Okay. This one may piss off a bunch of my friends, but here it goes…
We recently commemorated the one year anniversary of the murder of Doctor George Tiller. And I think it’s kind of sucky that a number of national pro-choice organizations used the occasion to try to raise money “in honor” of this wonderful man. For example, just go to the NARAL Pro Choice America website and look at the first page. In big bold letters, there it is for all to see: “Donate in Memory of Doctor Tiller.” Then, towards the top of the page in smaller letters is another fundraiser: “Buy the ‘Trust Women’ wristband….”
In the early 1990’s, a handful of independent abortion providers got together in Washington, D.C. to form the National Coalition of Abortion Providers. Doctor Tiller was not in the original group but he quickly joined the organization. One of the main reasons why NCAP was formed was the concern that the major pro-choice groups were not representing the unique interests of abortion providers and, worse, were reluctant to associate with the doctors and the staff who actually performed the abortions. Oh, sure, they’d take their donations contributions but ask them to testify before Congress? No way. “They make their money off of abortions, so their testimony would be tainted,” one pro-choice leader told me years ago.
After NCAP was formed (to the chagrin of several pro-choice groups), abortion providers became much more vocal and aggressive. They embarked on a campaign urging their colleagues to not shy away from the “A” word. Doctor Tiller was part of that effort. Still, over the years, the groups not only continued to avoid talking about abortion but they took steps to get as far away from the issue as possible. For example, the organization that was formerly known as the National Abortion Rights Action League changed its name to the less strident “NARAL Pro Choice America.” It was always my feeling that they did that in the hope that over time people will totally forget what “NARAL” stood for and so the word “abortion” would be totally obfuscated.
Meanwhile, George Tiller and his colleagues were out there on the front lines, being unapologetic about performing abortions, sending their message through NCAP and, to some extent, the National Abortion Federation.
And now that George is dead, they are using his memory to raise money. It makes my stomach flip-flop a little, but it’s hard to articulate why. After all, I am sure that George gave money to all the groups but…
I am reminded of an incident that occurred soon after the murder of Doctor David Gunn in Pensacola in 1993. I was sitting in a restaurant in New York City with Doctor Gunn’s son, David Gunn, Jr., just before he was scheduled to do a major television interview. It was about 6 days after his father’s murder. Waiting for our coffee, I started skimming the New York Times and on the fifth or sixth page there was a full page advertisement sponsored by a major pro-choice group with a picture of Doctor Gunn and a headline that read something like “He Died to Protect Your Rights.” And, of course, it was asking for contributions for some kind of abortion provider “protection fund.” I folded the paper and handed it to David.
“Well, David, so it begins.”
David looked at the ad and started to choke up. He then said, “Who said they could do this? I didn’t give them permission. Geez, my Dad didn’t even like __________ (the national organization).”
Of course, there was nothing David, Jr. could do about the ad and we ultimately heard it raised an incredible amount of money. And it also inspired David, Jr. to do an ad for the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, the association that his father was actually associated with. Unfortunately, by the time that ad was done, other groups had jumped on the bandwagon and basically tapped out all the contributions.
Over the years, each time another doctor was killed, there were bets within the abortion provider community as to which pro-choice group would be the first to get an ad out asking for money.
And so, David, Jr., it continues.