I was driving through Kansas last Tuesday night, wondering how I could avoid the anti-abortion signs “gracing” I-70, most of them between Hays and Russell.anti-abortion signs, Kansas, pro-life

I decided to drive south from Hays on Wednesday and go through Great Bend. That way I could get a coffee drink at Java John’s in McPherson, Kansas, a town I had enjoyed on my 2007 birding trip.

At first it seemed to be a good choice. I had to turn around and go back to photograph this sign. Don’t we all want “experienced” equipment? I know I do.anti-abortion signs, Kansas, pro-life

But then I realized the sign craziness extended south of I-70, all the way to Highways 96 and even 156. I’ve heard that one person funds these signs, but I think there is more to it. They’re spread out over a large area. So even if 1 person is paying to rent those billboards, all the landowners go along with it.

Here’s a note to the sign maker: your signs are not having the desire effect on me, a pro-choicer since age 16. When I pass a sign that reads, “Abortion stops a beating heart,” I think, “Well, so does running over a squirrel in your car.”

Then I begin to wonder if insects have heartbeats. Do I stop a beating heart when I swat a mosquito?

Another sign I passed asked, “What is the cost of abortion? 1 human life!” And I think, “Well, a back-alley abortion kills the baby and the mother. That’s two.” If that woman had been able to obtain a legal abortion, only 1 human being would have died.

This sign made me laugh. Note the orca and bald eagle representing “protected” life.anti-abortion signs, pro-life, Kansas

There are nearly 7 billion people on this planet. We are not in any danger of going extinct. (And neither is the bald eagle, recently removed from the Endangered Species List. Please update your sign.) If I had to choose between saving 1 human life and saving a species, I’d go for the species every time.

I know my responses are not “proper” or “kind.” But then, neither is a sign imposing religious views on me as I drive down the highway. I would not feel any better if the sign said “Death to rapists” or “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” The only signs I want to see along the highway are “Rest Area 1 mile” or “Food Gas Lodging” or something about quilting stores.

I don’t want to see ads for adult bookstores either, but apparently the state of Kansas and Lions Den can’t leave well enough alone.

I’m forced to conclude the people sponsoring these signs don’t want dialogue. They don’t really want to change my mind. They want to preach to their own choir, or they want to make pro-choicers feel bad.

Does anyone out there know if other states have collections of anti-abortion signs?

Leave A Comment

  1. saint September 23, 2010 at 5:59 am - Reply

    Texas has a lot of them too.

    I don’t think the signs are necessarily religious. They’re just saying to not have an abortion. And I don’t think the posters of the signs necessarily support back alley abortions either…

    To me, you can’t really be that adamant about telling people you’re against abortion unless you insist on adopting babies. And I’m somewhat against abortion myself as it only reassures irresponsible behavior. Wrap it before you slap it! Who cares if it feels better without a condom? We’ve got diseases and babies to worry about.

  2. Beth Partin September 23, 2010 at 7:44 am - Reply

    Saint, I haven’t seen any in Texas, but I have only driven the Dallas-Austin corridor and along the coast. I think these signs are religious, because there are I trust in Jesus signs along the same routes.

    Not being able to have an abortion may have once deterred people, but I don’t think it works anymore; the culture has become too relaxed about getting pregnant. You’d have to bring back a whole lotta stigma before it would work again. And then there are all the times that birth control fails, even when you use it correctly.

  3. DRK September 26, 2010 at 7:06 am - Reply

    Texas, between Dallas and the Oklahoma border, along I35. Note that we are an abstinence only state with a very high teen pregnancy rate and extremely limited social services for poor women who decide to have their babies.

  4. Beth Partin September 26, 2010 at 8:36 am - Reply

    I remember reading about a study that concluded the states with the strictest abortion laws are also those states that have the fewest social services for mothers and children. Wish I could remember who did that study.

  5. Betsy Dornbusch September 30, 2010 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    My favorite sign is the one with white Jesus in front of the adult store sign. Both are huge billboards. I think it’s close to Topeka, if I recall. Always wanted to take a pic of ’em.

  6. Beth Partin September 30, 2010 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    I’m not sure if I remember that one, though I do remember the huge ADULT sign near there. This time I drove back over Highway 24, north of I-70, and went through the town of Nicodemus. I like that route.

  7. Laurel Kallenbach October 5, 2010 at 10:32 am - Reply

    I love the idea of photographing signs along the road. Some are funny, some enigmatic, some anger-inducing. Yet, it’s part of what our country is all about: free communication. And you can tell something about a community by its signs.
    I was just in Switzerland, and near a ski resort, I saw a Cow Crossing sign…only the cow was on skis! (Clearly a bit of humor!) In Guatemala I saw Coati Mundi Crossing signs. Alaska has its share of Moose Crossing signs.

  8. Beth Partin October 5, 2010 at 10:55 am - Reply

    I can’t count the number of signs I’ve buzzed by at 65 mph and wanted to photograph, but then I decided not to take the time. I think it’s fun to photograph signs too.

  9. Emily December 16, 2010 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    Beth, I saw this after googling Kansas abortion billboards. Do you recall the mile marker numbers you saw these billboards? I’m writing my thesis about pro-life advertising because I think it’s so fascinating- and all the research I’ve done so far proves that you’re right. It doesn’t convince anyone. It only polarizes people. Thanks!

  10. Beth Partin December 17, 2010 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Emily, I’m sorry, I can’t be more specific. If you drive down 183 from Hays to 156 and head east, the signs are somewhere between 183 and Great Bend.

  11. Margaret September 28, 2012 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    Likening human life to that of a squirrel or an insect simply reiterates the case that abortion cheapens life. It’s not simply that those of us who recognize the sanctity of human life, the picture is bigger. We need to grow up and take responsibility for our decisions and for our actions. It’s not rocket science. It’s called intelligence and maturity. But, as long as it’s legal, people will do it and the justification will continue. They used the same argument for slavery too. And a few years ago, Pluto was still a planet. Yawn. Sin is in. Anything goes. And if you don’t want it, just kill it. No big deal. It’s only a squirrel or an insect, right? Forgive the sarcasm but I get so aggravated by how flippant abortion advocates are. Have you no conscience? Would you take your dog to the vet for an abortion if it were impregnated with unwanted puppies or would you have them put to sleep after the fact?

  12. Beth Partin September 28, 2012 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    Margaret, I did not liken human life to that of a squirrel or an insect. I was simply taking the argument “Abortion stops a beating heart” to its logical conclusion. My point is that it’s not an effective argument against abortion.

    Abortion does not cheapen life. It allows women to control their fate. Not all unplanned pregnancies come about because a man or a women did not take responsibility. Sometimes birth control doesn’t work.

    In my opinion, if women cannot get abortions, they are not free.

  13. Margaret September 29, 2012 at 5:45 am - Reply

    1. Heart of living creature inside womb, beating.
    2. Woman has abortion.
    3. Heart of living creature can no longer beat.
    4. Abortion stops heart from beating.

    How is this illogical? Does the heart continue to beat outside the mother’s womb?

    And you are right, sometimes birth control does not work. Iif conception would be such a hardship, perhaps abstinence should be a consideration before the fact.

  14. Beth Partin September 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    Margaret, I did not say it was illogical. Please stop putting words in my mouth.

    I’m tired of the signs. I’m tired of people imposing their opinion on me. I know they have the right to, but these signs are anti-social.

  15. Margaret September 29, 2012 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    Dear Beth,

    I would absolutely love nothing more than to change your mind! Really I would! Unfortunately, given the way in which you debate, I’m afraid it’s probably not possible. Advocates for life, when they say, “Abortion stops a beating heart” mean just that. The message doesn’t continue on with examples of other losses of non-human life like you provided. The issue is abortion, not roadkill. How can you say that you aren’t likening human life to animals? They are your words, are they not?

    You say these billboards are antisocial. How social is the act of an abortion?

    May I assume that you are a human rights advocate? If so, could you allow yourself to entertain the idea that a human fetus might have rights too? The right to thrive, the right to be born, the right not to be literally and excrutiatingly ripped apart and out of his/her first earthly home? That’s the part no one likes to talk about, the heinous details of abortion. As if not talking about it simply makes it not exist, not be as certainly horrific as it truly is. If you would like to continue this discussion offline, please let me know. And please note, I am not trying to impose any sort of religion upon you, unless you consider a culture of life as such.