Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

The newest video from the Center for Medical Progress is a horror beyond a nightmare. Holly O’Donnell, an ex-”procurement technician” who worked to “harvest” fetal parts for Planned Parenthood, testifies that she witnessed nearly-intact unborn children be delivered–with hearts that beat even as they were dissected.

From the CMP’s press release:

O’Donnell describes the harvesting, or “procurement,” of organs from a nearly intact late-term fetus aborted at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s Alameda clinic in San Jose, CA. “‘I want to see something kind of cool,’” O’Donnell says her supervisor asked her. “And she just taps the heart, and it starts beating. And I’m sitting here and I’m looking at this fetus, and its heart is beating, and I don’t know what to think.

The San Jose Planned Parenthood does abortions up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Referring to the beating heart of the aborted fetus, O’Donnell remarks, “I don’t know if that constitutes it’s technically dead, or it’s alive.

I have to ask any pro-choice readers of this blog, as respectfully and gently as I can: What more would it take for you to see the humanity of the unborn? What exactly would you have to witness to be convinced that bodies in the womb are people? Is your position one of faith and dogma, that cannot be assailed by even the most convincing medical and video evidence? If not, what are you waiting to see?

Let’s be absolutely clear about one thing: The idea that these videos are “hoaxes” or are “deceptively edited” is a laughingstock. The only honest reason to look away, the only honest reason to not see, is to admit that you don’t want to.

If that describes you, I want you to know about the life of Dr. Bernard Nathanson. Nathanson was one of the country’s most vociferous defenders of abortion–and one of its most skilled practitioners. He estimated at one point to have performed 60,000 abortions, one of which was the abortion of his unborn son. For a very long time Nathanson was convinced that abortion was morally unproblematic, and he took great effort to convince others of the same.

To achieve these goals, Nathanson would later reveal, he and fellow abortion crusaders pursued dubious and in some cases straightforwardly dishonest strategies.

First, they promoted the idea that abortion is a medical issue, not a moral one. This required persuading people of the rather obvious falsehood that a normal pregnancy is a natural and healthy condition if the mother wants her baby, and a disease if she does not. The point of medicine, to maintain and restore health, had to be recast as giving health care consumers what they happen to want; and the Hippocratic Oath’s explicit prohibition of abortion had to be removed. In the end, Nathanson and his collaborators succeeded in selling this propaganda to a small but extraordinarily powerful group of men: in the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade, seven Supreme Court justices led by Harry Blackmun, former counsel to the American Medical Association, invalidated virtually all state laws providing meaningful protection for unborn children on the ground that abortion is a “private choice” to be made by women and their doctors.

But the story doesn’t end there. Nathanson allowed the medical and technological evidence around him to challenge his assumptions. It was impossible for him to perform these abortions without noticing the unmistakeable humanity of the “fetus” he sought to terminate. Keeping his mind open, Nathanson eventually made a startling turnabout:

Over the next several years, while continuing to perform abortions for what he regarded as legitimate “health” reasons, Nathanson would be moved still further toward the pro-life position by the emergence of new technologies, especially fetoscopy and ultrasound, that made it increasingly difficult, and finally impossible, to deny that abortion is the deliberate killing of a unique human being—a child in the womb.

By 1980, the weight of evidence in favor of the pro-life position had overwhelmed Nathanson and driven him out of the practice of abortion. He had come to regard the procedure as unjustified homicide and refused to perform it. Soon he was dedicating himself to the fight against abortion and revealing to the world the lies he and his abortion movement colleagues had told to break down public opposition.

My point in sharing Bernard Nathanson’s story is to encourage anyone reading this blog who has personal and emotional stake in the question of unborn personhood. Perhaps you feel the weight of the evidence of atrocity, but cannot bring yourself to the conclusion for fear of damning your own conscience. Perhaps you can only look away from the Planned Parenthood videos, feeling the evil in them but unwilling to implicate yourself for believing the lies. This very thing was true of Bernard Nathanson. And instead of living in denial to salve a conscience, he turned to the truth and became an advocate for it. If you feel this door is opening before you, I pray that you would enter it.