The silence is almost deafening.
The other day, as I was holed up in my house during a horrendous thunderstorm, I took out some old scrapbooks and ran across a bunch of yellowed articles from the days when I ran the National Coalition of Abortion Providers. I got a little nauseous when I read the headlines in USA Today (“Abortion Doctor Murdered in Pensacola”) and other periodicals recounting the days in the mid-1990s when our doctors were being assassinated on a regular basis. I recalled how it almost got to the point where I wasn’t surprised when I got the call.
That’s how it was on the morning of October 24, 1998 when clinic owner Susan Hill (now deceased) called me and, in that sweet Southern accent, said “well, they got another one.” My pulse barely quickened, I knew exactly what she meant. I soon learned that it was Doctor Bart Slepian, a good friend who performed abortions in Buffalo. The only thing that was different this time was this doctor was in the “sanctity” of his home and was killed in front of his children. James Kopp had positioned himself in Bart’s back yard and just fired. This might not come out right, but I think somehow we had come to accept that a doctor might get murdered in their clinic which was the “battleground.” But, now, even standing in your own kitchen was not safe. Over the next few months, my young boys insisted that the blinds be drawn at night in our house. On that day, though, upon hearing the news of Bart’s death, I simply drove into my office and issued an “Emergency Alert” to our clinics across the country informing me of the latest murder of one of their colleagues. Just going through the drill.
Then, for many years, there was silence.
For almost 11 years, not one doctor was murdered by a pro-life assassin. At NCAP, our focus started to change from what kind of bullet proof vests were the best value to how to advertise your services on the Internet. The security detail at our conventions was reduced, attendees didn’t look at every stranger as a potential assailant. Oh, to be sure, at the clinics they still took precautions but you can only stay on Red Alert for so long and you start to let your guard down.
Then, the silence was shattered.
Six years ago today, on May 31, 2009, the target was Doctor George Tiller. George performed third trimester abortions in Wichita, Kansas and was shot in the head as he performed his usher duties at his local church. Shot in his church? WTF? The telephone lines burnt up that day. By that time I had left NCAP but I was still plugged in and George had been a good friend as well. On several occasions we had talked about the possibility of his being assassinated one day and while he took the threat seriously, he was not obsessed with the possibility. So, when the call came from an old friend telling me he had been killed, we cried. But despite the tears, I have to say it was not a shock. The venue was a shock, perhaps, but not the actual act. George had always been a potential target. And he knew it.
That was six years ago today.
And in those six years, not a peep.