Earlier this year I had the privilege of sharing dinner with Scott and his family at his house. David Lee of Justice for All and Steve Wagner of Stand to Reason were there as well. At one point, Scott and I were discussing the comparisons between the political environment of pre-Civil War United States and the current environment as it pertains to abortion. Scott called across the room to David, who was lounging on a couch in the relaxed sort of manner that he naturally exudes. “Hey David!” Scott called. “Do you think that the disagreement over abortion will ever lead to violence?”
David looked over and in the his calm thoughtful demeanor answered, “There is already violence.”
Scott clarified that he specifically meant violent disagreement between those who hold dramatically different views on the issue of the sanctity of life on par with the violence of the Civil War, but David’s answer has stuck with me. It was so matter of fact. Abortion is violence. I am not certain a day has gone by that I have not revisited that moment; the calm, thoughtful, honest recognition that there is already violence in the land.
Recently I reviewed a piece by an abortionist at DailyKos that goes by the moniker Beket. He was simultaneously carrying on an exchange with the JivinJehoshaphat gang. In the comments at Jivin’s site Beket said the following in relation to violent threats and persecution from the pro-life community:
It’s not that I am “afraid” although I have plenty of reason to be afraid. A partial listing: My clinic burned to the ground by a “pro-life” arsonist. - Two men arrested waiting for me down the street from a clinic with a scoped “deer rifle.” - Numerous anonymous death threats, some by phone in the middle of the night, some by an anonymous bull-horner at 2 – 3 AM. - Myself and several close associates stalked and picketed at home at all hours, agitating the neighbors against them, not me, BTW - My awareness that there are some very active and very intense, and very unstable, members of the “pro-life” community who believe all abortion doctors should be murdered. - The realization that your delivering the kind of inflamed rhetoric you do to people like that can only lead to violence.
There is not an active, intense pro-choice faction fanned to rage by the flames of over-the-top rhetoric that invokes “God” and is dedicated to violence. The same cannot be said for “pro-life.”
Without engaging in the type of argument that would be the equivalent of, “Pro-choicers are violent, too,” which is childish and does seem to tacitly excuse the inexcusable pro-life violence, this argument from Beket irritates me. It irritates me because any abortionist that believes that people are violently opposed to their work because of something a pro-lifer said is incredibly deluded about their profession. It irritates me because this view seems to be commonly held by those who dismiss not just the humanity of the unborn, but the violent manner in which they daily die.
My response to this argument of his was this:
I am most sorry to hear about how you have been threatened and treated. That behavior is in direct contradiction with the teaching of Christ.
I beg you to see, though, that the concern that you have for the violence being instigated by pro-life language is misplaced. You deal in violence. However you choose to define the life you take, you do so in a violent manner. That violence invites violence is a tragic truth of human existence. You profit from the violent end to life, so you attract those who have a violent reaction to that. You are both equally wrong. (emphasis added)
I abhor violent tactics in the pro-life movement. I think it is incredibly misguided to threaten and bully people into doing what we want and to go so far as to murder another human being shows a radical misunderstanding of the pro-life position. It is difficult to differentiate such behavior from every other terrorist in the world who believes that God has given them a free pass to murder anyone who is perceived to be working against their ideology. But for any person who makes their living violently ending innocent life to be surprised that others disagree violently with them exposes an obtuseness that is difficult to fathom. The radical violent “pro-lifer” is the ideological opposite of the abortionist. The overwhelming majority of pro-choice Americans do not feel so strongly about their beliefs that they are willing to go out and kill the unborn as a profession. The overwhelming majority of pro-lifers are not committing acts of violence against abortion doctors as an extension of their beliefs. The extremes draw each other out, not the rhetoric.
There is already violence. Pro-lifers and pro-choicers can both condemn the actions of those who perpetuate that violence, but the abortionists must not behave as if they were innocent victims of inflamed rhetoric. That is nonsense. Violent action invites a violent response, and as clear as I can I will state it again; BOTH EXTREMES ARE WRONG.