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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Right and Wrong

I worry about righteousness. When people are so convinced they're right that they're willing to kill those who they think are wrong, it rarely goes well. The death of Dr. George Tiller is a classic example. He did the work no one else was willing to do, and did it with kindness and skill. For this, he was murdered in his Sunday morning church services where he was serving as an usher. Because someone believed they knew better than he did what was right and wrong in the eyes of God, they came into his place of worship and gunned him down. Now, wait just a minute... right and wrong? I think you've got that backwards.

Yes, he did abortions. But it wasn't willy nilly, "I don't feel like having a baby or bothering with birth control." There are very serious medical (and ethical!) reasons for discontinuing a pregnancy that have gotten lost in the screams of "Abortion is murder!" mania of the religious right. These reasons include:
- women diagnosed with cancer who needed abortions to pursue chemotherapy
- women who learned late in their pregnancies that their very-much-wanted babies had fatal illnesses
- rape victims so young (11 or 12 years old) they didn't realize they were pregnant for months. You know, little girls who never had a period before they were raped.

Pregnancy is a serious medical risk for women, carrying a historic mortality rate of about 1 in 100. It's not just something "natural" that is "normal" and risk-free. Don't believe me? Try buying health insurance after a positive pregnancy test. That's a pre-existing condition that insurance companies know will cost them a lot of money, especially if things go poorly.

But in the face of daily protests, being a punching bag for Bill O'Reilly, and being previously shot twice, he continued to get up and go to work every day. This sort of courage and determination makes the man a saint in my mind, and makes me fear for the future, because few people are willing to take that kind of risk to do the right thing. Pregnancy is a medical condition and should be about nothing more than the needs of the patient and the skill of her doctor, and at the very outside, the patient and the doctor's ethical and religious beliefs, not the religious beliefs of anyone outside the privacy of that office. The fact that others feel entitled to control those medical decisions make me all the more unwilling to become pregnant in the first place, because who knows what position I'd be in if something went horribly wrong. Since it's an avoidable issue, I'll just continue to avoid it, thankyouverymuch.


  • He was more of a target because he was also one of the only doctors who performed late term - third trimester - abortions.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:00 AM  

  • Well heck, let's just call him St. Tiller then.

    For another side Dr. Tiller's activities, click here

    I'm sure he provided medically necessary abortion. Somehow I doubt those had much to do with the hatred aimed at him.

    By Blogger Kevin, at 2:07 PM  

  • If you accept the metaphysical beliefs of the anti-abortionists, they are, for the most part, acting well within reason. The two sides to this debate have a huge, unbridgeable gap in understanding and thus it becomes quite easy to dehumanize the other side.

    Both sides refuse to even acknowledge one another's beliefs.

    Murder is not an acceptable response, even to murder, and vigilantism is not an answer either.

    I personally side with you, but I have explored the ideas behind both sides and never see either side really address the concerns of the other side.

    By Blogger brookswift, at 4:03 PM  

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