1. Religion & Spirituality
Scott P. Richert

Where Is the Outrage Over the Killing of a Pro-Life Activist?

By September 15, 2009

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When late-term abortionist George Tiller was murdered in the lobby of his Lutheran church on May 31, prominent pro-life organizations and leaders were quick to condemn the act of violence and to call for Tiller's murderer to be brought to justice. And rightly so: As I wrote at the time,

the murder of Tiller cannot—must not—be excused. Murder is murder, and those who would weigh the 60,000 lives that Tiller took (and those he might have taken in the future) against his own make a fundamental moral error. We cannot do evil that good may come of it, and God is the proper judge of Tiller's soul. Our duty as Christians remains the same after Tiller's murder as before: to pray for his soul.

Pro-abortion organizations made hay out of remarks by certain pro-lifers, such as Randall Terry, who seemed insufficiently concerned about the murder of Tiller. But the broad consensus among pro-lifers was that Tiller's actions and that of his murderer were of a piece: Both belonged to the Culture of Death, rather than the Culture of Life.

Now the tables have been turned, and in Owosso, Michigan, long-time pro-life activist James Pouillon has been shot and killed by a 33-year-old man who supports abortion. Harlan Drake, a truck driver, gunned down Pouillon, a 63-year-old Vietnam vet who walked with the aid of braces and used oxygen tanks to help him breathe. The murder took place across the street from the Owosso public high school, where Pouillon had just dropped off his granddaughter.

The silence from abortion "providers," activists, and pro-abortion organizations has been deafening. Some of the very same people who claimed that Tiller's murder was the result of pro-life beliefs rather than the work of a deranged man have said nothing about the clear connection between Drake's pro-abortion views and his murder of Pouillon. Unlike Tiller, Pouillon's hands were free of the blood of (by Tiller's own estimation) 60,000 unborn children; yet the silence of the pro-abortion crowd seems to imply that his murder was less important than that of Tiller.

One of the slanders often thrown at pro-lifers is that their concern for human life ends when the child is born. Measured by their respective responses to the murders of Tiller and Pouisson, the opposite seems true: Pro-lifers respect all human life, from conception to natural death (indeed, Spero News reports that at a vigil in honor of James Pouillon on September 13, pro-lifers "called for prayers for Drake, who over the weekend attempted suicide and was hospitalized"). The pro-abortion crowd, on the other hand, seems to value only lives such as that of George Tiller—lives that leave a trail of bodies in their wake.

September 15, 2009 at 12:44 pm
(1) Tom Piatak says:

An excellent piece.

September 15, 2009 at 4:16 pm
(2) commentator says:

You comment that the “silence” from “pro-abortion” activists is “deafening”, but I think that’s only true if you’re not listening.

Before your unresearched piece was ever posted statements were made by representatives from East Central Michigan’s Planned Parenthood as well as NARAL. There are likely more statements out there expressing condolences and sympathy but if you didn’t take the time to do even a little searching I’m certainly not going to run an exhaustive search.

The key difference between the NRLC and others reactions then and the more tepid response now from the other side would seem to stem from the circumstances of the two crimes.

Roeder had heavy ties to pro-life organizations and shot Tiller in church. It was premeditated. There are some indications of mental problems.

Harlane Drake was suffering his own mental problems. The fact that he killed a second man and planned to kill a third, all with no connection to abortion, says to me that his crimes were not ideologically motivated while Roeders were.

Neither pro-life nor pro-choice groups apologize on a daily basis for all the random violent crimes going on. Drake was just another violent act.

September 15, 2009 at 5:01 pm
(3) Scott P. Richert says:

“commentator,” your examples prove my point. No one had to “run an exhaustive search” to find out if any pro-life groups or activists condemned the killing of George Tiller; they did so quickly, unequivocally, and publicly.

As LifeNews.com has reported, you’re wrong about Drake’s purpose in committing the crime: “Sara Edwards, the chief assistant prosecutor for Shiawassee County, has confirmed that Pouillon’s pro-life stance was the reason he was targeted and said the suspect in custody, 33-year-old Harlan Drake has confirmed that was why he shot Pouillon.”

By your own admission, the response by abortion-advocacy groups has been “tepid,” and you justify it by trying to make Pouillon’s murder into just another random act of violence. No pro-life organization did that with Tiller’s murder.

The tepidity of the pro-abortion response is reflected in NARAL’s statement: “Today’s shootings in Michigan are tragic and our thoughts are with the families so deeply affected by this senseless violence. Although law-enforcement officials still have not commented on the shooter’s motivation, we understand that one of those murdered today was an anti-choice activist. We know all too well the chilling effect that shootings and other forms of violent intimidation have on people who have strongly held beliefs about this most personal issue.”

The mention of both shootings and the statement that Pouillon was “an anti-choice activist” tries, as you did, to deny what Drake himself has already admitted. The final line is designed to call to mind Tiller’s murder in a way that seems to say, “You got one of ours; we got one of yours. Let’s call it even.”

While some on the fringe of the pro-life movement may have made similar remarks about Tiller, no mainstream pro-life organization—the counterparts to NARAL—did.

September 15, 2009 at 6:38 pm
(4) BillXYZ says:

I don’t know who “commentator” is, or who Scott Richert is for that matter. But I bet they both have one thing in common: they’ve never been to Owosso. I’ve lived here all my life. I know three kids who watched the killing of Jim Poullion. I knew Mike Fouss and I have known Jim Howe since he was a kid. If those last two names don’t ring a bell, it proves my point that media and bloggers are not interested in the facts, but rather their agenda.

This shooter is either evil, unstable or both. I think the murders are one of the worst things to happen to a small town that is already at the epicenter of our nation’s bad economy. Poullion’s beliefs played a part in his being targeted, but his actions played a larger part. Mike Fouss and Jim Howe had othing to do with the abortion issue, but Fouss is paid no respect and the active search to kill Howe by this guy doesn’t even rate a whole paragraph.

Talk to law enforcement in Owosso. Their phone number is in the book. Look up public records. Talk to Shiawassee County Right to Life, Planned Parenthood. Print some facts or keep your wild speculations and suppositions, allegations re-printed over and over until they become “true” out of this nice town that is already grieving.

September 15, 2009 at 6:58 pm
(5) Scott P. Richert says:

“BillXYZ,” you’d lose that bet. I’ve never lived in Owosso, but I’m a native Michigander who has been to and through Owosso several dozen times in my life. I’m from Spring Lake, and my wife is from Swartz Creek, and we used to drive through mid-Michigan on 21 all the time. Owosso is, as you say, a nice town, and it’s horrible that this destruction (both the murders and the aftermath) has been visited upon a community that, like so many other small towns in mid-Michigan, is already suffering greatly from this economy. As a resident of Rockford, Illinois, I know something about that, too.

The names do more than ring a bell, because I have read the news reports. No, I do not know Howe and I didn’t know Fouss, but it’s the nature of news reporting and commentary that most people write about people they’ve never met.

My heart goes out to you and the entire town. You’re in my prayers.

September 16, 2009 at 3:14 pm
(6) Stu says:

This crime apparently has nothing to do with the killer’s stance on the abortion issue. Harlan Drake has no position there. By his account, he simply didn’t like the graphic nature of the photos held daily by Mr. Pouillon for kids to see.

It is no less or more terrible than the killing of Dr. Tiller, or anyone else. They are equally terrible. It would be disrespectful to Mr Pouillon for anyone to turn it into a political statement. I hope that ends it.

September 16, 2009 at 10:42 pm
(7) Lee says:

Poullion was killed not for his beliefs or his “cause” but was killed solely based on his demeanor and grotesque signs he displayed. Poullion should not be celebrated as a martyr or saint but rather for his cause if those who believe in it choose to do such. The man is not at all the choir boy cherry that some seem to think he is or what he is being portrayed as…..ask his family members that were beaten….the police….those who went face to face with him who endured his forked tongue and check his arrest record and the number of police related complaints he has been associated with over the years and the local businesses that have lost money trying to get him removed from their property or the countless number of parents who have to tell their kids to turn their heads or sit down with them years ahead of time to try to explain what abortion is and what a dead fetus is hanging off from a sign for. Had Jim NOT stood in front of some of the locations he did with that disgusting sign and had he not looked for confrontations and attention he would still be here.

September 16, 2009 at 11:52 pm
(8) Lee says:

The mentally disturbed Harlan Drake killed Poullion because he hated him, not because of any politically motivated pro-choice opinions. Drake was not affiliated with any pro-choice organizations nor had he ever expressed any opinions on the issue other than the outrage he felt over Poullion’s combative attitude and the fact that Poullion displayed graphic images where in the presence of children.

September 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm
(9) Paula says:

I truly don’t understand why the PLM is repeating this sort of nonsense. It’s inherently dishonest to claim that this madman was killed by a Pro Choice murderer **because** of his Anti-Choice stance. Given the nutter’s history of inappropriate behavior, I would guess he could have been protesting anything, and he would have annoyed the killer.

There is no evidence the killer is Pro-Choice. Since neither of his other two targets were public fools for the thugs of the PLM, it’s dishonest at best, if not deliberately disingenuous, to claim that the murders were politically motivated.

I think the Anti-Choice domestic terrorists are simply desperate for a martyr, and that pathetic, violent, unstable lunatic is the best they can do. That speaks volumes about the Anti-Choicers’ integrity.

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