My son and I had dinner with a young couple who are expecting a baby in four months. I asked the husband so many questions about what it feels like to be a father and whether it is an emotional experience that my son finally started making fun of my oddly misdirected concern: “You would think he’s the one carrying the baby and having morning sickness, Mom! Why don’t you ask her how it feels?”
That incident came to mind when I learned that Judge Jeffrey Minehart offered the jurors from the Kermit Gosnell murder trial free counseling, after they spent eight weeks listening to sordid details and nine days reaching a verdict.
I am all for counseling. I had counseling once and came away wishing everybody could. But the irony of the situation did not escape me: As a matter of mundane course, a judge will offer counseling to a jury for simply hearing about the death of babies, when at the same time all over the country women are actually experiencing the death of their babies without so much as one serious post-abortion counseling session. Is the hearing of an abortion tale really more traumatic than the living of one? I met two women in the courtroom who labor in a Christian organization that ministers to the traumatized handiwork of the Gosnells of this land.
During the trial, much was made of the 24-hour consent form and Gosnell’s alleged flouting of it. The prosecution tried to prove Gosnell did not honor the legal requirement, while the defense argued equally vehemently that he did. All the focus was on the front end of the procedure, the ensuring of a reasonable time for a woman’s sober reflection before aborting her child. No thought whatsoever is given by our legal wizards to a symmetrically appropriate time of debriefing and counsel following the aborting of her baby. You takes the money and you sends her out into the night. See to it yourself, lady. We’re finished with you now.
My guess is the jury will be fine. That is, “fine” by 21st century standards. As fine as they can be in a world bombarding us with ads questioning our virility and the whiteness of our smiles; a world where 6-year-olds are massacred, and joyful Boston races are marred by terrorists; a world where perversion and sex without restriction are celebrated; a world like the one in which “righteous Lot [was] greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked” (2 Peter 2:7). And if the necessary evil assaulting our eyes and ears were not enough, we seek out unnecessary trauma and call it entertainment: A Clockwork Orange, Natural Born Killers, The Dark Knight Rises, No Country for Old Men, The Silence of the Lambs.
It is good and proper that Judge Minehart is extending counseling to the 12 men and women who put regular lives on hold to render a public service. They will probably have a few rough nights or months, but I think the jury will be fine. It’s not the jury I am worried about.