Commentary on social and moral issues of the day

First Motion Picture on Partial-Birth Abortion

Raymond J. Keating

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On the Church and Society
January 30, 2006

Raymond J. KeatingPlease, don't think too deeply about abortion. That long has been the attitude of the pro-abortion movement.

These activists aggressively, though vaguely, talk about women's rights, and strenuously warn about the looming threat of back-alley abortions if anything were ever to infringe even the slightest upon the so-called constitutional right to an abortion.

But the crusaders for on-demand abortion want people to steer clear of thinking about what actually happens during an abortion, and what might be the ill effects on women who have abortions.

These sensitive topics, however, are dealt with in a powerful short film called "A Distant Thunder," now available on DVD, which the filmmakers have called "the first motion picture to address partial-birth abortion."

The movie was written and directed by Jonathan Flora, with his wife, Deborah Flora, playing the lead. In a recent press statement, Deborah pointed out: "We created this film in what many of those in the pro-life movement consider the belly of the beast Hollywood. God knows it wasn't madde to further our careers or make money. We made it so that through our craft, a terrible truth could be told so lives could be saved."

That terrible truth includes gruesome details about partial-birth abortion. In the world of politics, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican and a surgeon, ventured a description in the Senate in 2003: "It begins by turning the living fetus around, partially pulling it out of the ut erus feet first, and then thrusting the base of its skull deeply with eight-inch long scissors. Next the scissors are forcibly opened in the skull of the fetus to create a hole large enough to evacuate the brain and the contents of the head. Once the skull is collapsed, the now dead infant is pulled from the uterus through the birth canal."

That declaration on the Senate floor took moral courage, as did Jonathan Flora's effort in Hollywood to use a gripping story to relay the grim facts.

As Deborah's character notes in "A Distant Thunder," three inches stand between partial-birth abortion and murder. Of course, that's in legal terms. There is no difference regarding the morality. Will the law ever catch up? Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed into law a ban on partial-birth abortions in 2003, but it has been knocked down in court and awaits possible review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The movie uses a compelling story part courtroom drama, part superrnatural thriller to inform the audience about the gross violence being perrpetrated, and the ramifications for the victims both mother and child. The film uses a Hitchcock-like twist to drive home a central point about life and the soul.

Jonathan Flora has forthrightly declared: "With 'A Distant Thunder' I am trying to educate people with facts but also to entertain them." Flora was right to do so. The power of a story, particularly the emotional wallop of film, can have an enormous impact.

No matter what the pro-abortion movement might claim, there's no way around it. In the end, abortion whenever inflicted during a pregnancy is about

the taking of innocent human life. It is partial-birth abortion, though, that seems most egregious to many. After all, for so many victims, full protection of their life under the law lies mere inches away.

Abortion contains the most perilous of emotional and moral consequences. Everyone involved in choosing, performing, sanctioning or legalizing such grave undertakings including doctors, nurses, activists, lobbyists, lawmmakers, fathers and mothers carry heavy responsibilities.

How could those involved with abortion not be affected? "A Distant Thunder" hints at how abortion proponents one day might have to explain themselves before God and to those who lost their lives. Long and deep reflection on abortion most certainly is in order.

Raymond J. Keating, also a columnist with Newsday, can be reached at ChurchandSociety@aol.com.

Copyright Raymond J. Keating

Posted: 01-Feb-06

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