You know, there are a few things the anti-abortion crowd is really good at–holding down the shift key when they type; consistently blurring the line between fact and fiction (most fundamentally in ascribing the characteristics of a baby to a fetus); and undermining their pro-life messaging at every turn with death threats (sometimes carried out), gory images of aborted fetuses, and a complete disregard for the lives of women and their existing children.
But with all these talents and skills, anti-abortion activists are decidedly not good at making charts.
Last year, we looked at the abortion death pie chart, which is so asinine, I never thought it could be topped.
I thought wrong.
In the midst of the recent attempt to make Planned Parenthood look like it was selling baby parts, an attempt that relies almost entirely on the audience’s ignorance of biology, Michael Cantrell, of Young Conservatives, decided to share this infographic with the promise that “It’ll truly break your heart.” And in a way, he’s right. If you value math, logic, language, and reality, this infographic will very likely break your heart and possibly your hope for the future of humanity.
This is one of the simplest charts ever, with nice round numbers to work with, yet two out of three bars do not line up with the numbers they show. It would be easy to overlook the unlabeled, unevenly spaced axis if at the very least, the bars lined up with it correctly, but no.
The bar for abortions is actually closer on the axis to the accurate number of abortions since 1973, which is about 10 million fewer than the 61 million listed here, according to CDC abortion surveillance reports.
By comparing completely unrelated things–an event, a person, and a medical procedure–under the umbrella “killers,” the chart shows the usual anti-abortion lack of concern for what words mean. And including U.S. abortions as somehow significant in world history is an ethnocentrism that parallels the self-centered viewpoint of the anti-abortion movement, whose advocates insist that their views about pregnancy and sex, views that rely on figments of their imagination (imaginary babies, imaginary gods, misogynistic beliefs about women, etc.), should dictate what real women do with their bodies.
The “substance” of the chart is to depict one of the more offensive, often antisemitic anti-abortion arguments, comparing abortion to genocide, usually in reference to the holocaust. Nothing shows respect for life like callously exploiting the pain, torture, and deaths of millions of actual people–people with experiences, memories, consciousness, feelings, and relationships.
But even among those who consider zygotes, embryos, fetuses–and presumably tumors–to be people, this chart is flawed because it does not include miscarriages, which account for at least as many deaths of imaginary babies as abortions do (and probably many, many more considering how many miscarriages occur without women even realizing they are pregnant).
To be fair, though, the focus is clearly intended to be on willful acts, to portray abortion as murder, in which case miscarriage is more along the lines of manslaughter, perhaps. It would be more of an issue if the anti-abortion activists were genuinely motivated by defending the life in the womb, as they claim. I mean, it’s not like it matters to an embryo or a fetus whether it’s aborted or miscarried, even if it were physically possible for anything to matter to an embryo or a fetus. So if these activists are truly speaking for the unborn, as they claim, they are doing a piss poor job of it. Perhaps they should admit what this chart makes abundantly clear: they don’t speak for or even care about anyone–genocide victims or their loved ones, zygotes, embryos, fetuses, women, or children–as much as they care about imposing their views on others.
So in a way, I guess the chart is kind of effective, just not quite in the way it was intended.