The murder of innocent children in Newtown, Conn., reminds us of how precious human life is. The late Dr. Bernard Nathanson, the abortionist and 1969 founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League, knew all about the sanctity of human life, and about death. In fact, he felt personally responsible for the deaths of 75,000 children. On a cold day in December 2009, I listened as he pondered the love, anticipation, joy and hope of the Christmas season. Jesus won the heart of this old doctor who had been a staunch activist for abortion in America. Contrasting his life lessons to what Jesus teaches us is appropriate for such a time as this, with the loss of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the celebration of the birth of Christ and the new year now upon us.
Nathanson wanted the message of Christ’s love to resonate across America: “Love one another; abortion is not love. Stop the killing.” In fact, he was “all about love” and believed that if America could realize how he had deceived her with his pro-abortion propaganda during the 1970s, the country could return to respecting the gift of life.
Of course, a change in our nation’s conscience will not start in the political realm because politics only reflect the culture. Nathanson had already methodically worked to change our culture. Later in his life, he hoped that Christ’s love would serve as the catalyst for an American revival.
Nathanson, himself a former abortionist, agreed with Mother Teresa that the “greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child.” America cannot have it both ways. Killing is not loving or peaceful. Preserving someone’s life is an act of love and restores the peace.
This is why we celebrate heroes, like the teachers in Connecticut, who saved the lives of their students. They recognized life is valuable. Mother Teresa, always profoundly logical, once said, “If we accept that the mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?” What have we been teaching our children since Roe v. Wade?
Nathanson believed that the images provided by the post-Roe v. Wade ultrasound technology offered a window on the womb and a new source of joy. This is the feeling parents experience when viewing their child for the first time, leaping, yawning or stretching. These clear images drastically altered Nathanson’s thinking. As he grew in his appreciation for life, Nathanson radiated joy, recognizing that life begins at the moment of conception.
Mary, mother of the Christ child, experienced tremendous joy when the Lord revealed her role as the virgin mother. She had every emotional reason to abort her child, including possible stoning, infuriating her fiance and abandonment, yet her joy in her pre-born son overflowed into words of praise. This same joy can be there for every mother looking at her ultrasound picture for the first time. Adoptive parents, too, experience Mary’s kind of joy. Children are a joyful blessing, even if they are not your own.
As we continue to mourn the murders of innocent children in Newtown, we must ask ourselves: What happens to a nation and its people when its laws are in direct disobedience to the Word of God? Can we confidently sing “God Bless America” and expect with joyful hearts His favored hand to be upon us? The Bible provides the answers for any reader interested. So far, the author has been very accurate.
Nathanson personally aborted his own baby many years ago. This violent act of self-centeredness left a big hole in his heart. Like King Herod, selfish and insecure, who sent out the order to kill babies in Bethlehem, many find themselves ensnared by the culture of death. Later in life, Nathanson was hopeful that Americans’ hardened hearts would be re-sensitized, their illogical thinking would be transformed into reasonable discourse, and they would finally be able to hear the cries of so many pre-born children.
Jesus, as he prepared to die for our sins, said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He conquered death and rose again to give us hope and abundant life. Isn’t it time to love the gift of life? Let’s make this new year a year to celebrate life once again.
Terry Beatley is president of Hosea Initiative.