Last updated on: 11/15/2011 | Author:

Bernard Nathanson, MD Biography

Late pro-life activist and former renowned abortion physician
Now Con to the question "Should Abortion Be Legal?"

“You know I think I know a little about abortion. I was one of the founders of NARAL [Pro-Choice America]… in 1969 and for a period of two years I was [the] [d]irector of the largest abortion clinic in the Western world…

Since those times we have a science, which is known as Fetology,

[and] has allowed us to study the human fetus. And all those studies have concluded without exception that the unborn child is a human being indistinguishable from any of us and an integral part of our human community.

In discussing abortion we must also understand that the unborn child is not the only victim. Women themselves are victims, just as the unborn children are… Women in increasing numbers, hundreds, thousands, and even tens of thousands, have had their wombs perforated, infected, destroyed. Women have been sterilized, castrated, all as a result which they have had no true knowledge…

Now the destruction of a living human being is no solution to what is basically a social problem. I believe a resort to such violence is an admission of scientific and even worse, ethical impoverishment. Somehow I refuse to believe that Americans, who have put men on the moon can’t devise a better solution than the resort to violence… Let’s all for humanity’s sake, here and now, stop the killing.”

Documentary film The Silent Scream, 1984

[Editor’s Note: Prior to Bernard Nathanson’s Con position, he was an abortion provider and Pro to our core question, as indicated in his June 11, 2009 interview with the Washington Times below.]
“I was on the pro-abortion side… I was giving[a course] in the technique of abortion in New York in 1970 under the auspices of NARAL. And I did late-term abortions until I changed my opinion as of 1980… My switch to pro-life had nothing to do with religion… I changed my mind, based on fetoscopies and ultrasound studies. Once we had ultrasound in place, we could study the fetus and see it was a member of our community. If you don’t do that, you’re just a creature of political ideology.”

“Ex-abortionist Recalls Tiller,” Washington Times, June 11, 2009

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Clinical Associate Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology, New York Medical College, 1990-2002
  • Clinical Assistant Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cornell University, 1984-1990
  • Member, American Bioethics Advisory Commission
  • Pro-life documentary producer, The Silent Scream and Eclipse of Reason
  • Chief of Obstetrical Services, St. Luke’s Hospital, 1972-1978
  • Director, Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health (CRASH), New York, 1970-1972
  • Co-Founder, NARAL – National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (now NARAL Pro-Choice America), 1969
  • Medical intern, New York’s Women’s Hospital, 1955
  • MD, McGill University Faculty of Medicine (Canada), 1949
  • MA, Bioethics, Vanderbilt University
  • BS, Cornell University
  • Died on Feb. 21, 2011
  • Converted from an atheist of Jewish ancestry to a Catholic, 1996
  • Provided and supervised over 75,000 abortions including the abortions of two women he impregnated
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Should Abortion Be Legal?