In trying to persuade people on abortion, we should present at least one of these pieces of evidence, depending on the audience: (1) the biblical (or spiritual) evidence, (2) the scientific evidence, (3) the philosophical evidence. But there is a fourth kind of evidence that must be used alongside any of the former three; I call it the observable evidence (aka graphic images). This fourth kind of evidence can be presented in picture form, as a video, or even in the form of witnessing an abortion firsthand.
You may be asking, how does the observable evidence differ from the rest? First, the biblical evidence can tell one that abortion is wrong only via the value of unborn life coupled with the Sixth Commandment; there is nothing to physically observe there. Second, the scientific evidence can prove only that a human’s life began at the moment of fertilization and that abortion ends that life. One can merely know the fact of life and death without ever observing the physical act of fertilization and abortion. Finally, the philosophical evidence is completely non-physical, hence invisible by its very nature. Here one can argue for equal value for the pre-born in terms of personhood, there is nothing physical or observable about human value and personhood.
It appears that all three ways can, and should, complement each other. However, when one chooses to use any one these three ways, it is crucial, and even essential, to use the observable evidence with it.
I am aware that some in the pro-life community are opposed to using the observable evidence. While I don’t question anyone’s degree of being pro-life, I do question their effectiveness in activism without using the observable evidence. We live in an image-saturated world where reading or listening to words alone is not sufficient to persuade the average Joe. If for no other reason, we need to use the power of visuals to be the most effective in making abortion unquestionably wrong for all of humanity.
I am not merely claiming that using visuals is the most effective tool when fighting injustice, but history has repeatedly proven that it is. Visuals have been used to show the evils of slavery, the Nazi Holocaust, racism, world hunger, and even smoking and hard drugs. There is hardly any controversy over the use of graphic images when speaking about those injustices. Why, then, is there controversy over abortion visuals? Are we not as serious to end abortion as we are with other injustices?
I understand that some may be sensitive to any graphic image, including those of the above-mentioned injustices. This is understandable if one personally doesn’t want to see the images, but I don’t understand how one can object to ever using visuals in light of how effective they have been elsewhere. Are we not willing to sacrifice our sensitivity to save the lives of tiny pre-born human beings?
I have heard it said that “we should show positive images like born and unborn babies instead of negative images of abortion.” First of all, abortion is negative. That’s the point. Secondly, no one is in favor of killing newborn babies (except people like Gosnell and Obama). So why show something that means nothing controversial to pro-abortion people? Finally, born images are nice and beautiful, but they say nothing about what abortion is.
Consider showing positive images for other injustices. What good does it do to show only images of perfectly clean lungs for an anti-smoking ad, or to show free people to speak about the evil of slavery? How effective will it be to show nice and cute animals to speak against animal cruelty, or to show a healthy child to speak about world hunger?
My point is simply that we use the observable evidence one way or another. Be it alongside the Bible, science, or philosophy, we must show the truth. Frederick Douglass, ex-slave and a leader of the abolitionist movement, said, “It is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but a fire.” Or as Father Frank Pavone put it, “Abortion is a reality which is so horrific that words alone can never convey its meaning.”