Picturing Abortions for Votes


September 02, 1992|By CAL THOMAS

WASHINGTON — Washington.--What do the following have in common: the civil war among Serbs, Croatians and Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina, drought and starvation in Somalia, hurricane destruction in south Florida and Louisiana, the police beating of Rodney King?

We know about each of these stories, not only because we have read about them in our newspapers but because we have seen them on television. Televised pictures have a unique capacity to inform, motivate, repulse and change minds.

Which is why last week's decision by the Federal Communications Commission that pro-life political advertisements featuring an aborted baby may be shown on television is so important.

The FCC ruled that pictures of aborted babies do not fall under the agency's definition of ''indecent'' and are not subject to restrictions that would prevent them from being shown between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. FCC rules already prohibit a station from altering the content of a political ad that is not libelous.

Throughout the abortion debate of the past 20 years, there has been an important missing ingredient: pictures of what is being aborted.

Those who oppose showing images of aborted babies and of fetal development to women before they have abortions understand too well the power of such images.

Several congressional candidates have produced commercials including pictures of aborted babies, and local stations have broadcast them.

Those opposed to showing photographs of aborted babies argue they are too gory and disturbing. Well, so are some of the pictures from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Somalia, south Florida and Louisiana. So was the videotape of Rodney King's beating.

But these, like those of aborted babies, are recordings of actual events. The public uses these pictures to formulate opinions.

Surely the pictures of fetal development and aborted babies add an important element to the decision-making process on abortion. Not to show them amounts to censorship. It is dishonest because it deprives women of fundamental information they need to make their critical choice on abortion.

The political commercials are only the first step. Look for full-scale advertising designed to open the public mind to what is taking place behind the walls of abortion clinics and hospitals.

Pictures of natural disasters, wars and cruelty to animals have moved hearts and nations to compassionate response. Pictures of aborted babies may do the same.

Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist.

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