Does Showing Abortion Photography Anger People? | Trevor Polo

Does Showing Abortion Photography Anger People? | Trevor Polo

While many pro-lifers (and even many abortion advocates) have come to accept and embrace the public display of abortion victim images (AVI), there are still some who question the strategy, asking questions about the impact abortion victim images have on one’s worldview, on their likelihood of supporting various forms of legislation, and most often the impact showing these images have on people’s perception of the pro-life movement.

In today’s episode, Mark interviews Trevor Polo from Protect Life Michigan to review and discuss the comprehensive polling PLM has recently conducted to answer the questions mentioned above.

To check out the study yourself and to learn more about Protect Life Michigan, go to:

We will cover:

  • Impact of abortion victim images on abortion worldviews

  • Impact of abortion victim images on humanizing pre-born children

  • Impact of abortion victim images on the perception of pro-lifers showing the images

  • Impact of abortion victim images on support of restrictive legislation

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*This is an AI generated transcript, and may contain inaccurate transcriptions*

Mark Harrington (00:10):

Well, hello everyone. You’re radio activist, Mark Harrington here, and you can follow me on all the social media platforms and all the popular podcasting platforms. This is the Mark Harrington show. And friends, this is a topic that we spent a lot of time on the program, so I don’t want you to tune out, but this is new information. It’s new data that you’re going to hear today on the program about the use of abortion victim imagery, pictures, video in the public square. As you know, I have been an advocate of this as long as I have been in pro-life activism for 25 years, and of course, I’m following along the line of great men like Great Cunningham and Joe Sidler, Joe ler, and others who were the entrepreneurs, if you will, of the use of these images in the public square. So we’re just kind of standing on the shoulders of these giants, and I for decades have believed that they’re the most effective means to change people’s hearts and minds on abortion.


And why is that? Because I’ve used them and I’ve seen it happen right before my eyes. That’s why even today we’re going to go out on campus. I guarantee we’re going to have people who will look at the pictures, hear our arguments, and change their minds right before our eyes. It happens all the time. And if you follow us on social media, you see the GoPro videos that we post all the time. So there’s no dispute in my mind that these images work. However, our movement has been, I guess not totally on board with ’em over the years, despite the fact that social reformers have used these historically to change public opinion on injustice. We know that if we just look at the civil rights movement, we don’t have to go very far. Most people will give mental ascent to the idea that these have a role in changing people’s minds, but they always ask, Hey, where’s the data?


I want to see real hard information or a survey about this to see whether it works or not. Well, we’re going to talk about that today with my good friend and colleague, Trevor Polo from Protect Life Michigan. Trevor, thanks for being on the program, and I appreciate the work that protect Live Michigan does. If you don’t know folks, they are kind of kindred spirits in the battle. They’re just over the border from Ohio. For us. We do a lot of work together. We also share the idea that abortion victim photography works in the public square. So Trevor, let me just start with the survey. What compelled you to do this? What compelled you to come out and try to figure out whether this is actually the most effective means to change people’s minds on abortion?

Trevor Polo (03:03):

Yeah, thanks, mark. So really at Protect Life Michigan, we want to see abortion end in our lifetime. And to do so, we need to make sure that we’re doing the most effective strategy to change hearts and minds and ultimately save lives on this issue. So we know from, like you’re saying, this personal experience, we’ve been on campuses, we’ve had hundreds of thousands of conversations with students. We know what works, but we want to make sure that our findings, our anecdotal evidence is backed up by hard data, not just to make sure that our own team can be confident in the strategy that we’re pursuing, but so that our supporters can know that their money is being invested wisely so that groups that we work with can see our strategy and how it works and hopefully adopt it and we can help evangelize basically this strategy.


Just honestly, just like it was done to us, we were against the use of victim imagery for a long time at Protect Life Michigan. And it took you and Seth created Equal, along with some other people like CCBR in Canada to really help open our eyes to the effectiveness and the necessity to use these images as a tool for public persuasion. So this survey was really to not only reinforce to our own team and supporters, but also to go and offer that same kind of evangelism of this strategy to the rest of the prolife movement, just like was done for us.

Mark Harrington (04:25):

Well, and I have to give you a lot of credit for that because there are a lot of people who will come to me and say, mark, what you do is great. I think it works. But then it’s like, but they’re not going to do it. They don’t come to that moment where they think, wow, we might need to change our strategy. You guys were willing to do that. And I think that’s a tribute to your leadership. And I think here, creating equal, we’re constantly evaluating our tactics and our strategy and the day that it doesn’t work will be the day that we have to think of, well, maybe we don’t do this anymore. I don’t think that day has come yet, of course, but I’m glad that there are groups around that are willing to take a second look at the stride, especially now when we’ve lost seven of these Constitutional amendment battles. Politically speaking, things are looking pretty dark for us. It’s a good time to evaluate where we stand. So let’s talk about the polling, the survey that you did. If you would just take me through the methodology and let’s talk about the questions you asked and the answers that you got.

Trevor Polo (05:30):

Yeah, so we had basically four questions that we wanted to answer as part of this survey. We wanted to understand how does abortion victim imagery make people feel about abortion? How does the imagery make people feel about unborn children? How does imagery make people feel about pro-life people, and how does it translate to legislative support, like potential abortion restrictions, for example? And there’s been studies like this in the past that have been produced by, I know you’ve had a part in at Create Equal and CCBR and other groups that have shown the effectiveness of imagery. But there’s kind of two things that we wanted to add to the studies of the past and kind of build off of. One was we’ve had studies that show that imagery can change minds, but we didn’t necessarily have a control group that said, well, what about other pro-life messaging?


Let’s compare it to non-imaging messaging and see how much better it is. And we also didn’t necessarily ask questions about maybe it makes people feel negative about abortion, but maybe that’s outpaced by how upset they get at pro-life people and maybe they actually shut down to pro-life individuals and groups and they become more defensive and more solidified. So let’s actually see for whatever increase in their negative feelings towards abortion, is it accompanied by increased negative feelings towards pro-life, people that might actually be counterproductive towards the movement. So those were the two kind of extra pieces that we wanted to add to it. So to do so, we surveyed 1200 US adults across the country. Our sample included around 35 or 36 states, if I call correctly. And when they started taking this survey, they were split into an A and a B group. The A group, while they’re answering question six through 10 were being exposed to images of abortion from the first through the third trimester.


And the B group while answering the same questions were being exposed to pro-life messaging like graphics that you might see on social media that did not include any images of children or abortion. So they would say things like, pro-life is pro-woman abortion is a human rights violation. Things like that that are pro-life semis, strong pro-life apologetic statements that you can fit on a graphic but included no images of abortion. And then we compared those two groups of approximately 600 people each to see the difference in the responses on the questions regarding abortion that related to those four big topics that we wanted to respond to.

Mark Harrington (08:02):

Okay, gotcha. So here’s the thing, friends, there hasn’t been a lot of this done. In fact, you were referencing the survey or study that the Canadian Center for Bioethical Reform conducted, I don’t know, maybe it’s been 15 years ago. Jacqueline Harvey, I think is the one that did that. We were part of that. We helped fund it. And that’s one of the only ones that I’m a aware of way back in the day, if I can recall, even Jack Wilke did it at Cincinnati and University of Cincinnati pulled before we came to the campus, and then he pulled after we came, and it showed a marginal increase in those who were opposed to abortion, which was good news to us of course. But I can’t even find that survey. I was looking around the other day for, it’s been so long. It was 25 years ago, I think.


So very little of this has been done. And I think in part because everybody that uses ’em knows they work. I used to ask Greg Cunningham, it’s like, well, we need to do it. No, we know it works. Everybody should be convinced based on the fact that all the anecdotal evidence and the fact that social performers have done this historically, and there are people out there I think that will be convinced by this. Let’s go through each one of the questions you ask in the findings, because I think I do the idea that you added those two additional pieces to it, because I think it’s more than just, Hey, do they work or does it make you more or less supportive of abortion or more or less believe the babies are human or not? So let’s go through each one of these and give us what you found.

Trevor Polo (09:33):

Yep. So basically the first two questions were really just, there’s no images shown at all yet. And we asked about their political ideology. We wanted to figure out if they’re leaning conservative, a strong liberal, and then we also asked their initial thoughts on abortion. Do they think it’s morally right and justified? In other words, like a strong pro-choice individual, do they think it’s morally wrong and unjustified like a strong pro-life individual? Do they think it’s necessary, whether it’s moral or not, we kind of call this camp the necessary evil people that we talk to on campus. They’re like, I don’t like it, but sometimes it’s needed or are they uncertain? So those are the two kind of screening questions to group people. And then from there we started asking questions about their views on abortion while showing either victim imagery or pro-life graphics. And when we talk first about like, okay, we said how does this image, one of the two victim image of a victim or a pro graphic, how does this image make you feel about abortion?


And they could say things like more supportive, much more supportive, less supportive, much less supportive or unchanged. And when we asked those questions for the group that was not exposed to victim imagery, the most common response to seeing just a pro-life graphic was that their mind was unchanged regarding their support for abortion. Some people felt like they were more supportive, some people felt like they’re less supportive, but most common was unchanged feelings towards abortion. So these graphics, these images that have a pro-life message don’t move people significantly on the issue. But when that same question was asked to the group that was seeing the image of abortion at the time of the question being asked, there was an increase of over 17% in negative feelings towards abortion compared to the other group making that the most common response, the most common response we get when people see abortion victim imagery is that they feel less support for abortion.


And when we stripped it out and even looked at, okay, as a pro-life movement, whose mind do we need to change? We don’t need to change the very strong pro-choice mind necessarily. We want to, but that’s not necessarily our goal. It’s hard to change those people’s minds. We also don’t need to change, obviously strong people’s minds. We just need to activate them, I guess. But the mushy middle, the people who are like, I’m uncertain about the issue or I think I don’t like it, but maybe it’s necessary in some cases, those two groups, not only was that the most common response, two out of three people in those groups felt less support for abortion when seeing victim imagery almost twice as likely to feel less support towards abortion than just seeing a pro-life graphic. So if we’re being strategic and going after this kind of mushy middle of the population, maybe the roughly 60% of people or so that are movable on the issue of abortion, either way, abortion victim imagery can move almost two out of three of them towards less support towards abortion just by using an image. There’s no apologetic that accompanies it. There’s no conversation or anything. It’s just an image that makes over 60% of people feel less support for abortion.

Mark Harrington (12:42):

That is so significant, and people understand this because abortions such a hot topic. I remember Greg Cunningham said it best, he said, when a picture of an abortion is shown, it argues against itself. And if you look at our signs and the ones you guys using in Michigan, similarly, they just have the word abortion above them with an abortion image, with the gestational age of the baby when they were killed. That’s it. And people often, they’ll come up and they’ll reason to the conclusion that it’s just wrong and that we’re opposed to it. I’m like, there’s nothing here that says abortion’s wrong or abortion’s murder, but the fact that you just showed a photo alone with no arguments at all move 17% to decrease their support for abortion when they saw these images is significant and people this needs to sink in to those who are listening. If you’ve ever had any questions about this, friends, we have the data now we do. This is probably the best survey that’s been done, at least the most recent one that defends our position. So let’s move on to the other one with the impact of the victim images on humanizing the preborn child.

Trevor Polo (13:57):


Mark Harrington (13:58):

That was the second one, right?

Trevor Polo (13:59):

Yes. And that’s really important because we know that people don’t necessarily identify very well with an unborn child. They identify with other victims of injustice more readily. So part of the use of abortion victim injury, it’s not to cause intense reactions or anything like that. It’s really to bring humanity and help people see the humanity of the unborn child so that they can start identify more personally with it. And if we can make them do that, then they’ll be more likely to oppose abortion. So when we used these images, we wanted to understand does that impact their view of the humanity of child? One of the ways that we did that was by asking, do you think that in an abortion procedure, an unborn child experiences pain? We didn’t accompany this with any biological case for when the fetal pain began or end or anything like that.


It was just, Hey, look at this image. Do you think a child will feel pain in an abortion procedure? And what we found is that when people did not see victim imagery, about four out of 10 people, 42% of people thought that the unborn might experience pain, but when they do see abortion victim imagery, that number goes from 42% to over 56%. So we can get to the majority of people, a 14 or 15% increase in people identifying with fetal pain as the experience of the unborn child just by showing the image of abortion, which obviously is intuitive. If you see a child that’s been so violently dismembered and killed, you’re going to conclude that that child felt pain. And if you can start thinking about a child in pain, you’re humanizing the unborn, you’re thinking about yourself in pain, you’re thinking about your child in pain, and if you can start doing that, you’re going to increase negative feelings towards this procedure and ultimately lead to more rejection of it hopefully.

Mark Harrington (15:52):

And I think, again, this is highly significant as well. I think Monica Miller makes the point very well and that we think about prenatal imagery and we think about ultrasound images as humanizing the preborn child, which of course they do, but we’ve never really gotten to the point where we think, do the abortion victim photography, does that actually humanize the unborn child? Most people think, oh, you’re just trying to gross people out, just trying to sicken them to the issue of abortion, which is true. We are kind of trying to get them to think that way. But that’s why I think, and this is what the Canadians have done so well, they’ve talked about the faces of abortion and we, as it created equal, we’ve been using more of our victim photos that have faces in them, the pictures of the unborn that have been killed with faces, because I identify with faces.


That’s how we identify with each other. And so abortion victim photography does humanize the unborn. There’s one of those arguments out there and you put it in your video, by the way, folks, you need to go to protect Life Michigan’s website. It’s protect life mi Yep, protect life The survey or strategy is right there for you to read and to look at. Also, they have an awesome video about abortion, victim and photographer. I played it at a conference last week and virtually got a standing aviation, which is news to me. I’m like, wow, this has changed. It’s awesome. So one of the things in there that I thought was really interesting was the idea of whether the abortion victim photography actually humanizes the unborn because one of the arguments out there is that you’re dehumanizing them by showing the victims.


And I think the opposite is true because for the first time a lot of people are seeing hands and feet and a face and all those types of things that does humanize ’em even though they have been killed. And I think that’s an important finding in your study. Alright, let’s move on to the next one. I think this is really interesting too, and that is the perception of pro-lifers showing the images. Of course, when you sent out the survey, I assume you did it online so people aren’t attributing it to a person standing there with a sign. So that’s a little different. What did you find with that? Because we always get one of the biggest pushbacks is just turn good, turn people away. It’s going to turn ’em off. They look at the photo, they look at us, they think you’re crazy. I’m not going to talk to you. I’m interested in what you found on that.

Trevor Polo (18:27):

Yeah, and this set of questions was probably the thing I was most interested in finding out about because even like you were saying earlier, there’s a lot of poly groups that are sympathetic to us and what we’re using, yeah, it has a place, but if we use it too much or if we use it the wrong way or if we don’t get consent to use it or anything like that, people are going to be pushed away to the pro-life movement and they’re not going to hear what we actually have to say about unborn children and the abortion procedure or anything. So what we did was we asked the respondent, how would you feel about a pro-life person that used this image or shared this image with you basically? Good

Mark Harrington (19:04):


Trevor Polo (19:05):

So we wanted to basically try to replicate, if you saw this person on the street corner, what would you think? As close as we possibly could. And a couple things. When people saw abortion victim imagery, first of all, most people did not have negative feelings towards pro-lifers. Most people had unchanged or positive feelings. So about 60% of people were in one of those two camps. So most of the time people are going to be like pro-life. People probably are going to be like, thank you for doing this. And then about 20% or 25% of people are going to be, they don’t have any opinion really about pro-life, people using them or not. But when we actually dug into like, okay, there are people that are going to have negative feelings, how much did it increase? Basically saying, all right, let’s look at the people who just saw a pro-life graphic.


Around 31% of people had negative feelings towards a pro-life or sharing that graphic with them. And that’s just a statement on social media basically. So what I can conclude is about 31% of the time people are not going to like pro-life people saying pro-life things, which I think probably makes sense. I don’t like pro-choice people saying pro-choice things. So there’s just going to be this camp of pro-choice people that are not going to like you doing this. So let’s look at what the group that saw abortion victim imagery thought about pro-life, people sharing this image. And that number went from 31% to just over 40%, so around a 10% increase. So yeah, we do get more increase I guess in negative feelings towards pro-lifers using victim imagery, which is to be, I think we experienced that. People have intense reactions sometimes to this, but it’s only a 10% increase, 31 to just over 40%, and that’s something to consider, but we had to also look and see, okay, is that increase in negative feelings towards pro-life versus accompanied by a greater or lesser increase towards negative feelings towards abortion?

Mark Harrington (21:03):


Trevor Polo (21:04):

Because ultimately my goal is not to be people’s friends and not to get people to like me and grow my friend group. This is the worst possible way to do it by going out

Mark Harrington (21:13):

Talking about abortion if were you chose the wrong career.

Trevor Polo (21:16):

Exactly. And profession. So my goal is to increase people’s negative feelings towards abortion. And when we looked at that, yes, they increased their towards pro-lifers, but that was accompanied by a two to one increase in their negative feelings towards

Mark Harrington (21:29):

Abortion. Interesting. For every

Trevor Polo (21:31):

1% they disliked pro-life people more. It was accompanied by a 2% increase in their negative feelings towards abortion. That’s interesting. As Jonathan at Canadian Center, Jonathan Ma Marin at CCBR says, we’re not here to be a marketing group. We’re not here to attract people to the pro-life movement and make them feel good and happy thoughts and feelings about us. We’re here to push them away from abortions. We are a social reform movement, not a marketing movement, and this shows that we are able to reform society’s views on abortion and the increase in how they feel about pro-life people is inconsequential compared to the negative feelings they feel towards abortion.

Mark Harrington (22:12):

Well, it’s interesting because that confirms what Greg Cunningham has always said, and that is he would be totally satisfied with the trade off if someone hates me, but they hate abortion too. And he was willing to say, listen, I don’t care what you think about me, as long as you hate abortion, whether you hate me or like me, it doesn’t matter to me at all. And so he was willing to allow for that, or at least for us, it’s like, we’ll take that any day. And what you’re finding though is not necessarily that they hate you and they’re going to like abortion more or whatever, support it, that there’s actually an increase in the opposition to abortion despite the fact they may not like you a little bit less or what have you. So I think that’s hugely important because there’s a perception out there, and I think it’s just a stereotype because most of the people that oppose using abortion victim photography have never used them.


And I just say, Hey, come out and stand with us for a day and you’ll find out for yourself and they’ll find out that, yeah, sure there’s going to people that don’t like you, but they don’t like you because they don’t like you because they support abortion. That’s why it’s nothing about you per se that they don’t like, but the numbers aren’t as great as you’d think, honestly. I mean, you’ve been out on college campus, the worst thing we deal with is apathy and that’s people ignoring us altogether. Certainly that doesn’t happen when you use abortion victim photography. So that’s an interesting finding. One I think that needs to be discussed more when we’re talking to people who might be interested in using this tactic. Alright, let’s move on to the fourth because I want to ask a few more questions as well. The fourth impact on abortion victim images in support of restricted legislation regarding abortion. I think this is also very fascinating.

Trevor Polo (24:01):

So we see that there’s this negative feeling towards abortion, but ultimately as a prolife movement, we want to see abortion unthinkable but also illegal. So we wanted to understand just using these images, does it translate to support for restrictions on abortion? And we asked basically three versions of legislation. One was a near total ban. We included an exception for life of the mother and rape and incest because that’s just the standard that’s basically being thrown out as a total band right now.

Mark Harrington (24:32):

Not that you support that type of thing. Right,

Trevor Polo (24:34):

Exactly. Yep. And then we also asked about a he week ban or heartbeat ban, which we said was typically going to be between six and eight weeks gestation. And then we asked about a fetal pain ban, which we said was going to be about 15 to 20 weeks of gestation, and what we found is kind of mixed results on this, and it’s very interesting. I think it deserves a lot more study and trying to figure out what might be driving some of this because the results were kind of mixed. We did see that support between the two groups support for a total ban or near total ban went up by almost 7% with the victim imagery group compared to the nonfic imagery group. However, the other two bans were nearly unchanged, and there’s a couple reasons I think that we’re getting some of these mixed results.


One is I think it’s hard to kind of separate people’s political identity and the issue of abortion. So if you are a strong liberal or a progressive or a Democrat or even lean that direction, the left and the Democratic party has done an exceptional job of making sure that you have no place in that movement and that party, especially since 2008, all these blue dog Democrats and pro-life Democrats have been primaried out. So there’s no home for a strong pro-life democrat or progressive individual really. So when you ask, Hey, would you support this piece of legislation, that political identity is one of the most difficult things to really cut through, I think, and get someone to say, yeah, not only do I feel negatively or badly or lack support for abortion, I want to break from my own identity as a progressive person, ostracize myself basically from the people that I identify with, the community identify with and take a stand against them. That’s a very difficult thing to do, and I think we need to figure out ways to really disrupt that identity. The other thing though, I think that’s interesting is that I thought that as we made the proposed abortion bans more moderate, going from a near total ban to a heartbeat ban to a 15 week ban, I thought support would increase in both

Mark Harrington (26:54):

Groups. Yeah, you’d think so.

Trevor Polo (26:56):

It did increase in the non A VI group as it went up a little bit, but in the abortion victim imagery group, it did not increase. And part of me is curious, and what I’d like to figure out more in the future is does abortion victim imagery actually turn people off to more moderate bands because of the intense feelings they have towards the violence of abortion that

Mark Harrington (27:19):

You would so taken

Trevor Polo (27:20):

In that image. So they’re like, I support this abortion victim or this near total ban because of abortion victim imagery, and now I can’t support a moderate heartbeat ban or a moderate 15 week ban because now I think I’m granting a passive permission for the intentional killing of this child I’m looking at. So we might actually be abortion victim imagery might be so effective that it has some effects on support for more moderate abortion bans that we need to consider too.

Mark Harrington (27:49):

Well, I think this is really a profound finding of your survey and that is abortion is so tied to politics and political parties. If you’re pro-life, you’re Republican. If you’re pro-abortion, you are Democrat. I mean, that’s just kind of how it works. There’s some in the middle of course, and in the days of our politics, which things are so polarized, I mean, we’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime. Never seen it. I mean, we’ve always had, politics have been polarizing, but in the days of Trump and all of what’s going on in the country, people don’t want to identify with the pro-life side generally because they’re lumped in with what the dominant culture labels you as an extremist. And so people, that’s why I believe that maybe over time as abortion, the debate is decoupled from the Republican party, which I think it’s going to unfortunately in some ways because people are, they’re running from the issue.


If you look at our candidates and the comments on IVF and stuff like this, they’re running from it. That’s not good for bringing restrictions or restrictions or outlawing abortion. You need a political party to get it done, but it may actually work to our advantage in moving the needle in public opinion because as it’s separated from the political debate per se, or the parties, people may feel more free in giving their opinion. I mean, that’s just my thoughts. I thought about the cigarette smoking, things like that, that are nonpolitical. We were able to move so many people on that issue to make it unthinkable where almost no one smokes today because it was never connected to a political party. All right. So I want to wrap up with some of these questions that I have for you. And we have the data Friends you need to go to protect Life Michigan’s website, that’s protect life, protect life


You can read about their strategy there. You can watch the video, which I think is the best video in defense of the use of abortion victim photography. And this is an in-house debate, and it’s a debate that we need to be having. And so I’m glad we’re covering it on the program. But what I really want to get to is this. Let’s say we know the data, we have the anecdotal information, we’ve got social reform, all these things are pointing in the direction of this is the most effective means to change people’s hearts and minds on abortion. My question is this, most people, and just this is human nature, are risk averse. They tend to don’t want to take a lot of risks. They worry about their reputations. They don’t like doing hard things. We live in a culture where we make things so easy for people to do.


I wonder if you can bury pro-life people with data like this that’s convincing what’s going to get them based on the data to actually go out and use these. That’s what I want to know because it’s all great and wonderful that people say, Hey, they support it more, and they’ll talk to me and pat me on the back, oh yeah, we’re with you, and then they’re not with me when I want to take ’em to the streets. So how do you deal with that issue? Because I think that’s one of the biggest hurdles that we’ve got to be able to deal with.

Trevor Polo (31:18):

Yeah, and I think what we tell the student groups that we work with and our supporters is we need to start acting like we can end abortion. If we start with that mindset, we have the opportunity to actually end abortion in the United States in our lifetime, then our mindset goes from not just like, okay, what’s something I can do that’s just going to make a dent in the past’s? Like no. It’s like, okay, we can end this. How are we going to end it? I need to imagine the future where abortion is unthinkable and a illegal in the United States, and I need to backup from there. If I start with that goal in mind, my mindset is not what makes me the most comfortable or what makes me feel the best. My mindset is what’s going to be the most likely way to bring that reality into our culture to bring the reality of abortion being unthinkable in our culture.


And if I am laser focused on truly believing that abortion can be ended, I’m going to do not what makes me comfortable, what makes me or feel like I’m doing the most effective thing and just go out. And honestly, no one enjoys doing abortion victim imagery outreach. It’s not a fun thing to do. I’d much rather sit at a bar and drink a beer and watch the lions play football or whatever. That’s fun. Doing outreach is not fun. There are high points in it and there’s low points in it, but it is not overall something I enjoy doing. But when I think about the consequence that I face for doing this where I might get yelled at, I might get called names, I might get ostracized by some people or whatever. That consequence pales in comparison to the consequence of not doing anything, which is more and more thousands and millions of children being led to slaughter and hidden away as anonymous victims of this industry. And we need to crack through. The way abortion is thriving, which is by hiding the victims, is by keeping ’em anonymous, keeping them as dehumanized victims. And the best way we can break through that anonymity and that dehumanization is by showing the actual victims that are being hidden away as medical waste or as discarded tissue.

Mark Harrington (33:28):

And one of the things that you guys are doing this summer, which you’re going to apparently going to be unveiling, is how to scale this up. Because over the years, I’ve been doing this for quite a long time and I kept thinking to myself, well, if it’s just me doing this, then we’re not going to end abortion. We have to figure out a way to scale it up. And you guys have a plan for that, and we want to be part of it for sure. The other thing is that there are so many people that are jaded towards politics nowadays. Even myself, I look at things, I think, geez, am I going to see this end in my lifetime? And we just suffered a defeat like you did in Michigan. It could be very discouraging at this point. I don’t think there is a political solution right now.


That doesn’t mean there can’t be one, nor does that mean that we give it up, but politics is downstream from culture. You’ve got to change culture in order to change public policy. And so we’ve been all about that. I think one of the lessons learned, be honest with you with these issues going down to defeat for the pro-life movement is we focused a lot on politics over the last several decades and we’ve done quite well. We’ve won elections, but we’re losing culture and we’ve got to get back to winning culture. So I’m with you on that one. This is the big one for me. Abortion pill. Just yesterday or the day before, I don’t remember It was I saw the survey by the Allen Guttmacher Institute was used to be connected to Planned Parenthood. They’re obviously pro-abortion think tank, and they come out with these surveys and do all that.


They came out with showing that there has been a 10% increase in the use of the abortion pill over the last three years from 53%, which was already high to now 63%. Now, how does that affect the abortion victim issue or using the victim photography in the public square? How it affects them is most of the signs that we’re using are not of pill abortions. And obviously they’re not say as graphic because you don’t see a child dismembered or decapitated or disempowered. They’re killed by a chemical myth of press stone. So how does that, the fact that more and more women mothers are using the abortion pill affect this study and the effectiveness of abortion victim photography in the public square?

Trevor Polo (35:53):

Yeah, so it is, it’s

Mark Harrington (35:55):

A big question

Trevor Polo (35:57):

And it’s probably beyond my level of expertise, but I think it is something we are actively grappling with right now. And I don’t have a perfect solution or anything. I do think that as much as we can tie, increase negative feelings towards abortion and the use of victim imagery can have a transitory effect on their negative feelings towards earlier term abortion. True. If we can start, if they’re starting by not seeing the unborn as human at all, and we’re able to start having them see that it’s a much easier fight to go from someone who opposes most abortion to now all abortion as opposed to someone who’s completely pro-choice and trying to get them to go against the abortion pill. So we have to continue to chip away at that and use the existing images that we have. But I think we also need to find ways to, are trying to find ways to, and this sounds bad, but it is kind of what I mean stigmatize the abortion pill because people don’t understand, it doesn’t feel the same as dismemberment abortion, but when we start stigmatizing it as a woman is going to starve her baby to death and give birth to a dead baby in a toilet alone in her bathroom,

Mark Harrington (37:17):


Trevor Polo (37:18):

That is a violent form of death for this child and trauma for a woman. And we need to start figuring out ways to further stigmatize the abortion bill. Just like dismembering, abortion has a stigma by society already, even if it’s

Mark Harrington (37:29):

Supported. Completely agree. Completely agree. And here’s the thing. I’ve talked about this yesterday and Mr. Producer, if you could find that sign, I think I shared it the other day on one of the programs of we have some pill abortion signs. I think maybe you guys use some of them. And the notion that a woman is going, rather than going to a healthcare center, which is an abortion clinic, and having a physician, usually an OB GYN perform the abortion in a sterile procedure room and going through that and then it’s all said and done, goes home and all that, and then they’re done. To me, a woman looks at that. They think, well, I prefer that over boy. I’m going to go get a pill. It might be mailed to me. I might have a zoom call with some person I’ve never met and I’m going to deal with the abortion privately in my home alone in my own bathroom.


More than likely go ahead and zero in on this image. This is taken from the movie unplanned Abby. This is one of the most effective pill abortion images we use. And it just shows a woman grieving or kind of just in writhing in pain because she had, and this is the reality friends, this is it. We’ve turned American homes and apartments and bathrooms into abortion clinics gone on here. So there are ways of getting at it. Now, this doesn’t show the primary victim that is the baby, but in this case, this woman’s a victim. No question. And I think over time, we’re going to come into contact with more of these images. Now, they might be not as say graphic as the surgical abortion imagery, but there’s going to be images out there, and we can use prenatal imagery too at six and five and four weeks to convince people that the unborn argument and killing them is wrong.


So I think there is a way to get at this. As you say, we’ve got to stigmatize it and we’re not doing a very good job. I mean, no one’s cracked it yet, and we’re working on it here. So that’s a good answer. I want to finish up with this, and this is one of the things I grapple with because there’s no question that an American culture is becoming more secular. We see that in the polling. We’re adopting all, I mean, we’re doing all kinds of stuff that just we wouldn’t have done 10 years ago. And as the nation becomes more secular, less Christian, we lose that foundation that we believed, at least historically, that were made in the image of God, that were created in the image of God, and therefore that’s where we derive our value as human beings, and that separates us from all of the rest of creation. Well, that is no longer necessarily the case, especially on college campuses, to be honest with you. And as that continues victim photography, people look at the baby and they think, oh, what big deal. It’s no different than any other animal or what have you. So how do you deal with that one? Because sometimes I think maybe over time we’re going to see a decrease in the effectiveness of victim photography simply because people don’t identify human beings as being anything special.

Trevor Polo (40:51):

Yeah, I, and we see that I, we were doing an outreach yesterday and we see just this level of despair and brokenness about how people think about their own value. I was talking to this woman who was in foster care, was abused in foster care and sexually assaulted and all these things that led her to be like, I just don’t think kids’ lives are worthy. These kids that are going to live in foster care, I just think they’d be better off debt. And she’s saying that

Mark Harrington (41:18):

Sometimes they’ll say they don’t think they’re about lives are valuable, and they’ll tell me, I would’ve been better off dead. Exactly. It’s crazy. Yeah.

Trevor Polo (41:28):

And that’s one of the great things about using these images though, is that in one sense, this is an opportunity for us to minister to this woman and to actually bring up, not just through talking about the humanity unborn, talking about her humanity and her value and her life and the wrongs that been against her. And as we were talking about that it was starting to click for the first time for her that she is a worthy person regardless of her poverty or challenges or assault or anything. And it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for us going out and doing this outreach and ministering to her in this way. Now, I think in the sense that as the value of human life is degraded and is treated more like we’re just highly evolved animals or whatever it might be, possibly could present a very significant challenge for us.


We’re not seeing it yet really translate, but it could. But I also think that in the end, even as people become more and more secular, they still have a selfishness that we can use because in the end, most people are going to view themselves as valuable and deserving of protection in a sense that they shouldn’t be killed. So what abortion victim imagery does really well is help us for the first time help them see themselves or see themselves in the victim of abortion because we can show the face, we can show the hands, we can show the legs. So even though people might not recognize the general value of humanity, if we can start figuring out how we can see the victim of abortion as someone that they know or love or even as themselves, then we can still turn people off towards abortion in ways that are more effective than other strategies.


And I think that’s what we’re really trying to do is figure out how abortion is like the victims of abortion are treated as this other group, this lesser human, lesser type of human, this anonymous group. If we can make them seem like other people, if we can make them seem like the people we know they are, which is just like you and I, just smaller and less able to defend themselves, then we can capitalize on people’s innate kind of internal value. And even if they reject outwardly the idea of God and the idea of them being created in the image, God is still written on their heart the value of human life and

Mark Harrington (43:51):

The evil

Trevor Polo (43:52):

Is taking it

Mark Harrington (43:53):

Regardless of what they say. And they don’t live consistent to the worldview that they don’t believe that there is a God. I mean, nobody does really. I mean, we all have that imprinted on our hearts. It says in Romans chapter one, right? So I think people have that. It just our, it’s baked into our DNA more or less. So they’re operating from that principle despite the fact of whether they deny God or not, to be honest with you. So we already assume we understand that humans are different than the rest of creation. And I like you, I haven’t seen the big shift that you might’ve expected as we become more secular. For us, it created equal, obviously, that opens the door to the gospel. We believe that that’s part and parcel with the message that you don’t have to share the death of burial and resurrection of Christ.


But you need to talk about how we are different because we are made in the image of God, we are created in his image. Then it opens up a door to human value, which I think is really the crux of the issue. So I appreciate you being on the program, Trevor. This is awesome information. Friends, you can find out more by going to protect Life Michigan’s website, that’s protect life Read the study, share the study, watch the videos, pass it on to your friends and those who are in the battle. And we are very overt in our attempts in trying to get more people to do this. We want everyone doing this to be honest, because we believe it is the most effective way to reach culture. We know anecdotally that it is, we know by social reform, successful social reform have always used images of injustice to make their point.


And now we have some real hard data that proves the case. So we’re going to be pushing this out real hard this year and beyond, and we’re, we’re seeing more people come online and we’re really excited about that. Trevor, thanks for your work. God bless you. Keep up the great work up there in the state up north, as we would say, as an Ohio State Buckeye fan. God bless you. Thanks, mark. Thanks. Well, friends, you have the evidence now that abortion victim imagery, photography video works in the public square. Not that that’s news to many of you, but you had the data now, which wasn’t available a month ago, coming from our friends at Protect Life Michigan. And I want you to be able to spread it far and wide. By the way, the link is also in our description and our social media posts.


So you can go there and you can link to us and send it out to friends and family and colleagues, those who are on the abortion battle. And that leads me to this, and that is soon we’re going to be conducting our day of action. And actually, it’s more than one day. It’s four days in the state of Ohio, and we are going to be conducting this in four regions of the state, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo respectively. And the first one will be taking place tonight, but tomorrow is our activism in Columbus, and it’s going to be at Columbus State Community College and also at the Planned Parenthood. And then we’ve got the one coming up in Cincinnati on the 14th of 15th of April. That will be conducted at the University of Cincinnati at the Planned Parenthood. Also in downtown Cincinnati. We’ll also be in Cleveland.


We’re going to be conducting that outreach at Columbus State University and also at Preterm Abortion Center. And then in Toledo, we will be at the University of Toledo, and at My Choice, I think it is the Abortion Center there in Toledo. So friends, you can sign up for the day of action by going to create an Sign up. It’s free of charge, no expense to you. We will train you the night before in pro-life, apologetics in and sidewalk counseling tactics. And then the next day, we take you out on the street either to an abortion clinic or to a college campus. This is a way to get in the game. This is a way to use abortion victim photography effectively in the public square. So friends, please go to create Find out more about the day of action, sign up and get trained, and get put in the game to end abortion, to change hearts and minds. Thanks for tuning in. My name’s Mark Harrington. You’ve been listening to the Mark Harrington Show. God bless you. God bless America. And remember America. Bless God.

Outro (48:29):

You’ve been listening to Mark Harrington, your radio activist. For more information on how to make a difference for the cause of life, liberty and justice, go to created To follow mark, go to Mark Harrington Be sure to tune in next time for your marching orders in the Culture War.