The pro-life leadership has gone out of its way – and rightly so – to condemn the violence that took the life of abortionist George Tiller on Sunday. I join with those voices, as I always have done, that declare that the end never justifies the means, and that violence has no place in the effort to end abortion.
I have been asked what I think the biggest negative effect of this killing will be on our pro-life movement. Does it tar the movement’s reputation? Yes, it does, despite the fact that those who kill abortionists are always disconnected from pro-life organizations. Does it make the government reach too far in clamping down on First Amendment activity against abortion? Yes, it does and it will.
But those are not the biggest dangers.
The biggest danger is the enemy within. It is the fear and self-doubt to which we can all too easily fall victim. It is the voice inside that makes us feel guilty for saying “Abortion is murder” or “Abortion is a holocaust” or “The babies who are being killed need to be defended now.” It is the fear inside that keeps us from going out to the abortion mills and intervening to save the children scheduled to be killed there each day.
The biggest danger is that some will listen to those in the pro-abortion movement who try to lay blame for violence on us and who, as one person wrote on my blog, think that saying “Abortion is murder” should be prosecuted because it leads to violence against abortionists.
The Church teaches us that we have to look evil in the eye. John Paul II, in “The Gospel of Life, said that we have to call evil by its proper name. This is no time to shrink back from the reality of what is going on every day in abortion. Children are being killed, and the reason it continues is that too many of our fellow citizens are blind to it.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, responded to criticisms that the civil rights activists were fomenting violence. No, he said. That’s like saying the person who owns money is fomenting the activity of the robber. To expose the violence that is already occurring, to call it what it is, and to sound the alarm that it has to stop, is not to foment violence.
The pro-life movement is a movement of non-violence. As Ghandi and Dr. King taught, and as we teach, non-violence is not passivity, and it is not obscurity. It is a force. It is a clear and strong response against violence, in whatever form that violence takes.
Let the outcry against Tiller’s murder be loud and clear. And let the outcry against the murders he committed – and that other abortionists commit — be loud and clear as well.