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Argumentum ad horrorem

More from the wonderful people at “Secular” “Pro-Life.”

creep“If abortion advocates were so secure in their position, in knowing that their stance is right and just, then why would they feel so threatened by pro-life displays? Why feel the need to censor pro-life information from getting out there if there’s no truth to it? It’s the million dollar question with an answer we’ll never get, because it exposes the utter frailty of the pro-abortion movement. Pro-lifers have truth and science on our side. Abortion advocates can’t fight against that, and they know it — so all they can do is try to shut us down.”

The quoted passage and the picture are from a piece at Live Action News, another anti-abortion-rights site.

Here’s how the piece starts:

Pro-life and pro-abortion students clashed this week at the University of Georgia. Pro-life students erected a display, hosted by Justice for All, that included graphic images of aborted babies. Unsurprisingly, pro-abortion students were having none of that.

While pro-life students showed their peers the reality of abortion with graphic images, pro-choice students built a makeshift wall to block the images from view and held signs with statements like “Pussy Power” and “My Body, My Choice.”

In interviews with The College Fix, pro-abortion students called the graphic images – which showed bloody fetuses after late-term abortions – “hateful speech.” They said students shouldn’t be forced to look at them, and that most of the pictures showed “stillborns” and not abortions.

The more I look the more surprised I am that Hemant Mehta solicited that guest post from Kristine Kruszelnicki.

Comments

  1. says

    Without trying to arbitrate the free expression debate: the gruesome images displayed by pro-lifers have nothing to do with “science” and “information” and everything to do with deliberate manipulation.

  2. Blanche Quizno says

    “If pro-life advocates were so secure in their position, in knowing that their stance is right and just, then why would they feel so threatened by abortion providers? Why feel the need to censor abortion and contraceptive information from getting out there if there’s no truth to it? It’s the million dollar question with an answer we’ll never get, because it exposes the utter frailty of the pro-life/anti-abortion movement. Pro-choicers have truth and science on our side. Pro-lifers can’t fight against that, and they know it — so all they can do is try to shut us down and shock and appall everyone with grotesque, pornographic images in the most inappropriate of settings, as in front of elementary schools.”

  3. Blanche Quizno says

    * I meant to add a phrase about “and shut abortion clinics down” but I forgot :}

  4. Sastra says

    Some of the more extreme animal rights advocates make the same argument when they show gruesome images of slaughtered barn animals. “If you think it’s okay to eat meat, then why are you bothered by a photograph of a semi-decapitated pig with its bloody entrails oozing out?”

  5. jenBPhillips says

    Clearly, then, we should also force cancer patients to look at photos of excised tumors as they’re checking in to the hospital for surgery. Tumors, which, like embryos, often have their own unique genomes distinct from the mother person seeking professional medical assistance. Why would beholding such images bother them, if they’re so anxious to have that tumor removed?

  6. Jeremy Shaffer says

    My first thought was why don’t we hold protests outside of hospitals and present graphic signs of rather typical surgical procedures? Especially ones of eye surgery for maximal gross out effect since that’s all they’re doing.

    At any rate, by their “logic” I guess they think Westboro Baptist Church have their fingers on the truth then since people do things to block the objects of their protests from having to see their gratuitous nastiness. Does this mean we can expect to soon see SPL members outside of military funerals and the like holding signs stating that “God hates fags”?

  7. ema says

    “If abortion advocates were so secure in their position, in knowing that their stance is right and just, then why would they feel so threatened by pro-life displays?

    The displays* aren’t threatening. They’re inappropriate because:

    1) Public display of path specimens without the patient’s consent is a big no-no.

    2) No data showing that patients are unclear on what pregnancy is/incapable of informed consent.

    3) They’re not accompanied by displays of women’s corpses, assorted torn/ruptured organs, etc.

    *Assume, just because we have nothing better to do, that the specimens are actually from the very small % of possible elective procedures out of the very small 21+ wks % of total yearly procedures.

  8. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    In the US, this type of argument is extremely dishonest. The anti-choice side has benefited from the terrorism committed by the more extreme members of that side. Because of murders, shootings and property damage, many people have either left the field of providing abortions or never entered. An the cost is increased because of the need for security, extra insurance and limited spaces that landlords will rent out. An this is not even touching on the trap laws that have closed down clinics.

    And yet, these “secular” opponents of abortion whine about how their dishonest propaganda is being opposed?

    How friendly.

    (Also have to laugh at how some of the slyme are coming to the defense of Kristine Kruszelnicki.)

  9. barnestormer says

    I actually feel slightly less squicked about abortion than I do about most other surgeries, thanks to the ubiquity of giant chopped-up-baby signage and grossed-out horror descriptions of various procedures in my life having a numbing effect. I don’t find them “threatening,” but they are misleading and harassing, and as much of a red herring as any larger-than-life-size blow up display of any surgery would be if waved around outside any clinic by screaming anti-surgery advocates. Gross and bloody =/= medically unsound.

  10. says

    I tend to horrify my pro-life family members and their pro-life acquaintances. Their horrific pictures have no effect on me at all. In fact I usually point out that I have a neurobiology text with sections on brain development during pregnancy, and some papers that I own include things like thin-sectioned baby brains. I have no problems challenging their claims and enjoying the way they squirm around with their language use in Facebook posts with what they believe are the worst things they can post.

    But what I do have a respect for is how such horrific images will effect most people. We are not rational creatures, and these images do have effects on us that likely have to do with things approaching the appearance of a baby in similar ways that the “Uncanny Valley” effects us with other things that get close to human. I had to recognize that I was only acting emotionally and suppress the effects over time. I had to realize that these feelings had nothing to do with the content of arguments. This is not something that every human can or has done, and so they continue to use the images.

    But I won’t pretend that this matters to arguments at all.

  11. says

    Countering such images by covering them up is not a good strategy. That would seem like covering up important things to fence sitters. It would be better to counter protest with signs that show women who did not survive self induced abortions, and talk about how countries where abortion is illegal have functionally the same abortion rate as nations where it is legal.

  12. Myoo says

    “If [evolution] advocates were so secure in their position, in knowing that their stance is right and just, then why would they feel so threatened by [creatonist] displays? Why feel the need to censor [creatonist] information from getting out there if there’s no truth to it? It’s the million dollar question with an answer we’ll never get, because it exposes the utter frailty of the [pro-evolution] movement. [Creatonists] have truth and science on our side. [Evolution] advocates can’t fight against that, and they know it — so all they can do is try to shut us down.”

  13. says

    I absolutely support people’s right to get open heart surgery. I don’t particularly want to see pictures of it.

    I also absolutely support people’s right to take a shit. I don’t want to see pictures of that either.

  14. Stacy says

    @Brony #14

    It would be better to counter protest with signs that show women who did not survive self induced abortions

    I actually tried that once, years ago. An anti-abortion protester sneered and said, “Is that what [your abortion] looked like?”

    .

    Anti-choicers use pictures of late term fetuses and dishonestly present them as embryos or first trimester fetuses. Which of course prompts the question, “if antis are so secure in their position, in knowing that their stance is right and just, then why do they need to lie about it?”

  15. Amy Clare says

    #4 Sastra, it’s nothing at all like animal rights arguments, as a pig really does have to die and be disembowelled and decapitated in order for someone to eat pork. The ‘chopped up fetus’ pictures are conversely very misleading because a) the vast majority of abortions happen very early on and would resemble nothing more than a heavy period; b) they ignore the woman whose body the fetus resides in. I can’t recall any occasions where meat has been reared inside a woman’s body but do enlighten me if I’m wrong.

  16. says

    @ Stacy 17

    I actually tried that once, years ago. An anti-abortion protester sneered and said, “Is that what [your abortion] looked like?”

    My thought there is that there is more than one potential reaction, and that in that case this is a person that you would not convince anyway (actually I don’t think the purpose of a counter-protest is to convince people protesting, it’s to show opposition for the larger society). The main idea to me is that you take away the visceral advantage of the pictures that they do use, because both sides have the same effect. Some people will react emotionally to the gory images and if both side have that effect you end up on the same playing field. the goal is emotional balance.
    .

    Anti-choicers use pictures of late term fetuses and dishonestly present them as embryos or first trimester fetuses. Which of course prompts the question, “if antis are so secure in their position, in knowing that their stance is right and just, then why do they need to lie about it?”

    They basically don’t do any fact checking since it’s all emotional argument anyway. Even when you do point out inaccuracy they don’t care because of ends justifying the means. I NEVER see my relatives admit an inaccuracy. The true audience is always the people watching.

  17. hjhornbeck says

    Brony @19:

    The main idea to me is that you take away the visceral advantage of the pictures that they do use, because both sides have the same effect. Some people will react emotionally to the gory images and if both side have that effect you end up on the same playing field. the goal is emotional balance.

    Nah, there are better ways to defuse their images that don’t require escalating the situation.

  18. says

    @ hjhornbeck 20

    The Genocide Awareness Project’s fetus pictures are a visual heckler’s veto, tricking our lizard brains to shout over any rational discourse on their behalf. They should remove them immediately, if they place any value on reasoned debate. Otherwise, they’re merely punking all our brains via an evolutionary flaw.

    So how do you get them to put down their signs in a protest? From my experience they care too much about them and the average pro-lifer only argues from emotions (and those not average usually have bad data or are only taking one of several possible convolutions). I won’t deny that my suggested photos of women are not an escalation. Yet they still have the psychological advantage of imprinting upon an audience a vague emotional concern for babies after an encounter.

    If I am given the choice between the audience having only an imprinted concern of babies, and a concern for women and babies I would choose the latter.

  19. Wylann says

    Blanche Quizno @2:
    You were close, but not the language they use: Pro-life and Pro-abortion. That is inaccurate. If you want to make it accurate, you should use Anti-choice and Pro-choice. Don’t fall for their word games. ;-)

  20. says

    If I showed you a picture of cancer surgery most people would gag. Let’s just say that the body is a lot more tougher than the rather tame surgery of TV.

    Does that mean Cancer surgery is unnecessary?

  21. says

    My post @21

    “…one of several possible convolutions”
    Should read “…one of several possible conclusions”

    There is always another type with me.

  22. hjhornbeck says

    Barony @21:

    So how do you get them to put down their signs in a protest?

    You don’t. Instead, I’m proposing a form of intellectual judo. The disgust you feel is not because what’s pictured is morally disgusting, as that subset of the anti-choice movement claims, but as a byproduct of an evolved mechanism. Those on the fence feel cheated, and since nearly all anti-choice activists are religious those signs will be tainted by the association to something they dislike. The more they wave those signs, the stronger this effect, and the only way out is for them to put their own signs down.

    It’a a win-win scenario, my favorite kind.

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