The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Images of abortion are helpful in the abortion debate

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/15/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 763 times Debate No: 36706
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




I've never done this before so I apologise if I mess up how to do this.

I propose to debate the use of abortion images and whether or not they add anything to the current debate, it is my belief that images of abortion both add to and clarify the issue of abortion. I am for the use of abortion images and looking for someone to argue against me.

Round 1 Acceptance of debate and clarifications

Round 2 Argument

Round 3 Rebuttal

Round 4 Conclusion


K, I am new here too and have never responded to a debate but here goes.

I don't see how posting pictures of aborted fetuses does anything but gross people out. People who have had abortions will see them and think wow that's what I did and either not be depressed, only creeped out (I would hope they thought it through enough before they did it), or very upset (because they didn't think it through, and this will only serve to traumatize them). So if the purpose is to make people who didn't think about what they were doing feel bad, mission accomplished.

But the real reason for these images, I feel, is for the Pro-Lifers - to make them more emotional about their stance. An effective tool to inspire them. I remember seeing "The Silent Scream" in Catholic school. I also remember several years later, after I left the church, having an abortion and not feeling bad about it, because I thought it through well before I did. and knew it was the best choice for all concerned. No one else was in my shoes, 'nuff said.

These images are all about inciting emotion, and I would rather the debate be more logical. I would rather it be about when viable human life is seen to exist. Like I said, I have been Pro-Life and am now Pro-Choice, and understand and respect both sides. But they tried to put pictures of ruined lungs on cigarette packs - didn't stop people from smoking. I don't think it will work.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for taking on the debate, lets hope we can both learn from each-other and improve for further discussions.

This debate isn't about whether abortion is right or wrong, it is whether abortion images can be helpful in the abortion debate.

I will present three general reasons why I support the use of images of abortion and why I think they are helpful in the abortion debate.

1. Abortion images, assuming they are legitimate pictures are true representations of abortion and add a physical context to the term. This can be helpful because many people acknowledge the term 'abortion' but do not always connect it with the violent act committed against a less developed although whole human being. An act that results in their death, since they were previously alive as a whole self-directed, growing and distinct human organism.

2. Images are powerful. It is well known that images can produce powerful emotions that can sneak under an individual or cultures ideology. Producing emotion is not necessarily a bad thing, images that demonstrate violence and the abuse of other human beings should rightly make us angry, empathy is not a bad thing.

How do images of the holocaust, starving children or those murdered by drug cartels make us feel? Rightly we are morally disgusted that such things have happened and it is the same with images of abortion, they should make us feel disgusted and encourage further discussion, I've seen it many times.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries slavery was seen as something socially and morally permissible. This was because British culture for instance had presented a number of reasons why it was reasonable to treat non-whites as less morally valuable and subject to white men and women, it was argued that they were morally and intellectually inferior. It was their different colour tone and perceived inferiority which made their treatment justifiable.

The term slavery like abortion was not always connected with the reality of the act, this was because like abortion it was hidden, done in secret away from the public eye and this made it easier to justify. Slavery was something done on the Caribbean colonies away from societies eye so naturally few people questioned its legitimacy. However, the moral power of images can be seen demonstrated in the production of images of British slavery commissioned by the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade . One example is the the way African slaves were packed onto slave ships, next to dying slaves in their own faeces and urine, this is seen in the truly shocking images of the Brookes.

Like the images of abortion they ruffled feathers and angered people, especially those who were making money from trading and using slaves. But it was such images that presented people with a moral crisis, clearly the way slaves were being treated was wrong and the images made it difficult for people to ignore. Images of abortion likewise make the way unborn human beings are being treated in our own culture more difficult to ignore. If abortion is something to be celebrated yet its results are horrific to look at then we need to start answering some serious questions. It is my contention that images make injustice difficult to ignore and encourage us to ask important questions.

3. People may not like the images, I don't personally like them either they are horrible, but nevertheless they are true representations of abortion that focus the debate from something abstract to something that if we are wrong about is like the image itself, truly horrid. People have thought exactly the same about many of the things we find no-longer find morally repugnant and images have served the purpose of rousing our consciences. For me the Pro-life position has persuasive scientific and philosophical support and I need not rely on images but they certainly are helpful in the abortion debate.

Thanks for taking the time to read and respond in advance.


To quote you, "This debate isn't about whether abortion is right or wrong, it is whether abortion images can be helpful in the abortion debate."

However every reason you gave for the images is transparently Pro-Life, and it is only helpful for your side.

Is comparing abortion to slavery a new tactic I haven't heard of yet? I have been out of the loop. Yeah sure people used to be blind to the reality of slavery. People used to be blind to the suffering of walking talking human beings. But they are two so different topics.

If you don't need to use these disgusting images, as you say, then I say don't bother. They are not going to change the minds of anyone on either side of the debate. The only people it could effect are women who just got an abortion and are not sure if they did the right thing. So it will upset them, and it will upset the Pro-Lifer's to be more emotional. That's all these images accomplish, upsetting people's emotions.

I would like to add that I have all due respect to the Pro-Life movement, even though I am transparently Pro-Choice. I'm just saying people don't need to be more upset than they already are.
Debate Round No. 2


One of the reasons many on the Pro-choice side do not find images of abortion helpful is not simply because they may upset people but because they change minds. I know a number of people involved in such displays (Universities, free-speech areas etc) and there are too many people to count everyday of those who change their minds after viewing the imagery. But this objection isn't primarily to do with being helpful or not this is to do with objecting to something that could make people change their position. Yet the imagery could and is certainly helpful to many people who view it.

The main reason those who support abortion do not want abortion imagery shown is that they expose the violent nature of the act. However, if abortion is truly defensible then it can still be helpful for those people because it forces those holding that position to confront its violent nature and build a case for the legitimacy and need for abortion regardless of its violent nature.

Whatever our position on abortion, images confront both sides and encourage people to either defend or confront the images which are true representations of abortion.

I was not comparing abortion to slavery although there are certain parallels in regards to the dehumanization of certain human beings. What I was showing was how images can be powerful in the context of social justice to expose the reality of certain actions so that they can suitably addressed.

As I mentioned above in regards to how the images do confront people on both sides to change their minds. Your claim that they are not going to change minds is simply false.

I understand what you are saying about upsetting people and that is certainly a risk, this is why where they are shown and how are equally important (Warning signs etc). Universities are certainly great places to have displays, a place where we should be able to discuss, challenge and debate what we think about the moral legitimacy of abortion and the moral nature of the unborn.

However, I should point out that by stating that we shouldn't show images that risk upsetting people does assume something about the ontological nature of the unborn. This is because if the unborn are human beings with sufficient moral value that warrants them not being intentionally killed then like the images of slavery they could and should be shown even if they have the potential to upset those involved.

A few points why images may be warranted outside or near abortion clinics:

1. Despite how much I value women and sadness that I feel for those are taken advantage of by the abortion industry, the images have the potential to stop women from killing the unborn human being residing within them.

2. In Britain 33% of women who had an abortion last year had had at least one previous abortion, sometimes many more. It can be helpful to see the reality of the act so that they don't repeat the same mistake again.

3. Viewing the images presents women with validation for their guilt and the impetus to make use of alternative options such as adoption and keeping the child themselves.

4. If they do change women's minds the images actually help protect women from the well documented psychiatric risks related to having an abortion [1]. If we care about women we should care about them doing something that may result in serious future psychiatric problems and these risks should be discussed with women by those providing abortion services.

Images as I said earlier can be helpful in the abortion debate and it is shameful for those who support the practice of abortion to be so vehemently against their use. Of course you haven't, you have only very patiently and clearly provided your own objections which I appreciate.

[1] -


spankme forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Thanks to my opponent for making some important points, however I think I have been able to demonstrate that images of abortion are helpful in the abortion debate. To hide them only succeeds in hiding the reality of the act which does neither view any justice.

It is important for those who support abortion to interact with the reality of the images and to build a robust defence for abortion that takes its violent nature into account rather than hiding from it.

For those who think abortion is not morally permissible, images of abortion are able to avoid mere philosophical debate and move to a dialogue that acknowledges and interacts with the horrible nature of the images which are true representations of the practice. Of course philosophical debate is important but the images focus the importance of the debate away from primarily lofty discussion to the realities of an act that results in the death of a previously living, whole, growing and distinct human being.

They force a debate to take place and move people from apathy to having to make a decision about whether this is the sort of practice that should be legal in our society.

Please read my points before voting and I'm more than happy to discuss them further if your wish.

Thanks for taking the time to read.


I apologize, I have been really busy and haven't been on here.

There are disturbing images that could be used in any debate. For instance, not everyone supported the legality of the War in Iraq. So.... close-up pictures and videos of the corpses of children who were gassed by Saddam Hussein could have been shown. Horrible idea, isn't it! We already knew what he did, we didn't want him having anymore WMD's. But the first thing that would have entered anyone's minds when they saw this prominently displayed would have been, god that's really insensitive! Did they have to put that in the paper? On prime-time television? On a billboard?

We are censored from disturbing images because not everyone can handle it. What's a child supposed to think when they see an aborted fetus? Especially when it is followed with a caption calling it a murdered baby? Or will there a caption underneath calling it non-viable fetal tissue? There are plenty of adults with emotional disorders who don't need to suddenly see that either.

Not to mention the fact that, truth be told, we don't want to worry about being repulsed everywhere we go by someone's campaign. That is why store-owners were losing business when they had to put up pictures of diseased lungs, and the law forcing them to do so was struck down (1) Whether you smoke or not, would have stood in that check-out line again? I doubt any place of business would want to be within ten miles of a picture of an aborted fetus! Where will those pictures be displayed? In which mainstream papers, etc.?

I have seen a picture of dead woman in a gas station restroom, and of women who died in their homes from illegal abortions. Pro-Choicer's could just as well use those images to argue part of their stance. But it would be a tactless move in my opinion. It might make your average Pro-Lifer feel sad for a moment, but would not change their minds one inch. Neither do images of abortion change the views of Pro-Choicer's.

I feel that though emotion drives people on the side of any issue, reason and logic shape and decide it. If it's found reasonable and logical to strike down Roe v Wade, it will happen. I don't think there's a doubt in anyone's mind that smoking will be illegal soon - without the charred lungs in our faces.

Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Ragnar 3 years ago
Such would avoid a semantics argument that the images would hurt one side of the debate.
Posted by SeanCEyler 3 years ago
I think there are several sub-issues within the abortion debate. I think your debate topic needs to be more specific, such as; "Pictures of abortions will help define a fetus as a living being"
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by natertig 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro is exactly right in saying that showing people what they are fighting for and against is good. Con saying that the discussion should be based on logic makes no sense, because if you don't know in detail with pictures what you are doing, then how can you make a logical decisions. Pro won this debate and made many more arguments to refute the Con's arguments. Both people kept their cool, but in the end, all of the points go to Pro.