Saturday, 13 December 2014

Last Post on Abortion Imagery

I apologise to anyone I've offended over the abortion images blog posts. When I wrote about it, the first one at least, I was under the general impression that this simply wasn't a Catholic kind of imagery used outside abortion clinics and that Catholic pro-life vigils were on the whole a bit more gentle and cautious than the more controversial style of Abort 67.

Ironically, Abort 67 are depicted by the media as bringing an 'American style' approach to abortion protesting, but from what I hear and see of US vigils on the internet, images of aborted fetuses are not a common feature of pro-life work in the US anymore. Therefore, to anyone I have offended, I apologise. Because I have never seen Catholics using such imagery in this country, I was genuinely surprised by the mixed response to the post. I did it once with Abort 67 - a definitively not Catholic organisation - and really didn't feel right about it afterwards, but that's a reflection on my personal experience. Having stood outside an abortion clinic in front of graphic images of aborted babies while trying to give out leaflets women walked into the clinic and came out - some in tears - I honestly felt not quite right about it afterwards. I felt morally justified but I didn't feel 'right' though I do acknowledge and do know that pro-life vigils are not about me.

Readers are, I hope, aware that the images of the type used by Abort 67 have not been a feature of British anti-abortion protests in the recent past and it is genuinely still quite a 'new thing' on the pro-life scene. It has certainly helped to keep abortion in the public eye, that's for sure. Like I said, I admire anyone who is willing to stand up in the public square for the unborn. They are certainly giving a voice to the voiceless and standing in defence of the weak and defenceless unborn. In terms of freedom of speech, it wouldn't be just for the Government to compel the group to cease, but I won't be terribly surprised if they do - even though that would be wrong. The fear I expressed was that the publicity generated by Abort 67 could bring in legislation to stop them, but that legislation would not be limited to the actions of this one group - but all - whether they use such images or not.

I'm not completely convinced that when during the Aztec period, human sacrifices were performed and children sacrificed up to pagan idols, people of the time were 'not aware' of the 'full implications' of what they were doing. I think their beliefs made them feel justified in what they were doing even though what they were doing was contrary to love and the natural law. I'm convinced that most women who have abortions have an awareness that what they are doing is morally wrong - that it involves the snuffing out of a human life - but I think that much like the times of the Aztecs converted to the One True Faith by Our Lady of Guadalupe, the idols of the age give to those women a belief that the choice to have an abortion is justified - no matter what the cost to the unborn. There is, after all, nothing new under the sun.

I was going to post an image of a real can of worms for the blogpost but thought better of it, thinking that for those who find cans of worms a bit repulsive, it might be best to use the cartoon image instead. In future, I think I will blog on things all Catholics can agree on, like, er, raising concerns about the lively and interesting pontificate of Pope Francis. Thank you, readers, for your responses to my posts on this subject. I don't claim and didn't that I am absolutely right on the matter of how we should go about raising awareness of the urgent need to protect the precious lives of the unborn. It would appear that opinion on that matter remains very much divided. I think I have had a glimpse of the strength and depth of different opinions that make the British pro-life movement the diverse movement that it is.


Savonarola said...

Your motto 'Adservo tranquilla" unfortunately does not mean 'Keep calm.' It means I preserve peaceful things.' You need an imperative verb, something like 'Perage aequo animo' - 'Go on with equanimity.'
Just as well to get your Latin right if you are going to support Mass in Latin!

The Bones said...

How fascinating.

Ember Days are next week! said...

It is of utmost importance to know that the use of Latin in the "Latin Mass" has absolutely nothing to do with why the so-called "Latin Mass" is the only Mass that is Catholic because it does what Christ prescribed for expiation of our sins. It isn't the language. It is what the Mass DOES.

Good also to know that Advent is a season of penance.

Mary Kay said...

I was surprised by the response to your abortion posts. I don't care much for the bloody signs either.

I once had my young sons with me at an abortion protest here in the NW of the US. Our signs had words only. However, a very aggressive pro-abortion person came up to me and my younger son, about 7 years old at the time, and started shouting horribly bloody and personal things and she wouldn't leave us alone. I finally started praying in a very loud and dramatic voice that God would spare my son this outburst. The woman was disgusted and ran away. I never took my young sons to an abortion protest again.

I guess my point is that if I didn't want to explain the bloody language of this woman to my son, I also wouldn't want to explain those bloody posters to a child. My boys both knew abortion was wrong---that's why we were protesting. I just didn't like the graphic language of that woman, and I don't like the graphic posters.

Unknown said...

I guess I was like an Aztec woman justifying the horror.

I've sometimes worried that I have a psychopathic brain and that's how I could do what I did. But that would mean 1 in every 2 to 3 women is a psychopath.

Seattle Kim


On the side of the angels said...

No Sorry Laurence you've got the Pro-Life history of the past forty-nine years the wrong way round, imagining such imagery is 'innovation' 'adopted from fundie protestants' from the US etc.

You're just guessing based on recent experience - I've never seen you try to 'wing it' before - you're NOT a CV rogue

Presumption + desire to fit in + desire to want to know what "real" Catholics do/did + best guessing + listening to those just as clueless, ignorant and as much a neophyte - leads to your inventing an entire blogpost contrary to both history and reality grounded on sheer assumptions and best-guesses and conjectures based on limited think
Catholic = olde-fashioned Gentle heartwarming X but
fundie US Prod= media-spin gruseome in your face heartless Y

Imagining it's some dort of wind and the sun aesop's fable thing

Wrong - wrong - and very wrong.

"I haven't seen" and limited experience and anecdotes DO NOT TELL the whole story.

Oh and by the way what makes you think the Pro-Life movment in divided on the issue? Those at the 'coalface' aren't - ask THEM! Sure some don't personally engage in such strategies and find they couldn't possible adopt similar tactics but the vast majority are very much of one accord.

See which people are arguing for certain faux-Pro-Life strategies which seem not merely counterproductive and ineffective and self-defeating but they become direct conspiracy with the culture of death and formal and proximate material co-operation with evil - you'll find them to be generally new-converts or reverts or opportunist wannabees who've only been in the Churc for five minutes and want to change everything to their image and likeness without having a clue about Catholic social and moral teachings on the issues - and remember - you can't guess what side the Church is going to stand on an issue - if you fake it or attempt to wing it or presume because the Church teaches A it must obviously teach B & C - you get it wrong...

No I am not slagging off converts
I'm having a pop at those who haven't converted.

Savonarola said...

If the use of Latin in the Latin Mass has nothing to do with its being a truly Catholic Mass, why do those who consider themselves truly Catholic insist that they must have the traditional Latin Mass?

Anonymous said...

"Just as well to get your Latin right if you are going to support Mass in Latin!"

No, its a bit more important to get your heart right.

The Bones said...

Paul, can you name a Catholic pro-life organisation that uses graphic imagery such as A67 do?

The Bones said...

I meant it when I said I'm no expert on the matter. Clearly, you certainly are!

On the side of the angels said...

Laurence you seem to forget YOU are the one arguing a very specific position - that Pro-Life campaigns MUST NOT resort to such imagery because it...well what does it do exactly?
Come on!
You're agin it - well why?
Well up until 1983 it was actually an automatic excommunicable offence to disrespect or violate any photograph of any deceased - as they being made in the Image of God must be treated as a 3rd class relic - therefore it was always ONLY ever justified to use such imagery to confront direct, grave, immediate evil.
Genocide of 1.8Billion-plus!! [figure is well over 2Billion if you count chemical abortions]

Deal with the issue!
Recourse to the use of aborted foetal imagery is permitted - and when those in good conscience seek to use said imagery in order to prevent this grave evil - this savage indictment on humanity - they are NOT doing anything wrong.

You cannot appeal to consequentialist utilitarian arguments about quasi-alienating effects or invoking belligerent hostility or intensifying opposition or 'bearing bad witness' - how the harshness ostensibly pushes away those sentimentally attracted to the faith's 'nicer, more cosy and wholesome aspects'

...and frankly sunshine you have absolutely NO idea how much I've been either involved or active in the Pro-Life movement - especially in my years working in parishes or before becoming a parent; so I'd appreciate a little less judgment calls in that direction...

...AND maybe you could learn a little history in regard to the usage of aborted foetal imagery - it was 'trendy liberal' Churches and schools which used to tear-up and refuse to engage with SPUC pamphlets containing them [yes dear old God-rest-her-soul Phyllis Bowman's endorsed literature showed all the blood and guts which present 'Right-to Life'-ers call insane, unconscionable and counter-productive] - it was posturing/handwringing Catholic schools which forbade showings of 'the silent scream' while they allowed 'school debates on the women's reproductive right to choose'...

The barbaric tyranny of 'good taste' and being well-mannered and wishing to be seen as tolerant and not willing to offend - sanitising and anaesthetising and preferring not to uspet the poor Baa-lambs as they developed in their 'lifestyle choices' - not calling abortion murder or genocide or diabolical or just plain evil but 'a personal tragedy where women are victims' of some ineffable quasi-marxist 'system'

I repeat: Watch the Greg Cunningham video - and I'm sure Fr Ray has a copy of Colin Harte's "Changing Unjust laws justly" - and while you're at it why not try Wesly Smith's "Culture of Death" and realise just what barbarity and evil is only at present being hidden in hospitals - the satanic pornographic 'NuEthics' which are presently only being discussed academically but will be implemented by states and health services before this geenrations out...

We're looking at a rout of humanity...
...and we need to start fighting back.
If we need to resort to shock tactics and the ice-water wake-up call to the faithful [remember Catholics in the US have more abortions than the national average - and why?] as well as the rest of the world?

We have to get real - scream from the rooftops about it and never stop [as Cardinal Burke commands].

Co-operation with evil takes many forms.
Have a LONG think about what you are inadvertently arguing before you go on the offensive against those telling you you're wrong..and explaining why you're wrong.

BTW I've taught abortion-ethics and Catholic moral teaching on it in the classroom, college lecture theatre, pulpit and in the catechism class for over 27yrs so I am not some newbie to the issues involved.

The Bones said...


I acknowledged in my post that such the use of such imagery was perfectly right morally.

I questioned whether the use of the imagery was necessary in the fight against abortion in front of abortion clinics.

I suggested that the use of such imagery by one group might provoke extreme action by Government. I suggested it would not be fair if the actions of one group brought down repression on all in the wake of public disgust at the use of the imagery.

I don't think I said, "These images must never be used at all, in any circumstances."

If I said that, then I don't think that would be correct. I would question whether the use of such imagery, truthful and faithful to the reality as it is, is an effective way to build a 'culture of life'.

It is a personal opinion I have formed having been involved in an Abort 67 vigil. I wrote that it was my general impression that this didn't form part of Catholic witness to the plight of the unborn, hence the use of these images is characterised by media reports as a something imported from the US.

I would never try to stop someone from using these images. I don't believe I have all the answers in how the pro-life movement should awaken the consciences of the general public to cherish and protect life.

I am against abortion in all circumstances, as are you, but it is clear just from the response to that blog post alone that not everyone agrees on the manner and means by which the crime of abortion is held up for what it is.

I did not say this was about what is in 'good taste'. Abort 67 by no means have the full support of the whole pro-life movement in what they are doing, even if many agree with their methods. For that reason, it would be terrible if the whole pro-life movement suffered for the methods of one group.

Nicolas Bellord said...

I think one needs to separate out two different questions here. The first one is whether it is effective to use these images. Evidently there are different views on this and perhaps we should leave it to those actively engaged in the pro-Life movement to decide what is best in their particular strategy.

The second question is whether the Government might ban such images or their being shown in particular places. That is a question on which there can only be one answer and that is NO, NO and NO the Government has no right to do such and we should fight all on the line on this. Further such a possibility of a ban should not be a factor in deciding the answer to the first question.

Nicolas Bellord said...

I remember at the age of seven in 1945 seeing a newsreel of the terrible footage of a British soldier bulldozing naked bodies into a mass grave at Belsen. The term 'Belsen baby' entered the language and was used recently by the grandmother of Baby P.

Should that have been suppressed?

blondpidge said...

Agreed Laurence. No-one has said they must not ever be used, but have objected to the manner in which they are deployed by A67.

In terms of judging the contents of others' hearts and making claims about the the genuine nature or depth of their faith, or motivations this is precisely what Our Lord commanded us NOT to do.

Only He is judge, not random strangers on the Internet!

Supertradmum said...

No offense, but I do not think that some people are being honest about the evil in Great Britain. So, my question to parents is this, are you raising saints? Your kids need to talk about martyrdom and I taught to my classes that this was the age of martyrs since 2000.

Do parents read the lives of the martyrs to the kids? I took my son to see the skull of St. Thomas More, no longer on view, when he was three.

He was not traumatized, but inspired.

Restore-DC-Catholicism said...

I've been a sidewalk counselor for over 20 years now - in the US. Our crew has used the pictures of abortion victims in front of the mills. At least two women were dissuaded - by those pictures - from committing abortion. It is a mistake to assume that all abortion-minded women are alike in reactions to the pictures; after all, they are distinct individuals as much as anyone else.

I think we need to examine, within ourselves, any aversion to the use of the pictures. Yes, they make people uncomfortable - that is their PURPOSE! If we're going to speak truth to this culture of death, we must get used to the fact that death proponents will hate us and our message. If we're doing our job properly, they will either accept our message or reject it; if they do neither, we are at fault.

Being American, I'm not knowledgeable of Abort67. I did see one video of them with pro-aborts covering their signs. To me, that is a clue that Abort67 may be on the right track. The pro-aborts were covering the signs precisely because their consciences were being pricked. That is an excellent starting place.

gentlemind said...

Just a quick 'thank you' for writing about this subject. In a sensible world, nobody would protest against abortion by holding up a photo, or by standing in front of an abortuary. In a sensible world, hundreds of thousands of people would simply walk out into the street and start to scream/cry/tear their hair out at the horror. But we are all a product of our environment to some extent. Thus even the most passionate protests fail to capture the true evil of abortion.

Unknown said...

Lawrence, I can only say that you are (as ever) 100% correct and that the trolls are doing nothing to stain the Truth. God be with you. Kevin

The Bones said...

Hi Kevin

This is a delicate matter and 100% correct I am probably not.

God bless.

Thanks for the comments.

Unknown said...

How could I have expected anything other than modesty!!! You are the best of the Catholic bloggers out there, and of course, you are right, we are never 100% correct as laity. However, we are not exactly being given a good steer from the HF Francis (a man I retain the utmost respect for), so blogs like yours are indispensable to the faithful Catholic. God Bless, Kevin

Damask Rose said...

Dear Seattle Kimmy

"I've sometimes worried that I have a psychopathic brain and that's how I could do what I did."

No, please don't think like this. The Devil enjoys sowing doubts in our mind and always seeks to pull a soul from being comforted in Jesus' light. When certain old memories come back, just ask Jesus if you can rest inside His Sacred Heart.

Both you and Blondpidge have been very brave in telling us the things you have recently and you are both great witnesses to the wondrous Sacrament of Confession, surely a most beautiful balm Jesus has given us to heal our wounds with.

How lucky we are those of us who have been born into or converted to the Catholic faith.

"And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Luke, 23:34. Douay-Rheims Bible.

Some people just don't know what they're doing.

Damask Rose said...

"I apologise to anyone I've offended over the abortion images blog posts."

Laurence, I don't think you have to apologise for anything. I think the discussion has been rather good and thanks for providing the opportunity to discuss.

I look forward to reading more topics with grist and gusto that you no doubt, will provide us with.

God bless.

Damask Rose said...

Le café parisien sans parasol.

For Catholic socialites who aren't CINOs.

It's good to talk.

Some people are lonely.

Damask Rose said...

You're right Nicolas.

"Should that have been suppressed?"


lucidmimi said...

You're right Kim, it would......and D'nile ain't just a River in Egypt:(

lucidmimi said...


Thank you.

May you be at my side spiritually:)

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