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Why graphic foetus imagery should be scrutinised - regardless of your abortion opinion.

I wanted to speak a bit about graphic images we often see of foetuses. Before I do, I want to make clear that this piece may be difficult or triggering for some individuals. It is meant to shed light on all sides, not cause harm.

The pro-life circle seem to use images of foetuses as their main messaging, which from a marketing perspective I get. It hard-hitting and to the point. Whether that be sharing these images online, giving them out on the street or standing outside abortion clinics with them.

The fact that there is still any debate around this seems so odd to me. No matter where you stand on abortion, this is not okay. Using images of foetuses as marketing material is not okay.

Firstly, I fail to see at all how this is helpful to the overall message of the pro-life movement. I'm pretty sure that when anyone gets a positive pregnancy test they know that they're pregnant with a baby. People attending abortion clinics know what they're doing. The use of these images just seems to suggest that people are incapable of understanding what decision they're actually making when most of the time individuals attending abortion clinics already have existing children. These anti-abortion materials just further the ridiculous idea that women don't know what they're doing, and need their decision to be dumbed down to their level.

I was given a pro-life leaflet once when I was 19. I hadn't even really seen the group there and didn't know what they were protesting for. I took the leaflet and threw it away. Not once did I think 'wow so that's what happens when you get pregnant'. We are not stupid, we know what's going to happen. I also didn't stand and think about when a 'baby' becomes a 'baby'.

The language differences between the pro-choice and pro-life movements are significant. No anti-abortion protester is ever going to use the term 'foetus', they almost always choose to use words such as baby, child or mother. Whereas, pro-choice activists opt for foetus and patient/woman.

While the leaflet I was given did not change my views on abortion, it substantially changed my views on people sharing such graphic images, on either side of the debate.

The problem I see is that you never know who you're giving a leaflet like that to. I took it and was completely fine, having never been pregnant it wasn't triggering or traumatising for me. However, I cannot help to feel an overwhelming amount of sympathy and pain for anyone who these could effect.

These images could cause so much hurt and grief for individuals who are having or have had abortions. The reasons for and experiences behind individuals having abortions are completely unknown to all of us. It could be the best or worst decision of their life. For some, that decision will be a necessity, something they need to do, not something they freely chose.

I cannot even begin to imagine the pain of individuals who have experienced a pregnancy or baby loss feel when viewing these images.

The biggest flaw, in my opinion, of our current abortion law, is the time limit which currently stands at 24 weeks. Wherever we choose within a pregnancy to implement a time limit of viability, 'life beginning' or moving from foetus to baby, there are issues. Not only is our current time regulation hindering access to potentially the most vulnerable individuals in need of abortion services, but it also disregards any importance within a pregnancy up until that point. Individuals who suffer huge pregnancy losses, whether that be at 8, 12, 16 or 22 weeks, are neglected and told they don't exist.

Individuals who experience a loss prior to 24 weeks are told that their pregnancy is not as significant as one post 24 weeks. The fact that hundreds upon hundreds of families are told your baby doesn't legally exist because of this outdated limit is awful. Not to mention that differences in the development of a foetus at 23 weeks 6 days and 24 weeks 1 day, are almost non-existent. Wherever we decided to have a limit, we would have this issue.

We do not know how different individuals react to baby loss, nor do we understand what abortion is like until we have one. Everyone is going to have different responses to either of these situations, but most likely there is a lot of grief in both.

When you use graphic images of foetuses as marketing you accept the fact that your message could potentially harm someone viewing it. It doesn't matter what point you're making - you are using images of foetuses to enhance your personal message. You are not considering how that message could be seen by anyone else, how it could make them feel or if it is triggering in any form.

I don't agree with anyone using images such as these to prove a political argument. I also believe there needs to be forewarning and a disclaimer before you either give these out in person or include them in any piece online.

There is a serious issue with anti-abortion advocates using these kinds of images. If the whole backbone of your opinion on choice is built on tearing others down and inflicting pain then in my eyes you are no better than the so-called monstrosity you're preaching abortion is.

Ultimately, the use of these kinds of images do no good when used as marketing props, they are only used to cause pain, whether that be knowingly or not.

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