In 1984, the man who two decades earlier had co-founded the leading pro-abortion group (NARAL), released the startling documentary, The Silent Scream. In this video, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who once ran the nation's largest abortion clinic and claims he was personally responsible for 75,000 abortions, provides a clinical and dispassionate abortion presentation. The reason he did this was to show, for the first time, what abortion looks like through ultrasound technology. For it was through this technological development that Dr. Nathanson came to understand the evils of abortion and to repudiate his former support for it.
Until yesterday, I had never seen this video. In 1984, when it was released, I was a feminist, ardently pro-choice, and graduating with a degree in journalism and a certificate in women's studies. Obviously, I was deaf to anything from the pro-life camp. I first heard about this video when I became a Christian nearly ten years later. But even when I was training a few years after that to be a mentor in my local crisis pregnancy center, I still didn't see it.
Last night, as I was researching this topic for my book, I found The Silent Scream on YouTube and decided to watch it. It's quite disturbing--made more so, possibly, because the low production values of 1980s video offer no visual hype. It's just relentless fact after relentless fact as Dr. Nathanson calmly shows an abortion through ultrasound technology. Very grim viewing.
Even so, as I am researching this topic, I can see God's sovereign hand working in the course of human history. I had assumed that widespread abortion was something that arose in my lifetime. But in my book research, I've found that it's been a problem since the beginning of time. And as a percentage of the population, the abortion rates of the mid-19th century match the recent abortion rates of our times. (This fact courtesy of Marvin Olasky's sobering book, Abortion Rites.) But God (two of the kindest words in the Bible!) -- but God keeps intervening. I am astounded that abortion proponents like Norma McCorvey (the "Roe" in Roe v. Wade) and Dr. Nathanson were suddenly arrested by the truth, did an about-face, and became pro-life activists. And even as abortion became legal in 1973, scientists were working on ultrasound technology; the first ultrasound machine became commercially available just three years later.
There are a lot of problems with YouTube--from content population to copyright issues--but I am grateful for the way it provides an open-access platform for videos such as The Silent Scream to live on in cyberspace. I've embedded a link to the low-res, slightly out-of-sync full video below. It's not for the squeamish, but this is a critical piece of film-making. You'll never find a topic like it on the growing number of health or plastic surgery television shows, but it is important viewing.(UPDATE: Please pray for new legislation in Florida this week concerning abortion. Details are in the comment below that I cleared for the purpose of soliciting your intercession.)