This picture with the caption This is what we all looked like at 12 weeks in the womb. Legal to kill in all 50 states. Anyone think its not a person? Pass this along. It literally might save a life is circulating on Facebook.
Actually, that is not what a 12 week foetus looks like. This is an actual 12 week foetus: I will not copy the picture out of respect to the pro-life mother.
So the photograph here is a lie, designed to create an emotional effect. The size is wrong, the skin is wrong, both made to look more baby-like. It is an exaggeration: there is some truth there, and the liar may not even realise that they are twisting and embellishing the truth.
Snopes has a useful discussion mostly from a rationalist point of view. Chloe says, It’s a little big and a little too developed, especially in facial features and the proportions of the head. Standard pro-lie tactics involve timing the pregnancy at conception, rather than LMP, as the medical world does. For them, a 14 week fetus is considered a 12 week fetus. I suspect this is what we’re seeing here. Mmm, Rationalist- though that phrase “pro-lie” is a lovely rhetorical touch.
That photo is “preaching to the converted”. Anti-abortion campaigners will look at it, and be encouraged by it. They will not be looking at Snopes: there are other places for pro-life and pro-choice to debate. So much of the rhetoric is only for those who agree already. Talking across the divide is more difficult, and the greater the divergence in opinion the more difficult it gets.
The disgust it arouses seems a less complex and adult emotional reaction than the empathy it seeks to kill, empathy with the plight of the mother. That requires imagination and judgment. As a miscarriage is a horror, so is a termination: we all feel that disgust; but the pro-choice advocate moderates it with greater understanding of the whole situation.
We can exchange information-gobbets, dates of formation of nerve tissue or the incipient frontal lobe, but the feelings, disgust and empathy, seem stronger to me as a way of persuasion. Reducing the disgust with facts is slow, patient work.
Moving back to my more usual LGBT issue, here is suffragan bishop Alan Wilson on his correspondence after he came out as sympathetic to gay people. Ninety of his hundred letters against were mere abuse. That disgust, again, for other people; for who we are. How could that be persuasive? The writer shows his disgust, and a weaker other may take the lead from it, feeling as the dominant human feels, for feelings of solidarity. Or, if the other does not come to share the feeling, the writer feels dislocated and disconcerted, because his feeling is not confirmed as he desires. There is emotional identification with the conservative side of these arguments.
If you have changed your position in these arguments, how did that happen?