Opinion

Commentary: Two examples of anti-abortion extremism

Just as the Scott Roeder murder trial gets under way in Wichita, Phil Kline surfaces again.

So fate allows for putting him in his place — somewhere on the continuum of abortion opposition, from its reasonable and thoughtful opponents, to the unethical and righteous to the insane and violent.

Roeder, the confessed killer of abortionist George Tiller, obviously sits at the most violent point on the spectrum.

A few ticks away are the radicals gleeful that Roeder's justifiable homicide defense might gain credibility by an airing in court.

And several shifts further from them is the former Kansas attorney general. Kline's no-holds-barred crusade against Tiller and Planned Parenthood has been recounted once again, this time in the form of a formal ethics complaint.

Apparently having fancied himself a sleuth for God, Kline is accused of a myriad of galling actions. I can't imagine being one of the women whose medical records were left sitting in a state employee's dining room or copied at a Kinko's in the hunt for evidence that illegal abortions were performed on underage girls.

But the spying on cars at Tiller's clinic, running of license plates, checking phone records of patients' hotels was all for naught. Nothing was ever proven.

And before anyone bothers to cast a stone against the "liberal, pro-abortion media," let me restate my disdain for abortion. My personal opposition is long-standing, grounded in a childhood upbringing in Catholicism.

Yet, although abhorrent, abortion is legal. And it's a far more complicated decision for many women than its most ardent opponents often claim.

Kline had an obligation to uphold the law, but apparently thought nothing of lying to cover his questionable if not unethical efforts, even to judges and a grand jury.

Certainly trodding over those women's rights gave him no pause. That's an extremist at work. Not one so bent as to take a gun into a church to carry out an execution, but an obsessive with a let-nothing-stand-in-the-way approach.

Will the law end up being twisted again?

Some worry that it could be, after the judge's decision to allow the defense to argue that Roeder thought the killing was somehow justified. That attitude certainly was not given such latitude when Congress and the courts wisely stomped down on anti-abortion violence in the '90s. They delivered tough new laws, but as we've learned, statutes cannot completely cap the extremism brewed by the abortion debate.

Maybe not, but for now, I'll be satisfied if Roeder feels the full force of the law. And if Kline is heavily sanctioned for misusing a public position for a personal agenda.

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