The good news is that “pro-life” Christians have finally expressed support for the life of a woman. One woman. But the bad news is that they only did so in order to condemn Planned Parenthood, and in the process of expressing this concern, they politicized the tragic death of a young woman.
As conservatives seek to deny women access to abortion, birth control, and even terminating ectopic pregnancies that kill women in the name of their religion, it was surprising to find out that they suddenly cared about the death of a woman. But not so surprising when you find out that this young woman lost her life after an abortion at Planned Parenthood, and instead of allowing her family to grieve, allegedly pro-life Christians are politicizing her death in order to call for an end to federal funds for all Planned Parenthoods.
As the result of a tragic accident, Tonya Reaves died Friday after she began to bleed heavily after terminating her pregnancy. The Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled her death an accident. It’s called hemmoraging and it can happen after a pregnancy, an abortion, or even a menstrual cycle. Some women need birth control (pills or IUDs) to control the bleeding (these services are being denied to many women now, thanks to the above alleged pro-life people). It’s a rare complication after an abortion (more common ironically after pregnancy), but it does happen.
Troy Newman, President of “Operation Rescue” and Pro-Life Nation, showed how eager he was to use Tonya’s death to prove his religious persecution by issuing the following demand:
In light of this tragedy (Tonya Reaves), which is yet another in a long list of Planned Parenthood abuses, we call on President Obama to immediately withdraw all Federal funding and personal support from Planned Parenthood,” urged Newman. “Friday’s death is yet another reason why men and women of conscience across this nation cannot and will not comply with the forced funding of abortion and its intentional violation of religious liberties.”
Mr. Newman seems to have my medical rights mixed up with his religious liberty. He seems to think that women having legal rights to make decisions about their bodies is infringing upon his religious liberty, which implies that he puts his religious beliefs over women’s rights to their body – which is odd for someone this hysterical about religious liberty. Liberty, after all, does not equate to me believing what he believes and turning over my rights to him. Does it? Mr. Newman clearly believes that his religious beliefs trump federal law, namely the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, so if anyone’s liberty is being stomped on, it would be women seeking safe and peaceful access to medical care.
At any rate, the logic here makes no sense. Is Mr. Newman going to call for an end to all pregnancies since they result in the accidental death of women? Maybe he’ll let up a bit on the access to birth control pills since they are often prescribed to control excessive hemmoraging? No? Is he calling for an end to other medical procedures that result in accidental deaths?
Look at how he crassly jumped on the blame Planned Parenthood bandwagon, disregarding medical facts in his rush to use this tragic death to further his own ends:
“Abortion deaths like this are completely avoidable. When a woman bleeds to death after an abortion, it is usually an indication of error on the part of the abortionist coupled with a delay in calling for emergency assistance,” said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue and Pro-Life Nation, in a statement Sunday. “Our heartfelt prayers go out to the victim’s family at this time of tragic loss.”
Yes, abortion deaths are bad; deaths from ectopic pregnancies or home abortions are a-okay with Mr. Newman. But what can you expect from a man who got down in the street to take pictures of a pregnant woman who was supporting a doctor who used to perform abortions for women (until he was harassed into closing his clinic) and reportedly called the pregnant woman a “bitch”?
The “pro-life” Christians want to end all funding for Planned Parenthood over this death, but the deaths of thousands of women due to pregnancies they can’t terminate safely because of these pro-life Christians are meaningless? Even more to the point, abortion is a medical procedure done for a variety of reasons, but often for health reasons.
Citing one tragic death as a reason to defund all Planned Parenthoods in order to stop abortion (even though abortion is a small part of what PP does) is not only a logical fallacy but if they were to succeed, would make legal abortions harder to get, which would lead to more unsafe (illegal) abortions — during which many more women would hemorrhage to death.
Using the death of others to further their cause is nothing new to Operation Rescue. After the murder of Dr. George Tiller (whom they harassed and stalked), their founder had this to say, “George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller’s killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions.”
Dr. Tiller was no stranger to pro-life violence. His clinic had been firebombed and he has been shot five times and survived prior to being murdered by pro-life activist Scott Roeder. Roeder shot Dr. Tiller while the doctor was serving as an usher at worship services at the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita. Rachel Maddow exposed Roeder’s ties to Operation Rescue in June of 2009. McClatchy also reported further on the connection.
Operation Rescue has been called a domestic terrorist organization by the National Organization for Women, and has ties to the “Army of God,” an anti-abortion organization devoted to using violence to prevent abortions. After 12 years of litigation, in 1998 NOW won its lawsuit against Operation Rescue. The jury determined that Operation Rescue and their co-defendants are racketeers under the RICO Act and should be held liable for triple damages for the harm their violent acts caused to women’s health clinics. The jury hearing the case unanimously agreed that the defendants engaged in a nationwide conspiracy to deny women access to medical facilities.
At this point, it’s impossible to refer to these people as “pro-life” since they clearly are so callous as to not only politicize the accidental death of a young woman, but they have shown repeatedly that they do not care about the lives of people who do not agree with their religious beliefs.
And the only time they care about the life of a woman is when they can use it to further their cause.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Tonya Reaves, and we hope that they get the answers they are seeking.
Image: From the New York Times (apparently “pro-life” also does not extend to animals)