"It is with a heavy heart that I write to you about the senseless violence in Tucson today," EMILY's List president Stephanie Schriock wrote as so many of us turned to Arizona and prayed for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' survival. We prayed for Giffords, her family, and those who were tragically affected by the civic gathering that ended in bloodshed. We gave thanks to God for brave men and women who kept the attack from being even bloodier.
When Giffords was shot in Tucson, it was a jarring confrontation with evil. A child, Christina Green, who was born on 9/11 and was interested in government at a young age, was murdered, as was a federal judge, John Roll, coming from Saturday-morning Mass.
You know their stories by now.
There were prayers. But there was also a lot of noise. Fingers pointed. Accusations made.
More reflection may be in order. More reflection is in order.
It got ugly. I was watching as supposed protectors of civility were at their most uncivil. And I was watching, too, who most of their incivility was aimed at Sarah Palin, who, in no small way, is a person who really shouldn't have been part of the story. The National Organization for Women's president was among those who lead the angry rhetorical attacks on the right, presuming if a Democrat had been shot, the bullets must have come from the right. But there was no evidence of this at the time and the evidence suggests this really wasn't a story about politics but about mental illness.
And then I received EMILY's List's press release, which exists to support female candidates who support legal abortion. Giffords is one of their women. And there was Planned Parenthood's, too.
It was completely coincidental, but when I went back to Planned Parenthood's website later in the week, "Accidents Happen" were the words that jumped out at me.
They jumped out at me and brought me back to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the House floor, after the attack. The former Speaker of the House said: " a tragic accident took lives, wounded people in the free expression of ideas."
But it wasn't an accident.
As Schriock wrote and we all know, "a gunman attacked Cong. Gabby Giffords, her staff, and constituents at a public event ... Congresswoman Giffords is fighting for her life, following a bullet entering her brain at close range."Schriock went on to explain: "I have read your e-mails and letters about her, how inspired you all have been by Gabby. She blazed into our lives as the youngest woman ever elected to the Arizona State Senate, and we all rejoiced with her when she won a congressional seat that had been held by Republicans for 20 years."
I couldn't help but think of other letters. Letters I've been reading for years from mothers who have aborted their babies, often having felt they had little or no support in their struggle to fight for their child's life. Women who know that they did, in fact, end a life. And with all the justifications in the world, there is often a sense of senselessness about it. If only they had the support. If only they didn't have the talking points of a feminist movement intent on telling them the choice to end their child's life is fine, just don't think about him as one. If only they didn't have the moral cover provided by a culture of death -- which includes, in no small way, the law of our land, and the feminist movement.
Schriock also wrote, "Today, I'm reminded of our responsibility to love our neighbors, and to take care of each other."
Gabby Giffords was shot days after a press conference was held by the Chiaroscuro Foundation in New York City to highlight the outrageously high abortion rates in New York City (41 percent). NARAL Pro-Choice NY, a branch of another one of the abortion-rights groups that issued loving statements in support of Rep. Giffords, blasted the press conference and the religious leaders: "these men continue to meddle in women's lives and preach a gospel of shame and stigma while seeking to ban or otherwise limit access to abortion." But really, the news of the press conference was that Catholic archbishop Timothy Dolan was enthusiastically renewing a pledge that the Catholic Church in New York would help any and every mom who sought its aide in having a child. He is taking his responsibility as a shepherd, as a father, as a leader taking responsibility, loving his neighbors, taking care.
God bless Rep. Giffords and her family. Her survival is an inspirational marvel and the prayers of EMILY and everyone else are great, uplifting gifts.
These groups I've quoted, and others, fundamentally disagree with me and believe abortion should be legal. But in the face of violence, it's hard to get beyond the fact that we're actually not a country that decries violence against our most innocent. EMILY's List does not. Schriock's statement begs further reflection.
A sick man perpetrated the Tucson tragedy. But all this talk of civility we've been hearing wouldn't be honest if we didn't reflect upon our culture of "senseless violence." If you truly believe in "choice," make sure women know how to make the choice to have their child as an unplanned joy -- for her or an adoptive family open and able to love that human life.
Abortion is a violence we should open our eyes to see and stop rather than suppress and accept. It's one that a civil society can work to stop. Peacefully, with love and support.