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Manipulating for the unborn

Do images of aborted babies help or hurt the pro-life cause?

If you’ve seen those adopt-an-animal commercials on TV, you know how manipulative they can be. Set to mournful music, they show pitiful-looking dogs and cats, sometimes injured and shivering in slow motion, with those haunting eyes. The images touch us, which is the point. Send money to help this kitten!

Seeing abused animals, hungry children, or even shiny, sleek new cars affects us in ways that mere words might not. All commercials are designed to manipulate, a word with a bad connotation these days. We don’t want to be manipulated into doing something. We don’t mind being influenced or persuaded. But we manipulate people every day, and people manipulate us. And it’s not necessarily bad.

Showing images of aborted babies is manipulation for a good cause. The horror of abortion is clear. The destruction is obvious. Pro-lifers who display these images want the world see what tiny, discarded human beings ripped from their mothers’ wombs look like, those who were killed because their existence was inconvenient to their mothers. These images can make us feel disgust, sadness, and anger. The goal—a worthy one—is to manipulate women into thinking twice before sentencing their unborn babies to death and abortion advocates into at least softening their stance.

Do photos of torn babies manipulate people’s emotions and influence opinions? The pro-life Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform measured the phenomenon. The author of “A Statistical Analysis on the Effectiveness of Abortion Victim Photography in Pro-Life Activism” wanted to scientifically test the theory that images don’t “advance the pro-life cause, but rather set the cause back by damaging the public opinion of the pro-life movement.” The findings aren’t surprising. Showing these gruesome photos, according to the report, resulted in a “statistically significant shift in pro-life worldview, a greater negative perception of abortion, a decreased degree of permissiveness and liberalism towards abortion law, and a significant gain in pro-life political views after seeing abortion victim imagery.”

The shift in worldview after seeing aborted babies in pieces could save lives.

The shift in worldview after seeing aborted babies in pieces could save lives. Pro-lifers want to persuade women to protect the voiceless and vulnerable humans inside them. They want to influence the so-called “pro-choice” movement to support certain restrictions (waiting periods, parental notification, etc.) on an irreversible procedure that will affect these women for the rest of their lives.

In a video released by the Center for Medical Progress during its undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood, a StemExpress tissue company employee is shown using tweezers to pick through body parts from an aborted baby. It’s grisly, so be warned if you choose to watch it. We don’t know how many people changed their minds about abortion after watching this video and the others.

Unborn babies need all the advocacy we can give them. God is sovereign in all things, and He knows whether this baby will die or that one will live. But we don’t know. That’s why we urge our lawmakers to defund Planned Parenthood and women to seek alternatives to choosing death.

La Shawn Barber La Shawn is a former WORLD columnist.


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