By Caroline Slingerland

Often, in response to the use of abortion victim photography, people ask us whether we’ve considered what that does to a woman who has lost a child due to miscarriage or stillbirth. Women who have lost children will sometimes tell us that the picture brings back painful memories of their own experience. This is usually used in a bid to try convince us to stop using pictures of aborted children because of the unintended negative response to innocent bystanders.

Before I respond to this directly, I want to parallel it to something which is so real in my life right now. As you may know, my Mother passed away this past December. That made this past weekend the first Mother’s Day without her. I did not realize how hard that date would be until I saw the first post about it on social media. I paused as the realization hit me, and then cried buckets.

The next time I saw a Mother’s Day post, I scrolled past it as fast as possible, trying not to think about it. I was grateful that due to social isolation, I had no plans to go to town and would not be accosted by all the promotions and sales. But again and again, I would get emails or see posts about it on social media. The ads seemed to all be geared towards that event. Posts were reminding dads that unlike other years, their children wouldn’t be bringing anything home from school, so it was up to them to make sure the day was remembered appropriately. Friends were posting about it on their walls, what they were doing for their moms at this time of isolation, or what their children had done for them. And each time, it hurt so incredibly bad. I just wanted it to go away. I didn’t want to be forced to think about it, to remember. But I couldn’t make it go away, neither did I think it actually should.

Because the thing is, I think Mother’s Day is wonderful. Moms deserve to be celebrated for all they do for us from the moment we are conceived, throughout our growing up years, and then even into adulthood. That doesn’t make it less painful; on the contrary, it makes me wish I had just one more opportunity to show my Mom how much I love and value her, and I try not go down the path of regretting not having done enough in the past.

Now to complete the parallel, yes, seeing a picture of a child who was intentionally killed can be a painful reminder for a mom who spontaneously lost a child. But just as we wouldn’t cancel Mother’s Day because it is a trigger to my pain, we can’t stop using abortion victim photography because it hurts an innocent woman. After all, the reason we use those pictures is because it is the most effective tool we have to save vulnerable children. Though I’ve never personally lost a child, my Mom has, and she used the painful memories to remind her that though she didn’t choose death for her children, other mothers do.

So for all those mothers who lost children, especially those for whom pictures of aborted children can be triggering, I’m so sorry for your loss and your ongoing pain. I truly wish you didn’t have to see those pictures and be reminded. But more than that, I wish no child ever had to go through abortion and become those pictures.

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