Bringing home the reality of abortion
In the aftermath of the Democratic National Convention, ABC’s Cokie Roberts said that speakers there stressed abortion so much that she thought perhaps viewers would be turned off. Now if the very mention of abortion offends people, think of the effects of a mobile billboard displaying the fractured remains of a preborn child to thousands of commuters.
Supporters of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR), based in Lake Forest, California, have for a decade been driving 8,000 pound trucks, 33 feet long and 13 ? feet high, on the nation’s highways and byways in order to make unmistakably clear what an abortion looks like. This year the trucks are rolling in the battleground states of Colorado, Iowa, Virginia and Florida.
Last week my CBR mentor, Kevin Olivier, and I spent every day on freeways and side streets, mostly in Denver and surrounding areas, but also one day each in Colorado Springs to the south and Loveland to the north, carrying out this task, covering nearly 2,000 miles in the process. I had never driven such a large truck before and was mindful of the difficulties. But it was worth doing for the sake of public information.
Readers might wonder why CBR folks drive these trucks. While it is true that many people ignore it, so do many ignore stationary billboards. The advantages of taking the display over many miles far exceed those of possibly prime locations.
The other advantage is protection. It is very difficult to deface a truck moving in traffic. Such threats must be taken seriously because occasionally drivers pull out in front and call out or make hand gestures to express their disapproval. Imagine what they might do to a stationary billboard late at night when no one is looking.
The primary reason for these trucks is not to offend people, although that is unavoidable, but to put the stark reality of abortion in front of them so that, whatever their opinions, they will always know that a child as young as eight weeks from fertilization is not a clump of tissue and an abortion is not a “therapeutic” procedure.
Greg Cunningham, executive director of CBR, has been a colonel in the U.S. Air Force and a Pennsylvania state legislator. In CBR’s newsletters and brochures, he points out that people used to object to photographs of black men being lynched and of Jews in concentration camps. I would add that objections were raised to drawings in slavery days of plantation overseers whipping their fellow human beings.
The only reasonable response in all these cases is that, if abortion, lynchings, holocausts and whippings were either good things or matters of indifference, why should anyone object to looking at them? Some may counter that we should not see photos of surgeries either, and those are good things. Tell that to the University of Southern California Medical School which displays bloody shots of heart surgery on its web site (but none of abortions).
Some foolhardy souls, such as feminist Naomi Wolf, have said that supporters of abortion should acknowledge that a violent death occurs, and to accept that and move on. But it is hard to imagine that such a cold-blooded doctrine could win wide acceptance. That is why euphemisms for the pro-abortion position like “pro-choice” and “reproductive freedom” are employed to cover up the ghastly evil.
The rationale for bringing home the truth about abortion in the four swing states mentioned is two-fold. First, Christians, especially Evangelicals, tend to be pro-life but as many as 30 million of them regularly do not vote. Second, while the number of pro-life voters is sometimes not large, in a close election they can tip the balance.
So the trucks roll. Gracious families provide room and board for the usually out-of-state drivers and drivers take all steps that sensible people must take to protect their property and maximize their exposure. It is nice when people wave, honk their horn or give us the thumbs up. It is not so nice when they swear at us and give us unpleasant hand signals.
But the truth gets out. Once people see on both sides (six feet by 20) and the rear (six by six) of our trucks the arms, legs, torsos and heads of children brutalized by a violent invasion of the safety of their mothers’ wombs, they will never think the same way again about those children and how they are killed.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Richard Reeb taught political science, philosophy and journalism at Barstow College from 1970 to 2003. He is the author of “ Taking Journalism Seriously: ‘Objectivity’ as a Partisan Cause” (University Press of America, 1999). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.