Well, the pro-lifers are finding themselves in a similar spot to Muslims now; fingered for a crime they did not personally commit. On Pentecost Sunday, one of the most important days in the Chrisitian calendar, someone walked up to Dr. George Tiller’s Wichita church and killed him in cold blood. The murder of abortion providers has happened before; in these doctors’ homes or at their clinics but never in a church.
The location is not the issue, really; there was not anywhere near this kind of media coverage when two people were gunned down last summer at a Unitarian Church in Tennessee. The issue was Tiller. Last month I spent hours interviewing women with problem pregnancies who were encouraged to abort the handicapped children in their womb for this article. Many of them were told to fly to Tiller’s clinic in Kansas for some of the most wrenchingly horrible abortions imaginable. Tiller specialized in late-term abortions. By the sixth month - 24 weeks - the child is almost viable outside the womb. By 28 weeks - the seventh month - the fetus is fully formed. By 32 weeks - hey, I’m the mom of someone who was born - and abandoned - at that point. Her birth mom lived in central Asia but what if she had lived within an easy flight to Wichita?
There is a suspect in custody, but the comment I’m hearing from pro-lifers is anger and frustration that a man who did these gruesome abortions is going to be held up as a martyr. I called up the Salon Web site and sure enough, there was a candle light vigil Sunday night in Dupont Circle. The article took two slaps at pro-lifers. Another piece was an “elegy” mourning the death.
Then there is this column in the Kansas City Star, which basically blames the entire pro-life movement for Tiller’s death. And this which takes on Operation Rescue. I, too, tried to find OR’s “Tiller watch” Sunday, but the whole site had shut down. And this which talks about a “stain” on the entire pro-life movement. The columnists at the Star seem of one mind as to whom blame for the shooting.
And here’s this column by former Planned Parenthood Director Gloria Feldt who’s going to try to make hay out of the killing as much as she can. But that’s light compared to Andrew Sullivan’s label of “Christianist terrorism” for Tiller’s death. So no matter who the shooter was or what religion he belongs to, the Christians are to blame?
Small wonder why pro-lifers are already bracing themselves for some draconian legislation that may come down the pike as a result of this.
— Julia Duin, religion editor