DALLAS (Christian Examiner) -- A Southern Methodist University professor has written a book using a bizarre children's narrative that promotes abortion, but she claims it is directed at adults and not children.
However, critics are not buying Mary Walling Blackburn's argument that it is just a her way of evoking a provocative discussion or "playing chicken" with pro-life supporters.
The child narrator "Lee" on one page of the book plainly acknowledges, "Mama had an abortion before she had me."
On other pages "Lee" celebrates the death of the sibling by saying, "I'm not sad that my sister is a ghost!" and "Mama might not have had enough time to read to me, to paint with me, to play with me, to talk with me...."
Blackburn told Christian Examiner her book is "entirely targeted toward adults" and not intended to "indoctrinate children" and pointed to her publishing channel to substantiate the claim. The book was released in an online journal alongside academic articles and theoretical writings and not by a children's publisher, Blackburn said.
The assistant art professor also insisted the book is not intended to be instructional and that she leaves it up to each parent "to come to their own decision about how to speak with their child about difficult subjects."
"I would never presume to prescribe the language they ought to use," Blackburn said.
A self-proclaimed activist who asserts that her electronic picture book is more of a "rhetorical device," Blackburn described it as an "impossible book" during a videotaped panel discussion about the symbolic use of children in literature, specifically the socially motivated children's books of the 1970s that were used to address adult topics and political messages.
"To me it's in a children's book drag," she said of the book, maintaining it is meant for adults.
It was a way of "'playing chicken' with the anti-choice people," she said, meaning she is being intentionally provocative towards pro-life individuals. The book "is intended for someone who is invested in complexity," she noted. "I was interested in expanding the discussion within the pro-choice community to include a wider range of emotions and ethical positions."
"I wanted to produce an artwork that refuses to occupy a resolved, extreme position. Because of this, this book makes many pro-choice and anti-choice people uncomfortable," she said.
In that regard, Blackburn seems to have pegged the public's reaction correctly.
At least one Patheos blogger said that artistically the content was "aesthetically flaccid, especially considering it was created by an assistant professor of art at Southern Methodist University's Meadows School of the Arts."
Pro-life logger Michelle Wilkins, however, was taken aback by the disturbing undercurrent of the 33-page picture book.
Despite the narrative that the little boy is "happy" that his sister was aborted and is a ghost, any child would recognize "at some level that parents--even his parents!--are potential killers," she wrote.
"That Blackburn should guide a small child toward such a callous disregard for life is disheartening," she added.
Drawing the discussion into the broader context of the abortion issue across the country, Wilkins said the Roe v. Wde decision followed by the Doe v. Bolton judgment "makes liars of us all."
"The aborted millions are not 'happy ghosts,'" she said. "They are our children."
Representatives of Southern Methodist University did not respond to a request for comment about Blackburn's outspoken pro-choice platform.