Jesurgislac’s Journal

June 9, 2009

The day I killed

Filed under: Bad Stuff Happens — jesurgislac @ 8:56 pm
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2nd May 1990. I got a phonecall from my best friend. Her cat was having kittens, literally, and so – metaphorically – was she. I arrived when they were only a few hours old, and I looked down at the litter and pointed out the one I wanted. Eight weeks later I took her home.

She was my cat in a way no other cat ever was or ever will be. She rode on my shoulder. She came to greet me when I came home, lifting her head to have her nose petted and, if I picked her up, twisting round in my arms to clamber on to her favourite resting place, couched like a cat out of heraldry across my shoulders: all my t-shirts had holes in them. Once she was out of kittenhood she never once clawed my bare skin. She hated vets, and would sit growling on the table as I held her with my face down by hers, assuring her that the nice man with the big needle wasn’t going to hurt her. (Once or twice vets warned me I shouldn’t have my face so close to her when she was growling like that: I assured them she wasn’t going to go for me.) She wasn’t a lapcat, but a few times in my life when I was emotionally distraught, she came and sat on me sympathetically. I could look over at her and say her name and she would start purring, even across the other side of the room.

She was beautiful and elegant and intelligent and I was her human and she was my cat.

She was getting older and more fragile, but still herself; playing dominance games with the neighborhood cats though they outweighed her (she used to be a fighter: a ragged ear and a ragged eye from the times she couldn’t get away , but both healed clean). But one day in August 2005 she didn’t come to the door to greet me. I went to find her, and she was curled up on my bed, looking as if moving was too much for her. I took her to the vet, and the vet x-rayed her and told me:

She had a tumour in the wall of her stomach. Inoperable.

“You can take her home. But don’t take too long.”

I don’t know how to tell you the next part. I killed her. I paid a vet to do it, but I did it.

I paid the housecall fee for a vet to come round: the day after the day after they told me. She spent the last morning of her life in the garden, in the sun, and once or twice she looked the way she had even six months ago, even a year ago: and I wished it wasn’t true but I knew it was. I’d called my manager and got the day off work: he was sympathetic.

The vet injected her with a sedative. I held her on my lap until she went to sleep. Then we put her on a towel and the other injection went in: she died after a few minutes.

I still think, sometimes: could I have done something if I’d known about the tumour earlier? By that time I was taking her to the vet for checkups every couple of months, and the vet hadn’t found the tumour last time. Could I have kept her alive longer? Did I have to kill her then?

I’ve been having arguments online with people who think late-term abortions shouldn’t happen for about as long as I’ve been online. They tell me a natural death is better, that it’s wrong to kill, that women who make the decision to kill a fetus that’ll never live or live a brief life in excruciating pain, are cowards and irresponsible – that they ought to want to give birth and watch as their baby dies in pain, because that’s the pro-life thing to do.

I know that deciding to kill my cat, after she’d had fifteen years of life, was not a decision on a par with having to decide about a late-term abortion. But I also know that decision was the one that caused me about the worst pain I’ve ever felt, that I still can’t write or talk about it without crying. It wasn’t easy. It was hard to decide, hard to do, it hurt to do.

I don’t even know if it was the right decision. I don’t think it was: I think that I had been put in a place where there were no right decisions to make. I had a cat, I loved her, she was going to die, and if I left making the decision too long, she was going to suffer horribly. The decision had to be made. I was the only person who could make it. There were no right decisions to make. So I decided to do what I knew would mean the least suffering for my cat: I had her put to sleep, then killed, when I was holding her.

And you can call that decision whatever you like. But all my cat knew was that she’d spent a morning in the sun, that I held her on my lap, that she went to sleep on the human she’d trusted almost since her eyes were open. I killed her. I was not pro-life. I chose for her to die, because she was my cat, and I was her human, and it was my choice to make.

George Tiller memorial

June 8, 2009

Exposing Ed Whelan

Ed Whelan got trounced by Publius of Obsidian Wings – one too many times, apparently – and decided, since he couldn’t win an argument with Publius, he’d try to beat him up some other way.

Here’s how: Re: Exposing Ed Whelan – Bench Memos on National Review Online

Shared via AddThis

Update: Ed Whelan apologised, and Publius accepted. I find it ironic that Whelan behaved better than Kathryn Cramer under the same circumstances – and that his apology, however clumsy, was better-expressed than BitchPhD’s sorry-you-were-offended. In fact, not just ironic: I find it actively depressing. I’d rather Whelan had to look to SF fans and feminists for a good example, not the other way about.

June 3, 2009

Moral Courage

A former pro-lifer who has moral courage: a current pro-lifer without it.

An evangelical Christian with both moral courage and kindness; an evangelical Christian who has neither.

The sad thing is: you could go on forever on the one side, finding examples of pro-lifers and evangelical Christians with neither moral courage nor kindness in them.

June 2, 2009

Pro-life is what they call themselves

Doctor George Tiller was murdered by a thug who had listened to rhetoric from the pro-life movement that told him over and over and over again that the life-saving medical care Doctor Tiller provided was murder.

The pro-lifers who used this rhetoric are now saying: “oh, this is nothing to do with us. Just because we claimed that women who got late-term abortions were selfish bitches who were murdering their own babies, just because we claimed the doctors who performed these abortions were killers – it’s got nothing to do with us and the language we use that one of our number ended Doctor Tiller’s work and his life by murdering him. We reject that murder! Those people are nothing to do with us! We’re standing right over here washing our hands, and we still think:

What Tiller did was wrong. Make no mistake. He was not providing emergency care to rape or incest victims. He was not treating sick women with appropriate medical procedures. He was performing late-term abortions, which means that he was destroying fetuses that might have survived outside the womb. In other words, he was killing babies.” actual pro-lifer without shame

Face-saving apologies and mouthed regrets: no shame over the rhetoric that led one of their number, a pro-lifer with a gun, to end the life of one denounced by the pro-life movement as a murderer.

George Tiller joins the sad record of others murdered by the pro-life movement for providing health care: Doctor David Gunn; Doctor John Britton, and James Barrett; Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols; Robert Sanderson; and Doctor Barnett Slepian.

We should also remember June Barrett, who was shot by the same pro-life attacker who murdered her husband, but who survived; Doctor Calvin Jackson, stabbed 15 times by a pro-lifer who wanted to kill him; Doctor David Gandell, injured by flying glass when a pro-lifer shot through the window of his home; and Emily Lyons, severely injured in the pro-life bombing which also killed Robert Sanderson.

These are all murders and attempted murders committed by the pro-life movement over the last 26 years.

There have also been 175 arson attacks, 179 instances of assault and battery, 41 bombings (and 642 bomb threats), and 406 death threats. Between 1999 and 2002, pro-lifers sent clinics that provide abortion over 640 anthrax threats. NAF statistics

That’s the pro-life movement. That’s what happens when you use rhetoric claiming doctors and nurses are committing murder, when they provide essential health care for women.

“Quit is not something I like to do,” [Doctor Tiller] said. He said he firmly believed his patients needed him and that he had the “strong support of his family”.

Dr Tiller outlined a conversation he had had with his daughters – two of whom are physicians – in which he said the importance of his work was crystallised.

“My daughters came into my study,” he said. “I was reading. And they said, ‘Daddy, if not now, when? If not you, who? Who is going to stand up for women with unexpected and badly damaged babies?’ I had the support of my family, and we were able to proceed ahead.” BBC

Doctor Tiller was a courageous and noble man: there is now apparently only one other doctor in the whole of the United States who will act to help women in this awful situation. Just one. The pro-life movement have either murdered or intimidated every other doctor who might be willing to help.

From Balloon Juice:

In 1994 my wife and I found out that she was pregnant. The pregnancy was difficult and unusually uncomfortable but her doctor repeatedly told her things were fine. Sometime early in the 8th month my wife, an RN who at the time was working in an infertility clinic asked the Dr. she was working for what he thought of her discomfort. He examined her and said that he couldn’t be certain but thought that she might be having twins. We were thrilled and couldn’t wait to get a new sonogram that hopefully would confirm his thoughts. Two days later our joy was turned to unspeakable sadness when the new sonogram showed conjoined twins. Conjoined twins alone is not what was so difficult but the way they were joined meant that at best only one child would survive the surgery to separate them and the survivor would more than likely live a brief and painful life filled with surgery and organ transplants. We were advised that our options were to deliver into the world a child who’s life would be filled with horrible pain and suffering or fly out to Wichita Kansas and to terminate the pregnancy under the direction of Dr. George Tiller.

We made an informed decision to go to Kansas. One can only imagine the pain borne by a woman who happily carries a child for 8 months only to find out near the end of term that the children were not to be and that she had to make the decision to terminate the pregnancy and go against everything she had been taught to believe was right. This was what my wife had to do. Dr. Tiller is a true American hero. The nightmare of our decision and the aftermath was only made bearable by the warmth and compassion of Dr. Tiller and his remarkable staff. Dr. Tiller understood that this decision was the most difficult thing that a woman could ever decide and he took the time to educate us and guide us along with the other two couples who at the time were being forced to make the same decision after discovering that they too were carrying children impacted by horrible fetal anomalies. I could describe in great detail the procedures and the pain and suffering that everyone is subjected to in these situations. However, that is not the point of the post. We can all imagine that this is not something that we would wish on anyone. The point is that the pain and suffering were only mitigated by the compassion and competence of Dr. George Tiller and his staff. We are all diminished today for a host of reasons but most of all because a man of great compassion and courage has been lost to the world.

From the National Network of Abortion Funds:

The Network has also received many requests from women who received care from Dr. Tiller and from activists in the reproductive justice community to set up a Fund in Dr. Tiller’s name. In response, we have established the George Tiller Memorial Abortion Fund to assist the women to whom George Tiller dedicated his life. The Fund will assist women in the second trimester to pay for abortion care, as well as pay for travel and lodging en route to providers. To donate to the Fund in Dr. Tiller’s name, please send contributions to:

George Tiller Memorial Abortion Fund
c/o National Network of Abortion Funds
42 Seaverns Ave.
Boston, MA 02130

You may also donate online at

June 1, 2009

On saying sorry

It was a lovely sunny day. I was wearing sandals. So was the nice lady right behind me as we both browsed along the bookstall. Unfortunately, I’m a hundred kilos of muscle and fat (“I’m big-boned!” – ed) and I was wearing solid sandals of the kind you go for long walks in hot weather, while she was wearing light sandals of the kind you wear between car and beach.

I noticed a new Who novel in the box below the stall, and, not realising she was there, I took a quick step backwards to kneel down for it – and felt my heel come down quite heavily on someone’s toes, as someone behind me let out a loud gasp of pain.

It occurred to me later that it was an interesting game to play: How would various prominent bloggers have reacted to this situation? Someone’s hurt: they were responsible: they didn’t do it on purpose.

Kathryn Cramer would have stomped on the woman’s other foot, and snarled at her for not being nicer about it.

Will Shetterley would have apologized, stomped on the same foot again, and demanded to know why she wasn’t more appreciative of his apology.

The Nielsen Haydens would have …well, considered as a team, Patrick would have run away at top speed to avoid having to say he was sorry, and Teresa would have spent fifteen minutes upbraiding the woman for being so nasty to poor Patrick, outraging his delicate ears with her noise. She would then have banned the woman from the bookstall, and demanded an apology from everyone who sympathised with her.

BitchPhD would have first of all explained to the woman that she wasn’t hurt, then claimed she was probably just hanging around the bookstall on purpose to get her foot trodden on, then explained at length that it wasn’t that bad a stomp and she hadn’t meant to hurt the woman’s foot and she really didn’t think she had, but she was sorry now she’d trodden on it since it was causing her so much trouble.

(Update: “Anonymous Coward”, er, yes. Very funny comment, but I’m the only one who will ever read it, because WordPress justly sent your sockpuppeted comment to the spam queue and I figure I kinda agree, regardless of what I think of the person you were attacking. If you’re going to launch a personal attack on someone, do it from your usual Internet pseud. )

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