Their Bad Mother

(Follow-up to reflections on Jon & Kate postponed for a day or two)

George Tiller, a doctor who performed late-term abortions, was shot to death at 10 a.m. today, at his church outside Wichita, Kansas. For some, like Operation Rescue Founder Randall Terry, Tiller was a “mass-murderer” and deserved what he got. For others – their voices represented by women like NOW President Kim Gandy – Tiller is an innocent victim of “domestic terrorism.”

Count me among the latter. This is terrifying and terrible and terrorism is as good a word as any to apply to what happened.

I’m pretty vocal about being pro-choice. I’m also pretty vocal about my ambivalence about what such choice entails, which is to say, I’m emphatically not pro-abortion. But then again, I don’t know anyone who is pro-abortion, or anti-life, or anything other than simply pro-choice. Pro-choice is not pro-death. Funny, though, how pro-life, in this case, turned pro-death. A more perfect example of irony in action I cannot, at this moment, imagine.

Abortion is – to say the least – a complicated issue. How do we say when life begins, how do we determine whether the earliest stirrings of life should be protected, whether the rights and interests of a self-determining human being should or should not outweigh the possible rights and interests of a being whose life has not yet begun? Hard questions that sometimes seem to defy answers. Murder, however, is not a complicated issue. Killing a living human being in cold blood is wrong. We can parse arguments about murder to account for necessary defense (self-defense, war), but otherwise it’s pretty straightforward: murder – understood as killing an autonomous, living human being – is wrong. So how anybody, anywhere, can defend this is beyond my understanding entirely. Even if you belief that abortion itself is murder, how does spreading more death  – spreading death, and terror? – bring forward a message of life and hope?

I am confused, and sad. So, so sad.


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