Dr. Tiller week and the arrival of Justice For All

They’re back. One week shy of the first anniversary of the murder of Dr. George Tiller by a pro-life activist, the anti-choice outfit known as Justice For All has returned to the Pasadena City College campus, bringing with them their colossal graphic images purporting to show aborted fetuses. JFA, staffed mostly by earnest young students from Christian colleges, spent three days on campus last year. Many of my students were traumatized; on a campus where there are thousands of women who will have chosen abortion, the displays are cruel and misleading.

I urge folks to engage with the protesters only if they feel they must. I’m much more concerned with the emotional well-being of my students, particularly those who have undergone abortions themselves. I make my office available to them for conversation, and ask them to reach out to others, particularly in our strong and growing campus feminist community.

For those who do wish to argue with the pro-lifers, I always recommend asking them the famous question: “How much jail time should a woman do for having an abortion?” I recommend that they videotape the answer they receive. If they get the standard right-wing dodge that says “We don’t support jailing women who have abortions, because we think that they are victims too; we only want to go after doctors”, I suggest my students point out that that stance infantilizes women, calling into question their fitness to parent in the first place.

I am told Justice For All will be on campus for four days this week. In honor of Dr. Tiller, in honor of my own recent birthday and in honor of my wife and daughter and women everywhere, I’m giving $43 to pro-choice organizations for each day that the JFA display disfigures our campus.

Today’s $43.00 goes to the National Network of Abortion Funds.
Tomorrow’s $43.00 will go to Medical Students for Choice.
Wednesday’s $43.00 will go to Planned Parenthood.
Thursday’s $43.00 will go to Advocates for Youth.

I invite my current and former students in particular — and all others — to join me in this campaign for reproductive justice. Other worthy organizations besides those four named above include the National Abortion Federation, Feminist Majority, and Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice.

Like the great Dr. Tiller, I am a father, a husband, a feminist, and I trust women. My contribution to justice has been far less than his, but I want my name associated with his, and ask that those who would curse his name do the same with mine. And I ask that those who support and trust women, who believe that their wives and mothers and sisters and daughters deserve choices and sovereignty, join me in giving this week in his honor.

Here’s my post from last year, written the day Dr. Tiller was shot: ”When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die”: of a doctor, an usher, and the answerer of a call.

8 thoughts on “Dr. Tiller week and the arrival of Justice For All

  1. It was reassuring to see this post. Just a few weeks ago, the same group came to my campus at the University of Delaware. I was extremely disturbed. They came to campus displaying images of lynchings, concentration camps, swastikas, etc., claiming that abortion should be equated with these tragedies. Bear in mind, they came during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and also the week after Holocaust Remembrance! It was extremely insensitive, to the point of cruelty!

    I consider myself to be both pro-choice and pro-life in that I doubt I could bring myself to have an abortion, and part of me wishes that other women wouldn’t have them quite as frequently as they seem to…However, there is a feeling in my gut that we deserve to have the choice, and that the woman needs to go through the process of deciding what is best for her child and herself. I believe in that quite firmly, for reasons that I can’t even express.

    I would say that I’m a pretty open-minded individual, so when this group came to campus, although I was involved in the pro-choice protest, I did make an effort to go to the side-lines and have a civil conversation with one of the gentlemen in charge. I told him exactly how I felt about the graphic display, and that it criminalizes women who are going through a difficult time in their lives; not to mention, I felt that the images exploited victims of the Holocaust and other global genocides. To this, the man responded that the doctors are to blame. A close relative of mine was a practicing OB-GYN, and he has performed abortions. It was a difficult thing for him- perhaps just as difficult as it was for his patients to choose to abort a fetus (a different kind of difficulty, undoubtedly). In any case, doctors take a hippocratic oath and need to protect their patients in whatever way they can. On the one hand, you could claim that the doctor violates that oath by aborting a fetus…but when a child is brought into a harsh world with parents who are unable to care for it, then did the doctor do his/her job to protect that child?
    I’m not saying that this is a black and white situation, but my point is that it hurts a lot to hear these people accuse doctors of something that is a very difficult decision whose ethical answer is unclear.

    To top it all off, I told the man that although I wouldn’t have an abortion, I didn’t think it would be right for me to inflict my personal view on other women. The man, in so many words, basically responded that I was assisting in genocide by being supportive of women who have abortions. Needless to say, I’ve lost a lot of sleep over this!

  2. Rachel, and here’s the thing. You don’t have to be comfortable with abortion to recognize the consequences of giving in to the voices that want to ban access to it.

    I’ve been responsible for abortion, as I’ve written about before. I have paid for abortions for girls in my youth group who were, as the phrase goes, “in trouble”. I give money to support abortion rights worldwide. And I love my daughter. I am not a hypocrite. I am a believer, a passionate and unrelenting believer, in women — and women’s right to be sovereign over their flesh.

  3. Rachel,

    “To top it all off, I told the man that although I wouldn’t have an abortion, I didn’t think it would be right for me to inflict my personal view on other women. The man, in so many words, basically responded that I was assisting in genocide by being supportive of women who have abortions.”

    I felt the need to respond to this. NO, NO, NO…you were/are not assisting in genocide by being supportive of women who have abortions. This is so UNTRUE and outright lies. I really hope you know that. He was very wrong to say that to you.

    For what is it worth I, too am very disgusted by the disturbing images and by the misleading displays of the anti-choice outfit Justice For All. Their tactics are particularly insensitive and yes, very cruel to say the least.

    I’m definitely pro-choice and fully support women’s right to make their own decisions regarding their reproductive choices—it’s the only compassionate response to make. I don’t consider myself pro-abortion as so many anti-choice groups try to suggest. That demonstrates black/white thinking and is very misleading. And yes, it’s wrong for them to characterize doctors as murderers.

    I think few people are pro-abortion, whatever that means. I think the compassionate response is one that acknowledges just how hard the decision is for many women to make and the last thing they need is to feel singled out or made to feel like they are criminals or to have harsh judgments imposed on them. No, they need emotional support, compassion and empathy and you are certainly not wrong for offering that to them, despite your own personal views.

  4. I wish we could make abortion a non political issue. I too am 100% behind the government staying out of my “flesh”, be it abortion, marijuana, or McDonalds.

    Yet, we just handed “them” the power to oversee our healthcare.

  5. I don’t see why one has to think abortion is a great thing to think it should be legal. So what if there are disgusting images? I’m disgusted by politicians lying? Should that be illegal too? Should people picking their nose at a restaurant be illegal? I don’t mean to trivialize it, but legal and agreeable and legal and moral are not the same things.

    I’m not a fan of late-term abortions, but I am a fan of Dr. Tiller, because I believe most of the women who came to him for late-term abortions had good reasons for getting those abortions. More importantly, even if you believe abortion is wrong, shooting (and killing) someone in church cannot be right.

  6. I don’t need anyone to be a fan of my ‘choice’. Dr. Tiller’s murder is a tragedy. Dr. Tiller performed a service, much like a heart surgeon performs a service. I am a ‘fan’ of anyone who provides a service I am in need of. I am in complete disagreement with the pro-abortion groups who use this as a political tool painting all pro-life people as crazy cold blooded murderers. It is extremism from both sides.

    However one wants to look at it, losing a life is a tragedy. Abortion is a personal moral issue, and should not be a political/polarizing one. I am painfully aware of the astounding hypocrisy both sides of this moral dilemma are capable of.

    “It was reassuring to see this post. Just a few weeks ago, the same group came to my campus at the University of Delaware. I was extremely disturbed. They came to campus displaying images of lynchings, concentration camps, swastikas, etc., claiming that abortion should be equated with these tragedies. Bear in mind, they came during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and also the week after Holocaust Remembrance! It was extremely insensitive, to the point of cruelty!”

    Rachel: Not everything in life is pretty and tied with bows. Nature IS cruel. Perhaps, if these protesters are carnivores,or wear leather and wool, you could offend them back by showing a photo of a wolf tearing apart a baby lamb ripped from the from the live mother’s womb. Of course, YOU don’t eat meat, or wear animal, do you? Those ranchers aren’t ‘raising’ sheep/cattle for you! (I know, wolves are not ‘moral’. But as your post points out, humans are/ should be, yet genocide is still going on…).

    Where does the moralizing/extremism stop?

  7. Hey, Hugo. Justice For All was the group that was picketing at UT Austin when my source was able to sweet talk one of the protesters into handing over their handbook. Here’s the article I wrote about it. Like I said then, the two dominant themes were a) bitches ain’t shit and b) since we can’t win with the truth, tell lies. I still have this handbook. My source who got it didn’t lie or anything about who he was. He said the protester seemed like a sad, lonely guy who was happy to have anyone be nice to him.

    The handbook is really geared towards taking people like that—maybe not so bright, often resentful of women and certainly resentful of people of the hope and burgeoning sexuality of the young people they target—and guiding them through what’s essentially a series of lies in order to hoodwink people who challenge them. I would suggest that students only challenge them if they are willing to stay calm when faced with the frustrating sex resentment and misogyny, and realize that the first 10 things they say to you are functionally lies. But if you keep pressing them on what they really think, you can often get them to open up. I suggest pressing on the subject of contraception.

  8. It’s also worth noting that JFA often passes itself off as a “student organization”, but they are run by adults and their on campus presence is usually nothing. I suspect they get away with the special treatment by threatening to sue.

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