Associated Press noted on June 1 that the women’s clinic Tiller ran “is one of three in the nation where abortions are performed after the 21st week of pregnancy, when the fetus is considered viable, and has been the site of repeated protests for about two decades. A protester shot Tiller in both arms in 1993, and his clinic was bombed in 1985.”
According to AP, “The gunman fired one shot at Tiller” while Tiller was in the foyer of Reformation Lutheran Church, and the gunman also “threatened two other people who tried to stop him.” About three hours later, police took into custody a 51-year-old suspect identified as Scott Roeder, who is being held without bail on one count of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault. The New York Times noted on June 1 that Dave Leach, an anti-abortion activist from Des Moines, has said that Roeder was once “a subscriber and occasional contributor” to Leach’s newsletter, "Prayer and Action News." The suspect’s brother, David, was quoted by the Times as saying that Scott Roeder “suffered from mental illness at various times in his life. However, none of us ever saw Scott as a person capable of or willing to take another person’s life.”
News of the shooting prompted reactions from those on both sides of the abortion debate. A June 1 AP video stated that hundreds gathered in downtown Wichita on Sunday to remember George Tiller. With at least one attendee holding a sign proclaiming “Thank you, Dr. Tiller, a true hero,” the gathering also doubled as an abortion rights rally. President Obama, who did not attend the Wichita event, released a statement that was quoted by the Post: “However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.”
In this instance, pro-life leaders agreed with the president. The June 1 AP article stated that Operation Rescue had condemned the killing as a “cowardly act” by a vigilante, and Troy Newman, Operation Rescue’s president, said Roeder "has never been a member, contributor or volunteer.” Shaun Kenney, executive director of American Life League, issued a statement on May 31 expressing sorrow and declaring: “Justice for all human beings includes the lives of those with whom we fundamentally disagree as well as the victims of abortion. We firmly hope the perpetrators of this act are apprehended, that the facts be made known, and that justice according to the law is preserved and dispensed.” And Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and pastoral associate of Priests for Life, denounced the killing: “It’s especially horrifying that Dr. Tiller was shot in church. My grandmother, Alberta King, was killed by a Christian-hating gunman as she played the organ during Sunday services. Just as the womb should be a safe haven, so should church. I condemn this murder in the strongest possible terms.”
Of course, pro-lifers disagree with the president regarding the killing of babies in the womb.
Photo: AP Images