Fourteen years after abortion was made legal through a Supreme Court decision, opponents and proponents of the practice continue their battle over the issue. This year, both sides claim to be making significant headway in three important arenas of activity: public opinion, courts and legislatures, and services to women.

Public Opinion

Efforts to sway public opinion escalated last month with the release of a film depicting the abortion of a four-and-one-half-month-old unborn child. Titled Eclipse of Reason, it is narrated by Bernard Nathanson, a former abortionist who now opposes the practice. The film is a sequel to Nathanson’s 1985 documentary, The Silent Scream, which showed the abortion of a 12-week-old fetus.

Eclipse of Reason depicts the systematic dismemberment of an unborn child by a procedure known as dilation and evacuation. The severed parts of the child’s body are matched up after surgery so the doctor can be certain the entire fetus was removed. Nathanson says in the film that 8 percent of U.S. abortions are performed after the fetus has been developing for three to six months. At that stage, it is approximately 12 inches long, weighs three-quarters of a pound, and has inch-long hands and feet. Nathanson estimates there are 120,000 late-term abortions every year, or about 400 a day.

At the film’s premiere, Maura K. Quinlan, chief staff counsel for Americans United for Life, said the reality of abortions taking place even later in pregnancy than the one in the film needs to be brought to the public’s attention. “It is perfectly legal in this country for two women, each seven months pregnant, to enter a hospital, one to deliver a premature baby to be cared for by physicians, the other ...

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