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.

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

War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The One National Holiday Republicans Hope You Forget

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.

Doublex

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

Politico Wonders Why Gabby Giffords Is So “Ruthless” on Gun Control

Behold
Sept. 23 2014 4:45 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 23 2014 6:40 PM Coalition of the Presentable Don’t believe the official version. Meet America’s real allies in the fight against ISIS.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
  Life
Outward
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 8:38 PM “No One in This World” Is One of Kutiman’s Best, Most Impressive Songs
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 1:50 PM Oh, the Futility! Frogs Try to Catch Worms off of an iPhone Video.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 11:00 AM Google Exec: Climate Change Deniers Are “Just Literally Lying”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 23 2014 7:27 PM You’re Fired, Roger Goodell If the commissioner gets the ax, the NFL would still need a better justice system. What would that look like?