Former abortion doctor who became pro-life dies

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It was the ultrasounds.

First, they changed him. Then a particular one persuaded him to become a public crusader.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson changed his convictions from pro-choice to pro-life as far back in 1979, when the first generation of ultrasounds convinced a man, a self-described “Jewish atheist” who was one of America’s leading abortionists, that he was killing unborn children.

But then came the one in 1984. Dr. Nathanson stared at the ultrasound screen at the moving child inside the womb. Then the ultrasound image abruptly shifted, and the child opened its mouth, as if in fear. In a matter of minutes, the child was gone.

He went on to share this footage, recorded by a colleague performing the abortion, with the world, in a film called “The Silent Scream” and become a leading figure in the fight against abortion.

Dr. Nathanson died last week at age 84 — a towering figure in the pro-life movement, who in an earlier life had been responsible for more than 75,000 abortions, had co-founded what is now NARAL Pro-Choice America and had directed New York City’s Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health formerly the biggest abortion provider in the Western world.

“Our movement mourns the passing of one of its greatest voices for life,” Lila Rose of Live Action, an organization focused on exposing crimes in Planned Parenthood clinics, told Life News last week. “Dr. Nathanson is a testament to Gods grace, that any heart can be transformed into a beacon of love and truth.”

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York will celebrate the funeral Mass for Dr. Nathanson at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The homily will be given by the Rev. Gerald Murray of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Manhattan.

“He’s a monumental figure in the fight to end abortion in the United States and even the world,” said Father Murray in an interview with The Washington Times. Father Murray had been bringing Communion to Dr. Nathanson up until the end of his life.

Dr. Nathanson exposed the deceptions and propaganda of the pro-abortion movement since he was part of it, and rejected all of it,” Father Murray said.

Dr. Nathanson’s journey from the abortion industry to pro-life activism paved the way for such other activists as nurse Jill Stanek and Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson.

Ms. Stanek said that even though she never met Dr. Nathanson, she honors him as a very important pro-life figure.

“His was a remarkable journey,” she wrote on her blog, “an abortionist who committed 75,000 abortions, reaching the upper echelons of influence in the early days of the pro-abortion movement, going on to convert to pro-life.”

Dr. Nathanson’s life traversed America’s religious divides as well as those over abortion.

Religion was not a significant part of Dr. Nathanson’s earlier life he had grown up in a secular Jewish home, and his father would routinely undermine the religious teachings provided at his son’s Hebrew school.

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