Terrorists or Hypocrites
Colby Cosh and Antonia Zerbisias are among those who have reacted with appropriate outrage to the murder of Dr. George Tiller.1 His wife was in the choir of the Reformation Lutheran Church when he was shot in the church foyer.2
The man accused of his murder is said to have suffered from mental illness and to have developed strong anti-government and anti-abortion opinions.3 Dr. Tiller was one of a handful of physicians who perform late term abortions, something that most doctors in North America, including Henry Morgentaler, will not do.4
Cosh’s blog address – “don’t-blame-the-shooter” – reflects the theme of both columns. Both blame the murder on pro-life organizations like Campaign Life Coalition, Operation Rescue and the Genocide Awareness Project. Both imply that anti-abortion rhetoric and arguments from such groups encourage violence and murder.
Given the venomous contempt for pro-life groups evinced in these columns, it would seem that Cosh and Zerbisias, on their own principles, should be blamed if a reader takes them seriously and shoots a “Christofacist.” Again, applying their principles, it would seem that they should be denied the freedom to express their opinions to prevent that from happening.
Fortunately, their principles are not yet the law of the land. They will not be blamed for crimes committed by someone else. One hopes that a human rights inquisition will not punish and gag them for “spreading hate.” Even columns like these have something worthwhile to offer.
Take, for example, Cosh’s assertion that he is puzzled that pro-life groups reacted to news of the murder “with indignation and dismay.” In his view, anti-abortionists should celebrate the murder, since the killing would save the lives of countless infants. He concludes that anti-abortionists who do not celebrate Dr. Tiller’s murder do not really take their own beliefs seriously.
On the other hand, if pro-life groups were to act as Cosh would have them act, Zerbisias stands ready to charge them with “domestic terrorism.”
Hypocrites or terrorists: Cosh and Zerbisias can think of no other alternatives, because both share the moral outlook of people who shoot abortionists.
People who shoot abortionists do so because they believe that abortion is a grave injustice that can be rectified by killing. Cosh and Zerbisias believe that “unplanned pregnancy,” the conception of badly malformed children and the status of women in society are grave injustices that can be rectified by killing. People who kill abortionists claim that the killing is justified to save the lives of the unborn. Zerbisias claims that killing infants in utero is justified to save the lives of women, or to defend what she calls women’s rights.
However, pro-life groups do not believe that grave social problems or injustice are rectified by killing. They do not believe that killing infants is a morally acceptable solution to unexpected pregnancy, and they do not believe that killing abortionists is a morally acceptable solution to the scourge of abortion. Pro-life groups see other alternatives, all of them peaceful, and pursue them steadily.
Cosh and Zerbisias might be able to see this, too.
But first, they have to stop thinking like people who shoot abortionists.
1. Zerbisias, Antonnia, “Doctor’s killing is domestic terrorism.” Toronto Star, 2 June, 2009 (Accessed 2013-02-03); Cosh, Colby,”Pro-lifers don’t want abortionists to be killed. And yet they die.” National Post, 2 June, 2009. (Accessed 2009-06-02)
2. Hegeman, Roxana, “Kansas abortion doc killed in church; suspect held.” Associated Press, 31 May, 2009. (Accessed 2013-02-03)
3. Bauer, Laura; Klepper, David; “Man likely to be charged with killing Tiller had history of mental illness, family says.” The Kansas City Star, 1 June, 2009 (Accessed 2013-02-03)
4. A shortage of willing Canadian physicians caused women from Ontario and Quebec to go to the United States for late term abortions. Quebec Health Minister Philippe:”‘In Quebec, our doctors at the present time don’t feel comfortable doing abortions later than 22 weeks. From 20 to 22 weeks they’re all done in Sherbrooke, after that we still don’t have the capacity to do them here.’” “Quebec hopes to offer late-term abortions.” CBC News, 10 September, 2004 (Accessed 2013-02-03). In 1967, Morgentaler initially urged unrestricted legalization of abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. In 1989 he was performing abortions up to 16 weeks, and by 1996 would perform abortions on women 18 weeks pregnant. Dunphy, Catherine, Morgentaler: A Difficult Hero. Random House: Toronto, 1996, p. 62-64, 339. “We don’t abort babies, we want to abort fetuses before they become babies. . . Around 24 weeks I have ethical problems doing that.” Henry Morgentaler, quoted in “Quebec hopes to offer late term abortions.” Canadian Press, 12 September, 2004 (Accessed 2009-06-02)