Dr. Bernard Nathanson: The Life, Conversion, And Death Of A Former Abortionist

Dr. Bernard Nathanson
Updated: March 2, 2011

Bernard Nathanson, M.D. went to his eternal rest yesterday after a long battle with cancer. He was 84.

A former abortionist, he admitted to being responsible for the killing of 75,000 babies, one of which was his own child. Of these 5,000* were at his own hands, the rest being through the abortion clinic he ran and his supervision of medical students. Nathanson was eventually led to the truth of the pro-life movement through science and ultrasound technology - performing his last abortion in 1979 - and spent the rest of his days exposing the lies of the abortion movement, many of which he had initiated while an abortion promoter.
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. ~ John 8:44
Dr. Nathanson was a key founder of the abortion rights movement in the U.S. and was a founding member of what is now known as the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). He is on record admitting that he and NARAL falsified various statistics on abortion in order to further their agenda to make abortion legal - obviously they acknowledged that the truth would not aid them in reaching this goal. Where did these 'statistics' come from? Nathanson said they made them up out of thin air.


In an article on LifeSiteNews, Jim Hughes, president of Canadian pro-life organization Campaign Life Coalition, recalls an "especially memorable" occasion when "Nathanson and Canadian abortionist Henry Morgentaler were on the Charrington Show" together. When Morgentaller tried to defend his reasons for practicing abortion, "Nathanson laughed and said, 'I invented all those phrases, I invented those statistics, etc.' "

The LifeSiteNews article goes on to say that on a 2008 radio program, Nathanson admitted that he and NARAL colleagues:
  • falsely claimed that between 5,000 and 10,000 women a year died of botched abortions - the actual figures were between 200 and 300,
  • falsely claimed that there were 1,000,000 illegal abortions per year in the U.S. alone - the actual figure was around 200,000,
  • used the media to spread their deceptions, including the lie that legalizing abortion would only mean that these abortions would now be done legally - the truth is that abortion is now being used worldwide primarily as a form of birth control [and has increased over 1000%].


It's quite revealing that the abortion industry still continues to use these fabricated statistics to dupe the very women they say they are dedicated to helping. Experts in non-verbal communication will tell you that when words and actions do not match, always 'listen' to the actions - they more accurately tell what (a person) is truly thinking.

But why are their lies believed by so many? In part due to the power of suggestion and the abuse of the trust we give to the medical community and others.

The definition of 'suggestion' as used in the field of psychology is:
  • the process whereby the mere presentation of an idea to a receptive individual leads to the acceptance of that idea[1]
  • the process of inducing a thought, sensation, or action in a receptive person without using persuasion and without giving rise to reflection in the recipient[2] 
It is interesting to note that this word - 'suggestion' - comes from a Middle English word meaning "incitement to evil."[3] 


Fr. Frank Pavone, who visited Nathanson just last week, tells of a talk Dr. Nathanson gave in 1994. He was scheduled to address chemical abortion but instead changed his topic to the spiritual journey of a former abortionist - his own journey. He recounted how, as he began working with the pro-life movement, he began to find God through the love of those people and asked himself how they could care so much for the babies and their mothers whom they didn't even know. 

Being intellectually minded, he studied the history of Christianity and read the writings of the early Church Fathers. He reflected on the self-sacrificing love of the martyrs; he could see the consistency of Catholic teaching and practice over 20 centuries.

It is a truism that the closer we get to God, the more clearly we see our sins, and Dr. Bernard was no exception. He deeply regretted his involvement in the abortion movement for the rest of his life and did what he could to reverse the damage he'd done, becoming a top promoter of the culture of life. Forgiving himself wasn't easy. It took time, but he eventually learned to place himself in God's hands and trust in Christ's mercy. 

* Some of the information provided in this post is also taken from my notes on today's episode of the EWTN radio program Catholic Connection with host Teresa Tomeo in her segment with Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests For Life.  
[1] "suggestion." Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 22 Feb. 2011. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/suggestion>.

[2] "suggestion." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 22 Feb. 2011. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/suggestion>.

[3] Ibid.

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