Staring Death in the Eye

A few of my colleagues in the pro-life movement have at times made the blanket generalization that showing pictures of aborted babies “doesn’t work” or is “counterproductive.” They say people already know abortion is evil, and seeing the photos will only turn them away from our movement. Nor, they say, will the photos persuade someone not to have an abortion.

May I present some evidence to the contrary. These are three of hundreds of emails I receive from people who see these photos at

1. “Up until I visited this site I had been prochoice. I thought that I would do an Internet search to see exactly what an abortion entails. After seeing the images on your site, there was no decision to be made. I figured that whatever hardships having a baby at this time would bring me would be far easier than living with the guilt I knew I would never rid myself of if I was to get an abortion. The pictures had such a powerful effect on me. They helped me to be strong and realize that this pregnancy was made possible by God and if it wasn’t meant to be, that was His choice, not mine.”

2. “Hello, I am a sixteen-year-old female and I just finished looking at the pictures on your site and reading what actually happens during an abortion. Up until five minutes ago I was extremely pro-choice. Because of your site, I realize that abortion is not a choice about a woman’s body…it is the LIFE of a BABY. Never before did I realize how truly horrible and careless abortion really is. Maybe it’s because I’d never seen the pictures, or read the actual descriptions of abortion. Maybe I was too afraid to know the truth. But within 3 minutes of viewing your website, my face was covered in tears. Those pictures just really hurt to look at. I cannot express how grateful I am that you have shown me the truth about abortion. God bless you.”

3. “Thank you so much for your website. I am 14 weeks pregnant and my partner wants me to have an abortion. … so I thought about it. I got on the internet trying to see how much it cost and I was led to your site. I wanted to see what happens and what they look like at 14 weeks. Thanks to your site. I am not going to do it. I am unable to commit murder. That is like killing my own children at their age. This is a remarkable website. Everyone should see this site before they consider having an abortion. Everyone needs to see this to determine if they are able to live with themselves after doing this”.

Many other messages like these are posted at

Now if someone prefers not to use the photos, that’s fine. Many others will, and there are many other kinds of pro-life work to go around. But please don’t say the photos don’t work. They certainly do.

Fr. Frank Pavone


Father Frank A. Pavone is an American Roman Catholic priest and pro-life activist. He is the National Director of Priests for Life and serves as the Chairman and Pastoral Director of Rachel's Vineyard.

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  • bambushka

    Dear, dear Father Pavone,

    Thank you for giving your life to Christ, to the Church, and to us.

    I have often thought that if the aboriton mills would line up the dead in front of their mills just as the Nazi’s did with the people they destroyed, how much different this whole issue would be. If we don’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

    Thank you for all you do in His Holy Name.

  • dennisofraleigh

    Remember Pope John Paul the Great’s insightful observation that “if it doesn’t happen on television, it doesn’t happen”? The same arguement can be made here in the abortion debate. There is a large segment of our population that is very image-driven. They’d rather see the movie than read the book, in other words.

    I think it perhaps time for much of our “pro-life” leadership to depart “Niceville” (35 years and 45+ million abortions later!) and make a concerted effort to give the American peope a snootfull of Abu-ghraib- level (who can forget that daily onslaught of *those* photos) visual exposure of the grim, stark, brutal reality of abortion. The mainstream media certainly won’t do it for us. And such an effort would certainly would make it a lot harder for guys like Sen. Obama to glibly talk about unborn human life as a matter “above [his] pay grade.” Same for those trying to argue in abstract terms about something they call “reproductive rights.”

  • noelfitz

    The Catholic Church is more than an anti-abortion lobby group, which campaigns against Democrats (Obama/Biden).

    Is it a mortal sin to vote for Obama?

    Emphatically not.

    Pope Benedict XVI noted:

    ‘ When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia , but votes for that candidate it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of appropriate reasons’.

    I would prefer to believe the Pope rather than any individual bishop in the US.

    I would prefer to encourage voting for a candidate of integrity, rather than one who dumps his wife injured in a serious accident for one who is wealthy and can finance his political ambitions.

    I would prefer to support a Catholic who has remained within the Church (Biden) rather than one who rejects the Catholic Church she was baptized into (Palin). If a candidate claims she was in Iraq when she was in Kuwait, she is either a liar or very stupid.

    Under Democratic presidents there was peace in the world, and American was wealthy, having a surplus, now the US is in financial chaos. What was so wrong in wanting to get rid of poverty, to allow people to own their own homes and to have good health care for all.

    Now in the US over 1% of the population is in jail (well over 2.2 million, the highest in the world, even higher than China). Infant mortality is on a par with third world countries. A new type of slavery is developing, where millions of people have no rights and are exploited (illegals, undocumented). Financially the country is in financial meltdown, yet the Republicans spend billions propping up their banker friends.

    In being Pro-Life it is important to remember the full social teachings of the Church.

    God bless,

  • gbackus1

    Noeflitz — you are either misinformed or you choose to worship the God of Individualism that influenced 49 million women to choose themselves over their babies. I hope and pray that you are misinformed. If so, you can find the truth at the Vatican website, starting with this document: Currently, there is no issue more imporant than the life of the unborn child. You will be in my prayers!

  • Richard Bell


    You need to adjust your factoid to ‘influenced women 49 million times to choose themselves over their babies’ as the original wording assumes that no woman has more than one.


    The last time America was wealthy (as opposed to many, but not most americans being wealthy) was before the US trade balance slid into the red in the early-to-mid 1970’s. The last democratic president of a wealthy america was Johnson, who squandered that wealth to lose the Viet Nam War.

    When has there ever been peace in the world?

    Why is Biden, a cafeteria catholic (at best) at odds with the magisterium, a better choice than a fervent evengelical ripped from the bosom of the church by her parents. The question should never be how much someone claims to be catholic, but how good they are. Anyone not laboring against Jesus is laboring for him.

    Of Biden and Palin, who is laboring for Jesus? The one that practices a faith received from parents, or the one that consciously chooses which aspects of the catholic faith are to be followed.

    When more than one million innocents are murdered every year, what reason is appropriate for voting for someone who will try to increase those numbers?

    What will Obama do to compensate for actually increasing the number of abortions?

    Catholic social teachings are meaningless and of no value to everyone that does not get born. If you are not born alive, there is no liberty, no rights, and no justice.

    I honestly have admiration for your persistence and tenacity, but I wish that they were applied to better ends.

  • ed


    fyi, you misquoted Pope Benedict XVI (who wasn’t Pope at the time this came out BTW), you used the phrase “appropriate reasons” but Cardinal Ratzinger used the phrase “proportionate reasons” which is a much higher threshold in terms of moral theology. Here is a link to the original letter:

    Please continue praying about and researching this topic in light of the teachings of Holy Mother Church.


  • trailblazer

    There is a huge difference between proportionate reasons and appropriate reasons and it is this sort of ‘wordsmithing” that has led many to the confusion and darkness in which we find ourselves immersed inside and outside the Church.


  • noelfitz

    Thank you all who replied to my post.

    I wrote ‘appropriate’ rather that ‘proportionate’. Sorry.

    I enclose a longer quote:

    “A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”

    So wrote Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in a confidential memorandum entitled Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles that became public earlier this year.

    Thus it can be seen that a Catholic can vote for Obama in good faith and with a clear conscience.

  • mkochan

    Only IF that Catholic can locate proportionate reasons.

    What do you think those might be, Noel? (BTW some of our bishops have already come out and said that there aren’t any.)

  • on a journey

    Noelfitz–are you American?

  • LarryW2LJ

    Is it a mortal sin to vote for Obama? I’m no theologian; but I would say, “Yes”.
    Voting for someone who unabashedly supports infanticide; and who has promised to end the “abortion debate” by making free and unrestricted abortion the law of the land by Presidential edict just doesn’t quite pass the “smell test”.

    Some things are just as plain as the nose on your face; and some things just aren’t rocket science.

  • Richard Bell


    You second post fails to convince because you failed to provide the proportionate reason that allows a catholic to vote for Obama with a clear conscience. Obviously you have seen such a proportionate reason that the rest of us have missed. Please let the rest of us know what it is.

  • janemartin

    I know this is a late post but I am most interested in Noelfitz’ proportionate reasons. I hope Noelfitz will answer in good faith. I can’t get beyond the images on Priests for Life website of the dead children. To think that the next President of the U.S will likely appoint one or two Supreme Court Judges who could reverse Roe vs. Wade or at the very least return the laws of abortion to the state legislatures is more compelling than any other possibility. To think that so many lives depend on one or two appointments to the Supreme Court is frightening and I can only hope and pray our next President will be on the side of the most vulnerable of our country, the unborn.

  • janemartin

    Just one more thing although it is so late I am sure you good readers have all moved on to other articles. I understand that the Democratic Party changed their platform regarding abortion. Whereas it used to say the Party’s goal was to keep abortion safe, legal and rare, it no longer has any interest in abortions being “rare”. They used to sway a lot of fence sitters with the whole “rare” thing. I might be a Democrat if not for abortion. All other issues are like rearranging the deck furniture on the Titanic. We are headed for sure destruction if abortion continues so all the best intentions for immigration reform, education, economic policy, etc. etc are all for moot if we are killing so many of our youngsters before they are born. I am really interested in what the proportionate reasons could be and hope Noelfitz will articulate them for me.

  • janemartin

    Well, I thought I’d check back to see if any of those proportionate reasons were articulated by Noelfitz.