Soon after being acquitted by a Kansas jury of nineteen counts of charges brought against him by the state’s Attorney General for allegedly performing illegal late-term abortions, in 2009 Dr. George Tiller was gunned down at a Lutheran Church he attended in Witchita, Kansas. Not only did an abortion doctor die at the hands of a man named Scott Roeder with a history of vandalism committed against abortion clinics, and was originally considered by police as someone not dangerous, Dr. Tiller’s murder sent shock waves around the country that are still being felt.
However, the fact that Scott Roeder committed this heinous act demonstrates not only the venomous hatred anti-abortion groups have for human life but also the religious-based ethics upon which it and anti-abortion laws are based upon. The claims made by anti-abortion extremists about a developing fetus being alive or human at the moment of conception are based on faith and not scientific reasoning or fact.
The most obvious example of religion’s irrational behavior towards abortion is the Catholic Church’s position which condemns abortion at any stage, for any reason and to have one is tantamount to murder. The result of this policy can result in Catholic clergy refusing to give a Catholic parishoner the sacrament of communion or excommunication. There is no rational basis on which people could oppose abortion or support laws criminalizing the procedure.
A developing fetus is a part of a woman’s body and while it has the potential to be a human being once it is born, the pregnancy is contingent upon a woman’s continued ability and willingness to carry and care for it to term. Groups opposed to abortion are obviously against the idea of individual choice and would prefer to see women forced to raise children they either could not afford or do not want. Since they cannot win their moral and legal battles based on facts or rational debate, anti-abortionists conduct their irrational campaigns to criminalize abortions in some manner in hopes of jailing or legally penalizing pregnant women, doctors and others in the medical field who participate in them resulting in the surgery being outlawed in its entirety.
Human hate groups opposed to abortion conduct protests using images of bloodied, aborted, developing fetuses that resemble infants in hopes of shocking people into opposing abortion or to scare women into not having one and will also go so far as to conduct acts of vandalism against abortion clinics too. Prior to murdering Dr. Tiller, Scott Roeder attempted to seal off one abortion clinic he vandalized by pouring super glue on the clinic’s back door lock. He was quoted by a clinic worker who caught him in the act as repeating the phrase baby killer.
At Dr. Tiller’s funeral, a few dozen anti-abortion protesters showed up holding up their signs and singing hymns and one protester’s sign read God Sent the Shooter. In public anti-abortionists, like Randall Terry, and leaders of groups, like Operation Rescue, publicly denounce violence committed against abortion doctors, like George Tiller, and clinics yet I have no doubt in my mind many privately cheer what people like Paul Hill and Scott Roeder did and consider them heroes.
The tragedy resulting from Dr. Tiller’s death is that women who need a later term abortion so they don’t die of a pregnancy where a developing fetus poses a risk to their health or life now have to travel to the even fewer doctors who are in states where late term abortions are legal which puts their lives in even greater danger. Anti-abortionist’s rhetoric and actions speak louder than their denunciations and it is they, not Dr. Tiller, who have blood on their hands.
Hopefully Dr. Tiller’s death has resulted even larger set backs for anti-abortion groups and activists while, simultaneously, his courageous example has inspired surgeons who are or willing to learn how and continue to perform abortions. The situations surrounding Dr. Tiller’s murder should swing people who were undecided about or opposed to abortion to come around and support keeping it legal.
Despite my misgivings about the states interest logic in it, overall, I agree with the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision. The Justices who ruled on the case correctly conclude that a developing fetus has no rights and that a woman has the absolute right to determine whether or not to abort her pregnancy. Meantime, since is the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, Dr. George Tiller should be remembered as a hero for the bravery he exhibited despite overwhelming odds.