Killing by every other name

Most of us claim to have values, but few of us actually live completely according to them. When we really think about it, even the most reliable people are fickle. We say one thing and do another. We rationalize and justify things that are completely contradictory to the principles we say we hold. We are weak, conflicted, and inconsistent creatures.

Obviously, violence is completely incongruous with the pro-life ethic. Whatever his mental state, the misguided man who shot George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas undermined the value he claimed to defend. You can’t take a life in order to defend life. Murdering an abortionist does not convince the society at large that abortion is “murder.” Incendiary language and graphic images do not open ears or eyes or hearts, but often dig the trenches of distrust and fear even deeper. No matter how evil a person’s actions may be, the value of every person as a person cannot be diminished. One cannot rectify an unjust law by acting outside the rule of law. An attack on the “guilty” does nothing to protect the innocent.

There is another side to this, however. As inconsistent as shooting someone at a church service is with everything it means to be pro-life, it is equally absurd for anyone to claim dedication to the dignity of women while at the same time profiting from their crises by aborting their children. Real feminism would never put the onus of sexual responsibility on women alone. Those who are genuinely concerned for the life and health of women would steer them away from the dangerous physical and psychological side effects of elective abortion, and not use the words “life” or “health” as a justification to procure one. A true advocate of choice would want to be sure that every woman who considered an abortion was aware of all her alternatives, cognizant of fetal development, and informed of any risks involved before exercising the choice. You can’t call yourself a feminist and then casually empty the living contents of a living womb into a medical waste can. You can’t throw a baby shower for one fetus, and destroy another.

Things are what they are whether we call them what they are, or not. Killing is killing, if it involves the death of an unrepentant sinner, or an unborn child. Violence is violence, whether it is executed in a church foyer with a gun, or inside a female body with a scalpel. Lawlessness is lawlessness whether it is a violation of civil or moral law. Human life is human life whether it lives in the world or in the womb. Death is death even if what causes it is called medicine. And making money is making money whether the organization’s accounts are taxed as a business or a non-profit.

A Scott Roeder (the accused killer) reflects badly on those of us who oppose abortion. Why doesn’t a George Tiller reflect badly on those who advocate abortion? It is damaging to the Church and other pro-lifers for an “anti-abortion activist” to kill a long time, third-trimester abortionist. But it ought to be equally damaging for “feminists” to venerate and mourn a long time, third-trimester abortionist who got rich aborting thousands of viable fetuses. It should shame us all that abortion on demand and without limits has proven to be such a lucrative business plan. A structure that entices a woman to pay someone to end her pregnancy is an evil structure indeed. Anyone who makes a living by convincing mothers that it is in their best interest to destroy their own children is a disgrace to humanity. In the end analysis, regardless of their motivations or political orientations or publicly espoused values, all those who live by violence, death, and destruction are remarkably the same.

Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is an author, speaker, musician and serves as Faith Formation Coordinator at St. Maria Goretti Parish in Lynnfield.