Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Bernard Nathanson, abortionist who became pro-life activist, dead at 84

Catholic World News - February 21, 2011

Bernard Nathanson, who was one of the leading figures in the abortion industry before he converted to the pro-life cause and the Catholic faith, died on February 21 in New York at the age of 84.

Nathanson estimated that he performed 5,000 abortions personally, and as director of busy abortion clinics he supervised more than 70,000 abortions. He was co-founder of the group now known as NARAL, and helped craft the arguments in favor of abortion on demand. But Nathanson experienced a profound change of heart, and eventually embraced the pro-life cause.

In 1985 the former abortionist produced The Silent Scream, a highly influential film that showed ultrasound images of the unborn child in the womb. Later, in his book Aborting America, he revealed how he and other abortion advocates had distorted facts— notably by concocting false statistics on the number of deaths from illegal abortion—in order to gain public acceptance of the practice. In later years he expressed profound remorse for his participation both in the destruction of unborn children and in the propaganda campaign to promote the abortion industry. “I am one of those who helped usher in this barbaric age,” he confessed.

In a later book, his 1996 autobiography The Hand of God, Nathanson recounted the next step in his dramatic conversion: his entrance into the Catholic Church. He was baptized that year by Cardinal John O’Connor of New York. His godmother was Joan Andrews Bell, who had once spent more than a year in prison—much of it in solitary confinement—for her involvement in non-violent efforts to blockade abortion clinics.

Additional sources for this story
Some links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Progress toward our August expenses ($21,612 to go):
$35,000.00 $13,388.44
62% 38%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Feb. 22, 2011 10:46 AM ET USA

    I listened to Dr. Nathanson's testimony years ago. He grew up in a family without God, and his journey to the Truth that is Jesus Christ was very inspiring. May he rest in peace, which eluded him for so much of his life.

Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

An unexpected surge in confessions? 23 hours ago
The Problem with Catholic Social Teaching August 21
In Iraq, the Pope has good reason to seek intervention, but fear unilateral US action August 20
As Catholic News Unfolds... August 19
An Iraqi archbishop's warning to the West August 19

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
‘A real via crucis’: Pope Francis, patriarch plead on behalf of Iraq’s Christians CWN - August 8
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians in flight as Islamic State advances CWN - August 8