June 1, 2009

Thoughts on George Tiller

I managed to stop feeling sorry for myself for a few hours to read about this story last night, the murder of Dr George Tiller.

From the Huffington Post with updates:

WICHITA, Kansas -- Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas doctor whose clinic received national attention for performing late-term abortions, was shot to death as he entered his Wichita church on Sunday.

"Members of the congregation who were inside the sanctuary at the time of the shooting were being kept inside the church by police," the Wichita Eagle reported, "and those arriving were being ushered into the parking lot."

Media reports said the suspected killer fled the scene in a blue Taurus. Police described him as a white male in his 50s or 60s.

Tiller has been among the few U.S. physicians performing late-term abortion, making him a favored target of anti-abortion protesters. He testified that he and his family have suffered years of harassment and threats. His clinic was the site of the 1991 "Summer of Mercy" protests marked by mass demonstrations and arrests. His clinic was bombed in 1985, and an abortion opponent shot him in both arms in 1993.

Tiller's clinic also provided group and individual counseling, as well as chaplain and funeral services for people who were grieving.

The anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, which runs a "Tiller Watch" feature on its website, released a statement condemning the shooting. "We are shocked at this morning's disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down. Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller's family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ."

Tiller remained prominent in the news in recent years, in part because of an investigation begun by former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, an abortion opponent.

Well, there's a lot of things you could say about this story but for me I'll stick to "pathetic", some variation of "fucked up" and all out wrong.

In the short few hours I got to read about this, I grew so massively disgusted. I grew so massively disgusted of fucking pro-life (what irony) fools praising the assassin more or less as a hero and he's bound to become a martyr for their little cause. Now naturally not all pro-life people are jumping on this decision, all I'm saying is, if you are I suggest you go talk to your friends and break down to them why you can't be against abortion but praise a man's murder.

I grew massively disgusted with the usual right wing soulless heartless defense, which I actually didn't even see coming. I got tired of headlines snidely referring to Tiller as the "abortion man" or "abortion doctor".

Most of all, I'm massively disgusted that this man--father, brother, son, grandparent, who provided a valuable service (and yes it is a valuable service) was so rudely taken from his family and the world because he so happened to not click with a group's misguided sense of justice, so one man took it upon himself to kill him while he was attending church.

As a final note I found this article via twitter and I think it's also good to read:

How I (and Other "Pro-Life" Leaders) Contributed to Dr. Tiller's Murder

My late father and I share the blame (with many others) for the murder of Dr. George Tiller the abortion doctor gunned down on Sunday. Until I got out of the religious right (in the mid-1980s) and repented of my former hate-filled rhetoric I was both a leader of the so-called pro-life movement and a part of a Republican Party hate machine masquerading as the moral conscience of America.

In the late 1970s my evangelical pro-life leader father Francis Schaeffer and Dr. C. Everett Koop (who soon become Surgeon General in the Reagan administration) went on the road with me taking the documentary antiabortion film series I produced and directed ( Whatever Happened to the Human Race?) to the evangelical public. The series and companion book eventually brought millions of heretofore non-political evangelical Americans into the antiabortion crusade. We personally also got people like Jerry Falwell, Ronald Reagan and countless Republican leaders involved in the "issue."

In the early 80s my father followed up with a book that sold over a million copies called A Christian Manifesto. In certain passages he advocated force if all other methods for rolling back the abortion ruling of Roe v. Wade failed. He compared America and its legalized abortion to Hitler's Germany and said that whatever tactics would have been morally justified in removing Hitler would be justified in trying to stop abortion. I said the same thing in a book I wrote (A Time For Anger) that right wing evangelicals made into a best seller. For instance Dr. James Dobson (of the Focus On the Family radio show) gave away over 100,000 copies.

Like many writers of moral/political/religious theories my father and I would have been shocked that someone took us at our word, walked into a Lutheran Church and pulled the trigger on an abortionist. But even if the murderer never read Dad's or my words we helped create the climate that made this murder likely to happen.

And some more reactions, news & testimonials

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