Today, while driving on the freeway in New Jersey, I saw a billboard that says “Abortion Stops A Beating Heart,” with the symbol for heart substituted for the word. Let’s leave aside the blatant falsehoods in the statement itself. After all, by now you probably know that at the point of conception, there is no beating heart. In fact, during the first few stages of fetal development there is no heart at all.
So, what’s with the billboard?
Billboards, by their very nature, are intended to distract drivers and their passengers from the roadway. Several years ago, I suffered a car accident when a driver’s attention lapsed due to a billboard for a furniture store. I’m sure that many others have experienced similar events. It is absurd to realize that every day, millions of Americans’ lives are put at risk by companies seeking to make money from advertising, but it is even more sickening to realize that every person who zips by the anti-abortion billboard on the freeway, flying by at the speed limit of 65 miles per hour, is distracted by a sign put up by a group that claims to be concerned with saving lives.
Do the groups that put up anti-abortion billboards along fast highways and lonely rural roads realize that every person who sees them is more likely to die as a result? How can they not be? Their holier-than-thou message is hardly less distracting than an advertisement for fast food or self storage locations, even if you do not find it as enraging as I do.
The hypocrisy of the billboards is undeniable. What makes the purported life of an as yet unborn fetus worth more than that of an autonomous human being and his or her passengers? Worth more than a mother driving home from the office or a father and his children on their way to the dentist? Of course, these billboards are only a small fraction of the many that line America’s roadways, but they are the only ones that do so with the sole rationale of claiming that “all life is valuable,” while really making a bizarre judgment call about who is worth being put at risk and why.