The recent murder of George Tiller, the famous late-term abortionist in Kansas, brought differing reactions from the pro- and anti-abortion movements. The former saw it as the predictable consequence of anti-abortion speech and the latter reaffirmed their commitment to peaceful political action to overturn abortion on demand, the decree of Roe v. Wade (1973). The defenders of "reproductive choice" have declared in statements to the media that it is not enough that Tiller’s murderer be charged and ultimately convicted of that crime, but that it be treated as a form of "domestic terrorism." U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is already pursuing that course.
The pro-life movement is very concerned that it will be unfairly besmirched by the actions of a tiny few. I don’t know if the acts of violence against abortion clinics or practitioners are as numerous as abortion supporters say or as few as abortion critics maintain. But I do know that pro-life organizations do not endorse violence.
In any case, abortion is an act of violence. If successful, it always results in the death of a preborn human being, developing in the mother’s womb. As such, it is a violation of the natural right to life, not to mention liberty and the pursuit of happiness, with which all human beings are endowed by their Creator.
However, it has been the law of the land for 36 years and it must be obeyed. Laws can be changed, and this one ought to be as soon as a majority of both houses of Congress and the President pass a law removing the regulation of abortion from the U.S. Supreme Court’s jurisdiction.
That will be a long time, I fear. If it is any consolation to all of us who are pro life, slavery was legal in this nation for 250 years before its demise, the latter thanks to Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (1863) and the passage of the Thirteen Amendment (1865). I pray that we do not have to wait that long, but I know that it will never happen unless Americans come to look upon it as a wrong, just as they did slavery.
It so happens that an event akin to the murder of George Tiller occurred in October, 1859, when the radical abolitionist John Brown led a raid on Harper’s Ferry, a military outpost in Virginia, in order to seize arms and ammunition for the purpose of equipping slaves sofor an insurrection to destroy slavery. The plan failed and culminated in the hanging of Brown and his collaborators.
Soon slaveholders and their allies were demanding a federal law to suppress all speech and writings against slavery, on the grounds that it incites violence against an institution which was, sad to say, protected by the U.S. Constitution. President-elect Lincoln made it clear that he would never sign such a law, not because he believed no speech whatsoever should be curbed, but because it would be wrong to prosecute anyone for speaking the truth!
In a letter Lincoln wrote to his life-long friend Joshua Speed in 1855 when violence broke out over the attempt to introduce slavery into the Kansas Territory, the future president saw a link between introducing slavery and the violence that resulted. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, he wrote,
"was conceived in violence, and is being executed in violence. I say it was conceived in violence, because the destruction of the Missouri Compromise [which had kept slavery out of the Louisiana Territory], under the circumstances, was nothing less than violence. It was passed in violence, because it could not have passed at all but for the votes of many members [of Congress] in violence of the known will of their constituents. It is maintained in violence, because the elections since clearly demand its repeal; and the demand is openly disregarded."
These strong words are no less applicable to Roe v. Wade, which legitimated the violent act of abortion, was made supreme law without the action of our elected representatives, and has been declared a "super precedent" that cannot be overturned even by peaceful means. In the wake of the Tiller murder, we are seeing calls to suppress the opinions of those who oppose the "procedure" which has resulted in the lawful deaths of more than 45 million babies.
We should condemn the murder of anyone, whether it be a man empowered by an unjust law, or the victims of his despicable acts.