Abortionist Bernard Nathanson turned pro-life activist (part 2)

This is such a great video series “The Silent Scream.” I have never seen it until now and I wish I had seen it 30 years ago.  Take a look at the video clip below.

I wanted to pass along a portion of the excellent article “Bernard Nathanson: A Life Transformed by the Truth about Abortion.” (Feb 11, 2011)

LifeNews.com Note: Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics and previously served on the United States Commission on Civil Rights. This article previously appeared in Public Discourse:

In the mid-1960s, with the sexual revolution roaring after Alfred Kinsey’s fraudulent but influential “scientific” studies of sex and sexuality in America, Hugh Hefner’s aggressive campaign to legitimize pornography and, perhaps above all, the wide distribution of the anovulant birth control pill, Nathanson became a leader in the movement to overturn laws prohibiting abortion. He co-founded the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL), which later became the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and is now NARAL Pro-Choice America. Its goal was to remove the cultural stigma on abortion, eliminate all meaningful legal restraints on it, and make it as widely available as possible across the nation and, indeed, the globe.

To achieve these goals, Nathanson would later reveal, he and fellow abortion crusaders pursued dubious and in some cases straightforwardly dishonest strategies.

First, they promoted the idea that abortion is a medical issue, not a moral one. This required persuading people of the rather obvious falsehood that a normal pregnancy is a natural and healthy condition if the mother wants her baby, and a disease if she does not. The point of medicine, to maintain and restore health, had to be recast as giving health care consumers what they happen to want; and the Hippocratic Oath’s explicit prohibition of abortion had to be removed. In the end, Nathanson and his collaborators succeeded in selling this propaganda to a small but extraordinarily powerful group of men: in the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade,seven Supreme Court justices led by Harry Blackmun, former counsel to the American Medical Association, invalidated virtually all state laws providing meaningful protection for unborn children on the ground that abortion is a “private choice” to be made by women and their doctors.

Second, Nathanson and his friends lied–relentlessly and spectacularly–about the number of women who died each year from illegal abortions. Their pitch to voters, lawmakers, and judges was that women are going to seek abortion in roughly equal numbers whether it is lawful or not. The only effect of outlawing it, they claimed, is to limit pregnant women to unqualified and often uncaring practitioners, “back alley butchers.” So, Nathanson and others insisted, laws against abortion are worse than futile: they do not save fetal lives; they only cost women’s lives.

Now some women did die from unlawful abortions, though factors other than legalization, especially the development of antibiotics such as penicillin, are mainly responsible for reducing the rate and number of maternal deaths. And of course, the number of unborn babies whose lives were taken shot up dramatically after Nathanson and his colleagues achieved their goals; and they achieved them, in part, by claiming that the number of illegal abortions was more than ten times higher than it actually was.

Third, the early advocates of abortion deliberately exploited anti-Catholic animus among liberal elites and (in those days) many ordinary Protestants to depict opposition to abortion as a “religious dogma” that the Catholic hierarchy sought to impose on others in violation of their freedom and the separation of church and state. Nathanson and his friends recognized that their movement needed an enemy–a widely suspected institution that they could make the public face of their opposition; a minority, but one large and potent enough for its detractors to fear.

Despite the undeniable historical fact that prohibitions of abortion were rooted in English common law and reinforced and expanded by statutes enacted across the United States by overwhelmingly Protestant majorities in the 19th century, Nathanson and other abortion movement leaders decided that the Catholic Church was perfect for the role of freedom-smothering oppressor. Its male priesthood and authority structure would make it easy for them to depict the Church’s opposition to abortion as misogyny, for which concern to protect unborn babies was a mere pretext. The Church’s real motive, they insisted, was to restrict women’s freedom in order to hold them in positions of subservience.

Fourth, the abortion movement sought to appeal to conservatives and liberals alike by promoting feticide as a way of fighting poverty. Why are so many people poor? It’s because they have more children than they can afford to care for. What’s the solution? Abortion. Why do we have to spend so much money on welfare? It’s because poor, mainly minority, women are burdening the taxpayer with too many babies. The solution? Abortion. Initially, Nathanson himself believed that legal abortion and its public funding would reduce out-of-wedlock childbearing and poverty, though (as he later admitted) he continued to promote this falsehood after the sheer weight of evidence forced him to disbelieve it.

______________________________

Nathanson later in his life became a pro-life advocate.In 1985, Nathanson employed the new fetal imaging technology to produce a documentary film, “The Silent Scream,” which energized the pro-life movement and threw the pro-choice side onto the defensive by showing in graphic detail the killing of a twelve-week-old fetus in a suction abortion. Nathanson used the footage to describe the facts of fetal development and to make the case for the humanity and dignity of the child in the womb. At one point, viewers see the child draw back from the surgical instrument and open his mouth: “This,” Nathanson says in the narration, “is the silent scream of a child threatened imminently with extinction.” 

Publicity for “The Silent Scream” was provided by no less a figure than President Ronald Reagan, who showed the film in the White House and touted it in speeches. 

The Silent Scream part 2


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