Where do anti-abortion protesters get those grisly photos?

Answers to your questions about the news.
Oct. 26 2010 4:40 PM

Mommy, Where Do Pictures of Aborted Babies Come From?

Where do anti-abortion protesters get those grisly photos?

1_123125_123073_2240479_2269653_101026_ex_protesterstn
Anti-abortion protestors hold placards as they demonstrate near the Senate office buildings. 

Aaron Gouveia, a Massachusetts reporter, posted a video this week of his confrontation with anti-abortion protesters, who taunted his wife with graphic pictures of aborted fetuses. Aborted fetus pictures are also in the news in Washington, D.C., where long-shot congressional candidate Missy Reilly Smith is forcing local TV networks to air graphic anti-abortion campaign ads. Where do abortion protesters get their fetus pictures?

From dumpsters, among other places. For many years, a Madonna University professor named Monica Migliorino Miller supplied the anti-abortion movement with its imagery. As detailed by Damien Cave of the New York Times in 2009, Miller has recovered thousands of fetuses that were improperly disposed of from dumpsters outside of Midwestern health care facilities. She began photographing the fetuses in 1987.

Advertisement

In the late 1990s, a second major source emerged. The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform has compiled an extensive library of pictures and videos of fetuses and abortion procedures. (Note: some of the links in this article contain graphic images.) The center pays doctors and clinics to permit a contract photographer to enter the operating room and document the abortion. Selling access to an operating room is unheard of in the United States, so it's very likely that the center's images were all taken abroad. The center won't say whether it obtains the patients' consent to snap pictures.

The center distributes most of its high-resolution images to anti-abortion institutions like crisis pregnancy centers, but street protesters can order them as well. They just have to condemn violence as a tactic, agree not to alter the image, and pay between $3 and $89 to cover printing costs. (Digital images are free, and the center sometimes waives the fee upon request.) The most expensive version is 92 inches wide, 42 inches tall, and printed with weatherproof ink. Protesters have to provide their own stick for mounting. Many of the images include coins to indicate the size of the fetus, and versions with Canadian currency are available for Canuck protesters.

Got a question about today's news? Ask the Explainer.

Explainer thanks Don Cooper of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform and Angela Dinh of the American Health Information Management Association.

Like  Slate  and the Explainer on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

The First Case of Ebola in America Has Been Diagnosed in Dallas

Why Indians in America Are Mad for India’s New Prime Minister

Damned Spot

Now Stare. Don’t Stop.

The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Don’t Panic! The U.S. Already Stops Ebola and Similar Diseases From Spreading. Here’s How.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 6:59 PM The Democrats’ War at Home Can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 4:45 PM Steven Soderbergh Is Doing Some Next-Level Work on The Knick
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 6:44 PM Ebola Was Already Here How the United States contains deadly hemorrhagic fevers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.