Blog for Choice Day: On being a pro-choice vegan.

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

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Blog for Choice Day 2010:
Trusting Women, Honoring Dr. Tiller

I wrote the bulk of this post last June, in the days and weeks following the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Initially – and still – intended as part of a series called “Killing in the Name of,” this piece attempts to reconcile my pro-choice and vegan beliefs, which as it turns out, isn’t a difficult task at all. Harder still is defending some of the “terrorist” tactics employed by the animal rights movement while condemning similar tactics when used in service a “pro-life” agenda. It’s an emotional and confusing endeavor, and one I’m still working on. If ever I do figure it all out, I’ll post Part 2 of this series.

In the meantime, I’d like to share my thoughts “On being a pro-choice vegan” as part of today’s Blog for Choice Day (5th annual, bitches!). It doesn’t exactly fit with this year’s theme, but seeing as “Trusting Women” was chosen in honor of Dr. Tiller, I think it’s appropriate anyhow. If you disagree, hop on over to Animal Rights & Anti-Oppression; my post there follows the assignment to a “t” (“v”?).

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“Killing in the Name of”: Introduction

My apologies for the brief blogular absence. I’ve got a ton of posts lined up in the queue, but my attention has turned elsewhere – from animal rights to reproductive rights (which aren’t completely unrelated) – since the murder of Dr. George Tiller on Sunday.

News of Dr. Tiller’s death came like a kick in the gut. The last time an abortion doctor was murdered was in 1998; I was only 20 at the time, and somewhat apolitical. Even though Dr. Barnett Slepian’s murder occurred not far from my hometown, I really can’t recall what I felt – if anything – at the news. But now – now I know better. Dr. Tiller’s murder, far from an isolated crime committed against a single individual, was intended to terrorize abortion providers and reproductive health clinics all over the United States. Doctors and clinics that provide vital health care, primarily to women. Scared women, marginalized women, women in need, women with nowhere else to go. To this end, it was an atrocity perpetrated against women everywhere, women who want nothing more than control over their own lives – and bodies. Women who simply want to be regarded and treated as fully human.

Dr. Tiller was one of a handful of doctors who perform abortions in the later term of pregnancy (whereas “late term” defies definition, and may mean anything from 3 to 6 months on). He saved countless women’s lives, even in the face of unrelenting threats and danger, including an assassination attempt and the bombing of his clinic. Dr. Tiller was a hero – a hero who became a martyr. It’s difficult to describe, but Dr. Tiller’s murder – and all the anti-choice rhetoric that’s littered the media since – well, it’s hit me. Hard. It feels like women are under siege, our very bodily sovereignty up for grabs.* We’re so, so much worse off without him.

Of course, our collective loss pales in comparison to the loss suffered by his family, which includes his wife, 4 children and 10 grandchildren. My heart bleeds for them.

Naturally, many on the left have labeled this an act of domestic terrorism, and criticized the media and government for not doing so. They also point to the extreme right wing rhetoric that inflamed passions against abortion providers, implicating it in the murder. Scott Roeder may have pulled the trigger, the reasoning goes, but pundits and anti-abortion crusaders put the gun in his hand.

All of which has brought to the fore related issues with which I’ve been grappling for quite some time, particularly those involving parallels between the animal rights and anti-choice movements. For example, while animal rights “terrorists” have never killed a human, they do engage in campaigns of harassment and intimidation against individuals involved in animal exploitation – campaigns that are uncomfortably similar to the forms of “protest” carried out by “pro-lifers” against abortion providers. While animal rights activists are deemed the #1 domestic terrorist threat, anti-abortion groups (not-so-)curiously slip under the radar. And yet, is the answer to label them “terrorists” – or to rethink the very definition of “terrorism”?

(More below the fold…)

PETA takes a page from the Fred Phelps playbook.

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Update, 6/4/09:

Well, then:

Anti-Abortion Protesters Crash Vigil For Slain Doctor

About 10 members of the Westboro Baptist Church bearing signs with messages like “Baby killer in hell” were an unwelcome presence at a vigil for murdered abortion doctor George Tiller.

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Oh, no, no, no. Just, no:

WICHITA – A national animal rights group plans to erect billboards in Wichita urging people on both sides of the abortion debate to go vegetarian.

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One version of the billboard says, “Pro-Life? Go Vegetarian.” The other says, “Pro-Choice? Choose Vegetarian.” Both feature a photo of three baby chicks.

Lindsay Rajt, campaign manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said the billboards were prompted by the recent shooting death of abortion doctor George Tiller, who was killed Sunday at his church.

“The discussion of the value of life is front and center right now in the public conversation,” Rajt said today.

“We think we would be irresponsible if we don’t talk about how we’re all guilty of extreme cruelty to animals every time we sit down to a meal that includes meat.” […]

Rajt said the timing or content of the Wichita billboards may be controversial.

But, “If our billboards leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth, we just think they might give a thought to what animals feel when they go to the slaughterhouse,” she said.

“We want to remind people that no matter where they come down on the abortion issue, each and every one of us can spare a life every time we sit down to eat.”

Frankly, the actual content of the proposed billboards is rather inoffensive – and downright blasé when compared to 75% of PETA’s other ads. In fact, I think the “pro-life” version is rather cute – and, on a subtle level, calls so-called “pro-lifers” out on their hypocrisy and ethical inconsistencies. The pro-choice one, meh, not so much; it just strikes me as a forced corollary to the “pro-life” billboard. A reach, albeit a harmless one.

But the timing – the timing is beyond crass and tactless. Fuck that shit, it’s downright amoral.

(More below the fold…)