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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Frank Schaeffer, Penitent for "Pro-Life" Provocation

Frank Schaeffer was an active anti-abortion activist in the 1970s and early 1980s. He and his evangelical father Francis Schaeffer campaigned through books and film to overturn Roe v. Wade:

In the early 80s my father followed up with a book that sold over a million copies called A Christian Manifesto. In certain passages he advocated force if all other methods for rolling back the abortion ruling of Roe v. Wade failed. He compared America and its legalized abortion to Hitler's Germany and said that whatever tactics would have been morally justified in removing Hitler would be justified in trying to stop abortion. I said the same thing in a book I wrote (A Time For Anger) that right wing evangelicals made into a best seller. For instance Dr. James Dobson (of the Focus On the Family radio show) gave away over 100,000 copies [Fran Schaeffer, "How I (and Other 'Pro-Life' Leaders) Contributed to Dr. Tiller's Murder," Huffington Post, 2009.06.01].

In the mid 1980s, Frank Schaeffer left what he now calls "the so-called pro-life movement and... a Republican Party hate machine masquerading as the moral conscience of America." He now takes a very clear position on the responsibility he bears for the murder, in a church, of Dr. George Tiller:

The same hate machine I was part of is still attacking all abortionists as "murderers." And today once again the "pro-life" leaders are busy ducking their personal responsibility for people acting on their words. The people who stir up the fringe never take responsibility. But I'd like to say on this day after a man was murdered in cold blood for performing abortions that I -- and the people I worked with in the religious right, the Republican Party, the pro-life movement and the Roman Catholic Church, all contributed to this killing by our foolish and incendiary words.

I am very sorry.

Schaeffer still expresses disagreement with Roe v. Wade and calls for changes in American abortion policy. Yet he unequivocally takes repsonsibility for his own words and what he perceives as his responsibility for the murder of Dr. Tiller.

We could use more direct language like that. It just might stop the next wacko from shooting a law-abiding doctor.

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