Responding to Tiller’s murder

The news exploded across the airwaves before noon Sunday: Dr. George Tiller, an abortionist who is known for performing abortions up to just a few days before birth, was shot to death in the foyer of his home church where he was serving as an usher. It didn’t take long for authorities to figure out who committed the murder, nor to apprehend the suspect.

I have taken a special interest in this case for several reasons. For one, I am unashamedly and strongly pro-life and have long stood against the practices that Dr. Tiller and others like him commit all in the name of giving women choice over their own bodies. So any time I hear his name in the news, I pay attention. After all, he was one of the few in the country who performed late-term abortions in the manner that he did. To the pro-choice/pro-abortion groups, he was a hero. To pro-life groups he was a murderer.

I take the concept of abortion very personally. After all, it’s the very birth defect that I was born with that is often used as an excuse for abortion. Spina Bifida is one of the more common known “abnormalities” that are given as a reason for abortion because it’s believed that Spina Bifida would rob the child of a quality life. I’m living, breathing proof that that’s a bald-faced lie.

There’s another reason I’m interested, however. All this is happening in my hometown.  I grew up in the Wichita area and have known about Tiller and his clinic since I was a child. I think any time a person’s home town makes national and probably even international news a person pays attention, but I feel like I have that double reason for paying attention. I know people who know the Tiller family and my heart truly goes out to both my friends and the family who are now mourning. To them, this man was not a political figure or a moral lightning rod. He was a father, grandfather, husband and friend. His murder is in fact a tragedy.

I remember the famed “Summer of Mercy” (1991) where thousands of people were arrested for praying, protesting and blocking the entrances to Dr. Tiller’s clinic. If I had been old enough I would have been there protesting and praying myself but instead I babysat at no charge for families who were participating. It was my way of standing up for what I believed in and trying to help reduce abortion. A vast majority of the protesters were peaceful, quiet and respectful.  This is not propaganda from the pro-life groups involved, this is something I witnessed with my own eyes and ears. I knew many of the people who participated in the Summer of Mercy, and they were not the hateful, cruel protesters they were made out to be. Sure, there were some fringe groups who yelled at the women or were very cruel in their efforts to get their point across, but they were the minority. Most of the people that summer tried to show the women that they truly did have a choice, contrary to what society or whoever else had told them. For many women, it’s not about having a choice. It’s that they feel they don’t have any other choice but abortion.

The protesters that summer were nothing like this man who decided to take God’s law into his own human hands by murdering Dr. Tiller. Yes, he murdered him. It was 100 percent, irrevocably wrong and most pro-life groups are saying this at the top of their lungs. I’ve heard criticism of some groups who have said Dr. Tiller reaped what he sowed. That’s not the same as saying he should have been shot. That’s saying that someone who lives violence breeds violence. Dr. Tiller himself knew he was at risk, after all this wasn’t the first attempt at his life. He chose to continue. Again, to some this makes him a hero, a martyr. To others it makes him a stubborn murderer.

While I believe anyone who takes the life of another, whether born or unborn deserves to face the harshest of punishments for their actions, that’s not our place. It’s God’s law that was broken, God must be the judge. This man who murdered Tiller stole that from God. Many people who attended Dr. Tiller’s church believed him to be a wonderful man of God who was helping women. While I vehemently disagree, only God knows that man’s heart and it’s between Dr. Tiller and God. It’s not for other Christians to ponder about, argue about or consider.

I also believe that this murder denied Dr. Tiller the chance to truly repent and to realize what he’s doing is wrong. That wasn’t this man’s right. He stole the doctor’s ability to repent, but he also stole other people’s ability to see the truth by using violence to supposedly stop violence. The sad irony is, Dr. Tiller’s death will not stop abortions. From what I understand, there’s already another doctor on his way to take over the clinic. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do know it’s true that other doctors will continue this practice and will probably have a proverbial fire lit under them now because of this horrifying crime.

This man who murdered Dr. Tiller did something else that fateful Sunday morning. His actions will allow society to demonize pro-life groups. People who cherish life, all life, are already being called terrorists. The irony of that is, from what we know the day after the crime about the suspect, he wasn’t even affiliated with any major pro-life groups. He comes off as being a fringe person with extremist, violent beliefs. It’s incredibly unfair to lump all pro-life people in with this man. He’s more than likely mentally ill and has some obviously distorted views. I hope and pray that the pro-life movement won’t suffer because of this man, but that’s already proven a false hope.

As this story continues to unfold, my heart will continue to go out to the family and friends of Dr. Tiller. It will also continue, however, to go out to the thousands, millions of women who are or will be facing an unplanned pregnancy. I hope they realize they have choices, that they can choose life.

1 comment / Add your comment below

  1. Jamie – You handled this subject matter with a great deal of care, compassion and professionalism. Bravo to you for taking this on. I agree with you, I think that it’s just sad that Dr. Tiller was gunned down in his own church. Houses of worship should be safe for everyone. I thought you made a great point regarding the fact that the killer took away the chance for Dr. Tiller to ever repent of what he was doing. How powerful would that have been for someone like Dr. Tiller to have come around to see the true effect of what he was doing. As if this subject matter wasn’t sensitive enough, now this certainly makes it even more of a powder keg. It’s going to take a lot of effort by those who disagree with abortion to not only distance themselves from the likes of Dr. Tiller’s murderer but to also really work on making the case for life in a way that affirms life but disavows this type of destructive fringe mentality. This type of behavior, to your point, ultimately makes people like Dr. Tiller look like a martyr for the cause of women’s rights. I’m sure there are people that feel that he is a hero. I made a comment a few days back about the “tyranny of the fringe” and how this is an example of that. This murderers’ actions are basically doing more harm to the cause of the majority on this side of the issue than anything else. These actions go a long way in damaging any kind of credible argument those on this side of the issue make for life. There’s no way to necessarily stop this type of activity because there are always going to be people that fall in this category…so the focus from those in the sensible majority has to be to vigorously pursue what they feel is right while at the same time making a clear distinction between them and the “fringe”.

    So with that, I want to reiterate what a quality post this is. Big kudos to you for taking this on. Thank you for inviting me to comment.

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