Seth Drayer, director of training for the abortion advocacy group Created Equal, gives talk to Hillsdale stu­dents. Nathaniel Grime. | Courtesy

More than 30 stu­dents attended a lecture on campus Tuesday night given by Seth Drayer, director of training for the abortion advocacy group Created Equal. Hillsdale College Stu­dents for Life orga­nized and hosted the event.

Drayer spoke for an hour about “changing the culture of abortion,” focusing on the impor­tance of dis­playing images of abortion victims for the sake of “reaching mind and heart.”

“Videos and photos of abortion victims reach the heart faster than any words,” Drayer said. “If we use the visual evi­dence to reach the head and the heart, we can change how people think and how they feel, which will ulti­mately change their behavior.”

Dis­playing the images of aborted fetuses has become a point of con­tention in the pro-life movement today. Some say it is too gruesome and grotesque, while others, like Drayer, say it is the most effective way to achieve what he says are the goals of the pro-life movement: to make abortion illegal and unthinkable.

“Per­vasive opinion in the pro-life movement is that graphic images are not effective, nec­essary, or a mature or moral way to conduct a pro-life argument,” Stu­dents for Life pres­ident junior Kathleen Russo said. “As a pro-life student body, we have a respon­si­bility to look at the options in front of us and hon­estly con­sider what is most effective and what is truthful.”

Drayer also dis­cussed the roles of facts and feelings in the abortion debate. Although he said facts should inform feelings about issues like abortion, Drayer didn’t dis­count the sig­nif­i­cance of feelings in the abortion debate today.

“Feelings are a chance to analyze and evaluate the truth about abortion and what it is and what it does,” Drayer said. “They are also an oppor­tunity for us to point to a place of healing.”

That healing, Drayer said, is an oppor­tunity for pro-life advo­cates to share the gospel, although he made it clear that Chris­tianity is not a requirement for pro-life con­vic­tions and actions.

Part of what makes people uneasy about the pro-life movement’s seem­ingly good inten­tions is groups like Created Equal’s unabashed public boldness in showing dis­mem­bered fetuses. But Junior Erik Halvorson, sec­retary of Stu­dents for Life, was con­vinced.  

“It was the most com­pelling argument for using pic­tures I’ve ever seen, and I’ve gen­erally been against it,” Halvorson said. “You instinc­tually push it away, but that just shows how effective of a strategy it is.”

Still, the debate remains among the pro-life movement today. Drayer pro­vided numerous anec­dotes that he and the advo­cates at Created Equal have had where images have had a pos­itive impact on post-abortive women.

“We aren’t a campus that shys away with things we dis­agree with,” Russo said. “Even if we per­sonally dis­agree with showing graphic images, it is a valid position and valid argument we have to con­sider in order to be fully edu­cated.”

Drayer and many stu­dents on campus maintain that when it comes to abortion, a picture speaks a thousand words.

“These are the facts of abortion: real babies are dying every day,” Drayer said. “The question for us: what will we do based on this?”