"Maybe 50 percent of the graphic images of abortion victims that you’ll find online are probably my photography." So says Monica Migliorino Miller, associate professor of theology at Madonna University in Orchard Lake, Mich., in a recent front-page interview with The New York Times.
The interview has made waves in the pro-life world, due in large part to the fact that, along with the interview, the Times ran a selection of Miller’s graphic abortion photos in the online version of the story, becoming one of the only mainstream newspapers in the world to do so.
The story , written by Times journalist Damien Cave, came about after Cave encountered Miller while covering the murder of pro-life activist James Pouillon, who used to protest abortion by holding signs depicting photos of aborted babies. "Like many others," wrote Cave in the article, "I often wondered about the source of these images. Who took the pictures? Where did the fetuses come from?"
The answer is Monica Miller.
In a statement to pro-life supporters, Miller called the Times story a "coup," saying that it "is sure to generate much debate."
"Perhaps for the first time in the history of the pro-life movement a nationally recognized paper has (at last!) deliberately printed photos of actual abortion victims," she said.
"We need to pray that hearts will be changed. Our goal is to show and tell the truth about the injustice of abortion. I hope this story helps awaken hearts and minds."
The story is sure to frustrate the efforts of pro-abortion activists, many of whom have sought for years to discredit the abortion photos used by many pro-lifers by simply claiming that they are fake. But the Times’ story leaves little room for that conclusion.
"We felt it was very important to make a record of the reality of abortion," Miller told Cave in the interview, speaking of her motivation in beginning to take the controversial photos.
The process of photography is difficult, she explained. The aborted infants are difficult to handle, and the formaldehyde solution acrid. She says she rented expensive lenses so that she could get within millimeters of the aborted babies. The result is that her photographs show very small details, revealing the fingers and toes of babies whose entire frames are no bigger than a cell phone.
In addition to the precision of the actual photography, when taking the photos Miller precisely documents each baby she photographs by date, location, and gestational age.
The aborted babies she photographs are often illegally thrown out by abortion mills, explained Miller. In 1988 Miller and others found that a pathology lab in Northbrook, Illinois was being used as a dumping ground for about ten to twelve different abortion mills. Between February and September of 1988, they removed roughly 4000 aborted babies from where the abortion clinics had shipped them. Many of them were later buried in a funeral ceremony presided over by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, archbishop of Chicago.
To find the aborted babies Miller and her companions search through biohazardous waste, where they find the remains of the fetuses among bloody surgical papers, gloves, and surgical instruments. They also have found the medical records of woman who have gone to the abortion mills, records improperly disposed of by the abortion facility itself.
"We photograph those babies because we needed to show their humanity," said Miller in July 2008. "It should shock us. It should completely outrage us that this is happening. These are human beings we’re talking about, thrown out in the trash."
Miller’s latest photos have focused less on the gore of abortion and more on the fine details and features even the youngest aborted children have. "I want to show there’s beauty and humanity in the unborn child," she said. "There should be a sense of pity."
Miller was deeply involved in the pro-life movement before she began to take her now-famous pictures. She was among the individuals and organizations against whom pro-abortion groups brought a lawsuit in the 80s, in which the pro-abortion groups attempted to have pro-lifers prosecuted under federal racketeering laws. The case concluded at the US Supreme Court in with an 8-1 decision in favor of the pro-life coalition.