Within the pro life movement there are few things that stir up as much controversy as the showing of graphic pictures of burned and mutilated babies who have died through the act of abortion. Wherever groups like Show the Truth decide to display the graphic reality of what abortion really is, they are met with arrows flung from both sides. Many within pro-life organizations are disturbed by the move to put the blood and destruction at the eye level of a nation that prefers not to look. But the reality is that in many cases it is more effective than our traditional approaches.

At the Campaign Life Coalition strategy meeting held last November in Scarborough, Ontario, CLC Nova Scotia president Theresa Mannett and I bought a very large and graphic laminated poster of a baby killed by abortion. We were not sure at the time exactly how we were going to use it, but we felt that it was something we needed to do.

Two months ago, Theresa became involved in the life of a young woman here in Halifax who was unmarried, pregnant, and desperate. She did not want the baby and was determined to have it killed by abortion. Theresa felt called to intervene in a deep personal way in this woman’s life and brought her food and comfort. But this was not enough. The woman did not understand what grew within her, and she did not understand what abortion does to beautiful babies.

After praying about it, Theresa came to the office and gathered up information and photos of developing babies in the womb. “Do you think I should take this?” Theresa asked me, pointing to the graphic image we had bought at the conference. We stood silently looking at the battered body. “Yes,” I said, “If showing her the beauty of life in the womb does not change her mind, maybe that would.”

Showing the truth

When Theresa showed the woman all the pictures, including the graphic poster, the young mother-to-be was cold and unresponsive. Theresa was saddened, but felt she had done all she could. The woman still planned to abort.

A few weeks ago, when Theresa returned from a family vacation, the young woman was waiting to talk to her. Now six months pregnant, she had decided she wanted Theresa to find a family to adopt her baby. Theresa had a family in mind, and the process was underway immediately. When the prospective couple asked the woman why it was she had decided to have the baby and give it a loving home, she said, “Because Theresa showed me a picture of an aborted baby.” That was the whole explanation!

Theresa later said to me, “It wasn’t the hugs or food or conversations that she remembered, although they were no doubt the reason she let me into her life. It was the graphic and bloody image of a sacrificed child, the same image that Show the Truth participants hold up for motorists to see.”

So when we listen to the debate over whether to show graphic images to an unwilling nation, we should keep in mind this young woman. Somehow the bloody baby on the poster touched her deeply enough to give her own baby a chance to grow and live and be loved. It may help us to recognize that there is a purpose in showing the truth. For those pro-life people who have the courage and conviction to display the graphic reality of abortion, we should give thanks.

Our efforts to end the slaughter take many forms. But when done in love, they are all effective.

Cynthia Clarke is executive director of CLC Nova Scotia.