Are graphic abortion ads justified?

Did you hear about the graphic anti-abortion ads airing in D.C.?

A 3D ultrasound of Alex at 20 weeks

I don’t know what I think of this, to be honest. It’s inflammatory, and generally speaking I think inflammatory is bad. But on the other hand, this woman has virtually zero chance of actually being elected, and she knows it.  She’s doing it solely to draw attention to the issue. And I have to give her credit for that.

Here’s the thing. If abortion is the sanitary, morally-neutral act that pro-choice advocates want us to believe it is, then why the horror at the images? The simplest explanation is that the images are horrifying, and that they force us to confront the inconvenient reality that if the image of the act is horrifying, maybe the act itself is horrifying, too.

The thing I have never understood about this debate is how it’s all about the woman. Take away abortion, and women would still have choices; unborn children don’t. Leaving aside the issue of rape for the moment, women have the choice to have sex or not have to have sex. Women can also choose to carry a baby to term and give it a life with adoptive parents; they aren’t chained to the care and feeding of a child for life.

Yes, that is a huge thing to ask of a woman; as a woman who has borne three babies, I am well aware what I am asking physically, and I’m smart enough to be able to imagine the emotional and social impact of it as well. I understand the impulse to circle the wagons, the desire not to expose oneself to people’s nosy, judgmental comments and looks, not to mention the agony of giving away a child you’ve nurtured in your womb. But a woman in this situation has a unique opportunity to make the world a better place–to take a difficult situation and bring something good out of it by easing someone else’s pain of infertility. It’s a gift she, and only she, can give, not only to couples desperate for children, but also to her child who is, after all, blood of her blood and flesh of her flesh, even if the timing is all wrong.

So yes, women have choices–with or without abortion. But for some reason, nobody’s talking about this. All I can think is that the idea of our own comfort and convenience has become so ingrained, and the concept of abortion so politicized and removed from reality, that people don’t even recognize the horror of the act anymore. In which case, ads like the ones in D.C. might be justified. Maybe. Maybe we need to be shocked out of our comfortable, convenient prison. Maybe we need to be reminded that choices do have consequences, and that to pretend otherwise is to diminish the richness of human experience.

Emotions run high on this issue, and the usual tenor of “discussion” on it only increases the rancor. I have no idea if this post will spark comments from my usual crowd of friends who agree with me, or if it will show up in search engines and bring me hordes of people who believe that abortion is morally acceptable, or at least morally neutral. Either way, I ask that when you comment on this post (which I hope you will), you do so in charity and with reason.