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The Hand of God: A Journey from Death to Life by the Abortion Doctor Who Changed His Mind Paperback – October 25, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

During a period of roughly 20 years, Nathanson performed over 75,000 abortions. Since 1975, however, he has been among the leaders of the pro-life movement in the United States. Here, in a book that is part spiritual autobiography, part political campaign and part history of abortion, Nathanson explores the factors that led him into and eventually out of the abortion business. Nathanson recounts the moral hollowness and a paternalistic treatment of women and their bodies during his early years in medicine that allowed him to abort even his own child in a cold and antiseptic matter. However, the advent of ultrasound, and its images of the fetus as a developing life, along with a progressive conversion to Roman Catholicism, convinced Nathanson of the immorality of abortion and led him into a new phase of his life as a doctor. As revealing as this story is Nathanson's condescending tone and sententious sentences (e.g., "I will spare you the ineluctable Tolstoian observation, but I implore you to consider the psychological abyss that yawned beneath me") elicit very little sympathy either for Nathanson's plight or for the pro-life position.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Nathanson cofounded the pro-choice organization NARAL in 1969 and during 1971^-72 made New York's Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health the best U.S. abortion clinic--accomplishments at the forefront of the push to make abortion commonplace. Before then, he had had a frustrating life distinguished by a love-hate relationship of epic proportions with his father. The senior Nathanson was a cold husband, a cruelly domineering parent, and a Jew who denigrated Judaism yet raised his son in it; but he was a conscientious physician faithful to the Hippocratic oath with its hard line against abortion. His son followed his example in most things, only rebelling by discarding religion and championing abortion. During the 1970s, Nathanson changed, becoming an important voice against abortion and assisted suicide and fetal tissue experimentation, too. At the end of his memoir cum apologia, he imparts that he hopes to be received into the Roman Catholic Church. Thanks to a wide-ranging vocabulary and a flare for cadenced prose, he makes most of his testimony lively and enthralling reading. Ray Olson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing, Inc.; 1 edition (October 25, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 089526174X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895261748
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,255,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Dr Nathanson aborted his own baby!!!!!
Dr. Abramson thank you for sharing you life in this wonderful book, and showing us the true face of abortion.
Therefore, it can be read by anyone - I am a non-Christian but I still feel I got a lot out of the book.
Melanie Z.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

111 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on November 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Many people, mostly pro-life advocates, see the abortion issue as the modern equivalent of the fight to put an end to slavery. Dr. Bernard N. Nathanson, a founder of NARAL and once one of America's premier abortion providers until he saw the light and changed sides, draws parallels between pre-Civil War America, specifically the Dred Scott decision, and Roe v. Wade in "The Hand of God: A Journey from Death to Life by the Abortion Doctor Who Changed His Mind." Those are heady claims indeed. To argue that abortion could bring the country to civil war seems a bit melodramatic. Certainly the other side, the pro-abortion advocates, don't see the issue this way. To them Roe v. Wade and subsequent court rulings expanding the ability of a woman to terminate her pregnancy is a right, pure and simple. It's a right that grows out of the Supreme Court's recognition of an inherent privacy right guaranteed by many of the amendments contained in the Bill of Rights. Any effort to curtail or roll back abortion, they argue, would not only allow the government to exercise control over a woman's body, it would also strike at the heart of the gender equality feminists have worked so hard to achieve over the past four decades.

Don't expect Bernard Nathanson to resolve the issue in this slim book. This is no "Uncle Tom's Cabin" for the pro-life crowd. It's close, though. "The Hand of God" tells the story of how a lowly physician came to embrace abortion, how he began to question what he did for a living, and how he found God when he embraced the pro-life movement. According to the author, his early life played a big role in his later decision to become an abortionist. His father, a Jewish physician with misanthropic tendencies, dominated most aspects of his son's life until his death at the age of ninety-four.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Terrence J. Sexton on February 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
Imagine you are an abortionist, responsible for the deaths of hundreds, or even thousands, of human beings. How will you tell your story to others?
Perhaps, in an effort to ease your burning conscience, you will write a rambling, disjointed rationalization of your own behavior. Perhaps you will denounce those who disagree with you, resorting to ad hominem attacks.
Or perhaps you will write the kind of book Bernard Nathanson did. Perhaps you will undertake a serious examination of conscience, admit your grievous errors, and dedicate the rest of your life to saving the lives of those whom you have placed in danger.
Nathanson has seen abortion from the inside. He led the crusade to make it legal and pervasive. He performed abortions himself and taught others how to do them. He knows firsthand how this gruesome procedure affects the mother, the doctor, and most importantly, the baby. His credibility and standing on this issue are unparalleled.
I cannot recall reading another book, apart from St. Augustine's Confessions, in which the author has so thoroughly cataloged his own failings and his efforts to ameliorate their effects. This type of candid reflection is painful for the author, but enormously valuable and instructive for the rest of us.
I highly recommend this book, both for its analysis of abortion and its illuminating honesty.
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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Tim Drake VINE VOICE on April 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
That's what Dr. Bernard Nathanson does with this book, and that is why I sing its praises and his.
Here is a man who was responsible for the legalization of abortion in the United States, coming to terms with the dreadful consequences of his actions, publicly sharing an obviously painful part of his life, and seeking forgiveness.
This is a beautiful testimony, even if it is difficult to read at times. Nathanson leads us through his life in a Jewish home and the events which led to his work as an abortionist and with NARAL.
His vocabulary can be a bit challenging at times, but it is very much worth the effort.
Especially chilling are Nathanson's predictions for the future. He predicts that just as we now have abortuaries one day we will have "death with dignity centers" - legalized places where we can bring our elderly to have them put to death.
The book brings the reader right up to his potential conversion to Catholicism. Not long after the book was published, Dr. Nathanson entered the Catholic Church.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Alder on May 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Bernard Nathanson no doubt speaks the truth when he claims to know the abortion issue "as perhaps no one else does." Nathanson oversaw or participated in over 60,000 abortions during his medical career, including the abortion which took the life of his own child. Thus it is especially admirable that he, unlike many others who have been involved personally with abortion, had the ability to admit to himself what we all at some level know to be true (and what is becoming harder and harder to deny with the advancement of science and medical technology)--that abortion is indeed the taking of a human life.
But admit this he does, after a personal encounter with sonographic visual images of an abortion carried out by a colleague. If anything, Nathanson's story is a testimony to the power such images have to catalyze a reevaluation of people's views on abortion. It is unfortunate that many in the pro-life movement now shy away from using graphich visual aids in presenting their case. Certainly graphic images have been missused by pro-lifers in the past, but that does not mean that they don't have a vital and proper role to play in persuading the public that abortion is a violent act against a defenseless fellow human being.
I would think anyone with an interest in the abortion debate would want to read this book. Nathanson played a critical role in the legalizing of abortion in the US (he was the co-founder of NARAL) and gives a behind the scenes look at the abortion rights movement in its infancy.
The only drawbacks I have concern the writing style and organization. Nathanson uses far too many arcane and difficult words in a book written for the general public and some parts of the book are repetitive. A couple of paragraphs are almost word for word identical.
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