The feet were initially distributed in conjunction with the right to life march in Washington, D.C. Feet are used for walking, and the symbolic nature of the pin is that its bearer is walking in place of the many unborn whose lives are at stake.
Domesticated animals such as dogs are chattel in our society. You own a dog. You do not merely hold guardianship over it. However, dogs are not without rights. I cannot go out, buy a dog, and then use the dog to demonstrate the power of my new chainsaw. If I were to perpetrate such a heinous act, I would be brought to court and would face criminal charges. The dog’s interests, then, would be represented in court by the district attorney. Now, if a dog has the right to be represented by a human, how much more right does an unborn human have to be represented similarly? According to some, they do not have this right at all. In their opinion, unborn humans are less valuable than dogs. But we must remember that some people’s opinions are worth even less.
It cannot be denied that the pins do tend to appeal to people’s hearts rather than their minds, despite their actual symbolic meaning, but perhaps this is not all bad either. I am certain that most people (even those who favor abortion) would strongly object to the idea of a poor little dog being shredded by a chainsaw. But there are far too many people who feel no qualm about a human fetus being impaled by a sharp hook. I think that these insensitive people must be reminded that, although a fetus may look ugly, a fetus will inevitably (that is the key word) become a cute little baby. Perhaps if some young women out there considered this fact—instead of deluding themselves into seeing “fetus” as a static abstraction—perhaps they would think twice before denying an innocent person his or her inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—however humble or short that life might be.
It is true that not all abortions are due to indiscretion or teenage hormones, but the majority are. Harvard Right to Life allows that the percentage of annual abortions performed for reasons of rape, incest, or medical complications is anywhere between .02 percent and 7 percent depending on the sources used, but both of these numbers leave over 90 percent of abortions being performed for other reasons. The “precious feet” pins are also a reminder to the public, then, that intrinsic to virtue is acceptance of the consequences of one’s actions.
Not accepting the consequences of your actions is morally wrong, and using an abortion as a cop out to avoid the natural consequence of sex—namely pregnancy—is no different from passing the blame on to your sister for breaking your mother’s favorite lamp. In other words, let the fetus suffer the consequences for your mistake—so long as you don’t have to face the shame that is appropriate for your lack of self-control. That is to what it boils down in the end. A woman does have a choice. She has the right to choose whether or not to have sex. What happens if you are only responsible for your actions when there is no temptation involved? Such thinking is nonsense.
“Precious feet” are symbolic of the advocacy of pro-lifers for the unborn. Furthermore, they serve to remind the public of the inevitable development of a fetus into a fully formed human infant. Finally, they represent a striking challenge to all women to truly demonstrate their power to choose by selecting virtue and intellectual honesty over a cowardly retreat from shame and adversity.
Kevin R. Pilkiewicz ’05 lives in Hollis Hall. He is an essayist for Harvard Right to Life.