Sunday, February 5, 2012

Randall Terry, Abortion, and... Superbowl Sunday?

If you know me, you know that one of my pet peeves is pro-lifers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a pro-choice advocate, either. I don’t really agree with abortion except in extreme cases, but the only thing that gets my goat more than abortion being used as a form of birth control is the methods by which its opponents try to push their agenda. Harassing vulnerable young girls at health clinics and waving pictures of dead fetuses at passing cars on the highway? Not the way to get my vote. 

While I’d personally probably never consider having an abortion, I certainly don’t hold any feelings of animosity for someone that would – it’s a complicated, major life decision, and I don’t think it’s one that public policy should have a hand in, except in maintaining the safety of the public (which, as we've seen from the past, probably involves keeping it legal. Girls desperate for an abortion aren't going to keep a baby because doctors aren't doing them anymore- the practice will just move to back alleys, killing all-too-often both mother and child). 

But this post isn’t really a post for or against abortion- we’ve all heard the rehash between Roe v. Wade a thousand times and it’s been done to death. My personal feelings on the topic are simply a preface for what I’m about to rant about: Randall Terry, and shock advertising.
I am about to share something about myself that many of my dear friends already know: I suffer from some sort of unexplained sensory issue where graphic, violent material onscreen results in either an immediate panic attack or a blackout. I'm not afraid of it: in fact, I love horror books and often read the scary movies that my friends eagerly watch. My brain simply won't accept the visual input. Graphic imagery? Off my brain goes. Let's hope I don't clunk my head on the way down.

At 23 years old, Macaulay Culkin's 'Home Alone' is still graphic enough to be completely out of the question for me. As a child, even a scene as tame as the hyenas in the Lion King falling into thorny brambles was too much to handle. As an adult, I can handle cartoons (usually), but live action is still another story. In order to watch Grey's Anatomy, I have to watch it with the sound off, a folder or my hand covering most of the screen for the gory parts, and only subtitles to avoid an attack, and even then it's dodgy. With this background information, you can see why Randall Terry and his criminal gang of goons' shock advertising campaign is making my life worse for the wear.

In case you're not aware of this creeper, he runs a pro-life campaign that employs 'shock advertising'. 'Shock advertising' is a nice way to phrase 'springing horrible graphic images on the unwilling and unsuspecting viewer'. For someone like me, it's not just an awful experience- on the highway, it's a very real safety concern. A bloody billboard of a baby is a likely blackout trigger- and while driving 55mph on the highway is not a good time to lose consciousness.The idea behind this cruel advertising method is to disgust and upset the target into agreement with one's point of view. Fortunately, no TV station would ever willingly pick up such an advertisement. Unfortunately, Mr. Terry recently came across a manipulative move that would extort a loophole in media law that allows any presidential candidate to run any content in an advertisement they choose, so long as they pay for the ad space. He just has to make a phony 'run' for President.

So where better to run a disgusting, gory, horrible national ad showing dismembered fetuses than the Superbowl, a time-honored family tradition? I can't imagine broadcasting this at a time when families want to spend time with their children. No child wants to be traumatized by a view of a dead, chopped up baby's body, and I'd reckon there are very few adults that are pleased about having their appetite for wings and sliders ruined by the imagery. It all begs the question: when does freedom of speech end, and where do the rights of others begin? Where does the line get drawn between 'peaceful protest' and assaulting the senses of others?
Thankfully, some states are denying his claim based on the lack of legitimacy of his 'running for President'. Since he hasn't technically qualified as a Democratic party candidate, some stations are simply telling him no. It remains to be seen how many states will air his propaganda, but consider yourselves fairly warned: there may be bloody babies on your screen this Superbowl Sunday.


  1. Randall Terry is an ass who promotes his political prowess. I can understand a need for abortion when a woman's health is at stake, when a woman has been violated, or perhaps in other exception circumstances. I believe that the great wrong is eugenics; prenatal genetic markers of Down's, Tay Sachs, other chromosomal additions or deletions as a basis for abortion as it translates into the belief that a life of disability is a life not worthy of life...smacks too much of Actin t-4 in the late 30's and early in early 40's in Germany.
    Randall and others who show aborted fetuses are immoral and prey upon shock value to gain power over women, reminiscent of the RC Church.
    I am working on a blog post on abortion, prenatal screens and disability... 90=95% of parents who screen positive for Down Syndrome choose to abort, despite the fact that the severity of the Syndrome cannot be predicted. Most Down's people I know are quite happy....Hardline pro-lifers are people who have little sense of introspection!

  2. I'm excited to read your post on this issue. It's a really difficult topic, and I want to see how the discussion unfolds.

    I know that I would love any child that God gave me unconditionally, but I can't look down my nose at anyone on this issue, either - it's a really deep personal decision. I feel that the decision to create a life is a sacred one that should be made with care.

  3. I would be mad if someone forced me to look at pictures of dead babies. I can't handle that stuff- it makes me cry. And I'm definitely pro-life, but I agree that people who choose to have an abortion may have come to that decision prayerfully after being raped- you always need to give people the benefit of a doubt.
    But even if the woman got an abortion without careful consideration-- she may be regretting her decision. It is sad how women are treated sometimes when they are pregnant too young or out of wedlock, and I can see why women like that would want an abortion (although I definitely think the much better option is giving the baby up for adoption instead). I think in most cases women who've made this sad decision deserve our compassion and comfort.

    1. I think you're right; I don't think fighting any delicate topic with fire is going to pan out well for anyone. Compassion and comfort is the way to go with anyone who is hurting. :)

  4. You are pro-choice if you believe that the decision is up to the woman and her doctor.

    Most of those "dead baby" pics are of stillbirths. Some of them are actually rubber fakes--ask someone who knows what real fetuses look like.

    1. Monado, I don't think it's as black-and-white as being either 'pro-choice' or 'pro-life'.

      I am reluctant to adopt either label, as I don't really fall under either umbrella. My personal belief is that once it has a heartbeat, it's a baby - beyond that point, I personally would not consider an abortion unless my life was in grave danger should I continue the pregnancy (and if it was very late term, perhaps not even then)- but that's just me. It is my opinion that an abortion is not 'birth control'- it's a procedure that is to be taken very, very seriously. If you accidentally get 'knocked up' fooling around, and you are physically able to deliver, that child should be carried to term. However, everyone has different beliefs, and the wonderful thing about this country is that each person has the right to decide what they feel is right. What happens next is between them and God - it's not for legislature to decide. I guess a good way to put it to clarify is that I am personally pro-life, but as far as public policy goes, I am pro-choice.

      As to your other comment, I wouldn't know the difference between a fake dead baby or a real one... but either way, it's horrifying, and I don't think it's appropriate to publicize those photos where children (or people like me) might see them.

      Thanks for reading!