Rasvanth Chunylall
Rasvanth Chunylall

The problem with the ACDP’s anti-abortion Facebook post

If there’s one thing South African politicians should know about social media, is that it’s a double-edged sword. When used correctly, it can add value to the party’s concerns. Think about the successful Twitterviews held by the ANC, the engaging Twitter Town Halls run by the DA and the highly publicised online Q & A sessions Julius Malema had with members of the public.

However, we’ve recently witnessed how politicians embracing these platforms have felt the consequences from poor politicking online. The ANC’s Visvin Reddy was suspended following some ill-advised remarks aimed at the South African Indian community. The DA’s Dianne Kohler Barnard was expelled after she shared a Facebook post that praised PW Botha. You would think other political parties would have learnt to show a little more care and finesse after these debacles. Not so much.

On February 12 Nel Sewraj, an ACDP councillor from the KwaDukuza municipality, shared a picture emblazoned with the ACDP’s logo on Facebook. The picture displayed a foetus being cradled in a hand with the following caption: “This is what we all look like at 12 weeks in the womb. Yet, legal to kill in all 50 states, including SA! Anyone think its (sic) not a person? Pass this along. It literally might save a life.” The post was shared on a few community Facebook pages and posted on the ACDP’s KwaDukuza Facebook page.

The foetus’s vulnerable, lifeless body makes for a moving picture and an obvious ploy for the anti-abortion petition Sewraj was promoting. There’s just one little problem (excuse the pun) with the picture. That isn’t actually a 12-week foetus as the ACDP implies but a miniature doll made out of solid resin by a pro-life artist called Donna Lee. The picture has been circulating on the internet since 2013 and has already been discredited by fact-checking website, Snopes.

The use of the picture by a representative of the ACDP is problematic for several reasons.

Firstly, the artistic representation isn’t all that accurate. This is what a foetus after 12 weeks of development looks like (warning: sensitive content). Sewraj should have posted an actual photograph like this which is easily available online. But, a shapeless, translucent mass is less emotionally manipulative than a developed, rosy-complexioned baby with fully anthropomorphised features. As a group of researchers within the field of abortion stigma astutely observe: “The destruction of an imagined, fully anthropomorphised being is easier to portray as violent, cruel and unjustified” (Kumar, Hessini & Mitchell, 2009: 631).

The veracity of the picture could easily have been assessed with a simple Google search. There’s also a matter of unoriginality. The caption accompanying the picture was copied verbatim from an online source and merely edited to contextualise it to South Africa.

The ACDP’s showings in the 2014 South African general election were bleak. Support for the party dropped nationally and across every province they contested. Chalk it up to a decline in Christian politics. Blame it on their homophobia or bouts of hypocrisy. Now add this lack of political finesse. Come the local election I will not be voting for the ACDP. I can’t trust a party that has nothing new and original to say. And I can’t imagine anyone else who would.


Kumar, A., Hessini, L. and Mitchell, E. (2009). Conceptualising abortion stigma. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 11(6), pp.625-639.

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    • Graham Eddy

      “The use of the picture by a representative of the ACDP is problematic for several reasons.”
      Wow, I was ready for an interesting argument regarding the post – instead your argument rests on their inability to access Snopes.com
      Any other reasons to add to this ‘several’?

    • Rasvanth Chunylall

      Hi Graham,
      The piece has been edited down. Part of my argument has been removed. I do make the point that it does members of the public a great disservice i offering up campaign material that has the potential to mislead them. I also point out that there’s a lack of originality in offering up cut and paste politicking. We should expect better from our political representatives.

    • Graham Eddy

      My point (which Rasvanth kindly addressed) was that the piece was set up to discuss ‘several’ reasons, which it did not do. I agree with the argument, just hoped there would be more substance to it. Cheers.

    • Graham Eddy

      Thanks Rasvanth, pity it was edited down. Cheers.

    • Alien & Stranger

      From the time I first knew I was pregnant, no-one spoke of my foetus (the medical term used by pro-aborts to dehumanise the preborn), but of my baby, as in, “When is your baby due?”
      You only attack the fact that a model of a preborn baby is used. I personally feel that it would have been better to post a photo of an aborted baby (which causes an outcry from pro-aborts who do not like the truth of what abortion constitutes, to be known).
      The fact is that there is no moral justification let alone legitimate human right for deliberately killing babies in the womb. The only exception is where the mother’s life is endangered and then that is usually far enough along for the baby to be delivered, albeit prematurely. Abortion on demand is extreme child abuse and a brutal last resort method of birth control for people to avoid the consequences of their sexual irresponsibility.