Magazine article The American Conservative

Kansas Still Bleeds

Magazine article The American Conservative

Kansas Still Bleeds

Article excerpt

Kansas Still Bleeds [The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle over Abortion, Stephen Singular, St. Martin's Press, 368 pages]

STEPHEN SINGULAR has authored some 20 books, of which the bestknown is Talked to Death, about the murder of Denver DJ Alan Berg by Aryan Nations thugs. As a Kansas native, he was immediately and naturally drawn to chronicle the May 2009 slaying of abortion doctor George Tiller by pro-life fanatic Scott Roeder.

Kansas has been an epicenter of America's culture wars for nearly two centuries. In the years leading up to the Civil War, it was "Bleeding Kansas," site of vicious skirmishing between pro- and anti-slavery irregulars and "border ruffians." John Brown too believed God had ordained him to kill those guilty of an abomination - slaveholding - and he is still revered for doing so.

In 1900, Carrie Nation smashed up a Wichita tavern that displayed a painted nude over the bar. In the 1950s, the state bequeathed the Brawn v. Board of Education decision to the country. More recently, the "BTK" serial killer, the hideous Westboro Baptist Church ("God Hates Fags!"), and Koch Industries have originated there - the latter currently receiving the swarm of hate treatment from the left.

And since the Supreme Court invented the civil right to abortion with Roe v. Wade in 1973, Kansas has been riven also by the abyssal crevasse between Life and Choice.

The Wichita Divide is 354 pages, a month-by-month, day-by-day and finally minute-by-minute history of the abortion fight in Kansas and how it led to the point-blank assassination of Dr. George "The Baby Killer" Tiller in the foyer of his own Lutheran church. There are no pictures, footnotes, or bibliography, but the author has been assiduous in his attributions and chronology. His many clucking asides about the danger of crazies on the "far right fringe" tip his ideological hand, however, as does his inclusion of terrorizing attacks by Muslims within the U.S., like the Fort Hood massacre, as of a piece with the right's "rabid" violence against "kindness" and "reconciliation."

It was George Tiller's misfortune to have a name that rhymed with "killer" while at the same time killing ba- ... that is, being an abortion provider. He got into the business only after his parents died in a plane crash; in taking over his father's medical practice, the young doctor discovered that Jack Tiller, unbeknownst to anyone but his word-ofmouth patients, had quietly served as the local abortionist.

By 1975, Tiller, calling himself a "woman-educated physician," had become internationally known as a doctor who would abort pregnancies well into the third trimester. He used words like "therapeutic" and "lifesaving." He "drove a red Corvette he named Igor and wore a full-length mink coat around town," according to Singular. His nurses called themselves "the sisterhood."

By then Tiller was also attracting the attention of Catholic nuns, who tried to sweet-talk him out of his burgeoning profession. Tiller's response was, "If a woman or girl [is] able to get pregnant, we should be able to do a termination of pregnancy." He occasionally helped a woman get her baby adopted rather than aborted, but "only if the newborn were going to a pro-choice family."

Until 1992, Kansas had not placed restrictions on the new right to abortion. Whenever pro-life politicians tried to legislate any, providers like Tiller donated money and created political action committees to beat them back, crying that a return to "back alley" and "coat hanger" days was imminent. Bills that would ban partial-birth abortion were called "dangerous measures." Singular leaves the strong impression that Kathleen Sebelius - one of the most extreme defenders of restriction-free abortion in Kansas when she was governor, the sort of cafeteria-Catholic who abhors capital punishment but embraces euthanasia and abortion - owes her elevation to Obama's secretary of Health and Human Services to her protection of Tiller and others like him. …

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