There is a disagreement among the pro-life community as to how we should use the visual evidence of abortion (aka graphic images). Most serious and active pro-lifers are not completely opposed to ever using these visuals, but some argue that in some settings they should always be avoided – for example, showing them in any public square. One of the most oft-used objection against the public display of these images is that the images may be harmful towards children.
Notice that I have used the phrase “may be.” This is because showing visual evidence of abortion does not have the same effect on everyone. There is an array of diversity among human beings’ psychologies. Yet the objection must be answered.
The images maybe harmful towards children.
Giving pro-life presentations, I was frequently asked, “What’s the appropriate age for children to attend the presentation?” I used to be hesitant to reply with an actual number, or even an age range. But now I reply similarly to New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Barley, who defended the graphic anti-smoking commercials airing for even children to see this way: “Even if it’s something that the parent and the child finds disturbing, because that is the point. Smoking is disturbing. Smoking is killing hundreds of thousands of Americans every year” (link to video).
Let me be clear: I am not advocating that we target children. Rather, I’m seriously asking: what actual harm is there, if any, that a child will receive, that an adult won’t receive, from seeing these images? Why do people assume that these images will harm children and not adults? What harm? Where are the studies?
I am speaking strictly on showing abortion images and showing them in the context that abortion is wrong and it must stop.
It is understandable if abortion shown in the context of not being wrong would harm a child, or anyone for that matter. As far as I can see, there is harm only in showing abortion apart from the context that it is wrong.
Therefore, it is vitally important for both the activist and the parent to be clear with the message that abortion is wrong. This is not to say that we are to inform the child about every injustice that occurs around society, since most of these are already taught as wrong by the rule of law. But where there is a clear injustice, like abortion, that is morally unclear among society and even sanctioned as a right through the law, we have a moral duty to teach all children the truth about the injustice.
Using the visual evidence of abortion exposes any lies society tries to convey to the child later in life. There are many children who were taught that abortion is wrong, and even grow up to call themselves pro-life, but who still end up killing their unborn babies. Why? Probably because they never knew the horror of abortion, because they were never exposed to it.
Seems to me that showing abortion in the context that it’s wrong will better incline children to side with the truth and commend those who courageously speak for the voiceless. I have seen this effect on children many times as a result of seeing abortion images.
Yes, children may be disturbed after seeing abortion being displayed in its proper context, but as my friend put it, “they might be greatly disturbed…that their parents are doing nothing to stop such a horrific act.”