'Principled' 9/11 Terrorists Make Great Role Models, Says 'Pro-Life' Activist
In 2009, Dr. George Tiller, the medical director of Women's Health Care Services in Wichita, Kansas, was serving as an usher during Sunday service at his church when he was shot in the head by anti-abortion extremist Scott Roeder. In 2013, Roeder was put into solitary confinement after a telephone conversation in which he and fellow anti-abortion extremist David Leach discussed how lovely it would be if someone murdered Julie Burkhart, who had reopened Tiller's offices as the Trust Women clinic.
Burkhart has since left her position there to open a clinic in Wyoming, but the clinic has a new terrorism threat to worry about — possibly a lot of them.
Anti-abortion activist Dr. Scott Stringfield, the medical director of the ironically titled Choices Medical Clinic crisis pregnancy center located right across the street from Trust Women, gave a speech at a recent March for Life protest in Topeka in which he suggested that anti-abortion activists should be more like the terrorists responsible for 9/11. Because all we need right now is a bunch of anti-choice terrorists deciding to take up suicide bombing as a hobby.
While qualifying the attack as “a heinous act,” Stringfield told attendees “you have to look at one thing. They (the terrorists) were principled. They were willing to die for what they believed in.”
Yes, and they were willing to take 2,996 people with them. By this standard, mass shooters are also "principled," as is anyone who commits murder-suicide or a public assassination. Indeed, most murderers are risking their own lives in some way or another, though most people probably would not classify them as "principled."
“Some people who think they’re pro-life, or consider themselves pro-life, find themselves sticking a wet finger in the air to sometimes see which way the wind is going to blow before they make a decision,” Stringfield said. “That’s called pragmatism.” He then explained that pragmatism was bad and being principled, like the 9/11 terrorists, was good and said, “I encourage you to always choose principle over pragmatism.”
That's called a threat.
There are certainly ways to advocate for principle over pragmatism or even being willing to die for what one believes in without bringing mass murderers into it, but Stringfield specifically chose terrorists as an example instead of, say, Tibetan monks setting themselves on fire in protest of the Chinese occupation of their country.
Stringfield knew exactly what he was doing. He chose to go to that particular well when anti-abortion terrorists have killed 11 people and, according to the National Abortion Federation, there have been "42 bombings, 196 arsons, 491 assaults, and thousands of incidents of criminal activities directed at patients, providers, and volunteers" since 1977. In 2021, the most recent year for which statistics are currently available, there were 16 invasions, 123 acts of vandalism, 123 incidents of assault and battery, 28 incidents of stalking, 11 clinic blockades, 71 hoax devices or suspicious packages, nine bomb threats and 13 burglaries. It is also worth noting that several of those who invaded the Capitol building on January 6, 2021 were also anti-choice extremists.
It would be bad enough if he were not talking about a subset of people with a long and storied history of terrorism, but with that in mind? It's a threat. It's an endorsement of violence and of murder.
“It is never far from our minds and hearts that Dr. George Tiller was assassinated by an extremist who was, like the Al-Qaeda terrorists Mr. Stringfield admires, motivated by his own twisted sense of principle,” Trust Women spokesperson Zack Gingrich-Gaylord said in a statement to the Wichita Eagle. “Regardless of one’s personal views on reproductive health care, it should go without saying that advocating for violence and terrorism is unacceptable in a democracy. Kansans have spoken on this issue; over and over again they have supported legal access to abortions. We call on Dr. Stringfield and the anti-abortion movement to renounce this type of dangerous rhetoric, and on all Kansans to make it clear that our shared values of personal autonomy, democracy and love of our communities leave no room for terrorism.”
Kansas voters had the chance last August to add an amendment to their state constitution removing abortion protections. They chose not to do that.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse