United States: Terror in the name of Jesus
The head of Operation Rescue issued a statement after Tiller's murder. "He was one of the most evil men on the planet … He deserved … a legal execution." The organisation also compared Tiller to the Nazis.
In Barack Obama's commencement speech at Notre Dame – preceded by protests from Roman Catholic bishops because he is pro-choice – the president urged pro-choicers to find common ground with anti-abortion zealots. I do not know how you find common ground with someone who says you deserve to die. For such people, women are not as deserving of rights as the foetuses they may carry. Supreme court Justice Anthony Kennedy made that clear: he ruled that one recent law did not need to provide an exception to protect the health of the pregnant woman. This law also allows the partners or parents of a woman who terminates a pregnancy to sue the doctor for emotional damage to themselves. It says, in essence, that a pregnant woman is the property of her parents or male partner.
The 14th amendment of the US constitution says "No state shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." A series of laws passed over the last decade have expanded foetal rights and diminished women's. Among these are providing federal healthcare dollars to foetuses but none to pregnant women; allowing states to block poor women from receiving public aid to terminate pregnancies; preventing insurance plans for women on the federal payroll covering abortion; allowing states to criminalise an adult who drives a teen across a state line to receive an abortion – since the campaign of violence has terrorised abortion providers it is often necessary to travel across several states to find a clinic.
To President Obama's credit, he has overturned the pernicious, so-called global gag rule, which prohibited health clinics overseas from receiving US aid if they even mentioned abortion – a policy causing millions of women to die or suffer devastating health impairment. But Obama has not tried to address the myriad other laws that block access to reproductive care at home.
I hope George Tiller's death begins a real search for common ground. I hope his murder galvanises people into thinking that women deserve equal protection under the law as that accorded to their unborn children. This didn't happen in the wake of Dr David Gunn's murder in Pensacola, nor Dr Barnett Slepian's murder in Buffalo. It didn't happen when protesters at a Cleveland clinic poured petrol on a nurse and set fire to her. It is time we stopped pandering to terrorists just because they claim to be speaking in the name of Jesus. I'm not optimistic, but change in this respect is way overdue in America.
01 June 2009
By Sara Paretsky
Source: the Guardian