Since the passing of Roe v. Wade in 1973 some 50 million babies have been aborted in the U.S. and many women bear the emotional scars of decisions that were made in the heat of the moment without proper regard for long-range consequences.
She was one of those Northeastern society matrons who prided herself on her liberal attitudes, and disdained the conservative zeitgeist in which her inherited money had provided her with a safe cocoon. I can’t remember her name; but it oozed with New York upper crustiness. Somehow at some social function we got talking on the subject of abortion. Oh, yes, the thought that a woman’s right to abortion desperately needed protection, and because of that she was a national board member of Planned Parenthood and had been a founding member of NARAL (The National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws).
I then mentioned that I had once thought as she thought, though not as passionately. But I had changed. What caused me to change was reading a book by Bernard Nathanson entitled Aborting America. Did she know of the book?
Well, you would have thought that I had stepped on a land mine. Did she know it? Bernie Nathanson had been a colleague of hers in NARAL, and he had done “irreparable harm” to the cause by changing his views. Sensing that I was not to be one of her likely converts, the conversation ended as abruptly as it began.
But I went back and looked through the book I had mentioned to her and was shocked to discover that she, particularly, had come in for some less than flattering words by the author whom she so familiarly had called “Bernie.” His view was precisely that of my own: here was one of those well-meaning, idealistic know-nothings who had been recruited into the pro-choice ranks at some society soiree, and felt she was finally able to do some good to further the cause of unfortunate women who had to see some back-alley abortionist in order to rid themselves of an unwanted pregnancy.
I am not so stupid as to think that there are no sane arguments in favor of abortion – under certain extreme circumstances. “It must be legal, though it may or may not be moral” goes the argument. However, I’ve changed my view from a “go with the flow” attitude to one that favors a repeal of Roe v. Wade largely because Bernard Nathanson opened my eyes many years ago. Because of it I’ve been a board member of Anglicans for Life (formerly the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life) for a couple of decades, and my daughter once worked for the organization.
Nathanson had been one of the founding members of NARAL, was a tireless proponent of abortion-on-demand, had spoken widely in favor of liberal attitudes towards abortion, and had himself performed over 75,000 abortions without so much as blinking an eye.
Talk about a Saul of Tarsus!
But then he did an enormous turn-around. He began studying pre-natal life, and with the help of new EKG and ultrasound imagery discovered that the fetus was not a “thing” but a “person.” It was a full human being, with its own DNA, and increasingly with the ability to live outside the womb if absolutely necessary. This shocked his humanistic, atheistic Jewish heart and made him rethink his entire worldview.
He realized among other things that Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, had been an early supporter of eugenics, the pseudo science that is aimed at the improvement of human hereditary traits through the promotion of higher reproduction of certain people, and lower reproduction of other people. When Nazi Germany latched on to the idea and began exterminating undesirables, many starry-eyed followers began to pull back, including I presume Margaret Sanger. But the fact is that today, as Paul Greenberg, another pro-abortionist turned pro-life (see his op-ed piece in the Post and Courier, April 22, 2011) pointed out, 37% of the healthy babies that are aborted are black, though African-American women make up less than 13% of the U.S. population.
As Greenberg points out, since the passing of Roe v. Wade in 1973 some 50 million babies have been aborted in the U.S. and many women bear the emotional scars of decisions that were made in the heat of the moment without proper regard for long-range consequences. “Thou didst knit us together in our mother’s womb” said the Psalmist (139:13) undergirding the fundamental belief that our personhood is not a mere biological accident, but a purposeful action by the Creator himself.
As one might sadly expect, the Episcopal Church has consistently supported a woman’s right to abortion over all other considerations, and has strongly refused to support various right-to-life efforts from its own membership. One would have thought that if a secular, humanistic Jew could see the light, those who profess belief in the Triune God could too. But too many naïve society matrons have infiltrated the ranks of TEC to enable that kind of clear thinking to happen.
Bernard Nathanson died this year at 84, after having been baptized and received into the Roman Catholic Church. He courageously bucked the establishment that had welcomed him for many years, and showed many confused people like me that a fetus is not a thing, but a person.