They often say a picture is worth a thousand words and certainly pictures help to set the scene and often the tone and context of an article. Which is why sometimes images which are paired with articles about abortion be it in the news, magazines or online can be problematic.
Often the go to image is that of a pregnant person. We have all seen them the headless pregnant woman who is 30+ weeks pregnant, is sometimes called the preggo belly shot. Sometimes the image is just a front close up the preggo belly or other times the image is in silhouette, eliminating the woman from the image entirely.
The problem with those sorts of image it that it distorts the discussion of abortion before it even begins. The vast majority of abortions happen before 9 weeks, when person really has no outward signs of being pregnant at all. They can often be unfortunately paired with a really good pro choice piece.
Some online news outlets have gotten better at the image they choose, from using airplanes, pictures at protests rather then the preggo belly image or one of a distraught women. But how do we bring about a change in what pictures are used?
Often simply asking works. Campus.ie recently published an article on Repealing the 8th amendment. It was by Tomás Heneghan and a great read but alas it had been paired with the preggo belly img. So Tomás was asked over twitter could the image be change and so was campus.ie; the suggestion was made for the article to have instead a stock image of a positive pregnancy test. And we delighted to say it was changed and it a worth while read. http://campus.ie/surviving-college/politics/why-we-need-remove-eight-amendment
We are now starting to see a new type of image being used on articles about abortion, that of women telling their stories, which clearly makes the article and the discussions focused on the woman, her rights and her choice. Which is why the photograph of Tara who shared her story of travelling staring into the camera brave, defiant and unflinching is such a powerful one.
We are now also starting to see abortion being discussed a very different way in the media in this country, one which no longer promotes stigma and shame, and this creates the space to have different conversations which we have not been able to have before. There will be no going back, we can only hope that our legislators can find a fraction of the courage Tara and other women have had to do what is needed and set in motion the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment.
Janet Ní Shuílleabháin is a student in Communication Studies at DCU and a member of the Abortion Rights Campaign