The inexcusable murder of George Tiller, the controversial Kansas doctor who performed late term abortions, got me to thinking about one of my biggest heroes, the great abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. Pro lifers believe that their cause is a great civil rights issue. Abolition was no less so. Garrison’s genius was his eloquent and unyielding condemnation of that great evil. This is perhaps Garrison’s most famous quote, a favorite of mine that I sometimes use to close my speeches. From the opening editorial of The Liberator, January 1, 1831:
I am aware, that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hand of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.
But, he was also unequivocal in eschewing violence in the cause of overcoming this profound injustice. Thus, the December 4, 1833 constitution of the American Anti Slavery Society declares:
This Society shall aim to elevate the character and condition of the people of color, by encouraging their intellectual, moral, and religious improvement, and by removing public prejudice, that thus they may, according to their intellectual and moral worth, share an equality with the whites, of civil and religious privileges; but this Society will never, in any way, countenance the oppressed in vindicating their rights by resorting to physical force.
Most people, whatever their views on abortion’s legality, view late term abortion as an odious wrong. Murdering its most notable practitioner was no less odious in that it not only took human life, but if it was motivated by the abortion issue, it was vigilantism of the worst kind. Let no one justify this terrible crime