I was shocked to hear of the murder of Dr. George Tiller yesterday. I had just returned home from church with my family when I was informed by a friend that he was gunned down while he was at church. My initial reaction was one of shock, which progressed rapidly to anger. Shock because despite the ongoing efforts of those who seek to destroy it, this is still the United States of America, where differences in views are settled according to the rule of law, not by vigilantes roaming the streets or ambushing helpless people in church pews. Anger because by this act of unjustifiable violence the misguided individual or individuals responsible will have done more to undermine the pro-life cause than Dr. Tiller could have done had he lived another 30 years.
At this time we certainly do not know all the facts surrounding Dr. Tiller's murder. We do know that the abortion doctor was extremely controversial, had received countless death threats and had been shot once before. By his own account, he had performed over 60,000 abortions and he was a strong supporter of the pro-abortion former governor of Kansas, Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sebelius. He was detested by pro-life advocates, including this particular pro-life advocate. I must admit that I would not have been personally saddened had he died by slipping on a banana peel, but I am profoundly saddened and truly mortified by his murder. This killing was not the act of a pro-life supporter. It was the act of a person who profoundly misunderstands pro-life principles, democratic ideals and further, had no self control.
I have in the past noted that pro-life advocates must promote the right to life of every innocent human being. We need consider not only moral innocence, but innocence legally as determined by our system of law. Dr. Tiller was certainly not, in my view or in the view of most pro-lifers, morally innocent. His supporters would no doubt agree that a person living in Nazi Germany would have been morally justified by violently interceding on behalf of the innocent people being slaughtered in concentration camps. Actions such as this would have been justified even if they resulted in the deaths of the perpetrators. Therefore, how can we reconcile this apparent dilemma? How do we in the pr-life community conclude, while maintaining logical credibility, that in defense of the unborn we cannot kill a person who is guilty of repeatedly killing babies in the past and had planned to do so in the future?
Reconciliation of this dilemma is possible precisely because we do not live in a country like Nazi Germany, a regime founded upon the principles of hate and violence. That system of government itself was intrinsically evil and therefore morally decent people had no obligation to respect the laws allowing and in fact supporting those atrocities. Standing up and violently fighting the regime itself, the agents of that regime and the actions of that evil regime was justified.
The United States, for all of its perceived faults, was founded based upon the principles of liberty and justice and its laws are passed by legislation adherent to the constitution. This country is basically and intrinsically good and its system of government is representative. We are therefore morally bound as citizens to obey its laws even if there are certain laws with which we disagree, since the laws were passed by a majority in the spirit of liberty and democracy. We have the right to protest against laws we find repugnant and we can vote our consciences. If we find that we cannot by our own actions obey a law we find morally reprehensible, we must peacefully refuse to do so and accept the legal consequences. We have no right to use violence against others or, heaven forbid, kill as a protest against lawful, though immoral acts.
It is precisely because we oppose the prevailing liberal view that our country is basically evil and racist, as espoused by Mr. Obama's friend William Ayers and the most wrong Rev. Wright , that we must condemn this act. However incongruous it may seem, this view is perfectly logically consistent. The liberals support abortion on demand, believe that the U.S. is basically evil and that our own country is at fault for the tragedy of 9/11. Yet, we who are pro-life believe in the intrinsic evil of abortion and in the intrinsic goodness and greatness of this country and our system of laws. Because of this we must condemn the unlawful murder of a person who was, in our view, the moral equivalent of Dr. Josef Mengele.
The freedom of conservatives and pro-life advocates is being attacked as never before. Loss of conscience protection, The Freedom of Choice Act and the Fairness Doctrine all seek to reduce the freedom we have to espouse our views. Yet we must stand for conservative democratic principles nonetheless. This violent act will strengthen the real haters of liberty and those who support the culture of death. The murderer of Dr. Tiller will have to live with the fact that this selfish act will have an effect completely opposite to that which in his deranged mind he hoped to achieve. He obviously never took to heart the words of Our Lord: "Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone".
All pro-life supporters must condemn violent actions such as this with as much vigor and passion as we condemn abortion and euthanasia. Otherwise, we are not only hypocrites, but traitors to our own cause.
Frank S. Rosenbloom, M.D. is President of Oregon Right to Life, and blogs here.