I DIDN'T kill George Tiller.
Neither did Bill O'Reilly, Randall Terry, Pope Benedict or the little old lady praying the rosary outside Planned Parenthood.
So to all of the pro-choice advocates and their sympathizers in the media, drop the collective guilt trip, OK? Because the myth that the pro-life movement bears any responsibility for Tiller's death is on par with the fairy tale that most abortions are performed to protect a woman's health.
Just because I abhorred Tiller's chosen medical specialty, which resulted in the termination of close to 60,000 pregnancies over his three-decade career, doesn't mean I sought his demise in any way. Of course, you'd never know that from the way the press and assorted interest groups have reacted.
The manipulation began the minute the news came out of Kansas. First was the nomenclature - the conspicuous absence of the word "abortionist." Tiller was described as an "abortion provider" (when he wasn't being canonized as a martyr). When is the last time a dentist was described as a "root-canal provider?" Or a cosmetic surgeon described as a "breast-enhancement provider"? Or a shrink as a "peace of mind provider"?
Apparently, "abortionist" still conjures up unsavory images of back alleys and bloody hangers, so the powers that be decided to sanitize the whole issue and present Tiller as the Albert Schweitzer of the (another great euphemism) "reproductive-health" movement.
Which brings me to the next bit of manipulation. Ignoring the fact that Tiller made a more than healthy living plying his trade, women's-rights activists waxed poetic about his "heroic" work on behalf of the most vulnerable.
They portrayed his now-defunct clinic, one of only three in the country providing partial-birth abortions, as a stop on the underground railroad for victims of reproductive oppression.
But this "hero" made a very healthy living answering his calling. And while his murder and the fact that the cowardly act was committed in the house of God are both true tragedies, it's dishonest to try to paint Tiller as heroic, especially to those who believe that this physician violated the most basic tenets of the Hippocratic oath.
But - and it's an extremely important "but" - that doesn't mean we wanted him dead.
Which brings me to the next bit of hypocrisy in the Tiller saga. The man who murdered Tiller, Scott Roeder, is a criminal. He is to my mind an evil man. Every pro-lifer I know feels exactly the same way.
We may not have liked what Tiller did, but we absolutely didn't want to see him dead. Roeder was not one of us. He was a psychopath, a man whose demented mind led him to commit a crime that is, essentially, the antithesis of what the pro-life movement represents.
But that's not the way it's being played on the editorial pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post and our sister paper here in Philadelphia. Somehow, Tiller's blood is on the hands of all of us who ever wore a rose in our lapel, protested in front of an abortion clinic, criticized Roe v. Wade or sent money to crisis pregnancy centers.
WHICH IS really interesting because those same opinion pages loudly lamented any demonization of Muslim-Americans after 9/11. They were appalled that a whole group of people could be blamed for the criminal acts of 19 men. They took great pains to call Islam a religion of peace and distinguish it from the violence of extremists.
And they condemned guilt-by-association.
They've even downplayed the fact that the killer of a soldier outside of an army recruitment center was a Muslim convert who spent time in that favorite vacation destination for budding terrorists: Yemen.
But when it comes to the pro-life movement, there isn't the same attention to detail.
Sure, they threw us a bone and acknowledged that Operation Rescue denounced "vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place." But the consensus was that if pro-lifers had just used nicer language when describing Tiller, he'd still be alive today. Guess there's no difference to them whether we're holding rosaries, or guns. *
Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer.