Yesterday, Bernard Nathanson died at the age of 84 after a difficult battle with cancer. As so many others, I had heard of Nathanson years ago when he released the video The Silent Scream, the photographic display of an early suction abortion. This is seen to be the turning point for Nathanson in his journey from pro-abort to pro-life. But his journey began years before; this was the last straw and, after that ultrasound, he only performed one more abortion in his career, and he felt obliged to do that for a friend.
Nathanson is one of my heroes. I felt as if I had come to know the man through his book The Hand of God, but it was reading Aborting America that made me really come to appreciate this extremely intelligent man (you just have to read his prose to see his writing skills). In many ways, he reminded me of my father, also a medical doctor and a very intelligent man who could run circles around people with his arguments. Both had very high principles and it was those principles that led Nathanson to the place where he dared to be brutally honest with himself. He admitted that abortion was taking human lives and he followed the consequence of that thought to a place not many go - to publicly admitting his wrongs, to working to advance the pro-life ideology, and to acknowledging his sin before his Creator.
I am deeply troubled by my own increasing certainly that I had in fact presided over 60,000 deaths. - Bernard Nathanson, Deeper into Abortion, New England Journal of Medicine, 1974
A few years ago, I thought the biography of Nathanson would make a wonderful movie and I even thought it was the story that only Mel Gibson could produce. Unfortunately Gibson himself battled his own personal demons and appears to have lost. Perhaps someone will write this story and produce such a movie, because many people would benefit from knowing the truth about the man who was so key to legalizing abortion in the USA and his subsequent conversion.
I pray that Bernard Nathanson finds the peace that he sought during his life and that he will enjoy the joy of heaven, surrounded by the forgiveness of those whose lives he took part in ending.