Abortion victim imagery credited for win against 1972 abortion proposal in Michigan

The use of abortion victim imagery has been a debated topic for the pro-life movement for many years but the fact is that showing the American public what abortion looks like has been instrumental in changing hearts and minds on the humanity of the preborn person in the womb. The use of victim images dates back to the days prior to and just after legalization of abortion both at the state level and the federal level.

In 1972, a year before the infamous Roe V Wade Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion on demand in the nation, the State of Michigan asked voters to vote on Proposition B which would, “Allow abortion under certain circumstances.”

According to information obtained from the October 18, 1972 Claire Sentinel, the proposal would allow for only licensed physicians in hospitals or clinic settings to perform abortions rather than “allowing abortions to be [sic] preformed by the same hucksters who have been operating illegally for years.”

Image: michigan proposal b 1972 on abortion

Michigan proposal b 1972 on abortion

According to other reports, the measure was proposed to permit a woman to have an abortion for any reason up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Backers of the abortion measure claimed the move would make abortions more available to the “poorer segment of the population,” according to a October 19, 1972 report by Wakefield News.

As a result, a coalition of pro-life groups, A Voice of the Unborn, under the direction of Detroit resident Dr. Richards Jaynes, launched an offensive. The coalition included the Michigan Catholic Conference as well as the Right to Life Committee and the Southern Baptist Church.

“The humanity of the child is the only issue,” Dr. Jaynes told the Holland Evening Sentinel on September 02, 1972 . “Nobody has a right to deprive him of his life, not even his mother.”

Pro-life activist Lynn Mills, who uncovered the flyer, told this blog that she remembers proponents of the pro-life measure, “Coming into my school in Livonia and explaining all of the different types of abortions.”

The organization mailed pamphlets like the one seen below (archived at the Bentley Historical Library) to the community. And, they  included abortion victim imagery:

Image: Michigan proposal to legalize abortion news 1972 pro-life pamphlet

Michigan proposal to legalize abortion news 1972 pro-life pamphlet

The effort paid off because voters rejected the measure.

 

Image: michigan proposal to legalize abortion news 1972

Michigan proposal to legalize abortion news 1972

According to historian Daniel K Williams in his book, Defenders of the Unborn, the group had mailed the brochures to 250,000 African Americans households, linking abortion concerns to race.

The strategy, Williams said originated with African American Democratic state representative and civil rights activist Rosetta Ferguson, who joined the cause as director of Michigan’s Voice of the Unborn.

 

Image: Voice of the Unborn advertisement 1972 Michigan

Voice of the Unborn advertisement 1972 Michigan

Ferguson called abortion legalization, “Black Genocide.”

Ferguson was not alone in linking abortion to eugenics and genocide.

This blog has extensive research documenting how Black leaders, including many Black women understood that abortion was targeting their community.

The use of abortion victim imagery also inspired the pro-life movement’s iconic “precious feet” pin.

Dr. Sacco’s image of aborted baby

In the early 1970’s, Dr. Russell Sacco, a urologist from Oregon began reading “anatomical books,” and when the Supreme Court ruled that murdering the preborn was “legal,” the doctor became, in his words, “furious.”

It was shortly after this that Sacco met a pathologist who had preserved aborted babies’ bodies in a bucket of formaldehyde, which he showed Sacco. “… [I]n the bucket were about seven or eight infant bodies. It was a little bit shocking for me to see that but, there they were.”

Dr. Sacco said he took out “one body at a time” to photograph them. Then, he cataloged each child and their estimated ages.

After developing the film, he discovered that the images of the feet were “better than I had thought. I really thought that… maybe God did that one for me.”

The image, which Dr. Sacco refused to copyright so it could be used worldwide, has been referred to as “Tiny Feet,” “Little Feet,” and “Precious Feet.”

Dr. Sacco’s picture of aborted baby feet

Sacco later met Dr. Jack Willke who asked to use those images in his book Handbook on Abortion. Following that, the picture was printed in early pro-life brochures such as “Life and Death” and “Did you Know?” The photo soon “went viral,” as they say, and was published in countless flyers, books and pamphlets. That photo then inspired an Arizona couple, Ellis and Virginia Evers, the founders of Heritage House, which now offers the pins for purchase.

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