Dr Tiller: What We Can Do

Sally Haslanger has sent us this excellent list of things we can do to, from Larry Blum.

A list of vigils around the country can be found at the feminist blog Feministing.

Planned Parenthood and NARAL-Pro Choice America have issued statements and calls for action.

Credo and others are calling on Bill O’Reilly to own up to inflammatory remarks he made about Tiller.

Others are encouraging donations to Medical Students for Choice so that a new generation of physicians can take up Tiller’s work to protect women’s health.

11 thoughts on “Dr Tiller: What We Can Do

  1. Thanks so much for posting this.

    I have been thinking about the Manifesto of the 343 in the last couple of days, the declaration written by Simone de Beauvoir and signed by 343 prominent women in France in 1971 who claimed to have had illegal abortions. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manifesto_of_the_343) It was largely responsible for the passing of the Veil law, decriminalizing abortion for the first time in France (in the first 10 weeks.) Many of the women who signed had not actually had abortions, but signed in solidarity with those who had, and they exposed themselves to criminal prosecution in doing so.

    In the wake of Dr. Tiller’s murder I have been shocked at how ignorant about late-term abortions most Americans are. The rhetoric eclipses the actual medical indications for the procedures, (much less the non-medical reasons women find termination necessary at a late date) and the people who are most susceptible to the black and white thinking of the rhetoric are the most ignorant of the facts.

    Dr. Tiller performed late-term abortions. He was a hero. I think this is an opportunity to stand up in solidarity and appreciation not only for him, but with the women all over America who have to face the terror and stigma directed at them for simply seeking out the appropriate medical care in what are already tragic circumstances.

    Are any philosophers (or non-philosophers) here possibly interested in walking in Simone de Beauvoir’s footsteps and providing some ethical leadership at a time of crisis? I was thinking we should create a Manifesto of the 343 for Late-Term Abortion in the U.S. I think it should be signed by women AND men, and I think it should highlight:

    -the reasons women actually seek late-term abortion. Put a face on the reasons: fetal anomaly, incompatibility with life, risk to the mother, and CHOICE.

    -that “partial-birth” rhetoric is misleading and an attack on the LIVES of American women.

    Part of what makes the rhetoric about late-term abortion so ignorant, persistent, and just WRONG, is the stigma in coming forward and women with real human faces and stories actually speaking for themselves. I am suggesting that the bulk of the signatories to this be proxy for these women, who are certainly terrified right now in the wake of the shooting.

    Is anyone interested in thinking about/collaborating on this?


  2. Amanda: This is a terrific idea! After reading Cristina Page’s piece on HuffPo, I realized that the murder of Dr. Tiller might just be the beginning. So, it’s time to take some bold steps.

    I’d be very interested in brainstorming with you about this idea! I am reluctant to post my email address but you can reach me via this form.

  3. Somebody please explain why abortion is ok! I seriously dont understand the reasons why it would be ok. Ive tried to have debates about this but they usually end up being shouting matches so please dont let it become that. I want a real debate.

  4. John, people commenting here will have quite different approaches. I actually think that a pro-choice person would probably be ill-advised to get into a debate on the issue you’ve posed, for a whole lot of reasons. It’s very vague, general, suggests a position that is independent of details about what pregnancy does and can involve, etc. A better issue would be, I think, one about who should decide whether a particular arbortion should or should not occur.

  5. Well Thank you for your reply jj, but I think you’re wrong. I think wether abortion is moral or not SHOULD be the main argument. It doesn’t matter WHO decides if people agree that an act is wrong. If one decides that abortion is immoral, one cannot be pro-choice. If one decides it is moral, then one could have an abortion. I wonder if many of the pro-choice people know what psychological pain that an abortion can cause. I know of this because someone in my family has had an abortion, and this makes me wonder why. Why? Why would this act cause emotional and pyschological pain? The only reason that I can percieve is that is goes against a person’s conscience. I believe that one should be able to defend a belief held on moral grounds. Now I know people have different morals, but I would also look at the scientific. I see no difference between an infant and a fetus besides a size difference.

  6. John, you could have a look at the book by Gazzaniga, The Ethical Brain, which discusses the question of whether the difference beween an early stage fetus and an infant is morally significant. Gazzaniga is not only a world class expert in issues about the development of the nervous system, but he was also a member of Bush’s council on bioethics. The differences between a fetus and an infant are actually pretty interesting, and even amazing. Even my anti-choice students have felt it is a valuable book from which a lot can be learned.

    About your relative: there are many, many cases in a human life where one can do the right thing and still be haunted with regret and even great sadness. Sadness and even distress are very often companions to difficult decisions. Robert Frost’s poem, The Road not Taken, is worth rereading in this regard,

    Deciding whether something is right or wrong is very often an enormously complex matter. There are very often all sorts of factors that people who think they have arrived at the right conclusion have left out. It does seem to me enormous arrogance to present oneself as knowing the comparative value of a woman’s life versus that of a fetus she is carrying. If you want to claim you can tell, then quite frankly I do not want part of that discussion.

    Let me recommend that you consider taking a course on ethics at your local community college or university. It is quite amazing to discover how some of the very best minds the human race has produced have disagreed about even basic starting points.

  7. John, if you are sincere in your desire to understand why and in what circumstances abortion is moral, I suggest you start with David Boonin’s book, A Defense of Abortion (Cambridge, 2003).

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