Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the anniversary of the terrible murder of Dr. Tiller. This event was a horrible tragedy, no doubt as painful to truly pro-life individuals as the death of a single unborn child. If we value all life, than surely Dr. Tiller’s life is valuable as well. Though he was guilty of horrific deeds, it is never right to take another human being’s life.
Tiller’s murderer no doubt thought that he was helping the pro-life cause by eliminating one of its most infamous opponents. However, this act set the pro-life movement back by providing the media with yet another depiction of the entire movement based on one misguided individual. The anniversary of the murder does, however, provide us with an opportunity to remember why non-violence is so important in the pro-life movement.
In his essay “The Ways of Meeting Oppression,” Dr. Martin Luther King lays out the three most common ways of responding to an injustice in the world. The first is to resign to the fact that nothing is going to change. With the pervasiveness of the pro-abortion opinion in the media, this can be a tempting fiction. Sometimes it seems, thanks to the mainstream media, that everyone in the world is pro-abortion, so what is the point of fighting for life? King reminds us that “noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.” The members of the pro-life community need to take inspiration from their leaders and peers and continue to fight for justice.
The second way to meet oppression, relevant to our earlier discussion, is solving injustice through violent means. The argument for this sort of method is usually a mathematical one. If we can harm one abortionist, we save thousands of babies. Obviously there are major flaws in this line of thinking, beyond the simple fact that every life is invaluable. For one, the abortionist will often simply be replaced by others. Secondly, and more importantly, the person who takes a life states, through action, that sometimes the means of taking a life are justified by some other end. You will recognize the same argument in our opposition. King points out that violence “thrives on anger, not on love,” and that “it creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.” Violence harms the perpetrator as well as the victim.
The third way, and the way that King advocated throughout his life, is nonviolent resistance. This is the true heart of the pro-life movement. This is the prayer vigils outside of clinics. This is the rational discussions with pro-abortion individuals who eventually change their minds. King’s discussion about the struggle between the races is relevant to members of the pro-life movement, as well. I will leave you with his words: “In the end, it is not a struggle between people at all, but a tension between justice and injustice. Nonviolent resistance is not aimed against oppressors but against oppression. Under its banner consciences…are enlisted.”