Debate: Do graphic images of abortion help the pro-life cause?

A pro-lifer protests outside an abortion clinic

Two British pro-life campaigners were in court this week charged with public order offences. Their “offence” was to display graphic images of aborted children outside a BPAS clinic. The judge threw out the case, saying it should not have been brought to court. Andrew Stephenson, one of the men charged, called it a “victory for free speech and the pro-life movement”.

Their group, Abort67, now plans to expand its activities across the country. Its protests usually involve graphic pictures. Its website has shocking images on its homepage.

They are distressing to look at. Outside a clinic, they will be seen by women who may be about to undergo an abortion themselves and may be very vulnerable. It is not kind to subject them to such disturbing pictures.

On the other hand, these pictures may save lives. And they show people what abortion actually is. Shock tactics have worked for charities in the past (Peta has for many years changed public opinion on animal welfare by shocking stunts – pouring bloody money on audiences, disrupting fashion shows).

So, do graphic images of abortion help the pro-life cause? Or do they close minds rather than open them?