NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE MOURNS
THE DEATH OF DR. BERNARD NATHANSON
The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) joins its state affiliates all across America in mourning the loss today of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, the former abortionist whose conversion to the pro-life cause was major news at the time and whose impact reverberates to this day. Dr. Nathanson, 84, died earlier this morning after a long battle with cancer.In the early 1970s Dr. Nathanson was director of the largest abortion facility in the world, New York City's Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health. He wrote that he was “personally responsible” for 75,000 abortions, and performed about 5,000 abortions.
In his 1979 book, “Aborting America,” Dr. Nathanson gave an insider’s account of the creation of what was then called the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL), since rebranded as Naral Pro-Choice America. In that classic Dr. Nathanson explained how he and others cynically fabricated and exaggerated statistics about the number of abortions and the number of deaths from illegal abortions at the same time they consciously adopted a strategy of systematically vilifying the Catholic Church hierarchy.
As a fellow New Yorker, Jeanne Head, NRLC Vice President for International Affairs and United Nations Representative, knew Dr. Nathanson first as a foe and then as a friend. “Dr. Nathanson was probably one of the individuals most responsible for Roe v. Wade and, once he realized his error, he dedicated the rest of his life to reversing it,”Head said. She explained that she heard about “Aborting America" when it was in galley form and may have been the first pro-lifer to speak to him after he had finished co-writing the book with Richard Ostling.
In 1984 Dr. Nathanson unveiled “The Silent Scream,” a mesmerizingly powerful video which shows sonogram images of an unborn child frantically trying to avoid the abortionist’s instruments. Former New Hampshire Sen. Gordon Humphrey, told Time Magazine at the time that the film represented “A high technology Uncle Tom's Cabin, arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.”
Head added, “It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of his book, “The Silent Scream,” and his later video, “Eclipse of Reason” in driving home the sheer horror and brutality of abortion.”
For many years Dr. Nathanson described himself as a Jewish atheist, but in 1996 Nathanson was baptized a Catholic by Cardinal John O’Connor.