A pro-life organization called Heroic Media created an ad raising awareness of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks. The ad featured a baby around 20 to 24 weeks being held in a person’s hand. The caption beside the image read: “This child has no voice, which is why it needs yours.”
This group wanted to purchase ad space from certain newspapers, but three major newspapers turned them down, because the image of the small child was “too controversial.” It was the Chicago Tribune, LA Times and USA Today that refused to run their ad.
So, Heroic Media changed the image to be of an unborn child in utero. The Chicago Tribune decided that that was not “too controversial” as long as the group indicated clearly that it was an advertisement. They agreed to run the revised ad.
I don’t get what’s so “controversial” about a very small child. One of the things Heroic Media wanted to get across was what life looked like at 20 weeks, which is the legal threshold defined in the pro-life bill that passed the House recently. They wanted to impress their viewers with how much of a baby a baby really is at 20 weeks.
Probably the newspapers were worried about their readership. Readers might be offended that they advertised for a pro-life group using a premature born baby instead of an unborn one. Readers might accuse the newspapers of promoting an advertisement that appeals to the emotions of others to support a pro-life cause. Then, they might unsubscribe. And that means less money for the newspaper.
Remember what happened to Matt Drudge in 1999? He wanted to use a picture of an unborn child’s hand reaching through his mother’s uterus and holding on to the doctor’s finger. The Fox network did not allow this, because they didn’t want him using the picture to push a pro-life message. They argued that since the photo wasn’t of an abortion, but of an unborn child being treated for spina bifida, it had nothing to do with abortion and therefore, should not be used. That’s when Drudge said the network was just trying to censor him, and he left.
Of all the horrible and vulgar things that are allowed to be published in newspapers and television shows, one of the few things that is just “too controversial” to publish is a picture of a very young baby. Fox’s excuse was that the photo wasn’t really related to abortion. Give me a break. Like they really care about an image’s relevance to their topic. If it were any other issue, they’d simply go for the most shocking picture. That’s what helps their viewership. Same with newspapers. But if it’s a child, and the message is a pro-life one, then all of sudden relevance becomes very important, and besides, baby pictures are just “too controversial.”