When I got home from church today and checked my Facebook "stalker newsfeed" (as Meredith calls it), all my New Jersey friends were making their usual mundane comments about their everyday lives. But every one of my Kansas friends was decrying the murder of Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller in his church this morning.
New Jerseyans, as a whole, are not that up on the abortion fight that has been centered in my hometown. So, a little bit of history. Tiller was one of the few abortion doctors in the country who would do abortions in the last trimester, when a baby is considered viable outside the womb. Fifteen or so years ago, Operation Rescue staged their "Summer of Mercy" protest in front of his clinic, and he's been a lightning rod in the abortion conflict ever since. Recently, he's been in court defending himself against charges of corruption in how he gets "independent doctor" opinions regarding the necessity of the abortions. And Kathleen Sibelius was questioned about her relationship with Tiller while being considered for Secretary of Health and Human Services.
It's abominable, this act. I'm so incredibly sad. I'm sad for the many people who knew and loved this man, including some of my friends, apparently. I'm sad for the worshippers at this church who will live with the horror of the moment for the rest of their lives. I'm sad for arrested suspect, who is apparently (if his motives are what we suspect) extremely confused and disturbed. I'm sad for the family of the suspect, who will be shadowed by this for the rest of their lives -- and who will bear the wrath of the extremists in the pro-choice movement for the actions of their unwell loved one.
I'm sad for my pro-choice Christian friends who have expressed their inability to forgive this man -- after all, they have been forgiven much. I'm sad for the angry pro-choicers who are raging at their ideological opponents, blaming them for the acts of an insane person, forgetting that both sides have their share of wackos. I'm sad for the pro-lifers who may have made some ineffective and unwise moves in their history but who are sincere in their love for their fellow man, even George Tiller. I'm sad for the whole country who will have to deal with the rage and ugliness that will ensue in the days to come.
Oh, the sadness that has come out of this fight. I told a friend recently that I'm confident the vast majority of the country would agree on a lot of the questions involved in this issue: about late-term abortions, parental notification, reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies to begin with. Why can't we focus our collective energy on the areas where we agree?
I believe abortion is murder. I want legalized abortion to end. But for now, I'd rather settle for reducing the number of abortions overall by working with the other side on the areas we can agree on. That seems to make more sense than the all-or-nothing route that has made Christians look like hate-mongerers and inspired the unbalanced among us to kill for the sake of saving lives.