The timing could not be worse for the anti-abortion movement. Just last month, the Gallup Poll reported that 51 percent of Americans now call themselves pro-life rather than pro-choice on the issue of abortion. This murder occurred as the anti-abortion message seems to be resonating with the public, even if it does not necessarily prevail in court.
Last year, a Kansas grand jury declined to indict Tiller on charges of violating state abortion laws, although it noted that a review of medical records "revealed a number of questionable late-term abortions." In March, Tiller was acquitted on charges that he failed to get an independent second opinion -- stipulating that continuing a pregnancy would make the woman suffer "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function," as required by Kansas law -- before performing 19 late-term abortions in 2003.
Asked about late-term abortions, Stanford Professor William Hurlbut, who sits on the President's Council on Bioethics, told me he believes doctors shrink from performing late-term abortions, not out of fear of intimidation, as Hern suggested, but because the procedure goes against the "impulse to heal." He noted the "two contrary impulses -- killing and nurturing" in having doctors perform abortions. And: "The later abortion is, the more evident and vivid that contrast is."
That's a discussion for another day.
Today, the issue is murder. Today, the issue is an extremist attitude that encourages lawlessness and even murder. And when a gunman walks into a crowded church and shoots a man dead, that man cannot stand for life.
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