A new campaign led by a Catholic mom is showing that babies are human persons both inside and outside the womb – with pictures.
Rhode Island’s pro-life citizens are currently battling legislation that ensures and expands abortion statewide: the Reproductive Privacy Act and the Reproductive Health Care Act (RHCA). Like New York’s new abortion law, the bills permit abortion before viability for any reason and after viability for the sake of the mother’s life or health. But while politicians are debating with words, Rhode Island moms are wielding photos of their babies taken both before and after birth.
The idea is a part of Nichole Rowley’s #MeStillMe campaign.
Nichole’s inspiration came after Rhode Island’s Democratic Governor Gina Raimondo recently sent a card to her and her husband, Tyler. The piece of mail celebrated their second child, Fulton, as he turned 6 months old.
“The card expressed the joy of having children, but the sentiment didn’t make sense coming from Governor Raimondo,” Nichole told NBC 10 News on Jan. 28. “If children are such a special gift, as the card claims, why does she offer those children no rights before they are born?”
That’s because Gov. Raimondo, who “claims to be Catholic” is actually “publicly lobbying for Rhode Island to pass radical abortion legislation,” Nichole said. The card, part of a 20-year-old tradition for Rhode Island governors to send, congratulated the couple and expressed “how concerned the governor is about the health” the little one.
A little one who is already born, that is. Gov. Raimondo backs the RHCA. After the Rowleys, a Catholic family that attends church at St. Pius V in Providence, heard Gov. Raimondo speak in support of the abortion legislation, they not only returned her card but also sent a new one. Inside, they placed photos of Fulton: an ultrasound of him as a 12-week-old fetus and another, later photo taken just hours after his birth.
The Rowleys placed the words “Me” and “Still me” over the two photos – stressing the humanity of Fulton both before and after birth. They didn’t stop there. They plan to send more, this time of their older son, Gerard. They also encouraged their friends to do the same.
“Mail your #MeStillMe photo to Gina Raimondo TODAY so the office receives them Mon & Tues.
All you need is an ultrasound photo and a born photo (any age),” Nichole posted on Facebook Jan. 26. “If you need help combining the two photos or adding the wording send them to me and I am happy to help!”
NBC 10 News asked Nichole how she would respond to those who argue women have a right to choose abortion. Nichole urged that choices should be limited or prevented “when they hurt or kill other people.”
“I would remind them that the basis of human rights is that all innocent human beings have a natural right to life,” she added, calling abortion a “human rights violation.”
National Catholic Register recognized her campaign on March 3 for “catch[ing]fire on social media.” Writer Stephen Beale, a friend of the couple, shared how the campaign attracted attention both through media and social media. (Nichole has since created Facebook and Twitter accounts for the campaign.)
Beale also revealed a more personal side to the story. Nichole and Tyler especially value children after they initially struggled to have ones of their own.
“Something so painful—struggling to conceive—made us consider and appreciate the sanctity of human life even more. We hoped and prayed every day to conceive while down the street unborn babies were killed. It broke our heart,” Nichole stressed to Beale.
At the time, the couple joined the board of Servants of Christ for Life, a local Catholic pro-life organization. Tyler later became the president, and the two would sidewalk counsel women outside of their local Planned Parenthood. Now, they have Gerard and Fulton.
Nichole told Beale the campaign “humanizes the baby and visually shows the continuum of human life from the womb to a mother’s arms.”
“The image is so powerful that the pro-choice side demanded the Me … Still Me signs be taken down during the RHCA hearings at the Statehouse,” she said, and added that she has heard “incredible stories” from women who have contacted her since she started the movement.
“They tell me I encourage them but it’s really their incredible stories of choosing life in this culture of death that is encouraging,” Nichole said.
On Facebook and in local media, her photos, and the photos of others, are shaping the narrative that the unborn are people too: