A Day in the Right to Life 

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My instructions finally came in the mail on an early winter morning when no one else was in the house. That was good. The papers said I shouldn't share this information with anyone.

I looked over everything, and when I felt that I had a handle on what had to be done, I walked upstairs to the master bathroom and opened the medicine cabinet. Here was the bulk of the problem, at least in my house. According to the list I was holding, almost every product on my shelves was helping women get abortions.

I'd just have to suffer through my hangovers because the Tylenol Extra Strength was out, along with the Rolaids. Allergies were going to be a lot worse without the Benadryl and the Sudafed. These got tossed into a stainless-steel wastebasket now full of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals — Pepcid, Zyrtec, Imodium. If I hadn't kicked cigarettes in December, I'd have to lose the Nicorette, too. Damn. Even the Neosporin? Hello, gangrene. I can always learn to type with hooks.

The 16-page boycott list was the first thing that arrived in the mail when I joined Kansans for Life, one of dozens of anti-abortion groups around the country. It named every business and nonprofit supposedly ready to take my money and hand it over to Planned Parenthood. If a corporation was new on the list, it was helpfully identified with a frowny face next to its name.

The list was put together by Life Decisions International, a Front Royal, Virginia, group that, on its website, describes its mission as "exposing and opposing the agenda of Planned Parenthood, the world's primary advocate of legal abortion." The group spends a lot of time watching charitable contributions on both sides of the debate. Among its other publications is a list of celebrity enemies; titled "The Culture of Death," the pamphlet lists Bea Arthur (R.I.P.), Alec Baldwin and Beau Bridges, among others. I figured I had the gist of it before I made it to the C's.

Next up: dental hygiene. Listerine prevents tooth decay, but it also ends 1.3 million American lives in the womb every year. So I should've suspected — the American Association for Dental Research was on there, too, right next to the American Cancer Society, the Audubon Society and the Children's Defense Fund.

If I had a kid, I wouldn't be able to treat her with anything from Johnson & Johnson. Entertainment would also be a problem, with Walt Disney and DC Comics on the list. Apparently, Superman really stands for truth, justice and the right to terminate a pregnancy.


On Sunday morning, May 31, 2009, Dr. George Tiller woke up, put on a good suit, and went to usher at the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita. He looked like the dermatologist he'd studied to become before taking over his father's clinic, but he was a veteran in every other sense. In June 1986 after his practice was fire-bombed, he rebuilt and put out a sign that read, "Hell no, we won't go." In August 1993, he was shot five times in his car and survived.

Even with all that, it's hard to believe that anyone expected Scott Roeder to walk up to him and shoot him through the eye in the middle of services.

Roeder was arrested two days later, tried and eventually sentenced to 50 years in federal prison. Groups on both sides of the debate publicly denounced the murder. Others said Roeder's act was one of righteous vengeance.

One year later, in an election year, conservative politicians have started the usual begging to secure the backing of anti-abortion groups. And even though the doors are permanently closed at Tiller's clinic, Kansans for Life is still connecting the dead doctor's name to every sympathetic politician in the state.

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