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The Abortion of The Silent Scream
James W. Prescott
Appendix C in Doerr, Edd and Prescott, James W. (Eds.): Abortion Rights and Fetal 'Personhood', 2nd Ed. Long Beach (1990); originally published in The Humanist, September/October l986.
The anti-abortion movement's members would have us believe that their concern for fetal life is derived from a broad base of respect for human life and a concern for human pain, suffering, and violence. The production of the film The Silent Scream is an attempt to dramatize those concerns by illustrating alleged fetal pain and suffering during an abortion procedure.
The perception of pain is a complex biological and psychological phenomenon that involves states of "consciousness" which can probably never be fully understood or known for certain stages of fetal development. Relevant to this inquiry are certain neurobiological and biobehavioral facts concerning states of "consciousness" and "pain" perception during fetal development that should be known by all concerned citizens.
Patricia A. Jaworski has produced an audio tape, "Thinking About the Silent Scream," in which she interviews several internationally renowned neuroscientists on fetal brain development, the alleged fetal perception of "pain," and alleged fetal "personhood." Some of the highlights of those interviews are summarized in the following paragraphs.
Dr. Michael Bennett, chairman of the neuroscience department of Albert Einstein Medical School, when asked whether a brain exists at conception and whether there can be a person without a brain, answered with an unequivocal "no!" to both questions. It was pointed out that the human brain has approximately 100 billion brain cells and that there are an estimated 100 trillion connections between neurons in the brain. This extraordinary neuronal "interconnectivity" provides the neurostructural foundation for complex perceptions and "personhood" and takes many months and often years to fully develop and function.
Dr. Patricia Goldman-Rakic, professor of neuroscience at Yale University Medical School, emphasizes that brain neurons do not exist prior to four weeks in utero, that the peak period for brain neuron development is from two to five months in utero, and that the existence of neurons, per se, does not indicate the existence of a developed, functioning brain. Once the brain cell is born, there is a long process of migration of brain cells that occurs mainly from two to six months in utero during which the brain cells move (migrate) to their final destination in the brain. An even longer process of development makes possible the "interconnectivity" of brain cells which is absolutely essential for sensation, perception, conscious experience, thought, and behavior. The formation of brain synapses that make possible brain cell communication does not begin until about the third month in utero, and most are formed after birth.
Dr. Clifford Grobstein, former chairman of the Department of Biology at Stanford University and now at the University of California at San Diego, highlights the complexity of brain development by noting that the brain docs not develop uniformly. For example, certain parts of the brain develop earlier and some later. The cerebral neocortex that is responsible for complex perceptions is one of the last to develop.
Dr. Dominick Purpura, dean of Albert Einstein Medical School, has been studying human brain development since 1974 with his research on mental retardation. Dr. Purpura emphasizes that there are a minimum number of neurons and synaptic connections that are necessary before the qualities of "humanness" and "personhood" can be developed and that this capacity begins to occur in the middle of the last trimester. Thus, about twenty-eight to thirty weeks in utero is the minimal time for the beginning of this capacity—"It can't begin earlier," according to Dr. Purpura.
Dr. Purpura also emphasizes that critical changes are seen in the fetal brain wave pattern at thirty-one weeks when the brain waves become more organized and, thus, meuninglul; the first signs of sleep and wakefulness are not observed until a few weeks later. It is emphasized that all cells have electrical potentials and that the mere presence of such signals, per se, does not mean that the capacity for complex perceptions or "personhood" exists. How these neuronal signals become organized and reflect underlying neuronal and structural organization is fundamental to understanding the basic neurobiological pnnciple that structure precedes function.
Thus, it can be concluded that neither pain perception nor personhood exists at conception and that the beginning capacity for personhood may only begin at twenty-eight to thirty weeks in utero. Why, then, the film The Silent Scream, with all its deliberate distortions and errors of fact? It is the intent of this socio-psychological study to address the producers and supporters of The Silent Scream—a film which has been offered as a manifestation of their compassion for human pain, suffering, and violence—to illustrate through a review of both previous and new data that their motivation for The Silent Scream was not fetal well-being. This study will show that the anti-abortion motivation behind the producers and supporters of The Silent Scream resides in an authoritarian control and denial of the fundamental human right of self-determination and the sexual expression of affection and love as a basic right of all persons.
In the production of The Silent Scream questions must be raised as to the elements of compassion and malevolence that made that film possible. Presumably, those who abhor abortion under any circumstances would not support any abortion, including participation in filming an abortion they consider to be a murder! Why did the anti-abortionists not stop the filming of the abortion and the abortion itself which made the film possible? Or is the fetus simply an object to be exploited for ulterior motives—like the children of the anti-abortion cultures?
Is it appropriate to compare from a moral perspective the production of The Silent Scream and the production of "snuff" films in which women are enticed into a sexual encounter and, unknown to them, are scheduled for sexual torture, mutilation, and murder? Assuming that abortion is murder and "snuff" is murder, do the producers and supporters of these two kinds of films share a certain common morality? If so, what would be the nature of that common morality?
When the Reverent R.L. Hymers, Jr., pastor of the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle in Los Angeles, called Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., a "baby killer" and led his four-hundred member congregation in prayer to ask God to kill Brennan so that President Reagan could replace him with a judge who opposes abortion, does this not reinforce a common morality of violence in the anti-abortionist mentality as it is reflected in The Silent Scream and the fire-bombings of abortion clinics and personnel? (See, The Washington Post, June 2, 1986.)
Since the morality of pain and pleasure reside at the core of abortion controversy, it may be helpful to reflect upon the following data as these moral questions are addressed.
In an attempt to clarify the ideological and motivational structure of the anti-abortion personality and "sub-culture;" this writer published a series of research articles that addressed these issues (Prescott, 1975; 1978; Prescott and Wallace, 1978). A summary of these findings would appear helpful as a background to the new studies reported herein which will shed further light on the lack of compassion for human pain, suffering, and violence that is a salient characteristic of the militant anti-abortion movement.
The question of whether abortion represents a "murderous" act or a "benevolent" act is addressed in the 1975 article in The Humanist by examining the social behavioral characteristics of primitive cultures that permitted or punished abortion and by examining the relationship between voting patterns in the Canadian Federal Parliament on abortion and capital punishment legislation.
It was hypothesized that, if abortion reflected a "murderous" violent act, then the cultures which permitted abortion should be similarly characterized; conversely, if abortion reflected a benevolent act, then the cultures which permitted abortion should also be characterized as benevolent and peaceful. Similarly hypothesized was whether votes on abortion rights correlated positively or negatively with votes on capital punishment.
In brief, the following relationships were obtained from twenty-one primitive cultures where coded anthropological information was available on abortion and other behaviors:
- 55% of cultures that punish abortion practice slavery while 92% of cultures that permit abortion prohibit slavery.
- 73% of cultures that punish abortion also torture, mutilate, and kill enemy captured in warfare while 80% of cultures that permit abortion do not torture, mutilate, and kill enemy captured in warfare.
- 78% of cultures that punish abortion punish premarital coitus while 67% of cultures that permit abortion permit premarital coitus.
- 88% of cultures that punish abortion punish extramarital coitus while 67% of cultures that permit abortion permit extramarital coitus.
- 70% of cultures that punish abortion exploit children while 78% of cultures that permit abortion do not exploit children.
With respect to the voting patterns in the Canadian Parliament on abortion and capital punishment, the following relationships were established:
1. 59% voted for abortion rights and against capital punishment. 2. 21% voted against abortion rights and for capital punishment. 3. 80% supported a statistically valid relationship between anti-choice and anti-life voting patterns, and vice versa.
These voting patterns in the Canadian Parliament were consistent with the data obtained from primitive cultures that established a strong relationship between anti-choice and anti-life sentiments. It was concluded that the above data did not support the anti-abortion movement's claim to be a "Right to Life" movement and, in fact, supported the opposite.
In a further effort to validate the above relationships, this writer examined the voting patterns in the United States Senate on bills involving abortion, capital punishment, support of the Vietnam War, support of the "no-knock" law (police did not need a court order to break into a private home), and opposition to gun control legislation (Prescott, 1978).
In summary, the following statistically significant relationships were obtained between abortion and bills on human violence:
1. 71% valid relationship between anti-choice beliefs and support of capital punishment and its converse relationship. 2. 72% valid relationship between anti-choice beliefs and support of the Vietnam War and its converse relationship. 3. 65% valid relationship between anti-choice beliefs and support of the "no-knock" law and its converse relationship. 4. 71% valid relationship between anti-choice beliefs and and opposition to handgun control and the converse relationship.
The preceding data are fully consistent with and cross-validate the findings obtained from primitive cultures and from and Canadian Parliament that established a strong relationship between anti-abortion beliefs and suppott of human oppression and violence, and the converse relationship.
In a further examination of these relationships, this writer utilized the National Farmers Union ratings of U.S. senators on a scale from zero to one hundred to study the senators' support of legislation that helped families and their children—such as support of school lunch and milk programs. This rating was based upon the senators' voting records on fifteen different bills and was interpreted by this writer as a valid and reliable measure of family nurturance. It was found that the average Family Nurturance Score of senators who supported abortion rights of women and opposed capital punishment was ninety-six out of one hundred. The average family nurturance score of the senators who opposed abortion rights of women and supported capital punishment was forty-four out of one hundred—less than half of the family nurturance score of the pro-choice senators.
It was concluded from the above data that the anti-abortion ideology did not reflect compassion and respect for human life but, rather, an ideology of authoritarian control over the personal lives of individuals that included violent means of human oppression.
In the final article on the abortion issue, which was coauthored by my associate, Dr. Douglas Wallace, the major motivating force underlying the anti-abortion ideology that was suggested from the primitive culture data was examined—namely, anti-sexual pleasure (Prescott and Wallace, 1978).
An analysis of the voting patterns of the Pennsylvania House on abortion and on a bill that made fornication and adultery a felony yielded the following results: 85% who supported abortion rights supported rights of self-determination of sexual expression; and 86% who opposed abortion rights opposed rights of self-determination of sexual expression.
Similarly, the voting patterns in the Pennsylvania Senate with respect to abortion and a bill that would prevent homosexuals from being hired by the state government were examined. These evaluations yielded the following results: 73% who supported abortion rights supported homosexual rights of employment; and 89% who opposed abortion opposed homosexual rights of employment.
In addition to the above findings, extensive questionnaire data were reported from 688 males and 1,178 females from various walks of life on abortion ideology and other life values. Based upon the fifty-six-item questionnaire, the following items were the most highly and statistically linked to the statement, "Abortion should be punished by society" (Prescott and Wallace, 1978):
1. Prostitution should be punished by society. 2. Unmarried persons having sex with their lovers is wrong. 3. Sexual pleasures help build a weak moral character. 4. Physical punishment and pain help build a strong moral character. 5. Society should interfere with private sexual behavior between adults. 6. Nudity within the family has a harmful influence upon children.
The above findings taken collectively from primitive cultures, modern cultures, and legislative bodies strongly support an "anti-sexual pleasure" ethic as a major driving force underlying the anti-abortion ideology.
Although the above data have been available over the past eight to eleven years, they have not been utilized in confronting the increasing virulence and violence of the anti-abortion movement—that is, the numerous fire bombings and violent attacks against medical clinics and personnel providing abortion services to women and the increasing legislative attacks on the fundamental right of women to be mothers by choice.
The production of The Silent Scream by the anti-abortion movement is another attempt to mislead the public and legislators into believing that the anti-abortion movement has a fundamental concern and compassion about human pain, suffering, and violence. Since the publication of the above studies, additional statistics on voting on bills before the U.S. Congress have become available, making possible the direct examination of the anti-abortion movement's claims of compassion for human pain, suffering, and violence, as purportedly reflected in The Silent Scream, and for the cross-validation in the U.S. House of Representatives of certain relationships that had been previously established in the U.S. Senate.
The following analyses of voting patterns evaluate the one hundred pro-choice congressmen and one hundred anti-choice congressmen identified by Catholics for a Free Choice as totally supporting or totally opposing abortion rights of women (Catholics for a Free Choice, 1985). I have characterized the three legislative bills evaluated for this study as: (1) Human Pain and Suffering Bill (H.R. 5290); (2) Jeopardizing Human Lives Bill (H.R. 4332); and 3) Promoting Human Violence Bill (H.J. Res. 540).
The Human Pain and Suffering Bill was the bill to permit the use of parenteral diacetylmorphine (heroin) for the relief of intractable pain due to terminal cancer (H R. 5290: Compassionate Pain Relief Act). The vote analyzed was on the Hughes Amendment and other amendments to H.R. 5290 which specified circumstances when pain "may not be effectively treated with currently available analgesic medications." The Hughes Amendment was defeated 231 to 178, with 22 not voting on September 19, 1984. (See, Congressional Record, U.S. House of Representatives, Roll No. 400 Hughes Amendment to H.R. 5290: Compassionate Pain Relief Act; September 19, 1984; H9790-9791.)
The Jeopardizing Human Lives Bill was on gun control legislation, specifically the Federal Firearms Law Reform Act of 1986 (H.R. 4322). The vote analyzed was on the Hughes Amendment, which limited the serious weakening of the 1968 Gun Control Act under H.R. 4332. If H.R. 4332 was passed without the Hughes Amendment, it would have significantly increased the danger to lives of the public and law enforcement of officers. (Police organizations supported the Hughes Amendment.) The vote was taken on April 9, 1986, and the Hughes Amendment was defeated 242 to 177, with 15 not voting. (See, Congressional Record, U.S. House of Representatives, Roll. NO. 71 Hughes Amendment to H.R. 4332; Federal Firearms Law Reform Act of 1986; April 9, 1986; H1704.)
The promoting Human Violence Bill was the vote on "Contra Aid" (H.J. Res. 540) which "approves the additional authorities and assistance for the Nicaraguan democratic resistance that the President requested pursuant to the International Security and Development Cooperation Act of 1985, not withstanding section 10 of Public law 91-672." The vote was taken on March 20, 1986, Roll No. 64, and was defeated 222 to 210, with 3 not voting. (See, Congressional Record, U.S. House of Representatives, Roll No. 64, H.J. Res. 540: Contra Aid; March 20, 1986; H1493.)
TABLES 1 through 4 present the roll call votes on the above three bills for the one hundred pro-choice and one hundred anti-choice congressmen. The data have been organized into the following four basic groups:TABLE l: Pro-choice and Anti-pain (supports H.R. 5290)
TABLE 2: Anti-choice and Pro-pain (opposes H.R. 5290)
TABLE 3: Pro-choice and Pro-pain (opposes H.R. 5290)
TABLE 4: Anti-choice and Anti-pain (supports H.R. 5290)
TABLE 1U.S. House of Representatives Roll Call Vote of Pro-choice and Anti-pain Congressmen
(Average Pro-Child-Life Score equals 92)
Congressman District Pro-Child Score Gun Control Contra Aid Congressman District Pro-Child Score Gun Control Contra Aid Ackerman D-NY 100 Y N Leven D-MI 100 Y N Barnes D-MD 100 Y N Levine D-CA 100 Y N Bates D-CA 100 Y N Lundine D-NY 100 N N Beilenson D-CA 100 Y N McKernan R-ME 83 N Y Berman D-CA 100 Y N Mikulski D-MD 100 Y N Bosco D-CA 83 N N Miller D-CA 100 Y N Boxer D-CA 100 Y N Mineta D-CA 100 Y N Britt D-NC 100 O O Moody D-WI 100 Y N Burton D-CA 100 Y N Neal D-NC 100 N N Carr D-MI 83 N N Obey D-WI 100 N N Clay D-MO 100 Y N Ottinger D-NY 100 O O Coelho D-CA 100 N N Pease D-OH 100 Y N Coleman D-TX 100 N N Pickle D-TX 83 Y N Dellums D-CA 100 Y N Pritchard R-WA 33 O O Dicks D-WA 100 Y N Richardson D-NM 100 N N Downey D-NY 100 Y N Roybal D-CA 100 Y N Edgar D-PA 100 Y N Sabo D-MN 100 Y N Edwards D-CA 100 Y N Savage D-CO 67 Y N Evans D-OH 100 Y N Scheuer D-NY 100 Y N Fazio D-CA 100 Y N Schroeder D-CO 83 Y N Feighan D-OH 83 Y N Schumer D-NY 83 Y N Foley D-WA 100 N N Seiberling D-OH 100 Y N Ford D-TN 100 Y N Smith D-VA 100 O O Frank D-MA 100 Y N Snowe R-ME 83 N N Gejdenson D-CT 100 Y N Solarz D-NY 100 Y N Gekas R-PA 33 N Y Stark D-CA 100 Y N Green R-NY 67 Y N Stokes D-OH 67 A N Hall D-IN 67 ? ? Waxman D-CA 100 Y N Hoyer D-MD 100 A N Weiss D-NY 100 Y N Johnson R-CT 83 Y Y Williams D-MT 100 N N Kastenmeier D-WI 100 Y N Wirth D-CO 100 Y N Kennelly D-CT 100 Y N Wise D-WV 100 N N Lantos D-CA 67 Y N Wolpe D-MI 83 Y N Leland D-TX 50 Y N Yates D-IL 100 Y N
Y = Yes; N = No; A = Abstain; O = Not a member of the 99th Congress
In addition to the above information, a "Pro-Child-Life Score" is listed for each congressman and ranges from zero to one hundred. This score was developed by Catholics for a Free Choice on six legislative bills that affected the health and well-being of children (Catholics for a Free Choice, 1985). The six legislative bills used to derive the score dealt with budget increase, child nutrition, Medicaid and Aid for Families with Dependent Children, Head Start and child care, budget reduction for the Department of Health and Human Services, and the food stamp program. This score is analogous to the National Farmers Union Family Nurturance Score utilized in my previoua studies and is compared to it below.
The average Pro-Child-Life Score for the pro-choice and anti-pain congressmen is ninety-two; it is only forty-nine for the anti-choice and pro-pain congressmen. This finding is comparable to and cross-validates the NFU Family Nurturance Scores in the U.S. Senate study in which the pro-choice and anti-capital-punishment senators had an average score of ninety-six compared to forty-four for anti-choice and pro-capital-punishment senators.
TABLE 2U.S. House of Representatives Roll Call Vote of Anti-choice and Pro-pain Congressmen
(Average Pro-Child-Life Score equals 49)
Congressman District Pro-Child Score Gun Control Contra Aid Congressman District Pro-Child Score Gun Control Contra Aid Bevil D-AL 100 N Y Lowery R-CA 17 N Y Billrakis R-FL 33 N Y McCain R-AZ 33 N Y Boggs D-LA 83 Y N McEwen R-OH 17 N Y Borski D-PA 100 Y N Martin R-NY 50 A Y Broomfield R-MI 50 Y Y Mavroules D-MA 100 Y N Burton R-IN 17 N Y Mazzoli U-KY 100 Y N Byron D-MD 50 N Y Michel R-IL 17 N Y Clinger R-PA 67 N Y Miller R-OH 17 N Y Coats R-IN 17 N Y Mollnari R-NY 33 Y Y Conte R-MA 67 Y N Mollohan D-WV 100 N N Crane R-IL 0 N Y Montgomery D-MA 50 N Y Dannemeyer R-CA 0 N Y Murtha D-PA 100 N Y Daub R-NE 17 N Y Myers D-KY 17 N Y Duncan R-TN 33 N Y Natcher D-KY 83 N N Durbin D-IL 100 N N Nelson D-FL 50 N Y Emerson R-MO 33 N Y Nichols D-AL 67 A Y Fields R-TX 33 N Y Nielson R-UT 17 N Y Gaydos D-PA 67 N Y Oberstar D-MN 100 N N Gerphardt D-MO 100 A N Packard R-CA 17 N Y Gibbons D-FL 67 Y Y Petri R-WI 50 N Y Gingrich R-GA 0 N Y Quillen R-TN 17 N Y Goodling R-PA 33 Y Y Regula R-OH 33 N Y Gradison R-OH 17 Y Y Rinaldo R-NH 67 Y Y Gregg R-NH 17 N Y Ritter R-PA 17 N Y Hall D-TX 50 ? ? Roe D-NJ 100 Y N Hansen R-UT 17 N Y Rogers R-KY 33 N Y Hertel D-MI 83 Y N Roth R-WI 33 N Y Hiler R-IN 17 N Y Rudd R-AZ 17 N Y Holt R-MD 33 N Y Russo D-IL 100 Y N Hopkins R-KY 33 N N St. Germain D-RI 100 Y N Hunter R-CA 0 N Y Schaefer R-CO 17 N Y Hutto D-FL 67 Y Y Sensenbrenner R-WI 0 N Y Hyde R-IL 50 N Y Shaw R-FL 17 N Y Kemp R-NY 17 N Y Sikorski D-MN 100 N N Kildee D-MI 100 Y N Skelton D-MO 83 N Y Lagomarsino R-CA 17 N Y Smith R-NJ 50 Y Y Latta R-OH 17 N Y Smith R-OR 17 N Y Leath D-TX 33 N Y Smith R-NE 33 N Y Lipinski D-IL 100 Y Y Whitten D-MA 83 N N Livingston R-LA 33 N Y Wolf R-VA 33 Y Y Lloyd D-TN 50 N N Yatron D-PA 100 N Y Loeffler R-TX 33 N Y Young R-FL 31 Y Y Long D-LA 100 N N Young R-AK 67 N Y Lott R-MS 33 N Y Young D-MO 100 N Y
Y = Yes, N = No, A = Abstain, O = Not a member of the 99th Congress
TABLE 3U.S. House of Representatives Roll Call Vote of Pro-choice and Pro-pain Congressmen
(Average Pro-Child-Life Score equals 79)
Congressman District Pro-Child Score Gun Control Contra Aid Congressman District Pro-Child Score Gun Control Contra Aid Anderson D-CA 83 Y N MacKay D-FL 100 N N AuCoin D-OR 67 N N Morrison D-WA 50 N Y Boehlert R-NY 67 N N Panetta D-CA 100 Y N Brooks D-TX 100 N N Pursell R-MI 50 Y Y Chandler R-WA 67 Y Y Rangel D-NY 100 Y N Collins D-IL 100 Y N Rose D-NC 100 Y N Crockett D-MI 83 Y N Roukema R-NJ 33 Y Y Fascell D-FL 100 Y Y Rowland D-GA 100 N N Fiedler R-CA 33 N Y Schneider R-RI 83 Y N Gonzalez D-TX 83 Y N Spratt D-SC 100 Y N Gray D-PA 100 Y N Vandergriff D-TX 50 O O Hatcher D-GA 100 Y Y Wyden D-OR 100 N N Levitas D-GA 67 O O Zschau R-CA 33 Y Y
Y = Yes, N = No, A = Abstain, O = Not a member of the 99th Congress
TABLE 4U.S. House of Representatives Roll Call Vote of Anti-choice and Anti-pain Congressmen
(Average Pro-Child-Life Score equals 80)
Congressman District Pro-Child Score Gun Control Contra Aid DeWine R-OH 17 N Y Donnelly D-MA 100 Y N Hamilton D-IL 83 N N Luken D-OH 100 N N Perkins D-KY 100 N N
Y = Yes; N = No; A=Abstain; O = Not a member of the 99th Congress
TABLE 5U.S. House of Representatives Voting Relationships on Freedom of Choice and Freedom from Pain
Pro-choice Anti-choice SUM Anti-pain 36%
N = 68
N = 5
73 Pro-pain 14%
N = 26
N = 88
114 SUM 94 93 187
83% Valid Relationship
Chi Square = 88.08 Z = 9.39
N = 187; p << 0.00001
72% (68 of 94) Pro-choice congressmen support human pain relief
95% (88 of 93) Anti-choice congressmen oppose human pain relief
TABLE 6U.S. House of Representatives Voting Relationships on Freedom of Choice, freedom from Pain, and Gun Control
N = 47
N = 14
N = 21
N = 63
84 SUM 68 77 145
75% Valid Relationship
Chi Square = 38.44, Z = 6.20
N = 145, p << 0.00001
69% (47 of 68) Pro-choice and anti-pain congressmen support gun control
82% (63 of 77) Anti-choice and pro-pain congressmen oppose gun control
TABLE 7U.S. House of Representatives Voting Relationships on Freedom of Choice, Freedom from Pain, and Contra Aid
N = 3
N = 67
N = 60
N = 20
80 SUM 63 87 150
85% Valid Relationship
Chi Square = 76.64, Z = 8.75
N = 150, p << 0.00001
95% (60 of 63) Pro-choice and anti-pain congressmen oppose Contra Aid
77% (67 of 87) Anti-choice and pro-pain congressmen support Contra Aid
TABLE 5 presents the basic analysis that compares the relationship between votes on abortion and human pain. In brief: 36% (68 of 187) of the total sample support pro-choice and human pain relief legislation; 47% (88 of 187) of the total sample oppose pro-choice and human pain relief legislation; 83% (156 of 187) of the total sample support the basic psychological relationship between abortion values and human pain which is statistically very significant.
More specifically: 72% (68 of 94) of pro-choice congressmen support human pain relief; 95% (88 of 93) of anti-choice congressmen oppose human pain relief in dying cancer patients!
Only three percent of the sample are anti-choice and anti-pain, which is interpreted as reflecting a "consistent life" position. The average Pro-Child-Life Score of this group is eighty, although the reliability of this score is limited given the small sample size and its variability.
The most psychologically and politically complex group of voters is the pro-choice and pro-pain group, and it demonstrates the greatest variability in Pro-Child-Life Scores. Time and space does not permit a further discussion of this group of voters.
In summary, these data contravene the claims of members of the anti-abortion movement that they have a basic compassion for human pain and suffering, which they attempt to portray in The Silent Scream.
TABLE 6 presents the basic analysis that compares the pro-choice and anti-pain congressmen with the anti-choice and pro-pain congressmen on gun control. In brief: 32% (47 of 145) of the total sample who are pro-choice and anti-pain support gun control legislation; 43% (63 of 145) of the total sample who are anti-choice and pro-pain oppose gun control legislation; 75% (110 of 145) of the total sample support the basic psychological relationship between abortion values and human pain with gun control.
More specifically: 69% (47 of 68) of pro-choice and anti-pain congressmen support gun control legislation; 82% (63 of 77) of anti-choice and pro-pain congressmen oppose gun control legislation. The above data confirm in the U.S. House of Representatives the relationship between abortion and gun control legislation that was previously found in the U.S. Senate. Opposition to abortion is associated with support of legislation that increases the risk to human lives from the violent use of handguns. These data provide no support for and, in fact, contravene the claims of the anti-abortion movement that they have a basic compassion for the victims of violence which they attempt to portray in The Silent Scream.
TABLE 7 presents the basic analysis that compares the pro-choice and anti-pain congressmen with the anti-choice and pro-pain congressmen on Contra Aid—this is, support for violent revolution. In brief: 40% (10 of 160) of the total sample who are pro-choice and anti-pain oppose Contra Aid—that is, oppose support for violent revolution; 45% (67 of 150) of the total sample who are anti-choice and pro-pain support Contra Aid—that is, support violent revolution; 85% (127 of 150) of the total sample support the basic psychological relationship between abortion values and pain with violent revolution.
More specifically: 95% (60 of 63) of pro-choice and anti-pain congressmen oppose Contra Aid—that is, oppose support of human violence; 77% (67 of 87) of anti-choice and pro-pain congressmen support Contra Aid—that is, provide support for human violence.
The above data contravene the claims of the anti-abortion movement that they have a basic compassion for the victims of violence, which they attempt to portray in The Silent Scream.
In summarizing previous and current data on the anti-abortion "personality" and "subculture," a profile emerges from these scientific studies with the following characteristics:
- Authoritarian control over the personal lives of individuals, as it is reflected in the practice of slavery in primitive cultures, the legislative denial of freedom for women in modern cultures to be mothers by choice, and the imposition of arbitrary police arrests and seizures.
- Support of human violence and its associated disregard for the dignity and integrity of the human body, as it is reflected in support of such physical assaults against the human body as: torture, mutilation, and killing of enemy captured in warfare; support of capital punishment; support of the war in Vietnam and violent revotulion (Contra Aid); opposition to gun control legislaton; violent attacks on medical clinics and personnel providing abortion services to women; and participation in the exploitation of a fetus in an abortion procedure to produce a false film "documentary" to serve authoritarian political and religious objectives.
- Indifference to human pain and suffering, as it is reflected in the refusal to provide effective medicine to control excruciating pain in dying cancer patients.
- Authoritarian control and denial of the fundamental right of self-determination in sexual expression, as it is reflected in the punishment of prostitution and premarital and extramarital sexuality, in mandatory fornication and adultery as felonious crimes, and in punishment of homosexuality.
- Indifference to the quality of life of children, as it is reflected in the economic exploitation of children (primitive cultures) and failure to provide basic medical care, food, education, and clothing for poor children and their families (legislative actions).
- A moral value system that equates human pain, suffering and violence with moral strength and, conversely, equates sexual pleasure and relief from pain and suffering with moral weakness.
It is emphasized that the foregoing does not apply to certain individuals who represent 3 to 13 percent of the populations studied. These individuals are characterized by opposition to abortion and physical violence; they respect rights to sexual privacy and choice and have high child and family nurturance scores.
Given the profound moral, psychological, and political dimensions of the abortion controversy, it is unlikely that "data alone" will resolve it. The solution is prevention, with which women have complete control over their reproductive state. The prevention of all unintended and unwanted pregnancies should be our common goal.
[Note: As this article was going to press, the House of Representatives voted 221 to 209 (Roll No. 199, June 25, 1986) to support Congressman Edwards' (R-OK) amendment to provide military aid and other assistance to the Contras. This vote reversed the vote on H.J. Res. 540 (Roll no. 64, March 20, 1986) which rejected military and other financial assistance to the Contras. An analysis of this vote for the one hundred pro-choice and one hundred anti-choice congressmen yielded the following results: for the pro-choice and anti-pain congressmen (TABLE 1), only one congressman switched votes from opposing to supporting Contra Aid (Snowe, R-ME); for the anti-choice and pro-pain congressmen (TABLE 2), four congressmen switched votes (Hopkins, R-KY, and Lloyd, D-TN, switched from being opposed to supporting Contra Aid; Yatron, D-PA, and Young, D-MO, switched from supporting to opposing Contra Aid); for the pro-choice and pro-pain congressmen (TABLE 3), only one congressman switched votes from opposing to supporting Contra Aid (Rowland, D-GA); no vote changes were present in the anti-choice and anti-pain congressmen (TABLE 4). These minor changes in voting patterns (of the total of six congressmen, three initially opposed and then supported Contra Aid, while three initially supported then opposed Contra Aid) have had no significant effect on the basic psychological relationship between opposition to abortion and indifference to human pain and suffering that is strongly associated with support of human violence legislation.]
Catholics for a Free Choice. 1985. Reproductive Choice: What It Means and Where Congress Stands. Washington, DC: Catholics for a Free Choice.
Jaworski, Patricia, 1986 audio tape. "Thinking about The Silent Scream." New York: Jaworski Productions.
Prescott, J.W. July/August 1978. "Abortion and the 'Right-to-Life': Facts, Fallacies, and Fraud. I. Cross-Cultural Studies." The Humanist, pp. 18-24.
——. March 1976. "Violence, Pleasure, and Religion." The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, p. 62.
——. April 1975. "Body Pleasure and the Origins of Violence." The Futurist, pp. 64-74.
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Republished with the kind permission of James W. Prescott. OCR, proofreading, and HTML by Joel Schlosberg. Please inform us about any errors you find. If you want to write a translation, please contact Erik Möller.