By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A day after the murder of one of the nation’s best known abortionists, Dr. George Tiller, the pro-life community is expressing their outrage as well as their concern that the doctor’s killing will cause the entire anti-abortion movement to be labeled as “extremist” in the public eye.
Dr. Tiller was gunned down in the lobby of the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita at 10:00 a.m. yesterday morning as he handed out bulletins to parishioners. Acting on tips from eyewitnesses, police arrested 51 year old Scott Roeder three hours after the shooting when officers spotted him driving a car that matched witness descriptions.
Wichita Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz said the assailant apparently acted alone although the FBI and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation have been called in to determine whether others were part of the attack and whether the suspect had any connection to anti-abortion groups.
Two abortion opponents who had previously encountered Roeder said he expressed support for the view that lethal force is not a criminal offense if it protects the lives of unborn children.
In the wake of the shooting, the office of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has increased security for a host of “unnamed individuals and facilities” to prevent any further violence.
Jeff Carter, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service, said the Judicial Security Division “is establishing protection details at this time.” Agency policy prohibits him from disclosing the subjects of the increased protection.
Meanwhile, the pro-life community has reacted with shock and outrage to the murder of one of the nation’s few late-term abortionists.
Shaun Kenney, executive director of American Life League, on the killing of abortionist George Tiller.
“Today’s actions . . . serve as another reminder that all human life is sacred. Pro-lifers by our nature and commitment to human rights reject violence as a means of resistance. Our thoughts and prayers indeed extend to the Tiller family and the community at Reformation Lutheran Church.”
Dr. Charmaine Yost, President and CEO of Americans United for Life said, “We condemn this lawless act of violence. The foundational right to life that our work is dedicated to extends to everyone. Whoever is responsible for this reprehensible violence must be brought to justice under the law.”
David Bereit, National Director of 40 Days for Life, expressed outrage over the killing. “As a nationwide organization dedicated to peaceful and prayerful solutions to the crisis of abortion, 40 Days for Life is shocked and dismayed by the shooting death of Kansas abortion provider George Tiller. Such violence against a fellow human being is never justified, and 40 Days for Life condemns this senseless act. We encourage people of faith to join in prayer for all those affected by this unconscionable action.”
Others are expressing concern about how the killing will be used by pro-abortion forces to damage the pro-life movement in America at such a critical time in the country’s history.
“I’d hope they wouldn’t try to broad-brush the entire pro-life movement as some sort of extremist movement because of what happened in Wichita,” said Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition. “That’s really important — don’t use this personal loss for a political gain.”
But pro-abortion forces are already doing so.
“It is abhorrent that once again, individuals who oppose the right to choose have used violence to try to advance their extreme anti-choice agenda,” said Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation.
Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, said Tiller was aware of the dangers he faced, “yet he continued to protect his patients and provide safe and legal abortions to women in often-desperate circumstances.”
Tiller is one only three American doctors who specialize in late-term abortions, a risky procedure that has seen many women taken by ambulance from Tiller’s Wichita clinic to local hospitals. As a result, his facility has been the scene of prayerful vigils for years. Unfortunately, the clinic has also been the scene of violence in the form of bombings and Tiller himself was shot in the arms by a protester in 1993.
While most pro-life leaders are condemning the shooting, Randall Terry, president of Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group whose protests have often targeted Tiller, called the abortionist “a mass murderer.” He went on to say “He was an evil man — his hands were covered with blood.”
Terry said he was now concerned that the Obama administration “will use Tiller’s killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions.”
According to the National Abortion Federation, Tiller was the eighth U.S. abortion provider murdered since 1977 by individuals with extremist views. Seventeen others have been targeted with attempted murder.
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