View Full Version : 8th Abortion Clinic Dr. Killed in USA

Peter Lemkin
06-01-2009, 01:06 PM

***UPDATE*** US Attorney General Eric Holder is dispatching US Marshals to protect abortion clinic and doctors around the country.

Holder issued the following statement:
The murder of Doctor George Tiller is an abhorrent act of violence, and his family is in our thoughts and prayers at this tragic moment. Federal law enforcement is coordinating with local law enforcement officials in Kansas on the investigation of this crime, and I have directed the United States Marshals Service to offer protection to other appropriate people and facilities around the nation. The Department of Justice will work to bring the perpetrator of this crime to justice. As a precautionary measure, we will also take appropriate steps to help prevent any related acts of violence from occurring.

***UPDATE*** Tiller's wife Jeanne, his four children and ten grandchildren issued the following statement
"Today we mourn the loss of our husband, father and grandfather. Today's event is an unspeakable tragedy for all of us and for George's friends and patients. This is particularly heart wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace.

We would like to express the family's thanks for the many messages of sympathy from our friends and from all across the nation. We also want to thank the law enforcement officers who are investigating this crime.

Our loss is also a loss for the City of Wichita and women across America. George dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality heath care despite frequent threats and violence. We ask that he be remembered as a good husband, father and grandfather and a dedicated servant on behalf of the rights of women everywhere."

***UPDATE*** KSHB-TV is reporting that the suspect arrested as a "person of interest" in the murder of Dr. George Tiller is named Scott Roeder.
Johnson County Sheriff's deputies stopped Scott Roeder on I-35 between the two main Gardner exits around 1:30 p.m. He surrendered without incident. Deputies did not find any weapons on him...

According to Phannestiel, Roeder is on temporary hold for Sedgwick County at the Johnson County New Century Detention Center near Gardner. Roeder is considered a person of interest at this time

***UPDATE*** President Obama issued the following statement about Dr. George Tiller's murder:
Story continues below

"I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence."

***UPDATE*** At an afternoon news conference, Wichita Police confirmed that a suspect, a 51-year-old man, had been arrested for the murder of Dr. George Tiller, reports KSN-3 News:
The suspect is currently facing one count of murder and two counts of aggravated assault for threatening onlookers who tried to intervene.

Several witnesses to the shooting attempted to intervene and chase down Tiller's killer, but he was able to flee in his blue Ford Taurus with Kansas license plate 225 BAB. Several hours later, the suspect was arrested near Gardner, Kansas on Interstate 35, reports the Kansas City Star.

***UPDATE*** The AP reports that a suspect is in custody:
A Wichita city official says a suspect is in custody in the shooting death of late-term abortion provider George Tiller.

The city official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the case. The official did not provide additional details.

An attorney for Tiller, Dan Monnat, says the doctor was shot Sunday as he served as an usher during morning services at Reformation Lutheran Church. Monnat said Tiller's wife, Jeanne, was in the choir at the time of the shooting.

WICHITA, Kansas -- Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas doctor whose clinic received national attention for performing late-term abortions, was shot to death as he entered his Wichita church on Sunday.

"Members of the congregation who were inside the sanctuary at the time of the shooting were being kept inside the church by police," the Wichita Eagle reported, "and those arriving were being ushered into the parking lot."

Media reports said the suspected killer fled the scene in a blue Taurus. Police described him as a white male in his 50s or 60s.

Tiller has been among the few U.S. physicians performing late-term abortion, making him a favored target of anti-abortion protesters. He testified that he and his family have suffered years of harassment and threats. His clinic was the site of the 1991 "Summer of Mercy" protests marked by mass demonstrations and arrests. His clinic was bombed in 1985, and an abortion opponent shot him in both arms in 1993.

Tiller's clinic also provided group and individual counseling, as well as chaplain and funeral services for people who were grieving.

The anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, which runs a "Tiller Watch" feature on its website, released a statement condemning the shooting. "We are shocked at this morning's disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down. Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller's family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ."

Tiller remained prominent in the news in recent years, in part because of an investigation begun by former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, an abortion opponent.

Prosecutors had alleged that Tiller had gotten second opinions from a doctor who was essentially an employee of his, not independent as state law requires, but a jury in March acquitted him of all 19 misdemeanor counts against him.

Abortion opponents also questioned then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' ties to Tiller before the Senate confirmed her this year as U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary. Tiller donated thousands of dollars to Sebelius over the years.

[So glad those who kill are dedicated to 'life's' sanctity!]

Magda Hassan
06-01-2009, 01:17 PM
They're still looking for Osama Bin Laden in a cave in Afghanistan aren't they?

This sort of home grown terrorism has been rampant for decades but it has never been taken seriously by those who have the power to do something about it. Many people have died.

It is such a strange thing about the mentality of this type of person. The 'right' to life. Killing fully grown humans to 'defend' a small collection of cells. Once a woman has given birth to a child they forget about her and the child. They are usually the same people that want to extinguish prisoner's right to life. Strange people.

Peter Lemkin
06-02-2009, 05:42 AM
They're still looking for Osama Bin Laden in a cave in Afghanistan aren't they?

This sort of home grown terrorism has been rampant for decades but it has never been taken seriously by those who have the power to do something about it. Many people have died.

It is such a strange thing about the mentality of this type of person. The 'right' to life. Killing fully grown humans to 'defend' a small collection of cells. Once a woman has given birth to a child they forget about her and the child. They are usually the same people that want to extinguish prisoner's right to life. Strange people.

I'd only add they are often the same people who love wars and the killing of the 'other' in those wars....yes, sadly full of hate and use this hatred in 'quasi-religious' self-righteousness. A very sick crowd which greatly coincides with the religious right - the embryonic fascist movement in the USA - that IMO - needs to be aborted.

Peter Lemkin
06-03-2009, 05:06 PM
AMY GOODMAN: Did Dr. Tiller have to die? Today, we begin with explosive new information in the case of the murder of the abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. He was fatally shot Sunday while he attended services at his Wichita Reformation Lutheran Church in Kansas.

New information indicates that Scott Roeder, the man arrested and charged with first-degree murder for Dr. Tiller’s death, was seen vandalizing a Kansas City women’s health clinic called Aid for Women on two separate occasions last week, a week before Dr. Tiller was killed and a day before his murder.

The clinic manager, calls himself “Jeff Pederson” to protect his identity, says he called the FBI and local law enforcement, but the vandal, Scott, was not arrested.

The first incident was discovered on Memorial Day; the second, this past Saturday. That’s May 30th. Pederson and other clinic staff recognized the vandal as “Scott” from anti-abortion protests and gave the FBI his first name, his license plate number, and video footage of the incidents from a security camera at the clinic.

Pederson told me that FBI agent Mark Colburn told him, quote, “The Johnson County Prosecutor won’t do anything until the Grand Jury convenes.” Well, the next day was Sunday, when Dr. George Tiller was killed, allegedly by Scott Roeder.

I called the Kansas City FBI and reached Colburn, who referred me to FBI spokesperson Bridget Patton. I asked her why Scott Roeder had not been arrested when he vandalized the Kansas City clinic the day before.

BRIDGET PATTON: [inaudible] was notified about vandalism that occurred at the clinic located within Kansas City, Kansas. Once we were notified, we responded to that clinic. We responded back to the notification, and that is currently an ongoing matter.

AMY GOODMAN: And you were notified—were you notified on Memorial Day, as well as the Saturday, May 30th, before—the day before Dr. Tiller was killed?

BRIDGET PATTON: Amy, I’m not sure of the timeline of when the notifications came in. But whenever an act of vandalism occurs at an abortion clinic, we are notified of that vandalism, and we respond and proceed appropriately.

AMY GOODMAN: And were you notified more than once in two different incidents?

BRIDGET PATTON: Honestly, Amy, I don’t have the answer to that.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Bridget Patton, FBI spokesperson in Kansas City about why the FBI did not respond to the two reports of vandalism at a women’s health clinic in Kansas City last week. The man who vandalized that clinic, Scott Roeder, has now been charged with the murder of Dr. Tiller.

Scott Roeder has a history of involvement in anti-abortion activism and has ties to the right-wing separatist group known as the Freemen. He was previously arrested and jailed on explosives charges.

Well, I’m now joined on the phone by the manager of the clinic that was vandalized. He’s calling himself “Jeff Pederson” to protect his identity.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Jeff. Can you describe the first incident where you caught Scott on videotape, Memorial Day weekend, super-gluing your locks?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Yeah. I was at home. One of my staff members came in to mow our yard. She tried to get into the building to take care of some other things and noticed that she couldn’t get in the front or back door. So she called me at home, and I was—it was Monday, the 25th, Memorial Day. And I just told her, you know, “I’ll take care of it later.” That was about 8:00 or 8:30 Monday. And I think I got out there about 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon and proceeded to take care of opening up the clinic.

And I did call FBI at that time, and I also did a call-in report to the local PD about it. But it was just, you know, a misdemeanor at this point. I didn’t think too much more of it. I didn’t have any video to give law enforcement yet, because it takes a while to review video. And it was Thursday morning sometime that I—I was only fifteen minutes into a tape when I finally saw him getting us at 9:47 on Saturday the 23rd.

AMY GOODMAN: So you reviewed the videotape that you had from Memorial Day weekend—


AMY GOODMAN: —later in the week, and you then found the moment where this person you knew as Scott was super-gluing the locks?


AMY GOODMAN: And did you call the police?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Well, I had made the call-in report. This is just a misdemeanor. It’s typically just a call-in report, and I had made that call-in report on Monday.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you had the videotape then? You could see him?


AMY GOODMAN: And so, you knew who he was from being outside the clinic protesting?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Yes, ma’am. He’s kind of tall. He’s hard to miss.

AMY GOODMAN: And you called the FBI, as well?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: On that Monday, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: And did you tell the FBI agent, Mark Colburn, that you knew who he was? And did he know who he was?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Yes, because he had done the same thing in 2000 two weekends in a row.

AMY GOODMAN: And what did the FBI do in 2000, when Scott super-glued the locks?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: He had said at that time the pictures were too fuzzy, that they probably would not be able to get a conviction on it, but he would talk to him. And after that little talk, we didn’t see Scott for like six years.

AMY GOODMAN: You mean, after Colburn went and spoke to Scott. So he knew where he lived?


AMY GOODMAN: He stopped. You don’t know what the interaction was.


AMY GOODMAN: And then he came back?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: It seemed to have worked.

AMY GOODMAN: So he knew exactly who he was, the FBI agent?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: He had to have, if he had the address.

AMY GOODMAN: And what did you think Scott’s name was?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: I just knew it was Scott. I had a different last name affixed to him, but I guess I was wrong. I don’t really want to go into that.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that was that weekend. That was Memorial Day weekend.


AMY GOODMAN: And what happened on Saturday, May 30th?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Backing up a little bit, so Thursday I gave copies of the video to FBI. I didn’t give anything to the local PD yet. Saturday, I upgraded the video equipment so I’d have better pictures.

And then, eleven hours later, Scott watched one of my staff members come back from a convenience store. She went into the—she had seen the car, but didn’t think too much more of it, went into our building and locked back up. She was the only one there at the time. But through a window, she saw Scott get out of his vehicle, heading towards the building, and it looked like he was going towards the back door. So she made her way through the building to get to that back door, and she arrove there at the back door just as he was starting to super-glue it again.

And she chased him off and did manage to get his license plate number, and then she called me at home. And I called FBI—as soon as I got off the phone, I called FBI at about 6:10 a.m. on a Saturday, the 30th.

AMY GOODMAN: And you made the call?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: I made the call, and I went into voicemail, and I left—

AMY GOODMAN: Who did you call?


AMY GOODMAN: You called Mark Colburn?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Yeah, he’s my contact. And I left the license, and I said, you know, it’s the same guy from last weekend and the same guy from 2000. And my staff member gave the license plate, 225BAB. He called me back a couple hours later, and that’s when he told me that, you know, “Thank you,” but he’s pretty sure he’s not going to be able to do anything, because they’re going to require a grand jury and then, from that, then get a warrant to proceed.

AMY GOODMAN: Who’s going to require a grand jury?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: I thought he had said Johnson County prosecutor, because where he lives is Johnson County. We’re in Wyandotte. He was talking about Johnson County prosecutor, I believe.

AMY GOODMAN: Because that’s where Scott Roeder lived?


AMY GOODMAN: Now, this time, you had bought new cameras, after he said the first weekend, Memorial Day weekend, they would be too fuzzy?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Right. They’re older, black and white. Now I’ve got color, much higher resolution.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, now you had the videotape of this person named Scott again, and you told the FBI agent this.


AMY GOODMAN: That you had higher-quality videotape.

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Yeah. I don’t know if I told him that I had higher-quality yet, but—and I don’t know. Yeah, you’re right.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, the nurse, who had gone out to talk to him, at the car, what was that interaction like when she went out to speak to Scott Roeder?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: She had said, “Oh, I know you.” And that, I think, startled him a little bit. And then she proceeded to talk with him more. And I think he then didn’t think too much of the interaction, because we—she had called him by the last name that I presumed that it was, which was wrong. He says, “That’s not me, but I do know him.”

And then, she was, you know, “Why are you doing this? Women need this service.” And she proceeded to tell a whole lot of tear-jerking pro-choice stories of why women in need need to have this. And he kind of just was leaning up against his car, arms folded, legs crossed, and just kind of like, “Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, baby killer, baby killer.”

Eventually she worked her way up to the back of the vehicle, because in Kansas you only need a back license plate. And she did manage to get most of the license plate number, but then he moved around to hide the rest of the license plate. And so, she continued talking, and she jockeyed around until she got the last part of the number, and that’s when she ran into the clinic and just said, “Got your license plate. Got your license plate.” And he just kept saying, “Baby killer!” And he took off quickly after that.

AMY GOODMAN: So, the license plate was 225BAB, like “baby”?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Right, right. And I have the piece of paper she wrote on, and she called me immediately.

AMY GOODMAN: And you gave this to the FBI and the local police?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: I hadn’t given that to the local yet. This is a separate incident. I have forty-eight hours to file it, so I was going to file it, you know, later. But I did leave it in the voicemail with FBI approximately 6:10 a.m.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, isn’t it a federal crime to interfere with access to a clinic, the FACE bill, the Federal Access for Clinic [Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances] bill?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Yeah, I don’t know exactly how it’s worded. I know that they’ve got first offense, second offense, and three or more, something like that. So—

AMY GOODMAN: Which is why you call the FBI, because it’s a federal offense.


AMY GOODMAN: Actually, Bridget Patton, the spokesperson for the FBI, said that.


AMY GOODMAN: That you’re supposed to call the FBI in every case.


AMY GOODMAN: Were you alarmed that nothing was done?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: I was ticked off, but I know that the wheels of justice roll slowly. And so, I didn’t—I can’t do anything. I don’t know what to do.

AMY GOODMAN: The next day, Sunday, tell us how you learned about Dr. Tiller’s death and then the connection to—well, you already know about the blue Taurus that Scott drove—


AMY GOODMAN: —because your nurse had gone out to it.

JEFFREY PEDERSON: I had stepped out for a moment. A phone call from a close friend of mine from Wichita called. She had gotten access to this information, either from a police scanner or from something else—I’m not—from her friends. And she called me straightaway to tell me.

I then went through our phone tree calling all the staff, including my doctor, and then proceeded to call the other clinics, all the retired doctors who have done abortions in the past around here, and also called one other clinic out of state that I knew closely to tell them about the shooting.

AMY GOODMAN: And what was their response?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: They were all shocked. I mean, when I heard it, I was like, I’m hoping this is a non-fatal shot. And I was told that “shot dead?” I was like, “No, he’s shot. Yeah, I could see that. But shot dead?” And it was like I was hoping that it wasn’t the case.

AMY GOODMAN: In fact, you came to manage the Aid for Women clinic in Kansas City the same month that Dr. Tiller was shot in both arms, is that right, in 1993?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Right, ’93. I think I started in August of ’93.

AMY GOODMAN: Which is when he was shot.

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Oh, OK. It’s so far back now, I can’t hardly remember. I just know it was sometime back then.

OK, I forgot what question we were on now.

AMY GOODMAN: On Sunday. On Sunday, when Dr. Tiller was killed, and they said they were then looking for a blue Taurus.

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Right. Well, I didn’t know about the car color yet. That hadn’t come across. This is—after I got through talking to all the staff and retired doctors and whatnot in the area, I believe it was around 11:30 that I called the FBI. And my impression from when I passed this on to my contact, that I don’t think Kansas City knew about it yet.

AMY GOODMAN: When you called the Kansas City police?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: No, the FBI. Because I think I had heard maybe—I don’t know exactly when Tiller was shot. I still haven’t got that figured out. But I believe I had been contacted about forty minutes after that. And it took me a while to go through my phone tree and contact everyone. And it was 11:30, I believe, when I contacted my FBI contact.

So that was that for them. And I was just doing stuff around the house. And then, about 1:00 or something, I get another phone call from my friend in Wichita, and she said the license—they’ve got the getaway car. They don’t know if there was a second person, but the license plate is 225BAB. And I just about fell on the floor.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I told her, you know. “That’s the guy who’s been gluing our locks.” And I says, “I’ve got to get off the phone. I’ve got to call my guy.” And she says, “Well, maybe I need to contact Tiller’s people. Maybe”—and then she said something about the Wichita police. And I think, “OK, I’ll call the Wichita police. What’s their number?” So she looked up in the phone book, and I then called and left a message with somebody down there.

In about twenty minutes or something, I don’t know, not very long, I was contacted by a detective from Wichita. And I gave her all my information I had, that he had got us in 2000, he got us on the 23rd, and then he got us, you know, the day before on the 30th. I gave her all this information, and I said I had pictures, that I gave them to—I think I gave her the local PD report number from the file on the 25th, and I gave her the phone number to my FBI contact, as well, so she could try to coordinate all that stuff. And then I went ahead and, somewhere in there—I don’t know if it was before or after I contacted Wichita and contacted my FBI contact—probably about 4:00 or something, we had set up an appointment for the next day, so they could do a dump from my DVR and to interview my staff member, as well.

I started getting phone calls in Monday morning, just for general impressions, from a local news radio station AM, got another call from an NPR affiliate, just general impressions of the shooting. And about—

AMY GOODMAN: Jeff, how far are you, how far is Kansas City? Aid for Women, your clinic, also has another name.

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Central Family Medicine.

AMY GOODMAN: Central Family Medicine. How far is it from Wichita?


AMY GOODMAN: Do you think that if—

JEFFREY PEDERSON: We used to drive it, because we—our doctors used to work at one of the competing clinics in Wichita.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think—and you knew Dr. Tiller?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Oh, yeah. Very well.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think if the authorities, local or federal authorities, had arrested Scott Roeder after Memorial Day or then again the day before Dr. Tiller’s murder, Dr. Tiller would be dead today?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: No. Since I didn’t know Scott’s background, to me, it was just a misdemeanor. It’s kind of like the burning bag of doggie stuff on the front porch, and you press the doorbell. It’s annoying as hell, and you’d like to string him up, but it doesn’t rise to the level of me shooting him. It was like, I don’t really know what to do, and I don’t know—you know, I didn’t have the information to tie everything together.

AMY GOODMAN: I guess that’s not your job. But what he was doing was trying to prevent access to your clinic by gluing the locks.

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Which is a federal offense.


AMY GOODMAN: Well, Jeff Pederson, thanks so much for being with us. I know you have to go back and guard your clinic, as you’re on duty today.


AMY GOODMAN: Jeff Pederson, not his real name, but protecting himself. Why do you not use your real name, Jeff?

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Dr. Slepian was an indication they like to shoot people. They’re kind of—bit of cowardice there. They like to scare the family members as much as possible.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Slepian, gunned down Upstate New York.

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Yeah, through the kitchen window. I don’t care as much about myself, but I do care about my friends and family.

AMY GOODMAN: Jeff Pederson, thanks for being with us.


AMY GOODMAN: Manager of the Kansas City women’s health clinic known as Aid for Women, where he is working today.

JEFFREY PEDERSON: Thank you for calling.

AMY GOODMAN: Thank you.

This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, the War and Peace Report.

Well, there were grave concerns about the federal and local authorities not responding in Wichita, as well, to continued violations. We’ll speak with a doctor who would fly in to the Wichita clinic that Dr. Tiller ran and her concerns of the lack of federal and local action. And then we’ll talk about anti-abortion violence.

Peter Lemkin
06-04-2009, 04:54 AM
Quite a speech. Sad to loose the best people all the time.

AMY GOODMAN: We end with the words of Dr. George Tiller. At an event organized by the Feminist Majority Foundation last year, Dr. Tiller discussed his vision for a just and more humane society.

DR. GEORGE TILLER: I personally see a society that respects the integrity of its citizens to struggle with complex health issues and make decisions that are appropriate for them and their personal lives. I see a society that respects the religious differences of its citizens. I see a society that rejects hate, rejects judgmental condemnation, and rejects prejudice and racism. I see a government that honors the privacy of its citizens without unwarranted surveillance. I see a society where war is not an option. Thank you. And the negotiation with mutual respect is the hallmark, rather than mutual self-destruction. I see a society where the welfare of all—I see a society where the welfare of all is equally important as the riches of the few. I see a world that discusses solutions without demanding its own answers.

We have given war, pestilence, hate, greed, judgment, ego, self-sufficiency a good try. And it failed. We need a new paradigm that consists of kindness, courtesy, justice, love and respect in all our relationships.

Work hard. Be a leader. Your way of life depends on it. And just look at the rest of the world. That’s the way the anti-abortion segment of our population wants the USA to be. And how do we do that? We do it the way we have always done things. We feel our way forward. We consider defeat a temporary inconvenience. And we never, ever, ever take no for an answer. Never take no for an answer. Work hard. Be a leader. The rest of your life depends on it, and the life of your sisters and brothers throughout the world depend on it. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Dr. George Tiller. He was assassinated on May 31st, 2009. Thanks to Marc Bretzfelder for that videotape.

And that does it for our show, as we look at other people who have been assassinated over the years, providing abortion or supporting those who have: March 10th, 1993, Dr. David Gunn of Pensacola, Florida, fatally shot during a protest; June 29th, 1994, Dr. John Britton and James Barrett, clinic escort, were both shot to death outside a Pensacola facility; December 30th, ’94, two receptionists, Shannon Lowney and Leanne Nichols, were killed in two clinic attacks in Brookline, Massachusetts; in 1998, Robert Sanderson, off-duty police officer killed, Dr. Barnett Slepian; and Dr. George Tiller.

Peter Lemkin
06-05-2009, 06:53 AM
Murdered for Defending Women’s Rghts

by Nicole Colson / June 4th, 2009

Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider in Wichita, Kansas, who for decades has been a target for abuse and harassment by anti-abortionists, was shot to death Sunday morning as he attended church.

Tiller was one of the few remaining doctors in the country who performed late-term abortions. His murder is the culmination of a decades-long campaign against both him and Women’s Health Care Services, the clinic he operated.

In June 1986, Tiller’s clinic was bombed — no arrests were ever made in that case. Last month, the clinic was vandalized, with wires to security cameras and outdoor lights cut. The building’s roof was cut through, and downspouts were plugged, leading to flooding that caused thousands of dollars in damage. Tiller had reportedly asked the FBI to investigate.

In 1993, anti-abortion fanatic Rachelle “Shelley” Shannon attempted to murder Tiller, shooting him in both arms. Shannon remains behind bars, convicted of attempted murder and charges stemming from at least six arson and acid-attacks at clinics in Oregon, California, Nevada and Idaho.

According to press reports, a suspect in the murder is in custody, though not charged–he is 51-year-old Scott Roeder of Merriam, Kan. Roeder was allegedly a member at one time of the anti-government militia group known as the “Freemen.” In 1996, he was reportedly found with bomb components in his car trunk.

In a comment left on an anti-abortion Web site two years ago, someone with the same name wrote: “Bleass (sic) everyone for attending and praying in May to bring justice to Tiller and the closing of his death camp.”

Tiller is the fourth abortion provider to be gunned down by “pro-life” extremists since 1993.

That year, Dr. David Gunn was shot to death outside a Pensacola, Florida, clinic. The following year, Dr. John Bayard Britton and one of his volunteer escorts were shot and killed by former minister Paul Hill outside another abortion clinic in Pensacola. Hill had reportedly been “inspired” by Shannon’s attempted murder of Dr. Tiller the year before.

In 1998, anti-choice extremist James Kopp killed Dr. Barnett Slepian in his home in Amhest, N.Y.

As well, there have been dozens of clinic bombings, arsons and other attacks that have injured or frightened staff and volunteers across the country. This includes the 1998 bombing of a Birmingham, Ala., clinic in which nurse Emily Lyons was maimed, and off-duty police officer Robert Sanderson killed by bomber Eric Rudolph.

The immediate aftermath of Tiller’s death included predictable statements from anti-abortion groups claiming that this murder does not represent their movement.

The anti-abortion group Operation Rescue was among those that mercilessly harassed Tiller in life, only to feign surprise and concern at his death. “We are shocked at this morning’s disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down,” the group said in a statement on its Web site. “Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice.”

Yet Operation Rescue’s director Troy Newman moved the headquarters of the group’s operations to Wichita in 2002 specifically to target Dr. Tiller. The group launched a “Year of Rebuke” campaign in 2004 that targeted what it termed Tiller’s “collaborators” — anyone with political, professional or social ties to the doctor.

The “Year of Rebuke” included plans for protests at the home of every employee at Tiller’s clinic. Typical of the campaign were hundreds of postcards showing mangled fetuses that were sent to the neighbors of clinic employees like Sara Phares. As author Kimberley Sevcik noted in a Rolling Stone article “One man’s God squad“:

[The card read], “Your neighbor Sara Phares participates in killing babies like these.” The postcard implored them to call Phares, whose phone number and address were provided, and voice their opposition to her work at the clinic. Another card soon followed. It referred to Phares as “Miss I Help to Kill Little Babies” and suggested, in an erratic typeface that recalled a kidnapper’s ransom note, that neighbors “beg her to quit, pretty please.”

One of Phares’s neighbors, a federal agent, called her at work to warn her. “Just be careful, ma’am,” he said. “You never know what kind of nuts these things will draw.”

Founder and former head of Operation Rescue Randall Terry didn’t even pretend to be sorry about the murder. “George Tiller was a mass-murderer,” Terry told the Associated Press. “We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God.”

Terry’s real concern was for the renewed scrutiny that the assassination might bring on the anti-choice movement. He told a reporter:

I am more concerned that the Obama administration will use Tiller’s killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions…Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches.

While a far-right fanatic may have pulled the trigger, the truth is that the “respectable” right–and the state of Kansas — put a very large target on George Tiller’s back.

Fox News blowhard Bill O’Reilly repeatedly attacked Tiller on air, referring to him as a “so-called baby killer” and the clinic as a “death mill.” In segments he called “Tiller the Baby Killer,” O’Reilly hurled wild accusations:

In the state of Kansas, there is a doctor, George Tiller, who will execute babies for $5,000 if the mother is depressed. And there are rapists impregnating 10-year-olds who are being protected by abortion clinics. It doesn’t get worse than that.

Tiller was also forced to defend himself against trumped-up criminal charges brought by the state. This March, he was acquitted on 19 counts of performing illegal late-term abortions in 2003. Jurors took just 45 minutes to find Tiller not guilty of failing to secure an independent second opinion, which, under Kansas law, is needed to perform late-term abortions.

The court case against Tiller was brought by then-Kansas Attorney General Phil Kline–an abortion opponent, who later lost re-election and has since become a law professor at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.

Given this kind of harassment, it’s not surprising that the number of physicians willing to provide abortions — in particular late-term abortions — has dramatically declined in U.S. in the past several decades.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2005, 87 percent of all U.S. counties (with 35 percent of the U.S. female population) lacked an abortion provider. Just 20 percent of providers offered abortion services after 20 weeks — and only 8 percent of all abortion providers offer abortions at 24 weeks.

This, combined with recent statistics from a Gallup poll, show a troubling shift to the right in attitudes on abortion in the U.S. According to the poll, for the “first time, a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.” The poll found 51 percent describing themselves as “pro-life,” up seven points from a year ago.

As SocialistWorker.org columnist Sharon Smith noted:

Since [Bill] Clinton’s election in 1992, the anti-abortion crusade has remained defiant while the pro-choice movement has been in steady retreat. This is the only way to understand how a small but dedicated army of religious zealots has managed to successfully transform the political terrain in its favor — and why a figure as ridiculous as Randall Terry is now regarded as legitimate within the political mainstream.

Dr. Tiller’s violent death at the hands of an anti-abortion extremist should be a wake-up call to supporters of the right of women to control their own bodies.

Despite the rhetoric — adopted today even by mainstream abortion rights groups — that “no woman wants to have an abortion” and that abortion should be “safe, legal and, above all, rare,” the truth is that some women do desperately need and want to have abortions, and they shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for it.

That was something Dr. George Tiller understood — and ultimately gave his life for. As a statement from Tiller’s family following his murder emphasized:

Our loss is also a loss for the City of Wichita and women across America. George dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality heath care, despite frequent threats and violence. We ask that he be remembered as a good husband, father and grandfather, and a dedicated servant on behalf of the rights of women everywhere.

Nicole Colson writes for Socialist Worker.

Magda Hassan
06-06-2009, 11:17 AM
The revelation that Scott Roeder, the alleged murderer of Dr. George Tiller, belonged to an anti-government, white separatist group called the Montana Freemen might seem like an unlikely twist. After all, such groups are generally thought of as either indifferent to the issue of abortion or actively enthusiastic about its potential for reducing the nonwhite population. As it turns out, however, the journey from radical racialist to anti-abortionist isn't as unusual as you might think.
Roeder's connections to the right-wing fringe began well over a decade ago, according to the Kansas City Star (http://www.kansascity.com/842/story/1227980.html). His ex-wife, Lindsey, said that after a few years of marriage, Roeder became increasingly involved with the Freemen and its anti-government ideology. "The anti-tax stuff came first, and then it grew and grew. He became very anti-abortion…That's all he cared about is anti-abortion. 'The church is this. God is this.' Yadda yadda." Noting that she vehemently disagreed with her ex-husband's views, Lindsey Roeder told the Star that he moved out in 1994. "I thought he was over the edge with that stuff," she said. "He started falling apart. I had to protect myself and my son."

In 1996, Roeder was arrested in Topeka after sheriff deputies stopped his car because it had no license plate. Instead, the Star reported, "it bore a tag declaring him a 'sovereign' and immune from state law. In the trunk, deputies found materials that could be assembled into a bomb." Roeder was convicted, sentenced to two years probation, and told to stay away from far-right groups. A state appeals court subsequently overturned the conviction.
Roeder and the Freemen belonged to a little-recognized nativist political movement that began in the early 20th century, flared up periodically, and then ripped through the American heartland during the farm depression of the mid-1980s. This movement was often called "the posse," after a core group named the Posse Comitatus. Like any political movement, it consisted of a myriad of shifting entities that appeared and disappeared. But even though the names of the groups often changed, they all held tightly to the notion that the true white sovereigns, who had rightfully been given this land by God, were being threatened by race traitors "inferior races" creeping across the borders from Mexico and lands farther south. A favorite posse image was a drawing of a man hanging by the neck from a tree on a hill. Below in the distance stands a group of armed men. A sign is scrawled on the drawing. It says "The posse."
Over the years, this movement has encompassed various remnants of the Ku Klux Klan, what was left of Lincoln Rockwell's Nazis, the national socialists of William Pierce, and skinheads. Sometimes, adherents of the Posse ideology operated underground. Sometimes, they attempted to win support via electoral politics, like the white supremacist David Duke, who ran numerous times for statewide and national office. Terry Nichols, who along with Timothy McVeigh carried out the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, dabbled with the concept of sovereign citizenship. The militia movement, too, was an outgrowth of the posse movement. Daniel Levitas, author of a book about the phenomenon, has described Roeder's group, the Montana Freemen, as "the direct ideological descendants of the Posse Comitatus."
The Freemen aimed to rid the nation of "14th Amendment citizens"—anyone who wasn't a white Anglo Saxon directly descended from God. Nonwhites, or "mud people," weren't really people at all, but God's failed attempts to create Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. A bad Xerox copy, they used to say. These beliefs derived from a school of thought known as Christian Identity, which holds that Jews, blacks, and other minorities aren't actually people and therefore don't deserve constitutional rights. Instead, those rights are reserved for so-called "white Sovereigns," who aim to take over government and run it through grand juries of the people, with laws enforced by old-time posses.
The Freemen achieved notoriety in 1995, when they moved into a foreclosed farm in Garfield County, Montana, which they named Justus Township. Here they cached weapons and ammunition, dug bunkers, stockpiled food, and cut off a county road. They prepared for a siege with the feds. But the FBI eventually brought in an attorney connected to the Aryan Nations and worked out a surrender deal. Some of the Freemen were prosecuted for running a check scam. (One of the most detailed accounts of the Freemen and the unraveling of the far-right movement is contained in Blood and Politics (http://www.motherjones.com/media/2009/05/books-blood-and-politics), a new book by Leonard Zeskind. He is the leading historian of the scene.)
One might think that the divisions between pro-life Christians and far-right racists would preclude any sort of working alliance. Evangelical Christians thought that the creation of Israel was a sign of the Second Coming of Christ and became keen supporters of that country. The racialists, meanwhile, hated Israel and detested Jerry Falwell for supporting it. The Klan historically loathed Catholics, and modern far-right leaders like Tom Metzger in California thought abortion was a great way to stem the tide of brown and black babies who were burdening the welfare system and who as adults would threaten white political power.
In the early and mid-'80s, however, the racialist underground often railed against abortion. I wrote about this development (http://www.monitor.net/monitor/9702a/97abortionattack.html) in the Village Voice:
Bob Mathews, leader of a terror gang known as The Order, saw abortion as the suicide of the white race. Jim Wickstrom, the Christian Identity leader of another underground terror group called the Posse Comitatus, ranted against Jewish doctors and nurses who engaged in abortion. Posse screeds claimed the space program was part of a plot to get rid of aborted fetuses by blasting them into space.
By the 1990s, the far right had started to attack abortion clinics. Ray Lampley, a far-right racialist in Oklahoma, and two members of a national militia were convicted in federal court of conspiring to bomb abortion clinics (along with gay bars, welfare offices, an Anti-Defamation League office, and the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama). In Spokane, Washington, three men who claimed ties to a group called the Phineas Priesthood were charged with the bombings of a newspaper office and a Planned Parenthood clinic. The group is named for a Bible story in which Phinehas slew an interracial couple. Today's Phineas Priesthood has been popularized by the white separatist William Pierce, whose 1989 book, The Hunter, tells the story of a drive-by killer who starts out murdering interracial couples and works his way up to killing Jews in order to save the future of white civilization. Paul Hill, who was sentenced to death for the murder of an abortion doctor and his escort, has written an essay calling for "Phineas actions." In 1994, he told USA Today, "I could envision a covert organization developing—something like a pro-life IRA." (Hill was executed in 2003.)
What was the bridge between the posse movement and anti-abortionist fanaticism? The Sovereign crowd viewed women as chattel, and the prospect of an independent woman deciding to seek an abortion didn't sit well with them. I gained some insight into this line of thinking in another piece I once wrote about a young woman in Oklahoma who aspired to join the Christian Identity group, hoping that its followers would teach her to shoot and become a guerrilla. Instead, the men asked her for sex. When the woman replied that she wanted a relationship first, one of them replied, "Women are for breeding." According to one faction of the group, women who have abortions are race traitors and should be stoned to death. With that in mind, the fact that some members of the far-right became violent anti-abortionists perhaps shouldn't come as such a surprise.