I was already an adult by the time of Roe v. Wade. But, I suspect like most Americans, in my innocence I had missed the decade-long battle over “abortion reform” that preceded the 1973 decision which took a wrecking ball to the abortion statutes of all 50 states, even the most permissive.
My portal, in a manner of speaking, was a combination of a predisposition to protecting the unborn (I was the oldest of seven kids) and the soul-shocking impact of the video presentation and book, Whatever Happened to the Human Race? the classic work of former Surgeon General C. Everett Kopp and theologian Francis Schaeffer which awakened millions of Evangelical Christians.
This is another way of saying that unbeknownst to me, in the mid-seventies, I was being primed. Like tens of millions of others, I needed to be activated. Sitting in that Presbyterian Church in South Minneapolis, images from Whatever Happened to the Human Race? were seared into my memory. I knew I had to do something.
But if my progression from sympathetic bystander to activist seems in retrospect almost inevitable, it is just as true that many of the most articulate, thoughtful pro-life champions started out just as “naturally” on the other side. By that I mean when I’ve listened to their accounts, I began to understand that in the intellectual and cultural environments in which they were raised, talk of “sanctity of life” or “equal rights for unborn children” would be virtually unintelligible.
Who do I have in mind? To take two examples—the late Dr. Bernard Nathanson, author of “Aborting America” and producer of “The Silent Scream” video; and Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Greenberg, the former editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Greenberg wrote a typically eloquent op-ed when Dr. Nathanson died in 2011.
Mr. Greenberg, who has spoken at the National Right to Life convention, keenly explained how Dr. Nathanson, by his own count, was “responsible” for over 75,000 abortions. (“His ideals were those of the enlightened, modern urban America of his time, which was the mid- to late 20th century.”)
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Nathanson emerged from the darkness, thanks to the light of medical technology, initially the newest EKG and ultrasound imagery. His one pro-life step-at-a-time approach went public in a famous 1974 essay in the New England Journal of Medicine titled, “Deeper into Abortion”.
Mr. Greenberg wrote how he could “identify” with Nathanson, who was a co-founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL), now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America. Greenberg himself had bought into the soothing reassurances that Roe “was not blanket permission for abortion, but a carefully crafted, limited decision applicable only in some exceptional cases. Which was all a lot of hooey, but I swallowed it, and regurgitated it in editorials.”
I want you to read Mr. Greenberg’s column, so I will offer just this one quote:
With a little verbal manipulation, any crime can be rationalized, even promoted. Verbicide precedes homicide. The trick is to speak of fetuses, not unborn children. So long as the victims are a faceless abstraction, anything can be done to them. Just don’t look too closely at those sonograms.
Again you can read the column at Jewish World Review. The headline is very telling:
“The Doctor Who Saw What He Did”
LifeNews.com Note: Dave Andrusko is the editor of National Right to Life News and an author and editor of several books on abortion topics. This post originally appeared in his National Right to Life News Today —- an online column on pro-life issues.