Written by Kathy Clubb
On Tuesday May 24th, the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, the Victorian Liberals voted to expel Bernie Finn from the party after forty years of faithful service. What dastardly crime did he commit? In what travesty of justice was Mr Finn involved? None, save defending what was once a core principle of the Liberal Party: freedom. Mr Finn defended classical liberal values on two counts: by insisting that the most vulnerable be protected from harm and by insisting that he be allowed to speak publicly about it.
The first response of many commentators was to declare that the Liberals had learned nothing from their Federal counterparts’ election defeat. That the Party was still reeling from its nationwide collapse at the polls a few days earlier did not dissuade leader Matthew Guy from making an example of Mr Finn. Rather, the state Liberals doubled-down on their party’s stratagem of trying to out-woke its more progressive enemies.
However true that initial appraisal may be, Mr Finn’s expulsion points to deeper cultural divides over what Australians believe about the right to life of human beings and about the ways in which that belief is expressed. The episode shows that not only is there a significant sector of society which does not appreciate being reminded about the humanity of the unborn child, but – and this should come as no surprise to anyone – any arguments falling outside of some extremely narrow parameters will simply not be countenanced. A third lesson to be gleaned from this incident is that with the potential demise of Roe vs Wade in the United States, Australian pro-lifers have a golden opportunity to push abortion back into the public’s consciousness and should immediately set about trying to do this on our own terms.
When former abortionist Bernard Nathanson wrote in 1979 that, “Fewer women would have abortions if wombs had windows”, he could not have predicted the staggering success of the abortion industry in convincing the public that unborn babies are not human despite its unprecedented access to ultrasound imagery. This concerted effort to dehumanise unborn children may have taken three generations to accomplish, but to see today’s militant abortion advocates able to stare unblinkingly into a camera and state that the entity in the womb is “not human” or that “not only women are pregnancy-capable” is a victory for the art of cognitive dissonance. Such cognitive dissonance would be laughable were the consequences of their errors not so spine-chillingly manifest: a hundred thousand dead Australian babies every year is no laughing matter.
Little surprise then, when Mr Finn remarked that a baby “should not be killed for the crime of his or her parent”, he broke the cardinal rule of acceptable abortion discourse, namely, that speakers must never acknowledge the humanity of the unborn child. By humanising the child. Mr Finn left no doubt about the true nature of abortion or about the relative evils being discussed: as heinous and damaging a crime as is rape, it nevertheless sits behind abortion on the scale of moral transgressions.
Mr Finn’s case teaches a second lesson, one which is applicable to the whole spectrum of issues about which Australians may want to express an opinion and which turns the history of thought on its head: that is, that in debates and conversation, substance is less important than delivery. The perpetually-offended have managed to push their ill-conceived “rights” to the forefront of any debate, backed up as they are by the Marxist-led education system which teaches only “kindness” devoid of virtue and “resilience” devoid of integrity.
Mr Guy, in commenting on Mr Finn’s fall from grace, said more than once that he “expects discipline” from his parliamentary party members and that they must engage in “respectful discourse.” Note that at no point did Mr Guy accuse Mr Finn of falsehoods, of errors, or of mistruths, but only of failing to express himself in a manner deemed acceptable by the Victorian Liberal inner circle. Additionally, there has been no mention of members of the public being outraged by Mr Finn’s social media posts, and no opposition members have said anything to the press regarding the content of the posts. Far from being offended, some Liberal members left the Party after Mr Finn was expelled, evidence that he is not the one in the business of alienating the Liberal support base.
After hearing Mr Guy’s comments, any remaining pro-lifers among the Liberals should feel extremely insulted, since he has inferred that demanding respect for human life is “disrespectful” and that exercising one’s conscience is “undisciplined.”
Some criticism is due for the Church in this regard: our bishops have been treating pro-abortion politicians with kid gloves for far too long. They need to take a leaf from Archbishop Cordileone’s book and begin to withhold the Eucharist from Catholics in the public domain who support abortion. Consider the example of the extremely anti-life Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, who was allowed to receive Holy Communion at the State funeral of a Catholic celebrity a couple of years ago. The precedent set by the Church in Her tolerance for notorious public sinners has done nothing to help politicians like Mr Finn who try to accurately and proportionally condemn abortion.
Mr Guy also said that in depriving the Liberals of an outspoken advocate for life, his party was better positioned to become a “sensible alternative government.” In other words, Mr Guy believes Victorians want an opposition that is “different, but not too different” from Daniel Andrews’ Labor government. That is one promise on which the Liberals certainly have delivered.
Mr Finn’s timely remarks about Roe vs Wade, the highly symbolic law which first legalised abortion in the United States in 1973, remind us that what happens overseas on the cultural level has a huge impact on Australia. If debate can be so quickly and easily shut down to the point where a popular and longstanding Member of Parliament can be expelled by his own party for little more than calling a spade a spade, then this country is not ready for a robust debate about abortion – even though that debate is just around the corner.
Our opposition must not find us on the back foot – while pro-lifers have been busy trying to avoid abortion-tainted vaccines the other side has not been slack. Abortion continued apace throughout Australia’s lockdowns and new peak bodies, such as the Australian Contraception and Abortion Primary Care Practitioner Support Network have been formed to continue the unrelenting push for easy access to abortion and contraception. In a related area, the idea of gender-dysphoric motherhood has gone mainstream with social engineers attempting to change the language surrounding pregnancy and childbirth to make it less “heteronormative.”
By punishing Mr Finn for his child-centred approach, the state Liberals have acted as a weathervane of acceptable discourse and drawn attention to the key areas on which the pro-life community needs to focus: re-humanising the unborn child, confidently arguing with precision for the rights of unborn children without compromising in favour of political correctness and fearlessly forcing the public to engage on the issue of abortion.
It is up to us to keep reminding society that abortion is the issue that just won’t go away. Bernie Finn’s example should inspire us to be prepared to pay whatever price is necessary to ensure that abortion is at the front and centre of every human rights debate in this country.