Colleague and friend Udo Schuklenk agreed to do a guest post/cross-link from his blog about the recent murder of physician George Tilly:
The religious ideologies that triggered the murder of Tiller (and, in the past, others like him) want their adherents to subscribe to the view that from the moment of biological conception (marriage and all, you know the drill) the developing embryonic cell mass is of infinite value and should be treated as if it was a person. Well, persons - all other things being equal - are usually seen to have a right to life. At a minimum this is understood as a negative right, ie I must not interfere with such a person's right to life (by way of killing that person).
Let me be clear: I do think the view that something that has no central nervous system, that has no capacity to suffer, and that has no higher brain function has a right to life, makes no sense at all. What harm could possibly have been done to such a thing if it is destroyed? None at all, at least as far as I can see. It is for that reason that I reject the idea that we should treat the developing embryonic cell mass from the moment of conception as if it was a person. After all, it isn't a person, so why bother? It's a bit like saying that I should treat the leader of the opposition as if she was the leader of government. She might have the potential to be the next leader of government, but right now she is not. I surely cannot smuggle the right to be treated as if you were the leader of government into the potential to become the leader of government. A lot of potential things never eventuate (eg my potential to be an astronaut will not ever be realised).
However, and here is where I am troubled about this matter. IF someone really holds the barmy view that the embryonic cell mass after conception is infinitely valuable and should be treated as if it was a person from that moment onwards, it is only logical that you consider abortions murder. In turn it is perfectly reasonable for such a person to treat abortion providing health care professionals as if they were murderers. Surely it is not unreasonable (from such a person's perspective) to try to prevent further murders from happening. Ergo it should not come as a big surprise that Doctor Tiller was murdered by a 'good citizen' trying to prevent further murders at the hands of the good doctor.
So, the pro-life crowd's handwaving along the lines that the murderer is not one of theirs, makes not much sense. The ideology they propagate leads, to my mind inevitably so, to the killing of people like Tiller. Freedom of speech seemingly covers Catholic propaganda ministers freedom to spout lies about a supposedly ongoing 'genocide', whereby the deliberately and mistakenly refer to blobs of cells as 'children'. IF you really believe that propaganda, surely it's not unreasonable to conclude that in order to stop the genocide the perpetrators of the genocide must be stopped. Killing one person (eg Dr Tiller) is clearly seen by some of those on the pro-life side as the lesser of two evils. They are only able to reach this conclusion, however, because the church hierarchy continues to propagate outrageous nonsense about 'genocide' and 'holocaust' and whatnot when it comes to abortion. This is where the blame for Tiller's murder as well as that of others like him squarely belongs. You shouldn't be too surprised if some people at least do actually fall for your agitprop.