Thomas W. Strahan
July 11,1935 - November 13, 2003

Association for Interdisciplinary Research in Values and Social Change
by Wanda Franz, Ph.D.
Vol. 17, No. 5.0
Reproduced with Permission

We all mourn the loss of Thomas W. Strahan. He died suddenly, of a heart attack, in his home on the evening of November 13, 2003. Tom and his wife, Carol, had spent the evening at a fund-raising dinner for the local crisis pregnancy center in Minneapolis. The funeral service was held at Bethlehem Baptist Church on November 18. I was able to attend the service in Minneapolis representing all of Tom's friends at National Right to Life Committee.

I first met Tom at a Project Rachel meeting. A group of researchers had gotten together to talk about ways to improve the research output on post abortion-issues. There were a number of ideas for projects that could be undertaken by our recently organized group, The Association for Interdisciplinary Research in Values and Social Change. However, everyone was already very busy and no one wanted to take on any more work - no one except Tom. He always had the most enthusiastic energy for work that might help save lives.

I learned that Tom was a lawyer who had been working for the Rutherford Institute putting together an annotated bibliography on postabortion issues. He had the most wide-ranging and thorough understanding of the damage done by abortion of any individual I know. He continued to expand his bibliography over the years. It has recently been published as Detrimental Effects of Abortion: An Annotated Bibliography with Commentary by the Elliot Institute.

In 1986 we began a wonderful working relationship with Tom. He slowly began to take over the work of the Association and the organization has developed the stamp of his special skills and abilities. He was the Editor of the Association's Research Bulletin. He was responsible for identifying pro-life researchers who could come to present their findings at the annual Association Paper Presentation. The quality of these meetings was due largely to his very effective work in identifying speakers.

His legal training combined with his fascination with research produced a creative output that continually amazed me. He had the ability to find issues that would make excellent research topics. He noticed very early that women who had abortions had significantly higher rates of smoking following their abortions. Since smoking was becoming known as a dangerous behavior that had been widely litigated, it was logical that any activity that increased smoking behavior should be viewed negatively. As a result, he produced a number of literature reviews for the Association Newsletter on this topic. Many of the Newsletter articles he wrote were driven by this same approach: to demonstrate that abortion produced effects that even the liberated abortion culture would find offensive.

Tom was very concerned with the obvious fact that maternal deaths from abortions were not being correctly reported. He began a project of searching through death certificates to see the way that causes of death were being listed for women who were known to have died as a result of abortion. He found a wide variety of approaches to the terminology used even though the cause of death was known to have been abortion. He wrote up the results of his findings for the last Newsletter we published before he died.

It is impossible to replace Tom Strahan. He made an absolutely unique contribution that could never be copied. It is for this reason that we want this Research Bulletin (Vol. 17, No. 5) to be a memorial to him. It is the last one to be published under his direction and it is being done in his memory. We do not know what form our future publication may take, but we know it will never be like the ones Tom produced. This is for Tom Strahan. May he rest in peace.

Wanda Franz, Ph.D.
Association for Interdisciplinary Research in Values and Social Change