Tuesday, October 23, 2007


(This post was originally written last Friday, but I've been afraid to post it.)

Yesterday I felt like I was assaulted.

I was driving to the grocery store, past the Planned Parenthood. I must never have driven this way before on a Thursday morning because I have never seen this before.

I rounded the bend and all of a sudden, totally unexpectedly, I saw a huge sign. I felt like it was almost thrust into my face. The man holding it seemed about average height so the billboard must have been almost 6 feet tall and approximately 4 feet wide.

Now here's where you should sign off if you don't want to feel assaulted too.

The picture he was holding was of a baby. Approximately of newborn age. The baby was covered in blood and attached to the baby's cheek were steel forceps. These forceps were pulling the baby forcibly so that her flesh was being removed from her cheekbones.

Superimposed over the top of the photo the sign read, "Choice. This is what you choose when you choose abortion."

I continued driving, slowly, and there were more protesters. Each with horribly graphic signs. But none as horrible as the first.

I was appalled. I was horrified. I could not believe how grotesque the photos were. I was sad. I was stunned that these individuals expected normal passersby to view these horrible depictions of abortion. I felt horrible for the women who were driving into this clinic about to have an abortion. Not only, of course, that they would be assaulted by the sames photos that I had seen, but more importantly because of what they were choosing to do that morning.

They were choosing abortion. Having never been in the position myself, I cannot even imagine how horrible of a choice that would be to make. To be in the position where you feel you have no alternative but to end your pregnancy. To end the life of the fetus growing inside you.

Thursday apparently is abortion clinic day at our Planned Parenthood. Eons ago (we've recently moved back to a city we lived in over 10 years ago), I did an internship at this same Planned Parenthood, though they were in a different location at the time. I even worked on "abortion clinic" days. At this clinic, they only perform abortions on women who are 7 to 12 weeks pregnant. If you are farther along than that in your pregnancy you must go to a larger city for the procedure.

So what also struck me about that huge photograph was it's inaccuracy. Not only have I done my homework---I know what fetal development looks like and the size and shape of a fetus at 12 weeks---but I have actually seen what clinicians prefer to call "the products of conception"---the POC.

And it looks nothing like that picture.

After an abortion, the clinicians need to view the POC to make sure that the doctor "got everything out." Also, they never, ever use forceps to remove the fetus. They use suction. It's kind of like sticking a vacuum up the vagina.

They do not pull the fetus out with forceps.

I hated seeing it back then. But thinking about it now is even worse, now that I have become a mother. It's horrible. It really is. I'm as pro-choice as they come and I still think it's horrible. You still have to admit that you are ending a life. A potential baby. Life in it's smallest and most beginning stages. Life.

But still, it looks nothing like that picture!

So, I'm wondering. Why is it okay to depict abortion in this way? Why is it okay to be so inaccurate in your description? Does the end justify the means? Why do the protesters believe it is okay to deceive the women going into this clinic? to pretend that they are killing full-term babies?

I'm just not okay with it. I'm not okay with any of it. And I don't know what to do about it.


Mary Alice said...

I understand where you are coming from in your scientific ideal of depicting accurately the image of a fetus….however…I think the abortion protestors are attempting to imply that when you choose to abort you are ending potential. The 12 week fetus has the “potential” if left alone, to develop into the newborn they depict. That is their point. Not that it is accurate depiction. It is a metaphor.

When the life of anyone, regardless of age, ends; so does their potential. If a teen is killed in a car crash we mourn because she will never experience those joys of life, wedding days, the birth of her own children and so forth. When a young husband dies, we mourn the loss of his potential to see his children grow up and to grow old with his wife.

When life is cut short accidentally or through the will of someone else, we mourn the loss of potential in all cases…and I think that is the graphic image you are seeing. It is clearly disturbing and is meant to literally stop people in their tracks and look into the future at what potential is lost in that choice. These are very difficult issues for people to grapple with. I am sorry you felt attacked. Divisive behavior is never the answer to creating a common understanding.

Family Adventure said...

I think Mary Alice said a lot of things well....and I do agree that divisive behaviour is not the solution. I would also applaud her for being very careful when choosing her response.

It is clear to me that her position is not one that I share, but she was nevertheless extremely respectful in her argument.

But...being pro choice, I have to disagree that we are not discussing a life taken. We are addressing the termination of something that POTENSIALLY could become a life. To me at least, this is not the same thing.

I think women choosing to abort are taking advantage of their legal right to do so, and should not have to be subjected to someone else's opinion that this is not a choice she should have. Fact of the matter is, this IS a choice she has under the law. If you disagree with that law, please discuss it with your congress representative. Making a woman feel worse about what is already a heart-wrenching choice is NOT the answer, and is not fair. We don't know the circumstances of the individual woman making this choice, and we have no right to judge her or tell her what to do!

I am sorry. I do not mean to offend anyone, and, again, I truly hope that this discussion can be as polite and respectful as Mary Alice's response. This is a very sensitive topic, and people on both sides feel very strongly about it.

But I, for one, would have felt attacked as well, had I seen what you saw that day.

- Heidi

Fairly Odd Mother said...

That image would have upset me a great deal as well. I could say more, but will leave it at that.

Mrs. G. said...

Been there, done that and practically driven off the road and wrecked the car trying to keep my children from seeing such photos. Don't even get me started...it's much too late to start my I'm pro-life AND pr-choice rant. Provocative post.

Lisa said...

Wow. Were your girls with you? That really had to be horrible. No matter what someones feelings are about abortion, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that it's horrible that these women are in a position where they feel like ending their pregnancy is their only option. My best friend is adopted, and whenever I think of abortion I think of how happy I am that Rob's birth mother chose life...because her life has enriched mine immensely. Then I think of my girls and that I saw Lulu's heart beating at seven weeks. At twelve weeks I saw the beginnings of her hands, her profile...Her. So sad though....

Marie said...

I'm on the fence myself. I agree with everyone, LOL. Bottom line though, I don't believe such practises are the way to bring about change.

With anything in life, if you want someone to actually listen to what you've got to say, you have to make a palatable presentation. Beyond that, those protestors are working from the ground up, when they could be expending their energy at more influential levels.

My mom volunteers for a Birth Choice center, where they simply administer free pregnancy tests, offer counseling, and make information on family planning available. Nothing graphic in the least. Their little center has made a huge impact, much more than can be made waving disturbing images in the faces of women who are already disturbed.

Crystal said...

ugh. yes, what about the children who are in the passing cars? Totally inappropriate.