An Emily’s Voice promotional which featured the words, “a heart beats at four weeks”, on four Newcastle buses has been removed. The action was taken after an outraged Newcastle resident accused the pro-life promotional material of being “dangerous propaganda; a guilt driven directive on what [a woman should] do with their body.”
Emily’s Voice is an organization that seeks to encourage people to consider alternatives to abortion. Their mission is to “help Australians fall in love with the unborn, and to support women with an unplanned or crisis pregnancy.”
The current Emily’s Voice campaign is to encourage a rethink about abortion. Paul O’Rourke, the CEO of Emily’s Voice, told the Herald Sun that,
There are Government campaigns to reduce smoking, the road toll, cancer and heart disease. Surely there’s a place to reduce abortion which claims more Aussie lives each year than any other cause?
The Emily’s Voice website contains a fuller explanation:
[Emily’s Voice] is seeking to restart and reshape the life conversation in a sensible, sensitive way free of guilt and condemnation so women make an informed choice.
We are pro-women and for-children.
The ads promote notbornyet.com containing relevant and timely information for women experiencing an unplanned or crisis pregnancy, including where to get practical, free support.
Most Australians are unaware there are an estimated 70,000 abortions, 95 per cent of which are performed on healthy women carrying healthy children.
There are four toxic messages being reinforced by the Government’s reactionary removal of such benign campaign material.
First, is the double standard that says it is okay to demand that the Government fund and support abortion, but not okay for the Government to support awareness about alternatives to abortion.
Second, the false belief that conceiving a child is equal to having contracted a sexually transmitted disease. Consequently, abortion is reduced to being equal with the treatment to remove an STD. If you openly disagree with this, you’re harming women.
Third, the false claim that only pro-abortion people care about women.
Lastly, educating people about biology and implicitly reminding them of their responsibilities and humane obligations, in response to the natural biological consequences of sex, is apparently now regarded as “hate speech” and propaganda.
Jean Elshtain, feminist and mother of four, one of whom was a disabled child, noted that:
without allowing Right-to-Life women to speak the truth as they understand it, without engaging them from a stand that respects uncoerced dialogue […] we will continue to treat them in distorted, presumptuous, and prejudicial ways.
In other words, if outraged individuals continue to suppress dissenting voices and opinions that they find offensive, or simply just don’t want to hear, those individuals will never hear anything other than the sound of their own voices. This is the very definition of an echo chamber.
There is an alternative to abortion. Emily’s Voice wants to not only give a voice to that, they want to stand with, by and alongside women who chose to take up that alternative.
This isn’t “dangerous propaganda or guilt driven directives”. It is respect for human life in all of its stages. This is, as theologian Karl Barth wrote, the active ‘appreciation of biological facts; a radical feeling of awe at the mystery and value of all human life made in the image of God’; and it is the honest recognition that ‘every deliberate interruption of pregnancy, whatever the circumstances, is a taking of human life.’ (Karl Barth CD. 3:4)
What is dangerous is elected officials giving directives based on a Facebook comment (as appears to be the case in this instance). In this, the discerning citizen faces the same heavy rod on their backs that have been thrown down by the whim of the ruler in centuries past.
Instead of being appalled by Emily’s Voice, Transport Minister Andrew Constance should have applauded the care in which they took to communicate such a difficult topic in a positive way.