Early this rainy morning, my dog, off-leash in Central Park, was sniffing around in some ground cover under a stand of trees populated by many chirping birds. Suddenly, she got very excited, seemed to pounce on something, and started whipping her head from side to side. I was standing about 15 feet away, and after a few minutes she proudly brought her find to me: a baby bird, stiff-legged, slightly gnawed and, though I am no expert on these things, seemingly very recently dead.
Cassie is a bird dog by breed, but she is not an adept hunter, so my guess is that her prize had fallen out of its nest, became unable to fly, and struggled on the ground for a while until she came along to finish the job.
I have been wanting to post about Dr. George Tiller, gunned down at his church in Wichita, Kansas because he performed late-term abortions. I have written before about my own sad experience with this procedure, and I can only say this again: any woman who is more than 20 weeks pregnant does not really want to lose her baby. She is most likely there because, like me, she knows that if born her child is unlikely to survive, or will live a brief and miserable life, or because her own life is in danger.
Late-term abortions account for less than one percent of all pregnancy terminations. They are unpleasant, and traumatic, and not taken lightly by the women undergoing them, or the health-care workers who provide them despite the risk to their own lives.
Dr. Tiller was one of only a very few physicians in the country who performed this unfortunate service. It is rarely used, but I for one believe it should still be available. As awful as it was, it prevented a funeral for me - though, alas, not for Dr. Stiller.
And I'd like to think that the mother of this morning's dead nestling tweeted in grief when it was gone, even if, seeing it was too damaged to live, she pushed it out of the nest herself.