Dr. Bernard Nathanson, R.I.P.
Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who was a founder of NARAL when it was called the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, and later became an ardent pro life activist and was baptized a Catholic in 1996 by the late John Cardinal O'Connor, has died of cancer at the age of 84. Full story here, and prayers for his soul. :pray: :crucifix: :incense:


We owe him a lot for the changes he made in his life.

Dr. Nathanson

stopped performing abortions

became part of the pro-life movement

told the truth about the lies he and others had used when advocating less restrictive abortion laws.

He admitted that they invented a large figure -- I can't recall how many thousand it was now -- of women who supposedly died of illegal abortions each year in the U.S.  It was true that women died of illegal abortions, but the number they repeated over and over and over was totally fictitious. 

It had the effect of making people think that, since so many women were dying, perhaps it would be better to allow legal early abortions in some cases.  Of course, what the pro-aborts really wanted, and got with Roe, was unrestricted abortion for any reason at any time during pregnancy.

That confession was one of the best things ever done for the pro-life movement, though of course the media ignored it.  Once he crossed over, Dr. Nathanson was no longer "a good guy" in their view.

He was a sinner, as we all are, but he realized he was wrong, and made a giant journey from abortionist and founder of NARAL to pro-life Catholic. 

Pray for his soul.  Offer a Communion for him.  :pray: :pray2: :pray: :pray2: :pray: :pray2:

An heroic man who found Jesus in time.  May he rest in peace.
RIP  :pray2:
Satori has posted another OP, linking to a different site's story about Dr. Nathanson's death, and his conversion to the pro-life view, and ultimately to the Church.

The funeral Mass will be Monday at St. Patrick's Cathedral. 

I can't edit my old post but here's the info I was looking for from the article in the OP:

"He often admitted that he and other abortion advocates in the 1960s lied about the number of women who died from illegal abortions at that time, inflating the figure from a few hundred to 10,000 to gain sympathy for their cause."

I thought they were lying then, never believed that illegal abortions were as common as they claimed, wasn't surprised when he admitted they had lied to influence people.  10,000 women's deaths a year sounded impressive.  If they'd told the truth and said that a few hundred women died each year, they'd have had less support.  Of course they also lied by saying they just wanted abortion laws to be less stringent. 

Prior to 1970, when abortion was legalized in New York state, abortions were, rarely, performed legally in hospitals when a committee of physicians decided there was a real threat to the mother's life if the pregnancy continued.  So abortion at that time was "safe, legal, and rare," regulated by state laws and the committees of physicians in hospitals (Catholic hospitals didn't allow abortions, of course.)

In January 1973, Roe took away the power of states, and hospitals, to regulate abortions.

Don't look for anybody from NARAL to be at the funeral. 


A good article by Carolyn Moynihan, including another quote about fabricating numbers of illegal abortions and numbers of women dying of illegal abortions.

"In Aborting America (1979) he admitted:'

'We aroused enough sympathy to sell our program of permissive abortion by fabricating the number of illegal abortions done annually in the U.S. The actual figure was approaching 100,000 but the figure we gave to the media repeatedly was 1,000,000.  Repeating the big lie often enough convinces the public.  The number of women dying from illegal abortions was around 200-250 annually.  The figure we constantly fed to the media was 10,000.  These false figures took root in the consciousness of Americans convincing many that we needed to crack the [anti] abortion law.'

more from Moynihan's article:

"If pro-life activists were the first witnesses to the truth about the unborn child to Dr Nathanson, technology was the other great witness. Ultrasound imaging was developing rapidly and it was images of the child in the womb that eventually convinced him that a true human being is killed in abortion. Using real-time ultrasound images in 1985 he made the famous and electrifying short film, The Silent Scream, showing 12-week child shrinking away from the abortionist’s instruments. In 1987 he produced another film, Eclipse of Reason, showing a late term (five months) abortion in its gruesome and morally shocking detail. The latter film includes testimonies from several ex-abortionists."

"Introducing "Eclipse of Reason", actor Charlton Heston pointed out that more than 20 million abortions had been carried out in the US since 1973. Yet, despite the importance of the issue and the huge public debate about it, a complete abortion had never been shown on television. The media had failed to do what they said was their job: to inform the public -- in this case about the facts of abortion."

"Today, anyone can watch Dr Nathanson’s and other abortion videos on YouTube, but has any major television network yet shown such pictures? Even displaying graphic posters gets pro-life demonstrators into trouble, as though they were committing an obscenity themselves rather than the people who did the killing. There is a conspiracy among institutions to hide the truth, as Dr Nathanson himself observed."

Moynihan also referred to an article by Dr. Nathanson, gave a short quote, and linked to it.  

Titled "Deeper Into Abortion" the article was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in Nov. 1974.  Here's an excerpt I got from the full article:

"Some time ago--after a tenure of a year and a half-- I resigned as director of the Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health. The Center had performed 60,000 abortions with no maternal deaths--an outstanding record of which we are proud. However, I am deeply troubled by my own increasing certainty that I had in fact presided over 60,000 deaths."

"There is no longer serious doubt in my mind that human life exists within the womb from the very onset of pregnancy, despite the fact that the nature of the intrauterine life has been the subject of considerable dispute in the past. Electrocardiographic evidence of heart function has been established in embryos as early as six weeks. Electroencephalographic recordings of human brain activity have been noted in embryos at eight weeks. Our capacity to measure signs of life is daily becoming more sophisticated, and as time goes by, we will doubtless be able to isolate life signs at earlier and earlier stages in fetal development."

"The Harvard Criteria for the pronouncement of death assert that if the subject is unresponsive to external stimuli (e.g. pain), if the deep reflexes are absent, if there are no spontaneous movements or respiratory efforts, if the electroencephalogram reveals no activity of the brain, one may conclude that the patient is dead. If any or all of these criteria are absent--and the fetus does respond to pain, make respiratory efforts, moves spontaneously, and has electroencephalographic activity--life must be present."

"To those who cry that nothing can be human life that cannot exist independently, I ask if the patient totally dependent for his life on treatments by artificial kidney twice weekly is alive? Is the person with chronic cardiac disease, solely dependent for his life on tiny batteries on his pacemaker alive? Would life be safe in this city without my eyeglasses?"

"We must courageously face the fact--finally--that human life of a special order is being taken. And since the vast majority of pregnancies are carried successfully to term, abortion must be seen as the interruption of a process that would otherwise have produced a citizen of the world. Denial of this reality is the crassest kind of moral evasiveness."

The entire article can be read at:


I had no idea he had written an article stating that embryos are alive as early as 1974.  It certainly wasn't publicized.  Pro-abortion activists back then claimed that embryos weren't alive and I think this was widely believed for another twenty years or more, am sure some, probably many, still believe it.  I guess they thought/think this "clump of cells" just lays around for months in the uterus and then suddenly, magically, becomes a baby around the fifth month, when the mother can feel the baby moving.

Moynihan's article ends:

"All those murders -- the 75,000 he took responsibility for included 5000 he performed himself and 10,000 performed by interns at St Lukes Hospital in Manhattan -- created a debt of justice that no man could pay by himself. The burden on his awakened conscience must have been extreme, and unbearable without a faith that assured him of forgiveness. He learned that the debt was already paid in full and he only had to make up as best he could for the wrong. Joan Andrews Bell says 'he underwent huge amounts of fasting to make up for it'."

"He always accused himself before anybody else: 'I am one of those who helped usher in this barbaric age,' he wrote in The Hand of God. And, 'I know every facet of abortion. I helped nurture the creature in its infancy by feeding it great draughts of blood and money; I guided it through its adolescence as it grew fecklessly out of control.' "

"The New York Times quotes the latter sentence as an example of Dr Nathanson’s tendency to paint himself in 'lurid colours' -- as though it was merely a rhetorical device to make the audience gasp. Everything else, however, points to his deep sincerity and even heroism in completely turning his ideas and his life around. He has earned the right to be counted among the heroes of human dignity."

I agree with Moynihan's last sentence.  He knew his guilt and did what he could to atone for it.  I pray that more of the early abortion activists will do the same.  It's never too late to turn to the Light.

Réquiem ætérnam dona ei Dómine; et lux perpétua lúceat ei. Requiéscat in pace. Amen.


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