Until today, that is, when I noticed that the billboard had been vandalized. Vandalizing of political signage is a common occurrence around here - campaign season tends to escalate into tit-for-tat alteration (some of it quite creative) and destruction of candidate signs all over the place. But despite the fact that the PAA billboards were a regularly-recurring feature of the local landscape, this was the first time that I'd ever seen anyone target one.
My attention drawn back to the sign by the spray-painting of same, I started to consider the message. Originally, the billboard had read "Real men love babies." Now, I'm not a fan of using challenges to gender identity as leverage to alter people's behaviors, even for relatively unserious applications of it like this. But this struck me as a particularly blatant call to men to throw their weight around in their relationships. Sure, it takes two to tango, and I understand the idea that a potential father has something to say about whether or not a child is aborted, but the implication that the choice was ultimately in the hands of fathers struck me as misguided. And so the absence of the mother in the scene became all the more apparent. Especially given that the father and child in this billboard were Black, a first for the PAA billboards that I'd seen. Up until this point, the messages pretty much always showed smiling, happy, White toddlers, dressed up for their portraits and blandly pro-life messaging written from the child's POV, such as, "Daddy said I was an accident," or simply informative, such as "Heartbeat at 18 Days." (Prolife Across America loves to harp on that particular point; note the heart in the upper-left hand corner of this billboard.) So this was the first message that seemed to be aimed directly at the parents of unborn children, let alone fathers.
The replacement of "babies" with "choice" seems like an obvious idea. It works with the phrase, but it also works with the picture; after all, choice implies more than one possible outcome - having the choice to abort a fetus isn't the same as having an imperative to do so. It also has a more egalitarian vibe to it - you don't have to be the person making a choice to appreciate the idea that there is a choice.
I don't know how long the billboard will stay up, or how long it might be until someone replaces it with an unsullied one. I don't drive the stretch of road it stands on daily. But it made for some interesting thinking in its present state.