Probably no single thing has done more to advance the pro-life cause in America than the sonogram. These pictures offer the clearest possible evidence that the unborn child is nothing more nor less than a little human being. But what the sonogram has made clear to any lay person, namely, that the unborn child is a little human being, has long been known by medical professionals and scientists.
In 1976, William L. Nyhan, M.D., Ph.D, who at one time served as Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, wrote in The Heredity Factor “When scientists could examine embryos under the microscope, they recognized that the processes of development constituted a continuum from fertilization through delivery. There is no magic moment at which an embryo suddenly becomes something different.”
The contribution to the American pro-life movement by such scientists is not nearly as well known as it should be. That contribution might best be described as an “open secret.” Certainly the pro-abortion mainstream media and academia deserves some of the blame for the lack of knowledge.
Instead, the dominant narrative has been one which depicts the conflict over legalized abortion as a conflict between the forces of science and enlightenment on the one hand and religious faith and superstition on the other. That narrative is untrue. It was precisely during, and because of the scientific advances of the 19th century that the American pro-life movement came into existence.
No person played a greater role in the formation of America’s pro-life movement than Dr. Horatio Storer. While many 19th century physicians considered abortion to be out-and-out murder, it was Storer who pushed hardest. In 1857, working with like-minded physicians, Storer began what became known as the “physicians’ crusade against abortion” first in Massachusetts, and then nationally, when he persuaded the American Medical Association to form a Committee on Criminal Abortion.
According to Dr. Frederick N. Dyer author of The Physicians Crusade Against Abortion and Champion of Woman and the Unborn: Dr. Horatio Robinson Storer, Storer’s work resulted in a substantial reduction in the number abortions by the year 1900.
Besides changing attitudes and laws about abortion, in 1869 Dr. Storer founded the first gynecological clinic in the United States, the Gynaecological Society of Boston. Dyer writes: “Horatio Storer not only started the physicians’ crusade against abortion, he probably did more to found gynecology as a science and medical specialty than any other American physician.”
Now, documentation of this neglected chapter in the history of the pro-life movement is easily available in a single online resource: horatiostorer.net. The website is an exhaustive collection of Storer’s writings, letters, journals, as well as the journals of The Gynaecological Society of Boston.