NRL News

“So long as the victims are a faceless abstraction, anything can be done to them”

by | May 20, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

My almost seamless entry into the Pro-Life Movement came many, MANY years ago. I was an adult by the time of Roe v. Wade but in my innocence had missed the decade-long battle over “abortion reform” that preceded the 1973 decision that demolished the abortion statutes of all 50 states.

My portal, so to speak, was a combination of a predisposition to protecting the unborn (I was the oldest of seven kids) and the soul-shocking impact of the video presentation and book, “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” the classic work of former Surgeon General C. Everett Kopp and theologian Francis Schaeffer which awakened millions of Evangelical Christians. In the mid-seventies I was (unknowingly) primed; like tens of millions of others, I needed to be activated. Sitting in that Presbyterian Church in South Minneapolis images from that video were seared into my memory.

But if my progression from sympathetic bystander to activist seems in retrospect almost inevitable, it is just as true that many of the most articulate, thoughtful pro-life champions started out just as “naturally” on the other side. By that I mean when you listen to their accounts, you understand that in the intellectual and cultural environments in which they were raised, talk of “sanctity of life” and “equal rights for unborn children” would be virtually unintelligible. Huh? would be their response.

Who do I have in mind? To take two examples—the late Dr. Bernard Nathanson, author of “Aborting America” and producer of “The Silent Scream” video; and Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. I am writing about them today because this morning I chanced across Paul’s column composed after Dr. Nathanson’s recent death.

Accessing Paul’s columns at the Democrat-Gazette is not easy. But you can read his tribute to Nathanson at

Paul does a wonderful job explaining how Nathanson was able to “preside” over 75,000 abortions ( “His ideals were those of the enlightened, modern urban America of his time, which was the mid- to late 20th century”) and how he emerged from the darkness, thanks to the light of medical technology (initially the newest EKG and ultrasound imagery).

Paul writes how he could “identify” with Nathanson. He himself had bought into the soothing reassurances that Roe “was not blanket permission for abortion, but a carefully crafted, limited decision applicable only in some exceptional cases. Which was all a lot of hooey, but I swallowed it, and regurgitated it in editorials.”  

I want you to read Paul’s column, so I wouldn’t spoil it by quoting liberally. Just one:

“With a little verbal manipulation [verbicide], any crime can be rationalized, even promoted,” Greenberg writes. “The trick is to speak of fetuses, not unborn children. So long as the victims are a faceless abstraction, anything can be done to them.

“Just don’t look too closely at those sonograms. We are indeed strangely and wondrously made.”

Again you can read Paul’s column at

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Categories: Abortion