The fallout from last weekend’s March for Women’s Lives has hit Charlotte hot and heavy. First there were the letters to the editor, asking why the Charlotte Observer didn’t print pictures of aborted fetuses instead of covering the march on Washington, the same way they printed pictures of the bodies of private security contractors in Iraq.
Whenever I see this kind of argument, I just begin to lose it. Maybe it’s because abortions aren’t news, I say to myself: they happen every day. There are lots of things that happen every day that aren’t easy to look at — such as live births — yet we don’t see pictures of bloody afterbirth in the Observer. Just because a fetus isn’t pretty doesn’t make it news. See what a soulless jerk I am — clearly I have no compassion for these lost “souls.”
Then you have columnists like Kathleen Parker, who thinks abortion should be outlawed because fetuses look just like little people.
It is natural to want to avert one’s eyes from the sight of a pair of tiny human feet held between an adult thumb and index finger, an image taken from a first trimester abortion…. But by whatever term we comfort ourselves, pictures don’t lie.
So… as long as we have pictures to support our argument, we needn’t be bothered by such trivial things as, oh, say, logic? If pictures don’t lie, and I see a picture of a Barbie Doll, then what does that mean? That Barbies should enjoy the same legal rights as adults? After all, the Barbie looks almost human. It would be wrong to hurt Barbie!
Pro-choice advocates aren’t stupid enough to respond the way I do, because they understand that logic simply doesn’t stir most people, who are moved by such things as “cute” pictures of fetuses “sucking” their thumbs. Here’s how I’d respond to the thumb-sucking “argument”: so if you saw a cockroach licking its “thumb” as it munched on your baby’s oatmeal, you wouldn’t kill it? Again, more proof that I’m heartless, and shouldn’t be allowed within 200 yards of a Planned Parenthood press conference.
Humans are moved by the “logic” of fetus photos not because they are human, but because they are animals. They are born with an instinct to protect anything that looks like a baby, whether it’s “human” or not — the same way a robin will protect anything that hatches in its nest, even if it turns out to be a cuckoo. When activists show pictures of aborted fetuses to demonstrate how “inhuman” abortion is, they are not appealing to our human side, but to our animal side. What makes us human is the logical part of our minds that can imagine the damaging impact of a crack baby’s birth, despite our animal instinct to believe that a “picture doesn’t lie.” What makes us human is our ability to reason that a woman should have control over her own body, shouldn’t be made a criminal if she chooses not to go through not only the wrenching nine months of pregnancy, but the taxing eighteen-plus years of parenthood, all because a lifeless blob that “looks human” has been mistakenly conceived inside her (and don’t even get me started on the adoption thing — what, we’re supposed to fund a massive increase in the adoption industry to protect these lifeless blobs?). What makes us human is the knowledge that even full-term babies are born incompletely developed, with a fraction of the abilities that, say, a cow is born with.
We are human because we know that a picture doesn’t tell the whole story, and that while the picture itself may not “lie,” (since, after all, it’s not a sentient entity), the person presenting the picture can use it to create a fiction.
Unfortunately, the debate on abortion will never take place on such “human” terms, because too many people are not ruled by human logic, but instead rely on animal instinct.