Abortion doctors: A matter of life and death

42

On a warm spring Sunday, just after the morning service had begun at the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Dr George Tiller was handing out the church bulletin in the foyer when a stranger walked up, pointed a handgun at his head and pulled the trigger.

Three hundred miles away in Nebraska, his friend and colleague Dr Lee Carhart had just finished surgery and was preparing to meet him in Kansas for work, as he did every third Sunday, when his phone rang. As Dr Carhart held the receiver to his ear, all he could make out was crying. Through her tears, Dr Tiller's nurse, Cathy, finally managed the words: "He's been shot. The doctor's been shot dead in church."

Dr Carhart was devastated but, as events unfolded, not entirely shocked to hear that the police had taken Scott Roeder, an anti-choice extremist, into custody later that day for the murder of Dr Tiller, one of only five physicians in the United States who provided late- pregnancy terminations.

It was not the first time that Dr Tiller had been targeted. His abortion clinic was firebombed in 1986. In 1993, a pro-life activist shot him in both arms. Bloodied but unbowed, Dr Tiller, a former military medical officer, returned to work the next day and had an enormous sign erected outside his office which read: "WOMEN NEED ABORTIONS, AND I AM GOING DO THEM". But, with Roeder's successful attempt on his life on that Sunday in 2009, Dr Tiller became the eighth American abortion clinic worker to be assassinated.

Written By: FRAN SINGH
continue to source article at independent.co.uk

42 COMMENTS

  1. This is a sad and tragic indictment of the lengths that anti-abortionists will go to get rid of abortion. If they cannot get rid of it through legislature, then they will terrorise and murder the doctors brave enough to carry it out.

    • In reply to #1 by Miserablegit:

      This is a sad and tragic indictment of the lengths that anti-abortionists will go to get rid of abortion. If they cannot get rid of it through legislature, then they will terrorise and murder the doctors brave enough to carry it out.

      Three polio vaccinators murdered in Karachi yesterday, fourth critical. Wonder if there’s a connection? OH, wait…

    • In reply to #2 by lauracars:

      Ironic how some pro-life people have no problem dealing out or condoning death. I wonder how many people who are pro-life are also pro capital punishment.

      Most of them, I’d venture. For these people, ‘life’ begins at conception and ends at birth – they have no trouble condemning children to substandard healthcare and education, no trouble condemning adults to the scrapheap of unemployment, no trouble in dismantling social security networks and no trouble condemning those who engage in property crime to the scaffold.

      Because they have a typically bourgeois worldview that the disadvantaged deserve their misery – and when pressed they will justify this in religious terms .

      • Agree.I find it absolutely astonishing that people who are so solicitous of a fetus care so little about what happens to a child when it enters the world.

        I sometimes go take a look at the Duggars blog (the family with 19 children), and found Michele Duggar as pleased as punch that their family’s activism in the pro-life movement had dissuaded some young women from going through with abortions.How these women were going to take care of these children and themselves, is a matter on which she remained silent.No doubt, the lord would provide. In reply to #24 by Sally:

        In reply to #2 by lauracars:

        Ironic how some pro-life people have no problem dealing out or condoning death. I wonder how many people who are pro-life are also pro capital punishment.

        Most of them, I’d venture. For these people, ‘life’ begins at conception and ends at birth – they have no trouble…

    • In reply to #4 by Alan4discussion:

      …backwards thinking. “Pro-life murder”!

      I’m fairly certain, in their minds, it translates to “ding-dong the doc is dead, no more children will be aborted!”.

  2. Well, hot-damn! Which one of these fine, principled assassins is gonna stand up and take a shot at Gawd? You know, since His Assholiness apparently sees fit to cause up to 80% of all conceptions to “spontaneously” abort? C’mon, all you frothy Zygote Zealots – take on the biggest Fetal Foe of all!!!

  3. Consider that to these people abortion is murder – so this reaction, while tragic, is not surprising. In their minds they are saving the lives of children.

    On the other hand the consensus among Christians seems to be that aborted fetuses go straight to heaven, whereas given the opportunity of a life it is likely that few would merit celestial reward. So there is an argument to be made that abortion has rescued many souls from hell.

    • In reply to #8 by john.wb:

      So there is an argument to be made that abortion has rescued many souls from hell.

      Well, you can make that argument with your tongue firmly in your cheek, since there is no hell.

      Steve

    • In reply to #8 by john.wb:

      Consider that to these people abortion is murder – so this reaction, while tragic, is not surprising. In their minds they are saving the lives of children.

      This is derived from the pig-ignorant dogma, that the fictitious “ensoulment” takes place at conception in a single cell which has no brain, and which will have no brain for some weeks.

      Fetal development – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002398.htm

      • In reply to #10 by Alan4discussion:

        This is derived from the pig-ignorant dogma, that the fictitious “ensoulment” takes place at conception in a single cell which has no brain, and which will have no brain for some weeks.

        IMO that is just the rationalization but it’s probably not the root cause. What I’m going to say here is speculation because our actual scientific understanding of religion barely exists right now. But one thing that I’ve noticed in the various books I’ve read on religion from the standpoint of natural selection and biology is the following: A likely hypothesis is that religion plays a role to enforce norms that were good for the tribe.

        One such value is that women are the scarce reproductive resource and so must be kept pure (must be virgins until married and must be monogomous after marriage). If you look at the various religions (not just the ones we know but tribal religions like the people who think the “soul” is a physical organ in the body) many of them have no concept of an immaterial soul that lives on after death. In fact that idea is not really in the old testament and it’s mostly inferred from the new. It comes more I think from Platonism which influenced people like St. Augustine. But virtually ALL religions have the value that women (but often not men) need to be virgins before marriage and monogomous after.

        And another value is that the tribe must expand and so women need to reproduce often. Viewed that way a woman having an abortion is a serious “crime” from the perspective of the tribe. IMO that is what is really going on here. Religions codified tribal norms which made sense at the time but no longer do. But because our ethical thinking is still mostly mired in books from bronze age scientific illiterates we are still saddled with those tribal values.

        • In reply to #11 by Red Dog:

          In reply to #10 by Alan4discussion:

          If you look at the various religions (not just the ones we know but tribal religions like the people who think the “soul” is a physical organ in the body) many of them have no concept of an immaterial soul that lives on after death.

          It is probably the case of: – as the knowledge of anatomy grew, and the gapology faded, the “ethereal soul” had to be invented to preserve the earlier belief when the organ was clearly missing from the body.

          History of neuroscience – From Wikipedia
          The early civilizations lacked adequate means to obtain knowledge about the human brain. Their assumptions about the inner workings of the mind, therefore, were not accurate. Early views on the function of the brain regarded it to be a form of “cranial stuffing” of sorts. In ancient Egypt, from the late Middle Kingdom onwards, in preparation for mummification, the brain was regularly removed, for it was the heart that was assumed to be the seat of intelligence.

          In the 4th century BC Hippocrates, believed the brain to be the seat of intelligence (based, among others before him, on Alcmaeon’s work). During the 4th century BC Aristotle thought that, while the heart was the seat of intelligence, the brain was a cooling mechanism for the blood.

        • In reply to #11 by Red Dog:

          In reply to #10 by Alan4discussion:

          What I’m going to say here is speculation because our actual scientific understanding of religion barely exists right now. But one thing that I’ve noticed in the various books I’ve read on religion from the standpoint of natural selection and biology is the following: A likely hypothesis is that religion plays a role to enforce norms that were good for the tribe.

          One such value is that women are the scarce reproductive resource and so must be kept pure (must be virgins until married and must be monogomous after marriage).

          I think that impinges on this article which I have just proposed as a separate discussion.

          India: Woman gang-raped on orders of ‘kangaroo court’ – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-25855325

          Although honour killings, sanctioned by unofficial courts that are common in parts of northern India, are unheard of in the tribal Santhal community, women are still treated as second class citizens.

          The woman went to the Siuri district hospital seeking urgent help

          “The relationship was going on for almost five years. When the man visited the woman’s home on Monday with the proposal of marriage, villagers spotted him and organised a kangaroo court. During the ‘proceedings’, the couple were made to sit with hands tied,” Birbhum police chief C Sudhakar told the BBC.

      • In reply to #10 by Alan4discussion:

        In reply to #8 by john.wb:

        Consider that to these people abortion is murder – so this reaction, while tragic, is not surprising. In their minds they are saving the lives of children.

        This is derived from the pig-ignorant dogma, that the fictitious “ensoulment” takes place at conception in a single…

        Ah, but having no brain is an advantage to the religious!

        • In reply to #25 by Sally:

          In reply to #10 by Alan4discussion:

          In reply to #8 by john.wb:

          Consider that to these people abortion is murder – so this reaction, while tragic, is not surprising. In their minds they are saving the lives of children.

          This is derived from the pig-ignorant dogma, that the fictitious “ensoulment” takes place at conception in a single cell…

          Ah, but having no brain is an advantage to the religious!

          True! It would be difficult to “sin” with no brain, so think of all those “ensouled” blastocysts and zygotes, which have spontaneously aborted, and are now in “heaven”!

          Angels up to their knees in them! – Wonderful stuff this theistic thinking!

    • In reply to #8 by john.wb:

      Consider that to these people abortion is murder – so this reaction, while tragic, is not surprising. In their minds they are saving the lives of children.

      On the other hand the consensus among Christians seems to be that aborted fetuses go straight to heaven, whereas given the opportunity of a lif…

      The fact though, when considering people like Scott Roeder they are really losers. According to his ex-wife it all started with him being unable to pay bills. He was pretty much a complete loser and needed someone to blame. That is what this hatred is all about. It’s really self-loathing turned against an external source. These people don’t give a damn about the alleged lives they are saving. Their motivation is self-hatred. Their hatred of abortion doctors is just a projection…

  4. In reply to #2 by lauracars:

    Ironic how some pro-life people have no problem dealing out or condoning death. I wonder how many people who are pro-life are also pro capital punishment.

    Why can’t people make the very obvious distinction between abortion and capital punishment?

    I guess you might consider me pro-life, as I don’t believe abortion should be legal (with certain exceptions, of course) after a period of time since conception – maybe after the first trimester, perhaps. I’m not near an expert on fetal development, but I would base this limitation on a consideration of brain development. We determine clinical death – end of life – with brain activity. Why not do the same with the beginning of life?

    That said, I don’t know how one can chastise someone for being pro-life and pro-capital punishment. The former is (arguably) terminating the life of an (unarguably) innocent (granted, not yet full-term) human being. The latter is terminating the life of a convicted heinous criminal. That’s like saying it’s ridiculous to be okay with putting bank robbers in prison, but not be okay with doing the same with innocent people. Am I pro-prison? Well, yes and no. Yes, for those who commit a certain level of crime; no, for the innocent.

    • In reply to #14 by ekturner3:

      I guess you might consider me pro-life, as I don’t believe abortion should be legal (with certain exceptions, of course) after a period of time since conception – maybe after the first trimester, perhaps. I’m not near an expert on fetal development, but I would base this limitation on a consideration of brain development.

      The majority of what are considered “late term” abortions are from women who discover that there is some problem with the pregnancy. Either the fetus will most likely be born dead or deformed or the birth will pose significant risks to the mother’s health or both. And for the most part that information simply wouldn’t be available until later in the pregnancy when the fetus has developed to the point that the problem could be detected.

      So your position (which is common in the US) would condemn many women to risk their lives to deliver children who would most likely die or be condemned to lives of misery.

    • In reply to #14 by ekturner3:

      Why can’t people make the very obvious distinction between abortion and capital punishment?

      How about thinking of them both as special cases of euthanasia?

      And like euthanasia, I would expect them to be carried out in a thoughtful and humane way, based on the best available (if not incontrovertible) evidence.

      Steve

      • In reply to #16 by Agrajag:

        In reply to #14 by ekturner3:

        Why can’t people make the very obvious distinction between abortion and capital punishment?

        How about thinking of them both as special cases of euthanasia?

        I disagree vehemently. It’s not euthanasia because the fetus is not viable without the mother yet. It’s a question of a woman controlling her own body.

        • In reply to #21 by Red Dog:
          >

          I disagree vehemently. It’s not euthanasia because the fetus is not viable without the mother yet. It’s a question of a woman controlling her own body.

          Let me see if I have this right… the fetus is not viable… there’s a good reason to terminate the pregnancy… fetus dies. How is that not a “good death”?

          And, with respect, it’s not simply about the woman controlling her own body. (That’s me vehemently disagreeing.) In the majority of cases, I would say, the pregnant woman wants a successful outcome, so there is no conflict. Where there is conflict (unintended pregnancy, drastic change in ability to care for an infant, danger to the mother’s health, etc.), the complicating factor is the progressive development of the fetus. Before viability, there’s not much to say against abortion in my view unless it’s a matter of simple convenience to the parents; I do think a human fetus has some status as a future person, and this status progressively grows as the gestation progresses. What possible justification could be made for aborting a healthy near-term infant when a C-section could relieve the mother of any danger and allow the child to live? I have 2 children, and I would consider insane anyone who would tell me that simply passing through a vagina or an incision suddenly confers “personhood” on the previously unborn.

          But in the majority of late-term cases, there is a serious defect in the fetus. By preventing a stillbirth or a short, suffering-filled life (to say nothing of the expense), how is that not a “good death”? That is what I meant by “a special case of euthanasia”.

          My wife and I had several failed pregnancies before and between our 2 healthy chidren (that celestial abortionist again!). We had our last child’s chromosomes evaluated, and had there been a major problem I think we would have aborted. Fortunately, he was normal. And, FWIW, this was not only about my wife’s control of her body… I had a stake in the project as well. I hope this clarifies my earlier statements.

          Steve

          • In reply to #27 by Agrajag:

            In reply to #21 by Red Dog:
            I do think a human fetus has some status as a future person, and this status progressively grows as the gestation progresses.

            I’m inclined to agree but it’s a tricky issue. I find myself uncomfortable about this whole issue for that very reason when the pro-choice lobby (and I am pro-choice but with some reservation) put it in simple terms when they say things like ‘the fetus has a right to live but no right to use the mothers womb without her consent’. I cringe when I hear this, and I’m not sure it helps the cause. I feel (but I may be wrong here) that if you allow yourself to become pregnant (and yes this would obviously be an exception in the case of rape) you do carry some responsibility for the life you brought into existence. There are obvious exceptions for example if the mother has cancer and needs chemotherapy which will kill the foetus, or if the foetus is going to be horribly deformed and going to only live a short and painful life. I think it is something that needs debate based on how far the development has come and how likely to cause suffering the abortion will be.

          • In reply to #29 by Reckless Monkey:

            …if you allow yourself to become pregnant…

            Hold on there pardner, them’s fightin’ words ;D – it ain’t that simple, not by a long shot.

            As a female, I can attest to the fact there are infinite scenarios women find themselves in, per sexual relations. And the fathers, that kind of ties in to a few observations I made this week of Roe v Wade anniv pro / anti rallies.

            The archbishop of D.C.’s basilica homily spoke of ending poverty, adoption, fathers involvement. But, to the point of contraception, no, no, Nanette!. He even said “condoms work? that is a lie”.

            Men need to be careful too, (sperm) lest they be charged with “reckless abandonment”. A Kansas man wants to appeal a decision that he owes child support when his only intent was “genetic material transfer”. I see it is not a coincidence, as Kansas is where Tiller operated, and Operation Rescue folk did their usual thing on Topeka’s capitol steps.

          • In reply to #34 by bluebird:

            In reply to #29 by Reckless Monkey:

            …if you allow yourself to become pregnant…

            Hold on there pardner, them’s fightin’ words ;D – it ain’t that simple, not by a long shot.

            As we considered elsewhere! Quite!!!

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25787757 – Nun who gave birth in Italy ‘unaware of pregnancy’

            It can get even more complicated in some instances.

          • In reply to #34 by bluebird:

            In reply to #29 by Reckless Monkey:

            …if you allow yourself to become pregnant…

            Hold on there pardner, them’s fightin’ words ;D – it ain’t that simple, not by a long shot.

            As a female, I can attest to the fact there are infinite scenarios women find themselves in, per sexual relations. And th…

            Hi Bluebird,

            I thought I posted a response earlier it doesn’t seem to have shown up so I apologise if I am repeating myself.

            I don’t think we are in disagreement, I fully acknowledge that there are any number of exceptions and situations where someone may require an abortion due to an unwanted pregnancy, in-spite of all efforts being made to prevent the pregnancy and at early stages I’d have no problem with termination being unrestricted. The question to my mind (and I am happy to be corrected) is if you find out you are pregnant at what point foetus have any right to be born. I would argue that at a certain point in the pregnancy the foetus deserves to be treated as having some rights to live unless extenuating circumstances exist, threat to mother for example (and I know there are thousands of others and I’d no doubt be with you on many or all of those).

            We could agree could we not that say a full term baby should not be terminated say as in the case of the nun mentioned who was unaware of her pregnancy until the time she began labour? In such a case I imagine there would be regulations to restrict the mother from deciding that she didn’t want it so it had to be killed then delivered? Clearly of course removing the foetus from the mother does not require its termination, however if we can accept that then there must be a point in time based on development, ability to feel and be aware of pain and suffering in which we might wish regulate against the mothers right to abort the foetus. Where that point is I do not know but I’ve yet to be convinced that we have no responsibility to consider the needs of a person who comes into the world through our actions (obvious exceptions would be rape or people who are not able to cognitively understand this).

            An obvious problem might be that babies can survive being pre-maturely born at about 24 weeks, however this is both extremely expensive to look after and require enormous human resources (and before anyone jumps down my throat I am considering the opportunity cost of lives not saved due to large amounts of money being spend looking after a child at 24 weeks compared to say 10 weeks latter say) and more importantly suffer generally greatly from numerous complications over many years from being delivered early. So should a doctor be allowed to terminate one child at say 24 weeks because the mother doesn’t wish to be pregnant? While in the next room doing everything they can to save a pre-mature baby of the same status? If it is possible to save the life rather than perform a termination when it could have survived? What about at 30 weeks? 35? At what point of development should the mother be required to carry the foetus until it is viable? I do not have an easy answer to this but I cannot bring myself to say that the foetus has no rights at any point. I’d be keen to hear arguments to the contrary.

            Cheers and please tear me down if I’m wrong, I genuinely don’t know how to feel about this issue I’d be happy to hear contrary arguments to my position.

          • In reply to #29 by Reckless Monkey:

            In reply to #27 by Agrajag:

            In reply to #21 by Red Dog:
            I do think a human fetus has some status as a future person, and this status progressively grows as the gestation progresses.

            I’m inclined to agree but it’s a tricky issue. I find myself uncomfortable about this whole issue for that very rea…

            As far as I know no judiciary system systematically allows late term abortions without any restrictions. Exactly where the line should be drawn and what counts as reasonable exceptions is a matter of discussion. I agree with you that I think it should be a discussion about suffering, from a scientific perspective. But, I have never met a sensible person who thought there should be no restrictions at all. Or in other words women should have the right to do abortions at any time during their pregnancy for whatever reasons.

          • This is a terrifically difficult topic for thinking people. Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan covered the topic very well in their enlightening essay ““Is it Possible to be both “Pro-life” and “Pro-Choice”?” or “The Question of Abortion: A Search for Answers””. It’s a worthwhile essay which I recommend anyone who is not familiar to read in its entirety. It’s readily available online. I will give their summation below:

            Acquiescing in the killing of any living creature, especially one that might later become a baby, is troublesome and painful. But we’ve rejected the extremes of “always” and “never,” and this puts us–like it or not–on the slippery slope. If we are forced to choose a developmental criterion, then this is where we draw the line: when the beginning of characteristically human thinking becomes barely possible.

            It is, in fact, a very conservative definition: Regular brain waves are rarely found in fetuses. More research would help… If we wanted to make the criterion still more stringent, to allow for occasional precocious fetal brain development, we might draw the line at six months. This, it so happens, is where the Supreme Court drew it in 1973–although for completely different reasons.

            In reply to #35 by Nunbeliever:

            In reply to #29 by Reckless Monkey:

            In reply to #27 by Agrajag:

            In reply to #21 by Red Dog:
            I do think a human fetus has some status as a future person, and this status progressively grows as the gestation progresses.

            I’m inclined to agree but it’s a tricky issue. I find myself uncomfortable abo…

  5. The fact is that USA has suffered more cases of domestic than Islamic terrorism… Yet, no one talks about them. Because most of them were “good” white Christians. It’s not even a case of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. It’s a case of pure denialism. They don’t exist. The government spends basically no resources on monitoring and preventing domestic terrorism, because officially it does not exist. Instead they spend billions of dollars on surveillance that makes no sense. There’s no evidence that NSA has actually prevented one single act of terrorism, but it’s been proven beyond reasonable doubt that they have broken the law, violated the American constitution and invaded the privacy of countless American citizen. Welcome to the United States of Fascism. The land of the sissy, the home of the slave…

    • In reply to #17 by Nunbeliever:

      The fact is that USA has suffered more cases of domestic than Islamic terrorism… Yet, no one talks about them. Because most of them were “good” white Christians. It’s not even a case of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. It’s a case of pure denialism. They don’t exist. The government spends basically…

      “The fact is that USA has suffered more cases of domestic than Islamic terrorism … Yet, no one talks about them. Because most of them were “good” white Christians. It’s not even a case of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. It’s a case of pure denialism. They don’t exist.”
      You’re absolutely correct.

      It is undeniably terrorism, marked by harassment, intimidation and violence (including murder). It is a campaign, organized, co-ordinated and carried out openly – and no-one in public life has the backbone to call it out for what it is, or take the necessary measures to end it.

    • In reply to #19 by adey5:

      While Dr Tiller’s murder is tragic and to be condemned, I am not sure that I would call Dr Tiller “a hero” like the woman in the photo does.

      I would. He could have been a plastic surgeon making ten times as much money giving face lifts to rich people with no risk other than denting his BMW but instead he chose to help women who need it most. That’s an important thing to keep in mind, if you are rich and want an abortion the fact that there is only one or even no clinics within a day’s travel from where you live is not a problem. You just get on a plane and fly somewhere where you can get one.

      He was also helping those that needed it the most by doing late term abortions. As I said most of those abortions are from women with wanted pregnancies who find out late in the pregnancy that there is some problem which will most likely result in a dead or disabled baby and/or mother if the pregnancy is taken to term but due to the misogynistic policies of the US it can be very difficult for those women to find what can literally be life saving abortions.

      He is absolutely a hero IMO.

      • Totally agree.In reply to #20 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #19 by adey5:

        While Dr Tiller’s murder is tragic and to be condemned, I am not sure that I would call Dr Tiller “a hero” like the woman in the photo does.

        I would. He could have been a plastic surgeon making ten times as much money giving face lifts to rich people with no risk other th…

    • In reply to #19 by adey5:

      While Dr Tiller’s murder is tragic and to be condemned, I am not sure that I would call Dr Tiller “a hero” like the woman in the photo does.

      I certainly do!

      Dr Tiller’s work allowed women to make choices about whether or not they will allow their bodies to be used as hosts for what in effect is a parasitic lifeform – without control over our own bodies, we cannot make social, political and economic choices that are sensible, let alone free.

  6. Why is some of the U.S. population turning into fundamentalist as….s ?
    I find it very intriguing, the N1 superpower with all the scientific knowledge is not able to cope with abortion, creationism, etc.

    On the contrary…Mexico my homeland, with all the deficiencies in democracy, economy, civil rights, etc….has no such problems..or at least are minor compared to the US.

    Where are the roots of such behaviour?

    Ignorance plays a big role, but i think there is something in the basic roots of the U.S. society that is leading that great nation into obscurantism…..feels like medieval times are back.

  7. If you learn nothing else from this, learn this: abortion is just an introductory subject for these guys. all they want is to bully everyone, but especially the vulnerable women, into converting to their religion of the day. After escorting at a bombed clinic in AL for over 6 years, i can definitely tell you THAT IS ALL THEY WANT. if they have to murder to get you to convert, they will. nothing in the clinic even compares to the bullying on the outside…

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