What’s missing from these Anti-Choice logos?

On visiting the SPUC website (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) I was struck by their logo which reminded me of a passage in Janet Hadley’s excellent ‘Abortion – Between Freedom and Necessity’. In a section discussing the imagery used in the conflict over abortion she describes one of the effects of ultrasound:

 “In the screen’s grainy blur the foetus floats alone, like an astronaut in space: the woman is invisible, truly she has become nothing more than outerspace.”

I did a bit of googling and found a plethora of anti-choice groups for whom  “the woman [literally] is invisible”. To such organisations pregnant women don’t so much “become nothing more than outerspace” but nothing more than a bag of skin containing a foetus. The foetus is a person with all the rights that means, the pregnant woman has become a nothing, an unperson, at least when it comes to the basic right people have of exercising choice over what happens to their own body.

To be fair, by no means do all anti-choice groups use foetuses floating in space as their logos. Many use Christian iconography; cross, birds, Mary, saints, candles… A fair few have stylised words only, others show one or more adults and a baby or child. But remarkably few include the woman a foetus resides within, which is surprising as people must have been making this kind of criticism for decades now.

Some groups do include both the foetus and the woman:

In other circumstances I’d have started this paragraph by talking of ‘honourable exceptions’, but there’s nothing the least bit honourable about ‘Sidewalk Counseling’, the disgusting practice in which anti-choice zealots judge, harass, abuse, scream at and generally do everything they can to upset women entering family planning clinics. This is a vile campaigning tactic which prompted a justifiably enraged but admirably controlled husband to make a video of himself confronting ‘sidewalk counsellors’ who’d further upset his wife who was already distraught at learning that their much wanted baby had fused legs, no bladder or kidneys and would either be still born or die soon after birth if they continued with the pregnancy. Sadly, as with kerbside protests (about which more later), ‘Sidewalk Counselling’ has recently been exported to the UK from the US.

Some logos even go to the extent of showing something supporting the foetus, not the woman but god, or at least his hands. In these cases, they can’t even make the excuse of not showing the woman for the same of simplicity or clarity, no a deliberate decision has been made to completely remove her from the picture. ‘Pro-Life Artist’ Gary Clark seems to have a real fetish for this kind of thing. 

The strangest choice of imagery I came across was that made by ‘Democrats for life’ who included several babies in their banner and an adult couple but (not meaning to be harsh) a rather elderly one more likely to be pressuring their adult children to produce them some grandkids than to be in the need of an abortion.

This Saturday, SPUC (the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) are organising a nationwide series of American style kerbside protests against women’s right to control what happens to their own bodies. Loose coalitions of people who believe in women’s right to choose have got together across the country to organise counter-demonstrations. Details on SPUC protests and pro-choice counter demonstrations nationwide can be found at womensgrid, if you’re nearby one and can spare the time please drop by to help out.

Incidentally, the so called “Society for the Protection of Unborn children” don’t just want to end a woman’s right to choose. They also oppose pragmatic sex and relationship education in schools and contraception. These are policies which would drive up the number of unwanted ‘unborn children’ and demand for abortion, safe and legal or illegal, backstreet and unsafe. With such policies they should really be called ‘The Society for the Creation of Unwanted Unborn Children’.

SPUC also campaigns against fertility treatment and gay marriage!

If SPUC’s concern was really abortion they’d be campaigning for, not against, condoms and have nothing to say on gay marriage.  As broken down in this excellent post on Alas, if you look at the positions ‘pro-life’ people typically take, it’s evident they aren’t concerned with minimising and even ending abortion, but are on a religiously inspired mission to try and regulate and punish people for having sex.

Disclaimer: I make no claim to owning any of the images used in this post. They’re all used in what I understand to be a fair use manner for the purposes of comment and criticism.


One Response to What’s missing from these Anti-Choice logos?

  1. carolinejanecole says:

    An interesting, thought provoking post about a subject I know little about. It’s worrying to hear that sidewalk counselling is starting to appear in the UK. As a mother the anti-choice logos are distressing and emotive, they tug at my heart strings, which I guess is the effect the campagners are looking for. However, this powerful imagery is used to massively over-simplify and exploit people, and as you say completely disregards the woman carrying the embryo/foetus. The woman becomes a non-entity, a vessel which simply carries the foetus inside her, especially in the hands of the ProLife artist Gary Clarke. This is a complex area with no easy answers, I personally believe it is the woman’s choice, and it is heavily dependent on context. This sort of campaigning sickens and concerns me, as I know there are women out there really suffering because of it.

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