Bernard Nathanson, abortion provider turned pro-life activist, dies
Dr. Bernard Nathanson, an obstetrician who estimated that he was involved in 75,000 abortions -- including one in the 1940s for his then-girlfriend, who had become pregnant with his child -- before he became a leading pro-life activist, died Monday of cancer in New York. He was 84.
Dr. Nathanson operated an abortion clinic in New York during the 1960s and 70s and helped found the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, now called NARAL Pro-Choice America, in 1969.
New ultrasound technology provided images, he said, that changed his mind about the morality of abortions. He performed his last such procedure in 1979 and became a high-profile anti-abortion lecturer and campaigner.
In the mid-1980s, Dr. Nathanson narrated "The Silent Scream," a film that shows the abortion of a three-month-old fetus in graphic detail and was screened at the White House by President Ronald Reagan.
Dr. Nathanson also produced "Eclipse of Reason," a film about late-term abortion, and wrote several books, including "Abortion Papers: Inside the Abortion Mentality" (1983) and the 1996 autobiography "The Hand of God."
"I know every facet of abortion," he wrote in his autobiography. "I helped nurture the creature in its infancy by feeding it great draughts of blood and money; I guided it through its adolescence as it grew fecklessly out of control."
Born into a Jewish family in New York, Dr. Nathanson converted to Catholicism in 1996. His wife, Christine Reisner-Nathanson, told the Associated Press that he had been vilified by both sides of the abortion debate:
"When he was an abortion doctor he was seen as a pariah by the medical community," she said, "and when he went pro-life he was scorned by the women in the pro-abortion movement."
A full obituary will be posted shortly.
| February 22, 2011; 9:39 AM ET
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