Monday, June 1, 2009

Wichita, Kansas: Where Pro-Life = Pro-Death?

Back in my home state of Kansas, they do things a little bit differently. They drive Ford F-150 pickup trucks everywhere they go and don't really believe in taxi's or subways or any significant public transportation of any kind. The vast majority of the state makes far less than $250,000 a year, yet it still votes Republican in every presidential election, and has done so for the past 100 years with few exceptions.*1 In Kansas, if you are so inclined you can legally carry a loaded concealed gun into AppleBee's as you order your chicken-riblet basket and diet coke.*2 And speaking of concealed weapons, if you are Pro-Choice in Kansas you might wanna watch out, because apparently Pro-Lifers will walk up into your Church and shoot you dead where you stand to make their point.

Yesterday, Doctor George Tiller (pictured left), a doctor at a Wichita abortion clinic, was shot dead while he was attending Church with his family by Pro-Life activist Scott Roeder of Kansas City. This was not the first time that this particular abortion services doctor had been attacked in Kansas. Another Pro-Life activist shot Dr. Tiller in both arms in 1993, and his clinic was bombed by abortion protesters in 1985. To make matters worse, antiabortion activist leader Randall Terry today said Dr. Tiller "was a mass murderer and, horrifically, he reaped what he sowed." Although each camp (and even President Obama) has officially denounced this act of violence, this begs the question as to which side in this debate is supposed to be "pro-life" exactly?

As much as I like to pick on my home state, this is not the only state to perpetrate violence against an abortion services doctor. In 1998, Dr. Barnett Slepian was shot and killed in his home by a Pro-Life activist in Buffalo, NY. And we can go down the line of other states where abortion clinics have been fire bombed, abortion doctors and nurses harassed, beaten or killed, etc. Both sides of the abortion debate feel passionately about their cause, and rightfully so. And both sides of the abortion debate denounce acts of violence, such as the aforementioned shootings. Indeed just a few weeks ago when President Obama gave his address to the graduating class at Notre Dame, he urged both sides to treat each other with respect, even if we disagree. But when we look at the history of incidents surrounding the abortion debate, a pattern seems to emerge on the Pro-Life side as the side that, ironically, resorts to violence and/or death to make the point that human life is to be valued at all costs.

Even though it would be illogical to use inductive reasoning to impute the rash actions of the few onto the many, the question I submit is this: in the court of public opinion, do actions like these taint the Pro-Life movement as one of hypocrisy?

*1 - Since Kansas became a state in 1861, it has only voted Democratic 6 times: 1896, 1912, 1916, 1932, 1936, and 1964.

*2 - In March 2006, the Kansas Legislature overrode then Governor Kathleen Sebelius' veto to outlaw concealed weapons in Kansas, making Kansas the latest of 34 states that permit people to carry concealed weapons in public.
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