June 9th, 2009
06:35 PM ET

Is it really about preventing abortion – or just telling women what to do?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/06/09/kansas.tiller.clinic/art.tiller.clinic.gi.jpg caption="Flowers are left outside Tiller's clinic in Wichita, Kansas, after his death. "]

Tanya M. Acker
AC360° Contributor

Dr. Tiller’s murder was an act of domestic terrorism and the terrorist who committed it has claimed there will be more attacks. Threats and even acts of violence against abortion providers have become far too common. Each one should remind us of the precarious nature of a right that many women take for granted and that many wrongly assume is guaranteed forever.

Those of us who describe ourselves as pro-choice have far too often ceded the definitional debate to those who would deny women the freedom of choice.

As a woman who supports abortion rights, I proudly consider myself pro-life. I support the lives and life choices of women who insist upon the prerogative to make their own reproductive decisions. I believe their right to do so arises not only from the Constitution, but from their status as autonomous, free-thinking beings.

I am also proud to be a board member of a health care organization that devotes its resources to providing a full range of health care services to its patients. While the organization provides abortion-related services, 97 percent of its activities are not related to abortion, and help both male and female patients (including cancer screenings, STD testing, non-abortion-related birth control, and prenatal care).

Women make a variety of choices with respect to their health and reproductive lives and deserve the right to continue to exercise their liberties in this arena without the threat of violence and harassment that has become endemic to this debate.

I respect the opinions of those who peacefully oppose abortion. I respect their right to eschew the abortion option for themselves and to provide alternatives and counsel to women who seek it. Similarly, I would ask that they, too, respect the personal and private decisions that women make for themselves – without interfering with the exercise of that right, or vilifying them or their doctors in such a way that may incite others to violence.

Dr. Tiller’s murder should make us all think hard about how the public conversation about this very private issue should proceed going forward. To the extent that those who oppose abortion have as their goal the reduction of unplanned pregnancies – as opposed to simply the demonization of women and their doctors who make choices with which they may disagree – there is a common ground to be found.

Indeed, most unplanned pregnancies result from a dearth of information and resources available to the women most in need of both. To those who are interested in preventing abortion, I would respectfully suggest that focusing efforts on remedying these educational and resource deficiencies would be a far more useful exercise than leveling violent insults from either the pulpit or the right-wing TV studio.

Follow Tanya Acker on Twitter @tanyaacker

Filed under: 360° Radar • Tanya Acker • Women's Issues
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Donna Wood

    I feel like it is just another way for men to control women. I think that's what it has always been about. Look at what we went through just to be able to vote, or smoke a cigarette in public without His permission, or walk a little ahead of Him in public, or have an opinion without His permission to do so. No, it's definitely about control. That's the way I see it anyhow and I don't think I am that far off the mark.

    June 10, 2009 at 10:01 am |
  2. Naoma Foreman

    Abortion is legal. If you do not want one, do not have one. And, until men can have babies, they should stay out of the debate.

    June 10, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  3. Jen

    Well, most of you still have it wrong. First of all, I find it ridiculous that people are morning his death especially the doctor who was on AC360 last night. I use that title loosely. Doctors are suppose to protect life as it is stated in the Hippocratic Oath but many fail to remember that. The killing of Tiller was wrong but I've noticed many of you pro choicers seem to overlook that 40 million babies have been aborted before 20 weeks and the 60,000 abortions he performed were after 20 weeks. 90% of abortions are for convenience b/c your birth control failed. I still wonder why feminists are pro abortion when women are aborting women. And, then you say you are pro family and pro child. What child are you talking about -the one who didn't come out of the abortion clinic with her mother? Yes, I understand getting pregnant doesn't always fit into our lifestyle but killing the baby is not the answer. What did he/she do to you??? Adoption is the best plan and it's pro family, pro mother and pro child.

    June 10, 2009 at 9:40 am |
  4. Geta

    The murder of this man does not matter if he is an abortionist or a carpenter, baker, or candlestick maker. No one regardless of their political activism should face being mowed down while living their daily lives. BUT, when you engage in such a horrific profession as LATE term abortion, you know the risks. Even many pro choice activists turn away from suppoting late term abortion.

    June 10, 2009 at 8:22 am |
  5. Oriana Pellow

    Maybe the Lutheran Church can take this as a challenge to look inward instead of allowing these horrific crimes against humanity to take place before their eyes. Maybe this is an opportunity to ask their local church members to adopt babies from women in need in their home towns , instead of looking to buy babies from China, Guatemala, Africa, etc... Reach out to some girl or woman in crisis.This could be a sign to start to look inward at saving each life in the community.

    June 9, 2009 at 10:40 pm |
  6. JEM

    Murder is murder, and a murderer should be prosecuted.

    But why so much publicity about murder of an abortion doctor and so little about the murder of an Army recruiter and shooting of another by a muslim? These guys have families and should not be treated as if they don't count.

    June 9, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  7. Matthew

    i think that all those who threaten attacks on abortion clinics are hypocrites because they claim to be doing this to prevent murder but they are committing murder so how are they any different then the people who run the clinics...

    June 9, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  8. mark c. garrett

    I beleve that it is with out a doubt terrorism, with what happened to Dr. Tiller., The man that is accused should be charged with a federal violation and taken to Guitmo to await his prosecution.

    June 9, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  9. Tena W

    Anyone killing a doctor performing a legal medical procedure is no more justified than killing in the name of Allah. Killing is wrong. Change the law, but don't kill the doctor doing his job.

    June 9, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  10. Linda Finch

    I'm still baffled over this one. Always have been. When did MEN decide it was any of their PASSIONATE business to regard, discuss or develop opinions about OUR reproductive decisions? Men surely don't want us women deciding and legislating about THEIRS. Do they?

    June 9, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  11. Helen

    finally, someone makes sense on this issue. thank you, I was beginning to give up hope.

    June 9, 2009 at 9:57 pm |