May 21, 2004

STUART BUCK has an oped comparing abortion photos to those from Abu Ghraib:

Abortion protesters have commonly publicized photographs of aborted fetuses, and one famous short film (The Silent Scream) even shows ultrasound images of an actual abortion. Yet these tactics typically result in criticism aimed not at the abortion providers, but at the protesters themselves.

Typically, these protesters are accused of sensationalism and exploitation. And it's not always just criticism: Two political candidates were even arrested in Britain last year simply for peacefully displaying a picture of an aborted fetus.

In a sense, this is understandable. Pictures of abortion are gory and upsetting. No one finds them pleasant. As a result, the reality shown in the pictures is ignored, while displaying the pictures is treated as an offense against good taste.

But how does this square with the reaction to the pictures of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib? Recall that a few American soldiers forced prisoners to pose for sexually explicit pictures, images that were graphic and distressing.

Yet, disturbing as the photos were, opponents were adamant that they should be made public. Democratic Sen. Carl Levin said the photos "absolutely" should be released, and that "any effort to hide this kind of material will not work."

Unlike Stuart, I'm pro-choice. But he's right about the double standard. (But I've come to the conclusion that pictures like this one should never be published. Ugh.)