Crossing the Rubicon- The Killing of Dr Tiller and the End of the Pro-Life Movement

How can people who are allegedly pro-life promote an attitude of belief that dehumanizes their opponents and tolerates uncivil and at times inflammatory rhetoric which crosses all bounds of Christian conduct, leading to the murder of other people?  This happened today in a Kansas Church where Dr. George Tiller was gunned down in cold blood by someone at least on the fringe of the pro-life movement.  I think the answer is found at least in some part in yesterday’s post on Gordon Klingenschmitt and what I term the “Klingenban.”

A little over a month ago I published a piece called How Pro-Life People Make Themselves Look Like Idiots. This post dealt with the potential public health threat of the H1N1 Flu and posts that I had seen written by supposedly “Pro-Life” people condemning the government response to the threat.  The people who posted this on a social networking page chief complaint that the government funded abortion, thus it was hypocritical to fund a response to H1N1.  The argument made no sense and I rightly referred to them not as “pro-life” but “anti-abortion.”  I phrased it in this way because I believe that people who think and talk this way have no respect for the lives of we, the “post-born.”

Many in the pro-life/anti-abortion movement have regularly used highly inflammatory rhetoric, referring to abortion providers as “murderers.”  Used the images of the Holocaust to describe abortion and routinely show pictures of aborted babies in their protests, literature and websites.  Now I am in no way saying that I am pro-abortion.  I am pro-life.  However, after I came home from Iraq I started seeing just how perverted some in the pro-life/anti-abortion movement had become.  Not that I hadn’t noticed this prior to Iraq, but when I came home I became a lot more sensitive to people who routinely use the language and images that I described above.  The use of such language imagery and often strong arm and bullying tactics by some in this movement has created a situation where they dehumanize their opponents.  When this is done through the regular use of such language and imagery it creates a culture of hatred and draws often violent or psychologically disturbed people into it.  It is true that people like these are often on the fringe of pro-life groups, but they have connections.  These connections will be the end of the pro-life/anti-abortion movement as we know it today.

There have been a number of times that anti-abortion people have killed abortion providers or bombed abortion clinics.  This was seen again today with the slaying of Dr. George Tiller who performed late term abortions in his Wichita Kansas clinic.  Tiller was killed in his church.  The man suspected, a Scott Roeder had posted on a number of occasions to the Operation Rescue website, even suggesting that Tiller be confronted in his church.   That post is here.  It was taken from a Google cache before Operation Rescue either took it down or blocked access to the site.

Scott Roeder Says:
May 19th, 2007 at 4:34 pm

Bleass everyone for attending and praying in May to bring justice to Tiller and the closing of his death camp.

Sometime soon, would it be feasible to organize as many people as possible to attend Tillers church (inside, not just outside) to have much more of a presence and possibly ask questions of the Pastor, Deacons, Elders and members while there? Doesn’t seem like it would hurt anything but bring more attention to Tiller.

Roeder had also has ties to the Sovereign Citizen movement and was convicted in 1996 of having bomb components in his car.  Likewise he is a veteran tax protester and was sentenced to 16 months in 1997 prison for breaking terms of his parole.  We don’t know a lot more about him but at the best he is a troubled lone operator.   Roeder followed up the post with this a few months later:

Scott Roeder
Mon September 03, 2007, 09:49:40

It seems as though what is happening in Kansas could be compared to the “lawlessness” which is spoken of in the Bible. Tiller is the concentration camp “Mengele” of our day and needs to be stopped before he and those who protect him bring judgement upon our nation.

The unintended consequences of the extreme rhetoric found in much of the pro-life/anti-abortion movement are seen in today’s action.  When a movement describes their opponents as “murderers” “mass-murderers” and compares them to Nazi War Criminals such as Dr. Mengele it can and often does create a climate where the killing of someone is justified.  Now admittedly I’m sure that the vast majority of those in the pro-life movement are not this kind of person.  The problem is that within the movement there are people who think like this precisely because they have been spoon fed this rhetoric for years.  Likewise there are those who oppose the government in other ways who affiliate themselves with pro-life/anti-abortion groups.  This appears to be the case with Mr. Roeder.

Thus the problem, pro-life and anti-abortion groups have by their continual repeating of such language to describe abortion supporters and providers de-humanize them.  By doing this they provide encouragement to people who are actual criminals, such as Scott Roeder and Eric Rudolph.  The use of this rhetoric, imagery and sometimes threatening protests against abortion providers and supporters attracts people who are violent and unstable.  The pro-life movement must be very careful and look at history.  Groups like the Nazis in Germany associated with and co-opted otherwise law abiding groups in Weimer Germany.  The danger is that people in the militia movement, the Freemen and other extremists will in fact will infiltrate the pro-life movement and by their violent actions bring about a crackdown by the government on such groups.  Unfortunately I think that much of the pro-life and anti-abortion movement is patently unaware of the risks that their tactics entail.  I believe that the protest of clinics, homes and places of worship of abortion providers is not effective, drives people who might be in general agreement with the movement into opposition and provides ready material for those who want to malign the movement.

As a military officer I refuse to be a part of any group which uses the methods that I have described above.  While I may be pro-life, I believe that the movement has been compromised by actions of many of its leaders and that the linkage to radical right wing groups will be its downfall.  When, not if this happens it will be the fault of leaders such as Randall Terry and others who have taken a legitimate cause and turned it into a business.  From a position of faith, many in the movement are nothing more than Christian Taliban who will stop at nothing to see their interpretation of the faith is imposed on others.  I know a good number of people in the pro-life movement.  Most are good and loving people, concerned with the lives of both abortion providers and those who have had abortions. These too will be painted with the label of the Taliban because they tolerated this type of behavior from others in the movement.  In fact they are the antithesis of the radical fringe which thrives on confrontation in order to fill their coffers.  In fact I do not believe that many of the larger groups affiliated with the pro-life movement have any desire for Roe v. Wade to be overturned,  it was they would have to get real jobs instead of living off of the donations of their supporters.  We have crossed the Rubicon.  The pro-life movement has effectively committed suicide with the killing of Dr. Tiller.  God help us all.

Peace, Steve+

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6 Comments

Filed under History, Loose thoughts and musings, philosophy, Political Commentary, pro-life anti-abortion, Religion

6 responses to “Crossing the Rubicon- The Killing of Dr Tiller and the End of the Pro-Life Movement

  1. I think the biggest irony is when the pro-life movement uses death as a way to drive home its point. How can anyone believe in the integrity of the pro-life movement when it kills? The logic there is just a convoluted mess. Granted, the shooter may have been on the fringe, but a pro-life movement in its campaigns should stress peace, love and understanding, which are the core principles of life, and, unfortuntately, never seem to factor into the pro-life PR strategy which seems to more often than not encourage hate, agitation and violence.

    • padresteve

      Michelle

      I agree wholeheartedly. It is similar to those who claim to be patriots while openly stating their desire for the government to fail, encourage soldiers to disobey orders in combat zones and talk of secession and armed revolt or resistance. All in all both ironic and perplexing.

      Peace, Steve+

  2. Richard

    The pro-life movement will do what they have always done. They’ll divorce themselves from this man by claiming his sickness all the while canonizing him for his passion regarding the cause.

  3. Greg

    Good article! For many, the pro-life movement reached its logical conclusion–becoming the anti-abortion movement.. There is no way one can argue for the life of the unborn while taking the life of another. If one is ANTI-abortion rather than PRO-life, however, it is easy to justify murdering an abortionist. Someone who is truly PRO-LIFE can never come to that conclusion because he or she is FOR life, unborn and born.

  4. Wow. Zero for Four in previous comments for coming anywhere close to an understanding of being Pro-Life.

    The Pro-Life movement is alive and well, and is gaining ground with Millennials as well as older folks who’ve come to understand scientific and moral implications of abortion. This consensus is growing, and as the radical parts of the feminist movement grow more and more shrill, and less and less respected, we’ll see the political tide turn and follow the social.

    Our very founding document describes the “right to life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” none of which are afforded to one segment of our population, at the whim of another.

    The so-called “Pro-Choice” movement lives in a bizarre world of “rights for me, but not for thee” and lifts the rights of one segment of the population above those of another– and that being the rights the weakest segment.

    Equal protection under law is the bedrock of Classical Liberalism, and it’s being denied to millions of people every year.

    The Pro-Choice advocates have neither political philosophy nor moral philosophy on their side. But they’ve long had activist judges, politicians, and media personalities on their side, making the road to sanity and humanity in this debate a longer, harder one.

    Sadly, though, many more people will be killed before that comes to pass.

    And all the while articles like this one will be written bemoaning the death of the doctor who brought death, without shedding one tear for for the millions already killed.

    • padresteve

      Kristopher,

      I don’t know you and you totally miss this. You are not pro-life in the least, you are anti-abortion, and there is a difference. While I enjoy respectful debate I won’t let you use me as your straw man. Killing someone outside the judicial system is murder. I am pro-life. I am not a fan of abortion but I personally know too many of the people who were at the heart of the anti-abortion movement, and have known them since the 1980s, to believe that most of them are motivated by anything more than political power and hatred, to even grace them with the title “pro-life.” You see for me pro-life also extends to those out of the womb. That includes the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

      Looking at your comment it appears that you demonize all feminists, and those who support a woman’s right to have some control over her body. I guess that you have never had to look into the eyes of a woman who had to chose between her life and the painful decision of having to have an abortion. I have.

      As far as you comments about millenials, you are the one that lives in the dream world. They are fleeing the church in increasing numbers and not coming back.

      I noticed that your blog talks about being an artist and a warrior. If you have served our country at war like I have, I thank you. If you haven’t yet call yourself a warrior… I have no polite words to describe what I think of you.

      I will entertain further discussion offline. A way to contact me by e-mail is provided. But be assured that no more of you comments will be approved.

      Peace

      Padre Steve+

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