Editor’s Note: A version of this article was published on American Thinker. Click here to read it.
Dr. Bernard Nathanson described himself as a man who “helped usher in this barbaric age” of abortion-on-demand, “the most atrocious holocaust in the history of the United States.” As one of the founders of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (now called NARAL), who admitted fabricating the numbers of illegal abortions and women killed from botched abortions, he paved the way for Roe v. Wade.
Yet his funeral was filled with pro-life activists. Respected pro-life stalwart Archbishop Timothy Dolan officiated. Joan Andrews Bell, a gentle woman who spent years in jail for peacefully blocking abortion clinics, read from Colossians 3, “Even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”
Years before, she chose the former abortion provider, responsible for more than 75,000 deaths as the director of the largest abortion facility in the world, to deliver her daughter.
Ultrasound helped him see what pro-lifers knew — the human being in the womb. He committed his last abortion in 1979.
Certain that it would convince others that abortion destroys a living being who can feel pain, he narrated the film “Silent Scream,” which showed the aborting of a 12-week-old baby. As the baby recoils from the deadly instruments and opens his mouth, Nathanson states, “This is the silent scream of a child threatened imminently with extinction.”
Ronald Reagan also hoped it would change minds and showed it in the White House.
In 1987, Nathanson directed, filmed and narrated “Eclipse of Reason.” He explains abortion procedures, shows the abortion of a five-month-old baby, and interviews women who had abortions. They describe how they were misled and were not informed of the complications that they would suffer.
The abortionist who made up lies to legitimize abortion, now spread the truth to save lives.
In 1996, his conversion to Truth was complete. The Jewish atheist became a Christian.
Science, reason, and human dignity changed his mind on abortion. Love transformed his heart toward God.
He wrote of his two conversions in his autobiography, “The Hand of God.” He reveals that earlier in his life, during his time in the Air Force, he attended a Bible study and “discovered that the New Testament God was a loving, forgiving, incomparably cosseting figure in whom I would seek, and ultimately find, the forgiveness that I have pursued so hopelessly, for so long.”
Pro-life demonstrators (like Joan Andrews Bell), willing to suffer scorn, jail, and bankruptcy, provided the visible witness of God. He marveled:
“They prayed, they supported, and encouraged each other, they sang hymns of joy, and they constantly reminded each other of the absolute prohibition against violence. They prayed for the unborn babies, for the confused and pregnant women, and for the doctors and nurses in the clinic. They even prayed for the police and media who were covering the event. And I wondered: how can these people give of themselves for a constituency that is (and always will be) mute, invisible, and unable to thank them?”
But he feared a culture that endorses abortion would lead to industrial euthanasia. “Drawing largely from my experience with a similar brand of pagan excess, I predict that entrepreneurs will set up multiple small, discreet infirmaries for those who wish, have been talked into, coerced into, or medically deceived into death. But that will only be the first phase. As the thanatoria flourish and expand into chains and franchised operations, the accountants will eventually assume command, slashing expenses and overheads as competition grows. The final streamlined, efficient, and economically flawless version of the thanatorium will resemble nothing so much as the assembly line factories that abortion clinics have become and — farther on down the slope — the ovens of Auschwitz.”
On February 21, 2011, he succumbed to cancer at age 84. Dr. Nathanson’s life is testimony of the power of God’s grace, the power of truth.
It is a profound encouragement that just as God created us, He can re-create any one of us, no matter the depth of our sin.