Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Open Season

Keep an eye on this one. The defendant in the George Tiller murder case will be allowed to attempt to argue down to a voluntary manslaughter charge, citing his belief that he was trying to save unborn babies. If sucessful, it would lessen the sentence from life to about five years. I'm really hoping that the judge is doing so in order to make a precedent at how wrongheaded this defense it is, which he might be, as he had previously ruled that the defense was not to be used in court. But if not, it's pretty irresponsible.

''This judge has basically announced a death sentence for all of us who help women,'' said Dr. Warren Hern of Boulder, Colo., a longtime friend of Tiller who also performs late-term abortions. ''That is the effect of the ruling.''

It will have some dire effects for those that provide abortion services. Five years is nothing compared to what some of these anti-choice fundamentalists would face to "protect (or let's be more realistic, "avenge") the unborn. You already have Eric Rudolph and Scott Roeder fully prepared to accept life in prison or death, much like suicide bombers for Islam, they see themselves as martyrs to their faith. If this turns out to be a successful justification, it goes without saying that we are going to see many more attacks on abortion providers. Find salvation at the low cost of half a decade? Sounds like a deal to me.

I worry about it popping up in other defenses as well. You could argue that a woman walking up to a clinic could be fair game. A woman stating to her partner that she is going to end the pregnancy would be fair game. And with some easily placed calls or booked appointments, it might not matter if abortion was being seriously considered. Homicide is the leading cause of death for pregnant women, the whole "she was on her way to kill my child" is going to be an awesome defense for abusers.

Regardless of the outcome, it has to be a pretty big moral blow to some of these abortion providers that it's even being considered, particularly the ones that are constantly under siege. I've always held much respect for providers like Drs Carhart and Hern, and the late Dr. Tiller. It has to be rough to be ostracized for doing what is, in the end, the right thing. Although anyone that actually pays attention to the reality of the need for these services can see why the existence of these men are necessary, the majority does not pay attention to the need (these are the folks that assume abortion is a want and not a need), or rejects it outright (your anti-choicers). And there just isn't much help, the level of harassment that these providers endure is oddly condoned because the topic is so "controversial". Anti-choice extremists have been pretty sucessful at chasing people out of this field, and now not only does one have to deal with the reality that they could be shot in the back of the head at any moment, they have to deal with the idea that our court system may give justification for doing so. It would be so easy for these providers to just turn away and let it be someone else's problem ( like the majority of the country does), you are not only putting yourself in danger, you put your family and friends in danger. It always amazes me that they don't. But I think we'll see less and less of them as time goes on.

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