Up front, just so you know what I think, let me add an amen to Cardinal O’Connor’s statement: If you want to shoot an abortionist, shoot me first.
Beyond that, let’s try to think with the Tradition and not merely with culture warrior reflexes.
When a cold-blooded murder like the shooting Colorado Springs happens, what invariably takes place is that somebody starts asking: “If you think that abortion is murder, why *shouldn’t* people opposed to abortion shoot abortionists?
People ask this for a range of reasons. For some, it’s a puzzling abstract logic problem: granting the premise, why not this conclusion (of which more in a moment)? For others, it’s a question asked in a spirit of increasingly frustrated culture war anger that increasingly looks for excuses to lash out with violence. For still others of the pro-abort polemics persuasion, it’s asked in the hope of showing that all opponents of abortion burn with murder in their hearts for abortionists, and are a menace to society who need to be stopped. Unfortunately, the angry culture warriors often play right into the hands of the pro-abortionists trying to show that the prolife movement is composed of nothing but wannabe murderers.
For, of course, there *are* anti-abortion-but-not-prolife people out there who really do urge and excuse the killing of abortionists (and who are not on the fringe but, like it or not, have the enthusiastic friendship of people like Ted Cruz and other major leaders in the putative Party of Life), and there really is no shortage or so-called prolifers who are happy to applaud the cold-blooded murder of PP workers out of a misguided notion of what it means to be “prolife”.
I’d love to see you address the question of attacks on abortion clinics. I’ve always found it to be a dilemma which for decades I solved by being an all out pacifist. But even then I admitted that if violence were ever justified it would be justified to intervene in abortion clinics which commit dozens of murders a day. Now that I have come to the Church’s understanding of justified violence in defense of self and innocents I cannot say why shooting or bombing an abortion clinic is wrong. How is it different from coming upon a kid being knifed in the street and shooting the assailant? True, abortion is not against the law. But that is a grievous flaw in the law. If you were travelling in a place where slavery and wanton abuse of slaves was legal and you came upon a master severely beating his slave, would you not be justified or even obligated to intervene using even lethal violence if necessary to save the enslaved person? Or to look at it from another angle, why under Catholicism is it morally ok for an 18 year old to join the military and go shoot the hell out of dubious targets in an unjust war in Iraq but it’s not ok for a man to shoot people whose professional daily routine is mass killing of innocents? Many pro-choice people (such as Doug Henwood, the excellent socialist radio host) think pro-life people are full of shit because if they really believed what they say they would do exactly what this guy seems to have done, and so all our politics seems to be mere bourgeois self congratulations at the expense of women’s freedom. I don’t know what to say to that.
Makes sense, by why is this difference that turning a corner on the street and seeing an attack right in front of you? There you SHOULD intervene, violently if necessary and effective, no?
And if the state is derelict, if the cop shows up and says “actually he owns her, he’s allows to do that,” then you just let the attack go on?
Thanks for the responses. I agree about the consequential concerns, but that’s more to do with the social injustice of abortion overall, not with this or that abortion that is about to happen. I’m still unclear on the principals of the matter. I think we’d all agree that a fetus would have the right to defend itself against the doctors if it could (even thought the state won’t), so why can’t someone else defend it against the doctor? I’d love to see a more fleshed out treatment of if (or a link to one if you know of any). Something like “Civilian intervention against state sanctioned violence: Slavery, the Holocaust, and abortion and why they’re not analogous”, and not dwelling on John Brown and Deitrioch Bonhoffer vs. the clinic shooters, but individual cases of a slave braining the overseer who is torturing another slave or a German sniping a Nazi just before he shoots a Jew in the street. Those do seem pretty analogous to me to the relationship between the doctor and the fetus in the clinic. Thanks for your responses and I will gladly read and share anything your write publicly about this question.