"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Saturday, May 26, 2007

More Fetal Fun

Apparently, the situation is worse than I thought. Tigtog of Hoyden About Town has noticed that this anti-choice technique of personifying fetuses is not just an isolated event, but a trend.* She points us to another recent instance of this phenomenon described by Kevin T. Keith, and the comments from that post lead to one of his older posts showing yet another (maybe even creepier) fetal cartoon.

Exposing one of the right's most powerful and sinister srategies for politicizing the abortion issue, Kevin says:

"Amazingly enough, also, the cartoon manages to show the inside of a woman’s body without ever implying that there’s actually a woman present."

For an excellent and detailed critique of this particular propaganda method, I recommend Scott F. Gilbert's article "Images of Embryos Used by Anti-Abortion Activists". Here's an excerpt:
There is no such thing as an uninterpreted human embryo. Very few of us have had the privilege to see a real human embryo or fetus before it is born. Therefore, our views of the human embryo rely on photographs and drawings. Most of what we envision as a human fetus is constructed of images we have seen on the web, books, and magazines. This is the "public fetus". These images are extremely powerful tools in the debate on personhood. In 2003, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld an Indiana statute mandating that all women seeking abortions have a one-on-one counseling session during which time they would be shown pictures of embryos and fetuses. The abortion lobbyists called this a great victory, since, they claim, such photographs will show the women what they are intending to destroy and convince them not to have the abortion. Such pictures can show autonomy or dependence, humanity or animality, depending on the context in which it is presented. It is important for biologists to realize that the scientific pictures in books, magazines, and websites are not often neutral, but have social relevance far beyond the science.

*(Also note her use of the term "forced-birthers" instead of "pro-lifers". I love it.)