Abortion, videos, and The Click

Two important and unsettling short videos about abortion in America are available now. Inhuman was released today, and 3801 Lancaster came out earlier this year. Could they move someone on the fence over the pro-life side?

Inhuman, from Lila Rose and Live Action, is an actual recording of a conversation between a woman who is 6 months’ pregnant, pretending to seek an abortion, and a counselor who is describing the procedure. Everything is straightforward until the pregnant woman uses the word “kill.” The counselor gently but swiftly corrects her; the proper term is “termination.” 3801 Lancaster is about Kermit Gosnell’s practice, the sickening details of which are being reported by some (not all) news agencies as he is tried for murder. That video, along with the Gosnell grand jury report, leave one with a sense of revulsion, or at least uneasiness. Neither video is fiction, and both are filled with horrifying facts. Still, abortion is legal and largely unregulated.

Are revulsion and horror enough to stop abortion? Not really.

Look at NARAL’s response to Gosnell. I have no doubt NARAL would have ignored him without the recent social media blitz that embarrassed abortion advocates and lazy news agencies into taking note. NARAL blames the pro-life movement for all the ugliness at Gosnell’s facility. Revulsion over the bloody mess there did not move anyone at NARAL or PP to reconsider abortion. Instead, anger was misdirected at people opposing abortion.

Is uneasiness enough? No. Uneasiness is the posture of people who call themselves “pro-choice” but are not comfortable with abortion. Look no further than New Hampshire. A poll conducted by New England College for Right On Strategies a few months ago found that 60% of respondents called themselves pro-choice and 32% called themselves pro-life, but 41% of respondents thought that abortion should not be performed after the unborn child can feel pain. There’s tension there, but it hasn’t translated yet into a solid 41% of New Hampshire voters filling the halls of the State House demanding a ban on late-term abortions. I’m not referring to the usual activists, who would plunge into a debate on that legislation with gusto. Rank-and-file voters, whatever their unease with late-term abortion, are not yet fully engaged.

Any consistent, persistent defense of life and opposition to abortion comes from recognition that both mother and child are human, with innate worth and dignity. Revulsion and uneasiness can precede that, but decisive action waits until one feels the “click” that comes when one’s heart & brain & gut all support the mother as well as the child. That click can’t be forced or formulated.

Inhuman and 3801 Lancaster are important, because they tell the truth about how people are treated every day in places most of us don’t see. Truth can be searing, though. People don’t like to be seared. That’s why posters of aborted babies haven’t persuaded a majority of legislators and judges to stop the slaughter.

So what will move a person off the fence? If I had a simple answer for that, I could claim my Peace Prize and go home. Surely, though, a relationship with someone who values life is important. A living example is more influential than any video, for good or ill. A rank-and-file voter who has never had a friend with a crisis pregnancy is unlikely to see the life issues as anything other than a political football. Someone who is part of a church community that supports respect for life will likely have a more personal & less academic view of abortion. A woman who learns her preborn child has a genetic disorder can be powerfully encouraged – or discouraged – by the reaction of her extended family and her health care providers.

Even so, these videos deserve and need wide circulation. They won’t fix everything, but they’ll go a long way toward challenging the policymakers on whose watch these late-term abortions are happening with full legal protection. For someone, that just might be enough to trigger the click.

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