Tactics Used By Pro-Life Groups: Misleading Images of Abortion
Anti-abortion activists have become a common sight in the US. You see them clustered around the entrances of Planned Parenthood clinics, holding placards spouting bible verses or other pieces of propaganda. Worryingly, similar activities have recently begun to spring up in the UK.
Legality of Pro-Life Protests
Police in the United Kingdom, where 75% of the population is pro-choice, have responded by arresting a group of protesters targeting the BPAS clinic in Brighton. Two particularly persistent pro-life activists are now facing trial, charged with obstructing a police officer and causing harassment, alarm or distress, after they refused to take down a 7 x 5 ft banner showing a graphic image of what they claim is an aborted fetus, which they were using to obstruct entry to the clinic.
Is this a Freedom of Speech Issue?
The activists, who are both members of the widely criticized Abort67 group, have complained about their arrest, saying "All we were doing was showing what is taking place legally inside this abortion clinic every day."
But can Abort67 really claim to be messengers of truth? Pro-life organizations are known for using images of bloodied bodies of fetuses aborted in the third trimester, which is only legal in the UK when there is no chance of the baby and mother surviving the pregnancy, and sometimes even stillborn babies, to win people over to their campaign to completely remove a woman's right to choose.
Do Pro-Life Groups Use Inaccurate Images?
One young woman who recently terminated her pregnancy noticed the stark contrast between the protester's images, which she was forced to walk past on her way into the clinic, and the reality of her own abortion. Her abortion took place at 6 weeks of gestation, long before the embryo's organs have developed and almost half a year before the ability to feel pain emerges. Well over 90% of abortions in the UK take place at this stage of embryonic development. This young woman's experience led her to set up the website www.thisismyabortion.com to show what a real abortion typically looks like. Her photos don't bear much resemblance to the images used by Abort67 and other pro-life activists.
Pro-Life Groups Spread Misinformation
The use of disturbing and generally irrelevant images by clinic protesters is just the visually arresting tip of the pro-life misinformation iceberg. A recent undercover operation by an independent sexual health charity found that Crisis Pregnancy Centres run by Life, which advertise themselves as offering "free advice and support for pregnant women", are routinely telling patients that abortion causes cancer - despite decades of research failing to find any evidence of a causative link between abortion and cancer.
During Lent, protesters from the religious group 40 Days For Life stood outside sexual health clinics in London and other cities giving out leaflets that made the same false claims - that abortion causes cancer, that abortion causes infertility, and that women always regret abortion. Scientific research does not support any of these "facts".
How to Prevent the Spread of Lies about Abortion
Lies spread by pro-life groups are able to influence people because the general public is woefully uninformed about abortion. By educating yourself and your friends about the facts of abortion and pregnancy, you can help to ensure that public opinion is based on reality, not propaganda.