Of Martyrs and Murderers

It's not easy these days separating the martyrs from the murderers. Especially when our national leaders are confusing the two. Just take two events that occurred over the past few weeks in the White House and on Capitol Hill. From the White House, President Clinton has just made another statement about abortion—this time in relation to Dr. David Gunn, the abortionist who was shot a year ago by a prolife extremist. The president sent his condolences to a group of abortion activists who had gathered in Florida to eulogize Dr. Gunn. But the president didn't stop at expressing condolence. He went on to celebrate Dr. Gunn as a hero. "As we honor his memory," President Clinton wrote, "we rededicate ourselves to strengthening the freedoms of choice and privacy he so bravely defended." Bravely defended? What's so "brave" about dismembering tiny babies? What's so heroic about performing an act that most Americans find despicable? Even those who believe abortion should be legal generally see it as a grisly business. No one except extremists want to turn abortionists into national heroes. Of course it was wrong for Michael Griffin to murder Dr. Gunn, and he has been sent to prison for it. But about the only thing the doctor "bravely defended" was his own right to make money off desperate women. Ironically, at the same time President Clinton was turning a paid killer into a prochoice martyr, Congress was busy turning prolifers into common criminals. Last week Congress began putting the final touches on the clinic access bill, a bill that will turn peaceful protests at abortion facilities into federal crimes. The mischief in this bill is that it singles out prolife protesters for severe punishment, while leaving animal-rights groups and anti-nuclear activists free to pursue exactly the same tactics. In other words, the clinic access bill imposes severe criminal sanctions on certain behavior purely on the basis of the political motivation behind it. While not all prolifers agree that illegal protests are the way to win the abortion war, still we can agree that this is a dangerous law, leading to the criminalizing of political thought. It's a giant step backward in civil rights. And when we consider it alongside President Clinton's letter, the contrast is truly frightening. How did we get to the point where our leaders honor people who dismember babies and imprison those who try to save them? How did we get to the point where our leaders celebrate the sordid abortionist, who kills for profit, and condemn the courageous protester, who acts out of concern for others? Surely this is an Orwellian world where values are turned upside down. As Christians we need to tell our legislators we oppose the clinic access bill. Versions of the bill were passed by both houses of Congress and have now been sent to a congressional conference to iron out differences between them. This is the time to let our voices be heard. But political action alone is not enough. Christians also need to address this dangerous inversion of values. It's a sad day indeed when our national leaders seem unable to tell the difference between a martyr and a murderer.


Chuck Colson


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