I have often spoken and written about the fact that more and more abortion
supporters openly admit that abortion takes a human life. In fact, a CBS-NY Times survey in
1998 revealed that 50% of respondents were willing to call abortion murder, and one-third of
those said that it nevertheless can be the best course of action for a woman in a bad
This has led me and others to emphasize the need of our movement not only
to point out the humanity of the child, but the reality of the help that is available to
the mother, to assist her to preserve and nurture the life of that child, and to find that her own
fulfillment is not sacrificed in the process.
Nevertheless, there is a myth that persists about the child.
Analysis of the opinion of Americans about abortion is least helpful when
it focuses on the slogans with which people associate themselves, and most helpful when it focuses
on the specific positions with which people associate themselves. One of the key parameters in which
those positions are analyzed is the time framework of pregnancy. Predictably, support for
abortion drastically declines as you go later into the stages of pregnancy. A NY-Times - Wirthlin poll
revealed only 7% of Americans supporting abortion in the third trimester, and only 15%
supporting it in the second trimester of pregnancy.
Yet to understand how we are doing in the overall effort to end abortion,
we have to consider that third-trimester procedures constitute about 1% of abortions, and
second-trimester procedures constitute about 9%. All the rest of the abortions, some 90%, occur in the
first trimester. It is in that period that we find 61% of Americans supporting the availability of
abortion. It is also in that period that we find the persistent myth: that the unborn is not really a
human child at that point.
We live in a visual culture. Much of the erosion of support for late-term
abortions can be traced to the partial-birth abortion controversy. The visual reality of this
procedure, performed in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, has been presented in the halls of
Congress and on national TV by means of medically accurate diagrams. Moreover, actual photos of
aborted babies are, for the most part, of babies in these same time frames -- and again, most
Americans already oppose abortion at those times, and most abortions take place before that period.
It is time to attack directly the persistent myth that the first trimester
baby is not a baby, and that the first trimester abortion is not really an act of violence that
kills a baby. We at Priests for Life have taken a step in this direction by publishing on our
website color photos of first trimester aborted children. Please visit www.priestsforlife.org/resources/abortionimages/index.htm.
No pro-life educational effort has the kind of impact that this has.
Seeing is believing. America will simply not reject abortion until America sees abortion.