Nolan Finley, Editorial Page Editor of The Detroit News, recently addressed the controversy surrounding Kermit Gosnell, the notorious Philadelphia abortionist, who is charged with seven counts of murder. In his article entitled “Finley: Why the media ignored Philly doctor’s trial,” Finley begins by praising the doctors and nurses in the neo-natal unit at the University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital for their heroic and apparently successful efforts to save the life of his newest grandson, Jaxson, who was born five weeks early with a misshapen heart. Finley writes, “They are fighting just as hard to enable the other babies who share this unit, and who, like him, would have been doomed 25 years ago, to go home to their parents’ arms.”
Finley then juxtaposes their efforts with Gosnell, writing, “Gosnell is charged in the deaths of one woman and seven babies in a filthy clinic where, the prosecution says, unspeakable things happened to babies born more viable than Jaxson and his tiny suitemates.” Finley then explains why the mainstream media chose to ignore the trial: “Gosnell’s house of horrors doesn’t fit the narrative that allows us to think of abortion as a choice rather than an act.”
Up to this point in the article, one might be inclined to conclude that Finley is pro-life, but such a conclusion is proved demonstrably false with the following sentence: “I’m pro-choice because I believe there is nothing more tragic than an unwanted child.” Of course, the obvious question from anyone on the pro-life side would be, “More tragic than a murdered child?”
Be that as it may, allow me to translate Finley’s statement: “It is better to kill an unborn child now, rather than have the child live an unhappy life.” For Finley to take such a position, he has to assume a God-like omniscience. Does he really know that all children who are unwanted (whatever that might really mean) will live miserable lives? And if he admits he doesn’t have infallible certainty, would he care to guess what percentage? Is it 90%? 75%? 50%? 25%? For the sake of argument, let’s say that 50% will have unhappy childhoods. I can hear Abraham interceding on behalf of the unborn: “Will you sweep away the happy with the unhappy? Suppose there are 50% who will be happy; will you destroy all of them, rather than spare them for the sake of the happy?” Clearly, Finley’s pro-choice argument is untenable.
But Finley is troubled by Gosnell and other abuses in the abortion industry, and he wants to appear reasonable by suggesting that “ . . . some limits can be imposed on abortion rights without trampling the freedom to choose.” He sees the absurdity of teens needing parental permission to buy aspirin but can get an abortion without parental notification. To his credit, Finley then makes two profound admissions:
We turn our eyes from the barbarity of partial-birth and late-term abortions lest we have to deal with the uncomfortable reality that a fetus, left undisturbed, eventually becomes a baby . . . Not thinking too hard about that lets us make the intellectually bereft declaration that life begins when a mother decides to carry the baby to term, and until then a baby is not a baby, but rather a “cluster of cells,” to use the latest sanitized terminology.
Obviously, Finley is squeamish about babies being aborted who are clearly viable, and he gives the impression that he could support legislation prohibiting such procedures. He proposes that abortions should be performed “early” and “humanely.” But why the squeamishness? If the “freedom to choose” is a constitutional right, what differences does the gestational development make? As the Jews learned in Nazi Germany, once a group of people is declared “non-persons” by the state, their right to life does not exist. In America, unborn babies are non-persons, and their right to life is determined by the whim of the mothers.
Finley seems to be admitting that he never foresaw the gruesome excesses that are actually more common than he knows. If that is true, I am reminded of the last scene in the 1961 movie Judgment at Nuremberg. Dr. Ernst Janning, a high-ranking judge in Nazi Germany, has been convicted of crimes against humanity for his decisions that led to the unjust deaths of several people. He asks Chief Judge Dan Haywood of the tribunal that found him guilty to visit him in his cell. Janning’s role in the Holocaust is obviously causing him great anguish, and he says to Haywood, “Those people, those millions of people; I never knew it would come to that.” Haywood coldly replies, “Herr Janning, it came to that the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent.”
To Mr. Finley and others who revere “freedom of choice,” I say to you that the excesses you now decry came about the first time you agreed that it was a mother’s “right” to kill the most innocent among us–the unborn child. Any attempt on your part to be “reasonable” does not remove the blood from your hands.