If President Obama Supports the Culture of Death, Then I Do Too
Those of you who do not get the New York Times may have missed the feature story describing the confusion and uncertainty abortion protesters in Wichita, KS have been afflicted with since the murder of Dr. George Tiller shut down all the women's health clinics in the city.
“I don’t know what the future holds,” said Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, one of the most well-known anti-abortion organizations. Seven years ago, Mr. Newman moved his organization’s national headquarters, its leaders and his family from Southern California to Wichita to focus a national spotlight on Dr. Tiller, whom he described as “the flagship” of the country’s abortion business.
“I think it’s too early to say what comes next,” he said.
Although Operation Rescue worked for years to close down Dr. Tiller’s clinic, his death was never the outcome Mr. Newman wished for, he said. Of the man charged with killing Dr. Tiller, he tearfully said, “This idiot did more to damage the pro-life movement than you can imagine.”
Well, cry me a river.
Operation Rescue denounced the murder of Dr. Tiller. Scott Roeder, who was unaffiliated with any organization working to end abortion, has been charged with the crime. But Operation Rescue is an organization that walks the line of illegality in its behavior all the time, and then is "shocked -- shocked, I tell you!" when some lonely, angry person takes them seriously and kills a doctor because his head has been filled with blood-soaked fantasies about the murder of darling little blonde and pink babies. In Operation Rescue-Land, they protest that propaganda issued on their website (like this and this) has nothing to do with the murder of George Tiller and other acts of extreme violence against women's health clinics and abortion providers. And yet, making unsubstantiated charges that Tiller himself was operating outside the law and that he was killing women with botched procedures misrepresented Tiller as a vigilante himself, when in fact he was operating within the law and within the best practices of medical care.
Fact number one: women want to choose whether to bear children or not, and it is within their legal right to do so. If it ceases to be legal to obtain abortions, they will still do it. Fact number two: fetuses are not babies. They are imagined babies. They are babies in waiting. But they are not babies.
The so-called pro-life movement houses a great many lunatics, if you ask me, and that all these lunatics aren't killers is probably something we should be thankful for. Another banner posted to the Operation Rescue website labeled "Obama wants you to click here" takes you to this portion of the site, where you learn that President Obama wants you "to sanction the killing of infants born alive" and "to embrace a culture of death." Click on the first link, and you might make your way eventually to Senate Bill 1095, the Born Alive Protection Act, which Obama voted against (in Operation Rescue-Land, he voted in favor of infanticide.) The bill, which passed in July 2002, is ntended to undermine Roe by creating a chilling effect. It means you could go in for a perfectly legal abortion and come out with a million dollars or so of medical bills after the hospital fulfilled its obligation to put your living but unviable fetus on life support.
Click on the latter link, and there is a large quote from an Obama speech where he asserts his support for reproductive freedom -- otherwise known as a culture of death. Got it?
But to get back to Troy Newman's fear that the murder of George Tiller will harm his group: it's hard to imagine how Scott Roeder could hurt Operation Rescue more than they have hurt themselves already. But I sure hope so. Who printed up those signs informing us that "God Sent The Shooter?" Operation Rescue certainly hasn't taken any responsibility for getting them off the streets, lest the misimpression be left that they and other so-called Christian anti-abortion groups are full of hate and bile. But perhaps Newman's real fear is that the foot soldiers of the movement, who devote themselves full time to picketing clinics where abortions are provided, will emerge from their fugue state. Perhaps they will realize that what they are involved in is violent and not Christian at all, and they will go home to make real lives devoted to actual people, rather than the innocent imaginary babies that populate their Manichean fantasies.
If the Tiller family has any strength left after this ordeal, and they want to do something to honor George, my suggestion is this: a huge, whacking civil suit against Operation Rescue much like the one Southern Poverty Law center founder Morris Dees won last November against the Imperial Klans of America. Not only do such lawsuits establish necessary links between the atmosphere created by hate groups and the violent actions of lone individuals, if they succeed, they impoverish the organization and starve it to death.
I am Claire B. Potter, Professor of History and American Studies at Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT. My blogging ethic is neither to name or to accurately describe individuals unless I am writing about a public event, or commenting on information already published about that person in a reputable source. Unless I note otherwise, situations, pseudonymous people and professional dilemmas described here are fictional. Uncivil or mean-spirited comments toward me or anyone else will be deleted, as will advertisements for products or services disguising themselves as comments. The Radical can also be found at her Zenith faculty page and at Cliopatria; scholarly and public writing can also be found here. The banner photo was taken from this page.
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