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Slepian shooting does not represent pro-life Americans

By Scott Tibbs, October 29 1998

The shooting of Dr. Barnett Slepian has added even more fuel to the raging fire that is the American abortion debate. But while the mainstream pro-life community denounces the assassination of Dr. Slepian, the liberal media and leaders in the pro-choice movement have attempted to exploit this tragedy to paint the pro-life movement with a bloody brush. The "news" stories on this terrible event by the Associated Press have been especially bad in this regard.

The stereotyping of pro-life Americans was done despite the denunciation of the murder by organizations such as the National Coalition for Life and Peace, Feminists for Life, and the National Right to Life Committee. When advocates of abortion rights dishonestly use the fringe element to imply all pro-life activists support the shooting, they discredit their own movement and create cynicism in the minds of the American people.

How many times does it have to be said? Everyday Americans are active in the pro-life movement because we oppose violence. We oppose the violence of abortion and the violence of people who are anti-abortion. Many pro-lifers also oppose the death penalty. To call this murderer "pro-life" isn't just political "spin". It's a bold-faced, intentional lie. The continual distortion of the pro-life position by abortion rights advocates must stop.

But even in the cases where abortion rights advocates admit that the pro-life movement does not directly or indirectly approve of this violence, they still claim pro-lifers as a group are at fault for this murder. On the October 26 edition of "Crossfire" on CNN, Bill Press claimed that the rhetoric of the pro-life movement is partially to blame for this murder. Press claimed that when pro-life people refer to abortion as murder, then they encourage people to kill abortionists. Press asked, "If he is a murderer, why shouldn't somebody shoot him?"

Other liberals have taken up the line as well. In the October 27 Indiana Daily Student, columnist Angie Brunk writes, "the movement cannot call abortion murder and then disavow responsibility when someone lynches doctors who provide abortions." Brunk and Press would have us believe that when pro-lifers exercise our Constitutional right to free speech, it is the equivalent of shouting "FIRE!" in a crowded theater.

What ever happened to personal responsibility? The murderer, and the murderer alone, is responsible for the death of Dr. Slepian. Not the American Life League, not The NRTLC, and not pro-lifers in general. And while anti-abortionists like the leader of "Pro-Life Virginia", who endorsed the shooting, are offensive and wrong in their statements, they are also not responsible for the death of Dr. Slepian.

Only the actual assassin, along with anyone else who may have assisted in this act of brutality, is responsible for the murder. The murderer, once he is caught and convicted in a court of law, should be swiftly put to death.

But there is a far more sinister motive behind much of the blame being passed to pro-lifers in general due to "inflammatory" rhetoric. That motive is to silence the opposition. Many of these people would not support silencing of pro-lifers by force of law, but are only too happy to create a climate where even the mention of opposition to abortion brings with it allegations of sparking anti-abortion violence. Pro-choice advocates would love to drive pro-lifers out of the abortion debate with fear of being labeled incendiary.

An example of that "incendiary" rhetoric, according to liberal supporters of abortion, is the notion that abortion is murder. Well, abortion IS murder. It is the taking of an innocent human life through violent, destructive, excruciatingly painful means.

If the fetus were just an "unviable tissue mass", why would people put their time, finances, and even their lives at risk to try to stop the removal of that unviable tissue mass? Of course, the answer is that the fetus is NOT an unviable tissue mass. Even at six weeks, it is a human being, with clearly recognizable human features. That is what we are attempting to save with our activism.

The abortion debate is divisive enough without compounding it with unfair stereotypes or outright lies. Let's get back to the heart of the matter, whether a woman's right to control her body supercedes an unborn child's right to live. If the pro-choice side leaves the lies and bigotry at home, we will be a lot better off.