Some Reflections on the Murder of Dr. Tiller

Womens' Health Care ServicesWhen my generation was in its youth – and remember, I am speaking as an octogenarian — babies sometimes came along at inconvenient times. The husband may have been in school, or the family was already cash-strapped, or one of the two may have been out of a job. But when the announcement was made, family and friends cheered as if it was a good thing. Babies were almost always special.

In most cases the unexpected infants grew into productive adults and blessed their parents and their world.

When my wife and I went to the doctor to say that we thought our firstborn was on the way, he stood up from his desk, crossed the room, put out his hand, and said, “Congratulations!”

However, when that firstborn grew up, married, and later went to the doctor to confirm a pregnancy, the doctor asked her, with clinical detachment, “Do you want to keep it?”

Values had shifted dramatically within the 30 years between these two events. The issue was no longer the preeminent value of human life; it was the issue of choice trumping all else.

The abortion issue has hit the headlines again with the murder of Dr. George Tiller on May 31, 2009. He was the widely known late-term abortionist based in Wichita, Kansas. The murder took place in the narthex of the Lutheran church where Dr. Tiller was serving as an usher.

Many ask, how could it be that this doctor was a servant of the culture of death on weekdays and a worshiper of the Lord of Life on Sundays?

Pro-life and pro-choice advocates alike have inveighed against this ruthless murder by a crazed vigilante. This is not the way critical moral issues are settled in a civilized society — especially one founded on Judeo-Christian ideals. On that question there has been apparent full agreement.

But beyond that, the blogosphere has lit up like a nighttime battlefield with flaming charges, irrational diatribes, and plenty of coarse language. From my cursory review of the field, the enraged comments are mostly from the pro-choice side of the conflict, uttered against public pro-life spokespersons, organizations or just “Christians” in general.

With the murder of Dr. George Tiller, a family is bereft of a husband and father. That is reason for great sadness. When death rends any family, the cost is heavy. But at the same time, should we not grieve over the thousands of babies killed in Dr. Tiller’s late-term abortions? The number may be as high as 60,000, and these were pre-born babies, also ruthlessly killed in their innocence when developed fully enough to have survived outside the womb.

Who in society will grieve for them?

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