FridayLife is a weekly opinion column which appears on the ProLife NZ blog every Friday morning.
Earlier this week I came across a blog run by a group of staunch pro-abortionists, many of whom appear to have actually, at one time or another, been paid workers in abortion clinics (think of the seedy clinic from Juno).
They call themselves ‘abortioneers’ – I guess this verbal gymnastic is meant to be an attempt at glamorizing and legitimizing the cold brutality of killing unborn persons and risking harm to their mothers in the process.
Late last week one of the regular contributors to that blog posted what I think is a very telling, and actually quite a tragic, insight into the mindset of someone who has earned a living via the nasty ugliness of abortion, and who now continues to aid that evil in a voluntary service capacity.
The author starts by discussing how, in her experience, paid abortion workers often form little communities to support each other in their work as the practitioners of death on demand.
Reading her sentiments I couldn’t help but think of the movie Good, and how the main character in that film had become totally blinded to the true reality of the vile evil that was happening around him, and more importantly, to the fact that he had actually become complicit in that grave evil.
I would also suggest that all people of goodwill should be extremely concerned with statements such as:
“I also think it is because we are like a group of soldiers serving in this war we wage (reproductive access for all!), and the best way to process our PTSD is together.”
Obviously the implicit violence of the sentiments expressed here is troubling, I mean, who exactly are the enemies in this ‘war’ that these abortionists wage – are the unborn babies enemies to be destroyed, or are those who choose life the enemies while the innocent unborn babies are merely collateral damage?
What I found most intriguing was the second part of this statement referring to the effects of working in the abortion industry as ‘PSTD”, or post traumatic stress disorder.
Even if such a sentiment is mere hyperbole (and at face value it appears to be just that) surely the use of PTSD is an interesting choice of metaphor that points to something deeper, something not admitted, something gnawing away at the conscience of these people who participate in the abortion industry, much like a group of SS officers gathering together to process the the ‘PSTD’ of their work in a Nazi concentration camp.
I don’t know of too many gall bladder surgeons or people who work in eye clinics who need to gather together and form inward focused little communities in order to process their daily work activities, and support each other through these.
Surely such support is only necessary when one is engaged in the type of work that normal people don’t like to talk about, let alone even think is happening in pristinely painted white buildings in their cities.
The whole tone of this article betrays a totally flawed understanding of what true compassion and charity is really truly all about.
Actively participating in, or helping to facilitate, the death of another innocent human being is never an act of charity or compassion, even if you do use compassionate descriptors when talking of that act.
Just consider the highly charged and emotive language of martyrdom being used here in an attempt to sell the idea that aiding in an abortion is actually a compassionate, charitable and even heroic thing to do…
“While I love the opportunity to host women, every time I host I am opening my home up to the unknown. I am directly confronted with abortion in my personal safe haven. I recognize how vulnerable I am by bringing women into my self-created refuge. Most women are scared and alone and vulnerable themselves and I risk my own emotional well-being every time I answer that call from our Phone Coordinator telling me that a woman needs a place to stay for a night or two.”
If they could speak for themselves, I wonder what the unborn victims of abortion would say to this blogger?
Somehow I doubt they’d be apologizing for causing inconvenience and emotional disturbance to those who helped to bring about their unjust death rather than showing true compassion to them and their mothers by doing everything in their power to provide practical and emotional support to women in crisis-pregnancy.
As the Elliot Institute’s latest promotion so aptly puts it…
“Extremely distressed, tears streaming down my face, stifling the sobs that were now coming, I signed the papers [at the abortion clinic]… Alone, in a strange place, I was in a crisis situation, obviously distressed… a box of Kleenex was the extent of the counsel I received.”
No; offering a pregnant mother an abortion isn’t even close to an act of charity or compassion, and even suggestions of such offers being misguided and deluded charity start to ring hollow when you realize that the people promoting this ‘compassionate’ solution are earning money by carrying out this solution.
This is the true reality of the culture of death, which doesn’t just claim innocent human beings as its victims but also conscience, sound reason and willingness to accept the true reality of the actions we are engaged in.
Just consider how different, and how truly tragic and horrifying, the final sentences from our Abortioneer blogger become when ‘abortion’ is substituted with another but equally as accurate noun…
“I literally have brought [killing] home. Into my serenity, my peace, my den of cleanliness and order.
I think about how [killing] is now a part of the most personal and private arena of my life. I can’t leave the clinic or say goodbye to coworkers at a happy hour and escape [killing] by heading home. My home has welcomed [killing].”
In the now famous words of Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler’s chief architect and former Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich:
“One seldom recognizes the devil when he has his hand on your shoulder.”
An unlikely hero of human dignity died earlier this year, a doctor who once performed thousands of abortions.
Earlier this year when we were picking up Bryan Kemper from Auckland Airport for the ProLife NZ tour, Bernard Moran from Voice for Life told us of the last time he had served as chauffeur from the same airport for a big pro-life personality from the US – Bernard Nathanson. He remembered how excited Nathanson and his wife were to be to meet New Zealand’s world renowned “Father of Foetology” and co-founder of the pro-life movement in New Zealand, Sir William Liley.
Here is an excellent summary of his life from Carolyn Moynihan at Mercatornet.
If you would like to know more about Nathanson, we have a few copies of his biography Hand of God - leave a message on the ProLife NZ Facebook page and we can loan you a copy.
During four decades of the abortion wars in the United States there has been much traffic across the battle lines. Many who should have been on the pro-life side positioned themselves in the opposite ranks — the deceptively named Catholics for a Free Choice is the prime example. This was the easy path, a case of going with the cultural flow under the influence of leading institutions in the media and political life.
Defections from the pro-abortion side, however, have been much more significant, not to mention heroic. Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” plaintiff of the 1973 Supreme Court case which issued in the legalising of abortion throughout the US, became a high profile opponent of abortion and eventually petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn its Roe v Wade decision. Many others have followed her in the public renunciation of the killing of unborn children, most recently Abby Johnson, a young Planned Parenthood clinic operator from Texas, whose story was published last month.
But no convert to the pro-life cause comes near in prominence or influence to Dr Bernard Nathanson, one of the original abortion rights campaigners, who died on Monday at the age of 84. Dr Nathanson, did as much as anyone to launch abortion as a regular means of birth control, but for that very reason he also did more to discredit it once he faced the truth about this “procedure” and began to write and speak against it.
Culture wars — those that matter — are always about truth. As an obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Nathanson knew that there was a living human being in the womb of a pregnant woman but he turned his face against this scientific fact — in the first instance, perhaps, because abortion assisted his own lifestyle. At college in the 1940s he got his girlfriend pregnant and used money from his father to pay for her (illegal) abortion. “It served as my introduction into the satanic world of abortion,” he later wrote. After settling in New York he got another girlfriend pregnant and decided to abort the child — his child too — himself. How often denial of the truth is motivated by one’s own misdeeds!
The fact that many people were doing botched illegal abortions provided another excuse for the legalisation campaign that Dr Nathanson became caught up in during the late 1960s. “Illegal abortion was in 1967 the number one killer of pregnant women,” he wrote. Justifications paved the way for lies. In Aborting America (1979) he admitted:
We aroused enough sympathy to sell our program of permissive abortion by fabricating the number of illegal abortions done annually in the U.S. The actual figure was approaching 100,000 but the figure we gave to the media repeatedly was 1,000,000. Repeating the big lie often enough convinces the public. The number of women dying from illegal abortions was around 200-250 annually. The figure we constantly fed to the media was 10,000. These false figures took root in the consciousness of Americans convincing many that we needed to crack the [anti] abortion law.
Another lie — one that is told wherever abortion is promoted — was perpetrated by the name, Centre for Reproductive and Sexual Health, given to the New York abortion clinic where, from 1970 to 1972, Dr Nathanson, as director and by his own account, “presided over 60,000 deaths”. The “health” claim in the now numbingly familiar phrase, “sexual and reproductive health”, presumably is based on providing abortions which don’t kill women, but it is entirely cancelled out by the 100 per cent death rate for unborn children.
What brought the abortion “rights” crusader to change his mind — and, more importantly, his heart? Partly it was peer pressure: because of his public profile as an abortionist he began to be treated as a pariah in legitimate medical circles and received fewer obstetrical referrals. Surely, even at that early stage, it was also the fervour of the right-to-life movement that sprang up in opposition to the abortion campaign — although he deplored the “blind polarity” and “screaming placards” of both groups in an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1974.
In that article, however, Dr Nathanson expressed his misgivings about abortion and the “cry” used to justify it: “that nothing can be human life that cannot exist independently”. There was no longer, he said, “serious doubt in my mind that human life exists within the womb from the very onset of pregnancy…” Why? Because technology was making liars of everyone who held otherwise:
Electrocardiographic evidence of heart function has been established in embryos as early as six weeks. Electroencephalographic recordings of human brain activity have been noted in embryos at eight weeks. Our capacity to measure signs of life is daily becoming more sophisticated, and as time goes by, we will doubtless be able to isolate life signs at earlier and earlier stages in fetal development.
He performed his last abortion in 1979.
If pro-life activists were the first witnesses to the truth about the unborn child to Dr Nathanson, technology was the other great witness. Ultrasound imaging was developing rapidly and it was images of the child in the womb that eventually convinced him that a true human being is killed in abortion. Using real-time ultrasound images in 1985 he made the famous and electrifying short film, The Silent Scream, showing 12-week child shrinking away from the abortionist’s instruments. In 1987 he produced another film, Eclipse of Reason, showing a late term (five months) abortion in its gruesome and morally shocking detail. The latter film includes testimonies from several ex-abortionists.
Introducing “Eclipse of Reason”, actor Charlton Heston pointed out that more than 20 million abortions had been carried out in the US since 1973. Yet, despite the importance of the issue and the huge public debate about it, a complete abortion had never been shown on television. The media had failed to do what they said was their job: to inform the public — in this case about the facts of abortion.
Today, anyone can watch Dr Nathanson’s and other abortion videos on YouTube, but has any major television network yet shown such pictures? Even displaying graphic posters gets pro-life demonstrators into trouble, as though they were committing an obscenity themselves rather than the people who did the killing. There is a conspiracy among institutions to hide the truth, as Dr Nathanson himself observed.
His own efforts to correct the lies were untiring. In addition to his films there were books — notably, Aborting America (1979) — and speaking tours around the world. As he lost friends in the abortion movement and amongst former colleagues, he found new ones in the pro-life movement.
Joan Andrews, an ardent advocate for the unborn child who served more than a year in jail for blocking abortion clinic entrances, was particularly close. She was over 40 before she married Chris Bell and when she conceived, a friend tells me, she “asked Dr Nathanson to look after her pre-natal care. It was a big statement for someone like Joan to have a former abortionist caring for her own baby. I think the trust and confidence she showed in Dr Nathanson helped him to forgive himself for all the harm he had done to mothers and babies.”
He always accused himself before anybody else: “I am one of those who helped usher in this barbaric age,” he wrote in The Hand of God. And, “I know every facet of abortion. 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.”
The New York Times quotes the latter sentence as an example of Dr Nathanson’s tendency to paint himself in “lurid colours” — as though it was merely a rhetorical device to make the audience gasp. Everything else, however, points to his deep sincerity and even heroism in completely turning his ideas and his life around. He has earned the right to be counted among the heroes of human dignity.