Monday, June 1, 2009

Thoughts on the Tiller murder

Abortion made it back in the news this weekend, but not in a way that most people expected. Instead, headlines came when George Tiller, a doctor in Kansas who performed late-term abortions was murdered in his church. So how will this affect the abortion debate in the United States?

I actually think this won’t do much. Many commentators are predicting that the murder will have the effect of painting the pro-life movement as extremists. It seems that the murderer had ties to fringe anti-abortion groups such as Prayer and Action news which advocated a “justifiable homicide position.” Perhaps there will be a backlash against groups like this.

But I don’t think this will make people reconsider their positions on abortion. If you were a pro-lifer who thought that abortion was murder, you’ll continue to believe that after this incident. If you supported abortion on demand, you’ll continue to do to so. The people in the middle will continue to struggle with the morality of abortion as before.

Something else that hasn’t been mentioned as much is that Tiller performed third trimester abortions, something most Americans oppose. In fact, a 2003 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found that only 10% of Americans think these abortions should be legal. Focusing on the murder and the victim’s vocation might have the unintended effect of putting the spotlight on third-trimester abortions, which would be bad for the pro-choice movement.

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