Pro-Lifers And Justifiable Homicide

Damon Linker has a question:

If abortion truly is what the pro-life movement says it is -- if it is the infliction of deadly violence against an innocent and defenseless human being -- then doesn't morality demand that pro-lifers act in any way they can to stop this violence? I mean, if I believed that a guy working in an office down the street was murdering innocent and defenseless human beings every day, and the governing authorities repeatedly refused to intervene on behalf of the victims, I might feel compelled to do something about it, perhaps even something unreasonable and irresponsible. Wouldn't you?

I think this is a solid point--if you truly believe abortion is murder, that it's the wanton destruction of human life, than violent action really seems like a sensible strategy.

One argument, I guess, is that a moral prohibition against all murder guides the pro-life movement. Hence taking a life, to save a life is just as wrong. Of course we know that many pro-lifers don't actually believe that, because that would require religious conservatives to be both pro-life and anti-death penalty.

But once you accept that there is a such thing as justifiable murder, how much distance is there between that position and the killing of abortion doctors?  One could argue for fealty to the law, but to a law that condones the murder of children? In that context, why does law even exist?

What I suspect is that many pro-lifers may well believe that a fetus is a "life," but in their heart of hearts, they actually have a qualitative range. I don't know that they actually believe that aborting a three month old fetus is exactly the same as murdering a three month old baby. "Abortion is murder" seems like a slogan meant to whip up your own, and attract attention. But in truth, do pro-lifers really believe it? Can they truly morally maintain that all abortion, all the time, is murder? If so, I don't know how you really condemn someone for killing George Tiller.