Opposition to the portrayal in cinema of the defence of human beings in the pre-natal time of their development did not start in the summer of 2019 with the movie, Unplanned. In March of 1985, the New York Times promoted an editorial criticizing President Ronald Reagan when he endorsed a documentary by Dr. Bernard Nathanson, an abortionist who disavowed his former work and the ideology he helped articulate.
The editorial writers of “A False ‘Scream’” did not want people “to see the film that President Reagan hopes will persuade Americans to deny women the abortions he feels they shouldn’t have.” In reality, human lives were at stake: “If every member of Congress could see “The Silent Scream,’’ he said recently, “they would move quickly to end the tragedy of abortion.’’
In 1983, during the Trial for Life in the Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan, Dr. Patrick Beirne, a pioneer in ultrasound, described the technology as “demonstrating in a visual rather than a tactile sensation, that the baby is in fact moving” and that it is not part of the mother: “it’s a uniquely different individual.”
In her book, Abby Johnson writes about the ultrasound that changed her life. It had what could be called a Shakespearian effect on her, like the play within the play in Hamlet, where “The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” Unplanned has a movie within a movie, the ultrasound, that brings humanity to her sight, and she resolves, “Never again! Never again.” The ultrasound probe had become a beam of light into her conscience, proving true what Dr. Patrick Beirne said in a Saskatchewan courtroom in the early 1980s, “that there is a living character in there.”
Fr. Jeffrey D. Stephaniuk