Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thoughts on Dr. Tiller

Dr. Tiller was a hero to some, and a monster to others. As usual, I think the truth is found in neither extreme view. I see him as just a doctor who chose a difficult and controversial specialty. A while back I posted on why I am pro-choice, even to the point of supporting a woman's choice to have a late-term abortion. I'm not going to recap everything I wrote then. But I will repeat that unlike many who are pro-choice, I do see a late term abortion as the killing of a baby, a morally questionable act. However...

First of all, the choice to have an abortion is the mother's, often made in conjunction with her family. If there is blame to be assigned for an abortion, it should go primarily to those who make the decision, not to a doctor who carries out a legal procedure. And there are numerous circumstances that can bring someone to that situation, and cases vary wildly. Many pro-lifers seem to assume that Dr. Tiller was just performing "lifestyle" abortions.  They act like he was just callously destroying babies. The evidence indicates otherwise. Both of these posts, here & here, detail some personal stories of people who went to Dr. Tiller for abortions. This should be obvious, but not everyone who has an abortion has one because they are irresponsible, and just wants to dispose of a problem. For many it is an agonizing decision, brought about by circumstances beyond their control.

If you oppose abortion under any circumstances, you are entitled to your opinion. But recognize that you are an extremist, a type of moral absolutist. You are the type of person who would force a mother to give birth to a dying baby, rather than just ending the misery. Fortunately, that decision isn't yours to make. Most people, even many abortion opponents, allow for certain exceptions. Unfortunately sometimes major problems with pregnancies do not show up early. In those cases a late-term abortion is the only realistic option. Abortion providers like Dr. Tiller are necessary, no matter how repulsive the idea of late-term abortions may be to many. 


  1. I agree with you up to the point that the major problem is with the fetus - a major problem that doesn't necessarily mean suffering or death for the fetus, such as Down Syndrome. It then becomes, to me, a question of whether the mother would be charged with murder if she killed the baby after it was born rather than before.

  2. I don't think the law should be involved in it for the reasons I mentioned in my other post. But if someone is having a late-term abortion solely because they don't want a Downs Syndrome baby, then yes, I find that morally questionable. But again, I think it depends on the individual case.