Forgive me for interrupting the peaceful moral slumber of CBS Morning News, but in the interest of balance (something to which the national media profess a ferocious commitment) certain observations are in order regarding the segment dealing with the videotape film The Silent Scream aired on March 4, 1985.
To begin with, the terms of the debate were flagrantly skewed to the pro-abortion view and thus the debate itself was a set-up. One panel of five experts (all unrelenting critics of the film) was designated as “uninvolved in the abortion controversy” ( I shall return to that particular mendacity in a moment) while the other panel was unambiguously characterized as anti-abortion (“… three experts whose names were provided to us by the anti-abortion National Right to Life Committee”). About as fair as announcing a debate on nuclear weaponry between a neutral uninvolved panel of experts chosen by SANE and a second panel chosen by the mad-dog trigger-happy Joint Chiefs of Staff.
CBS conceded that its “neutral” panel of experts was proposed – at least in part –by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. As Casey Stengel used to say, you could look it up: the ACOG has an unblemished record of abortion advocacy. It supplied pro-abortion amicus curiae briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court as far back as the Roe v. Wade case in 1973, and most recently in the Akron case of 1982. It is on record as opposing restrictions on fetal research. Its president, Dr. George Ryan, testified against the Human Life Bill in 1981 and in the same year he testified against the proposed Hatch amendment. One might as well invite the National Rifle Association to nominate the jury for the Bernard Goetz hearings.
I am not conversant with the details of the background and politics of all five members of the “neutral” panel that CBS recruited for that segment. However, one member – Dr. Richard Berkowitz – is an old acquaintance, indeed a former employee. Dr. Berkowitz worked under my direction at CRASH (Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health, at the time the largest abortion clinic in the world) for a number of months, moonlighting at that facility while participating in a residency program in obstetrics and gynecology at a major teaching hospital in NEW York City. Not involved in the abortion controversy? Hardly. Ah well, scientia longa, memoria brevis. If the other four members of that “neutral” panel are as “uninvolved in the abortion controversy” as is Dr. Berkowitz, that’s a hanging jury if I ever saw one. I think I would sooner entrust my fortunes to a panel composed of Lawrence Lader, Bill Baird, Alfred Moran, and Betty Frieden; at least I know where I stand with them.
I note with some amusement that the national Planned Parenthood organization has assembled six more presumably equally “neutral” experts to make a rebuttal film countering The Silent Scream. Prominent on the list are the names of two more Nathanson alumni: one Dr. William Rashbaum who was already diligently at work in the abortion mines at CRASH when I took over as Director, and one Dr. Ming-Ning Ye whom I myself recruited and who labored for me conscientiously for more than a year. Might I suggest that in the future that CBS and other conscription agencies ask their “neutral” experts to sign a disclosure statement to the effect that they are not now nor have they ever been Nathanson alumni? Too embarrassing, really.
In the segment in question there was a dismaying amount of purposeless niggling about the size of the unborn child on the television screen, the speed of the tape and a few other equally monumental pedantries. Any schoolchild can tell you that if an image as captured on a four inch screen (the size of the real-time ultrasound imaging device we used) then transferred to a twenty-one inch television box, the image will appear five times larger than it actually is – no deceit intended. As for the apparent speeding up of the tape following the thirty second clip in slow motion (slowed only to allow a more careful study of the child’s reactions at that point in the procedure), was I required to continue the remainder of the tape in slow motion merely to stave off the fatuous accusation that I was somehow rigging the play?
CBS correctly informed its viewers that I was out of the country when this how was aired (why didn’t they wait until I returned when I could have responded to these carpings face-to-face?) but in a deeply disappointing exhibition of journalistic irresponsibility, read only a carefully selected portion of the written statement I had prepared before I left. In a curious way I can understand (but not forgive) this brazen act of censorship. To have read my full statement would have cowed their “neutral” experts into submissive silence and the show would have perished of its own weight. The deleted portion of the statement contained an affidavit provided by Dr. Ian Donald, former Regius Professor of Obstetrics at the University of Glasgow, inventor of ultrasound and indisputably the world’s leading authority on its use and interpretation. In a sworn statement dated February 23, 1985, Dr. Donald declared:
I the undersigned Ian Donald…having had experience in the development and exploitation of diagnostic ultrasound from 1955 onwards until 1981, the last four years of which were much taken up with the filming of fetal activity at various stages of pregnancy have now studied Dr. Nathanson’s videotape film not less than four times and affirm that I am of the opinion that the fetal activities depicted by ultrasound real-time scanning in this film are not faked, nor the result of artifact, intentional or otherwise.
After discarding the political banalities, after shedding the ideological baggage, after picking one’s way through all the scientific dithering and waffling (scientists after all are people who first build the Brooklyn Bridge, then buy it) there are only four short questions of quintessential interest here:
● Is this a real-time ultrasound film?
● Is this a human unborn child on the screen?
● Is this a real-time ultrasound record of an abortion of a human unborn child?
● At the conclusion of the film, has the life of the child been obliterated, the body having been torn from the head and the head crushed and removed in pieces?
Even our “neutral” experts will agree – albeit grudgingly – that the collective answer to these questions is yes. One final question is in order: is the brutal act depicted in this film – the deliberate unappealable destruction of a tiny defenceless human being – compatible with the declared moral certitudes of a civilized society?
Gandhi when asked what he thought of western civilization responded: “I think it’s a good idea.”