Quote of the Day: Shooting abortion providers “will be a blessing to the babies”

In a recording posted to YouTube, Iowa anti-choice activist Dave Leach says that it would a “blessing to the babies” if someone shot the brave folks who recently re-opened Dr. George Tiller’s former abortion clinic in Wichita, Kansas.

“If someone would shoot the new abortionists, like Scott shot George Tiller, … hardly anyone will appreciate it but the babies. It will be a blessing to the babies. Everyone else will panic. Of all places to open up a killing office, to reopen the one office in the United States more notorious for decades than any other is an act of defiance against God and the last remaining reverence for human life.”

The recording is all the more chilling since Leach is speaking to Scott Roeder, the man who really did shoot and kill Dr. Tiller in 2009 and is currently serving a life sentence in prison.

Of course, Leach claims his comments aren’t an actual threat. He explained, “It would be tragic to have someone have to die over that, but it’s also tragic that they would open a clinic and kill more babies.” How very reassuring. 

Meanwhile, the head of the Iowa Right to Life condemned Leach, saying the group does not support violence. Which I’m sure is true–most anti-choice folks wouldn’t kill anyone. But the reality is that it’s hard to separate the violent fringe from the more moderate mainstream when the entire anti-choice movement claims abortion is murder and demonizes the doctors who provide them. I mean, there have been 218 bombings and arsons at clinics over the last few decades; it’s not like that’s an accident.

As Jos wrote after Dr. Tiller’s murder, “[The anti-choice movement's] leaders call providers murderers, compare them to the worst war criminals and say the world would be better off without them. Of course they publicly condemn murder, but this is in contrast to everything else they say.”

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/plexia/ Plexia

    I feel very conflicted about this post. On the one hand I 100% agree with the sentiment of this post and that anti abortion rhetoric too often incited hatred and violence… but on the other hand “…the reality is that it’s hard to separate the violent fringe from the more moderate mainstream…” is a PROBLEMATIC statement, and one often used by the right wing to justify attacks on peaceful activism groups.

  • http://feministing.com/members/amale/ a male

    Indeed. I consider intimidation and crimes against those who provide abortion services and their would be clients to be a form of terrorism. By your count 218 bombings and arsons over some decades. Those are serious crimes, and certainly those aimed at individuals like shootings.

    Now consider that in a poll reported by the Huffington Post just this month, a majority of respondents, 52%, said abortion should be ILLEGAL, “with or without exceptions.” In January of just this year, FOR THE FIRST TIME, a majority supported legal abortions.*


    “Although support for gay marriage has risen in recent years, support for abortion hasn’t followed suit. In the latest poll, which covered various social issues, 45 percent of Americans said abortion should be legal most or all of the time, while 52 percent said it should be illegal, either with or without exceptions. In January, for the first time, a majority supported legal abortions, according to NBC.”

    By that poll, you could say that about half of people in the US to this day are against abortion on demand. That’s over a hundred million adults. And by your count, 218 bombings and arsons, over the course of decades.

    Out of all the tens of millions of people who oppose abortion despite it being legal, how many hundreds actually commit the most serious acts you describe, bombings, arson, murder? By those statistics, living in Chicago with its over 500 murders a year by gun, is more dangerous than operating clinics nationwide.

    About 25 years ago, when I still attended a very conservative church which opposed homosexuality, remarriage after divorce and abortion, the pastor used his pulpit to call for action – letter writing to our representatives, and voting for candidates with compatible political platforms. No sign waving. No harassment. Certainly no call for or condoning of criminal behavior. (We were almost exclusively Japanese-American. Culture also mattered.)

    By no means is it my intent to make light of the seriousness of the harassment or crimes aimed at abortion clinics, staff, or those who seek their services. Criminals should be prosecuted for their acts of harassment, intimidation, threats, vandalism, arson, bombing, or murder. I believe in abortion on demand. At the same time, I am a nurse in a long term care facility adjoining the labor and delivery department. When pregnant women come walking in or through the ER in the middle of the night, seeking help for their “baby,” we give it to them.

    *Please read that again. According to a poll reported in the Huffington Post, In January of just this year, FOR THE FIRST TIME, a majority supported legal abortions. But just this month, a majority of respondents, 52%, said abortion should be ILLEGAL. Support for abortion is slipping, according to the Huffington Post article.

    This is why you do not want a simple majority to create laws, certainly not federal laws like acts of Congress. This is why you do not want elected officials, President Obama included, to act in the name of what “the American people” (that is, a simple majority) support. It’s why laws should not be based on emotion. If the media covered Kermit Gosling and the issue of late term abortion (it’s not as rare as claimed) the way media covered crimes committed with guns, legalized abortion would be in more jeopardy than it already is.

    It’s all well and good for you if the majority of Americans are against “assault weapons,” but you certainly do not agree when “the American people” are not in favor of legalized abortion, or less than four years ago, when a majority of Americans did not support gay marriage.

  • fyoumudflaps

    There is no calling any anti-choice people or groups “Moderate mainstream.” Any organized, public attempt to control women’s reproduction using red herrings and medical untruths is NOT moderate. Give this nonsense not an inch, or it will take a zip code.

  • http://feministing.com/members/amale/ a male

    Would you call people who believe that abortion should be illegal except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life to be anti-choice? People who believe that abortion should be illegal without exception are certainly anti-choice.

    Guess what? That’s 52% of respondents in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll which has been asking about abortion since 2003. Only 45% believe abortion should be legal all or most of the time.


    Q30: Which comes closest to your view on abortion–abortion should always be legal, should be legal most of the time, should be made illegal except in cases of rape, incest and to save the mother’s life, or abortion should be made illegal without any exceptions?

    Always legal: 26%
    Legal most of the time: 19%
    Illegal, with exceptions: 42%
    Illegal without any exceptions: 10%
    Not sure: 3%

    ONLY ONCE, in a poll conducted January 2013, have they found a majority, 54% who believe abortion should be always legal all or most of the time.

    By that logic, anti-choice views are quite mainstream, as even 19% who support the right still believe in exceptions where abortion should be illegal.

    If you go to news stories regarding Kermit Gosling, late term abortion, or clinics with alleged violations, and read the comments sections it is not at all uncommon to read comments condoning violence.

    How many people are actually committing crimes?