Judgment In Wichita

January 29, 2010 | By | Reply More

After 37 minutes of deliberation, a Kansas jury has found Scott Roeder guilty of first degree murder in the death of Dr. George Tiller, who Roeder shot at church, claiming that he was preventing future deaths of unborn children.  Roeder’s defense wanted a lesser charge, voluntary manslaughter, but Judge Warren Wilbert denied the motion, stating that Roeder was not permitted to use the necessity defense.

Roeder seems to think he was justified.  Years of debate over abortion has led to some people immersing themselves so deeply in the conviction that a fetus is fully human, with all the rights of someone walking around, talking and interacting with others, that it inevitably results in the emergence of those who feel justified in acting as if they were engaged in a geurilla war against an occupying force.  They will see themselves as heroes.  They will not see how such actions are themselves violations of the very standards they uphold and claim are superior to the law of the land.

At many points along the way since Roe v. Wade there have been opportunities for the two sides to come together to find a middle path.  The simple expedient of increasing sex education and the availability of contraception would have, over the last thirty-plus years, alleviated a great deal of the necessity for practices many—even supporters of the right of a woman to choose—find troubling.

But that was not to be.  Those, like Randall Terry of Operation Rescue, see contraception as another form of abortion.  A ridiculous stance, but one that has poisoned many chances for accord.

It would have helped to have embraced a demythologizing of sex, something that would have led to more rational public policies, instead of pursuing the all or nothing jeremiads of the religious rejection of—let’s be candid about this—the beauty, the benefit, and the joy of freely indulged sex between consenting adults.

That was not to be, either.  Instead, the religious right has pursued a course to drag us back into the darkness of antiquated familial roles, in which sex and sexuality, under the guise of “privacy”, can once more become the undiscussed arena of a kind of slavery.

Clinton’s first Surgeon General, Joclen Elders, said once that America needed to get over its love affair with the fetus.  She was a brave, outspoken person and was summarily dismissed for the controversies she stirred which, had we been reasonable from the beginning, would never have been controversies.  She addressed the fact that those most stridently in opposition to abortion were those less likely to care about children already born and in need and certainly not at all about the lives of women who they would force into life-altering conditions and thereby co-opt their freedom.

It must be remembered that the issue is a woman’s life.  Not the physiological aspect, although in many instances that is certainly at stake, but the life she would pursue by choice, which for some an unwanted pregnancy effects relatively little, but for most is dream destroying and often embittering.

It must be remembered that men simply do not have to face such a consequence.  Many do not shoulder what responsibilities ought to fall to them, even when the women who bear their children have them, and instead turn their back on their obligations, their family, their progeny—which for so long in our history they were perfectly able to do and society even abetted them in this.  Women have always paid the price of unwise liaisons and their children suffer even more.  But men have generally not had to be troubled by such matters.

It must also be remembered that statistics are meaningless.  One woman—one human being with a womb—decides and undertakes to make a choice.  Alone.  In her own being, her own mind.  Women do not go in a group as part of a community to have abortions.  All the forces of the anti-choice movement are not arrayed to prevent thousands of abortions, they are arrayed to stop one woman from conducting her own life according to her wishes.

And no one forces that woman to have an abortion.  It is a choice.

That said, it cannot be denied that circumstance very often forces such choices.

But the pro-life anti-choice movement is disinterested in the main in addressing those circumstances.  They act and sometimes claim that all such matters are irrelevant to the life of an unborn child.

That seems to me a rather godlike attitude.  Who are they to tell someone what is or is not important in their life?

Scott Roeder evidently thought he had such authority.  He took it upon himself to kill someone, not on behalf of his own personal life choices, but on behalf of something over which he has no right to assert control or authority or judgment.   I’m sure he thought he was rescuing human beings.  But instead all he did was deny that one woman who needs help somewhere to turn.

And a jury of seven men and five women have determined that such a right is not for someone like Scott Roeder to exercise.


Category: American Culture, Court Decisions, Culture, Current Events, hypocrisy, Law, Noteworthy, Religion, Reproductive Rights

About the Author ()

Mark is a writer and musician living in the St. Louis area. He hit puberty at the peak of the Sixties and came of age just as it was all coming to a close with the end of the Vietnam War. He was annoyed when bellbottoms went out of style, but he got over it.

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