The killing of George Tiller has sent shockwaves throughout the world, eliciting predictable responses from both camps. The feminists are busy attempting to “turn this terrible tragedy into an opportunity to strengthen the pro-choice movement”. The pro-life camp is accused of aiding the killing by using powerful language and displaying images of aborted babies in public.
“Do not yield,” says Jill Stanek. “The goal is to shut us up, to further deny [the] rights of law-abiding, [pro-lifers] to speak and act against abortion”.
Below are excerpts from three well-constructed discussions on the killing. Firstly, it is anti-life advocate Megan McArdle who delivers a welcome perspective on Tiller’s shooting in the midst of screeds and screeds of thoughtless, irrational outcry against his killer.
…I think the analogy to slavery is important, for two reasons. First of all, it was the last time we had an extended, society-wide debate about personhood. And second of all, as now, there were structural political reasons that it was much harder–nearly impossible–to change slavery through the existing political process.
Listening to the debates about abortion, it seems to me that really broad swathes of the pro-choice movement seem to genuinely not understand that this is a debate about personhood, which is why you get moronic statements like “If you think abortions are wrong, don’t have one!” If you think a fetus is a person, it is not useful to be told that you, personally, are not required to commit murder, as long as you leave the neighbors alone while they do it.
…The pro-choicers seem to be acting as if people who shoot abortion doctors are some weird species of moral alien, whose actions can only be understood in Satantic terms, and who cannot and should not be negotiated with, because they only understand raw displays of power. Yet it seems to me that if I were in a society that believed fervently in the personhood of a fetus, I would very possibly agree, and view Tiller’s murderer the way I’d view someone who, say, assassinated Mengele.
Well worth reading the rest of her article – one that she states is likely to anger virtually all of her readers due to its reasoned and honest examination of the issue.
Randall Terry has spoken out against Tiller’s killer, but states that the focus should be on Tiller and what he did, rather than how awful his killing was. “Here is what is about to happen”, says Terry…
President Obama has already relayed his “shock.” The arch proponents of child killing such as Planned Parenthood, the National Organization of Women, NARAL, and a host of other enemies of children are going to blame the pro-life movement for Dr. Tiller’s death.
These child killers, and their allies in the Obama administration and on Capitol Hill, will attempt to browbeat the pro-life movement into surrendering our most effective weapons in this battle: our rhetoric, our actions, and our images.
Concerning rhetoric, they will blame those of us who call abortion “murder” and say that it is this highly charged rhetoric that inspires people to “take the law into their own hands.”
Concerning actions, they will say that our protests and vigils and sit-ins are responsible for the shooting.
Concerning images, they will whine that the pictures of babies murdered at the hands of Tiller and other abortionists incite people to acts of violence.
All of these accusations are lies.
Beyond that, these foolish accusations fly in the face of equally radical rhetoric, images, and images in the civil rights movement, the suffragette movement, and the abolitionist movement. If Dr. Martin Luther King had followed the advice of the timid in his day, President Obama would still be riding in the back of the bus.
Simply put: pro-lifers must not flinch, waver, or in any way alter our course in our epic struggle to make child killing illegal again.
Meanwhile at the Abort73 blog, Mike explains why he believes it’s wrong to kill an abortionist. Abort73 denounced the killing, stating that the perpetrator’s actions were “cowardly, immoral and ultimately, damaging to the [pro-life] cause.” While I agree with most of Mike’s analysis, I disagree that the killer was a coward. He was prepared to break the law and kill a mass-murderer – and then to accept the consequences. Here’s an excerpt from Mike’s article,
Had Dr. Tiller’s life continued, he may well have performed thousands of abortions more. We can only assume that the man who killed Dr. Tiller rationalized his actions this way: “If the law won’t intervene, I will.” You see the moral tension. The fact that our government currently protects an abortionist’s “right” to kill human beings in the womb creates HUGE ethical and philosophical problems. So how do we demonstrate the fallacy of taking the law into your own hands, when the law fails to protect the lives of helpless, unborn children? Most of the statements of condemnation I’ve seen read something like this:
“It is never consistent with the pro-life ethic to take the life of another human being made in the image of God.”
“A true, pro-life person respects human life as a gift from God, and leaves all life and death decisions to God Himself.”
The problems I have with these statements is that they seem a bit too simplistic. I’m not sure they adequately deal with the philosophical underpinnings that drive this sort of vigilante justice. Consider this scenario. What would have happened if the man who killed Dr. Tiller didn’t flee from the church after the murder? What if he had stayed there and continued to shoot other church members? What if he had set his sights on the nursery? If any of us were faced with the question of either allowing a gunman to shoot at helpless children or using deadly force to stop him, would we still say that “it is never consistent with the pro-life ethic to take the life of another human being”? If not, then is that really a sufficient rationale for condemning the murder of Dr. Tiller? If it is legitimate in one instance to use deadly force to keep someone from killing helpless children, we must be able to explain why it is NOT legitimate in this instance.
Mike continues, quoting National Right to Life’s statement emphasizing that it is because the actions of Tiller’s killer were unlawful, that his actions should be condemned. Mike also concludes by saying, “Why was it was wrong to kill Dr. Tiller? Because Dr. Tiller was a law-abiding citizen. He did no more than the law allowed him to do.” In other words, the morality of the killer’s actions rest on the lawfulness of his actions. I believe that this concluion is too simplistic.