The Wichita Divide is not about abortion, but rather, it is an examination of the incredible disunity in the United States over the moral legality of abortion. Stephen Singular frames the 2009 murder of Dr George Tiller by Scott Roeder as the focus of his examination of the extreme viewpoints and illimitable personalities involved in the insensitive, brutish persecution of abortion providers across the nation, a medical procedure which has been performed countless times since the dawn of man, and has been legal in the United States since 1973.
There are not many left these days who provide abortion services for women, even fewer who will perform a late term abortion as Dr Tiller would. Most providers have been so hounded and limited in their practice that few new doctors will even consider adding it to their skill set. As less and less men and women are willing to place themselves in constant danger and strife, women’s rights are being eroded by fanatical and often irrational groups of protesters and vigilantes who call themselves Operation Rescue, Kansans for Life or Missionaries for the Preborn but can just as easily be an Attorney General with a pro-life agenda and expansive judicial influence.
Singular paints a very grim picture of how America came to be so divided over abortion rights and he does not try to hide his dislike of both citizens and politicians alike who believe they have a god-given commandment to persecute and harass medical professionals performing a medical procedure they deem unjust and unnecessary.
Parts of this book were difficult to read; it was emotionally overwhelming to read about the zelots like Scott Roeder who, through convoluted religious conviction, came to believe that by constantly terrorizing law-abiding citizens, even to the point of shooting and killing them to “protect the unborn” they were superior and more righteous than anyone else. Roeder himself was a domineering, dismissive husband and a negligent father to all of his children, none of whom would have any contact with him beyond adolescence.
There was a question that constantly ran through my mind as I read The Wichita Divide. If these zealots do somehow, someday convince the supreme court to overturn Roe v. Wade and abortion is once again an illegal procedure, who will they blame when, not just the unborn, but their mothers are dying from back alley or self-induced procedures? Who will be saved then? Magical thinking can not make the realities of women’s lives disappear or make every pregnancy a wanted and planned one. Tiller’s motto was “Trust Women” and my truest wish is that this should become the guiding wisdom in the abortion debate.
The Wichita Divide drives home that we live in very dangerous times.