Abortion remains one of the most controversial topics of our time. But the facts about it are clear—and they are coming from surprising sources.
Abortion is one of the most contentious topics of our generation, yet at the heart of all the rancor and debate are truths that cannot be denied
This article is the first in a two-part series exploring the plain and simple truth about abortion, including rarely heard comments from those who have played some of the most critical, “inside” roles in the abortion industry.
Children and grandchildren are blessings from God. If you doubt that, just ask anyone who never experienced that first moment following birth, when tiny fingers and toes are carefully counted. You can ask me, because I’m in that category. My wife and I are going on 49 years together. We planned to have children, but sometimes life just doesn’t work out the way you plan it. But for some others, children are seen as an unwanted burden to be avoided at all costs—even if it means that they must choose to have an abortion.
If there is one subject most politicians want to avoid, it’s abortion. The abortion issue is a no-win situation for them since, no matter which side they support, they will alienate a large segment of voters. It’s a contentious issue with deep emotions on both sides, but abortion should not be about votes. Abortion is a life and death issue, and is a painful topic for many women who have come to regret a decision they made early in life, a decision often made under stress: stress due to outside pressures, stress due to fear of the future, and stress dealing with a problem to which there seem to be no easy answers. What appeared to be a good solution to a sticky situation at age 17 may not seem so simple at age 37. And as hard as it is for a 17-year-old to believe, age 37 does happen—and for quite a few, feelings of regret eventually bubble to the surface.
Now before I continue, let me assure you that the purpose of this Tomorrow’s World article is not condemnation, but education and help. Abortions have caused many regrets, not only to the women who have had them, but also, as we shall see from this article, to some of the very people promoting and performing them. While this isn’t written to condemn, that doesn’t mean that right and wrong are discarded. Right and wrong exist, and someday we will all have to answer for the decisions we make.
This subject remains as contentious today as it was 40 years ago, and it affects many women (and men) around the world. The U.K. made aborting fetuses under the age of 24 weeks legal with the Abortion Act of 1967. The United States legalized abortion with the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. And abortion became legal in Canada in 1988, when Canada’s Supreme Court struck down a nearly 100-year-old law prohibiting it. Similar decisions exist in many countries around the world. In some places, boys are prized, while girls are discarded. How does that support women’s rights to choose? Yet, abortion remains highly disputed in many countries in spite of laws making it legal to end the life of an unborn child.
Western media often portray anti-abortion people as religious fanatics or as angry protesters screaming in people’s faces. That is only marginally true. One would think, based on media reports, that the overwhelming majority believe it is morally okay to end the life of an unborn child. But is that in fact true? No, it is not! For example, here is only one factual quote that will no doubt surprise many, coming from a source that may be even more surprising.
Kirsten Powers is a journalist, television commentator, and a self-proclaimed liberal who embraces most liberal causes, but, in her book The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech, she points out: “It’s worth noting that while university administrators and student government groups appear to embrace the pro-abortion rights agenda, the same shouldn’t be assumed for all college students. A 2011 Thomson Reuters poll for NPR found that among Americans under thirty-five, 65.5 percent believed ‘having an abortion is wrong,’ the highest percent of any age group (it was 57 percent for those between thirty-five and sixty-four, and 60.9 percent for those older than sixty-four)” (p. 170).
According to this well-respected polling agency commissioned by the liberal American National Public Radio, nearly two-thirds of Millennials think having an abortion is wrong. Powers next gives the polling results of what she, as a liberal, admits is a left-of -center polling agency, and therefore results might be slanted a bit to the left. While the numbers are significantly different, they are still surprising in terms of pro-life support: “The left-leaning Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) reported in 2011 that ‘Millennials are conflicted about the morality of abortion,’ with 50 percent saying they don’t think having an abortion is morally acceptable” (Powers, p. 170).
I personally researched polling data regarding support, or the lack thereof. Polls vary from country to country, from month to month, from year to year, and most importantly, from how the questions are framed, one agency or poll to another. I heartily agree with Kirsten Powers’ conclusion regarding these polls: “At a minimum though, it shows that groups like Voice for Life [a pro-life organization] do not represent a fringe view, except to the illiberal left” (Powers, p. 170).
If polls are correct, in 2012 Canadians favored unrestricted abortion by 60%, but consider what unrestricted means. Did those responding to the poll really understand what they were agreeing to? If there are no restrictions, it means that one could abort an eight-month baby! Is that what they really believe? A National Post article pointed out that this may have been more about Canadians showing their independence in light of an opposite trend in the United States. And of course, how the questions are asked has a lot to do with the final results of a poll. Whatever the reason, it is difficult to believe that 60% of Canadians favour unrestricted abortion under all circumstances and at all stages, especially in the last trimester, but if so, Canadians are not representative of the rest of the world.
In both Britain and America, a much larger percentage support abortion in the first trimester (that is, the first twelve weeks). Support drops dramatically for the second trimester, and is extremely unfavourable during the final three months of pregnancy. While the U.K. allows legal abortions up to 24 weeks, a majority of Britons believe this should be lowered to twelve weeks.
Perhaps millennials understand more than previous generations about what takes place inside the womb and that is why, according to a number of polls, a majority of them are anti-abortion. The Baby Centre, a popular U.K. website, can take you through the whole process week-by-week, describing your baby at each stage. Here is what it says at only ten weeks: “Your baby is now officially a fetus! She’s poised for growth and will more than double in size in the next three weeks. Your baby is now swallowing and kicking, and all her major organs are fully developed. More minute details are appearing too, such as fingernails and a little fuzz of hair on her head. Your baby’s sex organs are beginning to show. At your dating scan, which should happen soon, you may be able to tell whether you’re going to have a boy or a girl” (“Your Pregnancy at 10 Weeks.” BabyCentre.co.uk, November, 2016).
Isn’t it interesting that when you want to have it, it’s called a baby, but when someone doesn’t want it, it’s described as unviable tissue mass, a product of conception, or a blood clot?
Jessica Baldwin, a journalist at Al Jazeera English, describes research taking place at University College in London. They are working there with an extremely high-resolution ultrasound prototype, tiny flexible tubes, and robotic hands to do very delicate surgery inside the womb. Doctors can detect birth defects as early as twelve weeks, and up until now they could offer little help, but they are working to change that. Dr. Anna David describes what they hope to achieve: “Whereas if you had just a very fine needle you’d be able to actually treat the baby and the woman wouldn’t go into labour early and the outcome would be better” (“New Tools Help Advance Keyhole Womb Surgery.” AlJazeera.com, December 27, 2015).
Notice again that while it’s technically called a fetus, doctors treating one at twelve weeks refer to it as a baby—because that’s what it is! David Kupelian is the author of The Marketing of Evil, and in his book, he has an especially good section on this subject, with confessions from the very people who were once a part of the abortion industry. He quotes men and women who freely admit that for some it was all about money and how they were trained to “sell” an abortion to any woman who came to them. Carol Everett, who at one time ran five abortion clinics, describes some of the inner workings. She explains that when patients came looking for information, “They were not told about the development of the baby, or about the pain that the baby would be experiencing, or about the physical or emotional effects the abortion would have on them” (Kupelian, p. 196).
Ms. Everett went on to explain that there were two questions the girls always asked: “Will it hurt, and is it a baby?” The answer they were given to the second question is revealing. “‘No,’ would come the answer, ‘it’s a product of conception,’ or ‘it’s a blood clot,’ or ‘it’s a piece of tissue.’ They don’t even call it a fetus, because that almost humanizes it too much, but it’s never a baby” (Kupelian, p. 196).
She next describes what she calls the “two standard reactions in the recovery room” following an abortion: “The first is: ‘I’ve killed my baby.’ It amazed me that this was the first time the patients called it a baby.… But the second reaction is: ‘I am hungry. You kept me in here for four hours and you told me I’d only be here for two. Let me out of here.’ That woman is doing what I did when I had my abortion. She’s running from her abortion, not dealing with it” (Kupelian, pp. 196–197).
It is too simplistic to paint every doctor, every secretary, and every counselor in an abortion clinic as just in it for the money. No doubt many are, but some, such as Ms. Everett, come to realize their mistakes and live with regrets. Many have a genuinely mistaken sense that they are doing it to help women. They aren’t, but in this post-modern world, with the influence of the media and academia, that’s how they think! For them, anyone who is pro-life is a simpleton and a bit out of touch. Former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levatino explained it this way: “Everybody in the abortion industry knows that everyone involved in the pro-life movement is a kook. I know, because CNN tells me so, and they would never lie to me” (“Dr. Anthony Levatino—CONVERTED: From Abortion Provider to Pro-Life Activist.” Online video clip, ProLifeAction.org. June 10, 2014). The statement about CNN is obviously sarcastic. Dr. Levatino found that what he always believed about pro-lifers was false. We will come back to him later in this series.
How did the modern abortion industry begin? The answers may surprise you! Two men, Dr. Bernard Nathanson and Lawrence Lader (both now deceased), were the cofounders of NARAL, one of the early pro-abortion groups that sold the idea of abortion-on-demand to the American public. Isn’t it interesting that the two founders of NARAL were not women? It was these two men who crafted the slogans “Freedom of Choice” and “Women must have control over their own bodies.” With help from feminist Betty Friedan, they worked out the strategy to sell their cause. In an article containing his “confessions,” published by the Catholic Education Resource Center, Nathanson explained the three tactics they used. The first was to “capture the media” (“Confessions of an Ex-Abortionist.” CatholicEducation.org, 2013). David Kupelian quotes from Nathanson’s confessions to explain what he meant by capturing the media.
Knowing that if a true poll were taken, we would be soundly defeated, we simply fabricated the results of fictional polls. We announced to the media that we had taken polls and that 60 percent of Americans were in favor of permissive abortion. This is the tactic of the self-fulfilling lie. Few people care to be in the minority. 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 the media repeatedly was 1 million.
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 (Kupelian, p. 191).
Nathanson said the second tactic was to play the “Catholic Card.” Simply put, this tactic was to pit Catholic lay members against the hierarchy of their church, which was painted as out of touch with the real world. It would also subtly isolate them in the minds of many as being the only opposing force.
The third key tactic he described was “the denigration and suppression of all scientific evidence that life begins at conception.” As Nathanson wrote in his confessions, “A favorite pro-abortion tactic is to insist that the definition of when life begins is impossible; that the question is a theological or moral or philosophical one, anything but a scientific one. Fetology [the study of the fetus in the womb] makes it undeniably evident that life begins at conception and requires all the protection and safeguards that any of us enjoy.” He went on to say, “As a scientist I know, not believe, know that human life begins at conception” (Nathanson, CatholicEducation.org).
Understandably, you might be wondering why Nathanson would make such an admission. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Nathanson, who Kupelian calls, “the closest thing to being ‘the man who started it all’ for the pro-choice movement,” switched sides, but only after his clinic had performed some 75,000 abortions, 5,000 of which he did with his own hands and another 10,000 that he personally supervised. As he declared, “Those are pretty good credentials to speak on the subject of abortion” (Kupelian, p. 192).
Nathanson’s awakening occurred after resigning from his clinic and going to work as chief of obstetrical services at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City, a teaching center for Columbia University. It was there that he was introduced to an array of new technologies that allowed him to see inside the womb in greater detail than he had ever seen before. From his own mouth, here was the result of his experience at the hospital: “...as a result of all of this technology—looking at this baby, examining it, investigating it, watching its metabolic functions, watching it urinate, swallow, move and sleep, watching it dream, which you could see by its rapid eye movements via ultrasound, treating it, operating on it—I finally came to the conviction that this was my patient. This was a person!” (Kupelian, pp. 192–193).
And, as he unambiguously points out, it had absolutely nothing to do with religion. It had to do with reality. He went on to put together a film that has caused no end of trouble for the pro-abortion movement. “The Silent Scream” goes inside the womb and shows how a twelve-week fetus reacts as he is ripped apart by an abortionist. It removes the fantasy blinders, showing abortion for what it is: the killing of a human life! The transformation in Nathanson’s thinking is remarkable.
Dr. Nathanson, a pioneer and key player in the modern abortion industry, did a 180-degree turn and did not mince words in his video! He named some of the best-known organizations, including the one he co-founded, and accused them “… of a consistent conspiracy of silence of keeping women in the dark with respect to the true nature of abortion.” He continued, “And I challenge all those purveyors of abortion to show this real-time videotape, or one similar to it, to all women before they consent to abortion” (Nathanson, “The Silent Scream.” Online video clip, January 27, 2012).
Some authorities have disputed whether the video accurately portrays what happens during a real-life twelve-week abortion, accusing Nathanson of “doctoring” the video in various ways, such as speeding it up to make it look as though the baby is agitated by the abortionist’s instruments. Some dispute whether a baby feels pain at twelve weeks. Others take issue with his calling it a baby instead of a fetus, but here is what cannot be disputed: Dr. Nathanson was at the forefront of the abortion movement. He was as responsible as anyone could be for where we find ourselves today with regard to this issue. He was a chief salesman for permissive abortion, but something brought him to deeply regret his actions. He tells us he changed his view as he worked in obstetrics. And while he makes it clear it was not religion that brought him to this conviction, it is evident from the years that followed that he felt tremendous guilt. Whether you call it a fetus or a baby does not change what you can clearly see is a small human being at twelve weeks. The terms used reveal far more about the speakers than they do the child at the center of the discussion. A baby if wanted, a fetus if not.
Dr. Bernard Nathanson is not the only one at the heartbeat of this controversy who helped open Pandora’s box and who is now trying to put evil back in. In many ways, an even more well-known figure who opened the box was Norma McCorvey. You know her, but maybe not by her real name. She is better known by her pseudonym, Jane Roe, as in Roe v. Wade. She, too, switched sides and became an active spokeswoman in the pro-life movement.
McCorvey’s story is fascinating, but tragic in so many respects. As with Nathanson, Norma came from a very dysfunctional background. Her parents were divorced and her mother was an alcoholic. Norma was in trouble with the law from the age of ten and she went in and out of foster care. Despite living in a lesbian relationship, she had three children, two of whom were given up for adoption and one was taken away from her against her will.
She worked many blue-collar jobs, but eventually ended up working for an abortion clinic. This is where she came in contact with Operation Rescue, a confrontational pro-life group. Over time, she started getting to know some of the O.R. members, as they shared the same building complex and faced off routinely. One of the people she became familiar with was a seven-year-old named Emily. While the adults in O.R. spoke to her mind, Emily softened Norma’s heart. When she learned that Emily’s mother had almost aborted her, the revelation struck home, and through that relationship and her interaction with those who became her friends at Operation Rescue, she changed sides. However, at that time she still thought that a first semester abortion was okay.
Norma McCorvey described the final straw in the book Won by Love, which she co-wrote with Gary Thomas. Answering phones for O.R., she happened upon a poster, and the truth it depicted was too much for her. As she explains in the book,
The poster depicted basic fetal development from conception through delivery. I started looking at the faces of the babies depicted on it, and the eyes of the children shook me.
The progression was so obvious, the eyes were so sweet. It hurt my heart, just looking at these unborn children….
Before I knew it, I was in tears again... and just stood there.
Finally, it dawned on me.
Norma, I said to myself, they’re right.
I had worked with pregnant women for years. I had been through three pregnancies and deliveries myself. I should have known. Yet something in that poster made me lose my breath. I kept seeing the picture of that tiny, ten-week-old embryo, and I said to myself, That’s a baby! It’s as if blinders fell off my eyes, and I suddenly understood the truth.
That’s a baby!
I felt crushed… I had to face up to the awful reality. Abortion was not about “products of conception.” It was not about “missed periods.” It was about children being killed in their mother’s wombs.
All those years I was wrong. Signing that affidavit, I was wrong. Working in an abortion clinic, I was wrong. No more of this first-trimester, second-trimester, third-trimester stuff. Abortion—at any point—was wrong. It was so clear. Painfully clear.
Bernard Nathanson and Norma McCorvey are only two of many abortion insiders who changed sides. In the second of this two-part series, we will learn why others turned against this practice, and what the Bible says on this subject. We will also see that there is hope for those women who chose an abortion, as well as for those caught up in the abortion industry.