A New Mexico man decided to take out his grief publicly. He paid for a billboard depicting himself holding a blackened baby-shape. The caption reads “This Would Have Been a Picture Of My 2-Month Old Baby If The Mother Had Decided To Not Kill Our Child!” Originally, the billboard was approved by the New Mexico chapter of Right to Life. After the controversy began, they pulled their support.
There are a couple of nasty sticking points here, both ethically and legally. Most notably, the object of the billboard’s ire claims (through her lawyer) that she had a miscarriage. So there’s that. Of course, it’s about way more than that. To begin with, abortions are legal, and women have no legal obligation to inform anyone — including the father — when they’ve had abortions. In other words, it’s private medical information. So whether she had a miscarriage or an abortion, she is entitled to doctor-patient confidentiality.
But that’s honestly beside the point. In reality, the billboard should never have gone up. Someone at the billboard company saw the ad and thought it would be a good idea to approve it. That’s a big deal on several levels.
As I was reading this story, I tried to put myself in the position of the billboard company employee who approved the ad. It was a difficult exercise. I had a hard time imagining the rationale that wouldn’t at least attempt to fact check such an incendiary message. The thought of a lawsuit over say… harassment, defamation of character, libel… any number of nasty charges, would be tantamount in my mind.
But more than that — much more than that — there would be a thought pounding through my head like a jackhammer: How would I feel if I approved this ad and the woman did something to herself? What if she committed suicide? How could I live with myself?
That’s something we on the progressive side of the fence call “human empathy,” and it’s something we do our best to cultivate in ourselves and others. It doesn’t matter whether this woman had an abortion or a miscarriage. In either case, she had a stressful experience at a time when her future was in limbo. The last thing she needed was a psychotic ex-boyfriend plastering her business all over the side of the road and calling her a baby-killer.
In fairness, Greg Fultz is being portrayed as a strange, strange man. His Facebook page lists Bill Gates and Anton LeVay (noted Satanist) as people who inspire him, and his favorite flicks include Big Love (about polygamist Mormons) and Saw. (A graphic horror film.) It’s unclear from the various news reports whether or not he considers himself a Christian. Additionally, his comment that the billboard is “merely a statement about anti-abortion and pro-life” is so barking mad and devoid of compassion that one is forced to question his mental state.
So I am being very careful to note that this man may not be a Christian promoting the Christian agenda.
However, with that caveat out of the way, let’s be clear on one thing: In a progressive culture where abortion was accepted and women’s rights respected, the billboard would never have been approved. None of this would have happened. It is precisely the culture of misogyny promoted by the anti-abortion Christian movement that facilitated this. One woman’s life, ruined publicly over what might not have even been an abortion. As if that matters.
- Jilted ex-boyfriend puts up abortion billboard (msnbc.msn.com)
- Jilted ex-boyfriend puts up abortion billboard (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Man Slams Ex for Aborting His Baby – Via Billboard (newser.com)