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Much to Atone For

Bernard Nathanson, 1926-2011

Mar 7, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 24 • By JOSEPH BOTTUM
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Bernard Nathanson was a very American kind of figure​—​a man filled with equal portions of eccentricity and greatness, and both deriving from the same source: his incapacity to live without a defining purpose. He wanted to believe in the goodness of abortion, and so he threw himself, body and soul, into the work. And when he realized it was just a business, and when he couldn’t any longer avoid seeing the children on whom it is performed, he reclaimed himself, body and soul again, by plunging into the fight against abortion.

It’s hard to praise the life Bernard Nathanson led, striding across the stage of America’s public struggles. But it was always a big life. And, in the end, a redeemed one.

Joseph Bottum is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.

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