Sunday, July 26, 2009


In today's New York Times there's a long, detailed account of George Tiller's career, and of the techniques of his opponents. It's worth reading. But I'm struck now, as I was seven weeks ago when he was assassinated, by the sheer self-pity of those who opposed him.

Back then the Times reported this moist-eyed reaction:

"I don't know what the future holds," said Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue....

Although Operation Rescue worked for years to close down Dr. Tiller's clinic, his death was never the outcome Mr. Newman wished for, he said. Of the man charged with killing Dr. Tiller, he tearfully said, "This idiot did more to damage the pro-life movement than you can imagine."

And now today we have another anti-abortion leader feeling sorry for himself:

Abortion opponents are bracing for a drop in support, especially from those in the murky middle ground of the debate. Worse yet, after years of persuading supporters to work within the law, they say they have already lost credibility among the most ardent abortion opponents who cannot help pointing out that one gunman achieved what all their protests and prayers could not.

"The credit is going to go to him," Mark S. Gietzen, chairman of the Kansas Coalition for Life, said of Mr. Roeder. "There are people who are agreeing with him."

You can read this as the expression of a sincere belief that their cause has actually suffered asetback -- but then, at the end of the article, you get this:

As he explained himself, Mr. Gietzen did something unexpected. He spoke admiringly of the man he reflexively referred to as "Abortionist Tiller." He said he was "very smart" and a "great businessman." He said that if he had been in town he would have attended Dr. Tiller's funeral to pay his respects.

"A worthy adversary," he said. "He was right back at us."

For Gietzen, is this really about abortion? Or is this about the contest? You start to think that Gietzen (and Operation Rescue's Troy Newman, and maybe others) are less concerned about the cause than they are about whether they've screwed up their careers -- their life's work -- by choosing (at least recently) to remain nonviolent. Also, they seem depressed at not having Tiller to kick around anymore. You get the feeling that if the Human Life Amendment had received final ratification, these guys would be calling suicide hotlines. They want the game to go on -- and they want to be the ones playing it. Gietzen in particular really seems to want Tiller back, both out of a desire for a sparring partner and because Tiller's assassin threatens to make Gietzen irrelevant (at least in Gietzen's eyes).

You can read the article and argue that Tiller himself liked the fight a little too much. That may be true. But that doesn't make the self-pity of his opponents any less odd. Come on, schmucks -- the clinic's closed. You won this round. Stop sniveling.


Meanwhile, this weekend I found myself in the same room with a copy of the August issue of Marie Claire (don't ask), where I read this:

Abortion by Cow Meds

Let's say you're under 18, pregnant, and unable to get an abortion without parental consent, as is the case in 24 states. The logical thing to do would be to ... swallow some cow meds from a nearby farm? Sounds nuts, but that's what some young women are doing in an attempt to perform DIY abortions.

Anna Anderson, executive director of the Monroe, Wisconsin-based Care Net Pregnancy Center, which counsels women on alternatives to abortion, was the first to report the practice, when an acquaintance called to discuss a teen who'd downed the meds. "When the girl finally came in and admitted it, she started rattling off the names of 10 other girls who had also done it," says Anderson, who recognized some of the names because the girls had come to the center for pregnancy tests....

The cow medicine -- a liquid that's usually given as a shot to abort calves or regulate breeding cycles -- works by essentially starving the fetus. After a few days, a woman would experience cramping, and the fetus would be expelled. Complications could include excessive hemorrhaging and a systemic infection.

In the era of abortion doctors like George Tiller being murdered, perhaps extreme behavior is to be expected. That said, here's hoping the human use of cow meds dies out, now that the FDA has approved Plan B -- the morning-after pill -- for use without a prescription by 17-year-olds....

Er, I doubt it.

I'm not entirely sure what to make of this story -- the "Care Net Pregnancy Center, which counsels women on alternatives to abortion," is clearly part of the anti-abortion movement, so this story may have been meant to gross out the like-minded. But if it's true, it just tells me that abortion isn't going away the more it's under attack -- there are just going to be more and more (and more creative) back-alley abortions, or, in this case, back-of-the-barn abortions.

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