s primary objective, however, is to repel people away from injustice. Victim photography is a social reformer’s most powerful tool to do just that. Watch the video below to learn more about this critically important tactic.” 

Throughout history, successful social reformers – virtually without exception – have used victim imagery to convict the culture, from the abolitionists to the child labor activists to the civil rights movement. They did so because the images demanded justice and did the victims honor. “To expose the injustice done to these little someones is the highest possible respect that can be shown to that aborted child,” Dr. Monica Miller once wrote. “It allows that little person to speak the injustice that happened to her, to prove she lived, and allows her brief life to change the world for the better.” 

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Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.