Henry Morgentaler and Bernard Nathanson represent two radically divergent reactions to abortion regret
One of the greatest myths of the pro-“choice” movement has just been shattered by none other than notorious abortionist Henry Morgentaler.
Okay, so he shattered it over thirty years ago, but apparently some leading voices of the abortion-rights movement are still turning a blind eye, or ear as the case may be.
In her new book Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, author Katha Pollit writes, “we need to talk about ending a pregnancy as a common, even normal, event in the reproductive lives of women."
Yet Henry Morgentaler begs to differ. In newly released video clips by CLC Youth of an epic showdown between the Canadian abortionist and OB-GYN/former abortionist Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Morgentaler makes a shocking revelation: he regrets his wife's abortion. Not only that, but he acknowledges the sorrow and loss that comes with it.
“I’ll make a confession to you,” Morgentaler tells Nathanson on CHCH TV’s program Cherington. “My wife got pregnant while I was a medical student and we decided that she should have an abortion…we regretted that.” Cherington then asks, “Are you really saying that there’s a lot of sorrow attached to this business?” Morgentaler surprisingly responds, “Of course. Absolutely.”
Now regret can manifest itself in two very different ways. The first, as Morgentaler exemplifies, is denial, justification and obsession. Instead of using the regret he and his wife felt to change his behavior, he grasps at straws to try and justify the intentional death of his very own child. “Why did you regret that?” Nathanson asks to an unsuspecting Morgentaler. “Many women do regret the fact that unfortunately, the context of the situation is such that at this point in time, we cannot provide mothering and care which a child needs,” Morgentaler responds. Just five years later, in a Supreme Court decision, Henry Morgentaler would single-handedly decriminalize abortion in Canada, making it one of the only countries in the world with no law on abortion. Misery sure does love company.
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Conversely, no one knows genuine regret like Dr. Bernard Nathanson. In his book The Hand of God: A Journey from Death to Life by the Abortion Doctor Who Changed His Mind, he talks about the fateful event of aborting his own child, for the same reason Henry Morgentaler gives. “I am sure–despite her brave face, her loyalty and love, her pragmatic evaluation of the whole sorrowful gestalt–I am sure that in some melancholy corridor of her mind lurked the questions: Why didn't he marry me? Why couldn't we have had this baby? Why should I have had to imperil my life and my future children for the sake of his convenience and academic schedule? I am aware that I could have had grandchildren by now with this loving, beautiful woman. Lessons? Too many and too sad to rehash here. Suffice it to say that it served as my introductory excursion into the satanic world of abortion.”
Which brings me to the second type of regret: sadness, anger and a desire to change one’s behavior. In Nathanson’s second book, Aborting America, he writes, “I now regret this loss of life. I thought the abortions were right at the time. Revolutionary ethics are often unrecognizable at some future, more serene date. The errors of history are not recoverable; the lives cannot be retrieved. One can only pledge to adhere to an ethical course in the future.”
Henry Morgentaler and Bernard Nathanson both helped their loved ones abort their children while they were in medical school. Both felt regret. Both men were pivotal in legalizing abortion across North America and both had successful careers as abortionists. How is it then, that they wound up on opposite ends of the issue, passionately debating each other years later? The answer is simple: one learned from their regret and the other tragically reveled in it.
Reprinted with permission from Campaign Life Coalition Youth's blog.