Jacob Sullum thinks it is inconsistent for pro-life groups to condemn the murder of George Tiller given their opposition to the abortionist’s work. A friend writes, “If this is satire, it is still in bad taste.” If serious, it’s also a pretty simple-minded argument.
For starters, legal abortion does not invalidate all laws against killing. A person was as morally obligated to obey laws against murder in Nazi Germany or the antebellum South as anywhere else. But more importantly, you cannot separate the morality of an action from its consequences as easily as Sullum tries to do. What he dismisses as “tactical” concerns actually determine the morality of the action.
The deliberate destruction of human life is always and everywhere an evil, a premise that leads to two conclusions: the deliberate destruction of Tiller’s life was evil and an effort to prevent evil cannot be morally justified if it in fact unleashes greater evils. It isn’t just bad tactics to take actions that increase the destruction of human life; it is morally wrong.
Organizations dedicated to expanding human beings’ legal protections against acts of lethal violence are perfectly consistent in condemning acts of lethal violence against human beings.