Recently, late-term abortionist George Tiller was gunned down by an abortion opponent. Truth be told, many in the pro-life community have a hard time feeling sorry for a man who ended so many thousands of innocent lives, but still we know that his murder was morally wrong.
A crucial question is this: If Dr. Tiller was really a mass murderer of innocent children, then why is it morally wrong to kill him? After all, it seems reasonable to protect an innocent child from a killer and that’s what pro-lifers call abortion – the murder of an innocent child.
I think there are several answers to this question, but I want to quote from a Stand to Reason article on this subject:
It simply does not follow that if one believes that abortion is murder then he would advocate killing individual abortionists. What follows is this: He would work to end the wholesale killing as expediently as possible. It doesn’t follow he would kill abortionists. It follows that he would do whatever he can to stop the killing as quickly as possible. Now, that may or may not entail the shooting of individual abortionists. The answer to that question would depend on other considerations.
What are those considerations?
Well, anyone familiar with military tactics knows how such a thing can be the case. . . . Imagine for just a minute commandos in the Second World War impersonating Nazi officers, dropped behind Nazi lines to infiltrate concentration camps. Their mission? Destroy the gas chambers. Now mingling incognito with the rest of the camp cadre, they have many opportunities to kill other soldiers, even officers. Even the Commandant. But do you kill the individual executioner or do you go after the gas chamber? In this case, it seems that killing the individual would be wrong even though he was truly murderous, because it would keep the commandos from fulfilling their larger mission. And their failure would mean more lives lost in the long run. The short term gain would be no victory because the machinery of destruction would still be in place. Do you see that?
So what is the machinery of abortion that pro-lifers should be going after?
What this illustration shows is that there is no necessary contradiction in the view that abortion is a holocaust, yet the killing of individual abortionists is properly condemned. In fact, it is precisely because we hold to the innocent humanity of the unborn that we insist on an approach to this solution that is directed at the machinery of the killing–the laws, the economics and the deep human need that makes the alternative appealing. That’s our focus.
I would add that individual Christians should not be using using illegal, lethal force when any other means are available to stop an immoral act. Since abortion is legal in this country, then every George Tiller that is killed will just be replaced by someone else. It is the laws of the land and court of public opinion that need our attention. Killing abortion doctors will never, in the long run, prevent abortion.