PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION: ECLIPSE OF REASON
“This child will be destroyed before your very eyes. “ These are the opening lines of Dr. Bernard N. Nathanson’s narration which takes you through the steps of the abortion of a baby boy at the gestational age of 4 1/2 months . In 1987 Dr. Nathanson produced an instructional video titled Eclipse of Reason. It is a harrowing film, with an introduction by Charleton Heston as well as excerpts from interviews with former abortionists, and women who once submitted to late-term abortions.
I began my political activism as a “pro-lifer” in Los Angeles in the late 1980s. I gave presentations primarily to college students at the numerous campuses around Southern California. I would often use life-like models of fetuses enrobed in fleshy wombs in order to show the development of the growing baby; the appearance of the doomed children that could be aborted at any stage of pre-birth maturation. I would also show the video tape of Eclipse of Reason. It was a distressing thing for me to do; to sit through the videotaped murder of a human child not once but several times. It is hard to describe the horror I felt in the aftermath of first viewing this film. But perhaps even more horrifying is the fact that the loudest complaints I received from the college students regarding the abortion video were not protests of indignation or outrage that the life of a baby had been snuffed-out, but that I had somehow violated the sensitivities of those who viewed it. Their objections were not against the graphic and brutal taking of innocent life, but against me because I had shown them something they felt was “distasteful.”
Dr. Nathanson continues his narration as the abortionist introduces the grasping instruments into the mother’s womb. Bernard N. Nathanson was a supporter of Roe v Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion in the United States for the full term of pregnancy. He was one of the founders of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). He ran a number of abortion facilities in New York city and admits that he, himself “presided over some 75, 000 abortions” including that of his own child.
His narration continues as he describes the anatomy of the condemned child as seen through a fetoscope. He delineates the tiny hands and feet, the braided umbilical cord, the nose and lips. “This little fellow can be seen swallowing water. In a few moments this little boy’s life will be summarily extinguished with these instruments.” You then see the abortionist brandish crushing and grasping instruments as the body of the mother shakes violently on the table.
After a number of years of performing abortions Bernard Nathanson had a dramatic and heart-rending epiphany which he describes in his 1979 book Aborting America. He abandoned his killing profession and set out on a life-long quest to reveal the hard truth about abortion to as wide an audience as possible. His first videotape was The Silent Scream in which a 12 week old fetus is seen in an ultrasound image opening its mouth in an apparent scream as the sucking instrument of the abortionist begins to rip away parts of its body. Eclipse of Reason goes much further.
Dr. Nathanson continues to describe the crushing and dismemberment of the baby boy. The abortionist piles the body parts on a metal table to later be inventoried in order to ensure that the entire baby has been removed.
As the abortionist continues his bloody work you see him crush and remove the head of the baby as the white matter of its brain spills out.
In 1987 there were virtually no prohibitions on the act of abortion. It could be done at any time during pregnancy for any reason, or for no reason at all. The legal wording in Roe v Wade allowed for 3rd trimester abortions, the 7th through 9th month, to protect the “health” of the mother. The irony of that language and its misconstruction carries with it a devastating weight.
Dilation and Evacuation was the name of the procedure which obliterated the little boy in the video. The argument has since been re-framed and such late-term slaughter is now called Partial-birth Abortion. The reworking of rhetoric surrounding “life issues” has helped to create a graduated shift in public sentiment as well as abortion statistics. Prior to Roe v Wade in 1973 the number of legal abortions in the United States numbered less than 500,000. The numbers peaked around 1990 at over 1.6 million, followed by a gradual downward trend. The number hovers now around 1.2 million abortions per year.
The argument against partial-birth abortion is a powerful one. But more powerful is the medical technology which has evolved to allow very intimate imaging of the growing baby in the womb. In the 1980’s the baby was viewed with a fetoscope or rather crude ultrasound. But the medical advancements since then have introduced not only high-resolution images of babies at very young gestational ages, but fetal surgery as well. A pre-born child can have corrective and life-saving surgery while in the womb and then be given time to recover and grow post-op inside its mother. 3-D and 4-D ultrasound imaging is commonly offered to expecting parents as they seek to get acquainted with their babies before the happy day. 4-D images show the child not in a static snapshot but in a real-time movie which reveals the child’s movements within the uterus.
This undeniable evidence of life before birth has helped to sway a percentage of the population to be more than less pro-life. In a perfect world the pictures of fetuses as young as 12 weeks, moving their tiny hands and feet, their faces discernibly human, should turn the hearts of the entire society. But there is a creeping moral necrosis that has encased our national psyche. We have incrementally been numbed to the nature and outcome of abortion. We have convinced ourselves that if it doesn’t look like baby it must be expendable. We have bought the notion that if the act of homicide is hidden within the darkness of the womb that is is tolerable. The hyperbole of population control and environmental destruction has convinced us that the killing of human offspring is an acceptable price to pay to preserve the planet and its resources. We have exchanged the sanctity of life for causes and convenience.
The “Colorado Personhood Amendment” (Proposition 62 on the ballot) lost this midterm election by an asymmetrical margin of 70-30 percent. This would-be amendment to the Colorado Constitution is simple and straightforward: “Section 32. Person defined. As used in sections 3,6 and 25 of Article II of the state constitution, the term “person shall apply to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.” This was the second go-round for the Personhood Amendment. It was on the ballot in 2008 as well with a similar electoral outcome. But it is not the thinking behind Prop. 62 that is flawed. I believe the failure of this, and similar ballot initiatives in other states, can be attributed to the collective acceptance that “abortion is a right.” This tracks the illogic of Roe v Wade with its contrived right to privacy; the notion that the one’s body can be used how and for whatever purpose one wants with impunity, even if it means to expel and end a human life because it is found to be cumbersome or ill timed.
There is a perverse displacement of compassion that appends the callous “abortion is a right” attitude. In America more and more young couples are choosing to severely limit the number of children they have, or to abandon parenthood altogether. Certain European ethnic subsets, such as the Italians and Spaniards, have such depressed birth rates that their populations are essentially halving themselves with each generation. While much of the developed world is languishing in a dearth of child-bearing, those people who would otherwise have a number of children, now have a number of dogs or other pets. Pets are not the only “replacement” children. The robotics industry in Japan has give the relatively barren citizens of that country life-like robot babies and toddlers designed to fill the laps where once real Japanese babies would have perched. Proxy offspring are not necessarily those with which one coos and cuddles. The popular focus of compassion of this generation is more likely to be ice-floe bound polar bears, or the delta smelt of California’s central valley, than it would be a human child, especially one that is voiceless and unseen.
The modern mind is inured to death at the hand of doctors. The “morning after pill”, RU 486, kills the newly implanted nestling by cutting off its life-giving hormones and expunging it from the womb within days of conception. Suction abortions take place through the first, and part of the second trimester. And even though most states have instituted restrictions of where, when, and by whom abortions can take place, dilation and evacuation, the introduction of saline into the uterus, partial-birth abortion and all manner of carnage is still used to kill the inconvenient or imperfect baby if that child is found to be “abnormal”, or if the “health of the mother may be compromised. There are few restrictions in other countries. 7 of 10 pregnancies in Russian end in abortion. China’s “1 child” population control policy has fallen so far down that slippery slope that compulsory late-term abortion is common and infanticide is an accepted measure when the policy is not followed properly. “Assisted suicide” is legal in three American states, and at least four European countries. Many other countries forfeit control of the practice of late-life, or unacceptable-life killing simply by refusing to punish physicians who participate. Three generations of killing, not in defense of life or liberty, but for personal convenience or whatever environmental crusade is fashionable, has hardened our position as the “culture of death”.
I will hand out a challenge to all who are either happy with, or concerned about, the fact that Prop. 62 failed by such a wide margin. This is for those who may be indifferent, or generally worried, that we have lost the instictive sense that the lives of our children are precious, from the very moment that we make ourselves parents through conception. Watch Eclipse of Reason. I have provided a link. Watch its entirety and ponder the disturbing truth that abortion, whether it be that of a zygote, an embryo, a fetus or a boy, is murder; the bloody and remorseless taking of human life.
Ronald Reagan in Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation (1983)