Sunday, June 21, 2009


After Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas physician who operated an abortion clinic, was murdered by an anti-abortion zealot, his family decided to close the clinic. Some opponents of abortion were bothered by the decision, Stephanie Simon reports in The Wall Street Journal, because they feared that "extremists might conclude that violence gets results where legal protests don't."

What do you think? Does the family have an ethical obligation to find a way to keep the clinic open, to avoid having the murderer get what he wanted? Or is the doctor's family free to act as they see fit, regardless of the circumstances?

Post your thoughts here by clicking on "comments" or "post a comment" below. Please include your name, hometown, and state, province, or country. Readers' comments may appear in an upcoming column. Or e-mail your comments to me at

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Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate, 500 Seventh Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10018. Please remember to tell me who you are, where you're from, as well as where you read the column.

c.2009 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)


Bill Jacobson said...

Absolutely not! In no other industry do we hold surviving family members obligated to continue a deceased's work. Is it not ironic that we are asking whether surviving members "have the right to choose" whether or not to continue when that very mantra that runs their industry?

Bill Jacobson said...

The above was WIlliam Jacobson, Cypress, CA

Anonymous said...

That the question as to the family's "responsibility" to find a way to keep the clinic open would be raised is amazing! The family has a right to make their own choices. Those choices include the right to keep it open; to sell it; and to close it.

And choices extend to those who would protest the closing of the clinic: buy it, keep it open, run it.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the Tiller family can do what they want with their clinic. However, what kind of warped thinking is expressed by the WSJ that reported opponents of abortion fear that extremists might conclude that violence gets results where legal protests don't? It is clear to me that persons who would go to the extreme of killing an abortionist (or anyone else) would not be influenced one way or the other by another person killing an abortionist. Killers have their own warped thinking process.

Charlie Seng
Lancaster, sC