Dr. Tiller and Our Social Conscience

I don't believe in an eye for an eye. For this reason alone, I -- nor any other self-respecting human being -- should be gloating about the fatal shooting of Dr. George Tiller. Scott Roeder, the assailant, should get whatever sentence is appropriate under the eyes of the law.

And yet. Those of us, pro-choice or otherwise, who had a serious problem with Dr. Tiller's line of work -- killing perfectly healthy 9-month old babies by partially delivering them and then puncturing their skulls -- have, admittedly, a difficult time feeling bad Dr. Tiller's life has been extinguished. Last year, Tiller reported aborting 192 late-term fetuses -- oh, let's just call them what they are: human beings -- whose mothers had come from far and wide to have their babies killed. Partial-birth abortion is against the law throughout much of the country; but for some reason, Kansas (of all places) allows late-term abortions -- if continuing the pregnancy "would endanger the woman or substantially impair her physical, mental, or emotional health."

Technically, then, Dr Tiller wasn't doing anything against the law. His case is solely a matter of morality -- something with which today's Americans have an ongoing struggle. Modern liberals -- whose mantra is "live and let live," or "to each his own," or "my body is mine to do with as I please" -- will no doubt cry foul at Tiller's death, blaming every conservative known to man for his death. To a modern liberal, Tiller's death is an outrage. But to a conservative -- even a moderate or left-leaning conservative -- the 192 deaths Dr. Tiller caused last year are also an outrage. Maybe even more so, since these individuals were innocent and Dr. Tillman was not.

This is what the word "choice" has done to this country. In the name of choice, moral responsiblity is purged. In the name of choice, every act is a good one. If an act is taken as a result of a sincere belief the person is being helpful in some way -- especially to women -- the person is deemed morally sound. According to abortion activists, Dr. Tillman was a morally sound man.

Yet consider what his life must have been like. A pregnant woman walks in to his clinic, clearly devoid of a pregnant glow. The enormous belly between them proves there is, in fact, another human being in his midst. After perusing some papers that tell this woman's story of her inability to be care for the child in her belly -- a conclusion Dr. Tiller, for a split second, realizes the woman could have come to seven months earlier -- he dismisses his conscience and decides he must help this poor woman. So he goes into a nearby office, gives the woman some drugs, births her baby -- head first, if possible -- and punctures his skull.

There. Problem solved.

Any person or organization (think Planned Parenthood) who considers this "procedure" -- called a D and X -- necessary enough to undermine one's natural instincts that tell us right from wrong is either ethically challenged or sorely lacking the facts. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which includes abortion supporters could "identify no circumstances under which this procedure would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman."

I must admit that even without the above information, I find it hard to believe there are people in this country who think allowing a doctor to kill a woman's baby and burn his remains (abortionists generally cremate said babies) will impair a woman's "physical, mental, or emotional health." (On the contrary, I would think the procedure itself would impair a woman's emotional health.) But there are. Shelley Sella, a colleague of Dr. Tillman's, suggests we should "honor [Dr. Tillman's] memory." Honor his memory. If that doesn't strike you as insane, I don't know what would.

If there's one thing partial-birth abortion demonstrates, it is this: Give the average person an inch, and he will often take a mile. In every state in America, early abortion is legal. The moment a woman discovers she's pregnant when she doesn't want to be, we give her an out. She can have an abortion. But in most states -- 31 to be exact -- the option stops there. In 27 states, partial-birth abortion is allowed, though the circumstances in which a woman may receive one differ. Such reticence suggests Americans still have a conscience. And that conscience tells us that allowing a woman to change her mind about being a mother up to the point of delivery is not a matter of women's rights. In fact, with the exception of women dying as a result of giving birth (virtually unheard of today), women's needs are irrelevant at this point in a pregnancy.

That's the thing about becoming a parent: It forces people to think of someone else's needs before our own. What a concept.

2 Responses to “Dr. Tiller and Our Social Conscience”:

  1. HTB305 says:

    Please help me to understand this - how could a doctor by training and a church going Lutheran by choice, perform a D and X on a 9 month old healthy baby? Are you stating as fact that these 192 reported procedures were all (or any number) performed on healthy babies?

    I've spent the better part of the last 90 minutes reading on your site as well as OpposingViews where I found the first comment and followed the links here. I agree with many things you write. I'm having a difficult time following the logic that would enable you to assume the doctor had the evilness you so easily ascribe to him. I'm not sure I've ever read anything so damning and yet so lacking in any statistics or facts to support the claim.

    Thanks in advance for helping me understand. And while I agree that too many people only think of themselves and that becoming a parent certainly forces people to think of someone else' needs before their own - it is possible to understand and practice putting someone else' needs before your own. Good parents often instill that in their children as I'm sure you try to do yourself.

  2. No one (to the best of my knowledge) knows how many of the 192 late-term "fetuses" Dr. Tiller aborted last year had general birth defects, fatal birth defects, or were otherwise healthy babies. But the fact remains that Dr. Tiller aborted healthy late-term fetuses -- and this alone should give us pause for concern.

    Personally, I'm very sympathetic to women who discover their babies are dying -- rather than developing -- inside them. If this scenario, along with saving the life of a mother, were the only instances in which Dr. Tiller performed abortions, that would be one thing. But that is not the case. Moreover, these two scenarios are very rare.

    To allow late-term abortions on the chance it will "endangering a woman" or "impair her health" is far too broad. It is a can of worms -- which Dr. Tiller chose to open.

    I'm sorry you don't see how "a doctor by training and a church going Lutheran by choice could perform a D and X on a 9 month old healthy baby." Quite frankly, I don't either.

    But he did.