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Randall A. Terry: The Abortion Clinic Shootings. Why?

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  • Pages: 8
  • Word count: 1837
  • Category: Abortion

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The main purpose to which the author endeavors to reach is to portray an illusion that abortion is murder and therefore illegal.  Legitimising this philosophy by indoctrinating religious beliefs over the law of the land seems to suggest that Randall A.  Terry fundamentally basis his opinions in the ethical, rather than practical and governing rules that every citizen is bound by.  Although the correlations between mainstream religious beliefs and the legal system can be located and apparent, the author fails to realize the realistic implications of such legends as the ten commandments.  It is true to say that the thesis correctly identifies “Thou Shalt Not Murder” (Terry 516) as a fundamental principle to which most societies base their lives on.  The right to life is a broad spectrum that includes other sub categories of which abortion is merely one of.  Stating that abortion falls under the classing of murder, the author clearly fails to analyze and investigate further as to particular circumstances where an individual may feel the need to have a termination.

            Terry broadly defines abortion as a murderous act and authorizes this belief by quoting religious text.  One may counter such an argument by citing reference in Jewish Law.  Jewish law permits abortion to save the life of the mother. In fact it insists on an abortion if this is necessary to save the mother.  This is because the mother’s life takes precedence over the life of the foetus.  The danger to the other must be clear and substantial, and the abortion cannot be done in the very last stage of pregnancy.  The Mishnah states that where there is danger to the mother’s life, an abortion can be performed at any stage from conception until the head of the infant emerges “…If a woman has (life-threatening) difficulty in childbirth, one dismembers the embryo within her, limb by limb, because her life takes precedence over its life.

However, once its head (or its ‘greater part’) has emerged, it may not be touched, for we do not set aside one life for another…” (Taylor 174).  Within the religion of Islam, certain exceptions can be found where abortion may be permissible.  If the foetus is deformed to such an extent that it would make its care exceptionally difficult for the parents, then abortion is allowed in this case (Shirazi 89). The authors view that abortion must be made illegal is an example of False Dichotomy. Terry offers little objectively conveyed options or reasons as to the cause of many abortions. Instead, Terry brandishes that every abortion, regardless of the circumstances, must be outlawed.

Terry’s underlining purpose in involving biblical text into his argument forces the reader to question whether religious values should take precedent over the Laws that govern our land and in turn poisoning the well. By redirecting the readers attention to a debate that has little significance to the main issue, Terry is able to push to fore his own beliefs. This principle is brought further to the attention to the reader by the tone in which the author addresses the relevant judicial authority that legalise aspects of abortion.  The contempt in which Terry employs to denounce such authorities such Congress and The President in favour of the Ten Commandments can be deemed as some what fanatical in its content.

            Terry blames the shootings on a number of institutions as already mentioned.  However, the attack on landmark legality is most interesting to note. Roe v Wade, 410 US 113 (1973) defines the parameters to which a child may legally be terminated.  The case classifies and fundamentally upholds all pretences that ultimate right to choose takes precedent.  Terry’s argument and condemnation of this authority seems to be taking away this right from individuals leaving the reader to conclude, upon analyse, that the author expects potential ‘abortees’ to live with the consequences of their actions, regardless of the situation they may find themselves in.

            Moving on, the author briefly presumes that the shootings that occurred in Brookline may have been a result of, and indeed the fault of, the abortion industry itself.  Referring to the industry as “violent” and adopting images that the industry “tears 35 million babies from their mothers wombs” aims to provoke emotions within the reader that may express some sort of resentment towards an industry that caters to the needs of society.  Deliberate usage of such aggressive adjectives intends to sway the readers minds into believing that abortion can only be perceived as an unnecessary evil.

            Terry defends his philosophy and the actions of the perpetrators behind the Brookline shootings by associating with the civil rights movements.  This is an attempt to identify the reader to a politically successful movement that encountered many hardships in their struggle to obtain their goals.  It is interesting to note that this particular line of debate has its flaws.  In 1989, the Planned Parenthood Society brought together certain civil rights campaigners and questioned them to the validity of anti abortionist ideas. Those assembled “…deplored the pro-lifers’ protests to deny Americans their constitutional right to freedom of choice…” (Hanoff 1).  This fact of the perception the antiabortionist have among civil rights workers can undermine Terry’s argument.  However any lay and untrained individual will not be privy to such historical facts and thus Terry’s argument can gain further authority.

            Terry further endeavours to gain additional weight behind his argument by quoting a former president.  A president renowned as a twentieth century liberal and advocate for freedom of speech.  This tactic and appeal to authority is inserted by the author purely to demonstrate that both John F. Kennedy and antiabortionist groups are of the same ilk and way of thinking.  Noting that this particular paragraph in the author’s rhetoric, like so many, begins with a statement of perceived fact.  “…The abortion industry can partly blame itself for the recent shootings…” In order words, the author is aiming to persuade the reader’s objectivity by underlining particular declarations, forming a foundation, that will sit in the mind of the readers throughout the reading.  The tone of such statements, as already described, can be categorised as a statement perceived fact.  It is almost as if the author is announcing this and the tone in which the reader is likely to read it gives it further strength that it may well be an accurate proclamation of the situation.

Throughout the essay, Terry refuses to label abortion supporters by anything other than negative expressions.  Where phrases such as “pro life” or even simply “pro abortion activists” can be adopted, the author instead chooses phrases like “child killers”.  This would support Terry’s philosophy that abortion is murder and would more likely sway any reader to his way of thinking.  The authors employment of Ad Hominem in comparing Salvi to such historical figures as Cromwell and Knox again, when analysed, weakens the argument that is put forward. Cromwell and Know neither have anything to do with the issue that is being discussed. However, such a comparison to historical figures again perhaps deflects the readers attention. Comparing Salvi to controversial past figures, on the face of it, reinforces Terry’s argument, however upon examination, it does nothing and in fact hinders his view by the nonsensical association. Terry tries to persuade the reader that such shootings are only to make matters worse, and in effect lead to a slippery slope.

            The author’s continual persuasion methods can be further illustrated by other examples.  “Make no mistake – what the pro-choice people want is to pressure law enforcement and the courts to intimidate who condemns abortion as murder” (Terry 517).  This single sentence has huge ramifications and certainly provides an insight into what the author is trying to achieve.  Here we see Terry identifying with the reader.  A certain confidence is displayed as a notion of “us against them” is created.  It can be argued that nearing the end of his thesis, Terry feels that he has almost won over the reader with his argument and thus his main purpose achieved.

Terry backtracks in his initial attack, blaming Governmental Institutions and Statute, by laying sole blame on the ordinary people who favour the pro life and abortion itself.  With this sentence, the author not only points the finger, but also intends to isolate, and perhaps even demonise, any lasting doubts in the reader’s minds.  Terry is trying to say that is you are in favour of abortion, you are to blame for the shootings.  Sub-consciously eroding any pro life favouritism in the reader’s way of thinking. The author boldly stating the “abortion is murder” qualifies his method of oversimplification and thus weakens his argument further. This statement is an opinion and aims to influence the reader by suggesting that the only way to commit a crime such as murder is by abortion.

            It is interesting to note that the author at no point throughout his piece promotes the shootings directly.  Merely provides arguments as to the cause of its occurrence.  His question “Has God authorized one person to be policeman, jury and executioner” is of particular interest.  On the other hand, he denounces the shootings and condemns the notion that a group or individual ought to take matters into their own hands by performing such a violent act.  The reader cannot be blamed if they are left wondering whether Terry is referring to those who carried out the shootings or to the members of the abortion industry itself.

            The author throughout this essay on the shootings at Brookline fails, to accommodate any opinion from those who may oppose his views.  In fact, wherever the mention of pro abortion is inserted, it has been met with contempt and its ideas are essentially ridiculed by the author.  This method of argument can only be adopted to portray his own stance on abortion to be the superseding and the dominant force. From such an analysis, one would assume this essay to be largely one sided. It is more of a dictation as to what Randall A.  Terry believes to be correct and fails to acknowledge any counter argument to formalize a legitimate debate.  The essay certainly proves effective in that it does clearly illustrate the passion behind the author’s ideas, however, some open debate and the author himself countering practical opposition, rather than either dismissing it or ridiculing it, would surely give further strength to Randall A. Terry’s cause.

Works Cited

Hanoff, Nat. “Civil Rights & The Anti-Abortion Protests.” The Washington Post February 6,                        1989. 1-3

Taylor, Paul. “Religion in focus.” 7th ed. CPL Publications, 2003. 173-174

Terry, Randall A. “The Abortion Clinic Shootings: Why?” Current Issues and Enduring      Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking and Argument, with Readings. Eds. Sylvan Barnet and Hugo Bedau. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007. 516-518.

Shirazi, Imam Mohammad. “War, Peace and Non-violence.” 1st ed. Tahrike, 2001. 89-91

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