By Fr. George Welzbacher
October 31, 2010
Actress Patricia Neal, winner of an Academy Award (for her role in Hud, with Paul Newman) and in her later years a convert to the Catholic Church, won the admiration of the world for her heroic (and ultimately successful) effort to win her way back from the crippling effects of the stroke that ended her Hollywood career. What isn't as well known is her years of work for the pro-Life cause. May I share with you here the obituary tribute paid to her in the latest (the November) issue of that splendid intellectual journal, First Things.
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While We're Al It.* * * * *
It's amazing what's left out of obituaries. On August 8, 2010, actress, Patricia Neal died, at the age of eighty-four. The next day her obituary appeared in the New York Times, where reporter Aljean Harmetz discussed Neal's life and career in detail. Neal won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the film, Hud (1963). She later made a remarkable recovery from a series of strokes that she had in 1965.
In 1949 the twenty-three-old Neal appeared in The Fountainhead, an adaptation of Ayn Rand's novel, with Gary Cooper. During the filming, Neal fell in love with the older (and married) Cooper, and the two began a three-year affair. Neal eventually became pregnant. Under pressure from Cooper and in fear that having a child out of wedlock would destroy her career, Patricia Neal had an abortion.
In her book, As I Am: An Autobiography (1983), Neal recalled the guilt she experienced. "But for over thirty years, alone, in the night, I cried," she wrote. "For years and years I cried over that baby. And whenever I had too much to drink, I would remember that I had not allowed him to exist. I admired Ingrid Bergman for having her [illegitimate] son. She had guts. I did not. And I regret it with all my heart. If I had only one thing to do over in my life, I would have that baby."
Harmetz mentions Neal's abortion and briefly quotes her regrets from her autobiography. But here is what Harmetz doesn't mention. Neal eventually converted to Catholicism (as did Cooper). She also became a pro-life activist. In 2007 Neal served as the honorary co-chair for the twenty-second Annual Charity Ball for Life. According to Msgr. James Lisante, who celebrated Neal's funeral Mass, Neal often told women who were thinking about having an abortion: "Don't make my mistake. Let your baby live."
Patricia Neal's decades-long profound regret for the child she aborted gives the lie to the abortion industry's party line that their goal is simply to secure a woman's freedom What abortion does to a woman is to weigh her down, to burden her with the chains of guilt and grief. But then this whole enterprise of massacring the unborn is based on lies, as is anything and everything that originates with "the father of lies and the murderer from the beginning."* * * * *
One of the chief architects of the propaganda campaign that prepared the way for the Roe vs. Wade decision was Dr. Bernard Nathanson, an atheist for many years, now a zealous Roman Catholic who subsequently has dedicated his life to fighting for the very cause, the Pro-Life cause, that for years he had done everything he could think of to defeat. Here is his story in his own words.
Confession of an Ex-Abortionist* * * * *
By: Dr. Bernard Nathanson
I am personally responsible for 75,000 abortions. This legitimizes my credentials to speak to you with some authority on the issue. I was one of the founders of the National Association for the Repeal of the Abortion Laws (NARAL) in the U.S. In 1968. A truthful poll of opinion then would have found that most Americans were against permissive abortion. Yet within five years we had convinced the Supreme Court to issue the decision which legalized abortion throughout America in 1973 and produced virtual abortion on demand up to birth. How did we do this? It is important to understand the tactics involved because these tactics have been used throughout the Western world with one permutation of or another, in order to change abortion law.
THE FIRST CHANGE WAS TO CAPTURE THE MEDIA
We persuaded the media that the cause of permissive abortion was a liberal enlightenment, sophisticated one. Knowing that if a true poll were taken, we would be soundly defeated, we simply fabricated the results of fictional polls. We announced to the media that we had taken polls and that 60% of Americans were in favour of permissive abortion. This is that tactic of the self-fulfilling lie. Few people care to be in the minority. We aroused enough sympathy to sell our program of permissive abortion by fabricating the number of illegal abortions done annually in the U.S. The actual figure was approaching 100,000 but the figure we gave to the media repeatedly was 1,000,000. Repeating the big lie often enough convinces the public. The number of women dying from illegal abortions was around 200 to 250 annually. The figure we constantly fed the media was 10,000. These false figures took root in the consciousness of Americans, convincing many that we needed to crack the abortion law. Another myth we fed to the public through the media was that legalizing abortion would only mean that abortions taking place illegally would then be done legally. In fact , of course, abortion is now being used as a primary method of birth control in the U.S. and the annual number has increased by 1500% since legalization.
THE SECOND KEY TACTIC WAS TO PLAY THE CATHOLIC CARD
We systematically vilified the Catholic Church and its "socially backward ideas' and picked on the Catholic hierarchy as the villain in opposing abortion. This theme was played endlessly. We fed the media such lies as "we all know that opposition to abortion comes from the hierarchy and not from most Catholics" and "Polls prove time and again that most Catholics want abortion law reform " And the media drum-fired all this into the American people, persuading them that anyone opposing permissive abortion must be under the influence of the Catholic hierarchy and that Catholics in favour of abortion are enlightened and forward-looking. An inference of this lactic was that there were no non-Catholic groups opposing abortion. The fact that other Christian as well as non-Christian religions were (and still are) monolithically opposed to abortion was constantly suppressed, along with Pro-life atheist's opinions.
THE THIRD KEY TACTIC WAS THE DENIGRATION AND SUPPRESSION OF ALL
SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE THAT LIFE BEGINS AT CONCEPTION
I am often asked what made me change my mind. How did I change from prominent abortionist to pro-Life advocate? In 1973, 1 became director of obstetrics of a large hospital in New York City and had to set up a prenatal research unit, just at the start of a great new technology which we now use every day to study the fetus in the womb. A favourite pro-abortion tactic is to insist that the definition of when life begins is impossible; that the question is a theological or moral or philosophical one, anything but a scientific one. Foetology makes it undeniably evident that life begins at conception and requires all the protection and safeguards that any of us enjoy. Why you may well ask do some American doctors, who are privy to the findings of fetology, discredit themselves by carrying out abortions? Simple arithmetic at $300 a time, 1.55 million abortions means an industry generating $500,000,000 annually, of which most goes into the pocket of the physician doing the abortion. It is clear that permissive abortion is purposeful destruction of what is undeniably human life. It is an impermissible act of deadly violence. One must concede that unplanned pregnancy is a wrenchingly difficult dilemma, but to look for its solution in a deliberate act of destruction is to trash the vast resourcefulness of human ingenuity, and to surrender the public weal to the classic utilitarian answer to social problems.
AS A SCIENTIST I KNOW, NOT BELIEVE, KNOW THAT HUMAN LIFE BEGINS AT CONCEPTION
Although I am not a formal religionist, I believe with all my heart that there is a divinity of existence which commands us to declare a final and irreversible halt to this infinitely sad and shameful crime against humanity.
(Dr. Nathanson has SINCE converted to Catholicism, being baptized in 1996.)