While the nation waits for the U.S. Supreme Court to hand down its decision on the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby case, an artist turned abortion activist is attempting to reshape the cultural debate through her art.
Heather Ault is both an award-winning artist and an activist for what she calls abortion rights and reproductive justice. In 2009, she launched a project called 4000 Years for Choice which is described as a "dynamic visual art series devoted to re-visioning the historical and cultural narrative of abortion and contraception." Ault has taken her project all across the country to art galleries, college campuses and abortion clinics.
The artist explains that her work is designed to provide an historical overview of abortion and contraception through the ages by using quotes from notable figures. Ault says, "My use of historical images seeks to replace to the iconic "wire coat hanger" used by the pro-choice movement for decades. Each poster conveys a positive word, such as love, embrace, bless, sing, and celebrate, as a means to critique the feminist battle cry of "fight, struggle, and defend."
Her posters portray images and messages about various types of contraception and abortion procedures used throughout history. Some refer to plants, others reference various abortionists, while still others quote historical figures that support abortion.
Ault has also created a series of "conversation cards," which, presumably, are used to start conversations about abortion but in reviewing the content of the cards, I think they are more like conversation stoppers. For example – here are some of the card messages:
- Abortion providers are heroes
- Every day should be abortion provider appreciation day
- I love my local abortion provider – bring only love
- Abortion is healthcare – healthcare is a right
You get the idea. Clearly the conversation is one-sided.
4000 years for Choice showed up recently on the campus of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. But this time the exhibit was met with the other side of the issue. The University chapter of STUDENTS FOR LIFE hosted "What Has Roe Done for Us?" This touring exhibit points out that abortion is, in reality, very harmful for women. For example, suicide rates are higher for women who abortion; abortion increases the risk of breast cancer; abortion increases the risk of pre-term delivery for future pregnancies and abortion increases the risk of Placenta Previa in later pregnancies.
Consider the haunting paradox between these two exhibits. One heralds abortion as a "life-sustaining act." The other reminds women of the deadly aspects of abortion. Many women may chose abortion but no woman thinks she is choosing her own death.
It's too late to tell that to the women who have already lost their lives – women like Tanya Reeves who died at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Chicago or the women who died at the hands of Kermit Gosnell or Leroy Carhart.
Heather Ault may create colorful posters glorifying what she calls an integral part of the "grand human history" but she simply can't paint over the truth that abortion kills – and that is never a pretty picture.