I cannot be objective about abortion. Consequently, I cannot conceive of it either as a ‘procedure’ or as a ‘right.’ My up close and very personal relationship with abortion has resulted in my writing about it more than a few times. Because the euphemisms never applied when I made the decision: I knew what I was doing.
Watching the movie, Gosnell affected me so profoundly that I felt compelled, again, to write my very personal and heartbreaking story. And now, here is yet another essay, this time about the most recent movie, Unplanned.
Good question because according to one reviewer, Unplanned is just another movie that “preaches to the pro-life choir...and at certain points, twists ‘facts’ into a narrative conspiracy.” And for a while anyway, Google classified its genre as ‘propaganda.’
Before answering, it makes sense to list a few reasons why even supporters have considered this a mediocre film. By asking and answering a few reasonable questions asked by any potential moviegoer.
- Is the film entertaining?
- Visually interesting?
- A fun way to spend a couple of hours?
- Will this or other films like this end abortion once and for all?
No. To all of these questions.
Then why bother?
Here are my five reasons.
- We know how polarized is the subject of abortion. That it serves as a lightning rod which incites profound fervor. Consequently, few people can see across the divide to understand the view of the other. But this is the autobiography of a young woman, Abby Johnson, who made the leap. The reason for her radical change is worth considering, on many levels.
- Because Planned Parenthood has been around for more than a few decades, part of our social fabric, we need some understanding of how and why we have come to view unwanted babies as a mass of cells, without feeling without any claim to personhood. Almost exactly the way Renee Descartes viewed dogs: as insensible creatures who felt no pain. Believing that experimenting on them without anesthesia was fully reasonable for a man of science.
- Only rarely does any of us take the trouble to learn precisely what happens when we decide to ‘terminate’ a pregnancy. Whether early at nine weeks or way later at twenty-four. The words “suction and curettage” or “dilation and evacuation,” wholly obfuscate the horror. It takes place behind closed doors in procedure rooms where only medical personnel are welcome, where the patients are sedated. And the silence is absolute.
- Abby Johnson never asked for details during the entire eight years she worked as Director of the Bryan Texas Planned Parenthood Center. After all, she had experienced two abortions herself and well understood the plight of women faced with an unplanned pregnancy.
- But everything changed for her the day she [and we viewers] saw the sonogram image of a ‘fetus’ trying to escape the cannula aiming to vacuum it into a collection container. The image of the 'fetus' writhing, kicking, fighting to avoid its own destruction is searing. Unforgettable.
Most of us are acquainted with Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, and a Brooklyn nurse who vowed to end what she called the “biological slavery” of unwanted pregnancies for countless poor women who begged to know ‘the secret’ of avoiding pregnancy. Sanger’s method of doing so was education aimed at “entering into sexual relations... without thinking and knowing” how their bodies worked.” In 1921, Sanger opened the American Birth Control League which was renamed Planned Parenthood in 1942.
Far less well −known is Dr. Bernard Nathanson. An abortionist and activist without whom the abortion industry would never have become the powerhouse that has materialized in twenty-first-century. For it was he, more than any other person who enabled the transition from abortion as “unspeakable crime” to a “constitutionally protected liberty.”
Nathanson understood the clear−cut method necessary to bring the act of ridding ourselves of unwanted babies out of the darkness of evil: Lie.
“[Nathanson] promoted the idea that abortion is a medical issue, not a moral one. This required persuading people of the rather obvious falsehood that a normal pregnancy is a natural and healthy condition if the mother wants her baby, and a disease if she does not. The point of medicine, to maintain and restore health, had to be recast as giving health care consumers what they happen to want; and the Hippocratic Oath’s explicit prohibition of abortion had to be removed. In the end, Nathanson and his collaborators succeeded in selling this propaganda to a small but extraordinarily powerful group of men: in the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade, seven Supreme Court justices led by Harry Blackmun, former counsel to the American Medical Association, invalidated virtually all state laws providing meaningful protection for unborn children on the ground that abortion is a “private choice” to be made by women and their doctors.”
Further, Nathanson and his collaborators lied “outrageously and spectacularly” about the number of women dying from illegal abortions, inflating the actual number of deaths by ten times.
Perhaps the primary reason for our ignorance about Bernard Nathanson is the fact of his astounding conversion to Catholic convert writing and speaking about the barbaric nature of abortion. And promoting his film, The Silent Scream in the mid-eighties over thirty years. A film that has been mostly ignored by each of us.
Until the release of this film, Unplanned. Let’s put a stop to the lies. Let's return to the day when we knew what we were doing. Please go to see this movie and take your friends and your kids.