Dr. Tiller devoted his medical career to the performance of abortions throughout all trimesters. Some have estimated that he performed over 60,000 abortions. He was able to do this because regardless of how repugnant it is to millions of his fellow Americans, it is legal to do so. It is claimed that he offered these services because few else would. He made substantial amounts of money from the performance of these abortions and the abortion clinic he founded will reopen on June 8, 2009 and will continue to operate.
His killer, Scott Roeder is a convicted felon who has a schizophrenic mental disorder and was obsessed with government conspiracy theories. He was not and is not a spokesman for pro-life Americans. His actions are rightly to be condemned by all no matter what you thought of Dr. Tiller. He will stand trial for his crime and be judged by a jury of his peers. His life for all practical purposes is over.
What is truly disturbing is that the debate is calculatingly being shifted from the isolated act of a deranged individual toward millions of Americans who are and will remain pro-life. Rather than see Dr. Tiller's death as an act of violence by a deranged individual numerous statements have been made by the National Abortion Federation and its media allies suggesting that to be pro-life is to be on the "fringe." Their goal it would seem is to use this tragedy to further their political aim of silencing any dissent or protest over the practice of abortion, ignoring the fact that over 50 percent of their fellow citizens identify themselves as "pro-life" and over 75 percent oppose the type of late term abortions performed by Dr. Tiller.
I am pro-life and it is because I am pro-life that I condemn the acts of any deranged individual that would shoot an unarmed man in a church on Sunday morning.
It is because I am pro-life that I have faithfully served on the board of a maternity home that offers real supportive services to women facing crisis pregnancies. While small and without any government funding we have been able to provide housing, food, clothing, transportation to medical appointments, and other supportive services at no charge to over 125 women during their pregnancies and up to 8 months after their child is born. These women are given a choice. They choose to keep their child or in some instances put the baby up for adoption. While not all have been success stories, the vast majority have gone on to complete their education, become employed and are now responsibly raising their children.
It is also because I am pro-life that I believe the government does have a role to play and that abortions do not occur in a moral, ethical or legal vacuum. Responsible parental notification laws, informed consent, ending the practice of partial birth abortion and providing funding for services to pregnant women are decisions that lawmakers and other public policymakers cannot shirk. Seeking to influence those decisions or to elect men and women to office who uphold the sanctity of human life is what democracy and a civilized society is all about and those who seek to do so should not be demonized.
While the President Obama acknowledges the rights of those who disagree with him on abortion he must do much more than offer rhetoric and political stagecraft. While there probably will never be agreement on the issue of abortion, he does have an opportunity to define a new relationship by convening a summit of respected physicians, policymakers, ethicists, religious leaders, and social service providers from both sides of the debate to work on translating ideas for reducing the number of abortions into action. By so doing some good, rather than political hyperbole, may come from these tragedies.
Nicholas J. Stojakovich
© NJS 2009/Raging Grace Publishing