Late-term abortionist George Tiller murdered at his church

All… the NYT has this story. 

The infamous late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed today in his church.

WDTPRS deplores this violence. 

Furthermore, this will bring horrific blow-back down on the entire pro-life movement.

Abortion Doctor Shot to Death in Church

By MONICA DAVEY and JOE STUMPE
Published: May 31, 2009

George Tiller, a Wichita doctor who was one of the few doctors in the nation to perform late-term abortions, was shot to death on Sunday as he attended church, city officials in Wichita said.

Dr. Tiller, who had performed abortions since the 1970s, had long been a lightning rod for controversy over the issue of abortion, particularly in Kansas, where abortion opponents regularly protested outside his clinic and sometimes his home and church. In 1993, he was shot in both arms by an abortion opponent but recovered.

He had also been the subject of many efforts at prosecution, including a citizen-initiated grand jury investigation. In the latest such effort, in March, Dr. Tiller was acquitted of charges that he had performed late-term abortions that violated state law.

The shooting occurred at around 10 a.m. (Central time) at Reformation Lutheran Church on the city’s East Side, Dr. Tiller’s regular church.

Wichita police said that the shots were fired from a handgun in the church lobby during the morning service. The authorities gave few details, but said they were searching for a powder blue Taurus made in the 1990s that had been seen leaving shortly after the shooting. They said witnesses had described seeing a white man departing.

“This is going to be a larger search than maybe just Wichita,” said Brent Allred, a police captain, who said that the FBI and state police had been called to the scene. By noon, few parishioners remained at the church, a modern, red brick facility that seats about 500 people. Police cars surrounded the building.

 

UPDATE 2000 GMT

AP has this: 

 

WICHITA, KAN – Nearly four hours after abortion doctor George Tiller was gunned down and killed in his Lutheran Church, Johnson County police pulled over a car matching the description of the suspect vehicle. The Associated Press reports police have the suspect in custody.

Tiller, 67, was shot just after 10 a.m., at Reformation Lutheran Church where he was a member of the congregation.

See a locator map of the crime.

According to Wichita media, police described the suspect as a white male in his 50’s or 60’s with gray hair that is balding in the middle. He is about 6’1" and about 220 pounds and was wearing a white shirt and dark pants. He was last seen in a light blue Ford Taurus, possibly an early 1990’s model. It has a K-State vanity plate and a Kansas license plate number 225 BAB.

 

Read more at that AP site….

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65 Responses to Late-term abortionist George Tiller murdered at his church

  1. Jody Peterman says:

    This sad in so many ways. Let us pray for the soul of Dr. Tiller and the person shooting him.

  2. EDG says:

    What a hard and horrible face. If the eyes are the mirror of the soul, he may be in serious trouble right now. Repentance is always possible, though, and being deprived of the time for it was one of the reasons that (back in the old days) sudden death was always regarded as so terrible. Between the saddle and the ground? Perhaps, but only God knows.

    That said, I’m hoping this was a personal vendetta or something completely unrelated to abortion. But I think it probably doesn’t matter who did it or why: I fear that this will be our Reichstag Fire.

  3. brendon says:

    Furthermore, this will bring horrific blow-back down on the entire pro-life movement.

    Given this fact – and taking it together with the HLS report from earlier last month about “rising right-wing extremism,” a conclusion which little to no evidence supported at the time – my first thoughts on this terrible act was “false flag.”

  4. cathguy says:

    Why!? What did the idiot who did this hope to achieve!?

    He has committed the sin of murder!! And he has potentially denied Dr. Tiller his chance to convert and save his own soul! Let us hope and pray that the Divine Mercy found him at this horrible hour.

    Violence like this is repugnant, and the idiot who did this has brought us shame.

  5. Mitchell NY says:

    What an awful event that sums up the extreme violence some people will resort to. The times are scary and sometimes I think the more we go forward as a society with technology and information, the more we go backward in our psychological evolution. Just a horrible, horrible crime that has no words. Who would do such a thing in a House of Worship no less? Are there no limits anymore, within our own psyche? I will say a prayer for all souls involved or touched by this tragedy, including the innocent children who had not a chance to enter this world and the children of today who must grow up in it.

  6. Mark says:

    Prayers for his soul and his family.

    However, one cannot help but a notice a bit of cognitive dissonance given that men like Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg are widely regarded nowadays as heroes. Was what Stauffenberg tried to do bad? And if not, what separates him from this shooter?

    It’s the type of question I think the pro-life movement is going to be asked a lot in the wake of this event, and one I think we should use the opportunity to actively engage and explain…not ignore the question self-righteously as if it isnt even worthy of a response. It is. Let’s give one.

    The answer is not obvious to people; at the very least, it’s obvious that the answers being given werent convincing enough to stop this shooter and those like him.

    How DO we reply to the charge (which I have heard when working outside clinics myself) that “if you really believed they were people, you’d rush in there and stop it” or “if you really thought these were humans being killed, you’d use force to resist”??? We arent absolute pacifists. Our moral theology allows for the use of force to defend an innocent. How DO we respond to Paul Hill’s maxim that “any force justified to defend a born child is justified to defend an unborn child”??

    When faced with this question, many pro-lifers seem to get indignant, refuse to answer it, or explain it away with thought-stopping cliches. But the lack of a coherent, systematic, ethical analysis of the potential use of force…is clearly dangerous. It ultimately leads to people like this guy doing what he did.

    If we refuse to consider and then answer the question “why not use force to stop abortion?” out of some sort of misguided belief that assuming the status quo is right a priori and refusing to even consider that question is some sort of moral high-ground…then some guys like this are bound to eventually conclude that we really dont have an answer for them and to go off the deep-end like this.

    Now, this particular act is easy enough to explain the unethetical nature of. The legitimate use of defense requires that the act already be in progress, not merely anticipated, and that only the minimal amount of force be used to disable the perpetrator. Clearly the criteria were not met in this case.

    But HOW do we answer the question, surely to be asked a lot in the coming days, of why there arent situations, when it comes to abortion, when those criteria could possibly be met? What makes the situation different than, say, people being killed by the Nazis??

    The respected journal First Things had two articles about the whole issue that, in retrospect, look very ominous, very troubling indeed:

    http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=6314
    http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=2706

    How do we answer the questions we are surely going to be asked now? “You cant fight violence with violence” isnt enough. Because we do allow for legitimate defense, we arent pacifists. So…why is abortion different? How do we answer that question? Because we will be asked it. And if we dont answer this, more guys like this are bound to conclude that we dont have an answer.

  7. Sandra in Severn says:

    I am sorry that the Abortionist Tiller was shot dead outside of the church he attends.

    I would not doubt that there are those in the Abortion as Sacrament ranks that believe to their last breath that a “catholic” did it. No matter whom did the act.

    There are many that follow no faith at all and are against abortion. As there those that claim to be Christian and are for such a heinous act.

    Prayers for his family, and those that witnessed this vile deed.

  8. John 6:54 says:

    Lord have mercy on Dr. Tiller and the lives he has affected. Murder is wrong in all cases. This is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong! Reports are a light blue Tauras KS Plates registered in Merriam, KS with a man in 50s or 60s fled the scene. Merriam is a sub-burb of Kansas City about 3 hours North-East from Wichita.

  9. Charles Trigilio says:

    No one who is truly pro-life would ever do such a thing. Maybe the shooter thought he was protecting babies by killing Tiller. Then again, it’s very possible that a pro-abortionist would kill Tiller just to make the pro-lifers look bad.
    Isn’t it rather odd that this behavior only happens when a liberal is our president? This never happened under Bush.

  10. Thomas Gillespie says:

    Mark raises a most interesting point, and one that has been hurled in my face before – “If you pro-lifers REALLY believed it was human, you would (should) be fighting to the death to protect it – why aren’t you?”

    The best answer I could muster is that, in the long term, violence only begets further violence, and the fabric of society, never as tough as many suppose it to be, would unravel if violence were used to defend the unborn. In short, the short and long term consequences would be worse than the evil such defensive violence intended to forestall.

  11. Emilio III says:

    Sorry Mark, but that is a really foolish comparison. Stauffenberg was not just trying to kill a man. The tyrannicide was not and end in itself, but a step in the attempt to take over the government and save his country.

    Killing Tiller will not save a single life. Killing Hitler might have saved millions.

  12. Mike M says:

    I always hoped Tiller would turn around.

  13. EDG says:

    Thomas and Mark, I think the question can be answered by the fact that abortion is legal, and many people view what is legal as what is right or at least as something that must be endured. Christians tend to be very law abiding and probably one of our problems is that the concept of resisting a law, even an unjust law, is not something that is any longer part of our consciousness.

    Ideally, we could fight it legally, but the state is doing everything to close off legitimate avenues of opposition (such as changing the law, for example, something that is always thrown out by activist judges) or even speaking out, since the First Amendment rights of pro-lifers are limited in a way that would be unconstitutional for any other group.

    If a terrorist had people holed up in a building and was picking them off one by one, most of us would feel justified in storming the building to protect the innocent. But if it’s a legally permitted activity, a government sanctioned entity busy killing people one by one, it becomes much harder for us to respond. I’m not defending this, but simply stating that you have to factor in the state sanctioned nature of this killing to understand the relatively moderate level of response to it.

  14. Jackie says:

    Don’t make a bigger deal out of this then it is. I don’t think there will be much attention paid to this because of the “late term” abortions preformed by this man. This is something that most Americans are against and I don’t think the White House wants to defend this man or call any attention to the relationship between him and the secretary of HHS.

  15. Girgadis says:

    You cannot reason with the type of person who committed this act of violence.
    He is of the same mind-set as the people who flew the planes into the WTC on
    September 11. Fanatical to the point of becoming homicidal, the Eric Rudolphs
    of this world are precisely the kind of person who hide behind the pro-life
    movement to promote their own violent and radical agendas. No one in their
    right mind believes that murder is the way to protect unborn children. Sadly,
    what will be once again lost in this is the fact that abortion itself is an
    act of violence, that it is sold to desperate women as a “solution” to their
    “problem”, and that there is nothing safe about a procedure that, by design,
    leaves a human being dead at its conclusion.

  16. Mark says:

    Indeed, Thomas, and I have little doubt that the conclusion we’d reach is that, because of the virtual inseparability of mother and baby…in most cases force would be ultimately futile. Since it is attached to the woman trying to have it killed, it’s not like we can hide the baby in an attic like a Jew fleeing a Nazi. Run in and interrupt the act, and you’re sure to stop it temporarily, but the mother is sure to just try again. And pre-emptive force cannot be legitimately used; even to save an adult the act must be already in progress, not merely anticipated, etc

    BUT, I think the pro-life movement has for too long simply avoided the whole question, refused to touch it at all with a 10-foot pole. And that self-righteous (or uncomfortable?) silence has clearly become dangerous. Because if we dont give an answer, or answer in vague thought-stopping cliches…then sooner or later more guys like this are going to conclude that we really DONT have an answer.

    As one of the First Things articles I linked to pointed out…frankly, how can we expect people NOT to do something like this when we use extremely strong language like “baby murder” and insist that what is really happening is a human being brutally torn limb from limb, doused with saline, etc?!? Now, the article was using that to argue that abortion really isnt murder and so we shouldnt say so. We’d obviously disagree, it is murder, the strong language is called for…but as this incident shows, such strong language about what abortion is…does need to be matched with an equally strong and persuasive moral theological argument about why, in this case, force shouldnt be used even though we do admit the use of force in other legitimate defense of innocents. Sometimes I wonder if we refuse to consider that question because we are afraid of the answer we’ll find…

    I hate to say it, but “violence only begets further violence…society unravelling, etc” is an extremely vague answer, and something of a thought stopping cliche. I’m not saying the intuition at its base isnt generally correct, but dont you think that on so important a matter we should actually analyze the situation with moral theology, debate and discuss the particulars more openly, consider the specific hypothetical possibilities, and weigh the proportionalities objectively instead of just assuming, a priori, that force shouldnt be used and then frowning upon any even merely hypothetical discussion of it? Especially when our assumptions might be possibly biased by the fact that we dont WANT to conclude that force could be used because of the implications that would have on our own life?

    I do think such an analysis would ultimately conclude against using force to stop abortion in most cases in our current situation. But, on the other hand, it would not result in a blanket principle against force. I do not believe that private force is usually justified in stopping abortion, but at the same time I believe the reasons are mainly only practical ones. Too many pro-lifers act like we are pacifists on principle, as opposed to just practically.

    But obviously, not everyone is so quick to swallow that. And when we insist that babies are being brutally murdered…and yet get indignant when asked “why not use force” and refuse to answer…then isnt it inevitable that some people are going to do stuff like this???

  17. GordonBOPS says:

    Is the person who did this to Tiller guilty of a mortal sin? No doubt that the murder of Tiller is against the laws of this– and the person who did this will have a price to pay in that regard–however, abortion is legal murder under the laws of this country, but yet is against the law of God. From the standpoint of moral theology, I trhink this is a legitmate question. I don’t think the path for pro-life involves this type of action–but it brings to mind another time when Kansas was a flashpoint for a very divisive issue leading up to the civil war:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bleeding_Kansas
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Brown_(abolitionist)

    In the aftermath of this dont be surpised to hear about John Brown and his similarly drastic steps to fight slavery.

  18. Mary Margaret says:

    Arrest made near Gardner, KS.

  19. LCB says:

    Every person who reads this blog should stop and say a prayer, actually many prayers, for the repose of Tiller’s soul, and that through the mystery of God’s infinite grace that at the moment of death he repented and turned his heart to the Lord.

  20. Thomas Gillespie says:

    GordonBOPS – indeed, and slavery entailed only the loss of liberty for some persons, not (necessarily) the loss of life. The stakes in abortion are so much higher . . .

  21. Thomas Gillespie says:

    I am gratified thus far to note that almost all the headlines about this have the words “late-term abortions” tied closely to George Tiller’s name. I wonder when they will begin to realize that, by burying the phrase “late-term abortions” deep in the news articles, they may significantly inflame sentiment against pro-lifers in general while avoiding the charge of slanting the coverage?

  22. Mark says:

    “Killing Tiller will not save a single life. Killing Hitler might have saved millions.”

    I’d actually be of the opinion, probably, that killing Hitler would not have been justified if he was not in the immediate act of harming someone himself. For legitimate defense to be used, the act must be already in progress.

    I’m just saying it’s odd that Stauffenberg is a national hero in Germany, and this shooter is likely to go down in infamy.

    It’s just something to think about. I ultimately think both were wrong, objectively. And yet…with Stauffenberg many of us are inclined to feel empathy with; even if we ultimately conclude that what he attempted wasnt strictly speaking ethical, we understand why he did it and are even willing to excuse his means for the intended ends. And yet this guy…everyone is very quick to distance themselves from.

    Tiller was a very late term abortionist. So this might in fact save a few lives. Women only days from birth (which is the kind of abortions he was infamous for) might now postpone those abortions until birth, either out of fear or inability to make alternate arrangements. At least, that’s what the shooter may have reasoned. The act was not totally irrational in that sense. Indeed, while we might ultimately disagree with the specifics of it, I think it is at least as “understandable” on a gut emotional level as trying to assassinate Hitler, not totally crazy as Girgadis tries to paint it.

    First Things seems to have changed the format of their website so the links dont work anymore, but the articles I was discussing are possibly still available if you are a member of the website. They are “Baby Talk” from September 8th, 2008, by David Klinghoffer (available cached on google) and another about the “Round Table” of civil discourse which I can no longer find.

  23. Nan says:

    Mark, I was present when someone asked the pastor whether it’s ever okay to lie; she had someone who was homeless who wanted to use her address in order to obtain government funds to which they were only entitled if they lived somewhere.

    His answer is relevant here; work within the law but also work to change laws that you believe are unjust. Because abortion is legal, it isn’t reasonable to rush in and stop it; we don’t have the right to stop a legal procedure and would be thrown in jail.

    Near my college campus was an abortion clinic. Every day there was a protestor.

    One.

    He carried a stop sign; STOP on one side, ABORTION on the other. It took years, but guess what? The clinic closed.

    I have also read that there is concern among the pro-abortion crowd that those who currently perform abortions are retiring and dying, with nobody willing to replace them.

    People who perform high-profile murders are usually mentally ill and off their meds.

  24. Mark says:

    Ah, the other is “A Pro-Life Loss of Nerve?” by James K. Fitzpatrick from December 2000.

  25. JC says:

    The only way it would be morally justifiable to attack an abortionist would be if one was assaulting him *right* in the act of performing the abortion, and ideally in such a way as to disable him. Those are the standards for self-defense (or defense of someone else).

    “Violence begets violence” is *not* a ‘brain stopping’ cliche. It’s true. It’s the process of falling prey to Satan’s way of doing things. It is an expression of the Natural Law: when you violate Natural Law, nature itself rebels, the demons take over, and things keep getting worse until reparation is made. This is understood by every culture that actually believes in (a) God.

    June 11, 2001, the US executed Timothy McVeigh, responsible for what was, to the date, the worst act of terrorism in US history. The US Bishops warned that the execution would only perpetuate the cycle of violence. Three months to the day later, an even worse act of terrorism happened.

    Lastly, as this is a Catholic site dedicated to precision in terminolgy, shouldn’t we be following the teaching of _Dominus Iesus_ and referring to Lutheran institutions as “Christian communities” and not “churches”? [For pity’s sake… he was killed in the vestibule of his church… the building… a church.]

  26. When it comes to resisting a great evil, I think the Just War doctrine has applicability. Here it is in the Catechism.

    The last two principles:
    – there must be serious prospects of success
    – the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated

    No way killing abortionists would give us a “serious prospects of success”. The pro-aborts will do everything in their power to keep it available, including the widespread use of force. Starting a civil war in the United States over abortion would be a grave evil. Therefore, we must accept peaceful means of opposing abortion.

    Stauffenberg’s case is different in that it would probably have been successful in its goals, with little production of evils and disorders.

    We have a situation where a significant percent of the U.S. population thinks abortion is OK, and that most of the elites who control the country think likewise.

  27. Mark says:

    JC, as for Dominus Iesus…I dont see us calling the Lutheran denomination a “church” anywhere. Merely the BUILDING, which is not what Dominus Iesus was talking about. Also, Fr Z merely posted an outside article, and if it calls the denomination a “church” that’s not really any of our faults, but rather the media’s.

  28. GordonBOPS says:

    JC – But– what about the abortions set to happen tomorrow at his clinic? Or later this week? Or in particular, the late term abortions scheduled that now, it’ll be difficult for the mother to find another to do the act. Its not a matter of the ends justifying the means, I think this goes into the idea of self-defense or the defense of others. I’m just offering this for consideration of the question of whether this act was mortally sinful. I’m not a moral theoglogian by any means, and am not sure of the answer myself. Its certainly not a step I would take.

  29. Laura Lowder says:

    I am praying for Dr. Tiller’s family and friends as they deal with this horrific loss. I’m also inclined to pray for the person who committed this horrible crime.

    Interesting point someone else made – we didn’t hear about murders of abortionists under Bush, did we?

  30. Mark says:

    JC,

    I dont disagree that at its base the intuition that responding to violence in a society with violence creates a cycle that can destroy everything, but not all force is “violence”. Some force is legitimate.

    First and foremost, of course, when used by the State. That is its duty, and though I personally dont see the necessity of the death penalty anymore and wish in practice it wasnt used…the Church is not (and certainly has not been historically) against it in the sort of absolute way you seem to sympathize with.

    This only furthers my suspicion that many pro-lifers are (or sympathize with) pacifism on principle, as opposed to just in practice. And that is very disturbing, because our moral theology definitely does allow the State to execute criminals, use force to stop unjust aggression (in fact, that is it’s primary coercive purpose), and even for private individuals to use force to legitimately defend an innocent in immediate danger.

    Whoever said, “we don’t have the right to stop a legal procedure”…that simply isnt true. If it were legal to murder adults, we’d certainly be allowed morally to still use self-defense or defend our neighbors with proportional force, regardless of the law.

    The fact that it is legal complicates things and does likely present many practical reasons why the use of force would be futile in this case…but it is not, ultimately, a reason why we couldnt use force on principle. The legality of it is a major contributor to creating a situation where force is not an effective response…but it is certainly not an absolute moral reason. We would not lose the right to defense just because something is “legal”.

  31. Mark says:

    “No way killing abortionists would give us a “serious prospects of success”. The pro-aborts will do everything in their power to keep it available, including the widespread use of force. Starting a civil war in the United States over abortion would be a grave evil. Therefore, we must accept peaceful means of opposing abortion.”

    You make some good points, but I’d like to play devil’s advocate to show why I think this is a discussion that real professional moral theologians need to have instead of just ignoring it. They need to go through and specifically examine and analyze all the possible hypotheticals, etc:

    a) it depends what you are defining as “success”. Indeed, killing an abortionist (or, less controversially, running in and disabling him WHILE he is in the actual process of starting an abortion)…is unlikely to stop abortion in the United States as a whole…but who says that we have to take a broad, long-term goal like that as the definition of “success”?? If I hear my neighbor screaming and rush over to stop a murderer…there is little chance that what I do will stop murder, in general, in the United States. But that’s not my goal, nor should it be. My goal is to stop THAT particular murder that is IMMEDIATELY occurring. If someone uses force to disable an abortionist and saves even one life, or even buys some time…that could be considered a success in terms of the immediate act and moment at hand. Certainly, the idea is troubling that we must “sacrifice” saving the lives immediately in danger for the sake of the abstract dream of someday possibly stopping the system as a whole. A day that may never come. Is it really worth building a dam to save a town of 200 people if we have to build the dam by killing 400 people and stacking up their bodies?

    b) which brings up my second point. Is civil war in the United States really a greater evil? How many do you think would die in such a war? Because we are weighing them against 50 million dead babies. If such a war would cause less than 50 million deaths, it could be argued that the evil needed to stop the good per “just war theory” would indeed be proportional.

  32. cathguy says:

    Mark,

    I think your post, while perhaps thoughtful, misses the mark entirely.

    Von Stauffenberg was out to overthrow (by blowing him up) the head of state (Hitler), who was leading his country in a war that he believed would lead to his country’s destruction. As it turns it out, he was right. Germany was completely conquered and divided. His country was currently at war, Hitler was engaging in crimes against humanity, and Von Stauffenberg sought to save his nation. Von Stauffenberg had reason to believe he could be successful (he was a high ranking officer, a count, a prominent citizen and member of his country’s ruling class, and he had some support). Furthermore, he had good reason to believe that he would have saved millions of lives with his actions if he was successful. Yes, the count is a hero.

    Your comparison is entirely faulty. Consider: is there a moral difference between a run of the mill confederate soldier who was a patriot fighting for Virginia, and John Wilkes Booth?

    The answer is YES. Booth was a murderer. The soldier was doing his duty as he saw it in defense of his state.

    Like Booth, whoever shot Tiller is a simple murderer (as you yourself point out).

    Lets go back to your Von Stauffenberg analogy. Would it would be reasonable to assume that by killing anyone in this country we could save lives by ending abortion, or even stopping a single abortion? OF COURSE NOT. There is no reasonable expectation of success. Furthermore, the simple moral truism that two wrongs don’t make a right is a truism.

    The whole argument falls flat on its face; the comparison entirely faulty. I think it is silly to bring up a hero like the great Catholic Count of Germany who tried to kill Hitler in a thread about some nut job who committed an act of violence against an abortion provider.

    I think you are making a mountain out of a mole hill. There is a reasoned response to the claim that violence may be justified. I just made it. And any thinking human being can do the same.

    We have only a three-fold response. CONDEMN this act of violence and similar acts of violence, COMMIT to non-violence because it is the only way that will likely yield success, and CONSECRATE ourselves to Christ by imitating Him. HE never killed anyone. He spoke truth, in love. That is what we must do.

  33. Ann says:

    Pro-life means against murder, and what this person did was murder a man at place of worship. No matter who the victim is, this is not acceptable behavior. Murder just isn’t.

    As a Christian I tend to obey the laws of the land. It is part of the rendering unto Caesar. Because Abortion is legal, I vote only for those politicians I think will vote to curb or even end abortion. I protest, and talk about the evil of abortion. But I would not do violence because that violence would feed into the hands of those who really LIKE baby killing to stay legal. I prefer to do nothing which would aid the pro-aborts in expanding their love of killing. Who-ever committed this murder is not on the side of Life by their vary actions.

    Peaceful protests, voting pro-life, donating only to those organizations which are pro-life, and the many other things which are legal and pro-life in their core are legitimate means. Prayer and fasting for the end of abortion are legitimate.

    Murder is not OK. Murder is wrong when the murder is an abortion, and murder is wrong when it is a shooting in a church. Murder is simply not an avenue for a pro-life person.

    Praying for the soul of the victim and the poor sick person who committed this murder and for their families.

  34. cathguy says:

    Mark, your second post is inappropriate in my opinion. We have a murder that just occurred. A man has lost his life and has good reason to fear his judgement. A killer is afoot who has good reason to fear his judgement. There are souls to pray for.

    Civil war in the United States? That is crazy! [Civil war would indeed be insane. But civil wars have happened through history. One happened in the USA not very long ago. I think we should at least not forget that civil wars can happen.] The argument you say professional theologians need to refute has already been completely refuted by several posters here. It really isn’t hard. Violence is NOT the answer!

    This is nuts.

  35. Josiah Ross. says:

    Rest eternal grant unto him O lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.
    May he rest in peace. Amen.
    This is unjustified MURDER. May God be merciful to Dr. Tiller’s murderer

  36. Mark says:

    cathguy, this is actually one of the first sustained discussions on the issue I have seen that hasnt been silenced immediately.

    The answers exist, but they are hardly well-publicized; the pro-life movement seems to rather prefer distancing itself from the whole question as opposed to answering it in sustained discussion like this. And even now, many of the answers given are only half-formed or need more rigorous or exact theological foundations.

    But this discussion we must have, and answers we must formulate, or else people like this shooter are going to assume we dont have any answers. And when we at the same time tell them babies are being brutally murdered…can we really expect this not to happen?

    Civil war in the US happened once already, and when the stakes were (as another poster pointed out) much lower.

    What makes this case different? One article I referred to suggests it is because the “round table of civil discourse” hasnt been broken yet.

    Meaning that, possibly because we ourselves arent in danger or possibly because of the “invisible” nature of abortion or possibly because of a Collective Action Problem…we arent yet willing to view people who disagree with us on abortion as monsters in the same way Northerners came to be willing to view slaveholders, and the world came to be willing to view Nazis.

    We arent willing to “shoot at our brother” (as proverbially happened during the Civil War) over this issue like we came to be willing to do over slavery. It isnt so important to us yet that we would be willing to “hate our mother and father and wife and children and brethren and sisters and, yea, our own lives” over it. Maybe it never will be. Who knows.

  37. TJM says:

    There are a lot of crass things one could say at a moment such as this, like “this was no big deal, just another late-term abortion, etc.” But at the end of the day, this is a tragic event and certainly not one that will redound to the credit of the pro-life movement. One can never know why Dr. Tiller pursued this line of work. He was obviously a church-going man and must have somehow justified his work to himself. We should all pray for him and his family. Tom

  38. GordonBOPS says:

    A scenario about this potential shooter which would ROCK those whole debate is, if it turns out this gunman is the grandfather of a child to have been aborted, say, tomorrow — who disagreed with his daughter’s decisionto obtain an abortion-then, the grandfather took the drastic step we just read about to save the life of his grandbaby. I doubt this is the case, but it would go right to the heart of the moral issues of whether, although in violation of the civil laws of our country (and thus still punishable), the muder of this man was an otherwise sinful act.

  39. Mark says:

    “A scenario about this potential shooter which would ROCK those whole debate is, if it turns out this gunman is the grandfather of a child to have been aborted, say, tomorrow—who disagreed with his daughter’s decisionto obtain an abortion-then, the grandfather took the drastic step we just read about to save the life of his grandbaby.”

    Oooo…interesting idea.

    Unfortunately, even then I think it would have made more sense for him simply to have rented a shack in the woods and restrained his daughter there until she gave birth or something like that.

    But that is an interesting case. Theoretically, a father has not only a right, but a duty to defend his children. Would any of us disagree if the FATHER of a baby to be aborted blew up a clinic, or held the mother (“kidnapped”) somewhere until she gave birth, or rushed in there during the abortion and chopped the abortionists hands off? This is the father of the baby I’m talking about now…?

  40. mpm says:

    The killing of an innocent human being is murder. There is no moral justification
    for this action. If you want to write a thriller novel, go ahead. Don’t imitate
    what the shooter here did.

    This is the real world.

  41. GordonBOPS says:

    mpm — so in other words, lets not give the gunman the benefit of the doubt?

  42. “The killing of an innocent human being is murder.”

    And this applies to this case… how???

  43. anson says:

    As I browse through these posts, I have CNN on, which is a penance in and of itself for me. Needless to say, The network has waived the 5 year rule for the cannonization of Tiller the killer. From their reporting, we learn that he was an usher at his church and his wife was in the choir. Yea, the reporter makes it sound as though Tiller saved shoe leather by practically levitating up and down the aisles to take the collections. You ever heard a mashed cat scream? Tune in to the liberal media, if you can take it. Blowback indeed.

  44. CarpeNoctem says:

    I can’t see these discussions going anywhere good. God have mercy on us all.

  45. Brian says:

    I’m sure CNN would love to add to their saintly-martyr-Tiller story with a link of this man’s thinking to the Catholic pro-life movement by quoting some of the posts here that seem to suggest that this man’s blatantly evil act may somehow be morally justified. Are you people thinking?

  46. Dan says:

    Unfortunately, there is a lunatic fringe out there, on the right and on the left. I believe in righteous anger but this goes above and beyond what is necessary to take action and obtain justice. This guy, if he was acting in the defence of the unborn, had the right intention but clearly used the wrong means to achieve that end. We can understand why he did what he did; clearly he did what he thought was necessary in his eyes but the end did not justify the means. Let’s pray for both his soul and the soul of Dr. Tiller.

  47. Mark says:

    “Tiller’s Women’s Health Care Services clinic is one of just three in the nation where abortions are performed after the 21st week of pregnancy.”

    I didnt realize it was so rare. One really does wonder now if this might indeed save lives, however unethical the means. Planned Parenthood cant exactly send in an “emergency crew” to help women abort when there are only a handful of doctors providing it. Does anyone know if Tiller was the only physician at WHS providing it?

  48. Maureen says:

    If somebody had persuaded Tiller to move to a private island and sip margaritas, that would have saved lives because nobody would have been likely to take up his “practice”. Killing Tiller is more likely to persuade aimless medical students that they’ll be heroes, or at least assured of business, if they become late-term abortionists.

  49. Kim David Poletto says:

    Mark: You raise some very interesting issues. Thanks.

  50. Tantumergo says:

    All of this is a huge catch-22. There are persuasive arguments for the use of lethal force in protection of innocent life, HOWEVER, this act oly throws gasoline on the flames of hatred already enkindled against us. Just like SSPX Bishop Williamson’s awful remarks were a huge setback for the cause of reunification with Rome, so this act today will mean an unraveling of much recent progress in the pro-life movement.For the first time in ages, more Americans recently described themselves as “pro-life” than “pro-choice.” The media will milk this dry, I assure you.

  51. Girgadis says:

    It is misleading to think that this procedure only takes place at free-standing
    facilities. More often than not, abortionists are also on staff at community
    and teaching hospitals where they can work in relative anonymity.

  52. JC says:

    1. No. The *potential* abortions tomorrow or next week do not justify self-defense . If I know a man is *planning* to invade my home and rape my wife next week, that does not give me the right to engage in vigilantism and kill him *today*.

    For all we know, Tiller was going to walk into that building (whatever you want to call it, but, being a Carmelite, and following the teachings of St. Teresa, I still hesitate to give such honor to Lutherans), and announce his conversion.

    If you deny that *possibility*, you are committing the sin against the Holy Spirit.

    2. I am not a “pacifist.” I believe in legitimate self-defense. I believe certain crimes should warrant the death penalty in all cases because they are so heinous. But a person on death row *at least* has the guarantee of knowing when he or she will die, and having the ability to repent during that time. For a pedophile, for example, whose disorder is incurable by current psychological standards, executing him would be, in some sense, an act of charity.

    In one sense, the execution of Timothy McVeigh would have been a perfect example of the conditions JPII set up for the use of the death penalty, *except* for two things:
    1) Was it likely deter, or inspire, further domestic terrorism?
    2) Was it an act of pure justice, intended in self-defense of society, or what it an act of vengeance?

    Would America have forgiven Timmothy McVeigh if he’d repented? Would America have acknowledged his conversion?
    What if Osama bin Ladin sent out an announcement to the world today, “I have become a Catholic, and have decided to join the Benedictine Order and dedicate my life to work for the cause of peace in penance for my previous sins”? If that happened, would you have enough trust in Divine Mercy to forgive him in your heart?

    John Paul II forgave the man who shot him, and that man is now a Catholic, serving life in prison.

    Is that not better than executing people (particularly summarily) and damning them to Hell?

    In this case, one of the things that’s so disappointing is that Tiller had so many avenues open to legal prosecution and civil suits: challenges his medical license, challenges to his potentially illegal campaign contributions, etc. Now, none of those avenues can be pursued.

  53. Brendan says:

    Reading some of the comments, it appears that murdering Tiller under the claim that it was self-defense for the unborn is not valid because he was in his “church” at the time. This raises a question: if Tiller was in the operating room about to perform an abortion, could it be considered a valid way of defending the unborn?

  54. michigancatholic says:

    Relax, folks. Catholics aren’t the only group that protests abortion, and I haven’t heard that the guy who did it is evenly remotely Catholic. It could have been any crackpot with a gun and a grudge.

  55. Clinton says:

    Years ago, in New Jersey I believe, an abortionist was shot in his home by a sniper. I recall the response of the great
    John Cardinal O’Connor of New York was to publicly state that if anyone wanted to start shooting abortionists he begged
    them to come and shoot him first.

    EDG made a good point — it is possible that this murder was committed for reasons unrelated to abortion.

  56. Mike Morrow says:

    I agree with michigancatholic.

    There will be *no* association made by press and Democrat politicians of this guy with the Catholic Church. After all, the majority of US Catholics voted for Obama, so implicitly the majority of US Catholics favor abortion, perhaps enthusiastically in the manner of Notre Dame’s Fr. Jenkins (but without the ability to reward with honorary degrees). Would the press and Democrat politicians try to discredit any *other* predominantly pro-abortion, pro-Obama group? Of course not, so fear not.

    Conservative evangelical Christian groups…now *they* have something to worry about.

  57. Fr. Terry Donahue, CC says:

    “If Tiller was in the operating room about to perform an abortion, could it be considered a valid way of defending the unborn?”

    Even in the hypothetical case of shooting (without the intention of killing) an abortionist in the act of committing abortion, there are several reasons why lethal force should not be used to prevent an abortion.

    Moral Theologian Fr. Germain Grisez, OP gives the following reasons in volume 3 of The Way of the Lord Jesus in answer to the question (summarized for brevity) “A gun can be used justifiably to neutralize a man who is in the act of brutally beating a small child with a baseball bat. How is that different from shooting abortionists?”

    First, …gunning down abortionists is hard to reconcile with the Christian gospel, which emphasizes loving even enemies and seeking the conversion of evildoers. A dead abortionist cannot repent; women prevented from obtaining the abortion they wanted are unlikely to be moved to repent by the abortionist’s death; and many hearts, reacting self-righteously against the killing of an abortionist, are likely to be hardened with respect to the slaughter of the unborn.

    Second, …it clouds prolife witness by making it seem that even those who oppose abortion approve killing people when they think doing so would serve some good end.

    Third, …the cases of shooting abortionists have proved it to be counterproductive. It provokes a strong, negative reaction from most people and countermeasures by public officials that impede every other form of prolife work, not least nonviolent direct action such as sidewalk counseling.

    Fourth, …violence against abortionists serves as a bad example for many sorts of extremists, thus contributing to an increase in the lawlessness and unjustifiable violence already common in our society.

    Another difference between stopping the brutal man [in the act of beating a child with a baseball bat] and gunning down abortionists: The brutal man is an isolated wrongdoer whose violence is afforded no protection by society and its institutions. But abortionists are others’ agents—they serve women who have decided to get rid of their unborn children—and both doing and having abortions are socially accepted, protected by law, and even, in some respects, supported by public policy. The fellow beating the small child with a baseball bat almost certainly will not be replaced if you shoot him. Thus, your effort very likely will achieve your good end of protecting the child. But if you gun down one or even many abortionists, the women who meant to use their services, and others who will decide to obtain abortions, certainly can–and almost all probably will–find someone else to kill their unborn babies. And while killing or maiming large numbers of abortionists might have a temporary deterrent effect on actual and potential abortionists, it probably would quickly provoke a well-organized public response. New governmental programs almost certainly would make doing abortions more lucrative and provide abortionists with special protections and privileges. Abortion probably would be at least as widely available as it is now, so that no fewer, and perhaps even more, unborn babies would be killed. Since our society already is deeply committed to the evils of abortion and its legalization, gunning down abortionists therefore would be pointless unless one went on to gun down the public officials who support abortion. But that would be starting a revolution with no prospect of success; and, like war generally, a revolution without a prospect of success is unjust to the nation, whose common good it injures rather than promotes. Therefore, … gunning down abortionists is unjust, while nonviolent direct action—rescues, sidewalk counseling, picketing abortionists’ homes—is just.”

    (Germain Grisez, The Way of the Lord Jesus: Difficult Moral Questions, Q200, http://wayofthelordjesus.org/dmq.cfm?page=dmqq200 )

  58. Mark says:

    “No. The potential abortions tomorrow or next week do not justify self-defense . If I know a man is planning to invade my home and rape my wife next week, that does not give me the right to engage in vigilantism and kill him today.”

    I agree. Which is why the heroification of Stauffenberg perplexes me. According to our moral theology, neither the shooter nor Stauffenberg was justified. Hitler would have just been sitting at his desk not engaged in any immediate aggression; one can hardly claim legitimate defense, and the Catholic Encyclopedia article on the subject seems to conclude against tyrannicide for a “tyrant by oppression,” as Hitler was (being otherwise legitimately elected).

    Yet, my point was…even if we ultimately “theoretically” disagree with Stauffenberg’s means given the luxury of hindsight and not being faced with the pressing circumstances ourselves…I think society allows us to sympathize with someone whose goal was to kill Hitler.

    Because “Hitler” has become an Idea to society, not a man.

    And while we as Catholics might theoretically say, “Well, I hope Hitler repented before he died, blah, blah, blah, etc”…the archetype “Hitler” became a dehumanized monster Idea of evil incarnate that most of society would laud the murder of, as they in fact do in the case of the attempt of Stauffenberg.

    Personally, I think Tiller was arguably in many ways more evil than Hitler, on an individual level. Certainly Hitler caused much more evil, more sufferings, more deaths, but in terms of the individual depravity of his personality…Hitler may in many ways have had a less monstrous psyche because of his detachment from his crimes: Hitler never had to kill anyone, let alone a “partially born” infant, at his own hands and watch the gruesome results, so it was all just theoretical to him. But the ability to actually carry out the deed in cold blood, totally voluntary, as Tiller did…strikes me as much more depraved.

    And yet, because of the cohesive “civility” of our society, one could disagree with Tiller, but he was still accorded a seat at the table of “civil” discourse and viewed and treated as something other than a monster.

    If the political implications of a Hitler assassination complicate things too much (ie, arguments that it wasnt private murder, but The People revoking legitimate rule through a delegated instrument, etc)…then take Osama bin Laden. Many Americans would excuse, and hail as a hero, someone who shot Osama upon coming across him, even if it was a private individual engaged in vigilantism.

    From a Catholic moral theology standpoint, such a man wouldnt be technically acting ethically…but who wouldnt sympathize with him? Because “society’s” consensus has made a monster of the idea “bin Laden”. In a way it didnt of Tiller.

    And yet would Tiller have not deserved such a “monster” status if society had come to its senses and given it to him? And also…as Catholics, why do we let the greater secular society tell us who we may view as monsters (Hitler, Bin Laden, etc) and who we may not?? Coudlnt we decide that on our own, internally?

    Pro-choice is more tolerable than racism to us, it sometimes seems! We can “respect” a pro-choice person and deal with them otherwise in a way many of us would refuse to do with a racist. We might even justify it with “maybe we could get them to convert”…a benefit-of-the-doubt we dont seen to extend to, say, neo-nazis and pedophiles (whom many of us would shun and avoid entirely).

    So, I think one thing the pro-life movement could thus do, and that the Church could mandate…is to start shunning pro-choice people entirely. Of course, it would have to start with excommunicating vocal pro-choice people. But I mean even in our own lives, we need to start “hating our mothers and fathers”. We need to start viewing and encouraging others to view the supporters of abortion in the same way we view racists, pedophiles, etc. As shun. As depraved. As despicable. We can’t continue to compartmentalize things and excuse them as “just misguided” because they happen to be friends and family. They support killing babies! There can be no reasonable discussion with them. They are sick, depraved, genocide-promoting individuals. And we should start to treat them as such. Otherwise this is all going to remain a “civil” discourse, and abortion will keep on happening.

  59. Mark says:

    “First, …gunning down abortionists is hard to reconcile with the Christian gospel, which emphasizes loving even enemies and seeking the conversion of evildoers. A dead abortionist cannot repent; women prevented from obtaining the abortion they wanted are unlikely to be moved to repent by the abortionist’s death; and many hearts, reacting self-righteously against the killing of an abortionist, are likely to be hardened with respect to the slaughter of the unborn.”

    This begs the question…doesnt shooting the man beating the baby with a baseball bat likewise remove his chance of repentance?

    Yet, in that case, arent we allowed to do it if necessary to save the life immediately threatened?

    Maybe in the South a few decades ago, shooting at a lynch-mob would have just “hardened more hearts” to be racist and to view the civil rights crowd as dangerous nuts. And yet, wouldnt it have been right to stop the lynching nonetheless? Uncertain hypotheticals like “yeah, but that might have a caused a backlash of even more lynchings” really cant be factored-in to excuse one from saving the life immediately threatened, can they?

    Because our immediate concern in such situations must be the life immediately threatened. Again, can we preform this sort of calculus when a life is immediately threatened? If I shoot a man attacking me in the leg…I’m not even required to think about how it will effect his potential income or his family’s financial situation…let alone vague ideas of an abstract existentialist effect on “society”…

    To imagine that we can “sacrifice” the lives currently threatened, by not doing anything, for the sake of benefiting “the cause” as a whole in the abstract “long term”…seems a cold moral calculus to me. Can we really preform that sort of triage by exchanging actual lives in the immediate present for hypothetical lives in a hypothetical future? Sort of the flip-side of the “one death is a tragedy, a million are a statistic” principle, perhaps?

    And it suggests to me that abortion has just become an abstract “cause” to many pro-lifers and not, as it really should be, about saving actual individual persons. The fact that talk of the “hardening of hearts” and “repentance” are given priority to the life immediately threatened, as if (were we in the room when it was happening) we should just sit back and coldly watch it because “stopping it wouldnt make the abortionist repent” strikes me as a reversal of priorities. Our goal in stopping it ISNT to make the abortionist repent. In this case, that’s a remote spiritual goal quite separate from the immediate material goal which would be saving the life of the baby.

    The pro-life movement is NOT, first and foremost, about saving souls! It’s primarily about saving lives. Duh. Evangelization as a whole is about saving souls, but pro-life efforts specifically have for their specific raison d’etre saving LIVES, not souls particularly, at least not directly and immediately.

    For too many, though, it’s purpose does seem to have become abstractly conflated with some sort moral struggle when it is really a practical struggle to actually save physical lives.

    There is a seemingly growing divide in the pro-life movement, then, between those who view it as merely a sort of Missionary Effort, and those of us who view it as a Rescue Operation…and this divide should be discussed.

    “The fellow beating the small child with a baseball bat almost certainly will not be replaced if you shoot him. Thus, your effort very likely will achieve your good end of protecting the child. But if you gun down one or even many abortionists, the women who meant to use their services, and others who will decide to obtain abortions, certainly can—and almost all probably will—find someone else to kill their unborn babies. And while killing or maiming large numbers of abortionists might have a temporary deterrent effect on actual and potential abortionists, it probably would quickly provoke a well-organized public response. New governmental programs almost certainly would make doing abortions more lucrative and provide abortionists with special protections and privileges. Abortion probably would be at least as widely available as it is now, so that no fewer, and perhaps even more, unborn babies would be killed.”

    THIS, I think, is the most important argument. And the best, though it still needs work. The FUTILITY of force at saving even the specific child in question, because of the likelihood of that same mother seeking out another provider.

    “Since our society already is deeply committed to the evils of abortion and its legalization, gunning down abortionists therefore would be pointless unless one went on to gun down the public officials who support abortion. But that would be starting a revolution with no prospect of success; and, like war generally, a revolution without a prospect of success is unjust to the nation, whose common good it injures rather than promotes.”

    Well, we assume such a revolution would be a failure. And surely, if a small group of private individuals tried to carry it out…it would be.

    But what if the Church threw the entire weight of its institutional resources (and psychological clout over faithful Catholics) behind such a revolution? What if the Pope tomorrow declared a Crusade against the US government or abortion?

    Unrealistic, surely, but why? It would only take a man standing at his window in Rome reading a well-written paragraph. What would happen if he did? Success? Unlikely. But it would certainly rock the boat. Governments would have to react. Catholics would have to decide how to react. Etc. It would be interesting even if, ultimately, just a media circus…

  60. Michael J says:

    Mark,
    You raise some interesting points that I think are worthy of discussion. I know at some instinctive level that what was done to Tillman was wrong, but I would be hard pressed to come up with a definitive reason why – especially in light of the arguments you raise. Sorry, that’s the best I can do right now.

    That being said, I agree wholeheartedly that our primary motivation should be the saving of an innocent life and that repentence of the evildoer must be secondary. I would even go further.

    What is the eternal fate of those poor victims of abortion who die without benefit of the Sacrament of Baptism? I accept all that the Church teaches about Baptism, including Baptism of Desire and Blood, but I fail to see how these poor children can fall in any of these categories. The fact is, the Church has not definitively stated their fate. The most She has said, as far as I have been able to tell, is something along the lines of “God has chosen not to reveal their fate, but we can always trust in His mercy”. So, something to consider. Not only does the abortionist destroy an innocent life, there is a very real possibility that he also consigns a soul to eternal damnation.

  61. Brendan says:

    Mark,

    Thank you for calling to mind that the goal of the pro-life movement is to save lives. Each and every child in the womb that is threatened to be murdered is the target for our love. I have said in the past, and I continue to believe this, that if I am able to save just one child’s life through my efforts, that means the world to me. I am prepared to die in order to save the life of just one innocent child.

    Now, another hypothetical situation has popped into my head. It seems that killing Tiller while he was about to perform an abortion would not be justified because the woman would likely find another way to get the abortion and the child would still die. Now, Tiller specialized in partial-birth abortions. Let’s say that Tiller is in the middle of performing a partial-birth abortion. He has delivered the child up to her head and is about to stick the scissors in the baby’s neck and suck out her brains. What if somebody shot Tiller at this moment, rushed over, delivered the child fully and then run with the child to safety? This person has shot (possibly killed) Tiller in order to save the life of an innocent child. If the shot had not had been fired, the child would be killed. What about this situation?

  62. Mark says:

    “Now, another hypothetical situation has popped into my head. It seems that killing Tiller while he was about to perform an abortion would not be justified because the woman would likely find another way to get the abortion and the child would still die.”

    Killing? No, that probably would not be justified because legitimate defense requires using only the minimum necessary force to disable the attacker enough to stop the immediate act and remove immediate danger. In this case, non-lethal means would seem sufficient to defuse the immediate threat.

    But using some sort of force to stop the act?

    I do not think it suddenly becomes unjustified just because the mother might someday seek another abortion. The moral circumstances of the principal of legitimate defense are THAT immediate act, particularly.

    The fact that the attacker might someday hypothetically try again does not cause us to say “well, then we might as well let him get it done with now instead of later”.

    Likewise, I think even merely “buying some time” in the case of an abortion could justify force. Because, I mean, we’re all going to die someday. All that fighting off an attacker ever does is buy time for any of us, ultimately. But if we really believe human life is infinitely valuable, isnt one more week for the baby (and one more week for the mother to possibly reconsider) worth it?

    Would we not admit that death-row inmate Bob has a right to save his life by fighting off an unjust attacker, even if Bob was going to be justly executed anyway the very next day? And he’s guilty and his life is forfeit! All the moreso, then, the principle would seem to apply to the case of an innocent facing “certain” death. The inevitability of death, even imminent death, does not seem to revoke the allowability of the legitimate use of force to defuse an immediate threat in the immediate moment.

    We have the right to stop an immediate act, regardless of the probability that someone will try again. Should Tiller have just let his prior attacker kill him because of the “inevitability” that someone would try again and someday succeed? Obviously not.

    If I were in the room, I dont think I could stand there coldly while it happened. I’d do everything I could to stop it, even if I knew it meant I’d be held down and dragged away by police and the act would then continue. Because it’s a real child they are about to kill!

    Now, all that being said, I still dont think force is currently a viable option to stop abortion, either in general or in specific.

    IF someone somehow made it into the room when the act was in progress, and disabled the attacker using minimal necessary force…admittedly, I dont think we could ever morally condemn them or say they were wrong.

    BUT, let’s also remember that though legitimate defensive force is allowed, we are not required to seek out evil in order to stop it. Maybe if you had specific knowledge of a specific abortion that was going to take place, or had a particular duty to protect the child (ie, you are its father, etc)…then its a more pressing issue.

    But just because you vaguely know, in general, that abortions happen, or even, in general, that they happen at a certain place…that is not a mandate to seek them out to stop them, to put yourself in such a situation as could justify defensive force.

    And we may indeed decide that we arent going to waste time and resources staging invasions of abortuaries to interrupt (likely only temporarily) abortions when we could save more lives with non-violent means. But, we should discuss this prudential decision more often and more publicly, and admit that such an invasion wouldnt necessarily be absolutely wrong as a theoretical hypothetical. If we dont at least admit that, then people have a hard time taking us seriously when we say we believe its a real human being brutally murdered. In order to remind people of the gravity of it, we need to make it clear that we believe that it is of such a gravity and urgency that force could be justified if force could be used effectively (even though, without the State behind us, it usually cant be).

    But it certainly isnt obligatory, and probably isnt prudent.

    Yet, I think professionals should actually weight the numbers, as it were, to demonstrate concretely why more lives would be saved avoiding such tactics as opposed to using them.

    “Now, Tiller specialized in partial-birth abortions. Let’s say that Tiller is in the middle of performing a partial-birth abortion. He has delivered the child up to her head and is about to stick the scissors in the baby’s neck and suck out her brains. What if somebody shot Tiller at this moment, rushed over, delivered the child fully and then run with the child to safety? This person has shot (possibly killed) Tiller in order to save the life of an innocent child. If the shot had not had been fired, the child would be killed. What about this situation?”

    Again, I dont think anyone could morally condemn such a person. But the conditions there are extremely narrow (in fact, as I said, even narrower than I think they’d have to be)…and there is no obligation to seek out such a situation. But IF that somehow happened, sure, of course, that would be justified and uncondemnable. As long as they didnt intend his death and the force they used was the minimum necessary for the rescue of the child.

  63. Mark says:

    Anyway, my point is just that the pro-life movement needs to get over this thread or strain within it that seems to believe we dont use force on principle, due to some abstract mystical pacifist ideology.

    Nonsense. In reality, we dont use force because it isnt practical. But the act is of such a gravity that force could be used IF it could be used practically.

    Theoretically, Paul Hill’s maxim that “any force justified in saving a born child is justified in saving an unborn child” IS correct.

    BUT there are just many practical circumstances (such as the fact that abortion is protected by the state, that the child is attached to the woman trying to have it killed, that its invisible nature prevents popular outrage, that it is a system of many providers not just an isolated attacker) which would cause such force to be ineffective.

    If those same circumstances applied to born people, we’d be likewise in a bind (an interesting analogous hypothetical to explore might involve conjoined twins, one of whom wants to be euthanized, but the other doesnt)…and, conversely, if they didnt apply to the unborn, we WOULD probably use force.

    Heck, Catholic Encyclopedia says we are allowed to use defensive force to defend mere property…and certainly to defend our life or that of an innocent neighbor.

    Invading a clinic and using the minimal necessary force to interrupt an abortion in progress would, in theory, be justified. Even if all it did was “buy time”. These are real lives on the line here!

    However, we dont generally use those tactics because, at least in the current sociological and political situation, we find it more effective, more lives are saved, using other means. And we arent required to seek out evil in order to stop it, arent obligated to put ourselves in situations where we might be expected to use defensive force. But IF someone did, we couldnt condemn them.

    And we must also always remember that it is mainly the current political and sociological situation that stops such means from being practical. Some day we may reach a tipping point (say, a Bleeding Kansas, or Lincoln Election) where there is strong enough outrage about abortion, enough “popular legitimacy” behind the idea of stopping it…that such tactics of legitimate force might become effective (ala, how slavery was eventually ended). Because we are not against them on principle, merely practically.

    Whether reaching such a tipping point is desirable…needs to be discussed. Because there are many things we could do, perhaps should do, to foment it.

    As I said, first and foremost is STIGMATIZING the pro-choice view, among pro-lifers, in a way similar to racism, pedophilia, etc. Too many of us are able to otherwise tolerate and respect our pro-choice friends and families, even though we wouldnt give that consideration to neo-nazis or child molesters! Even though, objectively, pro-choicers are more monstrous: they support the brutal murder of babies! Why are they not shun and totally monsterized in our minds when racists and pedophiles are!?

    Why is osama bin laden who has killed [and merely indirectly, at that] perhaps a few thousand…a monster whom many Americans would sympathize with the vigilante killing of, but Tiller and other abortionists (who perhaps kill tens of thousands in their career)…are not???

    That’s a psycho-social situation that we could do things to deliberately change, both in our own minds and those of others, through truly stigmatizing the pro-choice position. Something I dont think we’ve done yet, and which the bishops…in not excommunicating pro-choicers (not even the vocal politicians!) have seemingly refused to do. Obama knows this is what will cause the tipping point. Perhaps he feels it coming and that is why he is so concerned with keeping us at the table of endless (and useless) “civil discourse” and maintaining “mutual respect” or at least tolerance between the two sides. No. Being pro-choice is depraved. And we should work to stigmatize the whole thing, even if that means shunning friends and family. We would if they were neo-nazis, all the moreso we should if they are pro-abortion.

  64. Ricky Vines says:

    For those surprised or baffled by the diversity in pro-lifers\’ sentiments and
    convictions, you msy find the post about the 6 colors of pro-lifers informative –
    http://divine-ripples.blogspot.com/2009_06_01_archive.html#3422869005734155308

  65. Mark says:

    Does this change anyone’s feelings?

    The family has permanently closed the clinic:
    http://www.kansascity.com/news/breaking_news/story/1241739.html

    It may not change our thoughts, objectively, but does it change anyone’s FEELINGS on the shooting? Make anyone a little more sympathetic or relieved on a gut level?