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Struggle for reproductive justice continues

Published Feb 6, 2010 8:30 AM

Abortion provider’s murderer convicted

Anti-abortion zealot Scott Roeder was convicted in Wichita, Kan., on Jan. 29 of the cold-blooded murder of Dr. George R. Tiller, a fearless, caring physician who performed abortions for women in desperate circumstances, while enduring great personal risk and paying the ultimate sacrifice. Roeder testified that after he had stalked Dr. Tiller for months, Roeder walked into the church where Dr. Tiller served as an usher and shot him in the face at close range on May 31.

The jury took only 37 minutes to find Roeder guilty of first-degree murder with a sentence of life in prison. Some of the more rabid anti-abortion groups called the trial a “sham” because the judge did not allow the jury to consider a sentence of voluntary manslaughter, which the state of Kansas defines in part as “an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force.”

The pro-choice community unanimously praised the verdict, affirming that Roeder’s conviction sent a powerful message to anti-abortion fanatics intent on killing abortion providers. Eight murders and 17 attempted murders have occurred in the U.S. since 1993.

The National Organization for Women, whose members have been attacked and harassed while defending women’s health clinics, volunteered to work with national agencies to identify anti-abortion terrorists who aid — and may someday emulate — hate-mongering, religious extremists like Roeder.

Unfortunately, calls by the pro-choice community for a thoroughgoing investigation of anti-abortion domestic terrorism have been ignored by both Republican and Democratic administrations. In fact, it’s rarely if ever discussed in those terms by the corporate media, which never lose an opportunity to promote the so-called “war on terrorism” elsewhere in the world.

Super Bowl hypocrisy protested

What does an advertisement celebrating childbearing have to do with football? Nothing really — unless you want to reach a guaranteed audience of 98 million during the Super Bowl. That’s why Focus on the Family, a prominent evangelical organization whose purpose is to promote political change in line with its anti-abortion, anti-gay and pro-Israel values, has prepared a 30-second ad called “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life,” which CBS agreed to air during the Super Bowl for $2.5 million.

The ad features Tim Tebow, a well-known Heisman-Trophy-winning quarterback, and his missionary mom, Pam, who recounts how when she fell ill while pregnant with Tim in the Philippines, doctors told her to get an abortion but she “chose life” instead and had a strapping, talented football hero son.

While the pro-choice community has called on CBS to cancel the anti-abortion ad, several other factors have come to light. One is that feminist attorney Gloria Allred is questioning the truth of Pam Tebow’s claims, noting that abortion has been illegal since 1930 in the Philippines, where doctors found guilty of doing abortions can be sentenced to six years in jail. Besides denouncing the ad as biased propaganda, Allred wrote a letter to CBS detailing why the ad might violate federal law banning misleading advertising. (www.chattahbox.com, Jan. 30)

While CBS in the past turned down “advocacy” ads from MoveOn, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the United Church of Christ (showing lesbian, gay, trans, bi and queer people were welcome there), it claims to have recently changed its policy to include “reasonable” advocacy ads. But its blatant hypocrisy was revealed when it turned down a humorous ad by ManCrunch.com, a dating site for gay men, and an ad by GoDaddy, a domain name search site.

Which is it, CBS? You’re “reasonable” enough to bank millions from anti-gay, anti-choice Focus on the Family, but not greedy enough to accept ad dollars from gay men? Or is all fair in TV advertising and capitalism?