Chapter Twenty-Eight [of the Jewish Revolutionary Spirit by E. Michael Jones]Jews and Abortion
In 1967, Jewish gynecologist Bernard Nathanson was invited to a dinner party at which the ostensible topic was James Joyce. During that dinner party, Nathanson met another revolutionary Jew by the name of Lawrence Lader. Lader had been a protege and, some hinted, lover of Margaret Sanger, the recently deceased diva of the American eugenics movement. Lader talked about Joyce, but Nathanson was soon fascinated to learn Lader had just written a book on abortion, a topic even more fascinating to Nathanson than novels by Irish apostates.
Nathanson defines Lader politically rather than ethnically. Lader became involved in radical politics in New York when he went to work for Representative Vito Marcantonio, a man who was rumored to have ties with the communist party, which was largely made up of New York Jews. Lader divorced his wife and became a freelance writer (a vocation financed by the money he inherited from his father) and became an agitator for the sexual politics of Margaret Sanger shortly after his return from World War II. From the moment he met Lader, Nathanson saw him as "brewing up a revolution" and as a result he felt "a growing sense of excitement."¹
Nathanson felt that he came by his own revolutionary fervor naturally—he hints at some "Mendelian mechanism"²—because he was a Jew. Revolution, according to Nathanson, was another word for "chutzpah
": "I come by my rebelliousness honestly. As a physician, I doubt that this is a quality passed on by any recognized Mendelian mechanism. But my father had it in abundance, except that in his generation and in the community in which he was brought up they called it chutzpah.''³
Because Nathanson feels "any author on abortion must submit to religious dissection,"⁴ he tells of his schooling in New York City. He went to a "fine private school with virtually 100 percent Jewish students"⁵ and he attended Hebrew School, where he developed an aversion to the Talmud.
Religious instruction in that era meant endless slogging through turgid passages of Hebrew Scripture, mindless memorization of Hebrew prayers for numerous occasions and sanctimonious lectures about the chosenness of the Jewish race. Preoccupation with Zionism and fundraising left little energy for instruction in Hebrew or any demeaning excursions into the arcane regions of faith.⁶
Nathanson's experience in Hebrew School confirmed him in his aversion to the Talmud as a compendium of meaningless opinions which the rabbis enforced on Jews to maintain their control over them. In this he was not unlike the revolutionary Jews in Russia during its Maskilic period from 1860-1880, when the German Enlightenment destroyed the Jews' allegiance to the Talmud and created the vacuum which was filled by Jewish conversion to messianic revolutionary politics.
Once religion had been discredited in Nathanson's eyes, he had no guide in life other than his own passions. While in medical school, Nathanson had an affair, which led to a pregnancy, which he paid to have aborted. The mother of his child informed Nathanson afterward that "she had haggled down his price to $350 before the procedure." She handed him "the remaining $150"⁷ and disappeared from his life. The experience of procuring the abortion of his own child coarsened Nathanson, causing him to become cynical about what other people considered sacred—"Marriage seemed ludicrous now,"⁸—propelling him further along the road to revolutionary politics.
Nathanson arrived at the revolution via
sexuality, but also via the gynecological profession, which he felt predestined to adopt because of the influence of his gynecologist father. Gynecology plus revolutionary fervor in New York in the '60s meant abortion. After having murdered his own child, Nathanson was more disposed to act on his own "natural" Jewish inclination to revolution. He was also more likely to act on the promptings of other Jewish revolutionaries. Nathanson became a crusader for abortion at the time Wilhelm Reich's face and ideas made the cover of the New York Times
magazine. Before long any ob/gyn who refused to admit involement in abortion was part of a "loathsome little charade."⁹ Anger begat a desire to change the laws to conform to his behavior:
I suppose that in fury at my own impotence to aid my patients and particularly in anger at the egregious inequity in the availability of abortions, the germination of an idea began: the need to change the laws. There seemed no time for the luxury of contemplating the theoretical morality of abortion or the soundness of freedom of choice. Something simply had to be done.¹⁰
Because Nathanson considered abortion a revolutionary act and because he considered himself a revolutionary because of the fact that he was Jewish, he became, in his own words, "an enlistee in the Revolution."¹¹ In this, Nathanson was influenced by the Jew from Hibbing, Minnesota, Bob Dylan, who had procured an abortion a few years earlier. He even makes use of lyrics from a Bob Dylan song at one point—"the times they were a changin"—in describing 1967 as the revolutionary annus mirabilis
in which he joined with Lader to work for the "total abolition of abortion restrictions."¹²
I was as enthusiastic and as cooperative a confederate as one could wish for in a revolutionary movement as profound as this one. Larry and I and others were to devote hundreds of hours of our free time to the cause in the coming years. I was almost yearning to be radicalized in a cause. This was 1967. The country was being racked by the Vietnam convulsion and challenges to authority seemed the order of the day, particularly in the intellectual breeding-grounds of the Northeast. Though I was forty, I believe that I secretly longed to be a part of the youth movement that was sweeping the country, demanding justice, pledging change, exalting "love." So my indignation, my rebellious nature, and an undeniable urge to "join the kids," combined to move me into the public arena.¹³
The abortion movement was part of the sexual revolution. The abortion revolution was, nonetheless, unique. It coincided with the rise to cultural prominence of American Jewry in the wake of their breaking of the Hollywood production code and the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War, when it became the opinion of the WASP state department elite that Israel was a strategic asset in America's quest to secure oil in the Mid-East. The abortion movement took on the same configuration as the revolution in Europe when Philip II contested Elizabeth over religious hegemony during the counter-reformation. Like Elizabeth's campaign to drive the Spaniards from Holland, the campaign to overturn abortion laws in New York State was largely an alliance of Protestants and Jews at war with the Catholics.
The list of groups attending a June 1970 meeting of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (later, the National Abortion Rights Actions League) bears this out. NARAL always worked toward "enlisting the Protestant and Jewish clergy"¹⁴ to provide a moral counterforce to Catholics.¹⁵
Karl Marx claimed the revolution would be run by the vanguard of the Proletariat, which he associated with the Communist Party. But former communists like David Horowitz felt Marx's real "vanguard"¹⁶ was the Jews, who had been involved in every revolutionary movement since the fall of the Temple. Although Protestants were involved, Jews were the vanguard in the abortion movement as they were the vanguard of Bolshevism in Russia and of pornography in the United States. The movement to overturn abortion laws in New York was an essentially Jewish movement that saw itself as a revolutionary force against the darkness of Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular. The movement was certainly not exclusively Jewish, but it could not have survived or succeeded without Jewish leadership. The abortion rights movement was a quintessentially Jewish revolutionary movement that mobilized the coalition of Jews and Judaizing Protestants that America inherited from the English anti-Catholic wars of the 16th century.
The ethnic configuration of the abortion movement wasn't coincidental. The ethnically ambiguous Lader was to Lenin what Nathanson was to Trotsky. Together they carried out a crusade against Catholics. Shortly after meeting Nathanson, Lader explained his strategy of legalizing abortion by attacking Catholics. The proabortion forces had to "bring the Catholic hierarchy out where we can fight them. That's the real enemy. The biggest single obstacle to peace and decency throughout all of history."¹⁷ Nathanson, then no friend of the Church, was taken aback by the vehemence and cosmic scope of Lader's attack. Lader
held forth on that theme through most of the drive home. It was a comprehensive and chilling indictment of the poisonous influence of Catholicism in secular affairs from its inception until the day before yesterday. I was far from an admirer of the church's role in the world chronicle, but his insistent, uncompromising recitation brought to mind the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It passed through my mind that if one had substituted "Jewish" for "Catholic," it would have been the most vicious anti-Semitic tirade imaginable.¹⁸
Lader knew "every revolution has to have its villain."¹⁹ Historically, those villains were Catholic, except in Russia, where the Czar was orthodox, the head of an officially Christian country. "It doesn't really matter whether it's a king, a dictator, or a tsar, but it has to be someone, a person, to rebel against. It's easier for the people we want to persuade to perceive it this way."²⁰ In America, Lader told Nathanson, the villain would not be Catholics, who could be divided along liberal and conservative lines, but the Catholic hierarchy, which was a "small enough group to come down on and anonymous enough so that no names ever have to be mentioned, but everybody will have a fairly good idea whom we are talking about."²¹ The strategy shocked Nathanson initially, but it soon made good sense when Nathanson remembered, "That was how Trotsky and his followers habitually referred to the Stalinists."²² When Lader brought Betty Friedan into NARAL, she brought with her the communist tactics she had learned from her youthful work with the party. Making it seem that women, irrespective of ethnicity, supported abortion was a "brilliant tactic"²³ that corresponded to the "Popular Front" three decades earlier and showed the abortion movement's revolutionary pedigree.
The new popular front included Protestants and Jews, with women as props in televised demonstrations, attacking doctors and hospitals targeted because they were Catholic. One early victim was the Catholic ob/gyn Hugh Barber. Nathanson chose him to target because he "was a practicing Catholic who had stood adamantly against the widening psychiatric indications for action in his department."²⁴ According to Nathanson, "there has been ... no social change in American history as sweeping, as potent in American family life, or as heavily dependent upon an anti-religious bias for its success as the abortion movement."²⁵ By the late '70s, when Nathanson wrote Aborting America, he was "heartily ashamed of the use of the anti-Catholic ploy."²⁶ Nathanson implicated the Jews in this "anti-Catholic ploy" by calling it a "Shandeh jah yidden
" ("scandal for the Jews").²⁷ As if admitting the ethnic nature of the struggle, Nathanson converted to Catholicism a few years after converting to the prolife position. The use of anti-Catholic bigotry to promote abortion was more than "a reincarnation of McCarthyism at its worst," it was "a keenly focused weapon, full of purpose and design."²⁸
Lader divided Catholics into liberal and conservative factions and then used the former to control and discredit the latter. The "'modern' Kennedy Catholics," who "were already using contraception," could be browbeaten into a public "prochoice" position without much effort.²⁹ Then "The stage was set ... for the use of anti-Catholicism as a political instrument and for the manipulation of Catholics themselves by splitting them and setting them against each other."³⁰ NARAL would supply the press with "fictitious polls and surveys designed to make it appear as if American Catholics were deserting the teachings of the Church and the dictates of their consciences in droves."³¹
The main public relations weapon, however, was "identifying every antiabortion figure according to his or her religious affiliation (usually Catholic)" while "studiously" refraining from any ethnic or religious identification of those who were pro-abortion.³² "Lader's own religious beliefs" were "never discussed or mentioned," but he identified Malcolm Wilson, the lieutenant governor of New York State in 1970 as "a Catholic strongly opposed to abortion."³³ "Neither I nor Assemblyman Albert Blumenthal," Nathanson continued, "was ever identified as a Jew, nor was Governor Nelson Rockefeller ever recognized as a Protestant," even though the abortion movement was disproportionately Jewish and "from the very beginning of the abortion revolution the Catholic Church and its spokesmen took a considerable role in the opposition."³⁴
Given the media's liberal bias, "it was easy to portray the church as an insensitive, authoritarian war-monger, and association with it or any of its causes as unendurably reactionary, fascistic, and ignorant."³⁵ Nathanson thinks Catholics should have pointed out the religious bigotry at the heart of this double standard; they also should have explained that the proabortion side was overwhelmingly Jewish, and, therefore, un-American because:
In the public mind Protestant America is America. and had Protestant opposition been organized and vociferous early on, permissive abortion might have been perceived as somehow anti-American, the spawn of a cadre of wild-eyed Jewish radicals in New York City.³⁶
Instead, there was no Catholic response to the "blatantly anti-Catholic campaign."³⁷ Catholics concentrated on explaining how the fetus was a human being, as if the other side were ignorant of this fact. "There was no Catholic equivalent of the Anti-Defamation League of the B'nai B'rith or the NAACP.''³⁸ The Catholic Church "confined itself decently (though as it turned out, disastrously) to the issue of abortion."³⁹ By not identifying their ethnic opponents, Catholics lost the war.
The media had no qualms in this regard and were willing to engage in a flagrant violation of the rules identifying crime by race which they had just established. The "mega-press" (Nathanson's term) collaborated because they were controlled by proabortion Jews and Protestants, who encouraged liberal Catholics like the New York Times
' Anna Quindlen, eager to make it in a competitive profession. "The media," says Nathanson,
discreetly ignored the carefully crafted bigotry we were peddling. Many media people were young college-educated liberal Catholics, just the kind we had succeeded in splitting off from the faithful flock, and they were not about to disgrace their newly-won spurs as intelligentsia by embarrassing the liberals with anything as crass as an accusation of prejudice. Prejudice was something evil directed at Jews and blacks. not Catholics. But had our fulminations been anti-Semitic or anti-black there would have been the most powerful keening in the media-strong enough to have destroyed NARAL.⁴⁰
The NARAL strategy was based on chutzpah. "For sheer chutzpah it had no modern parallel."⁴¹ Nathanson calls the "Robert Byrn affair" the "most nakedly bigoted, fecklessly anti-Catholic campaign NARAL ever mounted."⁴² Byrn, a Fordham University law professor characterized by the New York Times
as "a forty-year-old Roman Catholic bachelor," went before Justice Lester Holtzman to have himself declared the legal guardian of unborn children threatened with abortion. True to the ethnic double standard, the New York Times
"did not characterize Justice Holtzman as a married Jew."⁴³ When Byrn sued for an injunction against abortions in New York's municipal hospitals, Attorney General Louis Lefkowitz vowed to fight Byrn, but nothing was said about Lefkowitz's ethnic/religious status. When Nancy Stearns, a lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights tried to have Byrn put up $40,000 bond for each woman forced to have a child, New York Times
correspondent Jane Brody, whose ethnic identity remained shrouded in mystery, "failed to describe Stearns as a single Jewess."⁴⁴ Because the Times is the national paper of record, this double standard got repeated across the country. In Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer
repeatedly referred to anti-abortion crusader Martin Mullen as an "arch-conservative"⁴⁵ Roman Catholic, but never referred to Governor Milton Shapp, Mullen's opponent in Pennsylvania's abortion wars, as a pro-abortion Jew. Nathanson notes that Canada's Henry Morgenthaler used his stay in one of Hitler's concentration camps to justify his role as Canada's leading abortion provider. Morgenthaler's clinics violated Canadian law and yet "Morgenthaler ... is adored by the Canadian mega-press" even though he "is quite as devoted to malignant anti-Catholicism as our American exorcist, Lawrence Lader."⁴⁶
In 1967, at around the same time that Bernard Nathanson met Lawrence Lader and NARAL was born, abortion became legal in California. Governor Ronald Reagan signed the nation's first abortion bill into law, but the law was written by Anthony Beilenson, the Jewish representative from Beverly Hills. The ethnic dimensions of the abortion battle were, if anything, even more extreme in California than they were in New York. As in New York, the battle over abortion broke down clearly along ethnic lines. As in New York, Jews generally promoted abortion, and Catholics generally opposed it. From the moment that abortion was legalized in 1967, the abortion battle in California was largely a battle between Catholics and Jews, in much the same way that Catholics and Jews had battled each other over obscenity in the California movie industry 30 years earlier.Notes:
- Bernard N. Nathanson, MD with Richard N. Ostling, Aborting America (Toronto: Life Cycle Books, 1979), p. 35.
- Nathanson, Aborting, p. 1.
- Nathanson, Aborting, p. 5·
- Nathanson, Aborting, p. 13.
- Nathanson, Aborting, p. 14.
- Nathanson, Aborting, p. 23.
- Nathanson, Aborting ,p. 28.
- Nathanson, Aborting, p.31.
- Nathanson, Aborting, p. 60.
- Bernard Nathanson, MD, The Abortion Papers: Inisde the Abortion Mentality (New York: Frederick Fell Publishers, Inc., 1983), p. 192. Protestant minister and NARAL executive Committee Member, Jesse Lyons of the Riverside Church, assembled clerical abortion promoters, including representatives from: the National Council of Churches, YMCA, Women's Division of the United Presbyterian Church; Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Lutheran Church in America; Women's Division ofthe United Methodist Church; United Church of Christ; United Methodist church; United Presbyterian Church in the USA; Clergy Consultation Service; American Jewish Congress; American Friends Service committee; American Ethical Union, and American Baptist Convention. Interested but unable to attend: Churchwomen United; Episcopal Churchmen of the USA; Unitarian Universalist Association; Women's Federation Episcopal Church; B'nai Brith, and the American Humanist Association. Ibid.
- David Horowitz, The Politics of Bad Faith: The Radical Assault on America's Future, (New York: The Free Press, 1998), p. 74.
- Nathanson, Aborting, p. 33.
- Nathanson, Aborting, p. 51.
- Nathanson, Aborting, p. 52.
- Nathanson, Aborting, p. 33.
- Nathanson, Aborting, p. 61.
- Nathanson, Papers, p. 187.
- Nathanson, Papers, p. 200.
- Nathanson, Papers, p. 180.
- Nathanson, Papers, p. 181.
- Nathanson, Papers, p. 185.
- Nathanson, Papers, p. 186.
- Nathanson, Papers, p. 186, 188.
- Nathanson, Papers, p. 189.
- Nathanson, Papers, p. 190.
- Nathanson, Papers, p. 191.
- Nathanson, Papers, p. 192.
- Nathanson, Papers, p. 200.
- Nathanson, Papers, p. 201.
- cf. E. Michael Jones, Slaughter of Cities.
- Nathanson, Papers, p. 213.