The problem of Scott Roeder and the birthers for the March for Life
In nine days, the March for Life is returning to Washington, which continues the annual protest of the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling overturning laws which ban abortion. In the coming days, I will be writing more on the direction of the movement, but for now, I will address a few interesting wrinkles which likely have the organizers on pins and needles.
The first event is the ongoing trial of Scott Roeder for the killing of late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller. Roeder admits to the facts of the case, but is being allowed to argue that his actions were justified – although he can only use this argument to argue for a Manslaughter conviction – the judge is not allowing for the option of acquittal on grounds of justifiable homicide.
To be fair, the majority of cool heads in the Pro-Life movement reject such an argument. Indeed, the Catholic press was full of denunciations of the murder of Dr. Tiller when it occurred. Not everyone in the movement sees it that way, however. While the murder of Dr. Tiller cannot be justified on absolutist grounds, practitioners of situational ethics can make the argument that murdering one person is permissible to save the lives of others. Of course, this is forgetting the fact that there are other late term providers out there – as well as the fact that most late term abortions don’t happen out of a whim but because of medical necessity (also situational ethics), so Roeder’s defense is not justified. The problem is, there will likely be Roeder supporters at the March. If the organizers try to exile them, they will take their signs elsewhere and they are almost sure to get coverage on the local, and probably the national, media.
Similarly, the Tea Party movement will certainly wish to participate as well, as I am sure there is some overlap between the movements, especially given the overlap regarding the Hyde Amendment. Experience has shown that a few of the Tea Partiers are also Birthers, who also have the most interesting signs.
When the signs come out, or if speakers express any solidarity with either issue, it will likely cause the organizers to also address the issue in a way that the true believers won’t like. The media feasts on such controversies – hence the problem for the organizers.
The more profound problem has to do with fundraising. Any non-profit has two kinds of donors: big fish who fund most operations and smaller grass roots donations. Small donors are valuable as a way to build a grass roots organization. The problem is, sometimes small donors are “true believers” who hold ascribe to methods that may make the larger donors wince and take their donations elsewhere. Of course, there are also large donors who might be fringe – and they may withhold their funds if they are rebuked. Controversy within the movement is never good for fundraising, which is the life blood of any non-profit. I suspect that the leadership of National Right to Life is stocking up on Zantac right about now.
UPDATE: It looks like Roeder's supporters staked out the courthouse instead. I wasn't paying attention, but it seems like there were no shout outs for him at the March. Anyway, the expected word for today is GUILTY! Kind of says it all.