But, pro-lifers, there may be something wrong with your movement when you have to send out press releases making clear that you don’t actually condone cold-blooded murder.
As Ezra and Ann Friedman point out, it is part and parcel of the activist anti-choice movement to proactively interfere with and intimidate people who are in the process of providing or seeking a medical procedure which is protected by law.
The question I’ve heard over and over again is whether or not the pro-life movement bears responsibility for the murder of George Tiller. It does. There is no other “mainstream” political movement in this country which keeps as a part of its bag of tricks the intent to frighten those in the midst of a legally protected activity.
Pro-gun control liberals don’t show up at gun shows and hector attendees. (And if your response is, “Damn right they don’t, because they’d get shot,” you’re proving my point.) Fundamentalists don’t have to worry about fleets of bike-riding hippies showing up at the entrance to their church every Sunday, telling them that their God is false. Religious “family planning” clinics don’t live in constant fear of a Molotov cocktail flying through their plate glass window, don’t have to train their employees on how to handle bomb threats, don’t need to worry about their clients’ safety on the way from their car to the front door. But if you provide abortion services – even if you’re not actually providing an abortion to the person coming in the door, even though it has been repeatedly declared legal – you live in fear.
This culture of fear was borne and is bred by the way the pro-life movement conducts itself. They certainly have every right to protest – and I mean that, and I truly believe that. But freedom of speech and freedom of assembly does not create freedom from responsibility for your conduct. A movement whose primary focus is intimidation through immediate and overwhelming physical proximity, coupled with hugely dishonest and inflammatory rhetoric cannot escape responsibility when it is embraced by an actor or actors who take that rhetoric to a logical, if extreme, end. By declaring that “abortion is murder” and premising a movement on preventing that “murder” in increasingly radical and ostentatious ways (while oftentimes failing to propose or advocate for the more logical and responsible methods of preventing the alleged “murders”), the pro-life movement has built up over decades an angry base stewing in its own feelings of oppression and righteousness. It’s the perfect environment to breed radicalism and violence.
This also puts into context the recent uproar over Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination. She has made a mission of bringing to light racial injustice, particularly as it relates to Hispanics. Her efforts are not designed to hold down white people, or designed to invalidate their experiences, but instead to bring to light the full range of experiences available in America. She is not a radical, she is not a racist, yet the same movement that is rushing out to make clear that they don’t want people to murder just because it might seem like they want people to murder is trying to tar her some sort of Latina conquistador, rampaging through our suburbs in order to take away our Constitutional right to white dudes in power. This same sort of decontextualized radical rhetoric is being used over and over again to stir up hatred and resentment so that Tony Blankley and Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist and the rest of their ilk can make millions off of this razor’s edge. People must be angry – angry enough to act, but not angry enough to lash out; hopeful for a “better” future, but unwilling to accept anything but the total domination of their enemies as a victory.
Lacking that, you’ll be able to make a pretty penny off of teaching every abortion provider in this country how to set up their speed dial for the bomb squad. Never let it be said that terrorism doesn’t stimulate the economy.