As I watched the streams of people bursting out of the doors of Toronto’s Union Station, I was reminded once again of why I’m not a city girl. I don’t get a rush from being in the midst of crowds of people, with constant noise, strange smells, and dirty streets. But cities are important, particularly for us. The more people there are, the greater the need for the truth about abortion to be shown. There are more people to reach, which means more minds that need to be swayed and more babies that need to be saved. And that’s why I was standing outside of Union Station, catching the morning rush, with a sign depicting a 10-week old abortion victim.

People didn’t have much time to stop and talk. Most of them were rushing off to work, and so we had to be content with placing a pebble in their shoes, reminding them at the start of a new day that abortion is happening, and that’s an ugly reality. We’d stood there for about an hour when a woman came up behind me and hissed: “You doing this, you standing here, this is violence.” Before I could ask her to clarify what she meant, she had hurried on down the sidewalk.

I didn’t need an answer to my question for my own sake. This is something we’re hearing more and more often. Holding these horrifying images is triggering for some, it may hurt them to see the reality of what abortion does to pre-born children, and therefore, people argue, we are committing an act of violence.“You may not be screaming,” I’ve heard people try to explain, “but those images are. Those images are visually screaming, they are visually assaulting.” 

There is no doubt that these images are difficult to look at. There is no doubt that they can trigger violent emotions: anger, as people at times yell or even try to attack our signs, disgust, as people wrinkle their noses or spit on the sidewalk, and sadness, as those viewing these images try to hold back tears. But these emotions are not aroused because people are showing a picture, but because of what the picture itself depicts. When you see a baby in pieces, it is impossible not to feel some sort of bad feeling. To me, that’s a good thing, an indication that in some ways, people still feel compassion for one another. 

In a sense, I agree that images of abortion victims visually scream; they scream for our culture to wake up and to take action, in the same way that images of past atrocities implore us to make sure that such things never happen again. Was it an act of violence for Macleans magazine to publish a photo of the little Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, who had drowned? Was it an injustice? Obviously not. There was no public outcry against Macleans magazine, rather there was an outcry against the ugly reality that children are caught up in adult conflicts. 

The cognitive dissonance people display in saying that those showing an image that reveals a reality that is largely accepted in our society are committing an act of violence, but that the action that resulted in the image is not an act of violence, is incredible. There is an act of violence here, but it is not the fault of those exposing the injustice. Abortion violently ends the life of pre-born children. Abortion is an act of violence and we must expose it for what it is.

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