Only graphic images will really change public opinion on abortion

Rival protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in America (Photo: CNS)

Graphic images have always been an essential component of successful campaigns for social reform. The maxim that injustice that is invisible will remain tolerable (and vice versa) is just as true for abortion as it was for slavery.

Edmund Burke described William Wilberforce as the greatest orator of his time. But despite his skills in conveying a message to a people who were arguably more patient in listening and skilled in critical thinking than today’s general public, Wilberforce had little success in talking people around to the immorality of the slave trade.

Slavery was unseen in England. It was unreal to society. It was only when the abolitionists exposed the brutality of this evil that public opinion began to shift, with public policy eventually falling into line. Images of disenfranchised and abused Africans were used to prove the humanity of those stolen from Africa and the inhumanity of slavery.

The same was true for the civil rights movement and child labour reform. We are of the generation that has seen a shift in attitudes and behaviour in animal rights, environmentalism and so on. All use graphic images to convey a complex message in an instant.

Abortion pictures establish the facts before we engage in debate about abortion. To those with a functioning conscience and a degree of intellectual honesty, abortion imagery proves directly the humanity of the unborn child and the violence of abortion.

The abortion industry is hiding the truth from women who would reason their way to a life-affirming decision should they see the truth. Abortion pictures empower women. Concealing the facts and assuming that women are too inherently fragile to understand abortion is misogynistic.

Abortion is so horrific that words fail us when we attempt to describe the horror it represents. The slave trade tried to put an embargo on anything that would shed light on their work and today the abortion trade is trying to criminalise the showcasing of their work.