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Do you want to be part of that?

"The members of the local non-violent, pro-life community may continue to picket my home. They may continue to scream that I am a murderer and a killer when I enter the clinics at which they 'peacefully' exercise their First Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech. They may do all of the above to me and other abortion providers of this community. But please don't feign surprise, dismay and certainly not innocence when a more volatile and less restrained member of the group decides to react to their inflammatory rhetoric by shooting an abortion provider."

This letter was written by Dr Barnett Slepian in 1994 after Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider, had been shot by a pro-life crazy. Four years later Dr. Slepian was killed by another pro-life terrorist. And now Dr. Tiller is dead by another pro-life killer. Before Dr. Tiller was murdered, Bill O'Reilly described him as "...Tiller the Baby killer..." No one in the pro-life community condemned O'Reilly for these comments and others he made. Others, prominent in the community, have made much worse comments than these.

So, when I hear that, in a recent poll, 51 percent of respondents identified themselves as pro-life, I have to wonder if these people truly know what they are associating themselves with. Do 51 percent of us truly want to be associated with the policies and hypocrisy of the terrorist "Right to Life" community? Do they really want to criminalize and stigmatize women who choose to have an abortion? Do you want to condemn to death those women who will die because there is nowhere to get a legal, safe abortion? If you call yourself pro-life, you are associating yourself with the terrorist group, "Right to Life."

"Right to Life" is a hypocritical group that claims, publicly, to want to stop abortion. But, in reality, they want to punish and humiliate women who choose abortion. All of the "Right to Life" groups want to criminalize abortion. None of them support contraception, and the only sex-ed they approve of is "abstinence only." Time and again studies have shown that the countries with the most liberal abortion laws have the fewest abortions per population. The Right to Lifers want to stop abortion but don't support easy access to contraception? They don't want to educate our children to the dangers of unprotected sex? There's no way they truly want to stop abortion. They want to punish women who need an abortion. Is that what you want to be associated with?

Abortion is a necessary and good option for women who choose to end a pregnancy. No woman I've known (and I've known more than a few) has chosen abortion as a birth-control device. That would be absurd. An abortion is chosen because of a breakdown in birth-control, lack of knowledge thereof, or something goes wrong during the pregnancy. It is never a decision made lightly. But leave it to the pro-life community to humiliate and denigrate women who choose this option. Do you want to be part of that?

The worst and most incomprehensible thing to me, though, is the objection to third-term abortions. Overwhelmingly, these women want to have their babies. Here is a woman who has carried a baby for six months. She has chosen some names, maybe picked out clothes and some accessories. Then the doctor says that the baby is anencephalic or has Tay-Sachs. It will be born dead or will live a few painful months or a year. It might threaten the mother's life or her ability to have another child. She has to have an abortion. So this woman is devastated by this awful news but the doctor then adds that she will have to travel somewhere else to get the abortion because the pro-lifers have caused the local clinic to be shut down. This is what Dr. Tiller did. He ran a clinic to save the lives of women who needed third-term abortions. He did it even after he was shot once. This last time he wasn't so lucky. And now his clinic is closed.

Is this what you want?

We, in the pro-choice community, are a diverse group. We range from anti-abortion to people like me who think abortion is necessary and good for our communities. All of us, though, believe that women have a right to their own bodies. Each woman has the right to choose to have a baby or have an abortion. Whatever a woman chooses we should support her in a loving manner, not denigrate or humiliate her. So, if you claim to be pro-life and really want to reduce the need for abortion, join us in the pro-choice community.

Lehman lives in Warren.

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