After I posted quotes from an interview with Dr. LeRoy Carhart comparing the murder of late-term abortion Dr. George Tiller to Martin Luther King, I got this comment from Alveda King, niece of the slain civil rights leader.
“For LeRoy Carhart to mention the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who worked through peaceful and non-violent means, in the same breath with that of George Tiller, whose work ended peace and brought violence to babies in the womb, is offensive beyond belief,” she said. “The analogy is just wrong.
“Dr. Carhart also speaks of hate crimes,” she added. “I would simply ask him, is it not hateful to regard an entire class of people as non-human because they’re unwanted?”
When I heard that Dr. Carhart, one of a handful of known doctors in the country who admit to aborting late-term fetuses, would be in town Monday to honor his one-time co-worker and close friend Dr. Tiller, I leapt at the chance to interview him. It’s not often you get unrestricted access to these folks and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice was kind enough to make him available.
I was struck by his wife, Mary, and his accounts of the sheer nastiness of a determined group of protestors parked outside their Bellevue, Neb., clinic every day abortions (up to 24 weeks gestation) are performed there.
“One day a week,” Mary said, “people will show up bearing signs saying ‘choose life’ and they don’t yell nasty things at you. They are anti-choice but it”s free speech; it’s not confrontational. They are probably the ore pure anti-choice people; probably the church people because they believe in what they are doing.”
As for the others, “They say ‘you’re not going to live long;’ ‘you’re a murder;’ to me, that is not freedom of speech, that is harassment,” she added.
Hence his label of “hate crimes” to “anti-choice domestic terrorists.”
As I was typing up the interview, our intern Kristi Jourdan went to cover the Tiller memorial service at National City Christian Church on Thomas Circle. It was “eerie,” she told me.
“Usually you’re greeted by ushers with programs, not having your purse studied by U.S. marshals and private security in suits, complete with earpieces and communicating through their cufflinks.”
A small army of security was there and of course Kristi attracted their attention immediately as she took notes on her phone or notepad and texted a few paragraphs back to her editor here at the paper. They probably thought she was signaling to some outside group of assasins.
As she noticed some of the men-in-suits-with-earpieces sidling toward her, she exited the church to call her editor, then re-entered on the other side only to be met by another suited bodyguard.
During my interview, I asked the Carharts if anyone had tried planting crosses - a common practice by pro-life demonstrators - on the front lawn of their home.
“If they got that far up our driveway, they would not be alive,” he said.
Guess his security’s in place.
- Julia Duin, religion editor