Dr. Bernard Nathanson died this morning after a long battle with cancer. Nathanson was an early abortion muckraker whose exposing of the abortion industry is a precursor to the famous work done by pro-life activists like Lila Rose.
Nathanson wasn’t always pro-life and he started out as an abortion practitioner based in New York City who presided over more than 75,000 abortions.
But the doctor hoped he saved many more lives than that after witnessing an ultrasound and becoming pro-life. He then dedicated his life to ending abortions and his video, the Silent Scream, is considered a classic because it was the first to use the technology of ultrasound to make the unambiguous case that unborn children are human beings who deserve legal protection starting at their earliest days.
The video, showing an unborn baby recoiling from an abortion, and a followup titled Eclipse of Reason that explained in great medical detail the different kinds of abortion procedures, solidified Nathanson’s standing as a pro-life hero and an authentic convert who would lead the way for others like Norma McCorvey and Abby Johnson follow his footsteps.
Rose, the modern-day abortion muckraker who heads up Live Action and is responsible for the undercover videos that expose more of the problems in the abortion industry — like covering up sexual trafficking — told LifeNews.com Monday afternoon that the pro-life movement lost one of its greatest voices.
“Today our movement mourns the passing of one of its greatest voices for life,” she said. “Dr. Nathanson is a testament to God’s grace; that any heart can be transformed into a beacon of love and truth.”
“In his memory, and as the battle in Congress rages these next two weeks, let us work tirelessly to aid Dr. Nathanson’s brave efforts in exposing evil and protecting the innocent. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family,” she said.
Nathanson also earned praise for his candid admission that the pro-abortion movement — led by him as the head of the pro-abortion group NARAL — made up huge numbers of women killed and injured by illegal abortions in an attempt to legalize abortion.
“We spoke of 5,000 – 10,000 deaths a year…I confess that I knew the figures were totally false..it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?”
In 1996, Nathanson wrote his autobiography, The Hand of God, in which he shared his journey from abortion practitioner and abortion advocate to becoming pro-life.
He noted, regretfully, “I am one of those who helped usher in this barbaric age.”
Nathanson also drew attention for his comments about the shooting of infamous late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller and he said he was surprised Tiller never became pro-life.
“I knew George Tiller years ago when I was on the pro-abortion side,” he told the Washington Times. “He came to a course I was giving in the technique of abortion in New York in 1970 under the auspices of NARAL. And I did late-term abortions until I changed my opinion as of 1980.”
“My switch to pro-life had nothing to do with religion,” he told the newspaper. “Tiller was a church-going man, which doesn’t say a whole lot in this country, but one wonders why he never changed his mind based on the scientific evidence. That is where I changed my mind, based on fetoscopies and ultrasound studies.”
“Once we had ultrasound in place, we could study the fetus and see it was a member of our community. If you don’t do that, you’re just a creature of political ideology. In 1970, there were approximately 1,100 articles on the functioning of the fetus. By 1990, there were 22,000. The data piled up swiftly and opened a window into the womb,” Nathanson continued.
In a news story today about his passing, the Stephen Vincent of the National Catholic Register, wrote, “His pro-life witness could not easily be dismissed as one-sided propaganda since Nathanson had enjoyed such a high standing among abortion supporters as a co-founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (now called NARAL ProChoice America), and as operator of what he called the nation’s busiest abortion business. A freestanding ambulatory clinic, in which abortion and recovery took about three hours, was an innovation devised by Nathanson and his colleagues.”
Joan Andrews Bell, a pro-life activist, told the newspaper: “He will be remembered as a very strong advocate for the babies. One factor stood out, knowing him over the years, and that was that he had a deep pain for what he had done in terms of abortion. I remember there were periods he was fasting; he underwent huge amounts of fasting to make up for it.”