Wednesday, June 03, 2009

"Pro-Life" Protesting - Across the Line, or Not Far Enough?

I've been trying to focus my attention on the relatively benign stuff that "pro-life" groups have been posting about Dr. Tiller this week, but I keep getting drawn back to people like Randall Terry, who called Tiller a "mass murderer" and others who think it is defensible to kill someone to prevent them from "killing more babies." There's so much wrong with all of this that I hardly know where to start.

But the bottom line is that abortion is a legal medical procedure. Does it end life? Yes, in my personal opinion, I would say that it does. Whether it is potential human life, nascent human life, or just plain "human life," how I answer depends on the day. Obviously, "pro-life" groups believe that it is human life, equal to your or my life, and it should be preserved - sometimes by any means necessary.

Protesting, of course, is the usual form of trying to preserve this life, either in front of clinics, or more appallingly, in front of providers' homes or places of worship. Now I've only had to walk through a protest line into a clinic once, and that was rather unintentially hilarious for reasons I won't address now. I can't imagine what clinic staff have to go through every day as they are confronted by protestors, nor what patients, after reaching the gut-wrenching decision to terminate a pregnancy, must feel, as they face such protestors. I know it's not fun for them. And it's probably less fun when it is not just at your place of employment, but also at your home and worship setting.

It's legal, of course, and I do so love the First Amendment that I'd hate to see protestors muzzled by the government. But I would like to see these "pro-life" activists be a little more consistent and complete in their campaign.

If the "pro-life" movement wants to do all it can to preserve life, why does it stop with abortion providers? Why not protest in front of prisons where executions take place? Why not protest at military bases? As far as doing what it takes to preserve life, "pro-life activists" should also protest in front of the homes and churches of executioners and doctors who preside at state-sponsored executions. They should protest in front of the homes and churches of soldiers who've killed people in war.

After all, these are two other legal things, permitted by the government, that result in the death of human beings - sometimes innocent human beings. And the whole point of the "pro-life" movement is that fetuses are of the same value as already-born people, right? So those who commit those acts are also murderers....aren't they? I mean, by the definition used by the pro-life movement, how can the answer be anything other than "yes"?

What? No? It's revolting and un-American that I would even suggest that? Huh. That's interesting. Why is my proposal so shocking and appalling, but what was done to Dr. Tiller is seen as acceptable, as putting an end to "murder"? People who execute prisoners and who fight in wars also have a choice about what they do. They didn't have to sign up for those jobs. They chose that career. Why doesn't the pro-life movement see these jobs as just as destructive to human life?

The fact that they don't says more about the kind of life they value than the fact that they supposedly value "human life." Turns out, only certain kinds of life are worth protesting for. And that protesting knows no limits or boundaries.

Frankly, I find this whole line of thinking appalling. I do not like war, nor do I support capital punishment. I've been to peace rallies, and while I've never been to a vigil on the night of an execution, that has more to do with opportunity than belief. And even though I disagree with protestors outside of abortion clinics, I support their right to do so. But I'd never dream of harassing those who do those jobs at their homes or their places of worship. That shows a profound disrespect for the basic humanity of that person, no matter how I may feel about their job, or even their belief system. Be "hard on issues, but gentle on people."

Or, as the apostle Paul said in Romans 12: 20, "No, if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads." Kill them with love and kindness, kids, not condemnation, or guns in the church.

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