My weekend question,  “What do you think of Time magazine’s graphic cover photo?,” grabbed the attention of an Associated Press reporter writing on the same topic.

The reporter requested my thoughts, and here are the relevant excerpts to our issue:

… The portrait has quickly become a symbol of the stakes of a nearly decade-old war. It has been brandished before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on television, dissected in online commentary and extrapolated into a conversation-starter about topics ranging from anti-abortion activism to violence against women….

Still, some have responded to the photo by adopting Aisha as an image of far more than Afghanistan’s struggle or journalism’s role in shaping it.

Jill Stanek, an anti-abortion activist and blogger, draws parallels between the Time picture and the graphic photos her fellow activists sometimes use to press their cause….

I thought you might be interested in her questions and my answers, which I gave her complete with hyperlinks:

1. How do you feel about the photo?

One picture is worth a thousand words. I think most graphic photos illuminating atrocities are persuasive.

Pictures have been helpful to spur most modern-day social justice movements since Lewis Hine photographed child laborers in the early 20th Century. The open casket and published photos of murdered 14-year-old African-American Emmett Till in Jet magazine in 1955 helped launch the Civil Rights movement. And who can forget the photo of young Phan Th? Kim Phúc running naked down a South Vietnamese road after being napalmed, which also increased opposition to the Viet Nam War (an AP photo, interestingly)?

So I applaud Time for showcasing the atrocities being committed against girls and women under extremist Muslim regimes. I am hopeful Time’s photo will make a difference.

I wrote “most” modern-day social justice movements, because there is one modern-day social justice movement and atrocity that journalism censors: abortion and the pro-life movement. The point of my post was to point out the hypocrisy, using the mainstream media’s own words.

If a journalistic outlet with integrity and a sense of balance and fairness were to film and show what actually goes on inside abortion clinics, the American public, which is already leaning against abortion, would in large part turn against it, just as the public turned against child labor only after seeing photos, etc.

2. Were you surprised by your readers’ response?

No. I anticipated pro-life activists would understand and agree with my underlying point, and pro-choicers (and pro-life pacifists) would either disagree with my underlying point or not see it at all.

3. So – just to close the loop – your answer to the question you posted readers, “Does Time’s rationale for publishing its photo hold for pro-life use of graphic photos of aborted babies?,” would be yes, in the spirit of confronting people with the realities of both?

Yes, absolutely.

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