On Shooting Abortionists

On Shooting Abortionists November 30, 2015

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”.

We know in our bones–if we are not crazy–that murdering abortionists is not the way to demonstrate an authentically prolife position.  And so we recognize the sanity of saying, as our very first response to such killings, All truly prolife people denounce this wanton act of cold-blooded murder, re-affirm the right to life for *all* human beings, pray for the victims, demand swift judgement for the shooter, and offer ourselves in service to all those suffering from this crime.”
But then the questions crowd in. A reader had such questions and, as he makes clear, he comes by them honestly and reluctantly, not in the bloodthirsty spirit of some of the Tweeters above:
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.
The Church teaches that the use of violence is, as a general rule, reserved to the state unless absolutely necessary. So it opposes vigilantism because the danger to society is vastly greater than any possible benefit (as this shooting again shows). The Church, rather like God, tolerates evil she would rather not have and works peacefully rather urge a murderous free for all from self appointed executioners.
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?
Sure. But in that case, you are acting as first responder in a situation where the state cannot yet intervene. You are not usurping the role of the state, but supplementing it. And when the cops arrive, you back off. You don’t shout, “This bastard is guilty of knifing this guy! Butt out! I’ll handle this!” and then blow his head off. Violence is the one place where the Church dispenses with subsidiarity and kicks it as far up the ladder of authority as possible rather than leaving it to the individual. That’s also why war can only be declared by the highest competent authority.
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?
You’re mixing metaphors now. An abortionist and his client are not in that situation. And if you open fire on them, you are only making matters worse. So moral suasion is the preferred route. Violence quick leads to the fog of war and tends to result in things worse than the original evil.
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.
The Church’s just war teaching is ordered to make the use of violence as difficult as possible. So one of the criteria is competent authority. Competent authority must normatively sign off on the use of violence. Appealing to what violence you would do in an emergency situation as a norm for regularly using deadly violence all the time everywhere through civil society whenever you find the law morally displeasing is a formula for total anarchy. So the Church calls us to work for the common good peacefully rather than start shooting and killing people–even if they are abortionists or other grave sinners.
Just War demands a reasonable chance of success and not creating worse evils than the one the war is fighting. I don’t think anybody in their right mind imagines that killing abortonists (in addition to being murder since they are not enemy troops) would not also result in exactly the backlash against the prolife movement we are about to see. Vigilantes will (rightly) be jailed and the prolife movement will (wrongly) be vilified and, quite possibly punished as a terrorist organization if people started killing abortionists. The result will be an American doubled down on abortion and with a prolife movement now outlawed and deeply hated, even by people inclined to agree with it. Nothing could possibly be stupider than a turn to “prolife” violence, as this dangerous clown demands we do.
In sum, the following criteria must all be met in order to rationalize the use of violence:
1. Lasting, grave and certain threat
2. Competent authority
3. Last resort
4. Proportionality
5. Reasonable chance of success
6. Likelihood that evils created by violence will be less than evils destroyed by violence
7. Use of licit means to fight evil
Shooting abortionist clinic workers fulfils essentially none of these criteria.
1. You don’t know if the person you are killing poses a lasting grave and certain threat to somebody (they might be Abby Johnson, thinking of repenting and getting out of this business).  You are not dealing with somebody in the act of murder like a mugger, but with somebody who maybe in all manner of relationship to a potential act, or a potential actor.
2. You are not the competent authority to act as judge, jury, and executioner.
3. There are lots of other ways to fight abortion (think 40 Days for Life) that are effective and entail no violence at all.
4. See #3.  Why kill people when you can stop them with non-violent means?
5. There is absolutely no hope of success, but the dead certainty that the use of violence will save nobody.  If you shoot the abortionist, you will be in jail by sundown, and his patient will have another appointment tomorrow morning.
6.  There is absolutely no hope of creating fewer evils than you heal, but the dead certainty that the use of violence will help abortionists and hurt the prolife movement.  If you shoot the abortionist, you will be in jail by sundown, and Planned Parenthood will mount a massively successful fundraising campaign in response to what you have done.
7. What you have done will rightly and properly be called “first degree murder” and “domestic terrorism”.  You shall not do evil that good may come of it.  Murder is evil.  And unjust war is always murder.
We continue to fight the abominable crime of abortion with the weapons of the Spirit, not the flesh.  Do not hand the enemies of life a sword to attack us by committing, approving of, or excusing violence.
Be consistent.  Be more prolife, not less.

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  • Reader Yesterday

    Thank you. I think many of us understand this on some level, but it is so helpful to see it articulated so clearly!
    I’ve sometimes thought of Moses killing the Egyptian slave master. For his crime Moses was forced to flee, and of course God was able to use that in the divine plan for the Israelite people, but Moses is also instructed. We follow God, we don’t play God.

  • Infinite Grace

    Thank you for this, Mark. The stuff that has been out there the last couple of days has made me want to crawl under a rock and regret ever saying a word about my abortion to anyone. I try not to be shocked or affected by the vitriol that I get in my inbox everyday about how I am a murderer, I should be dead, I deserve all the pain, etc. Praise God it doesn’t get to me as much as it used to, but the potential remains through the permanent cracks. I just don’t get it. Or maybe I do get it, I just don’t to.

    • Reader Yesterday

      It amazes me that people think we live in such an enlightened society and that the barbarians that exist are “out there” somewhere. I can’t tell you how sorry I am that you have to live with the daily evidence of the barbarians at the gates. If there were a way to redirect your inbox so that I could carry that burden for you I would. May God continue to bless and strengthen you.

    • sez

      I’ve never understood all the vitriol from pro-life people aimed at the women who are simply victims of a culture of lies and death. What ever happened to “There, but for the grace of God, go I”?? What other sinner is so hated, even after they repent??? It boggles the mind how they call themselves Christians!

      Every time abortion is in the news, it’s gotta be like salt in the wounds of so many like you. Thank you for your courage! You are in my prayers.

      • antigon

        Just in passing, I’ve never *seen* this vitriol. In reality, efforts of time, money & effort on behalf of women who’ve had or are considering an abortion, comes all but exclusively from the folk who are called pro-life.
        As to the nutballs casting stones at Ms. Grace, nutballs there will be, & they have their pitiful reward I guess.

        • kenofken

          If you haven’t seen this vitriol, you haven’t looked at the face of the movement in the last 30 years. Support for violence and intimidation and a deep hatred of women are not confined to deranged loners and fringe combox elements. They are attitudes which inform the mainstream heart of the political “Pro-life” movement in this country. We can try to write off this shooter as being off his meds or a deluded raging outlier, but his actions and moral reasoning have a solid constituency in the movement and even the public officials that movement has helped put in office.

          Not four years ago, South Dakota’s legislature proposed legalizing the murder of abortion doctors under the theory of pre-emptive self-defense. It didn’t pass, but it did make it out of committee. No public body in a halfway functioning democracy should even entertain such a proposal, and they would not have if there was not a deep streak of voter sentiment behind it. I believe Nebraska similarly flirted with such a law as well.

          Three years ago, Virginia pressed hard for a law which would have employed state-sanctioned rape in the guise of a medical procedure as a way to humiliate and terrorize women out of choosing abortion. They were quite serious about passing this and had the numbers to do so until international public attention forced even the governor to concede that it was monstrous. Four or five other states were on deck to pass similar bills. Various other legal proposals have been aimed at breaching patient secrecy to enable harassment of patients, placing women in jeopardy of criminal prosecution for any miscarriage etc.

          The nutballs are not just casting stones on blogs. They are at the wheel of the movement. So long as that is the case, clinic shooters will have reason to feel that they are the true hearts and martyrs of a just cause. More and more Americans will come to see the movement as just another domestic terror threat, and more broadly as an extremist movement with a very dark agenda which must be isolated politically and culturally as much as possible.

          • Dave G.

            Nope, I must not be paying attention. I haven’t seen half the things you say. Most I know who are pro-life are anything but what you describe. Though I would be curious to see the proposals you mention. The actual proposals. Not interpretations of them.

            • Infinite Grace

              The only thing worse than the prolifer who condemns the postabortive and talks about it, is the prolifer who condemns the postabortive and silently, behind the computer screen, says what he or she really feels.

              I can quote one of the messages I received one time, “You. Make. Me. Sick. I sincerely hope you die a death as horrible as your unborn baby did. Good riddance.” The Devil enjoys using that one a lot with me.

              About a year ago, LifeNews.com had a story of a postabortive woman who, as a result of an infection she contracted after having an abortion, had both hands and both feet amputated. I spent the better part of 3 days trying to be a voice for the postabortive as the “prolife” following of LifeNews.com spewed such vial and hatred rhetoric that I’m surprised some postabortive who have not found healing did not start sawing their own hands and feet off. It’s brutal. I wrote a post about it a while ago – I truly feel the prolife “movement” defeats itself. http://www.postabortionwalk.blogspot.com/2013/08/how-to-win-prolife-fight.html#sthash.zirBhd9j.dpuf

              • Infinite Grace

                Just some of the examples from the prolife followers of Lifenews.com – I couldn’t read any more, but I’m sure you can find the thread if you look for it…

                • Ken

                  Sorry you had to go through this but you were doing the right thing. The church doesn’t follow this nonsense and has active ministries for post abortion women and men. The internet isn’t a great place for charity.

                  • Neko

                    I’ve not noticed the church on the ground doing anything whatsoever to discourage these virulent types. And whether or not priests appear mindful of Pope Francis’s exhortation to tamp down the culture-war rhetoric is luck of the draw.

                • Rebecca Fuentes

                  It seems like the nastiest opinions are the quickest to be vented. I have a lovely friend who had an abortion when she was young. She has since come to Jesus, married and has ten children, and is a wonderful voice for compassion. I had to completely stop reading LifeNews because of this type of thing in the comboxes.

              • Dave G.

                You’ll note I didn’t say there were no bad types in the movement. If we learned nothing from the last century, it’s that we should resist finding the worst elements of a group and then trying to define the entire group accordingly. Hence why I don’t turn to the worst in this, or any, group and say ‘thus is the group.’

                It remains that most I know do not represent the examples you give. That goes for those who support abortion rights as well, Most aren’t as bad as the worst I find on the internet or in cyberspace on either side of the debate.

                BTW, strange though it seems, most of my experiences walking down the street are not what I find in the world of Twitter and Facebook. Maybe it’s just me. But I resist the tendency, encouraged by media, to exploit such things as this in order to advance agendas by ignoring one of the big lessons of the last hundred years.

          • Tara

            The State can decriminalize the murder of babies (in fact, according to the Supreme Court, MUST decriminalize it)…but then can’t choose to decriminalize the killing of abortionists?

            By what logic? Obviously, pro-life people would want to criminalize all murder. But if you’ve already opened the door to decriminalizing some murder, why not show the full implications by decriminalizing some more?

          • antigon

            Dear Apostate Ken:
            We are aware that enthusiasts for mass murder are working on the latest talking point calumnies like yours above, in order to help thy oligarchic masters crush all opposition to slaughtering innocents.
            Don’t know, tho can’t but suspect, that you & your kind must find particular satisfaction in the by percentage many more black children killed by the abortionist’s knife than less swarthy children. Does it, one also wonders, thus bring especial satisfaction to your cold collective hearts to know of the achievement that in NYC more black children are offed in thy beloved extermination camps than are born in that metropolis?
            No protests from any of you about this, however; of that, at least, we may have confidence pure.
            Meantime on this matter of vitriol, do you also use the expression ‘niglets’ for these slaughtered black children, as your allies so regularly do? Whether or no, should your calumnies bear fruit as your masters hope – abortionists working in high schools, especially black high schools, par example? – it will surely be cause for much laughter & pleasure for those allies.
            On the other hand, possible thy prime motivation is but hatred of innocence itself, with the young black lives that don’t matter to you merely a sort of dessert with that meal, that is no mere face painted by frauds, but the very core & reality of your vicious & bloodthirsty movement.

            • kenofken

              Planned Parenthood doesn’t need a public relations or fundraising campaign or budget. They have you guys. They have only to wind you up and let you speak, and the donations roll in.

              • antigon

                But they’ll take that half billion in taxpayer dollars meantime, while counting on their minions – not mentioning any names here apostate ken – to burp forth the transparent talking points.

          • wineinthewater

            The spin in this comment is dizzying.

            The SD law only covered illegal acts. So there is no way that it could have legalized the murder of abortion doctors. And calling the ultrasound laws “state sanctioned rape” is ludicrous. A vaginal ultrasound might be the most effective way to do an early term ultrasound, but I never heard any reporting that would have made vaginal ultrasounds required. And your language is incendiary. By implication, every woman who gets a vaginal ultrasound or has a manual cervix examination is having sex with her provider.

            The nutgalls are the fringe in the pro-life movement. The people who say that the PP employees or clients deserved it make up a small part of the movement and are already being marginalized by the majority. And you’ll notice, when it comes to “pro-life” violence, the perpetrators are almost always found to be mentally unstable. Yet pro-choice violence (verbally and physically assaulting pro-life protesters) does not follow the same kind of mental instability. Despite all the pro-choice rhetoric, how many youtube videos are there of pro-life protesters assaulting abortion providers or women entering clinics? Now look to see how many videos there are of pro-life protesters *being* assaulted. How many reports have we heard of women changing their minds in the abortion room and being verbally abused or physically restrained by abortion providers so that the abortion can continue? Not to mention the violence of the sub-standard conditions that have been repeatedly found in abortion clinics.

            The pro-choice movement protects an institution that tears human beings limb from limb, burns human beings alive, kills human beings for being the wrong gender, disabled, or “extra.” The pro-choice movement protects Planned Parenthood, even while it lies to women, lies to the public, bullies other organizations, uses its economic weight to force other women’s health providers out of business, flaunts state and federal laws, and protects child molesters. *That* is an extremist group.

            • Neko

              You wrote:

              A vaginal ultrasound might be the most effective way to do an early term ultrasound, but I never heard any reporting that would have made vaginal ultrasounds required.

              It’s rather incredible you “never heard any reporting” when the proposed Virginia bill was a major national controversy.


              • wineinthewater

                And the very article you linked supports what I said. The bill did not require vaginal ultrasounds. It required gestational age be determined. In some cases, the only ultrasound that can do that is a vaginal ultrasound. When that was realized by the legislators, they amended the legislation to fix the unintended consequence.

                If anyone wants to charge the legislators with incompetence, they’ve got a good argument. If they want to charge them with requiring “state-sanctioned rape” as the original commuter did, they’d be much harder pressed.

                • Neko

                  Let’s try this again:

                  A controversial bill that would require women to get a [vaginal] ultrasound before an abortion is now in doubt after Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell diluted the measure Wednesday by making it optional in many cases.

                  See the word “require”? (I put it in bold so you couldn’t miss it.) It was reported that a bill was introduced in the Virginia legislature that would “require women to get an ultrasound before an abortion…” That’s what made the bill so “controversial” that there was a national outcry and worry among GOP operatives that the War on Women was getting out of hand. But perhaps you don’t live in the United States.

                  • wineinthewater

                    Yes, you bolded a word. And you also added a word to the quote to make it seem like your bolded word applied. Changing a quote without acknowledging it in order to make your point is extremely intellectually dishonest.

                    My point stands. The legislation did not require a vaginal ultrasound. When it was revealed that it might indirectly and unintentionally lead to one being effectively required, the legislation was changed. That is a far cry from the charge of extremism by the original commenter.

                    • Neko

                      You’re right, I should’ve used brackets instead of parens to indicate that indeed it was mandatory vaginal probes that were so hotly contested, as the article makes clear further down [fixed]. This is all quite well known (except, apparently, in your case).

                      The original commenter was right about the spirit of the law and that mandatory vaginal probes are indeed a form of rape. Your charge of extremism is overwrought.

                    • wineinthewater

                      Yet the same article also makes it clear that the legislation was still hotly contested *after* it was changed to be explicit that vaginal ultrasounds would not be required.

                      If the ultimate legislation did not require, even unintentionally or indirectly, vaginal ultrasounds, then how could the original commuter be correct in leveling the charge that its intention was “state-sanctioned rape”?

                      I did miss the part of the controversy over the type of ultrasound. I tend to tune out a bit when pro-choice commentators are being hyperbolic and supposedly pro-life legislators are being stupid. The original legislation was stupid, not just flawed. It was another opportunity for politicians to give lip service to the pro-life cause without doing anything substantive about abortion. Would forcing women to see ultrasounds of the children they were about to have killed have saved some lives? Perhaps. But the political capital and air time expended on the legislation would have done far more good elsewhere.

                    • kenofken

                      Forcing women to undergo penetration of their bodies, against their will or via coerced “consent” is the very definition of rape/sexual assault in, well, pretty much every criminal code on the planet. It is also, by any definition in international law, an act of torture. According to the UN Convention on the subject, torture is the infliction of severe pain or suffering, physical or mental, by someone acting in an official capacity, in order to obtain a confession, to punish or to coerce or intimidate the victim for any reason. Definitions in other treaties and conventions are even more expansive, but there is no fuzziness anywhere on the point that if you’re a state official putting someone in real distress to bend their will to do the state’s bidding, it’s torture. The only logical way out of that thicket is to argue that sexual assault is not physically or mentally traumatic, and if you want to go down that road, run the argument by survivors of rape and see how it goes.

                      There is no question at all that the intent of the Virginia bill was to discourage women from having abortions. The bills sponsors are on record as saying that. This was an attempt by the state to bend women to it’s will so that they would not access another medical procedure which they are legally entitled to access. If the commander at Guantanamo subjected the worst, most unrepentant terrorist inmate to the threat of sexual penetration to scare them away from seeking medical care, that commander would spend the rest of his or her days in the brig. They would also be subject to war crimes indictment and arrest the moment they stepped off the plane in many countries.

                      Virginia’s governor at the time, Bob McDonnell, supported the original bill, and even he came to acknowledge the toxicity of the transvaginal mandate:

                      “No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure.”

                      There was no ambiguity about the intent or the effect of the Virginia bill in its original form. It was also not an anomaly. Pennsylvania, Alabama and Idaho had very similar bills in the works and also backed down from them when the truth came out. Mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds were a key legislative strategy of the anti-abortion movement circa 2012.

                    • wineinthewater

                      “Forcing women to undergo penetration of their bodies, against their will or via coerced “consent” is the very definition of rape/sexual assault in, well, pretty much every criminal code on the planet.”

                      I’ll concede the point. Such would be a horrible violation no matter how you look at it.

                      “There is no question at all that the intent of the Virginia bill was to discourage women from having abortions.”

                      No, there is not. And there is nothing inherently wrong with that. Unless you would take issue with alcohol taxes, gas taxes, carbon taxes, cigarette taxes. It is a reasonable exercise of state power to try to discourage something that is legal.

                      But you have been making the claim that the intent of the law was to use “state sanctioned rape” to achieve that end. Considering how quickly the proponents moved to ensure that it wouldn’t happen, that is a tough argument to make. The intent was not to force vaginal ultrasounds nor to use such a violation or threat of violation to discourage abortion.

                      You’re playing bait and switch. You’re substituting the unintended consequence of the legislation for the intended means of achieving the intended ends. It’s disingenuous.

                    • kenofken

                      The consequence of mandating transvaginal imaging was in no way unintended or unanticipated. I spent a year covering a state legislature (not Virginia). Lawmakers at this level may be a lot of things, but they are not fools, by and large. The sponsors of this bill would have had many resources at their disposal, including medical experts, to know exactly what the wording of the bill meant in real life. The sponsors and supporters did not suddenly change the bill language of their own volition in the spirit of correcting an unintended error. They fought for it until the blowback from national media attention made their position completely politically untenable.

                    • wineinthewater

                      You covered it for a year? Then it should be easy to point me to a quote from one of those non-fools revealing that they intended to require transvaginal ultrasounds. Or it should be easy to point me to a report or quote or evidence or anything that shows that one of those non-fools knew about this consequence and therefore purposely included it. I don’t put such evil past Republicans, but you’ve made the claim that this consequence was the aim all along. Unless you can show that some significant number of supporters held this position, then you’ve nothing but a baseless accusation.

                      Politicians are notorious for not reading, much less being truly familiar with the legislation they support and even sometimes sponsor. Just because they have the resources doesn’t mean that they use them.

                    • kenofken

                      Chalking up the whole transvaginal mandate to a lack of due diligence in one state might be plausible if it weren’t for the fact that at least six other states wrote similar bills which would have mandated transvaginal ultrasound through an array of detailed technical requirements which any doctor or even technician knew the practical effect of. Alabama’s bill specifically named the transvaginal procedure. Some of these proposals were drafted and debated after the Virginia debacle.

                      Are we to believe that all of this was due to lawmakers being lazy and or stupid and doing so in precisely the same ways each time? Are we to believe that no medical experts or physicians were consulted at any time in the drafting of these proposals, which were chock full of terminology normally never used by anyone outside of the medical profession? ie “… auscultation of fetal heart tone.” Was phrasing like that unwittingly dropped in by some house member’s summer intern and just got by everyone?

                    • wineinthewater

                      So in other words, you can’t.

                      I know how legislation gets made. I’ve been on the inside of rules committees and ordinance crafting. I know how uncritically they cut and paste language from other places, sometimes even leaving the names of other states, cities and countries in place. I know how little due diligence these things often get from politicians and what a nightmare it creates for the bureaucrats tasked with enforcement.

                      I’m sticking with incompetent politicians until you show me evidence of malicious politicians.

                    • Neko

                      A concerted movement across several states to subject women to what you’ve conceded is a “horrible violation” is simple incompetence? I notice a tendency on this site to attribute to “incompetence” unsavory policy initiatives that are clearly calculated.


                    • wineinthewater

                      A concerted effort would require that the imposition of transvaginal ultrasounds was the actual intent. Yet that has not been established by any of the links from you two. Until you substantiate it, it’s just empty rhetoric.

                    • Neko

                      Intent may be reasonable inferred by the implications of the proposed bills or legislation. Since the broad objective is to discourage abortion by making women sensible of the fetus (shaming), and since as the ThinkProgress article you apparently didn’t read makes clear, a transvaginal probe may be the only method capable of fulfilling the mandate early in a pregnancy, it’s reasonable to assume an intent for the long arm of the state to stretch right up a woman’s vagina to humiliate her into cancelling an abortion. It’s downright willful to affect that what’s really going on here is mere sloth and incompetence.

                    • Tom G

                      All pro-lifers should take note of Neko’s comment here. It is rare (only in my own experience, I admit) for a pro-choicer to articulate the reasoning behind their rhetoric. Let’s address:

                      Intent may be reasonable inferred by the implications of the proposed bills or legislation.

                      “Reasonable inference from implication”, I would argue, is a far cry from demonstration. I think it’s akin to “disparate impact”, which many have bought into. And that buying into is, in my opinion, a problem. The implications, at this point in medical technological development, are merely accidentally the case (i.e., we haven’t developed sufficient technology, etc.), not necessarily the case. Another implication that is accidental is the closing of many abortion clinics as a result of any particular legislation. The clinics facing closure don’t necessarily have to close. They merely are not willing to make the legislatively-mandated changes in light of the financial hit they would take.

                      Since the broad objective is to discourage abortion by making women sensible of the fetus (shaming), and since as the ThinkProgress article you apparently didn’t read makes clear, a transvaginal probe may be the only method capable of fulfilling the mandate early in a pregnancy.

                      Proving “intent to shame” by “intent reasonably inferred by implications” (and I’m guessing you’re using the word “implication” here to mean “consequence” or “outcome”) seems problematic. I don’t think shame is necessarily an outcome of becoming cognizant of a fetus (translated “little one”), but I do admit it’s a possibility. In addition, the fact that the transvaginal probe is currently the only available method capable of fulfilling the mandate is, as I mentioned above, merely an accidental fact of the present day, not a necessary fact. By the ThinkProgress article’s and your own reasoning on this particular point, you wouldn’t have a problem with the mandate when (not if) medical technology reaches the point where a transvaginal probe is unnecessary.

                      Therefore it’s reasonable to assume an intent for the long arm of the state to stretch right up a woman’s vagina to humiliate her into cancelling an abortion. It’s downright willful to affect that what’s really going on here is mere sloth and incompetence.

                      “Reasonable to assume” is a standard of proof that is difficult, if not completely impossible, to defend against. If pro-lifers are guilty of the allegations you’re making by proof of “reasonably assumed intent”, then I think you’ve rigged the game so much in advance that no one could convince you that you’re incorrect about pro-lifers (or pro-life politicians, whatever the case). If you are operating with “reasonably assumed intent” as your standard of proof, then it’s no surprise you end up with “it’s downright willful to affect that what’s really going on here is mere sloth and incompetence”.

                      I think you should doubt your conclusions a little, as well as your standard of evidence or proof or whatever. With your above-articulated premises, no one other than yourself can possibly win in your courtroom.

                    • Neko

                      In fact I oppose any compulsory, unnecessary medical procedure so am against the mandate in principle. It happens that the current technology for compliance with such mandates is an egregious violation of a woman’s body.

                      You think it plausible that legislators would explicitly specify a technology that provoked a national outcry. That is ludicrous. (Though apparently Alabama did just that! So not ludicrous in Alabama.)

                      In lieu of such a declaration of intent the only option is to draw reasonable conclusions on the basis of the available data. And I think my conclusions are not only sound, but blindingly obvious.

                    • wineinthewater

                      Your inference, or rather assumption, chain is too long to be reasonable. You assume that shame is the intended mechanism for discouragement. Yet there is a well-established approach in pro-life circles of making ultrasounds voluntarily and freely available. This approach has been very successful based on access to information information, not shame. (Incidentally, the only reason to feel shame at seeing the child you are about to abort is if it is wrong to abort that child.) And, the only ones who cite shame as an intended aspect of the legislation are opponents and not the actual proponents who actually do the intending.

                      You assume that there is a widespread knowledge that transvaginal ultrasounds were the only way to meet the requirement. Yet most people only know about abdominal ultrasounds. Transvaginal ultrasounds are not commonly used since there are only a handful of situations that justify them, and many people don’t know anything more about ultrasounds than they see on movies and TV. And considering the Republican animosity for science, it is not reasonable to assume that they would avail themselves of medical science advisers.

                      And in fact, the chagrined and hurried response of most of those legislators when it came out that their legislation would require such procedures suggest that they were ignorant.

                      Your conclusion relies on a whole bunch of assumptions and very little on established fact. So, I still have no reason to conclude malice over incompetence.

                    • Neko

                      Of course proponents aren’t going to announce they intend to shame women into cancelling an abortion! And of course, since from the anti-abortion activist’s perspective abortion is “murder,” the intention is to shame the woman into moral rectitude. Your faux-naive act gets no more persuasive by the post.

                      The “chagrined and hurried response of most of the legislators” occurred after a furious backlash during a presidential election year. I actually followed this story, aghast, as it unfolded. You claimed above to have “never” heard of it, and now you offer post hoc rationalizations for outrageous maneuvers against a woman’s legal right to privacy. Even if the legislators were wholly ignorant of what was involved, the principle of mandatory, unnecessary medical procedures can’t be construed as anything but tyrannical state overreach.

                    • wineinthewater

                      So, your evidence of their nefarious intent is that no one would ever announce their nefarious intent. Got it.

                    • Neko

                      Of course, that’s not what I said. My point is that your expectation of any politician doing so is funny.

                    • wineinthewater

                      That’s not my expectation. My expectation is that you produce some evidence that their intent was what you say it was. I’m no fan of the Republican Party, especially the harm it has done to the pro-life cause. I can easily believe such an intent, but expect it to be proven, especially when it is being used to criticize the entire pro-life movement.

                    • kenofken

                      You were Bill Clinton’s mentor in law school, weren’t you? You’re playing a semantics game along the lines of “depends what the definition of “is” is… If you word the language of a bill with the intention and effect of mandating transvaginal ultrasounds, you’ve mandated transvaginal ultrasounds, and it is utterly immaterial whether or not you employ the term “transvaginal” in the law’s language. The intent and effect are inescapable. You’re attempting to whitewash a key fact of the debate which was never in dispute among either the supporters or opponents in the Virginia legislature at the time.

                    • wineinthewater

                      “You were Bill Clinton’s mentor in law school, weren’t you? ”

                      Ad Hominem? Really?

                      “If you word the language of a bill with the intention and effect of mandating transvaginal ultrasounds, you’ve mandated transvaginal ultrasounds”

                      You’ve never established that as fact. The legislation had a requirement. It turned out that in many cases, fulfilling that requirement would in turn require a transvaginal ultrasound. That doesn’t establish that the *intent* of the legislation was to require transvaginal ultrasounds. And considering how the legislators scrambled to revise the legislation to prevent that requirement, you will have a very hard tie establishing that it was the intent.

                      I think Hanlon’s Razor applies to these politicians: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

    • neoconned

      God bless you for your witness.

  • antigon

    Solid analysis Mr. Shea, not least as the abortion holocaust is distinct from other enthusiasms for mass murder in that the former is not a political assault qua, but a theological one that attacks the foundational principle that being itself is a good.
    The devil holds otherwise, & his triumphs in this regard will not be defeated with guns. This is why it seems fair to propose that the witness of Linda Gibbons & Mary Wagner may be as important as any other; because they imitate Christ by turning themselves over to their enemies & thereby voluntarily absorb unto themselves some measure of the injustice inflicted on the unborn.
    In so doing, not one child dies, anywhere, without a born witness standing with them & thus upholding their value in a manner that in the face of this theological horror, Barabbas-like violence could in se never achieve, not to say all the arguments you rightly propose.
    Sacrifice of the kind Gibbons, Wagner & others have embraced is available to anyone wishing to give their all for the innocent, over against those who would embrace pretense instead.

  • Sue Korlan

    I would take your argument a step further and say that shooting an abortionist is an act of armed revolt against the government, which has permitted the abortionist to act. And one of the requirements for armed rebellion against the government is that there must be no peaceful means of bringing about the desired results. As long as we live in a democracy there is a peaceful means for bringing about change. Vote pro-life.

    • D.T. McCameron

      Provided the appointed judges and binary parties allow a democratic reform.

      • wineinthewater

        True, but part of the reason we have a binary system is that pro-life people tolerate it. Until pro-life people refuse to vote for candidates who give little more than lip-service to the pro-life cause, we have far from exhausted our peaceful means of bringing an end to abortion and we are far from being able to blame the status quo for the obstacles to eliminating this evil.

        • kenofken

          The Pro-Life movement has done virtually nothing to change the conversation and consensus around abortion in this country since Roe. They have spent probably 95% of their time and effort on trying to engineer clever end-runs around the law, trying to stack courts and legislatures, and trying to accomplish a de-facto end to abortion by making access as difficult, expensive, humiliating and intimidating as possible.

          They have gone this route, I believe, for a couple of reasons. One, hearts and minds work is not nearly as sexy and satisfying as righteous rage. Second, and I think more important is the fact that the movement has no credible pro-life message to offer. The movement as a whole has no consistent, expansive pro-life vision. Sure, there are people like Mark and plenty others who do, but the people who own the brand in the public domain do not.

          The most vocal, visible and active abortion opponents are very often also enthusiastic proponents of the death penalty, torture, pre-emptive war and assassination, support of predatory capitalism and Social Darwinist policies, mass imprisonment and highly aggressive police tactics against the poor and minorities and a gun culture which fetishizes private gun ownership to the total exclusion of concern over lives lost to firearm violence. It is also a movement which takes a very punitive and paternalistic attitude toward women and has a broader agenda of outlawing most forms of contraception, rolling back the Sexual Revolution and breaking women back into their 19th Century roles as much as possible. There’s also a lot of political and cultural overlap with extreme nationalism and xenophobia and virulently anti-LGBT sentiment.

          As a Culture War tribe, “Pro-lifers” are also just about the most vicious to anyone who deviates from their orthodoxy on any point. If you don’t toe the line, you’re a baby killer and architect of racial genocide and whatever other foil-hat lunacy they can muster. When I was in the news business years ago, they tried to get me fired for nothing more than reporting a neutral and indisputable fact – that they had suffered a legal setback at one stage of appeal in a case concerning abortion clinic pickets.

          In short, the face of the pro-life movement, the folks who own the narrative by hook or by crook, are primarily angry, over-50 conservative Christian white Red State Republican dudes. There are a whole lot of us in this country who would rather see fewer abortions, but damn few who want to live under the regime today’s anti-abortion movement has in mind of us. Millions of people who support Planned Parenthood with money or sentiment are not pro-abortion. They are anti-you.

          • Neko

            Yes! That is the reality.

            • antigon

              No, that is the phony talking point, quite utterly divorced from reality.

              • kenofken

                Which reality would that be?

                The reality is that we are now 42 years on from Roe, and the anti-abortion movement is spinning its wheels in the same place. It has achieved no substantial change in the social consensus around the issue. There may be a bit more ambivalence around abortion and less enthusiasm around abortion on demand as the defining cornerstone of feminism, but there is certainly no support for categorically outlawing it either. There have been incremental tactical and harassing actions to deter access for poorer people in red states, but even many of these have been rejected by courts.

                Compare this with another social movement which also began in earnest just about the same time as you: The LGBT equality movement. They actually did the hearts and minds work. Consider where they’re at today vs 1973. Contrast their return on investment graph with that of your own movement. What are you prospects going forward, on the track you’re presently on? How many Millenials and even younger people are going to get on board with what you have? How many non-Christian/secular/”nones” do you have? How many people of color and different national origins? How many women?

                • antigon

                  The reality you deliberately ignore of course. That the number of extermination camps across the country have declined not just substantially, but strikingly, countrywide. That, despite not being funded via tax dollars by your plutocrat masters, in l’usa there are more pregnancy counseling centers than the extermination camps your boys extort American workers’s money to fund.
                  That your sides’ hope of spreading such camps into high schools, or goodness middle & elementary schools or wherever you claim there is a ‘need,’ has been stopped dead before it could be launched; which is why you now claim that any who denounce racism are responsible for cop-killers – sorry, that those who denounce mass murder are responsible for l’usa’s latest killer madmen – since opponents of such murder thwart the bloodthirsty dreams your masters yet hope to realize.
                  Like the homosexualist thing – voted down in 30 of 33 popular referenda – it is not the influence of converted hearts & minds you feign to pretend, but instead the oligarchy’s courts backed by their media spokespuppies that established & have upheld the savagery of abortion from the nonce; & that in both cases, had we in fact a democracy instead of a plutocracy, neither mass murder nor perversion would have any popularity at all – as neither did, until the courts got to work imposing your masters’ rule against the popular will.
                  All of which you know well, of course, just as you doubtless rejoice in – will at any rate never denounce we may be confident – the want of harassment that sees bluest of blue NYC kill more black children than are born there; & why you so regularly strive to burp fatuous talking points revelatory of a transparent hope to disguise reality.
                  To be sure, your oligarchs will fight tooth & nail to preserve the mass murder, or at least as long as they can cling to their gruesome power. But like you, dear apostate ken, as you also know, they daily grind their teeth that the hoi-polloi have had the effrontery to sustain such a potent & massive resistance to their foulness; & that, despite the latest silliness from you & others devoid of the courage & strength you hate precisely because you lost yours, such effrontery is as strong as it’s ever been, with more to come.

          • wineinthewater

            “The Pro-Life movement has done virtually nothing to change the conversation and consensus around abortion in this country since Roe.”

            Two things. First, public opinion has been slowly, but steadily, turning against abortion. You can make the argument that it is a lot of effort for little effect, but it is disingenuous hyperbole to call it next to nothing.

            Second, and this applies throughout, Republican politicians, nay, not even Republicans, are the pro-life movement. Anyone who has spent any amount of time actually within the movement and not just being spoon-fed an image by the media can tell you that. Sure, they trend Republican, but a big part of that is that we were forced out of the Democratic Party which allows almost no dissent on the topic. But a very large portion of us are unaffiliated. We’re no fans of disappointing Republicans and the lip-service they pay to the issue and the often idiotic actions they take on it. Many of us strongly suspect that such lack of success on the part of the Republicans can’t be an accident, that Republicans want legal abortion as much as Democrats because it gets them votes. So likewise, there are many pro-lifers like me, anti unjust war, anti death penalty, anti torture. Hell, I work for a sustainability non-profit. And my ideology confuses far more of my work mates than it does the people I know in the pro-life movement.

            The unfortunate reality is that we never see the real face of the pro-choice movement. A million of us peacefully march on Washington every year and it’s like we’re ninjas for all the media can find us. Meanwhile a couple thousand counter protesters and Cecile Roberts get lots of air time. They certainly won’t show all the youth, especially not the young women. Because that belies the narrative that results from the natural bias of a national media that by vast majority falls on one side of the debate.

            Perhaps the most vocal are the people like who you are talking about, but once you remove the politicians, how many of those people are left? Would you level those accusation against Martin Luther King’s daughter? The Dali Lama?

            • Neko

              The plaint that the March for Life gets ignored by the media is bull. Every year my usual liberal haunts run photos and a story.

              • wineinthewater

                They run a story, with pictures showing the pro-choice protesters, but never how the number of pro-choice counter protesters are exponentially outnumbered. They run stories with underestimated numbers. They interview Cecile Roberts for 10 minutes without an interview of any of the marchers. When they do show pictures, they focus on the men, especially if they have Roman collars or e middle-aged and almost never show the significant number of women and youth. They run stories with lots of quotes from pro-choice advocates. We’re talking a number of protesters larger than the Million Man March yet it gets a fraction of the attention. It doesn’t get ignored, but it doesn’t get near the attention it would if it were for another cause.

                The coverage is very biased every year and it would take some serious ideological blinders to think otherwise.

  • 3vil5triker .

    Thank you for this. Your rationale applies to anybody, regardless of their religious affiliation or how badly they perceive abortion providers.

    Even though I’m pretty sure this is not the first time has been discussed, the fact that so many people don’t get it to the point of openly encouraging and praising violence, makes it worth restating.

    I applaud the way you take their position head-on and fully deconstruct it; both their actions and their stated purpose, and show how they are wrong on all accounts.

    Like your reader, I think I’ll share this article if I cross paths with anybody advocating for violence against people getting or providing abortions; I’ll also do the same for anybody that implies the former to be the “proper” Christian position on the matter.

  • capaxdei

    Well answered. Just, if you republish this, you might clean up the bit about how “Violence is the one place where the Church dispenses with subsidiarity and kicks it as far up the ladder of authority as possible rather than leaving it to the individual.”

    Subsidiarity holds that “it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, [and] an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do.” This, Pope Pius XI teaches, is a “most weighty principle, which cannot be set aside or changed, [and] remains fixed and unshaken in social philosophy.” (QA 79)

    The Church does not dispense with subsidiarity in the case of violence. She teaches (indirectly, at least) that individuals cannot accomplish by their own initiative and industry the ends for which violence is an acceptable means, except in extraordinary circumstances. The least and most subordinate organization that can defend the community is the community.

  • AquinasMan

    Although I whole-heartedly agree that cold-hearted murder is cold-hearted murder, much like someone who dabbles in the occult is inviting mayhem into their lives, hanging out in buildings crawling with demons and the daily routine of cold-blooded murder invites its own mayhem. So far, no one has substantiated that this sick individual was targeting the PP clinic — if this was the case, the police have not said so — however, he certainly ended up there. Since it’s no longer au courant to believe that Satan or Hell exist, or that anyone goes there, the spiritual combat is nowhere on anyone’s radar.

    So it behooves all of us to be aware that the first people that Satan wants to turn is you and me. And if not, he’ll find some guy in a ramshackle cabin to do his dirty work. People are mistaken if they think the demons “protect” those who’ve sold their souls to him. Hell no. The demons absolutely love punishing people on “their side”. They can’t get enough of it; it’s what they’ll be doing to them for eternity.

    Am I saying that people in this line of work bring mayhem on themselves? Yeah, I kinda am. But that’s where we, as Catholics, need to display the power of mercy, much like Abby Johnson has done in her amazing apostolate. When we’re praying outside these clinics, we need to be praying for the people in bondage working in these institutions, as well as the babies they’re carving up in cold blood. We can’t stop the random nut job that happens along, but our witness at these clinics must be pro-life in every sense of the word.

  • You started off much better here than in your previous item on the shooting. As far as the shooting goes, I still know too little to comment very intelligently. So far as I know, police still haven’t been able to make heads or tails of this guy’s motivations. That gives me suspicions that he’s a nut but still keeping the door open to other narratives.

    I do smell a rat when you link to PAW as evidence to condemn Ted Cruz. The fellow that Cruz supported is from Operation Rescue, a man named Troy Newman. PAW also condemns Fr. Frank Pavone who wrote the intro to the 2003 version of Newman’s book. Do you condemn Fr. Pavone? Do you believe that Newman is not on the same side as Fr. Pavone? If you’re comfortable with PAW condemnations of Cruz without checking them even for a minute to check if they’re true, you’re the one doing improper culture warrioring and this time it seems to be resulting in friendly fire.

    I no doubt have gotten all this wrong, but please explain the particulars because if I didn’t get it wrong, you have strayed pretty far from what is right.

    • chezami

      Where would the Party of Personal Responsibility be without the Genetic Fallacy?

      • You are artfully dodging the fact that you’re so open minded against the “genetic fallacy”, you accidentally issued an implicit condemnation of a Catholic priest because you didn’t feel like actually doing due diligence and checking your links.


        Now you can continue to defend this loser of an attack against Cruz (and Fr. Pavone) or you can man up and withdraw it with some dignity, hopefully checking more carefully in future.

        You throw a lot of bits around as a professional writer. Mistakes are inevitable. Obstinately defending your mistakes when they’re pointed out is a personal choice and a wrong one.

    • Neko

      You wrote:

      So far as I know, police still haven’t been able to make heads or tails of this guy’s motivations.

      Dear appears to be a nutball Christian anti-abortion terrorist.

      PAW also condemns Fr. Frank Pavone who wrote the intro to the 2003 version of Newman’s book. Do you condemn Fr. Pavone?

      Well, several bishops have condemned Fr. Pavone. Apparently Priests for Life, Fr. Pavone’s anti-abortion org, is badly financially mismanaged, and Pavone has been so troublesome that his case was turned over to the Vatican last year.


      If there’s one thing Cardinal Dolan is exacting about, it’s the money.

      • All the stories that just came up on google news regarding motivations are days old and interspersed with the police being close lipped about the whole thing. To me, it’s a mystery whether he’s a nutball in the clinical sense or he’s an extremist, or some odd mix between. Nobody’s going to get hurt by my withholding judgment until I have actual information to go on so it is an easy call for me.

        As for Fr. Pavone, there’s a difference between “where’s the money” questions and the sort of accusation that Mark was making against Ted Cruz. I’m sad to read about the money issues regarding Priests for Life, but don’t you see the PAW accusations of extremism that Mark echoed have nothing to do with accounting and financial controls? Let’s not play a shell game here.

        • Neko

          Yeah, and there’s a difference between Troy Newman and Fr. Pavone, but the point is your red herring is in a bit of a pickle (so to speak).

          Perhaps you missed the article “For Robert Dear, Religion and Rage Before Planned Parenthood Attack” that ran just yesterday in The New York Times.

          Let’s see:


          In a sworn affidavit as part of her divorce case, Ms. Micheau described Mr. Dear as a serial philanderer and a problem gambler, a man who kicked her, beat her head against the floor and fathered two children with other women while they were together. He found excuses for his transgressions, she said, in his idiosyncratic views on Christian eschatology and the nature of salvation.

          “He claims to be a Christian and is extremely evangelistic, but does not follow the Bible in his actions,” Ms. Micheau said in the court document. “He says that as long as he believes he will be saved, he can do whatever he pleases. He is obsessed with the world coming to an end.”


          One person who spoke with him extensively about his religious views said Mr. Dear, who is 57, had praised people who attacked abortion providers, saying they were doing “God’s work.” In 2009, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of concerns for the privacy of the family, Mr. Dear described as “heroes” members of the Army of God, a loosely organized group of anti-abortion extremists that has claimed responsibility for a number of killings and bombings.


          3. As everyone knows by now, police officers revealed that after his arrest in regard to his shooting rampage at Planned Parenthood Dear avowed “no more baby parts.”

          Today NBC News reports:

          Dear appears to have been opposed to the reproductive health agency for decades. Barbara Mescher Michaux, who was married to Dear from 1985 to 1993, said Tuesday that Dear once put glue in the locks of a Planned Parenthood clinic near where they were living at the time — and “that was over 20 years ago when he did that,” she said.


          But if you would like to “withhold judgment” as to whether Dear is a nutball Christian anti-abortion terrorist, I do wonder what kind of evidence you’re waiting for.

          • BobRN

            Personally, I’m waiting for evidence gathered by the competent authorities. I don’t include the NYT, NBC news or anonymous police officers in that category. There was wide speculation that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot by a man angry about her liberal politics. As it turned out, she wasn’t even the target of his rampage, but one of a number of random victims of a crazed lunatic with a gun. There are still plenty of people who think Timothy McVeigh was a “Christian terrorist” motivated by his extreme Christian beliefs. Turned out, he was closer to agnosticism than Christian faith and said himself that religion had nothing to do with his motives.

            We can certainly say that Robert Dear had no concern for any authority on Christian faith or morals other than the voices in his own head. It’s also fair to say that an eccentric recluse who lived in a shack with no electricity wasn’t likely influenced by those in the pro-life movement, however measured or extreme. Perhaps the best we can say is that Robert Dear was a “Robert Dear terrorist,” for it seems that the only agenda he had in mind when he awoke that morning was his own.

            • Neko

              Timothy McVeigh was an anti-government extremist and white supremacist, and the reason “plenty” of people think he was a Christian terrorist is that anti-government extremists and white supremacists are often self-identified Christians.

              Nothing we know so far about Robert Dear would suggest that he is not a crazed anti-abortion terrorist. But maybe those police officers who reported Dear’s “no more baby parts” avowal are secretly in cahoots with Planned Parenthood to defame the anti-abortion movement!

              • BobRN

                It’s obviously very important to you that Dear be identified as someone motivated by his anti-abortion and Christian identities. There’s certainly evidence for that, and it’s your right to jump to that conclusion on what’s been presented so far. Nevertheless, it’s certainly the right of others to withhold their final judgments until all of the evidence is in and in a calmer atmosphere can be looked at objectively. Somehow, this second approach is regarded as denial of the obvious: that Dear is a Christian terrorist motivated by his anti-abortion extremism and inspired to action by the rhetoric of pro-lifers in response to the clearly falsified videos wrongly blaming PP for selling baby parts. That’s the narrative. Dissent is not an option.

                • Neko

                  It’s actually not important to me at all that Dear “be identified as someone motivated by his anti-abortion and Christian identities.” What is important to me is to assess with some clarity what is the most probable reality behind events. Of course nowhere did I deny anyone’s right to say whatever they damn well please. I also did not make any causal connection between anti-abortion rhetoric, or Christianity for that matter, and Dear’s shooting rampage, which has certainly not been established. Of course the right-wing has been ratcheting up the outrage over the Planned Parenthood videos for months now and obviously Dear appropriated “no more baby parts” from that rhetoric, but he is said (by his ex-wife) to have long had an antipathy toward Planned Parenthood. I do not think his motivations can be specified at this point, but I think they can be broadly surmised.

                  Dissent is not an option. Please spare me the cry of persecution. No one is suppressing your right to dissent. I am merely expressing my skepticism at the high road of “withholding judgment” on a case which clearly involves anti-abortion sentiment.

                • Neko

                  As it turns out Dear is just what he appeared to be: an anti-abortion terrorist.


          • Thank you for the NYT article. Pretty thin gruel to hang the anti-abortion tag on him, a recycle of the “no baby parts” quote and testimony that he talked about it a lot but his forum stuff doesn’t seem to back it up otherwise there would be a lot of other quotes being used. Using previously unpublished quotes in follow on stories is journalism 101 and if they’re available, the NYT wouldn’t miss the opportunity to use them. That’s a flag for a narrative in trouble. All that’s clear is that his christianity was either way out there on the fringe (and you don’t talk approvingly of the Army of God fruitcakes unless you’re really fringe, most christians don’t even know they exist), he was an unusually poor christian, and very likely both.

            Here are a few ways that the anti-abortion narrative could be in trouble:

            1. The “no more baby parts” quote in context makes it clear he’s insane. Examples would be that the space aliens told him “no more baby parts” or that the baby parts were talking to him and driving him mad so he went after PP to quiet the voices.
            2. His complicated love life is a proximate cause of the incident, perhaps with a PP worker or a company that has space next to PP.
            3. It really is getting weird out there with the investigation in a way that makes space aliens look normal. I’ve been in a police situation where things went professionally weird. I never entirely discount that possibility when faced with incomplete information.

            Neither of our thoughts are going to be determinative. You want to paint yourself in a corner this early, be my guest. You’re going to have to figure out how to retrieve your dignity if it turns out you’re wrong. Me, I’m just practicing that charity thing we talked about earlier.

            • Neko

              Your charity could be mistaken for a reluctance to recognize what certainly appears to be terrorism motivated by anti-abortion animus. So the guy’s a fruit loop, the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

              And if I’m wrong, I’ll admit I’m wrong with zero anxiety for my “dignity.”

              • Smart, one of the dumbest things one can do in a debate is defending a false position that’s been exposed as false.

                I have a double motivation for this charity. One is the religious angle and the second is a lamentable tendency of erosion in respect for due process in US culture. The founders feared mob rule. It is, in my opinion, one of the major reasons the US revolution turned out so much better than most other revolutions. If the nasty crisis I foresee in the next few decades comes to pass, we’ll weather it better if we have a renewed respect for due process. I insist on being part of the solution instead of the problem on that question. If it means that I’m one of the trailing cohorts in deciding on someone’s guilt, so be it. That’s a very small price to pay in my book. After all, what’s the benefit of rushing to judgment, even if you’re correct? It seems like a very small upside.

                • Neko

                  I fail to see how my opinion on the matter has the least effect on due process. Nor do I have an interest in “rushing to judgment.” As I said below, I find this scenario rather unambiguous. If new information emerges that somehow Dear’s attack on a Planned Parenthood facility had nothing to do with anti-abortion sentiment, why, mea culpa.

                  • Simple, culture is upstream of politics and what we culturally normalize will show up in popular legislation with a variable time lag. By making it culturally acceptable to get rid of due process, we end up getting more and more politicians comfortable proposing and passing legislation that violates constitutional due process.

  • D.T. McCameron

    I giggled at the word “competent”.

    And I know damn well that I’m not doing a shred of what I ought to, but over a million innocents slaughtered in a year? Just in this country?

    Just how are we measuring the effectiveness of our current programs? % of the millions not butchered this year?

  • Tara

    So what if you don’t intervene “pre-emptively” but burst in and intervene WHILE the abortion is IN PROGRESS.

    Certainly, as a widespread strategy, there are all sorts of problems with this *practically* (the biggest being that an unborn child can’t be hidden from the very person, the infanticidal mother, who wants it dead).

    But as an individual decision IF we somehow found ourselves in that situation in the moment?

    I think trying to claim that abortion is different in this regard than any other defense of an innocent is just mental gymnastics to try to remain acceptable to the mainstream.

  • Marthe Lépine

    Could there be a correlation here? Between those who keep arguing in favour of the death penalty, and those who think it could be a good and acceptable idea to shoot an abortionist? It seems to me that the reasoning could go like this: The authorities prosecute ordinary murderers, but don’t consider abortionists as murderers. This fact is a morally objectionable kind of legislation. We have the right to refuse to obey a morally objectionable law. Therefore we can take justice into our own hands when it comes to punishing abortionists. On the other hand, in a country like mine, where the death penalty has been abolished so long ago that nobody even thinks about arguing for its reinstatement, it would be more difficult to use that kind of reasoning, and maybe shooting abortionists would not appear to be so tempting for some people, who appear to confuse “justice” with “revenge”.

    • Dave G.

      No. Probably not. Though you never know. I often wonder what horrors are the result of my failures to be 100% perfect in my faith and obedience. Not something I like to dwell upon.

  • Christine Dawn

    What has happened is that there is a group of people who want to take the law into their hands and have become judge/executioners. However, they kill innocent victims in a random haphazard way. The likelihood is that they will not kill an abortionist or someone wishing to get an abortion. In the case of the abortionist, it would mean killing a doctor. In the case of killing a woman wishing to abort a pregnancy they kill both the child and the mother. But randomly pulling up to a medical center that provides multiple health services and open fire is an act of terrorism. It is not an execution of a specific individual for a specific purpose. It is a random act of violence perpetrated against any person who has the misfortune to be there. Just look at the victim list for the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting. This type of violence is being encouraged by Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz Joshua Feuerstein a former pastor with over 1.8 million followers encourages his followers to “punish” doctors who perform abortions. This habit of inciting volatile and strong emotions and encouraging hatred and violence is adding up to mass shootings in the name of god, national security, etc. But what is really happening here is that the fabric of our society is quickly unraveling.

    • antigon

      Well, a fabric held together by the blood of innocents might have a tendency to unravel, it seems fair to propose.

  • Kyllein MacKellerann

    If these people are so pro-life, why don’t they adopt? Right- that’s an expense!
    Killing people is murder, period. Forget the “Pro-Life” or “Little Baby” business: killing someone is murder regardless of the politics behind it.
    Of course, Politicians don’t see it that way: They see these killers and would-be killers as VOTES.
    And thus is it concluded. VOTES, not right or wrong, VOTES.

  • Gunnar Thalweg

    One piece of the ethical puzzle is the nature of the civic order. If the current civic order allows for peaceful change, well, then that’s something to keep in mind. I think it’s a close call at this point. I think we should consider abortion a crime and all those who cooperate with it criminals. I think that includes politicians who support abortion-on-demand as well as those organizations and individuals that fund it. Nonetheless, we need to go through proper civic channels. One half the population can’t arrest the other half, after all.

  • Mark, I’ll go a bit further: if you’re out to shoot an abortionist, you deserve to be shot down first. His life is not yours to take, any more than the lives of the babies he kills are his to take, or their mothers’ to take. You are not judge, jury and executioner. The evil he has done or might do does not justify the evil you now recommend or plan upon. (Or, as you said, you cannot do evil that good may come of it — a much better formulation.)

    I really appreciate what you said about violence being the one thing the Church kicks as far up the ladder as possible. It makes sense to me. So too does your characterizing a citizen’s defensive gun use as being thrust into a first responder’s role, with a duty to cede it when either the threat ends or the police arrive.

    “If these people are so pro-life, why don’t they adopt? Right- that’s an expense!” — Kyllein MacKellerann

    In large part because politicians have, for whatever reasons, made adopting children really, really hard — far more so than it ought or needs to be. Doing so creates a system where the State can hand out money to and through Child Protective Services (or reasonable facsimiles thereof), which gives legislators a disincentive to amend this.

    I think I will decline to comment on all the other red herrings swimming below.

  • Chris BSomething

    I think if you want to argue this position you need to be a bit more exhaustive in your thinking. For example, is it also wrong to declare war on Hitler’s Germany because it’s “vigilantism”? Or do nation states get to do whatever they want because they are nation states? And since America has this strong theme of a citizen’s militia with the right to bear arms etc, presumably it is theorised that at some point the citizens have a right to exercise that right because the state is out of control. Would not murdering millions of innocents perhaps reach that threshold, if not, then nothing would… Right?