An Entreaty to Rational Pro-Life Supporters

It has become acceptable in the US to use violence and intimidation to stop women and men from participating in activities that are their legal right.  In Wichita Kansas, where Dr. Tiller was murdered over a year and a half ago, there is not a single doctor who provides abortion services. This is not because there are not any doctors willing to provide the services, but rather because doctors are intimidated and stalked by anti-abortion protesters and are afraid to offer these services.

How is this okay with anyone who respects the Constitution to allow bullying and intimidation tactics to trump the legal rights of American citizens?  It truly does not matter what you think about the issue of abortion, if you respect the law and the Constitution then you agree to respect ALL the laws, even the ones you disagree with. We have an entire democratic system in place that allows laws to be discussed, amended and voted on in order to have a democratic, civil society.  By trumping the legal system and taking matters into their own hands, anti-abortionists are in effect snubbing the law and making a mockery of our judicial system.  And to make matters worse, there are people who have sworn to uphold the law that are participating in this debasement of our judicial system either by standing by and doing nothing or using their power to help in the subversion.  

In order for our country to continue to subsist, respect for the law and the Constitution must be upheld.  I hear this often from politicians on all the sides of the political spectrum, but we need to see some action that actually supports this view point.  Where are the rational pro-life supporters who disagree with abortion, think it should be illegal, but who also recognize that murder is wrong?  That taking the law into your own hands is not the answer.  I want you to stand up and say, “I disagree with abortion and with Dr. Tiller’s medical practice, but killing him was wrong.”  That stalking and intimidating medical providers is wrong.  That instead of intimating practitioners and patients of clinics that provide abortions, people who think abortion should be illegal should channel their energies into our judicial system and work to change the law or find productive ways to lower the need for abortions like access to birth control, rather than bullying and intimidating people who disagree with them.

Just because you disagree with a law does not give you the right to break that law for any reason, moral or otherwise. If we begin to use moral justification for breaking the law, we liken ourselves to peoples that otherwise would be called terrorists–people who disagree with the law, often on moral grounds, and therefore decide to take it into their own hands.  We do not live in a society filled with terrorists.  For the most part we live in a peaceful society that respects and upholds the law through which those who break the law suffer the consequences.  While Dr. Tiller’s murderer was caught, tried and sentenced to life in prison, the lack of pro-life voices decrying the horrific act is in affect silently, but powerfully, endorsing the murder of Dr. Tiller.

Being unable to agree on the intricacies of abortion is one thing, but if we cannot come together and agree that murdering a man in cold blood while he attends a church service is wrong–no matter the reason–then we have a serious problem.

About Kimberly:
Kimberly is a law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. When not studying or writing, she can be found devouring video games and books. She is commonly caught muttering under her breath a critique of the consumeristic mechanism that constantly insists on bombarding her personal space.

Comments

  1. “Just because you disagree with a law does not give you the right to break that law for any reason, moral or otherwise.” I wholeheartedly disagree with this statement. That might seem strange, coming from an ardently pro-choice former pacifist, but hear me out. I refuse to apply a standard to others that I would be unwilling to apply to myself and those with whom I disagree. The African American Civil rights movement and the abolitionist movement were both full of lawbreaking. Queer people routinely violated the law historically and, in some states, a trans person using a safe restroom still does so. My grandparent’s marriage was illegal in much of the US at the time. Pre-Roe doctors who saved lives by providing abortions, sexual educators who violated anti-pornography and anti-obscentity laws to educate women about their bodies and reproduction were also law breakers. And, sorry to Godwin, but Holocaust resisters were lawbreakers. To conflate all lawbreaking with terrorism is flat out absurd. Terrorism involves an act of violence against a civilian, not mere lawbreaking. So, no, I do not think that two of my favorite professors hate democracy and the Constitution and support terrorism because they were lovers pre-Stonewall. The means (the potential harm), the ends (the harm to be averted-and, yes, reality matters a lot here), and the specifics do matter. This issue is not so simple.

    • I’m with cat on this one. Martin Luther King, Jr. broke the law. Gandhi broke the law. Susan B. Anthony broke the law by casting her vote in the 1872 election. I don’t believe in “the law” as a sacred institution – especially in the case of unjust laws.

    • Cat- I absolutely appreciate your points. Its totally fair to say that this issue is not simple. But what do we do with the murder of Dr. Tiller? Is this an acceptable action? Should we expect more violence against abortion providers because people truly feel its the right thing to do? How should the people who disagree with Dr. Tiller’s murder respond? I don’t think any of the law breakers that you and Serena listed were violent law breakers, so is this where we draw the line?

      Dr. Tiller’s murder was not an isolated incident or the acts of one man working alone. There is a violent rhetoric encouraging violence against abortion providers/supporters/seekers. Not all pro-life supporters encourage violence, and that was my point for writing this article, is wanting to know where their voices are.

      • Kim – I think your point about violence is the important distinction. I think that social justice is the bottom line. If a law violates the concept of justice, it is totally ethical to break that law. But I think that nonviolent civil disobedience is the only ethical way to break those laws.

  2. HAROLD HECUBA says:

    I am a pro-life, professional male and that might make some of this blog’s readers view me as the enemy. That being the case, however, I want to say that you are CORRECT about this matter and I am quite willing and even eager to say;

    “I DISAGREE WITH ABORTION AND WITH DR. TILLER’S MEDICAL PRACTICE, BUT KILLING HIM WAS WRONG.”

    There are literary, philosophical, historical and socio-political traditions that glorify the breaking of laws that are unjust or considered unjust. Some are worth glamorizing and immortalizing and some are unworthy of that. Jewish and Christian faith traditions include lessons that seem to uphold following the edicts of leaders and laws of the land, even the laws of a hostile, military, occupying force. At the same time, there are also theological/faith lessons that seem to condone a kind of “disobedience” when something is an affront to one’s faith. That does not mean that all pro-life sentiments are, by any stretch of the imagination, rooted in religion. There are also secular tales and maxims that make such claims as prison being right place for a just person who lives in an unjust society. But I am beginning to ramble …
    The murder, or attempted murder of abortion doctors is, simply, wrong. That is not a painful or difficult thing to concede. The March for Life that took just took place in Ottawa, Canada, by some estimates, had 10,000-15,000 people involved in perfectly legal protest. Are pro-choice people as ready to concede that leaders and lawmakers in a democracy are not entitled to ignore or disregard the political convictions of people who turn out in numbers that massive? If pro-lifers concede that the shooting of Dr. Tiller was an unforgivable, sickening act of lawlessness, are pro-choicers as ready to acknowledge that Kermit Gosnell is a monstrously despicable criminal? The slightest bit of common ground/agreement is enough to show that we’re all reasonable people despite our differences of opinion on this issue.
    I will say that, despite being pro-life, I have found the quality of writing in the several posts I’ve read in here to be interesting, rational and balanced. I commented on one other post and was treated with fairness, respect and diplomacy. That almost kind of …surprised me. I won’t name names, but that hasn’t been the case at every pro-choice site that I’ve visited, despite the fact that I ALWAYS try to be respectful. I’ve actually faced the opposite of those things with some censorship added – my thinking was that some of my points were so good that it made them uncomfortable. :)
    So hopefully people like us who differ, perhaps even vehemently, on this issue can continue to dialogue. When something is a war of words, a few freaks can grab hold of the idea that it’s an actual war and reach for weapons. This is a fair and even-handed post that I just read and even the other comments in this section are good. All the best from a man who’ll soon become a father.

    • Harold-Thank you for your thoughtful comments. If the allegations against Kermit Gosnell are proven to be true, than I absolutely agree with you that his actions are monstrously despicable. His actions are certainly not what the spirit of the majority of the pro-choice movement supports.

      I think our goals are the same, we just disagree on how to achieve those goals. I don’t think that making abortion illegal will lower the abortion rate significantly. I think that all it will do will endanger the lives of the women who seek abortions, make tracking abortions more difficult and criminalize the actions of women against their own bodies. I also don’t think forcing a woman who had decided to have an abortion be subjected to ultrasounds and lectures aimed at coercing her to change her mind in beneficial for anyone, pro-life or pro-choice supporters, let alone the woman herself.

      I’d rather we’d work on other ways to lower the abortion rate. I think this can be done through comprehensive sex education (which includes information on abortions, the positive and the negative) and wide spread availability of contraception.

      I think many pro-life supporters also disagree with sex outside of marriage and therefore disagree with teaching young people about sex, because its an action that they shouldn’t be engaging with. While every parent has the right to teach their children their personal views on sex, I think we need to have some perspective on reality. Some kids are going to have sex, no matter what kind of homes they come from or what their parents have taught them. And some won’t. But for those kids that choose to have sex, I’d rather they be informed and capable of preventing pregnancy and the transfer of STDs, rather than blindly engage in activities that they don’t fully understand nor do they understand how to protect themselves or the consequences of their actions.

      I hope that as you become a father you develop an open relationship with you child, sharing the positive as well as the negative aspects of sex and about contraception, as well as your thoughts on abortion.

      • Maureen says:

        I’d like to chime in quickly and put in my two cents regarding Gosnell. I am a steadfast pro-choice supporter and am horrified by what Gosnell did. However, there is a serious conflation running rampant in the media with regards to his acts. What Gosnell did was NOT late-term abortion; it was murder. While many anti-choicers do not see a distinction here, there IS one, legally speaking. That being, Gosnell delivered live, breathing babies and then killed them. I don’t mean to engage in a “well is it better that he kill the baby inside the womb?” debate, but I do think it’s very important to point out the legal distinction.

        Also largely absent from mainstream discussions about Gosnell are the implications of his clinic, and ones like it, on the larger women’s health picture. The conditions Gosnell’s patients endured are representative of what will become commonplace in the face of extreme abortion restrictions — or in the case of this article, the fear and intimidation doctor’s endure, which significantly impacts the number of providers willing to perform this constitutionally protected medical procedure. Making abortion inaccessible or illegal will not rid this country of its existence, as some would like to believe. Rather, when safe, legal services remain inaccessible for thousands of women, whether because of their age or financial resources, women will turn to clinics like Gosnell’s. Which is unacceptable, to say the least.

        Anyways, great discussion :) Just wanted to throw my thoughts out there!!

        • Harold Hecuba says:

          Points well-taken and thought-provoking, but if I may so, also somewhat debatable. Pointing to Gosnell’s clinic as an example of “This is what will happen even more if abortion laws become more restrictive” is not a solid argument. It can just as easily be argued that “This is what happens when the laws are too permissive; people REALLY begin to take liberties in the name of liberty.”
          Maureen is right, obviously, that there is a LEGAL distinction between late-term abortion and the actions of Dr. Gosnell. As a medical doctor, however, he didn’t seem to see much of a MEDICAL distinction between the two – not that any of us would consider him very competent. He was also far from being the first doctor to “cross the line” in terms of when it’s no longer OK to get rid of a baby.

  3. I absolutely agree with Cat and Serena. And I would add that, 99 times out of 100, people who say, “everyone should always obey the law” really mean, “everyone should obey those laws that I agree with”.

Speak Your Mind

*