The National Catholic Review

Within the first few minute of his primetime interview on NBC, former president George W. Bush seemed to have already startled Matt Lauer.  President Bush recounted that after his mother Barbara miscarried a child, she showed the infant to her teenage son.  “Here’s the fetus,” Mr. Bush recalled her saying.  While the more squeamish might recoil at that story, Mr. Bush said that it had affected him profoundly, and began his journey to understanding the sanctity of life inside the womb.  It also led to his political stance against abortion.  “There’s no question that it affected me,” he told Mr. Lauer.  (Mrs. Bush had given her son permission to use the story in his newly published memoir Decision Points.)

Mr. Bush's anecdote points to a perennial question for Catholics (anyone really) committed to ending abortion. How graphic should you get?  Or, more accurately put: Do graphic images advance the pro-life cause?  Rare is the adult Catholic who has not seen a photo of an aborted fetus as part of a pro-life mailing, or on a placard during a pro-life rally.  But is it an effective strategy for winning over converts? 

Some argue that the more reality, the better: those who favor abortion should see whose life they would permit ending.  Similar arguments are made by those opposed to the death penalty: execution should be televised, some say, to show the public what is being done in their name.   On the other hand, some argue that graphic images, like images of aborted fetuses, simply disgust the person who may not have made up her (or his) mind about abortion.  Revulsion over such strong tactics may harden into opposition to the movement that adopts these strategies.  In other words, it can backfire. 

One can question the wisdom of a mother, even one grieving the terrible loss of a child, showing her teenage son a fetus in a jar.  But as President Bush has demonstrated, reality does have the capacity to move hearts. 

As someone in the pro-life camp myself, I am conflicted about the use of graphic images, and am curious to know what others might think.  Do such images effect conversion or harden opposition to the pro-life cause?  Obviously, it depends on the individual: i.e., what moved George Bush might have the opposite effect on someone else.  What do you think it does overall?

James Martin, SJ

 

 

Comments

Anonymous | 11/10/2010 - 5:59pm
Comparing abortion of millions of children each year to the killing of farm animals?  You are proving Flannery OConnor right. 

And, I cannot wait until Peter Singer chimes in here..
Anonymous | 11/11/2010 - 9:16am
(Jesuit) University of San Francisco Honors Catholic Enabler of Pro-Abortion ObamaCare

www.lifenews.com/2010/11/08/state-5653/ -


I would ask the readers how this graphic leads others to conversion?
ed gleason | 11/10/2010 - 11:30pm
Brett; My guess is that eveyone who posts here is pro-life. Some including me do not think that the government using law and the police force is the answer to helping women keep babies to term. Reagan, Geo HW Bush, Romney all flipped flopped on abortion in order to get your vote. Younger Bush never  ran in a pro-choice area so he's 'firmly pro life'... If he had ever run in Conn. as pro life  where his family originated..just once,  we would never have had him as president and the Iraq killings.  
Anonymous | 11/10/2010 - 11:11pm
It should be noted that the fmr. President told the story, in his explicit words, to illustrate the emotional bond between he and his mother.  Matt Lauer raised the issue with respect to abortion & Bush agreed as an after thought.  I think the more powerful image is that of a bond between mother & son.
Anonymous | 11/10/2010 - 10:40pm
Marie, that is not really a good argument; nature also kills fully formed adults via disease etc. but this does not mean that I would call this action evil or "murder."  And is still does not excuse or validate a murderer who pleas "that more men were killed by the hand of God than by his single crime."

Considering the fact that all the DNA found in your fully formed body is found at conception - I would say that abortion at all stages is the snuffing of a human life. 

The question is utilitarian really, it is akin to asking - if you had to kill one - which is more moral: killing a 10 year old or a 90 year old?

Slippery slope, I would say.


 
Marie Rehbein | 11/10/2010 - 10:19pm
Brett, the argument is often made that nature is as great an abortionist as any human being.  Do you see an abortion early in pregnancy having the same gravity as an abortion late in pregnancy?
Marie Rehbein | 11/10/2010 - 10:17pm
In response to Benjamin's comment about how Ron Paul became pro-life, I wonder why it is that he simply did not become convinced that late-term abortions are the equivalent of infanticide.  Wouldn't it be possible to be anti-late-term-abortion and find almost universal public support for that position?  Why do politicians simply declare themselves pro-life and then proceed to cause women to feel threatened with the idea that government is about to intrude on what happens in their bodies?
Anonymous | 11/10/2010 - 8:19pm
I don't despise anyone on this blog, Ben, and I am disappointed if that is the way it comes across.  That said, I will counter false anologies and pro-abortion Catholics considering the gravity of the issue.  Perhaps you are being too sensitive?
Benjamin Alexander | 11/10/2010 - 8:08pm
Crystal I don't eat meat, either, and part of that has to do with how mot animals are treated in general, and part of that has to do with being exposed to images, and part of that has to do with the image in my head of tearing flesh off a bone from a living being that suffers. There are other reasons, too, but I'll freely admit to the emotional/graphic contribution.

And yes, part of my opposition to abortion is fueled by similar thoughts about the treatment of the fetus, and about the invasiveness of abortions for women. There are other reasons too, but I'll also freely admit that part of it has to do with the emotional/graphic contributions.

Brett: it's obvious you despise so many people on this blog, from 90% of the comments I read from you. Good job representing the emotions of a true Catholic, and the image you've painted in my head about the typically neo-orthodox Catholic. 

 
Colleen Baker | 11/10/2010 - 8:07pm
Thank you Ed Gleason.  I knew Barbara Bush was pro choice.  I did not know about GW's grandfather.  I can't imagine how I would have been effected if my mother had used the same 'learning' lesson GW claims Barbara used.  It's a little hard to believe.

I think the draw back to using graphic pro life material is it's reflection on the people using the material.  There's something about this that comes across as incongruent with the message of life.  Ultimately the issue is about convincing mothers to have their child.  It's not about provoking disgust by what can be seen as the exploitive use of aborted fetuses. 

Anonymous | 11/10/2010 - 7:52pm
"I think she is saying that graphic images or experiences have strong impact, but that both sides of the abortion debate can play that card."

I don't think showing the image of a child killed via abortion is "playing a card" - or, perhaps, it is playing the reality card - especially considering that millions of people are killed in this manner each year.

To answer Crystal's strange question/analogy, I am a meat eater and, yes, I have see picture of how the animals are slaughtered (I do only buy from trader joes.  What this has to do with the question of abortion, I can only guess.

ed gleason | 11/10/2010 - 7:46pm
Barbara Bush is and was pro-choice. George HW Bush flipped flopped on the issue more than once in order to get elected. . Bush's grandfather was treasurer of Planned Parenthood. Please no more book hustling.
Brian Killian | 11/12/2010 - 7:57am
Lee,

I agree with you about the finger pointing. I get the sense that those who desire to use such images are actually motivated, even if unconsciously, by a desire to attack those women somehow. The violence in the pictures is like a form of assault or judgement on their persons.

It's as if they were trying to say "See? See what you've done you wicked, evil person"

It's not motivated by mercy or compassion or love or a desire for gentle conversion, but as you said it is the spirit of the pharisees and condemnation.
ANNALEE HULBURT | 11/12/2010 - 1:39am
Well put, Mr. Killian - even St. Augustine is backing you up.  Yours was a very thoughtful response, and you articulated what I feel in my heart.

I am pro life for sure, but I have found these awful images to be:

A. Repulsive - i.e. triggering a recoil response 

B. Shaming - as if to say ''how can a woman who has had an abortion ever forgive herself?''

These pictures are nothing but a giant pointed finger, aimed at ''those women over there''.  Where is the love and compassion for these victims of their own situations?  I would rather they were offered a chance to see their unborn child through ultrasound, see and hear the child's heart beat, supported and lovingly coaxed into alternatives to abortion.  Where is the love in showing graphic images of violence?  The graphic sign holders should stop throwing stones and rather help pick up these broken souls.
Anonymous | 11/10/2010 - 7:39pm
Thanks, Marie, you're right, I didn't mean to compare people and animals but just say that we often do things or support things without wanting to see graphic illustrations of the consequences of those acts/beliefs.
Benjamin Alexander | 11/10/2010 - 6:42pm
Have you ever read how Ron Paul came to be pro-life? As an intern he witnessed a late-term abortion, with a crying baby being put in a bucket. Gruesome. But the graphic, tangible "image" worked.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/22/magazine/22Paul-t.html?_r=1 
Marie Rehbein | 11/10/2010 - 6:23pm
Brett, it looks to me like Crystal was comparing how a slaughterhouse visit affects her response to meat as food with how someone who views a graphic image related to abortion might be affected by it.  I don't think she was comparing abortion to slaughtering farm animals.  I think she is saying that graphic images or experiences have strong impact, but that both sides of the abortion debate can play that card.
Anonymous | 11/10/2010 - 5:52pm
As someone else mentioned, why not view graphic photos of women killed by backstreet abortions, or maybe a picture of what that little nine year old pregnant girl in Brazil might have looked like after trying to give birth to twins.  No one wants to see unpleasant examples of what their acts and beliefs support.  For instance I'm a vegetarian .... do you non-vegetarians ever visit slaughterhouses?
Anonymous | 11/10/2010 - 5:33pm
I was in advertising for several years and a couple of the large agencies used to use a framework for their ads in order to make them more effective.  It was a two step process.  


The first step was to find a story or scenario that illustrated the product's benefits.  This was referred to as the ''selling idea.''  The second step was to find a visual or phrase that summed up this selling idea and sometimes both were used.  It was referred to as the ''selling proposition.''   As I said this selling proposition did not have to be visual but was usually more effective if it was.  It could be a phrase or just a word but often the best were visuals. 


As an example, the phrase ''Your are in good hands with Allstate''  was much more effective when they showed the visual of two hand being held together.  It reinforced the words and the story of the ad.  All you had to do was show two hands being held together and people immediately could tell you the ad.  Most of the best ads use graphical information but there are many exceptions and obviously radio ads did not have this power.


As an aside, most advertising does nothing more than keep the status quo.  It is rare when an advertising campaign can truly move individuals and only then if it hits a nerve with them. 
Sean Gallagher | 11/10/2010 - 5:23pm
I've been a sidewalk counsellor in the past.  And, both from experience and from hearing from longtime sidewalk counsellors, I feel that the effect of such images is mixed-at least initially.

I know that it causes some almost immediately to ask some important questions about abortion.  Others simply get mad and aren't open to the caring ministry that the counsellors seek to provide.

But you know what?  I've also heard more than once that people who might initially react strongly against such images might later-sometimes very much later-be moved by what they saw to be open to the reality that unborn babies are just that-babies.

So I don't think anyone should categorically rule out their use. 
Anonymous | 11/10/2010 - 5:22pm
Did you notice the uproar concerning the recent execution of a man by firing squad in Utah?  This is not really about the semantics as it is about how we present killing in our culture as a medical/technological act.  It is sanitized and comparmentalized.

The sanitized, rationalized act is the thing that allows people to believe in their ideological constructions - i.e. it is just a fetus.  But if they see a man killed by firing squad or see the blood of the child killed in an abortion, it is truly shocking to their modern, liberal senibilities.

All of our killing is done in the name of the victim and in the name of "compassion" - i.e. "you wouldn't want those aborted fetuses to grow up unwanted or poor, would you?"

As Flannery O'Connor said, "tenderness (sentimentality) leads to the gas chamber."  And perhaps the gas chamber (or the bloodless abortion or lethal injection) leads to our "tenderness" and indifference.

PS - check out this man in vietnam who is really a true pro life witness (adopted 50 kids to save them from abortion):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MkxtkmXmvU
Anonymous | 11/10/2010 - 5:19pm
Apparently the Federal Government believes in the power of visual information to influence people.  They are testing various images to put on packs of cigarettes.


http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/Labeling/CigaretteProductWarningLabels/default.htm 

If you click on the various links you will see some of their possible graphic options.  Here is one


http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/Labeling/CigaretteProductWarningLabels/ucm231354.htm 

There is an old maxim that sums it up.  ''One picture is worth a thousand words.'' 
David Cruz-Uribe | 11/10/2010 - 4:48pm
Visual information does not, in and of itself, move people.  Visual information, "signs", must exist in a context and will be in understood within that context.  In one context, they move people to strong emotional reaction, in others they move them to action, and yet in others they prompt no significant response. 

Let me give you a personal example.  As a graduate student in Berkeley I literally had to step over or pass around homeless men almost every day after I got off my bus.  Like the vast majority of people in the Bay Area, I was not significantly affect.  At the time, my particular social context led me (like the others) to be faintly disturbed but not particularly moved to do anything about it.  It was only after a powerful encounter with a homeless man (which I handled far less well than blessed St. Francis did in similar circumstances) did my social context shift, and I began to see the same homeless men in a new light that moved me first to pity and then to action. 

Consider now the death penalty, which in essentially all states using it is death by lethal injection.  Unless something goes badly wrong (which happened in Florida a couple of years ago), you see a man strapped to a guerney who, loses consciousness, gasps once or twice, and then dies quietly.  Viewers who regard the death penalty as licit will "see" a murderer getting his just punishment; those opposed will "see" a human being being killed.  The same real image has two radically different interpretations depending on social context. 

Finally, when it comes to pictures of aborted fetuses, I believe the same thing will occur.  Those opposed to abortion will "see" a murdered child.  Those who support abortion, depending on how they frame it, will "see" a fetus (i.e. something distinct from a child and having no moral claims), or will "see" a bloody fetus (i.e. a "reminder" that sometimes tragic choices must be made).

Images can be powerful adjuncts, but they are not a substitute for the rational arguments and personal connections that get people to think differently about these issues. 
Vince Killoran | 11/10/2010 - 4:47pm
A difficult issue-I know that people against the re-criminalization of abortion have presented graphic photographs of women who died of illegal abortions.
Marie Rehbein | 11/10/2010 - 4:26pm
Given the topic, this must just have been posted to have had only one comment posted at the point that I am writing this one.

Graphic images are different from actual fetuses.  The more we are exposed to images, the more we become indifferent to them.

On the other hand, the act of forcing someone to view a graphic image is offensive and naturally backfires.

Since you do not quote Mr. Bush's book, I am wondering whether he saw an almost ready to be born fetus or one that might have looked like a deformed version of a person.  Quite frankly, I find it very difficult to believe anything Mr. Bush has to say, and fall victim to thinking that he is making this up after the fact of having exploited the abortion issue to get elected.

Lastly, The Knights of Columbus seem to be making an effort to raise funds to provide sonograms to expectant mothers.  I agree with this strategy of making the mother aware of the existence of an unborn individual growing within her to give her an informed choice.  The beating heart is more moving, I think, than a graphic image of an aborted fetus.
Anonymous | 11/10/2010 - 4:22pm
When I was in Graduate school, I wrote a paper about the power of visual evidence to move people that would not be moved by any other form of persuasion or communication.  If you want to move someone or a group of people, show them visual evidence of what you are talking about.  As examples, I used several different types of visual episodes.  One was called the Fourth Magi and is a story one can find on the internet.  Maybe people have heard the story. 


There was supposedly a fourth Magi but on the way to Bethlehem, he ran into a man dying on the roadside who needed help sort of like the Good Samaritan story.  He then ran into other situations whereby he  was moved by vivid visual information to do some immediate good, consequently he never got to see Christ till 33 years later.  Only the striking visual information was able to delay his journeys.  The professor at the secular school I was attended did not like the story.


Another more prosaic story but showing the  power to make men move was when someone drove along a country road in the dead of winter and saw a swan frozen in a lake.  He then notified the local fire department and within an hour there was three fire trucks around the lake as some firemen gingerly made their  way across the thin ice to break up the area where the swan was trapped.  Someone said there were probably many more birds stuck in the nearby woods in similar situations but no one was moved to do anything.  It was the striking visual information that moved them.


I asked several professors if there was any theory in the social psychology area that explained this phenomena.  No one could offer any theory they knew of.  Vivid visual information moves people.  Objecting to its use is silly.  There may be certain situations when it is inappropriate but then one has to say whether abortion is one of those situations.
Anonymous | 11/10/2010 - 4:01pm
Good point, Fr. Jim - we live in a culture that is completely sanitized and disconnected from the natural realities of life.  This is in the simple aspects of daily living - pre-packaged groceries or sending aging parents to be cared for by "professionals."

This also includes life and death decisions - we simply do not want reailty of our actions to affect our comfort and stability.  We want to be lied to!

This is true for the pro abortion person who likes to believe that a child is simply "a clump of tissue" when it is aborted.  It is also true for the "humane" executions by the state.

I say we pull back the curtain in both instances and hope that the reality of nature (life/death) can release a type shocking grace into our comfortable and sanitized existence.
Marie Rehbein | 11/11/2010 - 8:03pm
Maria,

Have I found it?  Is it a placard saying "you can't be catholic and pro-abortion"?.  I think I would agree with that.  However, I have also seen "you can't be catholic and pro-choice", which I would dispute in that, like Jeff says, pro-choice is a political/legislative position, which someone may hold because he or she doesn't think the government can effectively reign in abortion by simply outlawing it.


Maggie,

I think your Religious Ethics professor was very wise, as are you.
Marie Rehbein | 11/11/2010 - 6:47pm
Jeff, are you not the pot calling the kettle black?  What is the difference between you inferring a strong mother-son bond and my inferring a dysfunctional one?

On the other note, no laws prevent intrinsically evil acts from occurring.  They provide for appropriate punishment when they do occur.
Robert Longo | 11/11/2010 - 6:38pm
Understand Fr. Jim this is meant to be thought provoking.  So kudos on that front. I don't agree that there is a moral or ethical reason to use strong emotional graphics as a Christian means of argument or more appropriately persuasion.  Granted in the course of our lives many of us may witness very graphic and gruesome events that influence our beliefs or feelings about the sanctity of living things, including human life, but as always ''the means never justify the ends''.  Jesus could have intentionally used these kinds of graphical, mind-bending methods to scare or invoke purely emotional responses but he used positive means that were rooted in love and respect for his fellow human beings.  This type of argument reminds me of when Satan tried to get Jesus to do things to show off his power and might, but Jesus refused and instead found inspirational ways through stories and good example to make his arguments for leading a good life.  Nope, not buying that the ''Gruesome Gulch'' approach is the way this Christian believes Jesus wanted us to follow in His footsteps.
Anonymous | 11/11/2010 - 4:56pm
Like many of you, I am not a fan of the life-size images of fetuses often seen.  And I have never attended the March for Life (although I have joined others in praying the Rosary) outside of our local abortion clinic.  But, if we adopt the conclusion that graphic images do not advance the pro-life cause, does this mean, too, that graphic images of Holocaust victims (both the dead and near dead) should be avoided?  I also remember that my senior year of high school, Sr. Helen Prejean spoke at my high school and gave a very graphic explanation of the death penalty.  Should this avoidance of graphic images be avoided at all costs across the Board?

I also have to add that I find it curious that no one at America or otherwise made a peep about the recent art exhibit showing (if I recall correctly) the Crucifix in a jar of urine or some such thing when the NY Times gave a glowing review of the exhibit.  Certainly we Catholics would find that to be graphic.
MARGARET STAHL | 11/11/2010 - 4:23pm
In graduate school, one of the first units of my Religious Ethics course was on abortion.  It was an amazing course taught by Gene Outka, and I will never forget how he opened the first class.

It has been 2 years since I sat in that class, so his exact words are beyond me, but I have carried with me the meaning ever since.  In not so many words, he imparted this wisdom:

Wherever you fall on the spectrum of the abortion debate is of no matter.  There are valid points on either side, and this is why this is still a debate, and not a case long solved.  There will be many, many deep and strong emotions that will come up over the course of the next few weeks.  Don't let those emotions push you to disrespect your counterparts.  Instead, let those deep emotions remind you of the extreme gravity of what we are discussing.  Let us honor the seriousness of abortion by refusing to be petty, refusing to wave others' opinions off with a scoff and an exaggeration.  Let us honor the seriousness of abortion by speaking with the utmost respect about ALL those involved.

His words that day, as I have said, have been with me ever since.  And, it was that day that I decided that, although I am pro-life, I would never again attend the March for Life.  I feel that the March (especially the giant signs with images of aborted fetuses that are always there) does not honor the gravity of abortion - it makes a spectacle of it.  I think that the march can make very many struggling women feel attacked and demonized.  I don't want to be a part of something that makes struggling women ostracized.  I want to be part of something that truly embraces women in a moment then they need it the most.  I want women to know that I respect them, and respect the impossible decision they are facing.

So, no, I don't think that graphic images help the pro-life cause.  I think graphic images only serve to make pro-lifers feel justified in their position, and in some cases they allow them to hate their opposition.  We need to remember that there are two lives affected by abortion - the woman's and the baby's.  We don't need more graphic images.  We need more composure, more respect, and more dignity.
Brian Killian | 11/11/2010 - 4:04pm
St. Augustine said of his friend who was forced to attend the circus and see the blood that he...

"was wounded more deeply in his soul than the man whom he desired to look at was wounded in his body." 

Those in the pro-life movement with the circus-mentality don't consider that they might be inflicting wounds on the souls of those who they force to view their images. They can only see or care about the physical wounds of the unborn babies depicted on their signs. 
Anonymous | 11/11/2010 - 3:32pm
Your ability, Ms. Rehbein, to judge the emotional bond between a man and his mother, neither of whom I assume you've never met, and certainly not spent much time with, much less to analyze Barabara Bush's psychological need to fill a void you assume her husband has left.  I find your comment arrogant and demeaning (although I'm sure it will be my comment that gets criticized).  I was quoting Mr. Bush's words in the interview to clarify that I do not think he was trying to make a graphic argument against abortion; rather Mr. Lauer made the connection between the story & abortion.  But again that you feel qualified to "de-construct" the President's relationships is troubling.

Secondly, whether my argument is an insult or not, the fact remains that the words "pro-life" or "pro-choice" used in a political sense refer to a LEGAL argument about the LEGAL treatment of abortion.  I think thats what any rational person understands the words pro-life to mean in a political sense.  There are, of course, meanings OUTSIDE the legal arena, and you're free to believe that you can be "pro-life" in any of those other senses.  But if you do not believe that the law ought not to allow for an intrinsically evil act to occur, then you are NOT pro-life in any meaningful political sense.  I would settle for reasonable limitations on abortions rather than the no-holds barred policy that we now have enshrined into our law.  Finally, the effects of a law are quite different from the question of whether or not something ought to be a law.
Brian Killian | 11/11/2010 - 3:30pm
Is it helpful? Perhaps a better question is ''is it moral to use graphic images?''

Is it just or charitable to one's neighbor to use images of violence?

Images of violence can be traumatizing. They play a role in PTSD. Is it really charitable to use a 'shock' strategy in public not knowing fully what the consequences will be on every unsuspecting adult or child who is faced through no choice of their own to view such images? The people who go in for such things don't care. Anyone who is hurt by those images are just collateral damage.

Nor is the indiscriminate use of these images in public just. There is a reason that we have rating systems for video games and movies. It's so parents and guardians of children can screen and moderate what kind of images go into their or their children's minds. This use of violence in public by-passes such safeguards and assaults people's minds without warning. As a Father of 5 children, I would be very pissed off if my sensitive children were to come face to face with these kinds of images deliberately by someone else's intention. This is against parents' rights and it is ultimately anti-child and anti-life.

Finally, St. Augustine in his Confessions tells the story about how his friend Alypius was forced by his friends to go to a circus to see some bloody spectacle.  He shut his eyes tight but when he heard the crowd roar he opened them and ''drank in madness.''

''As he saw that blood, he drank in savageness at the same time. He did not turn away, but fixed his sight on it, and drank in madness without knowing it. He took delight in that evil struggle, and became drunk on blood and pleasure. He was no longer the man who entered there, but only one of the crowd that he had joined, and a true comrade of those who had brought him there.''

Drunk on blood and pleasure. Not much of a difference between blood and (pornographic) flesh is there? Lust is lust. Madness is madness. These people who would shove these images down our throats are like that crowd at the circus who would make us drink in their own madness.  This story should make us consider that such a strategy is immoral and not at all pro-life.

 
Anonymous | 11/11/2010 - 1:07pm
www.calcatholic.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?id...5a75... -

Marie: I had no trouble. This article, which lauds Sr. Keehan, provides a photo
Marie Rehbein | 11/11/2010 - 12:03pm
Maria, when I pasted your link into my browser, it came up empty.  I would assume that there was actually a graphic there at one point. 

Jeff, you wrote, "It should be noted that the fmr. President told the story, in his explicit words, to illustrate the emotional bond between he and his mother.  Matt Lauer raised the issue with respect to abortion & Bush agreed as an after thought.  I think the more powerful image is that of a bond between mother & son." 

As the mother of two sons, now aged 18 and 21, with whom I have close bonds, I would like to make the observation that what Barbara Bush did is not indicative of a close bond, but maybe of a substitution of son George for the (perhaps absent) husband George.  On the other hand, perhaps she is a scientist at heart who was fascinated by a fetus and wanted to share it on that basis with her children - also not particularly indicative of a bond.

Jeff, I also think no matter if you use the word "respectfully" or not, your saying that some people, who believe themselves to be pro-life, are not pro-life in a politically meaningful sense is an insult.  The reaction I have to that comment is that of all the places where it is important to be pro-life, the political arena would be the least likely to have an impact on the actual individual's decision about her pregnancy.  I would love for you to explain in detail the day to day impact of making a law that recognizes the right to life of individuals in their earliest physical form, as I believe the drawbacks of such a law would outweigh the benefits. 
Anonymous | 11/11/2010 - 10:55am
"Reagan, Geo HW Bush, Romney all flipped flopped on abortion in order to get your vote."
- First, with the exception of Romney, this is either false (in the case of Bush 41 or highly tendentious (in the case of Reagan).  Second, to assert that they changed their position merely to manipulate voters is insulting as it suggests that they reall don't care for vulnerable human life or, at the very least, aren't capable of genuinely holding a position.  Finally, it should be noted that even if all of the above did change their position, it is no different than the Kennedys, and most liberal Catholics who changed their positions in order to get YOUR vote.

"Some including me do not think that the government using law and the police force is the answer to helping women keep babies to term."
- If you think this, I respectfully submit you are not "pro-lfe" in any meaningful political sense.  Of course most people (although some liberals do NOT agree with the statement) that abortion at any stage is a tragedy and should be avoided.  BUT, the whole nature of the POLITICAL argument about abortion is whether the legal structure in place in society ought to allow/condone/support the taking of an action that, it would appear even YOU agree with, is morally, intrinsically wrong.  It is the essence of Catholic moral theology (and Aristotelian ethics not to mention) that the nature or essence of a thing or act determines its legal status.  Thus, if you believe, as you assert that you do, that abortion is wrong, then the argument becomes whether the law should allow that immoral act to exist.  And it is the Catholic position that the law as it currently stands (which is no meaningful restriction on abortion) is itself wrong because of this.  We can all agree that a variety of means would better support and encourage less abortion, but we should also agree that our nation's legal structure ought to recognize and affirm the dignity of the human person.  THAT is the political argument that most pro-choice Catholics want to skirt around.  It is an argument about LAW and its aims rather than the act of abortion itself.  And pro-choice Catholics hold an inconsistent view (in my opinion) of the nature of law as it relates to abortion.