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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Aborting personal ideologies

Sacha Baron Cohen joked about abortion on "Da Ali G Show" back in 2003. He beat boxed an abortion remix, laughed at a virgin who practiced abstinence, asked a priest if he wore condoms during sex and compared trying out abortion with sampling the flame-broiled Whopper at Burger King.
Hilarity aside, abortion is no joking matter.
Growing up, we're taught to stick up for what we believe in. At what point, however, should societal norms supersede one's personal ideologies?
If you posed that question to Scott Roeder, he would tell you never.
On May 31, 2009, Roeder shot and killed physician George Tiller at a church in Wichita, Kan. during a Sunday morning service. Although this is clearly a reprehensible crime, Roeder saw it as a noble act.
"The entire motive was the defense of the unborn," Roeder said.
Tiller, who was the medical director at the Women's Health Care clinic in Wichita, was no stranger to controversy. He was one of the few physicians in America that performed late-term abortions and was the subject of much scrutiny throughout the years that he was in practice.
In fact, in 1993, anti-abortion activist Shelley Shannon shot Tiller five times, resulting in wounds in each arm, in an attempt to take his life. Irony aside – because yes, a pro-life advocate attempting murder is quite backwards – there is a serious issue here: people take their personal beliefs way too far.
This isn't the first incident of its kind. Anti-abortion violence against physicians has been fairly common in America ever since the Supreme Court made its Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973.
During a protest in 1993, Michael Griffin murdered Dr. David Gunn and is currently serving a life sentence in Florida. A year later, Reverend Paul Jennings Hill was put to death after he shot Dr. John Britton and his clinic escort, James Barrett, to death. A little more recently, and a lot closer to home, Dr. Barnett Slepian was killed in his home in Amherst, N.Y. by James Koop in 1998.
And the worst part about all of these cases is that none of the murderers felt remorse after their crime. In their eyes, they were doing society a favor.
Much of the anti-abortion violence stems from traditional religious views and there are even groups that openly support such vehement acts. Army of God is a Christian American terrorist organization that promotes violence to prevent abortions. They have vandalized, bombed and set fire to hundreds of clinics while trying to get their point across.
There is some sort of My-religion-is-the-right-religion hubris that has plagued the human race throughout history. People are raised with specific beliefs, but worst of all, they are also taught to stand up for what is "right." The problem, however, is that sometimes there is no "right."
I view religion more as a societal invention to get people to behave a certain way and less as the definitive truth about the world, but there are some extremely pious people whose faith blinds them. Of course I am religiously tolerant and don't blame people for finding sanctity in the Bible, Torah and Qur'an (to name only a few), but strong ideologies – often times religious ones – can be very dangerous.
To be honest, I don't see the difference between anti-abortion violence and the atrocities of September 11th, the Mumbai attacks and even the countless cruelties that the Ku Klux Klan has committed. In all of these cases, personal views clouded peoples' ability to act rationally.
I'm not implying that we need to be a secular nation, but we do need to think before we act, even when we're positive that we're right. Personal ideologies can be extremely dangerous, especially when they lead to violent actions.
Some feel that Roeder's rage was justified because abortion is morally wrong. In fact, while in jail, Roeder received encouraging letters from people across the nation expressing their support for his actions.
Pro-life and pro-choice aside, isn't it scary when people can justify murder? A well-known physician was shot in the head during a church service in front of his family because he performed perfectly legal medical procedures.
It is definitely important to stand up for your beliefs, but it is more important to choose your battles wisely. Don't let the My-religion-is-the-right-religion hubris get the best of you, because we've seen where that can lead us.

E-mail: andrew.wiktor@ubspectrum.com


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