By Abigail Hummel
Sophomore, Biology major
I had been hearing things about the Turlington abortion photos for a while, but today was the first time I really got a good look at them. I was prepared to see some pretty graphic stuff, but far more than disgusting me, the photos just made me feel angry. A severed foot perched atop a quarter. Several tiny hands shaped into Vs, floating around a neon peace sign.
So here’s the scoop: The photos were brought by Created Equal, a self-proclaimed civil rights organization that focuses on “protecting preborn children.” The rhetoric on their website is discursive, but in person they are plenty straightforward, bluntly asking, “How do you feel about abortion?
I didn’t hang around long enough to hear the full spiel—truth be told, I didn’t have the stomach for it—but what I did hear as I cruised by as quickly as possible was the argument that abortion is a form of “ageism,” and that, much like other forms of discrimination (e.g., racism and sexism), it is therefore morally and socially unacceptable.
Okay, so abortion is ageism. This is an interesting argument, and not one that I’ve ever heard before. But it does invoke the prototypical question surrounding the abortion debate: Is a fetus a person?
Full disclosure: I’m still unsure of where I stand on this issue. As a biology major, it is impossible for me to disagree with the fact that a developing fetus is, biologically and genetically, a human being. But let’s put aside personal opinions for just a moment and remember that the people over at Created Equal fiercely contend that fetuses are people. That is the essence of their argument.
And if you insist that fetuses are people, shouldn’t you be treating their “corpses” as such? In our society, the dead are granted the utmost respect. You wouldn’t go around photographing the bodies of deceased persons in contrived poses next to quarters and peace signs. You wouldn’t depict a deceased person as merely a severed hand or foot.
To claim that fetuses are people and to then exploit their bodies in this way is sheer hypocrisy, and in doing so, you are revoking the personhood that you have granted them in the first place.
We must remember that “someone had to dismember these fetuses, position them in shocking ways, and take photos,” said Michelle Ryan, 19-year-old sophomore psychology major. “Someone did that. If abortions are ‘disrespectful to human life,’ then that is downright abhorrent.”
Indeed the Turlington abortion photos are disrespectful to all human life, and I do not appreciate the duplicity and emotional manipulation perpetuated by Created Equal. I strongly believe in a woman’s right to choose, but I also believe that aborted fetuses should be disposed of properly, not paraded around for the sake of pageantry.