I am tired of a public debate that treats seriously the claim that pregnant women, mothers, and the people who support them are killers. I am tired of a debate that trivializes genocide by saying that what women do to deal with their reproductive lives is worse.
What I want instead is to honor George Tiller, a man who honored women. And I want instead to honor those who value fetal life, but who do not lose sight of the women who give that life, and who would never dream of murdering a doctor who was among the few to give those women the services, respect, and dignity they deserved.
See more people who honour women (and life) at IamDrTiller.com.
But let’s get one thing clear — being “pro-life” has absolutely nothing to do with compassion or saving the lives of babies or getting people to take responsibility for their actions. Instead, being “pro-life” has everything to do with ignorance and control. Being “pro-life” has everything to do with making judgments on what they know nothing about. If being “pro-life” were actually about being pro-life, then trustworthy health care, safe procedures, and birth control would be more accessible for all women, and the murder of a doctor would never have happened.
- Theresa, Pro-Life: Not About Life At All.
Guest post by L. Portes*
Dr Tiller’s assassination has riled up a semi-sleeping nest of vipers in the past few days. Even though it isn’t always reported in the media, the old same rhetoric has been going on, mostly under the radar, among the Armies of “God” and the Operation Rescues of the anti-choice movement.
Old arguments and old red herrings.
In the 1990s there were a string of terrorist attacks within the US and Canada aimed at abortion clinics and physicians who provide patients with abortion services after the (mostly) acceptable 12 weeks. Doctors were shot and killed, clinics bombed, staff harassed and terrorized. Today, career protesters still stand outside clinics, screaming and shouting at women who enter; there have even been cases where members of the police have conspired and handed over personal information to the extremists from those ID’d through their license plates.
There are some who consider abortion at any stage of the game unacceptable. In fact, some would ban contraception, as it may simply interfere with the plans of their god. But, on the whole, society has “decided” that early on terminating a pregnancy is less abhorrent to them.
It has been estimated that approximately 33% of all pregnancies spontaneously miscarry within the first trimester. That is just nature’s way of not completing a faulty conception or splitting of cells. But that magic number 12 when the first trimester ends is where what is deeply personal suddenly becomes deeply political; after 12 weeks of pregnancy it has been proposed that a woman must go forward for the next 28 weeks, no matter what–full steam ahead.
The most vocal abortion opponents would like you to believe that after 12 weeks the decision to terminate a pregancy is a matter of convenience, that abortions are being performed willy nilly up to the 40th week, that it’s simply a business venture for doctors like George Tiller. “Abortionists” perform “executions” for the money. They have said that Dr. Tiller would abort a fetus just hours before it would be born! This is not true, of course, but it makes for shocking material (and massive ratings) for those with no scruples (Bill O’Reilly comes to mind.)
But for what real reasons would a woman and her family require the services provided by a specialized clinic such as Dr. Tiller’s, or, here in Canada, the one run by Dr. Garson Romalis?
A primary one would be fetal anomalies.
You may know someone that this has happened to–a friend of a friend, a family member perhaps: A woman discovers she is expecting and, partway through the pregnancy, a test shows something that makes it apparent that the fetus will not survive. Or that if there is a live birth it will be a painful, short-lived thing. Or when the fetus is born it will be a life of nothingness.
Sometimes, carrying an anencephalic fetus to term can be detrimental to the woman. It may compromise future fertility, or the woman’s life due to infection. Hard to truly comprehend unless it has happened to you.
I can comprehend.
My pregnancy was a wanted one, very much so. The first weeks were uneventful, except for the happiness and the worry which intermingled. I’d had two miscarriages in my life already; never really accepted being pregnant again as a reality until the 12th week.
Hurdle one vaulted.
Entering into the second trimester, we were finally feeling confident and making plans for the new arrival. We didn’t have much at the time, but we were gathering supplies for the coming weeks: a second hand stroller, blankets. I could feel the baby moving already, at first a small quickening; that grew into more kicks and swimming sensations. I had been seeing my doctor regularly from about 12 weeks, as I had been out of the country when I discovered the pregnancy. He ordered an ultrasound, which was performed at about the 18 week mark.
Our baby had a heartbeat, which I already knew. But something alarming turned up as well. More detailed scans were ordered and the grim details were told to us by a special team who looked at them.
Broken bones, some healed already. Bowed legs and arms, etc. Ostegenesis Imperfecta Type II, they called it: Brittle Bone.
Our baby wasn’t going to live. And whatever time he spent in the womb, or out, was just going to be painful. Pain that you or I cannot imagine.
We were given two options: Carry on with the pregnancy, knowing what was to come, ignore his pain, and ours.
Or terminate the pregnancy.
Not much else to be said, really; we made the most kind decision, one that no parent-to-be should ever have to make.
A harrowing, sad, anguished couple of weeks followed. I mostly just remember being in the recovery room, missing him so much. Alone suddenly after weeks of activity.
Alone with our broken dreams.
I had aborted at 21 weeks. My body thought it had delivered a baby who needed sustenance, so it began to lactate. Just another painful reminder of what was lost.
We talked to the doctors to ask what the odds were of this happening again and were told that it was less than 6%, as it was not recorded on either side of our families. So a few months later we tried again. We were on pins and needles until the 18 week mark, as this condition can only be seen on an ultrasound and can only be confirmed or discounted after about 17 weeks.
When we finally held our little baby girl in our arms, whole and healthy and screaming like thunder, we did not forget about our son; the love is still there. We have moved on as much as we can, knowing we did the right thing. The pain is still very real, less sharp, sometimes bittersweet.
But I also know that because of medical professionals like Dr. Tiller and Dr. Romalis (who in the past has also faced near-deadly harassment) there would not be the peace that we now feel. Indeed, if our son had died in utero (which also happens in cases like ours) there is a good chance that we wouldn’t know the joys of our two youngest children. Most distressing of all, so much suffering would have been inflicted for no real reason on someone we didn’t really know, yet loved and wanted with all our being.
And that is what the anti-choicers do not want you to know about: situations faced by families like ours.
Our stories are not often told; to do so makes many listeners uncomfortable. Some will not even look me in the eye when I tell them in person. A lot of women like me simply don’t say anything, as there is the very real possibility that we might be labeled, with much revulsion, as monsters.
We see reports of extremists screaming at women outside clinics, hear of those same extremists targeting medical professionals. These are deeply personal, deeply painful stories that have been made deeply political by those who really do not give a damn about babies, families, or people in general. But it is time to start speaking up.
We are not monsters. We are parents who love our children, and love the children we lost. And Dr Tiller was nothing short of a hero.
Now, after so many years of personal sacrifice and personal pain he is now a fallen hero. We cannot let him have died in vain. We cannot let parents who face these sorts of tragedies such as fetal anomalies or a life-threatening pregnancy go it alone.
These anti-choice extremists must finally be dealt with, publicly denounced and called what they are.
Pro life? No. They are nothing but low life terrorists who, through fear and intimidation, want to force everyone to bend to their will.
And, because of them, families that face the same wretched news we did need help now more than ever.
*name changed for privacy and safety reasons
This montage illustrates exactly what Charles Johnson was talking about when he recently said that the guano loco-ization of Fox News “will achieve nothing in the long run except further marginalization of the GOP—unless people start behaving like adults instead of angry kids throwing tantrums and ranting about conspiracies and revolution.” Yeah. Angry kids at Columbine throwing (deadly) tantrums with AR-15s (get ‘em before Obama repeals the 2nd amendment!)
Make sure to also check out Glenn Beck’s unhinged object lesson on how Obama wants to (rhetorically!) immolate “average Americans” via immigration policy (talk about inflammatory rhetoric).
Remember when we were all bemoaning the fact that an ‘extremist’ like Rush had the GOP establishment by the short and curlies? Compared to these characters, Limbaugh is looking positively rational. And the Republican governor of Texas is “proud” to be associated with those eagerly giving a platform to the Birchers and the end-timers.
“[F]urther marginalization of the GOP,” indeed.
I’ve been following the increasingly acrimonious Ron Paul-related blogspat between David Neiwert and Glenn Greenwald with great interest. Not particularly concerned with the substance of the dispute, though I will admit to being sympathetic with Neiwert’s position. With that said, as the battle lines continue to be drawn I believe there are broader implications at play.
From what I’ve read, Greenwald has always identified as a (left-leaning) libertarian, and to many libertarians RP represents the first viable presidential candidate since, well, the last time Ron Paul ran for the Executive. Still, the erroneous notion that Glenn Greenwald is a ‘liberal’ has become stone-set conventional wisdom among many on both sides of the aisle. Seems if one expresses a deep and abiding dislike for the
Cheney Bush administration one might as well be a goddamn Commie (Pat Buchanan and Gary North: once far-right anti-Semitic isolationists, now objectively Maoist–just add 9/11.)
So, one shouldn’t be surprised to see Greenwald side with Paul in this particular dispute. Neiwert, a journalist who specializes in covering the USian far right, is an ardent proponent of Federal hate crime legislation. Greenwald, a former constitutional law attorney, is a genuine free speech absolutist (according to Wikipedia, white supremacist Matthew Hale was one of his more famous clients). Any affiliation Greenwald has with the USian ‘left-blogosphere’/netroots (read: partisan Democracts, though I wouldn’t place Neiwert in this category, either) should be considered a shotgun wedding of (in)convenience, much like that of Jim Henley or Arthur Silber, than indicative of a genuine ideological convergence (indeed, as Silber has noted, a number of USian progressive luminaries have been content to repeatedly play the useful idiot role on behalf of imperial Donkeys in Congress).
It will be interesting to see if Ron Paul proves to be the catalyst that hastens a schism among anti-Bush forces who share little in common besides a respect for civil liberties and the rule of law, along with a recognition of how much (perhaps irreparable) damage to civil society the War on Terror has wrought. As the specter of lame-duck Dubya (and Deadeye Dick) continues to fade, there appear to be a number of fundamental policy barriers separating liberals and libertarians that are, in all likelihood, insurmountable. At this point, it seems more and more apparent that, contra Markos Moulitsas, the ‘Libertarian Democrat’ will ultimately prove to be the jackalope of contemporary American politics.