Liberal Pro-Lifer Nat Hentoff Cut by Village Voice Due to Economic Problems

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 31, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Liberal Pro-Lifer Nat Hentoff Cut by Village Voice Due to Economic Problems

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 31
, 2008

New York, NY ( — Nat Hentoff is an icon to the millions of pro-life Americans who are Democrats or fall on the liberal side of the political spectrum. A self-described "Jewish atheist" and a staunch progressive, Hentoff took a strongly pro-life position on abortion and euthanasia.

That pro-life perspective, once he came out in a column printed in the Village Voice, cost him friendships with those on the left.

Now, hard economic times and the alternative newspaper that employed him for fifty years, cost him his job.

The troubled magazine laid off three employees on Tuesday, including the pro-life luminary.

Founded in 1955, the publication was sold in 2005 to a media group that also owns other liberal newspapers in major cities. The sale is credited with partly causing the downfall of the Village Voice.

Hentoff told the New York Times that he learned about the decision in a phone call with editor Tony Ortega. He responded to the news with wit and humor and said he had no financial concerns because of his extensive outside work.

“I’m 83 and a half. You’d think they’d have let me go silently,” he said. “Fortunately, I’ve never been more productive.”

He said he thought his layoff may affect the Voice’s readership.

“With all due immodesty, I think it doesn’t help to lose me because people have told me they read The Voice not only for me, but certainly for me,” he said.

Hentoff, in his articles, helped make the intellectual argument for protecting unborn children from abortion.

"Nearly ten years ago I declared myself a pro-lifer," he said in a 1992 column. "A Jewish, atheist, civil libertarian, left-wing pro-lifer."

"Immediately, three women editors at The Village Voice, my New York base, stopped speaking to me. Not long after, I was invited to speak on this startling heresy at Nazareth College in Rochester (long since a secular institution). Two weeks before the lecture, it was canceled," he explained.

"The women on the lecture committee, I was told by the embarrassed professor who had asked me to come, had decided that there was a limit to the kind of speech the students could safely hear, and I was outside that limit," Hentoff said. "I was told, however, that I could come the next year to give a different talk."

"Afterward, men, women, and teenagers wrote from all over the country that they had thought themselves to be solitary pro-lifers in the office, at school, even at home," Hentoff said.

Hentoff wasn’t fond of the pro-life politicians on the conservative side of the debate, but he said this year he was unable to support Barack Obama.

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