The Catholic Thing
The Canonization of George Tiller Print E-mail
By Cathy Ruse and Austin Ruse   
Friday, 12 June 2009

Late-term abortionist George Tiller has been buried. His clinic has been permanently closed. It is being reported that candlelight vigils were held across America for him and that another late-term abortionist has compared him to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Pro-choice” Christian ministers called him a “martyr in the classical sense.” One even called him a “saint.” That he was killed in a church certainly contributed to the hagiography.

Anyone who claims to value all human life should condemn his murder, but that does not mean we should refrain from telling the truth about this alleged saint.

Let’s assume he was not in it for the reported $6,000-$20,000 he charged per late-term abortion, or the fees he charged for the other abortions, 60,000 total, which left him a well-heeled man by all accounts.

Let’s stipulate that he believed in abortion on the level of religious commitment, that abortion was for him what one of his minister-supporters called it: a sacrament.

Let’s say he was a believer in abortion on the order of the Christian martyrs of the second century who were torn apart by wild beasts for their refusal to reject the Christian God. Let us stipulate to all of that. But for what cause, exactly, was he a martyr?

We are told he was a martyr for women. But not one of the late-term abortions he did was to save a woman’s life, according to Kansas health department records. Tiller was not in the life-saving business.

Was he a martyr for some postmodern notion of freedom? Those celebrating his life’s work are most comfortable with abstract terms like “choice,” but we understand that there is real flesh and blood behind the sloganeering – that they are celebrating the work of this man’s hands. Tiller’s late-term abortions were described to the Kansas state legislature:

Tiller or his staff would inject a drug called digoxin through the mother’s abdomen and into the heart of the living baby, killing the child. The mother then has a dead baby in her womb for up to four days as she waits to deliver. The mothers would wait in a local hotel. When the time came to expel her dead baby one Tiller patient, Michele Armesto-Berge, told Kansas lawmakers that Tiller’s staff made her sit over and give “birth” to her dead baby into a toilet.

This is what Tiller did to countless vulnerable women and to countless viable children, children who felt pain, children who could have lived outside the womb if given the chance. If George Tiller was a martyr, he was a martyr to this.

Indeed, Martin Luther King’s niece, Alveda King, said of the comparisons of Tiller to her uncle: “to mention the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr., who worked through peaceful and nonviolent means, in the same breath with that of George Tiller, whose work ended peace and brought violence to babies in the womb, is offensive beyond belief.”

Until Sunday morning, public opinion about abortion was moving towards pro-life positions. Three recent polls confirmed that Americans’ views on abortion had shifted dramatically. One poll showed that 51 percent of Americans – an absolute majority – call themselves pro-life, and that the pro-choice designation trails by nine percentage points. Another poll showed that, even in the highly important 18-to-29-year-old demographic, pro-lifers outnumber supporters of choice. And when you drill down into the polling data, you discover that most Americans are against most of the abortions that occur each year and believe they should be made illegal.

This change has come about through advances in science and medicine that allow new mothers actually to see their developing infants. It also happened because pro-lifers have been wise and patient, and have done their work in large part quietly, head to head and heart to heart. The pro-life movement has been successful against all odds in not only keeping the issue alive despite massive opposition in the media and popular culture, but also in changing hearts and minds.

Will the murder of George Tiller halt this steady and solid progress? It’s too soon to tell. But we should brace for the possibility that a violent act committed by a mentally disturbed man (as his family describes him) will change the playing field profoundly on the most important human rights issue of our day. Abortion activists are already trying to use this crime to discredit and to thwart our efforts. Will the Obama Administration exploit this – another crisis – to try to silence our voices and further its pro-abortion agenda cloaked in “common ground” rhetoric?

Those of us in the pro-life movement know this: We are not going anywhere. We will continue to be peaceful and persistent. Even now, young people on college campuses are coming up with creative ways to advance our cause. Even now, elderly men and women are standing outside of abortion clinics praying for young women to turn around. Even now, young women are turning around, and their lives and the lives of their babies are being saved. Our work will go on.

Cathy Ruse is Senior Fellow for Legal Studies at the Family Research Council. Austin Ruse is president of the New York- and Washington DC-based C-FAM (Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute), a research institute on international social policy.

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Comments (9)Add Comment
Primum Non Nocere
written by Willie, June 12, 2009
The fact that one can engage in such convoluted thinking in referring to the martyrdom of Tiller is an example of how decadent our culture has become. What of all the doctors who daily save the lives of infants, should they be considered for sainthood? Make no mistake about it; this killer and his ilk have a lucrative trade as they confect the sacrament of abortion. People in the pre-life movement an physicians as well should be praised for exposing these monsters for what they are.He is no loss.
written by Dust, June 12, 2009
The surest sign of the malevolent presence is for those to portray evil as "good" and to proclaim good as "evil." Legalized murder is just as evil as the murder of Tiller. As Scripture says " by their fruits you shall know them".
written by debby, June 12, 2009
St. Francis of Assisi said, Preach the Gospel at all times & when necessary use words.

Thank you Austin & Cathy for an excellent piece.
We pro-Life people must preach, walk, live & love always in the Holy Spirit, remembering this is His battle and in the end, He wins. He wins hearts. He wins eternal souls.
What a gift to us to participate in His work.
Let us lift each other up in prayer, keep our eyes on His will, row the boat of Life as we are able,& leave the results up to Him.
written by Liz, June 12, 2009
This was an evil man. One of the more disturbing aspects of the abortion process at Tiller's clinic was the "memorial services" he openly offered parents after they had killed their child. Tiller even employed a chaplain at his clinic, where he offered baptisms, baptismal certificates, and mementos such as a lock of hair or "fetal footprints." The clinic also offered parents a chance to bond with the child's corpse for a little while after the abortion
written by Liz, June 12, 2009
Thou shalt not kill. God told us this. However, I am going to say what I feel a lot of people feel and are afraid to say. The world is a better place without Tiller. While I would not wish him dead and would not advocate vigilante justice, I can't help but feel it is good that he is gone and not killing any more of our children. What I had posted below is only a small portion of what was reported - read the entire report at Life Site News. This "man" was a beast.
To Liz
written by Brad Miner, June 12, 2009
Liz: TCT doesn't permit web links as such in comments (takes too much time for the editors to check them out), so I slightly edited your comments. And whereas I understand your passion, isn't the point that Tiller was, indeed, a man? Isn't that what makes his actions horrible? We wouldn't blame a beast for savagery. -Brad
written by Liz, June 13, 2009
Brad I stand corrected. Thank you. He was indeed a man & after reading the description of his actions & services at his clinic the word appalled doesn't even cover my reaction. I wanted to sit down & cry for all those poor little children & their misguided parents. BTW, I just received "The Compleat Gentleman" which my son gets this Father's Day - I loved it and as I said on another post here weeks back I am indeed married to one - he fits your descrription perfectly - I am blessed.
written by Frank in Billerica, June 14, 2009
The rich man says: “Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and wet my tongue.” No! An inaccessible abyss exists between us; no “common ground” between Heaven and Hell or good and evil in this world. No nation believes “In God We Trust” and legally kills its unborn. It is the most despicable of human rights abusers. Forget polls: America is not pro-life. Feminists canonize the epitome of women’s rights abusers, abortionists, demonstrating the depth of evil to which the their movement has sunk.
written by Christopher Mutchler, June 15, 2009
It is pathetic and a far-flung delusion to think that George Tiller became a martyr because of his stance of protecting womens' right to extinquish their unborn children. What comes to my mind is the extent our culture has gone in convincing itself that murder by any other name is not murder and that given this sinful fact has no ramifications other than some emotional distress and maybe guilty feelings but these can be easily overridden by our enlightened society.

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