After coming to terms with the reality of abortion, the co-founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (which has since been renamed to NARAL Pro-Choice America) became fiercely pro-life only a few months after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.
NARAL is one of the oldest and largest abortion activist groups in America. Founded in 1969, NARAL contributed rigorous pro-choice momentum to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Only a few months after the decision, NARAL’s co-founder and medical spokesperson, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, began a long and painful journey coming to terms with the fact that he had been incredibly wrong about abortion. Nathanson spent the rest of his life dedicated to exposing NARAL’s language distortion, lies, and deceptive strategies that have misled so many Americans into calling themselves “pro-choice.”
As an OB-GYN, Dr. Nathanson claimed responsibility for 60,000 abortions, including those performed by Planned Parenthood abortionists whom he trained. He began to grapple with the dark reality of killing children soon after he viewed a real-time ultrasound. In a 1974 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, he wrote, “I am deeply troubled by my own increasing certainty that I had in fact presided over 60,000 deaths.”
Dr. Nathanson was so troubled that he even attempted to take his own life. Thankfully, he befriended a Catholic priest who led him into a relationship with God. In 1996, he was baptized and confirmed into the Catholic Church. Nathanson wrote several books including The Hand of God: A Journey from Death to Life by the Abortion Doctor who Changed his Mind, and made documentaries including Eclipse of Reason and The Silent Scream. Until the time of his death at age 84, Dr. Nathanson tried to convince the world of the truth about abortion. On his deathbed, he instructed his friend Terry Beatley to tell Americans how and why he deceived the American Courts and public.
The Jargon of “Choice”
NARAL developed deceptive strategies in the 1960s that still loom large to this day in American colloquial discourse. Because referring to abortion as “the right to kill your unborn baby” is distasteful to the human heart, Dr. Nathanson admitted that NARAL intentionally crafted new language and slogans to make abortion sound more agreeable. NARAL framed the debate to be about the “choice” to stay pregnant. This same language of “choice” is used ubiquitously today. Interestingly, pregnant women used to always be referred to as “with child,” and it is telling that we have largely abandoned that preposition in the English language today.
Lie, Lie, Lie
Dr. Nathanson took advantage of his accolades, knowing that he could fabricate facts and figures because the public would trust him as a medical doctor. Over-calculated statistics today stem from Dr. Nathanson’s lies. In The Hand of God: A Journey from Death to Life by the Abortion Doctor Who Changed His Mind, Nathanson exposes the fabricated statistics that bolstered Roe v. Wade. According to his confessions, in the 1960s, he claimed that there were one million illegal abortions being done annually and that 5,000-10,000 women died from them every year. Nathanson later admitted that the actual figures were 98,000 illegal abortions and around 250 women that died annually. To put this in perspective, he confessed to over-estimating by over 1,000 percent the number of illegal abortions, and by 4,000 percent the number of women who died.
Another false statistic that Dr. Nathanson propagated around the time of the Roe v. Wade decision was that 60 percent of Americans wanted abortion-on-demand to be legal. In reality, this number was around 50 percent. To this day, despite 50 years of pro-choice propaganda dominating the mainstream media and Hollywood, this figure has remained largely unchanged.
Manipulate the Catholics
The Catholic Church has always held that life begins at conception and therefore opposes abortion. Known as “The Catholic Strategy,” a deadly political maneuver to sustain the abortion industry, Dr. Nathanson admitted that NARAL specifically preyed on and deceived Catholic politicians into supporting legalized abortion, which made it easier to convince non-Catholics to stomach the idea.
NARAL convinced Catholic leaders that they could remain “personally pro-life,” but could still vote for politicians who were pro-choice. Dr. Nathanson called this “the most brilliant strategy of all time.” Any time a Catholic politician softened their stance on abortion, NARAL emphasized the fact and blamed the Catholic Church for any woman’s death from an illegal abortion.
Abortion is Not Love
On his deathbed, Dr. Nathanson begged Terry Beatley to deliver his personal parting message: “Tell America that the co-founder of NARAL says to love one another. Abortion is not love. Stop the killing. The world needs more love. I’m all about love now.”
Beatley has honored his request by launching an educational nonprofit called the Hosea Initiative, and writing What If We’ve Been Wrong? The book exposes the abortion industry for exploiting women, killing children, having racist roots, and being inextricably connected with the deception of women.
In Dr. Nathanson’s resignation letter from NARAL in 1975, he stated:
“The annual dues to NARAL are ten dollars and the hubris of certainty. Regretfully, I can no longer meet those dues.”
Lauren Kaylor is an intern for Life, Culture, and Women’s Advocacy at Family Research Council.