by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
June 15, 2009
EQUAL TIME FOR HATE SPEECH?
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Who do you blame when you're trying to comprehend the murder - in his church - of Kansas OB/GYN Dr. George Tiller?
Tiller, the medical director of Women's Health Care Services in Wichita, was a caring doctor for many grateful women and one of only three doctors in the country who would do late-term abortions to save a mother's life or when the fetus was dead or badly deformed.
He was a hero in the face of hysteria. His clinic was bombed in 1986. In 1993 he was shot in both arms by a crazy woman who served 11 years in prison for it. He usually wore a bulletproof vest, drove an armored car and had an armed guard.
So who do you blame for this horrific assassination? Do you buy into the "lone crazy gunman acting alone" theory? Then blame the alleged murderer, Scott Roeder, who truly does appear to be insane, and walk away.
Or do you also blame the antiabortion movement, in which Roeder was an active and enthusiastic participant. There are sincere people out there who truly feel that abortion is wrong, but for the most part they are not running hate-farms like Randall Terry's Operation Rescue. These guys - they're always guys - are in it for the money and the power. They've found an issue that will get their picture into the newspapers and they're milking it for everything it's worth. If you don't think they're gloating right now, you haven't been on the Web recently. "George Tiller was a mass murderer," Terry said this week. "We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God."
Or do you also blame right-wing Christian extremists who have created a new doctrine called the "Right to Kill," and are "demanding that American civil rights laws provide an exemption for their 'right' to kill their political opponents, or any other American they disprove of, provided they claim the murder was inspired by their faith," AMERICAblog editor John Aravosis said.
Or do you also blame the fame-and-money-crazed windbags who fan the flames for profit, people like Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh? Do you blame former President George W. Bush for trying to prevent women from having a say in their own reproductive systems?
Do you blame the federal government for not acting against domestic terrorism? "Since 1977, there have been at least 17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault or battery and three kidnappings committed against abortion providers in North America," reports Jill Filipovic, of the British paper The Guardian.
Whether you personally approve of abortions or not is irrelevant. Every culture in the world has had experience with them. In 2600 B.C., someone recorded a recipe for an abortion-producing drug. A CIRCA 1550 B.C. Egyptian papyrus has instructions for making contraceptive pessaries, including one made from crocodile dung. In the 1920s, organized crime ran illicit abortion mills.
Desperate pregnant women will do almost anything, and stuffing crocodile dung into their vaginas may be the least of it. Heavy labor, riding a horse, having someone stomp or sit on their stomachs, drinking foul-tasting potions made from herbs and leaves, sticking a wire hanger through their cervix and more. All over the world, women do things like this even when it puts their lives at risk. In the late 1920s, some 15,000 women a year died from abortions in the U.S.
So you don't need 1973's Roe v. Wade to know that abortion won't go away any time soon. This being the case, why not have professionals do them antiseptically in clinics?
My personal feelings about abortion are complex: I don't like them and I haven't had one, yet I believe they should remain legal and available. My unwed and pregnant grandmother sought an abortion before she married my grandfather - the baby was my mother, and so I sit here writing this column. But I was also part of an underground network of women who helped desperate pregnant women find abortions in the years before Roe v. Wade; I know about the pain and terror.
Because of my experiences, I have a strong respect for contraception. But as odd as it may seem, right-wing extremist Christians are against this as well.
What's really going on? In 1997, Katha Pollitt put it well in a review of "When Abortion Was a Crime" by Leslie J. Reagan. "Reagan suggests that the abortion debate is really an ideological struggle over the position of women. How free should they be to have sexual experiences, in or out of marriage, without paying the price of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood? How much right should they have to consult their own needs, interests, and well-being with respect to childbearing or anything else? How subordinate should they be to men, how deeply embedded in the family, how firmly controlled by national or racial objectives?"
So who do you blame? Blame them all - Roeder, his friends and associates in the antiabortion movement, religious extremists (of every kind) who believe women should be their slaves and property, mR. Bush, O'Reilly, Limbaugh and the federal government for not acting to protect a woman's right to a safe and legal medical procedure.
Dr. George Tiller is dead and we deeply mourn his loss. But with him died any credible argument that the antiabortion movement is "pro-life."
Joyce Marcel is a journalist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.