I would like to express my extreme displeasure over "Frontline's" production of "Murder on Abortion Row." The broadcast sadly demonstrated yet again the continual failure of the majority of American news media to present an unbiased, intelligent documentary which attempts to grapple with this country's severe societal problems. My arguement is most fully demonstrated by the repeated insult of denying individuals of a different political persuasion the right to self-determination. (i.e., Pro-Lifers were continually referred to as "anti-abortion," or "anti-choice.") Worse still, "Frontline" has now produced a much-needed examination of the potential role which silicon breast implants have played in the most un- fortunate production of breast cancer -but all in a rather vain attempt at identifying the previous program ("Murder on Abortion Row," and therefore abortion) with a genuine women's issue, breast cancer. I am deeply saddened by the state to which PBS has degenerated over the last decade. The program was utterly absurd, and its bias so very pronounced that I am sure it damaged (rather than aided) the genocidal hypocrisy which "Frontline" is apparently so enamoured with.
My reaction to this program was nothing short of awe. The story was compellingly and brilliantly presented. So much so that the issue of abortion was almost secondary to the people and their lives leading up to this tragedy. This documentary was ten times as moving as any fictional film I have ever seen. Thank you Frontline.
Todd Reece Douglas
Bill White As I have tried to request, via "snail-mail" in 1994 (with no satisfying response forthcoming from you at that time), I would like to see your show dispel the notion that you are biased in your portrayal of pro-life issues ("anti- abortion" or "anti-choice" as it is called in liberal circles), or pushing your own editorial agenda which is not allowed within the context of the Public Broadcasting Act, by showing abortion in a more scientifically/ morally balanced manner.
Abortion is linked to an increased incidence of breast cancer, to post-abortion depression lingering years after the procedure, and to fatalities (some abortionists have been successfully prosecuted) attributable to the procedure. Abortion clinic staff have a fairly high drop-out rate, which says something about the gruesomeness of the procedures they repeatably witness in clinics.The profitability of the abortion industry is a topic completely ignored by your program.
Abortion on Demand, without concern to the viability of the fetus, as well as fetal tissue farming/research, are not the highly popular opinions (of the majority of Americans) that you sublimally indicate (as can readily be shown in a variety of surveys). The public's funding of abortion (which in most cases is performed for the birth control convenience of the mother), and of abortion support groups such as Planned Parenthood (which funding access is denied to groups such as the National Right To Life organization offering abortion alternatives), has nothing to do with an individual's choice.
The application of the RICO act against peaceful pro-life demonstrators at/near abortion clinics, when the authors of the act have gone on public record to state that they purposely wrote the act (in the late 60's?) to exclude it's application to ethical, non-financially based demonstrations such as the anti-Viet Nam War movement, is hypocritical on the part of organizations such as NOW and Planned Parenthood (which are pushing these prosecutions/persecutions).
This is far from the first program that you have produced and aired, that shows pro-lifers in a negative, extremist light, while "pro-abortion" advocates are depicted as reasonable, non-violent people (again totally ignoring any evidence of violence perpetrated against peaceful "anti-abortion" demonstrators).
I was moved to tears by your excellent program "Murder on Abortion Row," and as a fellow journalist commend you for your excellent coverage of this difficult subject. I was reminded of something an abortion clinic volunteer once told me about the protests against the clinics in my own city. She said one of the most vehement of the leaders of the pro-life movement here came to the clinic secretly one evening and had an abortion. This woman, who is also an important member of her religious community, then proceeded to resume her prominent place on the picket line and loudly protest the clinic's existence some five days later. Journalists come upon all kinds of outrageous and hypocritical behaviors in the course of pursuing a story, but this one really took my breath away. On reflection, however, I was not surprised. Religion has become such a snake oil business in this country, that it can't help but attract the easily led and the ethically confused. Quasi-religious g! roups like Operation Rescue simply play on the egos of the weak-minded and the self-righteous. If it weren't abortion, it would be something else for people like these. John Salvi is simply the logical extension of their collective, conspicuously pious psyches. If these people really want to do some good, why don't they "rescue" abandoned, crack-addicted, cruelly abused living children? I'll tell you why. That would be a real commitment and too much like real work. By taking the easy way out and screaming their silly heads off in front of abortion clinics, they get the best of everything: approval from their leaders, both political and religious, a chance to vent vile invectives against hapless women who can't answer them in kind, get their ridiculous faces in the media. They want so much to be "in the right" that they make it easy for someone like John Salvi to do real wrong.
Isn't the title of your program "Murder on Abortion Row" a little redundant? Isn't it a little like saying "dead bodies in a cemetary?" Those of us who are pro-life do not think it news that murder occurs on "abortion row." In fact, we believe it happens every day-about 30 million since 1970.
If you folks at 'GBH are truly interested in respecting the pro-life position, couldn't you have picked a better title.
PS I do appreciate your programming very much!
I thought this piece was excellent, simply excellent. I felt as though it succintly captured the current state of abortion in the US and in particular the out-of-control nature of the pro-life movement.
Still, I feel as though the issue of John Salvi's involvement in the abortion movement to be less a situation of the misguided and reckless direction of the pro-lifers and more a case of simple mental instability. he was an unbalanced person who happened to fall into this destructive path. If he wouldn't have have walked into the abortion clinics, he would have walked into his old job and wiped out two or three people. and if not that, it would have been on a Boston train and five or ten people.
But, and most importantly, where was the scrutiny of his old boss in florida, the original owner of the gun and unquestionably one of the real villians of the whole horrible incident. he gave John Salvi the gun that killed these people -- knowing that he was mentally unstable. How in the world can this man escape at least partial responsibility. In one statement the man is saying he sold the gun to Salvi, in another he's saying that he fired him from his job because he was mentally disturbed. Evidently the man has no concept of personal responsibility. Does FRONTLINE?
San Francisco, CA
I would like to comend you on an enlightening and necessary program. I say enlightening because of the in-depth research and interviews that provided the background of both Salvi and the brutally murdered women, and necessary because I feel it is important to understand how this could happen in order to prevent it from ever happening again. Operation Rescue should shoulder some of the blame for this event. How can they claim otherwise when the climate they create through fear and fanaticism gives birth to such human depraivity? The "Rico" laws must be used, immediately, to end this climate of hostility and restore intelligent, legal debate as the forum for any discussion of abortion. I and other pro-choice women are willing to discuss, but not in a place or situation where we feel our lives and the lives of medical professionals are threatened to any degree.
North Aurora, Illinois
I watched with interest your program "Murder on Abortion Row" last night and found it to be a masterfully crafted piece of journalism. Instead of becoming mired in debating the morality of abortion you focussed on the lives brutalized by this tragic event. A true story of finding victims on both sides. While your goals did not include defending Frontline's politics, you defined yourselves as being truely objective reporters. Those critics who in the past have thought your program too liberal must be disappointed that you navigated the abortion minefield successfully.
You missed the boat with "Murder on Abortion Row." Violence is inherent in an abortionist society, and begins with the 1.5 million acts of violence per year against the most defenseless of the human communnity. The tragic deaths of Shannon Lowney and Leigh Ann Nichols are the result of a paradoxical society that is willing to accept the violence of abortion, but is shocked at the violence of a man driven mad by the very concept of abortion. Frontline's attempts to portray Lowney and Nichols as the polar opposite of their victimizer overlooks their similarities. They were all willing to take part in violence.
Edward R. Cohn
I really thought you did a wonderful job of covering the problems surrounding a person taking matters to violent extremes in attempting to persuade others of their point of view. I was very frightened by the support given by clergy to those that took the law into their own hands, murdering or commiting other acts of violence upon people that happen to believe differently than they do. I feel sorry for the parents on both sides and hope this opens the eyes of family members or friends of individuals that are as disturbed as John Salvi was prior to the murders.
Morgantown, West Virginia
"Murder on Abortion Row" was an incredibly balanced program, and anyone who tries to claim otherwise did not watch the whole thing. This kind of program is such a breath of fresh air in the smog of so-called news shows on other networks. After viewing the program, I am convinced that Mr. Salvi suffers from a severe mental illness, but it is clear that he is not the only one out there. Hopefully, the anti-abortion will realize that as well.
I found your episode "Murder on Abortion Row" to be rather biased. Was there a terrible crime commited, yes, was there repecusions, yes, was the Catholic Church at fault, NO. I found the emphasis on Catholic Churches to be quite disturbing. I thought that the days of attacking Catholics for being different were over, guess I was wrong. I also feel that your timing in presenting this episode could have been better, a delay of a week would have been appropriate. Otherwise, a good example of the human side of tragedy.
I have comments to make on so many different levels, I scarcely know where to begin. My heart aches at the loss of the two sweet girls. My mind cannot grasp the concept that a man could actually extinguish these two lives, under the banner of religion. But my heart also aches for Mr. and Mrs. Salvi, who are carrying around a huge amount of guilt for something that they could not have foreseen. Decent, God-fearing parents can raise a child the "right way" and can never be assured s/he won't become the notorious monster of tomorrow's headlines. Increasingly, to voice views contrary to those espoused by conservatives is a brave thing, indeed. The omnipotent right-wing is a formidable critic of "the media," and the lengths to which Rush Limbaugh's ilk will go to squelch or discredit those who do voice an alternate opinion, border on frightening. I applaud your bravery for airing this piece. At the same time, I am disgusted at terming "brave" the act of broadcasting a non-Pro Life piece. This is not to suggest that the documentary was biased against the Pro Life movement, only that Pro Lifers will find anything not expressly FOR them to be AGAINST them. How many millions of lives have been sacrificed for the sake of someone's "one, true religion?" And in this the late second millenium on Planet Earth, how many more will we allow? By our words, we influence. By our example, we lead. Because of our superstitious beliefs, and because we, ourselves are desperate for immortality, we murder. Although religions have given comfort and hope to billions of mortals around the world for a million years, these same religions have brought to an end millions of REAL lives, for the hope of being awarded a life after their own death. Poppycock! Thanks, Frontline
Very truly yours,
Violence is violence, no matter who the victims are (the aborted-murdered children, and the workers at the abortion clinic). The Catholic Church does not support this violence. You "sainted" the abortion worker, and judged John Salvi. Both in my view behaved unjustly, and are considered unstable-the abortion workers for aiding in the murder of children, and Salvi for his brutal tactics. You can condemn behaviors, but do not judge anyone for acting on behaviors and ideas that you yourself promote (ie. abortion workers committing violence to unborn children). Complete a more balanced debate of the abortion issue. We are PRO-LIFE and want to be refered to as such!!!!!
I was really move by your program in the Feb. 6 broadcast. I would like to thank this station and your staff about reporting such subject as aboration with such fairness and insight. I was across the street when the murder just happen, I was shock and sadden by a group of people which think killing another human being will help save another. Today people use violence to stop violence and the truth is it does not work! I wish those people will watch the program and rethink about their goal. I am not saying everyone is a murder, but not saying no means saying yes in most situation. Once again I would like to thank you for your insight and hard work to bring this program to my TV set every Tuesday evening.
Your murder in abortion row show was thought provoking. What we were concerned with however was how you focused on the Pro-life protestors and down played the pro-choice protests done in support for the clinic. Where were all the volunteers who had the courage to escort the scared and vulnerable women into the clinic. They risked their own lives to protect these women from the pro-life fanatics. We could not understand how pictures of aborted children were often focused on by your cameras, yet there was no single picture or depiction of women who were permanently injured or killed as a result of back alley abortions. Or better yet, why not pictures of children found by police in dumpsters abandoned by their mothers who could not take care of them. We feel that if you will be presenting an objective view of abortion that you should give equal attention and time to both sides.
Jenn & Ray
Regarding your report "Murder on Abortion Row", I sat in utter amazment as I watched your reporting of this horrific tragedy. Your journalistic aproach was awe-inspiring, leading from facts to interviews; moreover, the realistic comments of Shannon's family themselves. Of course, I could go on and on regarding those points of realism which surround such an issue, but I won't. No need. Your reporting spoke for itself. I'm sure I was not the only American watching others justify murder to encase murder. Supposed "Christian-zealots", with their left hands oblivious to what their right hands were doing. Yet, what I'd like to comment upon is your showcasing of the very families themselves, and how they, in that effort of togetherness - learned to deal with such a loss. Shannon's parents were so strong, unwaivering in their love and rememberance of such a beautiful daughter - and her brother and sister, oh God, why I was never left so touched. The strength of Shannon's life flowed through them all, and the aborhance of such a hideous act by those who claimed "Jesus" as their foundation, well, that stood as the only sermon left to these ears. Thank you Frontline for your reports. They bring our minds to the "frontline", and those issues which will shape generations to come; moreover, those very lives showcased. Please give my heartfelt gratitude and support to the family of Shannon, as well as to the other "sister" who died by her side. It's true Frontline, why even in our day and age, why we still have heros.
This program was ever so skillfully and subtley anti-Catholic and pro-abortion. All of the "pro-choice" people were made to appear very noble-- the nurse, for example, who was "in a procedure" when the gunfire erupted. What procedure? Killing an unborn baby? Meanwhile, John Salvi's apparent derangement is always asssociated with reading the Bible, praying, having spiritual delusionsã-and if that did not get the point across, the narrative was accompanied by visuals of religious statues or prayer processions. I must concur with Dr. William Donahue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights that this program was anti-Catholic. It clearly wished to associate the alleged crimes of John Salvi with the Catholic faith that he professes yet, sad to say, does not understand. I grieve for his suffering parents, as well as for the murder victims--born and unborn--and their loved ones.
Father Gregory Coiro, O.F.M.Cap.
Director of Media Relations
Archdiocese of Los Angeles
I was so moved by the show on the John Salvi murders at the Brokline women's clinics. It immediately brought back all the anger and sadness that I felt at the time of the shootings a year ago. I want to thank you for continuuing coverage on a topic so vitally important to all women. It is a shame that the media opts not to continue coverage of such vital importance over news such as Michael Jackson's divorce. This show has inspired me continue taking positive action for the feminist movement in spite of all the criticism there. Thank you once again for remoinding me once again how much we have to do as women for women.
After watching your documentary/coverage of this subject, it was clear that your reporting was biased and opinionated. As an "evangelical" Christian, I am tired of reporting which paints us as fanatics who can't think intellectually on subjects such as abortion. I happen to believe that abortion is ending a human--that it is in fact, murder. Given that I believe this, how should I act? Should I simply say that abortion is legal and therefore it is okay?
What an incredibly moving documentary. You took me into the lives of these people and made me care greatly about what happened to them as *individuals*. It was more than another senseless murder story by some wacko with a gun -- it became personal for me. Heart-wrenching stuff as it should be. Keep up the excellent work.
The presentation "Murder on Abortion Row" was unquestionnably well-produced and deftly executed, providing a rich, dense tapestry of the human condition. The power of this presentation was as compelling in its production as in the subject matter.
Having practiced and taught differential diagnosis while working in locked psychiatric facilities for more than six years, the content of your portrait of John Salvi lead me to a firm conclusion that I was observing the onset and outcome of a florid psychiatric disorder - Schizophrenia, Paranoid type. It is important to know that this disorder is particularly disarming to the families of the patient, because it is usually accompanied by reasonably high, albeit guarded and rigid, daily functioning, and is usually distinguished primarily by the presence of fixed and irrational illusions that are not immediately apparent the the casual observer. For this reason, it can also be one of the most dangerous conditions in that there is the potential for exlosive, florid episodes that leave everyone around the patient stunned and disoriented. In this respect, particularly, my heart goes out to the family of John Salvi, who are victims as well in this human pathos. I took exception, however, to what appeared to be the pro-abortion endorsement of the presentation. The form and texture of the presentation portrayed the abortion staffs as clear-headed and clinical, while the protesters seemed emotionally driven and somewhat irrational. I can point specifically to the camera's focus on the black female protester who was always seen spraying saliva as she spoke, and the unfortunate focus on the white male with the bullhorn, shouting support at the building where John Salvi was being held after his arrest. Within a different context, the abortion staff might also have been seen as cold and unfeeling toward a helpless fetus.
The clearest fact that could, and I believe should be conveyed, is that the adversarial climate of the abortion dispute, maintained and promoted by both sides, is a fertile environment for tragedy. It is axiomatic that a person such as John Salvi will almost certainly be drawn to such an environment - given that he most likely saw himself as a mesenger from God, an avenging angel with a sacred mission. The line between John Salvi and the respective opponents in this debate is a precariously thin one, that continues to hold the potential for repetition. I hold equal empathy for the families of the victims, whose losses are as poignant as those of the Salvi family. I must point out, however, that Shannon Lowney also appeared somewhat messianic, and perhaps, only misguided, given her apparent interpersonal appeal. Her aggressive behavior, as evidenced by the participation in the hostility toward the male effigy figure and in confronting demonstrators, fairly consistently placed her in harm's way. Yet her family was as oblivious to her apparent skew, albeit less florid than John Salvi's. Such was also the case for his family. Perhaps we were observing the steady march of two would-be martyrs, equally messianic in their pursuits.
Your title was apt, if not brilliant. "Murder on Abortion Row" eloquently conveys the gruesome turbulence inherent to an industry that alters life potential. I only wish to challenge you to appear less sympathetic to the pro-life position, and more focused on defusing this dangerous killing ground. There are unquestionably more John Salvi's or "Joan Salvi's" out there, and we all desperately need to devote our efforts to eliminate this fertile ground that will most certainly nourish their growth and florid expression. To do less verges on irresponsibility. Again, your presentation was very powerful, if for no other reason than it brilliantly captured the volatility of the situation.
What ever happened to the first rule of good journalism? - Objective not subjective. The light in which you showed the pro abortion issue was noticeably bias. You played soothing, quite music while interviewing pro-abortion people. On the other hand, no music or loud chanting background noise was constantlly interviened, displaying an uneasyness while interviewing pro life persons. Talk about experimenter bias. The sancity of life is at stake here and you just gave the value of life a giant step backwards!
Your presentation was quite illuminating overall. But I resent your application of the label "Pro-Life" to those who seek to take away the right to legal and safe abortions. By using a term invented by the antiabortion movement, you are playing, however indirectly into their hands. I would suggest you use the more generic term "anti-abortion" rather than "Pro-Life" when you seek to describe the sides in this issue.
As a member of the Boston College community, I want to thank you for your fair portrayal of Boston College and what it stands for. Shannon Lowney exemplifies all that Boston College stands for. I must take exception,though, with the parents of John Salvi, not to act on their son's bizzare behavior when it first manifested itself is a crime in itself. Regrets will not bring back two people whose lives at such young ages were so valuable. Imagine what they could of accomplished if fate had not entered upon the scene.
I saw your program last night on John Salvi and the victims that fell to his psychotic anti-abortion display here in Boston. I have never seen a program with such detail on the tragic shooting which affected us all. I have been keeping up with this story in the Boston Globe and Herald, but nowhere have I learned so much about John Salvi, the scary views of those who support him, his parents (whom I feel sorry for) and the wonderful women who's lives were taken from us all. Much congratulations on producing such a high quality and journalistic program. Keep up the good work!
My wife and I had intended to turn in early last night, but instead, we found ourselves riveted to the television with the story of the Brookline murders. We are great fans of Frontline. We find it to be one of the more objective news programs, dealing with some of the more newsworthy current issues. We are not solidly aligned with either the pro-choice or right to life movements. We feel there is a need to consider the right of abortion in certain cases. This program did not alter our beliefs, perhaps, but we were both struck with a sense of disbelief in the naivetÈ of some of right to life activists who feel that there is any justification for the taking of a persons life. I think the excerpt from Shannon's diary addressed this point in a most eloquent manner. We were struck by the irony!
As a personal friend and Boston College classmate of Shannon Lowney, I commend you on your program "Murder on Abortion Row". As you well know, yours was the first program to grapple with the personal side of this unbelieveable tragedy. Those who watched last night's program and did not know Shannon personally now understand why the sun has shone a bit more dimly since December 30th, 1994. While I can not speak more highly of the content of your program, I was troubled by your decision to air it during the jury selection phase of Salvi's trial. You must have known how difficult and tedious the selection process can be - especially in a high-profile case such as this. Were the ratings really worth the risk of poisoning the jury pool? Could you not have waited at least until a jury was chosen? For your sake, I hope your decision does not jeopardize the integrity of this important trial. The Lowneys and Shannon deserve better after all they have been through.
Your program caused me to wonder if any statistical information has been gathered regarding other activities of self-proclaimed militant right-to-lifers. Specifically, I wonder: 1)What percentage of them volunteer regularly at children's hospitals? 2)What percentage of them devote their time to helping children born with AIDS or addicted to drugs? 3)What percentage of them regularly volunteer to teach underprivileged children, or house them, or clothe them? 4)What percentage of them have in fact adopted children? 5)What percentage of them have devoted their spare time to educate MEN in their reproductive responsibilities? 6)What percentage of them serve as foster parents for children in crisis, victims of abuse, or casualties of divorce? In short, does any statistical evidence exist which might demonstrate that right-to-lifers are as zealous on behalf of the already-born as they claim to be on behalf of the un-born?
A sad and scary documentary. Killing life in the name of saving life? A crazy logic if there ever was one. One would think that after the Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, etc. the church would have learned about the collective group ego, and how self-righteousness, and judgement in the service of "my beliefs are right, therfore I can judge, try, and execute", usurp those rights usually left to God's judgement not man's. Someone said that Jesus is a crutch for the ego that is a mortally dangerous fundamentalist totem with two heads, one human, one divine, of which the history is extremely bloody, neither human nor divine. "It is wise to avoid militants of all plumage, to trust only the fanatically unfanatic."
Menlo Park, CA
I sat transfixed, unmoving, staring at my screen. Mostly, I was trying to comprehend how this much insanity can continue in American cities for so long. About the time of these murders, I was living a block from a Planned Parenthood clinic in San Rafael, CA. One night, as I passed by the window overlooking the clinic, a bomb exploded. I weep for the families of all those who lost loved ones. I weep for the parents of that young man. For they have lost a loved one, too. Thank you for the continuing excellence you present as you practice your craft. I'd say more, but the program numbed me to the point of speechlessness. Sad, so sad.
I was impressed and moved by your excellent program on the Brookline shootings. More than anything else, I came away from your program deeply saddened and disturbed not only by the actions of John Salvi, nor by the response of the anti- choice movement, but most of all by the sense of profound loss felt by those who knew and loved Shannon Lowney and Leigh Ann Nichols. Perhaps the greatest tragedy in this is simply the refusal of the anti-choice movement to recognize their responsibility in the murders of these two young women. Perhaps a program on John Burt (of Pensacola fame) would be in order, as well?
The report "Murder On `Abortion Row'" was both sensitive and provocative. I was greatly moved by the tragic and senseless end of two beautiful lives. Although Salvi was deemed competent I am left wondering if he isn't really insane. How can such behaviour as his before the murders go unchecked? I believe that the extremist pro-life groups that sanction murder need to do some radical soul-searching and basic instruction in logic. Isn't the advocation of murder a gross contradiction of Christ's lessons? Religion aside, I feel that pro-life leaders advocating murder, such as Rev. Spitz, bear heavy moral responsibility for violent acts committed in support of their cause. Spitz, and others, should be tried along with Salvi. Someday I hope that abortions will no longer be necessary. But for now, our world just isn't that perfect. Women must have the right to choose their reproductive future.
As I watched your piece on the killing of two receptionists at women's clinics in Boston, I found myself overcome by several emotions. I felt pity for LeeAnn's fiance who seemed to be drowning alone in grief and loss; I felt compassion and hurt for Shannon's family whose love and pain were so easily heard in their words about Shannon. I found myself understanding the tears of John Salvo's parents as they wrestled with their shock, disappointment and tremendous guilt. But beyond these, I realized that what upset me the most about your story was the reactions of the protesters whose presence eventually led to these killings. Where was the remorse? Do these people not realize that by labelling the clinic and its employees murderers, they were inciting violence, and that once violence erupted, they would have no one to blame but themselves? Those who protested against the clinics led directly to these women's deaths; their rhetoric of anger and hate manipulated and catalyzed the actions of Salvo, a man who obviously suffers from schitzophrenic tendencies. While the picketers may control their own actions, they also contribute to the actions of others, and in this case their contribution was death. The people who claim such concern over amorphous cells within a woman's body seemed to lose their compassion when it comes to those already born. Where were the prayers for Shannon and LeeAnn? I find it unconscionable that after two innocent people died, protesters still came, shouting their hateful, murderous words. In the past I have thought about members of Operation Rescue, considering them passionate about their beliefs while misguided in their attempts to help those about whom they profess to care (namely, the unborn). Yet, after watching your documentary, I realized for the first time that these protesters are agents of propaganda for their moralizing male leaders. They shout the slogans of their leaders; they do the work of their organizers. And for this reason they are no different from Salvo, the man who committed the murders. They are all agents for the men who tell them how to think and act. The only difference between Salvo and the picketers is that Salvo suffers from schitzophrenia. The deaths of LeeAnn and Shannon are the obvious outcome from such demonstrations. For when one preaches that abortion is murder, how can one then be surprised when murder ensues? On a totally different note, I thought that LeeAnn warranted more time than your piece allowed her. Her life was stolen from her, and you owed her at least as much coverage as the man who took this life from her. Otherwise, I found this to be a riviting and amazing piece of reporting.
My heart was broken repeatedly throughout your very poignant and thought-provoking broadcast tonight. The many levels on which it reached me are a measure of the multilayered complexities of the many issues you raised. I think it's tragic how Americans seem to be unable to engage in dialog about abortion. Instead, we seem to stand on our own sidewalk, be it in front of a clinic, in the halls of academia, or in a church, and shout at the opposite sidewalk. We're both unable to listen or be heard. As a society we seem stuck in ethical adolencense, where we can't seem to allow that abortion is possibly an immoral choice - but only the woman can make that determination. I think it's tragic that radical pro-life activists feel so marginalized in our culture that the basic bonds of the social contract are broken, and they can rationalize committing murder. What led them to so completely identify with fetuses? I can hardly speak of Shannon Lowrey's and her family's tragedy. I'm Shannon's age, and her academic and ethical interests are a virtual mirror to my own. I especially understand her struggle to grow and learn in an academic environment marked by dramatic conflict between left and right. I admire and respect her organization of the debate you refered to - "Men and Abortion." Here was a woman actively searching for understanding, and constructively working it out. It's hard for me to hear her story and not despair for the future, to feel that the stuggle to find meaning and purpose is not ultimately futile. I'm left with the root of the tragedy, which, thankfully, is one where perhaps some positive change can occur. Had Salvi's parents and others understood mental illness better, perhaps some intervention could have occured before things culminated in a larger tragedy. Ignorance about the nature of mental illness leads to not just oversight, but stigmatization and ultimately persecution. When members of our society better understand the nature of mental illness, at the very least the debate about the insanity defense will be better informed, leading to real justice. And ultimately, a better understanding will lead to better idenfication of mental illness and better solutions . When we can look into our heart of darkness, see ourselves unflinchingly and compassionately, then perhaps we'll have a chance at preventing the cycle of burgeoning tragedy.
Your story tonight saddened me all over again. I clearly remember watching last year in disbelief the reports on these horrible killings. As a Christian I was horrified yet again that the "Christian" community either condoned these murders, or kept a hypocritical silence. The acts of these missionaries of hate sickens me, and enrages me further when they invoke God's name. Their Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition mentality is in no way Christian. Christ's only messages were of love and forgiveness. The only judgement he spoke of was reserved for the Divine. Those terrorists who condone and encourage these and other murders may think they are holding the hand of God, but it is the Prince of Lies who puts the loaded gun in their other hand. Those of us who believe in the lessons Jesus taught must start speaking up if we wish to reclaim the true message of our beliefs, and bring an end to the evil among us. If these acts are not evil, then everything in our belief system is fraudulent; and I cannot accept that. If I had one criticism of your program, it was that there was no spokesperson for the Christian faith who vehemently decried the murders, and the terrorists who encourage them. The Monsignor (I'm sorry, was it Cardinal) who was interviewed was certainly a dispassionate spokesperson, and represented his church well; however I would like to see others who were less restrained in their views. Perhaps this would only add fuel to the fire, however. I am not qualified to say.
Thank you for your always thought provoking program.
Excellent in-depth study, especially the portions revealing the mind-set of those who still, after lapse of 20 years since Roe v. Wade, will not accept the right of a woman to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Religion is, and always has been, the curse of mankind.
Grand Rapids, MI
A sad but important program that the zealots and idealogues on both sides of this issue should be compelled to watch. I was transfixed to the set. My compliments to Frontline for avoiding the emotional treatment that we see on the commercial networks. The program was in the best tradition of Ed Murrow and what is right about broadcast journalism. It is truly sad that men and women are driven to irrational acts by a society that seems to have forgotten how to respect opposing viewpoints.
As a clinic worker who daily puts her own ;ife on the ;line I want to thank you for the very excellent job you did with a sensitive and emotionally charged subject. I believe that the story accurately portrayed the reality of aobortion in this country today and I hope that others who are not as closely asociated with the frontlines will havde a better feel for the danger that we encounter each day as we are exposed to the retoric and hatred of a zealous few. It's important for the general public to understand the issue from the frontlines if abortion is to remain a truly legal and viable option. Thank you for a jo well done. My passion for the issue will never wane but it is nice to have it acknowledged from time to time on national television.
Tonight's Frontline was perhaps the best use of television journalism that I have ever seen. Thank you for showing this in its entirety. But you have put forward quite a profound question : Who is guilty? Although I totally support a woman's right to have an abortion, I find it hard to blame the Church for these gruesome murders. On the other hand, John Salvi certainly had soaked up religios doctrine to the point that he felt justified in his actions. Anti-abortionists should be aware that their anger is a force that could be used again and again by unstable individuals, and that because of the constant repetition of this violence, have become partners in crime. This was such a tragedy-tone down your rhetoric !
What an absolutely devastating peice. I pride myself on not being shaken by media accounts and still wept throughout the whole program. I have never before seen the aftermath of violence portrayed in such emotional depth. What a horrendous, horrible loss to those who knew both of these excellent human beings. Congratulations on a peice of excellent journalism that I wish never had to be made.
Although I am pro-life, and found this program to sometimes seem to drift to the 'choice' side of the coin, I must tell you that I found your coverage to be more unbiased than anything I have ever seen in the media on this issue. I feel that you covered the story well, and my heart goes out to the families of the victims of John Salvi. I also vehemently admonish the radical people who praise the actions of men like Salvi. They claim to be Christian, but I see no evidence that they are reading the same bible that the rest of us are.