Dr. Bernard Nathanson and Auteur Theory

Introduction | Pro-choice Discourse | Images and Anchorage in Medical Discourse | Ultrasound Technology | Silent Scream Analysis

The auteur theory is at play especially in relation to the biographical account of Dr. Bernard Nathanson. This theory claims that the most important aspect of understanding a visual image is what it's maker intended to show. In the actuality of most visual communication, social scientists pay little attention to the author of images. Dr. Nathanson brings a strong biographical account and motivation to the production of prevalent images within the discourse of abortion. His religious orientation in important to note in this case as well, since the "politics" of religion is such an inclusive part of the abortion debate in America. While Nathanson produced the Silent Scream in 1985, his acceptance of the Christian faith did not occur until 11 years later in 1996. Humans being created in the "image of God" was never part of Nathanson's argument, his argument was that abortion was taking human life, scientifically speaking.

Contribution to the Pro-choice Movement

Charles Colson describes Nathanson's contribution as such,

It was social inequity that first motivated Bernard Nathanson to campaign for the legalization of abortion. In 1969, he teamed up with Lawrence Lader to found the National Abortion RIghts Action League (then known as the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws). The organization helped to enlist feminists, including Betty Friedan, in the cause of abortion on demand; but it was the two men, Nathanson and lader, who crafted the movement's strategy against its most formidable opponents and did much to define abortion as "woman's issue" on which only feminists are permitted to express an opinion. It was also Nathanson and Lader who determined that the Catholic heirarchy should be demonized as an elite club of white males who were insensitive to women's problems (218-219).


In Nathanson's second book, The Hand of God, he states,

"I have aborted the unborn children of my friends, colleagues, casual acquaintances, even teachers. He also aborted his own child." He writes, "Yes, you may ask me...What did you feel? Did you not feel sad -- not only because you had extinguished the life of an unborn child, but, more, because you had destroyed your own child? I swear to you that I had no feelings aside from the sense of accomplishment, the pride of expertise. On inspecting the contents of the bag I felt only the satisfaction of knowing that I had done a thorough job. You pursue me: You ask if perhaps for a fleeting moment or so I experienced a flicker of regret, a microgram of remorse? No and no. And that, dear reader, is the mentality of the abortionist: another job well done, another demonstration of the moral neutrality of advanced technology in the hands of the amoral (pp.60-61).

Works Cited

Colson, Charles and Nancy Pearcy. How Now Shall We Live? . Tyndale House Publishers: Illinois, 1999.

Nathanson, Bernard. The Hand of God Regnery Publishing Inc: Washington D.C, 1996.

Images: Google