Monday, June 01, 2009

The Murder of an Abortion Doctor

I find it hard to argue with Jacob Sullum's logic:

Yet if you honestly believe abortion is the murder of helpless children, it's hard to see why using deadly force against those who carry it out is immoral, especially since the government refuses to act. It may be unwise or counterproductive to the cause, as Schenck suggests when he worries that the killing could be "a greater setback to the pro-life movement than anything the so-called pro-choice movement could do." Promoting an image of pro-life activists as murderous extremists might dim the prospects for legislation restricting abortion, thereby leading to more deaths of unborn children than eliminating one abortionist prevents. But this is a tactical question that does not have to do with the inherent morality of killing in defense of innocent children.

Nor is it sufficient to note that killing Tiller was against the law. When the law blesses the murder of babies, it is hardly worthy of respect, any more than laws blessing the enslavement of Africans or the gassing of Jews were, and violent resistance against such enactments surely is justified in principle.

Some of Sullum's commentors point to a third option: pacifism, which might decry abortion as murder, but morally forbid violence in response. Others discuss the nuances of Just War Theory as it would relate to an extrajudicial killing.

UPDATE: Further ruminations from the ever-thoughtful Megan McArdle.

So. Now I can move onto the observation that if you actually think late-term abortion is murder, then the murder of Dr. Tiller makes total sense. Putting up touching anecdotes about people he's helped find adoptions, etc, doesn't change the fact that if you think late-term abortions are murder, the man was systematically butchering hundreds of human beings a year--indeed, not merely butchering them, but vivisecting them without anaesthetic. I'm sure many mass murderers have done any number of kind things over the course of their lives, to which the correct response, if you're trying to stop the murders, is "so?"

Imagine a future in which the moral consensus has changed, and our grandchildren regard abortion the way we regard slavery. Who will the hero of history be: Tiller, or his murderer? At the very least, they'll be conflicted, the way we are about John Brown.

37 comments:

jockeystreet said...

It's not just hard to argue with his logic, it's almost impossible. If abortion is the moral equivalent of mass murder, and if violence is morally acceptable in order to prevent mass murder, then, logically, violence against abortionists is morally acceptable. Morally required, even.

That's a scary notion to me. I often wonder if those who state that the murder and abortion are entirely morally equivalent see the logical conclusion to which that statement leads, and if they would accept that.

Jody Leavell said...

First, thanks for the line about John Brown. I read Al Mohler's article that made use of that historic reference and it seems so appropriate. Being a son of the South the conflict embodied in the John Brown story is prickly at best.

At one time abortion was more theoretical and perhaps I could be indifferent to it because I couldn't imagine it personally affecting me. However, the day came, twice, when it did. I had no trouble, as I'm sure most abolitionist of their day did, acknowledging the moral outrage of killing innocent life, especially of future generations. If I had been an average abolitionist I'm sure I would have felt so much in common with and even sympathized with the character of John Brown. My biggest struggle would have been between a secret desire to indulge in hero worship for his vigilantism versus a higher desire to live peacefully among men pursing non-violence to settle differences. It is the classic primitive human versus the civilized human struggle. I face that same struggle internally today in light of the killing of George Tiller. I have to humbly admit that. I would like to take a higher ground in either direction but that is tough. But I know practically speaking how detrimental to my hopes for a more just and Pro-Life society the martyrdom of Tiller is. I have no brotherly love, nor do I weep for him as a person. Honestly, it is difficult to muster sympathy for his family. But that does not mean I am doomed to a cartoonish, low-brow approval of what was done.

I take very seriously the logical conclusions of my moral outlook and reasoning on an issue that has become the greatest struggle in my life. I did not wish this struggle upon myself, and I cannot shrink from it to avoid the inconvenience it may bring. Each time someone who sees themselves as opposed to the "Pro-Life" or "Anti-Abortion" "people" finally places themselves in intellectual sympathy and has a light bulb moment I realize they are finally catching up to what they have ignored for so long: they are facing someone who is deeply aggrieved to the core of their being and is completely aware of the larger than self struggle they are called to defend. There are some causes worth struggling for and even dieing for.

Slaveholders lived in unconscious fear of the slaves they owned because of the core indignation slaves justifiably would want to avenge. Any normal person of human instinct would do the same. Religious beliefs that call the aggrieved to a greater form of justice - through non-violence and even forgiveness - are miracles of humanity and civility. If a person views abortion as the taking of a human life(as equal and important as their own), with or without compelling reasons, then how much raw motivation will they have to seek justice for the lost life of their unborn child, grandchild, sibling, or cousin? It should scare anyone to know how hard their neighbor must struggle to remain civil when feeling so fundamentally aggrieved.

Despite my deep personal grievances for the institution of abortion I can bring my self to civility and demand all those who share the struggle to do likewise. Compromise could never satisfy my desire for perfect justice and morality, but it is still tenable if progress can be made. If the President can stand behind his call for reaching some common ground then I certainly hope that supporters of abortion can finally accept the source and strength of our grievance that drives us to erase the unconditional right to abortion. Is it easier to respect George Tiller's gunman for capitulating to his inner rage and desire for justice? Or is it easier to respect the vast majority of neighbors, siblings, and coworkers deeply aggrieved by abortion who submit themselves to a higher justice and civility at great personal cost?

Dan Trabue said...

hmmmm...

So, what's your position, John? I think Jockeystreet has summed it up well: IF abortion = murder and therefore evil and IF deadly violence to stop "evil," THEN killing abortion doctors is a moral good.

Could it be possible that most pro-lifers recognize somewhere deep inside them that abortion, while extremely questionable, is not wholly equivalent to murder? That seems to be the case. Either that, or they're cowardly hypocrites, thinking abortion is an evil and thinking that breaking the law to kill evil is a good and yet not doing so.

I'm thinking that it is not the hypocrisy thing, but the deeper, if reluctant rationalization that they abortion and murder are not quite morally equivalent.

doodlebugmom said...

"When the law blesses the murder of babies..." I think 'blesses' is a stretch!

I think Dr Tiller was a blessing to women who were forced to make an unthinkable decision. I know there will be those who disagree, and I am sure I will be bashed for my opinion.

God did not put us on this earth to judge others.

John said...

Dan wrote:

So, what's your position, John? I think Jockeystreet has summed it up well: IF abortion = murder and therefore evil and IF deadly violence to stop "evil," THEN killing abortion doctors is a moral good.

Yes, it is.

John said...

doodlebugmom, does this mean that Christians may not serve on juries?

John said...

Jockeystreet wrote:

That's a scary notion to me. I often wonder if those who state that the murder and abortion are entirely morally equivalent see the logical conclusion to which that statement leads, and if they would accept that.

If we of the pro-life (and just war) camp live according to our principles, civil war would be morally permissible, if not required. Just as abolitionism-motivated Unionists were justified invading the South during the American Civil War.

John said...

Dan also wrote:

Could it be possible that most pro-lifers recognize somewhere deep inside them that abortion, while extremely questionable, is not wholly equivalent to murder? That seems to be the case. Either that, or they're cowardly hypocrites, thinking abortion is an evil and thinking that breaking the law to kill evil is a good and yet not doing so.

Yes, we are.

I'm thinking that it is not the hypocrisy thing, but the deeper, if reluctant rationalization that they abortion and murder are not quite morally equivalent.

Possibly. Or we are unwilling to take the enormous steps to confront the evil of abortion. We are far more comfortable in our peaceful consumerist lifestyles. Either way, as you say, cowardice.

John said...

Jody, thank you for your thoughtful and heart-felt comment.

I will address one point that you raise:

If the President can stand behind his call for reaching some common ground then I certainly hope that supporters of abortion can finally accept the source and strength of our grievance that drives us to erase the unconditional right to abortion.

There can be no more middle ground on abortion than there can be on the Holocaust. A compromise that says "Well, we'll only kill three million Jews, or only the homosexuals, or only Roma under forty years old" is morally insufficient.

mondayevening said...

I'm not convinced it's the case that either abortion is okay or I'm a cowardly hypocrite. This argument still needs work, but here goes.

The ongoing killing that is late-term abortion, horrific as it is, is the smaller problem. The big problem is people thinking killing those children is okay; that abortion is a blessing, or something we wrestle with, or an tough decision, instead of the intrinsically evil act it is. That moral insanity isn't cured by killing people. The most urgent task is changing people's minds. A civil war won't do that. Murdering abortion providers won't do that. It will more likely do the opposite. In a very imperfect comparison, it's as if early Christians tried to stop the killings in the Coliseum by poisoning the lions.

John said...

Mondayevening, would it have been better for abolitionists to wait until they convinced slaveholding supporters changed their minds rather than forcing the 13th Amendment on a prostrate South?

mondayevening said...

I'll have to defer to you on the historical details and speak subject to correction. After the emancipation proclamation and the surrender, the slaves were nominally free and the south was under military control. The war did some good, certainly. But eventually the federal troops left, and the former slaves were forced back into de facto slavery for generations. Would it have been better to wait until the slaveholders changed their minds? It looks like the former slaves, and their descendants, did wait. If it was going to take years for anything more than on-paper freedom, maybe they could have gained that without the Pottawatomie massacre.

Abortion was illegal 40 years ago. But somehow by then enough influential people had come to think it was okay that the judges made it legal. It's not enough, not even the main thing, to treat the symptom. If some new technology took abortion as an issue completely off the table, the wickedness that lets people allow abortion would remain.

Sleeping Beastly said...

doodlebugmom,
I think Dr Tiller was a blessing to women who were forced to make an unthinkable decision. I know there will be those who disagree, and I am sure I will be bashed for my opinion.

I hope you won't think I'm bashing you if I ask a question: what makes abortion "an unthinkable decision?" If it is a blessing to be allowed to have an abortion, what is so awful about deciding to do so?

Dan Trabue said...

While that question is not addressed to me, could I attempt an answer?

My view of abortion is that it appears to me to end a human life, or at least a potential human life. Therefore, I have always considered myself Pro-life and generally opposed to the notion of abortions, just like I'm generally opposed to suicide.

However, end of life issues are, to me, sort of a gray area. If a person is in great pain and due to die shortly anyway and that person would like to stop eating to hasten their death, I can't really blame them and think that such a decision is theirs to make.

If a husband had made it clear to his wife that he did not wish to live in a vegetative state and he ended up in such a state and that wife decided to pull the plug or stop "heroic efforts" to keep the body alive in an otherwise dead person, again, I think that is a decision for that family. A horrible, awful decision that should be up to them, not to me or the state.

Abortion is like that, to me. IF the family decides this is what is best for the family and the loved one (in this case, a fetus), while it may make me uncomfortable, I think it should be their choice, not mine.

I think if we ("left" and "right") could talk about decreasing abortions and especially addressing the question of whether or not some abortions are done as "abortions of convenience," and the ethical ramifications of that, we could probably find more agreement and actually decrease abortions.

jockeystreet said...

Sleeping Beastly asked:
"...what makes abortion "an unthinkable decision?" If it is a blessing to be allowed to have an abortion, what is so awful about deciding to do so?"

An interview with a woman who had gone to Tiller for a late term abortion on CNN:

http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2009/06/02/ac360%c2%b0-qa-a-personal-perspective-on-late-term-abortion/

Some excerpts from the comments:

"We had a loved a wanted pregnancy-it was our first. I had a tragic complication while pregnant which led to a number of near fatal problems with the fetus, which were not diagnosed until my third trimester... all of my doctors… agreed that this baby would be deeply compromised and would have no quality of life... I went to Kansas with a broken heart to terminate a wanted and loved pregnanc… Dr. Tiller required evidence from several of my doctors ... He also conducted an ultrasound upon my arrival to further substantiate that the fetus was as compromised as my other doctors had stated... Dr. Tiller and his clinic would only provide late term abortions to women whose pregnancies were severely compromised, and he required extensive proof of having such a condition. "

And:

"My wife and I went to see Dr.Tiller in 1991.During a routine sonogram It was discovered that my daughters head did not form at all.It ended at the top of the spinal column.No brain,no soul... This was a baby we wanted,yet it was also a threat to my wife’s life... We were counseled by the good doctor,and then we got to hold our daughter in our arms and we cried.She had no head whatsoever. She was NOT VIABLE.We named her Katie and held a service for her... It was a horrible time."

And:

"I was pregnant with a much loved, wanted and planned child. I was happily married and this was to be our first baby. “Baby Zem” (either Zachary or Emily) was diagnosed at 23 weeks gestation with massive anomalies... Our baby had no kidneys or bladder, and her spine was severely deformed. We were told the baby could not survive outside the womb as it would be unable to eliminate it’s own waste...

We got two other opinions and finally found a hospital … that would perform the abortion...It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. If you haven’t faced such an event, it is not possible to understand the agony."

And:

"At 17 weeks pregnant with my second child, we discovered she had a fatal chromosomal disorder and would most likely not survive the pregnancy and definitely wouldn’t live more than a few minutes after delivery. When my health grew complicated (and cancer became a serious risk), I was induced at 20 weeks. I was encouraged to receive an “abortion”

Some people might say I had an abortion. I don’t think so. I wanted that baby so bad. We took pictures of her (something you can’t do with a technical abortion), and we talk of her often. I miss her terribly... but I’m thrilled to have given her just under a minute of life, as she took a few shallow breaths before passing."

And:

"I had to decided weither to save my life or kill myself and my unborn child. I have 2 kids that needed a mom. I was pregnant with our third and had to terminate... I had a corneal eptopic pregnancy..
the egg attached so high in the uterus that if it continued to grow, my uterus would have ruptured killing me and the fetus immediately. My fetus had a heartbeat and shape. I heard it and saw it on the screen beating, my little bean, the nubs of the arms and feet, the head. That was over a year ago and I am still depressed about what I had to do... I had 2 other kids at home who needed their mom. I was not going to kill myself and leave my other 2 children motherless."

I find each of those just a little bit heartbreaking. I find this letter

http://iowaindependent.com/2565/open-letter-to-obama-a-personal-perspective-on-late-term-abortion

even more so.

I would hope that these would meet your criteria for "unthinkable decisions."

doodlebugmom said...

Jockeystreet, thank you for sharing the stories from others.

It surely shows how complicated the choice is. Medical decisions need to be made by the people involved and their doctors.

I won't change anyone's mind here. I am just stating what I believe.

Mary said...

Killing is never right even if other killing makes it seem like it should be. Period! Two wrongs never make a right. Especially for people who are supposed to be supporting life and saying that every human deserves the chance to live. But really, this guys finds nothing wrong with the killing of innocent children? How are we supposed to trust his opinion on things like morals if he doesn't even think that is wrong? I mean we are the only species in the world that kills our young. Isn't that disgusting? I thought we were supposed to be above the animals.

John Wilks said...

Abortion, especially partial birth abortion, is murder. I feel no sympathy for the doctor.

On the other hand, I believe that Jesus calls Christians to non-violence. So I cannot condone the shooter nor would I advocate for the death of other doctors.

Dan, your argument essentially states that the only appropriate response to muder is to kill the killer.

I would simply point out that the cross of Jesus begs to differ with you.

Dan Trabue said...

Dan, your argument essentially states that the only appropriate response to muder is to kill the killer.

You misunderstand me. I'm a pacifist and don't believe in deadly violence as a solution. I'm just saying that IF one presumes John's apparent logic (IF abortion = murder and IF murder = evil and IF the appropriate response to evil is to Kill those who participate), THEN you have support for doing just that.

I think the argument breaks down in at least two places.

1. I do not consider abortion to be murder.

2. I do not think deadly violence is an appropriate response.

Glad to clarify.

John Wilks said...

I whole-heartedly agree with you on point # two.

On point one, I couldn't possibly disagree more. In the vast majority of instances- and in every single case of partial-birth abortion- abortion is murder.

I will allow that there are a few rare instances where abortion spares the life of the mother. In such cases, abortion remains tragic, though not murder.

However, in any case where the infant and mother can both survive live birth (i.e., elective abortion) the practice is infanticide. It is an act which kills a voiceless innocent so that another human need not be inconvienced. It is morally reprehensible to butcher the most vulnerable in our species simply because they lack the ability for self-defense.

Most disturbing of all is partial birth abortion- which involves inducing labor so that the doctor may stab the infant through the skull with scissors as the head emerges from the womb. This is evil. It is evil as any act of racism of sexism of genocide. There simply is no moral justification for partial-birth abortion. It is proof that our species is tainted by evil, deserving of judgement and in dire need of mercy and grace.

Dan Trabue said...

I wonder, do you think it murder if a wife asks the doctors to perform no heroic measures to prolong the life of her dying husband? Do you think it murder if a person signs a DNR form and doctors don't resuscitate?

It is certainly a death, but I don't consider any of these to be "murders." Intent matters. Circumstances matter. Medical considerations matter.

This is why, while I'm opposed to so-called "abortions of convenience," (to the extent that they exist and it sounds like they do, to me), I'm opposed to criminalizing this medical procedure. I believe the lives of people belong in the hands of their loved ones, not the state, when it comes to medical decisions.

jockeystreet said...

Not making an argument here, but actually looking for numbers. What percentage of "partial birth" or other late term abortions actually fall into a category that could be considered "elective," as opposed to medical? While I am supportive of abortion rights in other cases, late term abortions strike me as a very different kind of thing, and I am inclined to agree that, when done for "convenience," they are on the same plane as infanticide.

But how often does this happen? The only stats I've seen on this are from the early eighties, and there's no reason to think that those stats are still valid. In all the cases I read about, there are contributing factors that make this nothing at all like "murder." But of course, those with tragic stories are more likely to tell the stories, so this might not be an accurate picture. I find it difficult to get a real picture of what people like Tiller are doing, because passions are so inflamed on this, each side gives stats and anecdotes that are skewed, that reinforce the message they want to send.

Jeff the Baptist said...

Could it be possible that most pro-lifers recognize somewhere deep inside them that abortion, while extremely questionable, is not wholly equivalent to murder?

It could also be that pro-lifers, no matter how convicted, do not believe that they have the individual authority to execute the guilty in cold blood.

John Wilks said...

Jeff,

Thank you!

Dan,
How on earth is an elective abortion like enforcing a DNR or avoiding heroic measures?

With your examples, you are talking about a person who, without medical intervention, would die anyway. The issue isn't weather or not a doctor can kill, the issue is how far must medicine go to prevent a natural death.

With elective abortion, you have the opposite situation. The natural outcome is life. The medical intervention will cause death.

So in one case, the doctor lets nature take its course.

In the other, the doctor kills someone who would otherwise live.

If anything, your examples serve to strengthen my point.

Let's put it another way. Let's say you happen to be in your house. You are not sick. YOu are alive and well. But the landlord wants you gone and doesn't want to wait for the eviction process to take hold so you can find a new home. So the landlord pays a doctor to come over and terminate your life and suck your remains through a shop vac.

Since the doctor used his or her medical training to kill you, is it any less wrong than had some thug shot you with a gun?

And yet this is the essence of elective abortion.

Or more pointedly, was Dr.Mengele less of a murderer because the Jews he killed dies in medical experiments as opposed to the ovens?

At the end of the day, an abortion doctor is paid to kill a child who would otherwise live. Such a person would be called an assassin or a hit-man or a mercenary if their victim's feet happen to clear the womb. But so long as at least part of the person hasn't been kissed by the air, we call that person a "medical care provider."

We look at a Susan Smith in horror for drowning her boys. We've locked her up and use her image as a sign of evil.

And yet, had she chosen to abort those boys, she would be seen as a liberated woman who employed her freedom of choice.

So Dan, you tell me. How is a D&E procedure less murder than stuffing them in a trunk and rolling them into the lake? Either way, the boys are dead? So how is one way murder and the other way not?

Dan Trabue said...

Abortion is a medical procedure. One that I rather doubt is taken lightly by many. It is a decision involving both the health of the mother and the fetus/infant.

Not being the person involved in any abortions, I don't know what reasoning went into making the decision. As we have read here, sometimes it is about the life of the mother. Sometimes it is about the life of the infant.

Is it the case that the mother faces a 90% chance of dying if delivering the child? Well, that family should have the legal right to make up their minds about this difficult procedure. Is it the case that the mother faces only a 25% chance of dying? Still, I want that decision made by the family, not some bureaucrat in DC or some preacher in a pulpit.

Is it the case (as with the person who wishes to die earlier rather than later) that the child has horrible medical conditions and would be born in misery only to die later? I want the family to be the ones to make that decision, since the child is unable to (as in the case with the adult in a vegetative state).

The point is, I want families to make these decisions, along with their doctors. I don't want a bureaucrat in DC telling a family "YOU have an acceptable risk of dying, you have to have the child..." or "YOUR child is likely to live reasonably well and pain free, you have to have the child...". I want such difficult decisions made by the family.

Now, are some of the cases more about the comfort (as opposed to the life) of the parents? Perhaps. I know of no such cases, but I fear that they happen too often. And this is where I was suggesting we might find some common ground, working to decrease the number of truly frivolous abortions (IF such abortions happen).

John Wilks said...

Given that perhaps up to one-third of pregnancies end in abortion, do you really think that even most abortions are medically necessary?

Come on!

You post as if abortion were rare and only practiced in extreme circumstances. You are wrong on both counts.

Abortion is common and an act of convenience in this nation. It happens every day to babies who have the potential to thrive. It happens even when the only reason is fear and selfishness. Abortion is used to absolve people of responsibility and to cheapen human life.

If abortion were only practiced in the situations you describe I would not be so passionate on the matter.

But your rose-colored glasses have blinded you to the awful truth: in America we slaughter the unborn because we cannot be bothered to care for our own children.

Our culture has deified freedom of choice. We have crafted idols of youthful indulgence. We worship at the alter of irresponsibility and consumerism. And our gods are hungry: they demand global abuse of the poor and the blood of the innocent unborn to be satiated. Our nation was founded on slavery and we still eat and drink and wear the products of forced labor while butchering the future in the name of choice.

Go on and tell yourself that abortion is only performed when medically necessary. Tell yourself that your cheap grocery store coffee was picked by well paid laborers. Tell yourself that children didn't stitch your clothes in dimsal factories which would make Dickens wretch. Tell yoruself that we Americans deserve our wealth and ease and eternal adolescence because we are a Christian nation.

Tell yourself that so long as the family makes the decision, so long as the doctor stills the beating heart, that all is well.

While you do, the blood of the innocent- of the butchered children, harassed slaves, and victims of corporate greed- cries from the soil to the ears of God for justice.

And weep. Weep because the day of the Lord comes. For someday justice will roll like thunder from on high. And I wonder who among us may stand.

Dan Trabue said...

John W said...

Go on and tell yourself that abortion is only performed when medically necessary.



Perhaps you missed where I referred to this very thing, saying, "I know of no such cases, but I fear that they happen too often."

Dan Trabue said...

John W also said:

ell yourself that your cheap grocery store coffee was picked by well paid laborers. Tell yourself that children didn't stitch your clothes in dimsal factories which would make Dickens wretch. Tell yoruself that we Americans deserve our wealth and ease and eternal adolescence because we are a Christian nation...


I don't know if all of this is directed towards me, but you got the wrong fella, you're preaching to the choir on these points. I'm not sure of what these points have to do with the question at hand.

I would like to further note that this sort of judgmental, brittle preachiness is exactly what drives people away from the pro-life movement, it seems to me.

I should be an ally of yours, I have self-identified as pro-life, I am concerned that too many abortions are not medically necessary or advisable. We're on the same page in many ways. And yet you choose to tirade and bloviate instead of seeking common ground.

It's this sort of stuff that marginalizes the movement and, in the larger context, the GOP. "IF you don't think just as I do, you will be weeping in hell on judgment day!!"

Peh. I am not impressed.

Jody Leavell said...

What a silly argument Mr. Sullum is attempting to make. Of course, disheartening as it is, he is far from alone. The rhetoric to silence opponents of free access to abortion based on this singular tragic event combined with a dullards logic is appalling. Only more appalling is one who takes the bait.

It has been wrong and should now be more clearly wrong for Pro-Life advocates to include childish, and emotional rhetoric about murderers and butchers. I am Pro-Life and know how tempting it may be to express inward disgust and indignation for the actions of so many who facilitate the deaths of innocent humans in utero. But the effectiveness of such displays leads exactly to such pointless debates by people on both sides of the issue.

What has happened to millions of our children has already happened and it is tragic. Since the early 70's it has been known that we, "us", as a society, not some foreign invader, has brought this tragic and evil condition upon ourselves. We have known that a rush to fight violence with violence would be tantamount to civil war. And for that long we have known that the struggle must be patient and peaceful. In frustration many have let their emotions be expressed in rage, but not in violence. Only the very few, who have claimed more than one cause du jour, were deranged enough to act out violently.

The logic is clear: we beg our sisters and brothers to not kill perfectly created and conceived human life. We grieve for the loss of our future generations embodied in these children. We are wounded and disgusted at a callous disregard, not only for the lives of these children, but for our own traumatic experience of abortion. And we are committed to raising the conscience of our whole society to end it. We know that last step cannot be made if we meet violence with violence. Our brothers and sisters are not our enemies in this situation.

The enemy is outside of us, but the enemy does influence us from within. Depending on your world view, that enemy may be called Satan, or simply entropy. Either way, we are fighting to preserve our collective sanity, and for some of us, our very souls. If one understands the very deep experience and motivation of those who are Pro-Life then they may be very grateful for the immense patience and commitment to peaceful change millions of Pro-Life Americans demonstrate each day.

For the sake of civility I find it very easy to argue with Jacob Sullom's logic.

John said...

Jody, I don't understand. Are you saying that murdering abortion doctors is immoral or just politically ineffective?

John said...

Idle thought:

I wonder if, following the lead of the whole ethic of life movement thing, the Right and Left could reach a grand compromise consisting of a simultaneous nationwide ban of abortion and capital punishment.

bob said...

John, The abortion for death penalty exchange idea is interesting, trading potential for the wasted. It also shows the lack of reasoning by most of the pro choice crowd. This is a common argument of the choice advocate how can you be pro life and pro death penalty. Pro death penalty is pro life in that the detterent effect saves lives in exchange for a life that was already discarded.

John said...

I am not adverse to capital punishment in principle, but I find it far too dangerous in practice to be tolerable. Too many innocent people (more than zero) have been executed in this country. Too many people are getting exonerated from death row. And to execute an innocent person is a moral abomination.

bob said...

I wonder if there a statistics on how many have been exhonerated and if so how many were found innocent not just freed on technicalities.

John said...

Bob, here are just a few examples that I've found through a couple minutes on the homepage of the Innocence Project:

Kennedy Brewer
Rolando Cruz
Charles Irwin Fain
Allejandro Hernandez
Verneal Jimerson
Ronald Jones
Ray Crone
Ryan Matthews
Curtis McCarty
Robert Miller
Frank Lee Smith
Earl Washington
Dennis Williams
Ron Williamson
Nicholas Yarris

And those are just cases that the Innocence Project has been involved in.

I have a question: what distinction do you draw between being freed because of innocence and because of a "technicality"?

bob said...

The truly innocent are different from those let loose on technicalities because those let go on tech the courts aren't saying they didn't commit the crime but that they were tried improperly. I don't feel that the way evidence is gathered or how or if the person was mirandized should have an effect on the truth.

Jody Leavell said...

John, I am saying both: that murdering(killing) abortion doctors is morally wrong and politically ineffective. I am also pointing to the fact that temptation enters where the flesh is cut and that only a fool would not notice an enticement to retaliate. Collectively, the Pro-Life community is being enticed to retaliate to the unjust characterizations that they are the ones to blame for Tiller's murder. Taking that bait only extends the damage to the cause of justice and it is one temptation we(Pro-Life) have to guard against.