By Christina Page (Birth Control Watch)
For those who would like to think today’s murder in church of Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider, is an isolated incident, here’s the horrifying news: You are wrong. The pattern is clear and frightening.
In March 1993, three months into the administration of our first pro-choice president, Bill Clinton, abortion provider Dr. David Gunn was murdered in Pensacola, Florida. That was the beginning of what would become a five-fold increase in violence against abortion providers throughout the Clinton years.
Today’s assassination of Dr. George Tiller comes 5 months into the term of our second pro-choice president. For anyone who would like to believe that this is a statistical anomaly, a coincidence that doesn’t portend anything, again, you are wrong.
During the entire Bush administration, from 2000-2008 there were no murders.
During the Clinton era, between 1994-2000 there were 6 abortion providers and clinic staff murdered, and 17 attempted murders of abortion providers (one of these attempts was on Dr. Tiller who was shot in both arms.) There were 12 bombings or arsons during the Clinton years.
During the Bush administration, not only were there no murders, there were no attempted murders. There was one clinic bombing during the Bush years.
One can only conclude that like terrorist sleeper cells, these extremists have now been set in motion. Indeed the evidence is already there. The chatter, the threats, the hate-filled rhetoric are abundant.
In the last year of the Bush administration there were 396 harassing calls to abortion clinics. In just the first four months of the Obama administration that number has jumped to 1401.
And so the execution of Tiller, 67, is not only tragic but ominous. He was born into an era when being an abortion provider meant saving women’s lives. And the cold-blooded murder in church and in front of his wife of this stalwart defender of women rights and beloved physician, comes as a message for others, as well as tragic deja vu.
Battered women are at greatest danger of being killed by their abusers when they are most strong — that is, when they muster the courage to leave. The same phenomenon may be true in the abusive political abortion debate. The pro-choice movement, specifically our abortion providers, are in the greatest danger of violence when we take power. When the anti-abortion movement loses power, their most extreme elements appear to move to the fore and take control. The murder of Dr. Tiller suggests that violence against abortion providers may be far more linked to the power, or lack thereof, anti-abortion groups have politically than to laws designed to increase penalties against such acts.
History has another disturbing lesson for us. The escalation of anti-abortion rhetoric plays a direct role in instigating violence. When anti-abortion groups ratchet up the rhetoric, they know exactly what they’re doing and the results it will have. Even if they maintain deniability, as Operation Rescue recently did saying, in effect, we wanted Tiller gone, but didn’t want him murdered, they have inflamed the rhetoric. And suddenly people Like Dr. Tiller’s murderer become inspired.
Eleanor Bader, author of Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Terrorism, in an article in March for RHRealityCheck.org about clinics bracing for an uptick in violence after the election of Obama wrote, “immediately after Obama’s election, Douglas Johnson, Legislative Director of the National Right to Life Committee, called him a “hardcore pro-abortion president.” The American Life League dubbed him “one of the most radical pro-abortion politicians ever,” and Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life warned that Obama will “force Americans to pay for the killing of innocents.” Americans United for Life, the Family Research Council and Operation Save America quickly joined the chorus.”
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