Friday, March 9, 2012

The Intellectual Honesty of Bernard Nathanson

I have posted before about the life of Bernard Nathanson. He was a medical doctor who specialised in obstetrics and gynaecology, then went on to become proficient at abortion, and was one of the founding members of NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) in the US. He was the head of the largest abortion clinic in NYC in the late 60's and he says that he oversaw 75,000 abortions in his career, 5000 of which he performed himself.

Then he had a change of mind. He was not a religious man, but came to this change through the evidence presented by the new ultrasound technology in the field of obstetrics. He became convinced that the fetus in the womb was indeed a member of the human race, that it experienced pain during abortion, that it exhibited the will to survive that characterizes all human beings, and that abortion was the wilful termination of a fellow human being.

This realisation left him marginalised by the medical community. Over the course of some years, Nathanson also had a religious conversion to Christianity. He was moved most by the pro-life warriors that he met outside clinics, those souls that faced arrest and imprisonment for their dedication to the cause of life. And Nathanson eventually became a Roman Catholic, having begun his life as an orthodox Jewish boy who turned into an agnostic who spurned religion.

I have read his book Aborting America, which was written during his abortion years, and it is an amazing autobiography. But the story is not completed until he wrote The Hand of God, in which he tells more of his family history (something he could not write while as his father was still alive); and he describes his spiritual conversion as well.

I am brought to tears by this man's account; this is my second read of this book (and I am sure, won't be my last) and I have never read anything more transparent, more honest by anyone. I think I am moved so much by this because my own father was a medical doctor who was ruthlessly honest, a man who was driven in much the same way as Nathanson. He was not an abortionist, but he did have deep regrets about much of his life and those regrets arose out of the same character flaws as did Nathanson's. So this story hits close to home.

I highly recommend it to all pro-lifers, but I really recommend it to those who are pro-choice. Written by a man who has been on both sides of this debate, it tells a story that you won't hear anywhere else. And Nathanson's humility in telling the truth about himself is a characteristic that makes me stand in awe of his bravery.

After arranging for the abortion of his own child, Nathanson writes:

Lessons? Too many and too sad to rehash here. Suffice it to say that it served as my introductory excursion into the satanic world of abortion... (within a short time, he then performed an abortion on his second child).

What is it like to terminate the life of your own child? It was septic and clinical... The procedure went on without incident, and I felt a fleeting gratification that I had done my usual briskly efficient job and left the operating room while she was still struggling up from general anesthesia. As an integral part of the procedure, every abortionist must examine the material in the gauze bag to assure that all the pregnancy tissue has been evacuated... I peeled the bag open as was my custom, mentally gauged the amount of tissue and satisfied myself that it was proportionate to the length of the pregnancy; none had been left behind...

Yes, you may ask me: That was a concise terse report of what you did, but what did you feel? Did you not feel sad - not only because you had extinguished the life of an unborn child, but more, because you had destroyed your own child? I swear to you that I had no feelings aside from the sense of accomplishment, the pride of expertise. On inspecting the contents of the bag I felt only the satisfaction of knowing that I had done a thorough job. You pursue me: You ask if perhaps for a fleeting moment or so I experienced a flicker of regret, a microgram of remorse? No and no. And that, dear reader, is the mentality of the abortionist: another job well done, another demonstration of the moral neutrality of advanced technology in the hands of the amoral.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. - Hebrews 10:31

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