The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has been followed by an increase in violence and threats of violence against anti-abortion pregnancy care centers. Those who advocate or practice violence betray the principles of the pro-choice movement as completely as those who use violence to destroy abortion facilities and kill abortionists reject the pro-life principles they claim to advocate. Rational people on both sides of the debate, as well as government officials, regardless of their personal views, must do everything within the law to halt the violence and punish its advocates and practitioners.
Of course, violence and the hypocrisy it represents long predate the demise of Roe v. Wade. Radical anti-abortionists were known to vandalize and render useless abortion facilities. Sometimes their methods escalated to include murder. The most notorious case was that of the Rev. Paul Hill, a religious zealot in Florida who in 1994 murdered an abortionist and the abortionist’s bodyguard. He was executed in 2003. He considered himself a martyr to the pro-life cause, but rational minds, whatever their personal beliefs on abortion, must consider him an especially monstrous criminal who undermined the pro-life cause by inflicting death instead.
Pro-choice zealots are likewise betraying their foundational principle—freedom of choice. Advocates of abortion rights claim not to support abortion per se, but to support a pregnant woman’s right to decide for herself whether to give birth or “terminate” her pregnancy. But the destruction of anti-abortion pregnancy care centers and the threats of violence against those who staff them necessarily narrow women’s choices concerning where to go for aid. Obviously, a pregnancy care center destroyed by abortion-rights zealots is no longer a viable choice for a woman who might otherwise want to go there—you can’t go to places that no longer exist. The only choices the zealots want to allow women are choices which the zealots themselves like.
To date, nobody has yet died from the efforts of pro-choice zealots to deny women choices. But it’s only a matter of time before a firebombing or some other act of violence claims the life of a woman seeking to maintain her pregnancy or a worker seeking to help her. To prevent that tragedy, or to at least minimize the chances of its occurrence, people of sound mind and good will, regardless of their positions on abortion, must dominate the ways and means by which advocates on both sides of the issue legally seek to advance their respective positions, and marginalize the crackpots, crazies, loons, and criminals who infest their ranks.
Moreover, it is especially important that our leaders, such as they are, be more pro-active in doing their best to suppress violence, regardless of its source. It’s all well and good for red state officials to decry the violence against pro-life pregnancy care centers and for blue state officials to pledge their best efforts to preserve the safety of the personnel and facilities where abortions take place. But all public officials with the power to do so must be equally dedicated to protecting all personnel and all facilities, whether used to prevent abortions or perform them. It is simply not acceptable for New York’s pro-choice governor, for example, to vigorously denounce violence against abortion facilities in her state while simply having an underling mumble some meaningless dreck about her disapproval of violence if the issue concerns an anti-abortion pregnancy care center.
In other words, it must be accepted that to be pro-life is to recognize the sanctity of all innocent human life, regardless of whether people support or oppose abortion rights. And to be pro-choice requires one to recognize and accept the choices women make concerning their pregnancies, and to accept the existence of facilities to help them with their choices, whether they choose to end their pregnancies through abortion or carry their pregnancies to term and give birth.
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.