The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing. Ecclesiastes 1:8
I have a friend who is a filmmaker. Tim makes films for various clients, and he makes some of his own movies as well. We have a cup of coffee from time to time, and, being a movie lover, I enjoy it when our conversation drifts to all things celluloid.
While my friend’s occupation is making movies, his passion is the protection of unborn life. Recently we met and talked about his desire to raise some money to make a film about the silent holocaust of abortion. He needs a good deal of money, and he wanted my opinion as to whether or not the project was viable and the funds needed were attainable. I tried to be as encouraging as possible on both fronts. After all, sometimes a movie or even a single photograph will grab our attention and melt our hearts more than a thousand books and articles on the same topic. Do you remember the 1989 picture of that man standing in front of a line of tanks in Tiananmen Square? That snapshot galvanized world opinion. Do you remember the college video calledThe Invisible Children? Or, for that matter, do you remember Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ? The eye is the window to our emotions. Video, therefore, is a powerful tool of persuasion.
As we talked, I asked Tim what, in addition to his Christian faith, fueled his passion for the abortion issue. It was seeing pictures of aborted children that had grabbed him. My eyes have seen the pictures, and my heart has never been the same, he said.
It turns out that what is true for my moving-making friend is also true for some abortion providers. Some abortionists have seen enough. Their vision of things too horrible to describe in respectable conversation has compelled them to quit doing abortions and find some other medical specialty.
David Daleiden and Jon Shields wrote an essay published in the Weekly Standard entitled “Mugged by Ultrasound” (1/25/10). In their essay they chronicle the shift in abortion methods since Roe v. Wade. Back in 1973 most second-trimester abortions were performed by saline injection. The baby was killed in utero, and a nurse dealt with the expelled fetus. In a sense, the doctor never saw his work. But in the late 1970s, it was agreed that dilation and extraction was a safer method of abortion. A D&E abortion is performed when the doctor dilates a woman’s cervix and then, using forceps, dismembers the baby and removes one body part at a time. The abortionist has to reassemble the baby, part by part, to make sure he got all of it lest the woman be subject to severe complications and infection.
You’ll see no pictures in this CN article, but will you allow words to paint a vivid picture of their own? Daleiden and Shields quote Dr. Lisa Harris, an abortionist whose eyes saw too much while she performed a D&E on an eighteen-week-old fetus. It turns out Dr. Harris herself was eighteen weeks pregnant when she did the procedure. She claims she felt her own baby kick at the very moment she ripped a leg off of the fetus with her forceps.
Instantly, tears were streaming from my eyes—without me—meaning my conscious brain—even being aware of what was going on. I felt as if my response had come entirely from my body, bypassing my usual cognitive processing completely. A message seemed to travel from my hand and my uterus to my tear ducts. It was an overwhelming feeling—a brutally visceral response—heartfelt and unmediated by my training or my feminist pro-choice politics. It was one of the more raw moments in my life.
Then there is Dr. Paul Jarrett who quit performing abortions after his twenty-third procedure, which was on a fourteen-week-old baby. He recalled:
As I brought out the rib cage, I looked and saw a tiny, beating heart. . . And when I found the head of the baby, I looked squarely in the face of another human being—a human being that I just killed.
Kathy Sparks is another who was transformed by too much seeing. Sparks was responsible for disposingfetal remains at an Illinois abortion clinic. Her account of her own experience is harrowing.
The baby’s bones were far too developed to rip them up with [the doctor’s] curette, so he had to pull the baby out with forceps. He brought out three or four major pieces. . . I took the baby to the clean up room, I set him down and I began weeping uncontrollably. . . I cried and cried. This little face was perfectly formed.
Because of what she saw, Sparks quit her job and now directs a crisis pregnancy center.
In the quotation at the beginning of this essay, the writer of Ecclesiastes says our eyes never get tired of seeing and our ears never grow weary of hearing . . . but I think the preacher is wrong. At least he is wrong in regard to seeing pictures of mutilated unborn babies. I’ve seen those pictures. They are gruesome. They make me feel sick. They convict me as a silent accomplice in the extermination of a helpless underclass in our society. Indeed, my eye has had enough of seeing. . .
At the end of my time with Tim, I try to be as encouraging as I can that his movie needs to be made. I have a few suggestions as to where he might raise the money, and I tell him, sincerely, that I will pray for his efforts. It is time to leave, and I hear Tim ask me, Reed, you are a pastor. Why is it that the church seems to care so little about this silent holocaust? Why do we treat this as one issue among many? I manage a smile, and we both get up to leave.