NEW YORK, February 22, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - LifeSiteNews has learned that the funeral for Dr. Bernard Nathanson will be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and said by Archbishop Timothy Dolan at 10 a.m. Monday February 28.  Nathanson passed away yesterday at the age of 84 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Christopher Bell, the founder and administrator of “Good Counsel Homes” and his wife, Joan, were close friends with Nathanson.  They informed LSN that the funeral arrangements were just finalized late this afternoon.

Nathanson was the last surviving member of the founders of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and was responsible for 75,000 abortions as director of an abortion clinic prior to his conversion.

Numerous pro-life leaders have issued statements mourning the passing of the pro-life great (see coverage here).

Yesterday, long-time pro-life veteran Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League discussed his “strange” relationship with Nathanson in an interview with LifeSiteNews.

Scheidler says he knew Nathanson prior to his radical transformation into a pro-life activist. “At first I didn’t trust him,” recalls Scheidler.  “I never stood or clapped when I heard him speak. I was impressed but I didn’t trust him.”

“It seemed such a sudden thing,” he explained. “And there didn’t seem to be much guilt from this man who admitting to being responsible for the deaths of over 70,000 babies.”

Their first face-to-face meeting occurred in an Indianapolis hotel where the two men were speaking at the same pro-life conference.  Nathanson invited Scheidler to have a drink with him at the bar. 

Those who know Joe Scheidler will not be surprised that he told Nathanson up front that he didn’t trust him.  “You aborted your own child,” Scheidler recalls saying and wondering about the seeming lack of remorse.

Scheidler recalls Nathanson replying: “Joe, it’s so terrible,” explaining that he’d been the cause of tens of thousands of abortions, the deaths of a whole city of persons. “If I let myself concentrate on it it’d drive me mad,” he said.

Scheidler says he realized that in fact Nathanson was suffering greatly; after that encounter, the former abortionist agreed to do events for the Pro-Life Action League pro-bono. 

Scheidler’s last personal contact with Nathanson was some 8 years ago.  Nathanson was already suffering from his illness at the time but did an on-camera interview with Scheidler nonetheless.

“I had tremendous compassion for this man,” recalls Scheidler. “We became very good friends. I really miss him.”

“He tried to make reparation for what he’d done.  He was especially kind to pro-lifers who showed people what abortion looked like.  He was very supportive of that.”

See related stories:
Former abortionist, top pro-life advocate Bernard Nathanson dies at 84


Pro-life leaders mourn passing of pro-life great Dr. Bernard Nathanson