The following blog was written by Mark Judge on the Real Clear Religion page June 3.

A couple weeks ago I got a call from Nat Hentoff. Hentoff, 86, is a legendary civil libertarian and journalist. He’s at the point is his career when he should just be sitting back and receiving lifetime achievement awards. But there’s one problem.

Nat Hentoff is pro-life. He had called from New York to thank me for some pro-life columns I had written. I was stunned; Hentoff is one of my favorite writers, and him reaching out is a tremendous honor. I’m a jazz fan and have been reading Hentoff’s columns for 25 years. (The man actually met Duke Ellington!) We talked about our jazz favorites, including my favorite singer Kurt Elling. Hentoff is still mentally sharp, even if he is doing physical therapy for various age-related issues.

Hentoff’s conversion from pro-choice to pro-life, and the fallout that resulted, is explained in an essay in the new book, The Debate Since Roe: Making the Case Against Abortion 1975-2010. It’s a compendium of essays from the journal Human Life Review.

A famous liberal who was a staple at the Village Voice and who had a column in theWashington Post, in the 1980s Hentoff actually let himself be swayed by evidence about abortion. It happened when Hentoff was reporting on the case of Baby Jane Doe.

Baby Jane Doe was a Long Island infant born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, which is excess fluid in the cranium. With surgery, spina-bifida babies can grow up to be productive adults. Yet Baby Jane’s parents, on their doctor’s advice, had refused both surgery to close her spine and a shunt to drain the fluid from her brain. In resisting the federal government’s attempt to enforce treatment, the parents pleaded privacy.

As Hentoff told the Washington Times in a 1989 profile, his “curiosity was not so much the case itself but the press coverage.” Everyone on the media was echoing the same talking points about “women’s rights” and “privacy.”

“Whenever I see that kind of story, where everybody agrees, I know there’s something wrong,” Hentoff told the Times. says. “I finally figured out they were listening to the [parents’] lawyer.”

Hentoff dug into the case and the abortion industry at large, and what he found shocked him. He came across the published reports of experiments in what doctors at Yale-New Haven Hospital called “early death as a management option” for infants “considered to have little or no hope of achieving meaningful ‘humanhood.'” He talked with handicapped people who could have been killed by abortion.

Hentoff’s liberal friends didn’t appreciate his conversion: “They were saying, ‘What’s the big fuss about? If the parents had known she was going to come in this way, they would have had an abortion. So why don’t you consider it a late abortion and go on to something else? Here were liberals, decent people, fully convinced themselves that they were for individual rights and liberties but willing to send into eternity these infants because they were imperfect, inconvenient, costly. I saw the same attitude on the part of the same kinds of people toward abortion, and I thought it was pretty horrifying.”

The reaction from America’s corrupt fourth estate was instant. Hentoff, a Guggenheim fellow and author of dozens of books, was a pariah. Several of his colleagues at the Village Voice,which had run his column since the 1950s, stopped talking to him.

When the National Press Foundation wanted to give him a lifetime achievement award, there was a bitter debate amongst members whether Hentoff should even be honored (he was). Then they stopped running his columns. You heard his name less and less. In December 2008, the Village Voice officially let him go.

When journalist Dan Rather was revealed to have poor news judgment, if not outright malice, for using fake documents to try and change the course of a presidential election, he was given a new TV show and a book deal — not to mention a guest spot on The Daily Show. The media has even attempted a resuscitation of anti-Semite Helen Thomas, who was recently interviewed in Playboy.

By accepting the truth about abortion, and telling that truth, Nat Hentoff may be met with silence by his peers when he goes to his reward. The shame will be theirs, not his.

To read original blog, Click here.

 

READER COMMENTS

Posted Wednesday, June 06, 2012 4:19 AM By PAUL
On internet see: “Endowment for Human Development”.


Posted Wednesday, June 06, 2012 5:21 AM By JMJ
Not being a jazz fan, especially of the Duke, I don’t think I ever heard of Nat Hentoff, but, I am happy to know about him now. It is amazing just how many people that think they are educated and/or sophisticated, and they hate being faced with the truth. Welcome aboard Mr. Hentoff and we know that there are many babies that will enjoy your friendship. Praise the Lord!!! +JMJ+


Posted Wednesday, June 06, 2012 7:00 AM By max
i really, really, really hate the phrase PROCHOICE. it makes it sounds innocentt, like that hamburger chain which had the slogan “we’ll make it your way…special orders don’t upset us…etc.” but we are talking about human lives in the womb here, not hamburgers!!! call it PROABORTION and be more honest about the whole mess.


Posted Wednesday, June 06, 2012 7:16 AM By steve
“They will hate you because they hated me first”


Posted Wednesday, June 06, 2012 7:52 AM By JLS
**willing to send into eternity these infants because they were imperfect, inconvenient, costly**: What if they discover a gene for liberal and one for conservative?


Posted Wednesday, June 06, 2012 7:55 AM By JLS
**Several of his colleagues at the Village Voice, which had run his column since the 1950s, stopped talking to him.**: Hmn, but that is what liberals do. I had a dream about just this thing last night … liberals shut off those who disagree … liberals abort those who are not of the same opinion.


Posted Wednesday, June 06, 2012 10:35 AM By Charles
Wow! As a lifelong musician I grew up reading Hentoff in high school as a jazz bassist, which was actually the avenue that led me into the Church. And I also happen to regard singer Kurt Elling as the premier jazz vocalist on the planet, period. So it was kind of jarring to see an article in CalCathDaily about Hentoff’s convictions, and then edifying. Made me question why we assume that folks in the performing and visual arts naturally gravitate towards liberal or morally vacant social attitudes. Hentoff is a legend in jazz journalism, good on him.


Posted Wednesday, June 06, 2012 10:46 AM By Catherine
Nate Hentoff responded to the special grace that allowed the truth about the evil of abortion to be grasped and understood. God offers this grace to everyone. Many refuse to respond. “Hentoff’s liberal friends didn’t appreciate his conversion.” Pricked consciences are never appreciative. Thank you and God bless you Nate for responding to that special grace given to you by God. Our daughter was born with hydrocephalus and to this very day we are so very grateful to God for the precious gift of her life. Many mothers and fathers have been lied to or falsely terrified by doctors and then these parents tragically choose to terminate the life of their unborn baby. For the rest of their entire lives these mothers and fathers who chose to terminate the life of their children, when they see a special needs child pass by, these special children become living reminders of the child that that they were advised to abort. Those individuals who blackballed Nate have much more to their individual stories than Nate Hentoff will ever know. Nate Hentoff became a living reminder that God is the author of all life and that all life has dignity and worth. Thank you again Nate Hentoff and may God continue to bless and enlighten you in thanksgiving of your responding to that special grace. I must add the very important fact that there are also many mothers and fathers who have responded to the loving mercy of God with true sorrow and true contrition for having ended the life of their unborn child. True contrition would never allow the blackballing of the Nate Hentoff’s in this world.


Posted Wednesday, June 06, 2012 1:55 PM By Anne T.
Editor: thank you for leaving out my last post as Catherine’s was much better than mine. You can replace it with the next one. Thank you again.


Posted Wednesday, June 06, 2012 2:54 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Re.: “Nat Hentoff may be met with silence by his peers when he goes to his reward.” Let us hope and pray that when he goes to his Eternal Reward, he will not even see his peers, most of whom probably went the other way, DOWN into the pit which was prepared for…………… I spoke with him a few times over the treatment of pro-lifers, and found him to me most gracious. Let us pray for his FULL conversion to the true Faith so he can join Dr. Nathanson and others. God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher


Posted Wednesday, June 06, 2012 8:56 PM By Martin
Thanks for telling us about an honest man, with the courage to follow his convictions. There’s just something inspiring about a conversion story like his.


Posted Thursday, June 07, 2012 9:14 AM By Fr. Bob B
Seems to me that Hentoff’s change of mind and heart bolsters the defense of objective, “natural law” arguments. Of course, the prerequisites are a willingness to see the facts as they are rather than as euphemisms would disguise them, and then to judge their morality accordingly. A small but good start would be for pro-life advocates (especially the Catholic press) to stop using the word “fetus” (which de-humanizes) but rather use the term “unborn child” (which does not). Anyway, hurrah for Hentoff.


Posted Thursday, June 07, 2012 12:48 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Fr. Bob, We Catholic should also stop using the generic term “Christian”. We are CATHOLIC CHRISTIANS, not just christians! God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher


Posted Friday, June 08, 2012 11:00 PM By JLS
Kenneth, I prefer the term Christian Catholics, since so many Catholics are not Christians.


Posted Saturday, June 09, 2012 1:01 AM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Fr. Bob, “Fetus” is Latin for “Little One”. I was told that by Fr. Fessio to whom I am very grateful for that! God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher


Posted Sunday, June 10, 2012 4:29 PM By Abeca Christian
Mr Fisher I seem to agree with JLS on the term Christian Catholics, but I still use Catholic Christian. JLS makes more sense to me since many Catholics forget the reason why we are Christians in our beautiful Catholic faith. Catholicity. I also disagree with what you call generic. How the word “Christian” be generic? Maybe the protestants made it that way but Jesus made us His so we are Christians and Catholic (Universal) by the way we worship that is most pleasing to Him. Like I said before when I was asked if I was a Christian? I replied “YES, I am Catholic”. We are the original Christians!


Posted Sunday, June 10, 2012 6:49 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
JLS, In case you haven’t noticed, not all who call themselves Christians are really Christians either. I will go with Catholic Christians. If I had a dollar for every time some one has asked me if I was a Christian or a Catholic, I would be much wealthier than I am now. But I rejoice in the opportunity to inform them that the first Christians were all Catholics, and it wasn’t until the Protest-Ant revolution that that changed, and now there are thousands of churches that call themselves Christian but do not teach or preach the same Dogma. When I do that, some want to know more, and I tell them about the real reasons for the Protestant revolution. God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher


Posted Sunday, June 10, 2012 7:02 PM By max
“Posted Friday, June 08, 2012 11:00 PM By JLS: Kenneth, I prefer the term Christian Catholics, since so many Catholics are not Christians.” JLS, are you nuts? any real catholic is a real christian. if someone doesn’t deserve the name catholic, that’s one thing —- but to say they are catholics buty not christians falls into the protestant nonsense of saying WE are not real christians because we ‘worship the pope’ or whatever other silly propaganda theyy cook up. don’t fall for it! just ask you labrador!!!


Posted Monday, June 11, 2012 12:26 PM By Abeca Christian
Not necessarily so max, I know some Catholics who are very religious but seem to forget the core of their faith….as to why they are Christians. I for some reason get what JLS is saying. I think that you misunderstood. His post had nothing to do with coming from protestants.