Bernard Nathanson

Former abortionist and NARAL co-founder Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who turned his back on the abortion industry to recognize the value of the unborn, has died at the age of 84 of cancer in New York.

Nathanson, who began his career as an obstetrician, committed his first abortion on a woman carrying his own child and went on to claim responsibility for ending the lives 75,000 children.

In 1969, he co-founded the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, later renamed the National Abortion Rights Action League.

Nathanson spoke many times about the propaganda that he and other zealots used to decriminalize abortion.

He said, “In NARAL, we generally emphasized the drama of the individual case, not mass statistics. But when we spoke of the latter, it was always ‘5,000 to 10,000 deaths [of women due to back-alley abortions] year.’ I confess I knew the figures were totally false and I suppose the others did too.”

After much plotting by abortion advocates and lawmakers, in 1970 New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, a Republican, signed a law quashing the state’s longtime abortion restrictions.

Thus, Nathanson became director of the Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health in Manhattan, which he declared the “largest abortion clinic in the Western world.”

In 1973, the Supreme Court decriminalized abortion nationwide and the abortion industry grew exponentially.

Yet Nathanson’s memoir, “The Hand of God,” reveals that his life as an abortionist was miserable.

For example, he was treated as a pariah by other doctors and sought to end his misery as chief of obstetrics at St. Luke’s Hospital, where he continued committing abortions.

In the documentary “Blood Money,” Nathanson describes one of the steps that eventually led to his conversion: “I conscripted a fellow gynecologist who was doing abortions at that time, to put an ultrasound transducer on the abdomen of women who were having abortions, which depicted the fetus being chased by the abortionist, uh and ultimately killed, sucked out and decimated.

“The result was a tape of a fetus being attacked by the abortionist from below, while we filmed from above. In other words, at the top of the, of the uterus. And the results of this film were so ghastly and hideous; it actually showed the fetus being torn apart in living color. This was not ultrasound black and white, but this was living color,” said Nathanson.

In 1984, Dr. Nathanson produced and narrated “The Silent Scream,” which shows the violence of abortion. The film can be viewed for free at

In the movie, he explains: “I have had a passing experience in matters of abortion. Now, when I was a medical student in 1949, we had no such science as fetology. We were taught that the unborn child, the fetus, was something in the uterus. But it was really an article of faith as to whether or not it was a human being. And whether or not that human being had any unique personal qualities. But the whole story has changed since the 1970s. It was at that time that the science of fetology exploded in the medical community. It exploded by means of the introduction of great new medical technologies, such as ultrasound imaging, fetology, electronic fetal heart monitoring, hysteroscopy, radio immunochemistry and a host of other dazzling technologies which today constitute in fact the corpus of the science of fetology.”

This film, along with Dr. Nathanson’s many speeches and articles, helped to advance the pro-life cause to the point where sonograms are common practice today.

Years after pro-life witnesses protested his work and prayed for his conversion, in December 1996, Dr. Nathanson was baptized, received his first Holy Communion, and was confirmed by Cardinal Joseph O’Connor at a private Mass under St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

The pro-life luminaries at Nathanson’s reception of the sacraments included his godmother and activist Joan Andrews Bell, his confirmation sponsor Chris Slattery of EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers, his instructor and friend Father C. John McCloskey, Father Richard John Neuhaus of “First Things,” Father Paul Marx of Human Life International, and Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship ministries.

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