Flashback: March for Life founder explains dangers of compromising pro-life principles
The death last week of Nellie Gray has led to more reporting of the March for Life Fund’s “no exceptions, no compromises” Life Principles which Gray strongly promoted all during her years of leadership with the march that began in 1974. In the video of a September 14, 1994 EWTN television program in which Gray was interviewed by Mother Angelica, Gray was given an opportunity to fully explain her position (from start to 12:00 minutes) which in her view was the only one that a true pro-life leader could hold.
Nellie Gray, a World War II veteran and former attorney with the Departments of State and Labor for 28 years, was a constant, but usually respectful critic of pro-life incremental strategies that allowed for exceptions for the life of the mother, rape, incest and other conditions that compromised the fundamental principle that every innocent human life must be protected. Gray explained that the first unacceptable compromise of allowing abortion for the life of the mother, naturally led to the cascade of other exceptions which made it difficult to convince abortionists of the wrongness of abortion and also divided the pro-life movement.
She stated on the program:
“When we found legislation making exceptions first for the life of the mother, rather than putting in there equal care for both the mother and the pre-born child, they (pro-life leaders and others) were actually saying that someone had the authority to kill an innocent child. Then you know what happened, once they made that one exception for the life of the mother, abortionists came along and put an exception for rape and incest and deformed children. And once those principles were violated, then unfortunately it was extremely difficult to make the abortionists understand that killing an innocent human being is not within the scope of either the moral or the secular law, and it is because of that,… those exceptions divided the various organizations.”
Gray told Mother Angelica that the “half a loaf” or now often known as the “something is better than nothing” strategy, “not only doesn’t work, it doesn’t work in either morality or law or strategy.” She went on explain to Mother Angelica,
What we have seen is that there was an effort to compromise on this basic subject of life for which there is no compromise. You’re either for or against it. There is no neutrality and there is no in between. You can’t have a little bit of abortion. You can’t be a little bit pregnant. You must understand that life must be protected in total. And once those principles were broken, more and more education was done that it is alright to kill some babies and unfortunately that came from those who were trying to defend life. And when that wrong message got through then unfortunately we’ve had 22 years of going downhill.
A student of the Nuremberg Trials that tried and sentenced to death Nazi leaders for their “crimes against humanity” during the war, Gray told Mother Angelica that the mass killing of the preborn in America “fits right into the principles of the Nuremberg Trials.” She emphasized the serious individual responsibility of everyone to not be complicit in the killing as were many Germans who claimed all kinds of unacceptable excuses for their actions or inactions related to the killings that took place in the death camps and other atrocities committed by the Nazis during the war.
The Nuremberg Trial “crimes against humanity” also included abortion as mentioned in a report:
The Tribunal had stated: “The acts and conduct, as set forth in this Judgment, and as substantially charged in the indictment [“encouraging and compelling abortions”] constitute crimes against humanity… and… war crimes.”
“If we applied the same principles (Nuremberg Principles) to ourselves”, emphasized Nellie Gray, “we would stop abortion overnight.” Gray remembered how the United States stood in judgment of the Nazis in Germany, but that, “Somehow, we have forgotten the Nuremberg Trials.”
Watch the full video with Mother Angelica: