In the aftermath of Dr. George Tiller's murder many people have asked whether anti-abortion rhetoric constitutes "hate speech" or an "incitement to terrorism." This rhetoric includes language describing abortion as a form of violence, as torture, an attack on innocent life, executing a child, killing, baby-killing, murder, child murder, mass murder, like slavery, a genocide, a holocaust, worse than any holocaust.
But whether or not it is hate speech, and whether or not it can be linked directly to the murder of Dr. Tiller and other abortion providers, it is language that reveals a frightening degree of anger, disrespect for and hostility not only to the people who perform abortions but also to those who have abortions -- pregnant women.
As National Advocates for Pregnant Women's video, Pregnant Women and Mothers Deserve Better explains, when individuals and organizations use this language -- "violence," "torture," "an attack on innocent life," "executing a child," "killing," "baby-killing," "murder," "child murder," "mass murder," "like slavery," "genocide," "holocaust," "worse than any holocaust" -- they are not just describing a procedure or the small number of doctors who provide women with abortion services. They are also talking about the millions of pregnant women who have had and will continue to have abortions, whether or not there are any doctors left alive to provide them safely.
Who are the millions of "murderous" women who have abortions? Sixty-one percent of women having abortions are already mothers. By the age of 45, 84% of all women in U.S. will have become pregnant and given birth and 43% will have had an abortion.
In other words, the women who have abortions are overwhelmingly mothers.
So we need to ask -- do the people who use this language really think the mothers who have had abortions are the same as, or worse than, those who carry out torture, kill children, and commit mass-murder? This question applies to TV personalities like Bill O'Reilly, to mainstream organizations like the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops and to peaceful picketers like those who protested President Obama when he gave the commencement speech at Notre Dame.
NAPW believes that the pregnant women who have abortions, who suffer miscarriages, who give birth, who raise children, and who love their families deserve better.
It is time for all those who care about pregnant women and mothers -- whatever their views on abortion -- to write, call, and, demonstrate against individuals, organizations, and institutions that use this language. It is time to explain why you think it is wrong to equate pregnant women and mothers with Hitler. Here are some things you can do:
Regardless of your point of view about abortion, it is time to ask your spiritual, religious, and political leaders to give a sermon or speech explaining the difference between the personal decisions women and their families make and government sponsored genocide. While some women do feel that an abortion ends a life, or at least a potential life, they know that their individual and very private decisions and circumstances are not the same as decisions to carry out state-sponsored genocide. Government protection of private decision-making is not the same as government authorized military action against particular groups of people. Implying that the decisions individual women make to have abortions is the same or worse than genocide is a form of holocaust denying and it should stop.
Regardless of your point of view about abortion, it is time to ask your spiritual, religious, and political leaders to explain the difference between pregnancy and slavery. People can oppose abortion without equating pregnant women to slave holders and their personal decisions with the institution of slavery. Claiming that the individual decisions of pregnant women and their families is like or worse than slavery denies the history, the meaning, and the lessons that must be learned from America's participation in the African Slave Trade and its history of state-sponsored slavery.
Students, especially, can use the resources offered by Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom to counter the elaborate and well-funded college campus programs arguing that the collective actions of pregnant women and mother are worse than any genocide.
Tell your story. The anti-abortion movement has created the illusion that there are two kinds of women: those who have abortions and those who have babies. The truth is that the vast majority of women who have abortions are already or will someday also be mothers. You can make it hard to label mothers murderers, by showing that the women who are accused of creating a "culture of death" are giving birth and doing the caretaking that is at the core of a true culture of life. If you have had an abortion and given birth, experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth, adopted or raised a child -- tell your story with a picture, a sign, a 1 minute or less video and we will post it at advocatesforpregnantwomen.org/mystory.
At his Notre Dame commencement President Obama asked, "How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?"
One way to do this is to share NAPW's video and its message: People can oppose abortion without equating pregnant women and mothers, and the people who support them, with mass-murderers and baby killers.
Follow Lynn M. Paltrow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Lynn Paltrow