The Role of an Abusive Tyrannical Patriarch in the Legalization of Abortion in the United States
Silent No More Awareness
The father of the late abortion pioneer and physician Bernard Nathanson played a key role in the legalization and promotion of abortion in the United States.
Terry Beatley reveals in her fascinating book “What If We’ve Been Wrong?” that Nathanson’s father, a highly respected obstetrician-gynecologist, was a tyrant in the home:
“Bernard was born into a loveless home in which disdain toward his mother replaced oxygen in the household. His mother was constantly and unfairly berated and belittled by her husband [His father further humiliated his wife with extramarital affairs]… Nathanson and his sister, despite this hungered to gain their father’s respect and affirmation.”
Nathanson father, a staunch atheist, sent his son to the finest Jewish schools to become instructed in the letter of the law. Yet young Nathanson was immersed in a family culture were religious belief was ridiculed and faith stripped of any values and heart. As he matured Bernard was driven to find liberation from his father’s oppression and emotional rejection, even as he continued to long for his father’s affirmation and respect as a son, and as a man.
It is from this complex family soil that Nathanson, following in his father’s footsteps, entered medical school and met Ruth. Author Beatley shares that “he was drawn to her innocence, intellect, and radiance.”
Sadly, Nathanson would soon disfigure the beauty that attracted him to Ruth.
The couple spoke of marriage but when an unplanned pregnancy occurred, Nathanson (fearing his father’s response and driven to prove his self-worth) decided a newborn would interfere with the completion of his medical training.
Ruth sacrificed their child so Bernard could finish medical school. Abortion was illegal in New York at this time so she travelled alone to Montreal for the procedure. Beatley shares that Ruth returned to New York via taxi in a puddle of blood, and as is common after an abortion, the couple soon drifted apart.
Nathanson likely had no conscious awareness at that time of how the abortion impacted him as a man and father. However, based on my own professional and ministry experience with men after abortion loss, there are some themes to consider.
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