I Write Letters

[Trigger warning for violence.]

Dear President Obama:

Today marks two years since Dr. George Tiller, a reproductive rights advocate and one of the precious few physicians in the country who performed lifesaving late-term abortions, was murdered at his church.

The day after his murder, I wrote you a letter, begging you to "stop relying on dangerously dishonest rhetoric about abortion, its supporters, and its opponents," and to stop drawing an equivalency between the pro-choice and "pro-life" positions, as if both sides have an equally valid point, and as if activists who defend reproductive rights and activists who seek to subvert them are somehow two sides of the same coin.

Since that time, the Republican Party has, on both the state and federal levels, endeavored to undermine access to abortion, to contraception, and even to woman-centered healthcare providers. More than 500 pieces of anti-choice legislation have been introduced across the nation so far this year, at least one in every single state legislature. More than half of the state legislatures are considering restrictions on private health insurance plans to disallow them from paying for abortions. At least one state legislator has suggested that women should have to bear the cost of a separate insurance policy in case of needing an abortion in the event of being raped.

All of this has been done under the auspices of "valuing life," despite the fact that forcing a woman to carry to term an unwanted or unviable pregnancy against her will is the opposite of a respect for life, if the definition of "life" is to have any meaning at all.

Last week, a man was arrested in Madison with a plan "to lay out abortionists because they are killing babies." That didn't happen in a void. That happened in a political climate in which it is considered an acceptable position to value a blastocyst over a living, breathing, sentient, existent human being.

It happened in a country in which every state legislature, and the national Congress, are trying to find ways to limit access to abortion—and in which the ostensibly pro-choice president remains silent on that matter. Except, of course, when he's bragging about ceding ground to anti-choicers to pass legislation, while insisting it's "not an abortion bill."

It happened in a country in which we are expected to trade everything away, including our civil liberties, in exchange for protection from the existential threat of nebulous foreign terrorists, but in which one of the most brazen, unapologetic terrorist campaigns in America, its co-ordination and orchestration frequently done right out in the open—at meetings, on websites, in email alerts—and potentially affecting the lives of more than half the population, is ignored by one party and mainstreamed as a central plank of its party platform by the other.

Mr. President, the vicious murder of Dr. Tiller was an act of terrorism committed by a terrorist. It should have been a wake-up call to this nation, and to you, to acknowledge the ugly reality that the anti-choice movement is a serious domestic threat.

Instead, the anti-choice movement has gained momentum with the unilateral support of the Republican Party, turning what was once a radical fringe movement into nothing less than state-sponsored terrorism, in defense of an inherently violent ideology.

And in response to this onslaught of violently misogynist activity by people who seek to rob people with uteri of their agency, their bodily autonomy, their right of self-determination, their access to a legal medical procedure, their ability to do that most basic of life management in the modern world—control their reproduction—your party has been all but silent.

You, Mr. President, have been silent.

Two years ago, I told you I was crying because I was sad and scared and angry. Today, sir, I cry because you have allowed Dr. Tiller's murder to happen in vain.

With colossal contempt,
Melissa McEwan

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