I don't see how some of you think we should absolutely strictly adhere to iconographic depictions. By this, I mean that people seem to think that new types of icons or events that previously weren't depicted, or elements previously foreign to a a particular icon should be anathema.
On the contrary:
Note the Chinese architecture in the icon of the Martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion and in the life icon of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco. Note also in St John's icon the Capitol building in Washington DC, and a street with cars, representing the Paris street where St John once served a panikhida in memory of an Serbian archhduke who had been assassinated there, an act representative of his foolishness for Christ. The Capitol represents St John's traveling to Washington to petition the American government to allow his flock, stranded on Tubabao in the Philippines after escaping Shanghai in 1949, to emigrate to the US. All are perfectly proper elements in their respective icons.
If this were our attitude, we wouldn't have Rublev's Trinity or many other elements in our iconography. It's a living tradition whose canon is adhered to but can be expanded and evolved and added to.
The Holy Trinity icon that St Andrei of Radonezh (Andrei Rublyev) painted was based on the already ancient icon composition of the Hospitality of Abraham. St Andrei's icon is a distillation of the theology of the events at the Oak of Mamre. It is as profound an expression of Trinitarian theology as any theological treatise, and it is all there, in a single painted panel.
Who cares if the fetus was t depicted before? Today we have to battle the heretical belief that you aren't a full human person until your birth. Is that not enough to show Christ was a full human person before his birth? We aren't just combating some regulation that is in favor of infanticide, we are combating heresy and blasphemy.
The meaning behind proper icons of the Visitation is the recognition of both St Elizabeth and the unborn Forerunner of the unborn Child of the Virgin as their Lord and their God, something proclaimed, and frequently so, in scripture and in hymnography, the latter which truly expresses the Orthodox consensus patrum
Moreover, there is only a single historical (12thC) icon of the Annunciation which shoes the unborn Christ, and, even then, the Child is shown over his Mother's body not enclosed in the womb, but in a manner similar to Of the Sign
icons, minus the mandorla of Uncreated Light. Again, hymnographers in every Orthodox culture, some of them saints, have consistently omitted any depiction of an unborn Christ.
Attempting to associate this imagery with anti-abortion campaigns has no scriptural or liturgical basis. Icons are not political playthings.
Their FIRST function ever was as a teaching tool.
Not quite. The first icon was the Mandylion (Not Made By Hands), and its purpose was to mediate the miraculous healing of King Abgar. Christ could not travel to Edessa to personally heal the king, so He sent the image of His face imprinted on cloth in His stead. The holiness of an icon is derived from its association with the prototype.This is the first and foremost iconographic principle which not only permits their painting and veneration, but also insists on their veneration. All else flows from this.
This action also proclaims the Incarnation, that fallen matter has been redeemed through Christ's death and resurrection.
We can point to this icon and say that no one can deny the full personhood of a fetus and be free of blasphemy.
No, we cannot. This image, painted by Christine Uveges (who is not even Orthodox) and others like her, was created as a vehicle for the promotion of pro-life causes. This cannot be denied. And, in doing so, this image ceases to be an icon, and becomes a sociopolitical tool, a mascot for the cause.