Interview: Abandoned: The Untold Story of the Abortion Wars

National   |   Katie Moore   |   Sep 24, 2012   |   7:48PM   |   Washington, DC

The following is an interview with Dr. Monica Migliorino Miller, a Michigan pro-life advocate who is the author of Abandoned: The Untold Story of the Abortion Wars. Miller shares her thought son grassroots pro-life advocacy and how to stop abortion.

After nearly forty years of controversy, it appears that the war over abortion will not come to a quick and easy end. My hope is that this book will shed a light on one of the most desperate moments in the history of the world – a moment in which we have before us that great struggle over life itself and the meaning of human existence.

Dr. Monica Migliorino Miller, excerpted from the prologue to Abandoned: The Untold Story of the Abortion Wars

Part 1: A Story That Needs to Be Told

*Bonus – 5 Tips for Pro-Lifers!

What is the main thing that you’d like to accomplish with your book – Abandoned: The Untold Story of the Abortion Wars?

It would be ideal if we could end legalized abortion with a book.

I want readers to come away with a much deeper, internal awareness of the gravity of this injustice. Abortion will, after they read Abandoned, never again simply be a philosophical debate or a legal issue or an issue within the culture war. But (something that) results in the killing of flesh and blood, individual human beings that are innately invisible and cannot be seen. And so, life just carries on as usual. It’s all so pathetically normal. Everything looks normal and it’s not.

Why should people read Abandoned?

Ultimately, because it’s the truth.  And ultimately because it’s the hidden truth. It’s the hidden truth about, I believe, the most important issue of our day. I’m saying things, and revealing things, in this book that have not ever been disclosed. I have had the most unique experiences. In some ways, I’ve been at the right place at the right time. I’ve seen things the human eye is not supposed to look at. And the book is a way to rip off the veil and to help people to see a truth that they otherwise wouldn’t know existed.

In the following excerpt from Abandoned you talk about a college roommate that had an abortion and the impact it had on you.

I left her apartment and stood on the dark sidewalk. I felt dazed and suddenly sick to my stomach. My head and heart pounded with the news of an impending death that I felt powerless to prevent. How could one person stop another from having an abortion anyway?

I walked the short block to my own apartment, entered the bedroom without turning on the light, and collapsed on the floor. I begged God that somehow this baby might not die. But I felt lost and helpless, utterly ignorant as to what I could do.

I imagine this is a feeling that many in the pro-life movement experience. What advice would you give to someone who wants to participate in the pro-life movement but doesn’t know where to start, or perhaps feels as though they won’t have an impact?

You need to educate yourself. Her abortion caught me completely off-guard. Why should you be prepared? Why should anybody be prepared to have to deal with a murder that’s suddenly been thrust upon you? Who’s prepared to deal with that? But this is what our culture really is now. You don’t know what to do. You don’t know how to respond.

My advice is — educate yourself:

1)       Read some good books that provide you scientific material on the development of the unborn child.

2)      Educate yourself on arguments that the other side uses to justify their position.

3)      Know a little bit of history: How is it that we got Roe vs. Wade? What is Roe vs. Wade? And what was the aftermath of Roe vs. Wade?

4)      Every pro-lifer ought to have a stack of literature: literature on fetal development, literature on crisis pregnancy centers, literature that explains arguments from the other side and the pro-life arguments in response. Have that ready. Even have it in the glove compartment in your car, in your locker at school, carry it around in your briefcase, because you just don’t know when the situation is going to come up when you are going to at least say, ‘Please do not get that abortion. Here is some literature, here is my card, here’s my phone number. Let’s talk, let’s see what we can do.’

5)      The biggest handicap for any pro-lifer is simply being afraid to say something and to take that risk to step out of your comfort zone. Do it for the sake of the women and ultimately for the sake of that innocent unborn child.

Part 2: The Abortion Wars – Then and Now

What are some of the most significant changes you’ve noticed in the pro-life movement since your initial involvement back in 1970s to now? Have there been any encouraging developments? Setbacks? 

  • Prior to the Roe vs. Wade decision, which was 1973, and all the way through the 1970s the other side was not uncomfortable with calling themselves pro-abortion. They did a PR shift in the early 80s where they consciously began to refer to who they were and what they were all about as the pro-choice movement. That was helpful for them even though I think it’s a lie.
  • Another very big change on the other side is that for most of this fight it was very important for the other side to deny the humanity of the unborn. That was their primary justification for why it was all ok for a woman to have an abortion. Because the fetus, the embryo, the zygote, was subhuman, not human, not one of us and so she can have a moral justification to do what she’s doing. Now they have, to a certain extent, abandoned the emphasis on denying the humanity of the unborn because that’s a fight they can’t win. The evidence for the humanity is so obvious. Once you get to that argument you can easily show from science, from biology, from just plain old common sense, that we’re dealing with a human being.
  • On our side the pro-life movement has gained credibility and respectability that we didn’t even have 25 years ago. And I think it’s just because we’ve hung in there. We’re not going away. This is a real war. We’re in it for the long haul. We have big name people who are on our side, including lots of politicians and even presidents of the United States. We’ve proven that this is not a political liability to have an anti Roe vs. Wade position.
  • I do think more of the population is against the Roe vs. Wade decision, and I put it that way deliberately. Roe vs. Wade essentially gave us abortion on demand for the full nine months (of pregnancy). The general public is, I think, uneasy — and I’m deliberately being conservative with my analysis here — with this idea that a woman can get an abortion at any time in her pregnancy for any reason at all, completely without any government limitation or intrusion on that decision. We’ve shown that the vast majority of the polls show that Americans do not like late term abortions when they are presented with the facts. We’ve got some states that have banned abortion after a certain period of fetal development based on the unborn child feeling pain in the procedure.
  • Activism is still alive and well but it is not as bold of an activism. The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act coupled with local injunctions placed such an enormous burden on activist activity that the rescue movement is virtually gone. It’s alive in a flicker of activity here and there. Whether it will be revived in the future remains to be seen.

Part 3 — “The Photos Just Don’t Lie”

                Why was it so important for you to photographically document your recovery of abortion          victims?

My decision to take the photos of the victims was a pure response to what we had in front of us. Coming out of an activist mindset – I did sidewalk counseling and pickets years before we found those babies in the trash – I often used abortion victim photography in my work. I knew we had a rare opportunity to not allow these victims to go unnoticed. What we took out of the trash were human – recognizably, absolutely, completely in every way human.  The photos just don’t lie. And I felt that the ultimate goal of doing those photos was to focus on the humanity of the baby.



Many in the pro-life movement oppose the use of abortion victim photography. How would you address their concerns?

The use of abortion victim photography, I don’t think, became such a debate in the pro-life movement until the late 80s and or 90s. And it’s hard to say why. I do think that the pro-life movement can suffer from an over concern for public image.

Abortion victim photographs should not be shown at every venue, every time. I believe there is a distinction between a graphic image of an aborted baby and a photograph of an abortion victim. They are not necessarily the same thing. You want to emphasize the tragedy of the loss of life. I think the better abortion photo is the one where the humanity of the child is the focus of the photo and the graphic, bloody nature of the photo is secondary to that.