Surely by now you have heard of the story of the murder of George Tiller, the Kansas physician who was one of the few remaining doctors left in America who performed intact dilation and extraction, a legal medical procedure which the religious right would like you to call ‘partial birth abortion’, because in a very few cases of this extremely rare procedure, the baby is partially extracted from the womb before its life is terminated.
A grisly procedure, to be certain. But, as I said – a legal one, and one whose usefulness in preventing harm or trauma to pregnant women or prolonged suffering in fetuses destined to short, unpleasant lives, is medically and morally undeniable. If you have any doubts, go check out Hilzoy’s excellent summary of the subject. One short, but graphic, example:
“I also know a woman who had two “partial-birth abortions,” or D&Xs (dilation and extraction) as they are more accurately called. My friend Tiffany is a carrier of a terrible genetic abnormality. In addition to other defects, her babies developed with no faces, with no way to eat or breathe. They were doomed. The only way to extract them without hurting her chances of ever having another baby was through a D&X.”
I am not a doctor. I don’t understand why a dilation and extraction is necessary in this situation. But if a well-trained doctor, who has probably helped more women in his life than I have eaten meals in mine, says it is, I am loath to disagree.
Make no mistake. This cold-hearted murder, of a man who committed no crime, is the final step in a consistent campaign of terrorism wrought on Dr. Tiller and his employees by fundamentalist Christians in our country. Again, for the full story, check out Hilzoy, but here’s another blurb, about the attempted intimidation of Sarah Phares, an administrative assistant at Dr. Tiller’s office:
Before long, protesters from Operation Rescue showed up at her house. They parked a tractor-trailer across the street, plastered with twenty-foot-long images of dismembered fetuses. From its speakers came the kind of sweet, tinkling music that lures children from their back yards in pursuit of Dreamsicles. One protester, a somber man in a tan windbreaker with a three-foot crucifix thrust before him, performed an exorcism on Phares’ front lawn, sprinkling holy water on the grass to cast demons from the property.
This is terrorism, pure and simple. An attempt to use actions, whether legal or not, to intimidate someone from participating in an activity which is legal, to inspire fear for their relationships, their position in the community, or their lives. Fundamentalist Christian Terrorism.
If Pat Robertson, or anyone of his equally despicable ilk, is not front-and-center at the pulpit this Sunday, decrying this horrible act of murder purportedly delivered in the name of his God, then he is every bit as much of a hypocrite as he has claimed Muslim imams who don’t immediately, loudly, unmistakably distance themselves from any Muslim who commits an act of terror are.
But he won’t. And he won’t be called on it. Because we aren’t allowed, in polite society, to point out how much violence and intimidation in our country comes straight from the pulpit, both on the radical right and the radical left. Ugh.