Missy Smith, who is running against longtime Democrat incumbent Eleanor Holmes Norton in the race to Washington D.C.'s delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, is out with what may be the most controversial ad of this campaign season (and that's really saying something). (Note: The images diplayed in the ad are extremely graphic.)
Smith, a pro-life activist who was motivated to take up the cause after aborting two of her own babies, is using her campaign to drive home her conviction that more Americans will oppose abortion if they are allowed to see it for what it is. And, toward that end, since last Thursday her campaign has been airing TV spots depicting graphic images of post-abortion fetuses/babies.
The 30-second spots have been seen on Oprah, The Tonight Show, Ellen DeGeneres, Dr. Phil, Seinfeld, The Office and Saturday Night Live, among several other news and entertainment programs. Several of the ads also ran on African-American led shows such as Judge Joe Brown and Everybody Hates Chris in hopes of reaching an audience Smith believes has been particularly victimized by abortion.
The ads are deemed so shocking that they have been preceded by 15-second warnings that also note that federal law requires that stations do not censor advertising paid for by legally-qualified candidates for public office. YouTube, however, reportedly has pulled the video from its site -- replacing it with a notice that explains that the material presented poses "a violation of YouTube's policy on shocking and disgusting content." YouTube has a policy against shocking and disgusting content? Well, yes it does, though it seems you have to go to some lengths to violate it. [All links in original--E.M.]
The ads are here, if you'd like to see them for yourself; I repeat the warning that they do include images of aborted babies, though I believe most of the images will be familiar to anyone who has spent time looking at similar images at places like Priests for Life's website.
There are many different issues here. Is it a good idea to use graphic abortion images in campaign ads or materials? Does the few seconds' warning preceding the ads ensure that small children or other sensitive viewers will not see them? Is using these images in this way a fair and respectful use of such images?
I'm not entirely sure about all of this, but one thing is clear: if, as Mr. Kennedy writes, serious news programs showed real images of abortion the way they have showed real images of war, torture, the aftermath of genocide, and similar atrocities, we probably wouldn't see a political candidate resorting to using protected political speech to get the pictures into the public eye.
The abortion holocaust remains hidden from view, and "pro-choice" groups routinely attack the images of tiny, bloody hands and feet by lying about them, saying that the children pictured are much older than their young gestational ages, accusing pro-lifers of manipulating the images, and otherwise denying the truth that these tragic and shocking pictures display.
The truth about abortion is that a human life is lost every time a woman exercises her right to choose to pay someone to kill her baby. To the extent that graphic images may sometimes have a role in revealing that truth, the goal should not be to cause gratuitous shock and horror, but to educate, inform, and enlighten those who have become convinced that abortion is nothing but delayed birth control.