More on Rhetoric
MORE ON RHETORIC by Judie Brown copyright 1995 American Life League, P.O. Box 1350, Stafford, VA 22555 The news On December 30, 1994, John Salvi III went on a rampage at two abortion clinics and shot seven clinic workers, killing two of them. Let's examine some of the reactions to this tragedy. Let's play a game: "Who Said This?" * "I do not in any way, form or fashion want to give the increasingly vocal lunatic fringe of the right-to-life movement a public forum to promote their vigilante views"--Bill Price, President of Texans United for Life, giving his reason for not holding a rally to observe the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade/ Doe v. Bolton decisions; instead, Price urged pro-lifers to attend memorial Masses together. * "Cardinal Mahony or Pat Robertson's saying from a pulpit that abortion takes a life in no way encourages violence at clinics. Instead of issuing wild charges against people they disagree with, Planned Parenthood might examine how much its own language of euphemism--'reproductive rights,' 'pro-choice'--has helped desensitize people faced with crisis or inconvenient pregnancies"--Colman McCarthy, Washington Post Writers Group. * "It appears that Planned Parenthood wants to rewrite the message Christians of all confessions are obligated to bring to contemporary culture. Rather than follow our faith and speak the truth that abortion is killing, they want us to follow their agenda and say perhaps 'Abortion is . . . unpleasant.' And they want the government to enforce their program of religious cleansing. "As a lawyer, an American and a Catholic, I refuse"--Keith A. Fournier, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice. Go back to basics Bill Price reacted to a heinous crime committed by a mentally deranged man, but he may well have caused a reaction in his community that could please the providers of abortion while not effectively responding to the reality of the moment. After all, the moment an abortion is committed, a child dies. Salvi's action is not a reason to forego the opportunity for public prayer for a nation badly in need of renewal. How do we respond? We cannot undo acts of madness, but we can remember why we are pro- life. If there were no child in the womb, there would be no need to mask the killing of that child in the euphemistic terms cited by Colman McCarthy; there would be no women suffering the dreadful after- effects of abortion, no fathers violently disconnected from their flesh and blood, no grandparents to weep in the wee hours of the morning over children they will never hold, never hug, never spoil. We must, in love and kindness, without anger and with charity, stand up for those who need our voices, our prayers and our presence in this world. We simply cannot stand aside, and we will not do so. No apologies, not now, not ever In closing, let me quote Mary Senander, a good writer, a staunch pro- life leader, but most of all a woman who has stood on the front lines for as long as I can remember, and has always done so with a smile: "I won't apologize for the mentally unbalanced man who killed two Brookline, Mass., abortion clinic employees. . . . There will always be someone who, for whatever reason, goes off the edge in a religious or political frenzy. "Nor will I endure taunts that antiabortion rhetoric is so inflammatory that it incites people to teeter off that edge. The authentic pro-life movement is based on unwavering reverence for life. Scripture warns, "Thou shalt not kill," even as we are admonished "to rescue those being led to slaughter." By his actions, John Salvi III disqualified himself from this movement. "Broad-brush attempts to paint prolifers as "violent" and "radical" are biased and dishonest. No one assumes that all postal workers are radical and violent because of a few who went on shooting sprees. "Besides, even if someone with a particular political or religious position goes over the edge, the resulting flak should not intimidate or distract others holding these positions. Martin Luther King was neither apologetic for nor silenced by black militants. "If something is worth standing for, it's worth standing firm."
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