God Have Mercy

Sunday afternoon, my husband came into the kitchen as I was preparing dinner and announced that Dr. Tiller had been shot and killed. I gasped, “Oh, no please don’t let it be true.” But it was; he was shot at church.

All the pro-life groups immediately expressed their shock and condemned the act. I have covered the pro-life movement, including protests outside clinics, for years. I have joined others in praying the rosary outside clinics and I know from personal experience that the pro-life movement is non-violent. In spite of massive provocation, they have responded to insults with love, and prayed for those involved in the abortion business.

The person who committed this horrendous act did the pro-life movement great harm. Those who promote abortion are only too eager to paint pro-lifers as violent and so to draw attention away from the terrible violence of abortion, particularly the kinds of late term abortions Dr. Tiller performed.

This couldn’t come at a worse time. Polling shows that the majority of Americans now characterize themselves as pro-life. This change is credited to the widespread use of high-resolution ultra sound. Expectant mothers and fathers now routinely see their baby moving before birth. There is no way of denying the humanity of the unborn.

To make matters worse, there are those within the Obama administration who want to categorize pro-life groups as dangerous domestic terrorists. This act of violence will be used to blacken the entire movement. And as if all that wasn’t bad enough, Dr. Tiller was a supporter of his fellow Kansan Kathleen Sebelius, the recently confirmed and strongly pro-abortion Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The pro-abortion movement will undoubted eulogize Dr. Tiller a martyr for their cause.

But the political consequences, bad as they are, are nothing compared to the spiritual consequences. Christians who stand up for the truth must expect to endure persecution for righteousness sake and this will only increase that. I remember when I was covering the protests in front of abortion clinics, my mother-in-law told me that she was shocked at how violent the pro-lifers. She knew that they were always yelling and screaming because she had seen it on television. I pointed out to her that I had covered almost every pro-life event in the Boston area and the most violent thing I had ever seen the pro-lifers do was to sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The people who were doing the screaming and tussling with the police she had seen on television were the pro-abortion counter protesters. Even though I had first hand testimony, she found it hard to believe me. What about all those who saw only the news reports?

The person who committed this crime did a terrible evil. The hundreds of babies who died in Dr. Tiller’s clinic were innocent and they will receive justice and mercy from God. They will spend eternity in joy. But what of Dr. Tiller? We can hope that in the last minutes of his life he made some act of repentance, for we can never limit God’s grace. But even if he did, he didn’t have time to repent publicly or to undo some of the evil he had done; what if he was by this act of violence cut off from all possibility of repentance?

Those who stand outside the clinics pray for those inside -- the staff and the clients. I have had the opportunity over the years to see the results of such prayers. Many do repent.

One shining example is Dr. Bernard Nathanson. He oversaw 75 thousand abortions. He was active in the movement to legalize abortion. He even aborted one of his own children. But after viewing ultrasounds of unborn babies, he changed his mind. His conversion was gradual. He moved from condemning later term abortion to a defense of life from conception. He went from being an atheist, to a believer, and finally converted to Catholicism. I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Nathanson many times over the years and it was amazing to see his progress from an arrogant, self-centered New York doctor who was simply convinced by science that abortion was wrong to a man of prayer and compassion.

I know that real change is possible and I grieve that poor Dr. Tiller was denied that opportunity.

Dale O’Leary is an internationally recognized lecturer and author of “The Gender Agenda: Redefining Equality.”

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