“Umbert Strikes Back!” Cartoonist Gary Cangemi Responds to Pro-Abortion Blogger Ambush of NRLC Conference
Editor’s note. For the past twelve years, a little known comic strip about life in the womb has appeared in the National Catholic Register and several Catholic papers, pro-life newsletters, and other publications. “Umbert the Unborn,” a feisty, assertive unborn child who anticipates life on the outside while celebrating life on the inside, is the creation of Pennsylvania cartoonist Gary Cangemi. Cangemi is a familiar face at National Right to Life’s annual conference and his workshop “A Womb with a View” has inspired and entertained conference participants in 2013, just as it has in years past.
A display of Umbert’s books and other items has frequently graced the exhibitor area of the conference throughout the years and apparently caught the disapproving eye of undercover blogger Andrea Grimes, who called the Umbert display “unsettling.” Andrea’s ensuing rant against Umbert and the conference itself was published on the RH Reality Check blogsite.
Alerted by fellow Pennsylvanian Michael Ciccocioppo, Gary visited the site, read Grimes’ “hit piece” and responded in kind. The following are excerpts from Gary’s reply and the responses from Reality Check bloggers who then attacked the cartoonist from all directions, some of which were unfit for publication here.
Nice try Andrea, but all you’ve succeeded in doing was spending your time and money in an effort to pick apart the NRLC and its attendees with no real intention of objectively examining our movement. I notice you either didn’t stick around for the keynote speaker, Reggie Littlejohn, or you decided she was just too good to say anything bad about so it was best to say nothing. Needless to say, those who listened to her heartbreaking stories of gendercide in China and India, were deeply moved.
But I guess your sexual politics don’t include concern for women in countries who are being brutally forced to have abortions WITHOUT freedom of choice. In fact the silence of feminists when it comes to female victims in other countries is amazingly deafening.
As for my “unsettling” display of Umbert the Unborn, a project on which I have labored for 12 years, why didn’t you stop and talk to me about it? I would have happily explained the comic strip to you and my reasons for creating it, even if I knew you were a pro-abortion plant. I would have invited you to my workshop to see the cartoons, help me create a new installment, play a game of “Unborn Babies in Jeopardy,” and sing a few of Umbert’s pro-life songs. We all had a great time celebrating life in the womb through this harmless little character and his pre-natal pals. I’m actually gratified that my work has unsettled you. If it had had no effect whatsoever, I might have felt that I was losing my edge.
Your transparent attempt to portray the conference attendees as a bunch of sad, pathetic old people who are being misled and manipulated by politicians and the religious right was itself pathetic. You had already decided that before you even showed up. I’ve known these folks for many years and they are sincere, well-informed, and generous people who care about all children before and after birth, in spite of the pro-choice talking points to the contrary. I hope you plan on attending next year’s conference. Now that I know what you look like, I will wave you over to my booth and autograph you a copy of my book and attempt to have a heart to heart discussion with you. God bless.
The problem with theocratic misogynistic forced-birthers is that they think that dreck like “Umbert The Unborn” is a documentary.
In which of your medical decisions should I be permitted to interfere, Gary? I’m just curious.
None and vice versa. But if either of us makes a medical decision that harms another human being, we BOTH have a right to voice our objection to such a decision.
Well, since the only human beings involved are born, sapient, sentient people, I don’t think we’re in much danger. For example, I cannot force you to donate a kidney against your will, and you cannot force me to gestate a pregnancy…You see, Gary, I have noticed that it’s very easy to be an anti-choice male. After all, it is never your life and health being endangered by pregnancy … which is far from being a state of wellness. So, it’s very simple for you to wave your hand in the air, or your pencil on some paper to make judgmental little cartoons, and announce what women should do in their lives in order to earn your approval.
You must be a cartoonist yourself, because with a few strokes of your keyboard you’ve created a caricature of me. My cartoons are not judgmental. They are an attempt to get my fellow human beings to be more introspective about themselves. And they are a satiric examination of the disturbed logic which views abortion as women’s health care, completely ignoring the life which is sacrificed.
Your rights and your medical decisions are you business. But when you’ve involved, through your own choices, another human person, they become his or her business as well. “We hold these truths to be self-evident” …seems pretty clear to me.
You are talking about women with wanted pregnancies, Gary, and refusing to acknowledge that even those wanted pregnancies can go horribly wrong *anyway.* Those “expectant mothers” are projecting their dreams onto the fetus. Your “argument” is scientifically unsupported A fetus is not a human being; it is a *potential* human being. And in assigning “rights” to a potential human being, you are abrogating the rights of an *actual* one. So, your argument that a woman’s medical autonomy should be mitigated due to the presence of a fetus holds no weight whatsoever.
You seem to be under the impression that it is the mother’s desire which confers humanity on her unborn child. If the child is wanted, it’s a person; if it is unwanted, it is not a person until it is born. But even if the child is wanted, you argue that it is still not a real person, that the mother is simply projecting personhood onto the child; that it is a “potential” person, not a real person. Have you ever given birth to a child? If so have you never felt anything real about the life within you? Mothers and infants connect long before they are born. Or is that just a fantasy too? An unborn infant can distinguish its mother’s voice from others.
All that aside, the real question your argument begs is what magical thing occurs when the child exits the womb? The fact that it switches from amniotic fluid to air for respiration? The severing of the umbilical cord? What difference do these biological mechanisms make? Have you never seen an ultrasound? You can honestly deny the evidence of your own two eyes that a living, heart-beating, growing, human person resides within? If existence itself doesn’t confer humanity on homo sapiens, what does? The mother’s say-so? How exactly does that work? How does the mother’s thought transmit personhood onto her infant?
I just spent the last few minutes reading some Umbert the Unborn comics. Truly truly creepy!
It’s pretty damn creepy, yeah. And the few moments when it could almost be cute or slightly entertaining (womb service, for instance) are overshadowed by the overwhelmingly preachy tone of the comic–Umbert and the various other ‘unborn babies’ are basically little more than mouthpieces for the creator’s right-wing political views. Not to mention the fact that the woman carrying Umbert is basically invisible–which seems to be the way that most ‘pro-lifers’ see women, as little more than carriers of the fetus. Once the woman is pregnant, in their book, she effectively ceases to matter.
I once thought of doing it that way, Jennifer, and might even have had a shot at mainstream syndication, but then I thought, why should I water it down for the masses? Gary Trudeau certainly doesn’t muffle his political views, why should I? And Umbert’s mother isn’t seen because the strip is from the perspective of the babies. But he hears her and reacts to things she says. His father too. His parents matter a great deal to him. With 55 million children lost to abortions in this country alone, I’m not going to apologize for telling the truth the way I do best. That overshadowing you speak of is the reality of the culture of death that we’ve created in this country. I can’t simply draw a cute funny comic strip about a baby in the womb, as much as I would like to, because the womb is a dangerous place for unborn children in this world and that just isn’t very cute or funny. But I appreciate your input.
Women give birth to viable babies – not to zygotes, embryos, or half formed non-viable, non-sentient, non-sapient fetuses. A zygote is nothing more than a genetic blueprint. An embryo is not much more than that. A fetus lacks sentience – there is no ‘consciousness’ there – it is the equivalent of a clinically brain dead patient with a working brain stem to keep the body alive – but with the seat of consciousness gone – the mind – there is no ‘person’. And a non-viable fetus is the functional equivalent of that braindead patient. Abortion is by definition not infanticide. If an infant and a fetus were the same thing, then abortion wouldn’t be an issue – The “infant” could be removed and put up for adoption.
I pray to God you don’t work in a nursing home or in any capacity to provide care for other human beings. I’d hate to wind up under your care. Many children who are aborted in this country are capable of survival and adoption but the law says they should die instead. So abortion still is the issue.
Thanks for agreeing with me that a fetus is only a POTENTIAL human being, and not an ACTUAL human being. And we don’t hand out rights based on what you MIGHT become, we do so based on WHAT YOU ARE.
I conceded no such thing and you know it. And WE don’t hand out rights, God does. Any rights that come from governments are fleeting and worthless.
Except, of course, when it comes to interfering with their reproductive choices. 🙂
How have I interfered? I express my opinions and I vote, same as you. I have never forced or coerced anyone to do anything against their will. Laws in this country are made by the will of the majority except when the courts rule by fiat. And currently, they rule on your side of this issue. So stop whining about some nobody from Scranton who scribbles his views in a comic strip hardly anybody reads. Or would you ban pro-life art too?
My toenail is human. Yet it lacks rights. I’ve named it and everything!! Where is my justice?!?!?!
I’m curious about how Umbert is meeting all of his friends, Gary. Can you explain how the fetus is wandering around into various women’s uteri? And how does he get computer up there? You think that forcing women to terminate without choice is bad, eh? Well, that’s just the flipside of what you and your ilk advocate: forcing women to gestate without choice. There’s no difference whatsoever; it’s still an outside party making a woman’s reproductive choices for her.
First of all, when you can explain to me how it is possible for a beagle to engage in aerial combat with a dead WWI flying ace from Germany, then I’ll explain to you how cartoon children in utero communicate with each other.
Second of all, how is protecting the basic human rights of an unborn human being forcing someone to gestate? Unless she was raped, did she not engage in consensual reproductive behavior knowing full well the consequences and risk of creating another human being with rights of its own? You pro-choicers claim women have so much freedom and autonomy. It’s amazing how little responsibility is claimed for their actions.
Well Andrea, based on the few exchanges I’ve had with your feminist followers, I can honestly say that the anger and vitriol expressed towards me and my little comic strip are indicative of a rage and level of unhappiness and negativity that we simply don’t have in the pro-life movement. The people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with over the past 12 years have been hopeful, upbeat, and committed to their cause. Could it be because we support a culture of life while abortion destroys human lives?
Consider this however. Since only pro-choice people are, by and large, having abortions, who are they going to pass the torch of pro-choice leadership to in future generations? Meanwhile, pro-life people are having more children and teaching them pro-life values. Over time, the shear lack of members is going to relegate your movement to a dark chapter of American history.
You can rest assured, Umbert and I will do our best to help move that process along with our message of Life and Hope. Hope to see you at next year’s NRLC conference in Louisville. Next time, stop and say hello.
You can visit Umbert’s “womb-site” at umberttheunborn.com.