Abe-the-Aborted Fetus

Okay, so honestly? All cards on the table? I checked out this comic and thought "What.is.this.horror?!" and I wrote what you’ll read below. But when I went back to re-read the first few preview pages of the comic to see if I could find more information about its creator Z.M.Thomas I started to doubt my initial anger. I started wondering if maybe his extreme depiction of "the abortion war" was a way of sending a not-so-subtle (or maybe extremely subtle for folks like me?!) message about the ways in which abortion is publicly discussed in the U.S. – much like a football being violently flung across a field between opposing teams. 

So, while I will include my obviously humourless initial reaction to this comic below (you all owe me for being such an open book), I want to actually be clear: I am not at all clear whether this comic is meant as a graphic anti-choice screech-and-holler fest or a challenge to both pro and anti-choice activists that the politics of abortion discussion may require a superhero to change anything. Is the writer/creator making fun of the way abortion providers are depicted by extremist, anti-choice activists (much like mad scientists)? Is this supposed to be a commentary on the current state of reproductive rights dialogue? 

What do you think? I’d love to hear. Honestly. So, what follows below is my initial reaction – a reaction which is now tainted with uncertainty that maybe Z.M. Thomas and Trepidation Comics is trying to do something a bit more multi-layered than I thought.  


Oh, I am loathe to write about this. I have debated the relative merits of discussing this comic vs. keeping to myself. In the end, both misery and disgust love company, crave company and I feel that it is best to share the horror. It may be that we use this moment as yet another opportunity to educate on what the abortion procedure is and isn’t. Maybe we discuss the fact that regardless of politics or religion, women will never willingly release control over our own bodies. Maybe we rally together those who treasure comic book art and support our own excellent comic artists. I will leave it to our readers to mull over. 

I am talking about a comic book recently released entitled Abe the Aborted Fetus. It was apparently (I am not joking here) first introduced on a children’s menu at a family restaurant back in 2004. A point of which, it seems, the comic company responsible for its creation is proud. Here is the synopsis:

survived an abortion at the hands of Doctor Choice, Abe finds himself
caught in the middle of one of the largest conspiracies ever conceived.

I can’t bring myself to include a preview of the images but you can find them at the link above. Amazingly, the creators use the image of a coat-hanger, an age-old symbol of illegal abortion as a "tool" of a physician who performs abortions. 

Now here’s the thing. If you want to produce farcical comics with no roots in reality, go ahead. But it is reprehensible to create comics depicting physicians who perform abortions as monstrous and blood-thirsty, when you know nothing of the sort. It continues to blow my mind that those who know absolutely nothing about doctors who provide abortions can be so blindly and unapologetically vicious in the ways in which they characterize these human beings. Human beings who have children, spouses, parents, and friends. Human beings who provide abortions for women who are already mothers, who will be mothers. Human beings who assist women in times of need and sometimes in the face of tremendous challenge. Human beings who experience their own tragedies and glory. Human beings who, in the worst we can envision, are murdered by the very people who believe as the creators of Abe the Aborted Fetus do. 

Of course, the comic is an absurdly false vision of what abortion is like because, well, people like those involved in the creation of material like this also know nothing about abortion. Of course. Yet they somehow become experts on this medical procedure, they become experts on what women feel. They become experts on what the physicians who perform abortions are like. They become experts on why women have abortions (because we don’t know any better). They become experts on what the embryo or fetus looks like, feels like and acts like in utero no matter at what stage at which the majority of women have abortions (prior to 6 weeks gestation, which makes abe-the-aborted fetus a projection of this man’s twisted mind more than anything rooted even remotely in reality). They decide that in the face of their own ideological zeal they are experts on anything and everything. 

Surely it is the only way for them to produce such ridiculous images? They must justify their own hubris in order to leverage lies, push false images and encourage blind devotion to an even cloudier ideology. 

Clearly this kind of a "comic book" is meant for those who are as extremist as the creators are. But if this should fall into the hands of some who do not have the means by which to critically dissect such images, it is disaster. It seems that it is being lumped in wtih other indy comics and is listed on the Indy Comic Book Week’s blog. 

Instead, why not check out these amazing artists of the comic book and graphic novel variety who actually create based on what they know, based on their own lives, their own experiences or craft stories that don’t rely on violence, exploitation, lies and deception. Some of my favorite female artists:

Alison Bechdel 

Mikhaela Reid

Lynda Barry

Jessica Abel

Jessixa Bagley

Ellen Forney

Marjane Sartrapi (more of a graphic novelist than a comic artist but any opportunity to mention her should be seized)

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  • robin-marty

    every “fetus” they show and every woman on the pages previewed are white.

  • rachel-larris

    I’m with you Amie on being on the fence as wondering what is the purpose of the comic. In someways its SO over-the-top that I do wonder if it could be meant as satire (I’d almost have to read the whole comic to find out). It could be like that 2008 New Yorker cover illustration with terrorist Obama and black national Michelle fist-bumping. So “over the top” that everyone was suppose to get the satire.

    I’m hoping other comic fans will weigh in with more information.

  • princess-rot

    Looks like satire to me. That doesn’t nescessarily make it good satire. The "prom night dumpster baby" bit has become a popular meme since Family Guy did it. It’s possible that this is anti-choice satire; the author is against abortion but quite logically sees that there is no way to make a comic about an anthropomorphic "born alive" fetus without being ridiculous.

  • chriswick

    I truly think the artist did exactly what he meant to do- spark an obvious emotional reaction in you. I think it’s funny how you pick apart this story’s plausibility when how much media period is based in reality? The only reason you are emotionally stricken by this is because of how close of a topic it is to your profession/passion. As a science guru myself, I often get frustrated by the stupidity seen in media (90% of which is B.S.). The important thing to take away from this is how/what did it make you think and why. Notice how passionate you were about the doctors, notice how passionate(what you call anti-choice)people are about the babies. The truth is that YOU don’t know everything either and to dismiss what others are passionate about (whether you think it’s ridiculous or not) is exactly what causes fear, anger and hate. I personally think that’s what this comic is about. My favorite quote of all time (by me) “most of the time if there’s a conflict between two parties the answer and the truth lie somewhere in the middle and there’s probably a third party involved that pitted you two against each other and is stealing all your stuff while you’re too busy proving the other person wrong”

  • know-reality-really-relative



    The fact that you initially assumed this was an in-your-face affront to the pro-choice camp shows just how narrow-minded and uninformed your views of the pro-life movement are.  

  • eeeah

     as soon as i saw this add for the comic while on facebook the picture just made me discusted.there is no good in laughin or usin abortion as humor or something to read about as ajoke. It just blows my mind the way people are today in this world. This commic is showing everyone, children!, that abortion is well, funny. Lets write a commic about a baby who was meant to be killed but crawled out of a trash can an survived. Its disgusting. This commic says ‘fetus.an you hear everyone say its not a baby its a fetus.ok so why did the ‘fetus’ survive the abortion. O thats right because its always a baby! No matter if its a week to 40 weeks old. were showing how disgusting human beings can be. No feeling for anyone but themselves as we throw these presious lives into the garbage.!!

  • trepidationcomics

    Evidently, this book should be in memory of both common sense, and sense of humor, being that appears to have been the first official casualty of war in this debate.