why I am pro-life and not anti-abortion…

… It follows reason, if news reporting agencies are careful not to show the public graphic images out of respect for the dead and their viewers why won’t the more fanatical pro-life advocates afford the same dignity to aborted babies? There is no respect for the person-hood of those deceased infants by displaying their aborted corpses to the public. It’s disgusting.

If you want to visually make the statement that abortion is the murder of a very real person you’d be more convincing [and compassionate] to show fetal development images and pass out information on the statistics of depression/suicide/drug use of post-abortive mothers. Women need that information more than they need gore and extreme shock tactics. I know.

A much more dramatic and life affirming image

Expanding on this, Jennifer Fulwiler writes; “Thrusting pictures of aborted babies in people’s faces seems unlikely to convert people and… feed[s] the cultural message that these unborn children are less deserving of respect and dignity than other human beings.”

No one is doubting the well meaning intentions of those who use these graphic images to let the public know that abortion is evil. They are passionate about something we should be passionately against. However, the use and exploitation of the dead to promote an agenda – whether it’s one you are for or against – is plainly wrong and strips the victims of the dignity they deserve. It is also the antithesis of promoting a respect for life. Life is no longer the agenda, anti-abortion is in this instance. This is where I draw the distinction between the two and distance myself from those who use more graphic and disturbing tactics.

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  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this post. I wholeheartedly agree and I say that – with some shame – as a Catholic who was very slow to have a change of heart on the topic of abortion. When I did have a big and full change of heart, it did not come because of images, but rather for other reasons. And more powerfully so perhaps – a true change of heart.

    This is not said to make me sound like a hero – I am anything but with such a slow change. However, the lack of dignity of the human person in a lot of the farthest extremes turned me off from even thinking about abortion for what it is – murder.

    However, in the end, it seems to be the inability for those of us, even when we are overall of a like mind and heart, to have real and thoughtful conversation on the topic. That is exactly how my own turn of heart came about, by a real brother in Christ who spoke to me about abortion and touched my heart to see how awful and wrongheaded I had been.

    The images are still a huge problem for me and often the rhetoric that goes with it too. Life demands dignity with dignity and does not need to stoop to do so. Those images are of humans – human lives lost and they should be remembered with reverence, prayer and yes – dignity.

  • I agree- fetal development pics are beautiful- and should soften the hearts of those people ready to change- and they won’t give my kids nightmares!

  • David

    Well said.

  • Michael

    I think it come from the mentality that developed from images of the Holocaust, Vietnam, etc. We’re bombarded with those images & rhetoric, and see the visceral response those images generate and the changes that resulted from seeing them; and then think that images of the unborn victims will elicit similar changes in public thinking, whereas my observation is that the earlier mentioned images have calloused the public perception of what value life has. Horror movies are gorier, video games are more violent, all to get the same response that lesser images elicited when I was younger. It’s not that human life has gotten cheaper, it’s that our perception of it has.

    • Katrina Fernandez

      “It’s not that human life has gotten cheaper, it’s that our perception of it has.”

      Good point.

  • Bridget

    I’ve never been comfortable with the graphic images of the poor aborted babies but wasn’t able to express why as you did so eloquently. Thanks for this post and for giving me a better way to think about and to talk about the topic.

  • Kathleen

    Some of the pictures I’ve seen aren’t even of aborted babies but of still borns. Which I find even more upsetting.

  • Kat, I don’t remember ever being more disappointed with anything you have written. What utter self-indulgent bilge. I’m shocked by this display of moral cowardice.

    Distance yourself? From the effort to stop the most horrifying mass crime in recorded history? Why? Because vigorous opposition might hurt someone’s delicate sensibilities?

    You deserve Patheos.

    • Katrina Fernandez


      We both feel adamantly and passionately about how wrong and murderous abortion is. Those children’s mutilated bodies deserve the same dignity we give all our dead. I truly feel exploiting their images strips of the dignity of person-hood. I would no more want to see an mangled corpse killed by a drunk driver to discourage drunk driving because the deceased deserves respect [as the example Jennifer gave in the link I provided]. Infant victims of abortion deserve the same respect.

      I could give a damn less about the viewer’s sensibilities. Hilary you know me. My concern is with the infants aborted. They don’t deserve to have their image used and exploited like that. If we are going to convince women that abortion kills babies I believe it’s babies they need to see.

      I see no moral cowardice in showing fetal development. On the contrary it takes courage to show images of what so many deny [even in the medical field] … that what grows in the womb is a very real baby.

      I’m sorry you think me a coward and deserving of Patheos.

  • Anonymous

    I think that what is interesting – and very important to these kinds of conversations is that we rarely see comments that ask for clarity. I think that the original post was very clear and the dignity of a graphic image of an aborted fetus or the beauty of a developing fetus is not hard to understand.

    When I changed my heart and mind about abortion two things happened. My pro-choice friends immediately went on tirades. My pro-life friends were rejoicing. It made me sad that no one asked what happened or why.

    That is where I think the conversion opportunity lies, but perhaps I am wrong.

  • I’m uncomfortable with the graphic images myself. Our second son was still-born at about 17 weeks and we got to hold his body and spend some time with him, so I have firsthand knowledge of what a tiny baby looks like & don’t need to see the after-effects of an abortion on such an innocent.

    But to never show their torn bodies, to hide those terrible images away – to me that is the same as saying we shouldn’t show graphic footage of the Holocaust. Didn’t the Allies force Germans from the nearby towns to help bury the stacks and stacks of bodies at the death camps? Wasn’t that in part to force them to finally see what they had been ignoring?

    I think in the end both approaches should be used. Obviously, the graphic images should be used much more judiciously – probably not without your priest’s OK, never where young children might see.

    • Katrina Fernandez

      Did I ever indicate in my writings to “never” shown graphic images?

      I appreciate the feedback. It’s a lesson in learning to write better. If I have to explain my meaning than it proves I failed to articulate clearly.

  • Jan

    Well, pictures of bludgeoned baby seals certainly seemed to have a positive effect…the point being that slaughtered human fetuses should provoke as much outrage.

    • Katrina Fernandez

      Again, I never said I was not outraged by abortion. But I fail to see how waving an image of a dead baby about the street, with no discretion, does well for the pro-life cause. PETA loves the bludgeoned baby seals and scaring children with those pictures. PETA is also notoriously bat shit crazy… not something I want to associate with the pro-life campaign.

      As a parent to a young child, I would be pissed beyond words, if my son was forced to look at something so gruesome before he was old enough to even comprehend human development, pregnancy, and abortion.

      I thought if I provided to link to Jennifer’s article other would follow it … I was trying to avoid retyping her entire essay.

      Again, this is a lesson in clarity.

  • Hi Katrina

    I totally agreed with your post and I have said this many times. The best way to humanize unborn babies is to show people babies, beautiful living human babies both inside the womb and outside. If it were possible I would love to create a living art exhibit in which people could spend time just holding and playing with babies, maybe talking to mothers in various stages of pregnancy (especially the latter stages) looking at baby images and just marvelling at these tiny living beings. My thinking is the more people see and touch and smell babies, the less strange and alien they become and the easier it is to make the leap to considering them persons even in the womb. Our society has gone from idealizing motherhood to an almost unrealistic degree to making it seem strange and awful.

    • Katrina Fernandez

      You are so right. Motherhood is now about what women are forced to sacrificed and children are treated as burdens who do nothing more than stifle mom and dad good times.

      • Katrina Fernandez

        Blah… I am commenting terribly this morning. I need to have coffee first before I take to the internet typing like a drunk monkey.

  • susan

    I know that the commenters here are saying that your hearts weren’t changed by graphic images, but many, MANY others have been. Different temperaments respond to different approaches. I was speaking with a woman a couple weeks ago who was ‘converted’ by graphic images. Priests for Life has always contended that ‘America will never reject abortion until America sees abortion’. One of the most effective videos in moving hearts to the Pro-Life camp was Bernard Nathanson’s ‘The Silent Scream”… ultrasound of an actual suction abortion with the baby trying mightily to escape the canula. After seeing this gruesome video, you would have to be a monster to deny that a child was just killed…it was a true turning point in the battle for life. I would say that the child killed in that video, far from being exploited, became the ‘face of life’ and helped to save countless other innocents.

    We should be shocked, and appalled, and nauseated by abortion; it should make a psychologically healthy person weep to even think about it. But in our culture, codified in our law as a Constitutional right (God have mercy!), we’re told it’s a ‘choice’; you know, like coke or pepsi, but with a recovery time. For some people, seeing the result of the choice is a real eye-opener and a life changer…it should leave a permanent impression, just as the Holocaust images, and abused slave images did. There is a place for the graphic images, lives are saved as a result.

    • Katrina Fernandez

      See my comments above.

  • Patricia

    As one who has participated in Face the Truth Tours that use these images, I can say that the participants do so with the intent of both showing the horrid reality of decriminalized child-killing, as well as the intent of giving these forgotten & unloved children dignity & a voice. In addition, as one who has been involved in the pro-life movement for almost 30 years, since I was in junior high, I sometimes need to be shaken out of my complacency & brought to the point of righteous indignation by these images. May God forgive me for not doing more to end this crime against humanity.
    I know you may disagree, but thanks for letting me share my thoughts.
    God bless–

    • Katrina Fernandez

      Thank you for defending the unborn and being their voice. 30 years is quite a commitment. I would also like to thank you for your comment.

      Can I ask you, I don’t mean this in any smug condescending way, but does it occur to you that hanging images of aborted babies over interstate overpasses risks exposing very small children to these images. It scares them and strips them of their innocence. It also robs the parent of teaching their child something so profoundly important when their child is more capable of undertanding abortion. Does that make sense?

      The first time I saw the truck with the images plastered all over it and all the people on the highway waving images of dead babies I thanked God my son was not in the car with me. It would have been traumatic as hell.

      I just don’t think this is the way… alienating people, frightening children, forcing people to see when they’re not ready, and reinforcing a negative fundamentalist crazt stereotype.

      I prefer the 40 days for life, rosaries @ abortion mills, free ultra sounds, making young people aware of fetal developement, etc etc etc.

      And you don’t need to thank me for letting you share your thoughts. This is an open forum and I appreciate your comments and differing opinion. I’ve never spoke to anyone before who participated in Face the Truth and I’ve alwasys wanted to ask them the above. So thank you for taking your time to answer my questions and participate in this thread.

      Oh, lastly…. what about the effects your images have on women already suffering from post-abortive trauma? Is there a concern that being caught off guard by those images would cause them emotional stress? Post abortive women seeking recovery have been through so much as it is.

  • Anonymous

    Well – I would be the first to say, this post is causing me to pause and reconsider many things. I often posit that if we only read blogs we “like” and interact with people who are “like us” we end up nowhere, staring in a mirror that shows nothing. Christ acts in and through us and in all of our interactions if we are sincere of heart. I don’t think that I have ever left a comment here on your blog Katrina. With all due respect, I read, but I often find myself perturbed.

    There are many reminders that no single of us possesses the Truth in its entirety and that we are called into communion and Communion for a reason… to be transformed and to transform.

    In any event, I am glad that the Spirit prompted me to speak up and that I have followed the thread. Thank you.

    • Katrina Fernandez

      So are you saying you don’t like my blog? I’m sorry if I perturb you. I don’t claim to have authority or monopoly on truth. I leave that to The Church. My opnion is just like everyone else, in that I have one. You don’t have to agree with me to comment. If you think I’m off base say so.

      I have a few friends who think I’ve sold out joining Patheos, but the truth is I came to Patheos for a wider variety in readers. It got tedious preaching to the choir and just reading comments, “I agree”. I mean it’s nice to think I’m always right, but challenging dialogue is good for the ego and humility.

      Thank you for participating in the comments.

      • Anonymous

        Oh Katrina, I am not saying that I do not like your blog at all and I am sorry if that is how it came across! I read your blog for a reason. I may find myself perturbed by any number of things (ask Elizabeth Scalia, she knows how crabby I can be…) I do not think that you are off base either, so again, mea culpa, poor communicating on my part and we don’t actually know each other very well, so that is a contributing factor perhaps as well. I can only apologize and try to be more clear.

        What I meant is that I do not always agree with you or your commenters and I am fairly sure that if you all visit any of my 3 blogs, you may feel the same way. I don’t have so many commeters, so less discussion- sadly!

        And I could not agree with you more about preaching to the choir. We must all find ways to start from what we agree on – Christ and the Catholic Church and go from there.

        As for Patheos and selling out…. hardly. If you can reach a wider and more diverse audience for Christ you should do so! Good for you. I look forward to continued discussion in faith!

  • Jan

    Geez! I didn’t question your sense of, lack of, whatever of, outrage! Let me clarify now. I simply put forth that images of dead animals are enough for certain types of people to take action.

    Showing aborted fetuses is not a good idea and no, I wouldn’t want my young children to be randomly exposed to them without warning. But I can understand why its being done — people, especially women about to abort, aren’t being shown those images and let’s face it, the longer abortion remains legal, the easier it is to forget about it.

    This needs to be taken for what it is – an act of desparation. And yes, you will be royally pissed if your son is confronted by these images, at which point you have a golden teaching moment.

  • Patricia

    I do want to point out that those of us who participate in Face the Truth Tours (or the Genocide Awareness Project, GAP) do not wave these horrific images in anyone’s faces, nor do we force anyone to look at them (in fact, most people prefer to look away & ignore us, to pretend that we are not there, pretend that the horror we are exposing does not exist). As for the Face the Truth Tour, we stand peacefully & in prayer — oftentimes being spit upon, cursed at, or having things thrown at us — by those who are pro-abortion & by those who are pro-life alike. Through the use of tricky semantics, society had tried to lead us to believe that being anti-abortion is something that we ought to be ashamed of. Since being pro-life encompasses more issues than just abortion, we need not be afraid of declaring that we are indeed anti-abortion (& anti-euthanasia, & anti-pornography, etc.) along with proclaiming that we are pro-life.
    One pro-abortion columnist shared how her young child once saw one of these images & asked, “Who broke the baby?” It made her rethink what she was supporting.
    In all honesty, I do struggle with the fact that these images may upset some children (some of our own children are more sensitive to this than others), as well as the effect post-abortion women. My hope is that these women will realize that they have been victimized along with their children, be brought to repentance & find forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
    God bless–

  • Carol

    Thank you even for the simple distinction of being pro-life and not anti-abortion. As we know, being pro-life means being anti-abortion along with being anti-war, anti-death penalty, anti-euthanasia, anti-ESC usage, anti-cloning, anti-IVF, anti-poverty, anti-unfair *marriage*– anti-undignity of any sort for the human person made in His image who was Told to go forth and multiply, having been Purposely made –male and female, He purposely made them.

    Indeed, a person’s organs and blood is a Personal matter and splashing those images except where they must be is unfair to them and us and children (all of whom can do nothing about that poor dead kid). I have met many decades-long pro-life folks and I doubt graphic images lent anything big toward that, but if so, I know they wouldn’t have been ambushed with them.

    Finally, suffice it to say I have rarely met a nurse or doctor (who has seen the graphic all of everything) ever say boo about abortion, ‘though their profession means being life itself’s advocates. So, sod the images. Love must overwhelm science, as happened for and by Dr. Nathanson. And woman must work to give men back their legal co-creator rights.