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03 June 2009 @ 10:18 pm
kill for life?  
this is my latest blog post from www.nowms.org

jenni smith, president of MS NOW and nancy kohsin-kintigh, director of the jackson women's health organization

this is a difficult post to write, as it is a very difficult time. this past sunday may 30th dr. george tiller was viciously murdered in his church during the service as he served as an usher. by now most everyone has heard about this horrific act of violence. sunday was a blur of at first shock followed by disbelief, sadness and then activity. the fact that Jackson Women's Health Organization director Nancy Kohsin-Kintigh had to begin organizing a press conference when she should have been allowed to grieve the loss of her friend is just the tip of the indignity that the act of a gunman who was clearly out of his mind caused.

i'm not even going to try to hide the fact that i am angry.

i am angry that a movement that claims to be protecting life would take it. i am angry that these organizations will immediately (20 minutes after the act? really?) condemn the action but remind people that dr. tiller was "a mass murderer". whether or not they want to admit it, these pro-life organizations nurture and create killers like the man that took dr. tiller away from his family, his friends, and the women that he helped each day. i believe that organizations like operation rescue are directly responsible for the murder of dr. tiller.

these groups want to say that abortion is murder. ok, well what is murder? if anyone reads my blogs here and elsewhere you probably already know that i am a "wordie". i perhaps just made that up right now but it's like "foodie". i love words. so when i begin a thought or a blog post that has something to do with a word i start at the beginning - let's take a look at what the word means so that we can truly begin to understand it. let's start at the source. because words can get perverted, their meaning can be changed by popular culture, by incorrect usage, by slang, by any number of things. so before i go any further let's look for a second at the word: murder.

according to the random house dictionary which is used on the website dictionary.com murder is defined as: "the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law." or to be more specific look at what wikipedia has to say about murder: "Murder, as defined in common law</a> countries, is the unlawful killing of another human being with intent</a> (or malice aforethought</a>), and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide</a>." so murder is something unlawful aka against the law, and as we all know abortion is NOT against the law it is legal. so when groups like operation rescue call dr. tiller a "mass murderer" what they are really doing is using inflaming language to incite people who are anti-abortion. incite them to what? well, we already know the answer to that don't we?

the truth is abortion is a tricky subject in the united states, and especially here in the south. in mississippi we have left today only one abortion clinic in the entire state. i had the opportunity to spend all day yesterday in the MS Dept of Archives & History reading room with our Starkville NOW President izzy pellegrine who is doing research on a personal project involving abortion in the state. as we looked at newspaper clippings beginning in 1975 a shocking pattern became clear: since roe v. wade the anti-abortion activists have had the exact same argument and so have we. a quote that we read from the 1980s could easily have been followed by the name "Jenni Smith" instead of the name of the then-President of MS NOW. izzy and i both remarked on that. the question became what have we been doing for the last 36 years? well i know what izzy and i have been doing, neither of us were born in 1973; but what have the feminists, the pro-choice movement been doing the last 36 years? because somehow we aren't changing any minds.

it's true that it's hard to argue with religion. we can obviously, and have and do, but how do you change the mind of someone who has a closed mind? you can't and it's clear that we are not. how do you identify an extremist? that actually is not so hard. it's easy to spot a ticking time bomb, just not so easy to see when he or she will go off. the new york times magazine featured a jackson area activist back in october of 1994. in her cover story "kill for life?" lisa belkin profiled "rev" roy mcmillan and his wife beverly. in the piece federal marshalls walk dr. booker into the now-defunct new woman medical center in jackson, to prevent mcmillan from killing him. fifteen years and the faces haven't changed. neither have the sides that they are on. in that same story it states: "The day after Britton [an abortion doctor in florida that was killed by mcmillan's personal friend paul hill] was shot, Booker's security guard says he heard McMillan shout, "You could be next, Booker."

what sense does it make to kill for "life"? it makes no sense in my mind but it's apparent that the people that do believe that the end justifies the means. kill an abortionist and you stop abortions. that's short-sighted in that another doctor will take the place of the doctor you kill. it's also short-sighted in that the same people who want to "save babies" have no interest in making sure that they have food or health care after they are born. this is what has always boggled my mind: the exact same people who stand outside the abortion clinics with their signs featuring mangled fetuses or whatever they claim to be "murdered babies" are also the people that want to do away with medicaid and welfare. as soon as the baby can breathe on its own it must fend for itself, literally. they want to protect it in the womb but they don't want their tax dollars to help pay for food for it to eat or insurance to get it shots or doctor's visits once it goes to wherever it will go to try and survive.

an unwanted child will not be nurtured. it will not be loved, it will not be adequately cared for, but that doesn't seem to matter to roy mcmillan and the other thousands of pro-"life" activists around the country. what about the babies that are killed? left for dead by teenage mothers that do not and never wanted them? why would you kill for an infant to live for ten or fifteen days of abuse before it is smothered and left in a dumpster? they scream "let us help you love your baby!" but how do they do that? they don't. they only want to confuse and intimidate young women past the point that they can obtain a legal abortion.

i know i tend to go on, and honestly with this subject i could go on and on. perhaps i will make this a series of blog posts. i want to end this post and leave you with this true story. a few months ago a friend and i were on a bench swing enjoying the sunshine at laurel street park in the belhaven area of jackson. it was a pretty day so the park was full of children and their care-takers enjoying the warmth, and one heterosexual couple swinging on the swings. a man entered the park a short time after we arrived with four african american children. something tugged on the back of my mind, but i wasn't sure what. i think i recognized the hat that he wore but all i thought to myself somewhat unconsciously was "that man doesn't look like he would have four adopted black children."

my friend and i continued our conversation until the man in the funny white hat approached us. he looked at my friend and said "do you know where i met these children?" she was a little confused and laughed but said "where?" he then began to tell us a story. it was about that time that i realized who the man was, "rev" roy mcmillan. i recognized his distinctive hat because i passed him each day on the way to work, he held up signs that said things like "abortion is black genocide" on the corner of state st and fondren place, the corner that he could stand on given the restraining order. i realized that he must've seen the bumper stickers on my car "pro-child, pro-choice, every child a wanted child", "i'll be post-feminist in the post-patriarchy" and my HRC sticker and by process of elimination decided that of all the people in the park she and i would be the ones driving that car. he told us a story of a young woman who was homeless, living in her car with her four children. she had no job, no way to work with so many young children, and had no home for them except a car. she came to jackson to have an abortion because she was pregnant with her fifth child. he interceded and talked her out of having an abortion, he helped them find a place in a homeless shelter. (i imagine simms house. i know it because a friend lived there for a time and i have issues with their policies.) the baby was born on christmas day, a little girl. his voice was oddly calm and his demeanor was frankly a bit creepy even before i realized who he was. at that point one of the children ran over and told mcmillan that he had to go to the bathroom. mcmillan replied "that's ok. we are going to chuck-e-cheese now." and wandered away as inexplicably as he had wandered over. my friend looked at me confused and said "what was that?" i said "that was roy mcmillan."

what i took from that conversation is this. there is no ounce of common sense in convincing a woman who lives in her car with four children to have another child she does not want and bring it into homelessness and poverty. when it comes right down to it the reason that i am pro-choice is this: it is hard to raise a child even under the best circumstances. children deserve love. if you love a child he or she may never notice that they grow up in poverty, but they deserve to be loved and wanted. when someone does not want a child they do not treat them with love or respect. no child deserves to be abused. i can tell you stories of friends and acquaintances that you would think came from a lifetime original movie. no 8 year old girl should be pimped out by her father for money. no one should have their arm broken by a father when they make too much noise. children should be loved and wanted and i do not think that anyone should be forced to carry and raise a child that they do not want. abortion is still legal in this country and i will give my own blood to see that it remains so, but i don't think that anyone should have to die for doing something that is LEGAL, that is OPTIONAL, and that women seek out because they WANT and NEED it.

photos by vickie d. king of the clarion ledger

girl feels: sadsad