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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

UPDATE: Reproductive Health Doctor George Tiller Assassinated

George Tiller shot to death at Wichita church

George Tiller, the Wichita doctor who became a national lightning rod in the debate over abortion, was shot to death this morning as he walked into church services.

Tiller, 67, was shot just after 10 a.m. at Reformation Lutheran Church at 7601 E. 13th, where he was a member of the congregation. Witnesses and a police source confirmed Tiller was the victim.

No information has been released about whether a suspect is in custody.

Homicide detectives and Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston have arrived at the church.

Members of the congregation who were inside the sanctuary at the time of the shooting were being kept inside the church by police, and those arriving were being ushered into the parking lot. Witnesses are being transported downtown for interviews and other members of the congregation are slowly being released from inside the sanctuary


The story gives the background on terrorist activities against the doctor in the past:

Tiller has long been a focal point of protest by abortion opponents because his clinic, Women’s Health Care Services at 5701 E. Kellogg, is one of the few in the country where late-term abortions are performed.

Protesters blockaded Tiller’s clinic during Operation Rescue’s “Summer of Mercy” protests during the summer of 1991, and Tiller was shot by Rachelle Shannon at his clinic in 1993.Tiller was wounded in both arms, and Shannon remains in prison for the shooting.

Tiller’s clinic was severely vandalized earlier this month. According to the Associated Press, his lawyer said wires to security cameras and outdoor lights were cut and that the vandals also cut through the roof and plugged the buildings’ downspouts. Rain poured through the roof and caused thousands of dollars of damage in the clinic. Tiller reportedly asked the FBI to investigate the incident.

A search of the web brings up his name on many hate sites, and his name has recently been linked to that of Kathleen Sebelius.

UPDATE: Police are holding Scott Roeder.

He (or someone using that name) recently posted this on the Operation Rescue site:

#  Scott Roeder Says:

May 19th, 2007 at 4:34 pm

Bleass everyone for attending and praying in May to bring justice to Tiller and the closing of his death camp.

Sometime soon, would it be feasible to organize as many people as possible to attend Tillers church (inside, not just outside) to have much more of a presence and possibly ask questions of the Pastor, Deacons, Elders and members while there? Doesn’t seem like it would hurt anything but bring more attention to Tiller.

Local television stations have shown video of a post-it note in his car with the number of Operation Rescue and a lone rose which is their symbol.

Other busy bloggers have been tracking down information on Roeder and found:

According to a Democratic Underground thread, a 1997 Militia Watchdog report put out by the Anti-Defamation League lists the following activity for July 7:

“July 7, Kansas: Scott Roeder is sentenced to sixteen months in state prison for parole violations following a 1996 conviction for having bomb components in his car trunk. Roeder, a sovereign citizen and tax protester, violated his parole by not filing tax returns or providing his social security number to his employer.”

Link to ADL report

I searched the Kansas Department of Corrections website, and they have a listing for Scott Roeder, which matches the suspect description.

His full name is Scott Philip Roeder. He is 51 years old. Birthday is 25 February 1958. He is 6′-2″ tall and weighs 230 lbs. He was convicted in 1996 in Shawnee County, Kansas for Criminal Use of Explosives. scott roeder abortion.

According to records from the Kansas Secretary of State’s office, and available on the Kansas VoterView website, he is a registered Republican in Shawnee, Kansas. According to the voter records, he last voted in 1994.

A candlelight vigil is being held in Wichita tonight for Dr. Tiller:

A candlelight vigil has been scheduled for 8 p.m. today at Old Town Square to show support for George Tiller’s family and to oppose violence.

Dustin Deckard, 20, organized the vigil and is hoping it will be “a quiet show of support for Dr. Tiller and a moment to remember his medical and political triumphs.”…


From TPM:

Statement from Attorney General Eric Holder …

   “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.”

Glad to hear our AG is sending protection for other doctors and clinics.

Will update again later

Rest in Peace.

I suggest that those of you who can make donations to Medical Students For Choice

or any other reproductive rights organization.

Some background on MSFC:

The United States and Canada face a dangerous shortage of trained abortion providers. In 2000, 87% of the counties in the United States had no provider (1). The “graying” of current providers (57% of whom are over the age of 50 (7), violence that targets physicians, and restrictive legislation threaten to drive these numbers even lower. In addition, medical schools are simply not addressing the topic; most physicians are graduating with little more than circumstantial knowledge of abortion.

Medical Students for Choice® stands up in the face of violent opposition, working to destigmatize abortion provision among medical students and residents, and to persuade medical schools and residency programs to include abortion as a part of the reproductive health services curriculum.

Today MSFC is an internationally known non-profit organization with a network of over 10,000 medical students and residents around the United States and Canada and a successful track record.

Read about MSFC’s progress last year in the MSFC 2007 Annual Report. Your support is vital to our continued success and mission goals – thank you!

Our Mission

Medical Students for Choice® (MSFC) is dedicated to ensuring that women receive the full range of reproductive healthcare choices. MSFC recognizes that one of the greatest obstacles to safe and legal abortion is the absence of trained providers. As medical students and residents, we work to make reproductive health care, including abortion, a part of standard medical education and residency training.


  1. These are the same bunch of mindless idiots that bombed a building on our street in Toronto.

    Rest in Peace, Dr. Tiller.  My condolences to your family.

  2. Kysen

    Fucking terrorists is what they are.

    Pro-Life…from conception to birth.


    Fucking disgusting.  

  3. As a public focal point, it could be argued that his loss sends a “message” but it elevates the killing to a cause–as opposed to a murdering asshat.

    In part, it stems from my conviction that we need to stop elevating folks beyond their station. Terrorists, while nasty and organized, are still simply criminals. Elevating their status only feeds their need for publicity, and only elevates their “cause” beyond its station. Not freedom fighters, not a government in exile for most, but criminals who trying to scare folks in order to advance an agenda that fails to engage otherwise. There are few real freedom fighters out there–and there are a plethora of strongmen and criminals who want to mask their activities under the guise of a “movement” and take profit and power under that aegis.

    In the case of abortion debate, there is considerable debate, and considerable movement in the debate, so the launching of attacks on doctors and clinics doesn’t fall into the purview of a political move, but just plain impatience and criminal activity.

    They aren’t “terrorists”–though their goal is certainly intended to move debate and inspire fear–since they can achieve their goal without. These folks aren’t anything so grandiose as freedom fighters or heroes of any sort of revolution, but criminals and treating them as such takes much of the romance from their exploits.

    These aren’t culture warriors. They are murderers, plain and simple. And by not elevating them, we deflate the “cause” they want to advance by not falling for that game.

    In this case, the smartest thing to do is to NOT play into it. And I urge folks to resist the easy call to escalate terms, because it only plays into the psychosis and only makes them larger than life, and turns them from criminals to political figures.

    They aren’t. They are just criminals who want to be bigger than they are. They want a cause, they want adoration. They are willing to “sacrifice” for their “cause” and calling them anything but what they really are–criminals–plays into that.  

  4. creamer

    people who pull the trigger. This is a direct result of 30 years of overheated rethoric produced by the core of the conservative wing of the republican party, the religous right. The republicans have never made an effort to push the crazies out or silence them.

    A prediction, the far right media will walk right up to calling this justice.

    A few republican Senators and Congress people will condem it.

    The majority of republican Senators will remain silent.

  5. fogiv

    Part of the statement released by Randall Terry, the founder of anti-abortion group Operation Rescue:

    George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. 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.

    Surrendering our most effective actions? What the fuck?!?

  6. HappyinVT

    maybe DHS Secretary Napolitano nees to take back that apology she made re: the report that got the right so pissed off a couple of the months ago.

    You may recall the enormous controversy that erupted in April over a Department of Homeland Security report that assessed the threat of “right wing extremists.” The story provoked days of nonstop cable chatter, and DHS chief Janet Napolitano ultimately apologized.

    Fast forward to the huge and horrible news yesterday that late-term abortion doctor George Tiller was shot dead by a man who reportedly posted on the blog of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. Maybe we should take another look at all that criticism?

    One passage from the DHS report that provoked nonstop outrage said that right wing extremists “may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”

     greg sargent

  7. Cheryl Kopec

    Tiller’s murder was a cold-blooded act motivated by nothing other than self-righteous hatred, and deserves full prosecution as such under the law. I hope his killer serves every minute of the hard time he’s got coming to him.

    Having said that, though, I feel a note of empathy needs to be inserted here amidst all the righteous outrage. Yes, empathy, our (or rather “their”) favorite new dirty word. Because we’ll never overcome that type of blind bloodlust unless we can begin to understand what motivates them.

    I know a couple of passionate anti-abortion crusaders. They’re my own folks. We’ve had many an animated discussion of the subject. So I know what kind of brick wall we’re up against here.

    Plain and simple, Dr. Tiller was, to them, a mass murderer bent on destroying innocent babies. Never mind the mother’s rights, such as they may or may not exist — the important thing was the babies’ rights, and if the mother wouldn’t defend them, then it was up to somebody.  Murdering Tiller is, in their view, as noble an act as taking down someone who is about to start spraying shotgun fire into a packed stadium crowd.

    I’m pretty certain my folks don’t condone Tiller’s murder. But I’m not so certain they don’t condemn it, either, and I believe I understand why.


  8. DeniseVelez

    that doesn’t get asked by pollsters when collecting data on people’s opinions on reproductive health, including abortion, is whether or not those people who state that they think “abortion is murder” and “abortionists are murderers” is whether or not they think women who have had abortions should be tried as murderesses.  The “pro-life” crowd tends to remains silent on this issue for a good reason.

    Statistics show that:

    Approximately one-fifth (19%) of the 6.4 million pregnancies occurring annually in the U.S. end in induced abortion

    There are many myths and misconceptions about who gets abortions, and why. The fact is that the women who have abortions come from all racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds. If current rates continue, it is estimated that 35% of all women of reproductive age in America today will have had an abortion by the time they reach the age of 45.3


    Women who obtain abortions represent every religious affiliation. 13% of abortion patients describe themselves as born-again or Evangelical Christians4; while 22% of U.S. women are Catholic,7 27% of abortion patients say they are Catholics.1

    No one would be caught dead advocating we take 35% of the women in the US and lock em up.  Hence, the targets are the providers.  Interesting because the right resists targeting gun-shops and tightening regulations on same (providers)

    For the nations poor women, particularly young ones, access to abortion has been severely limited.

    One of the best articles on this, The Economics of Abortion Access in the US can be found at Catholics for Choice.

    The reproductive rights of poor women, young women and women of color have been systematically trampled on by all of the barriers to abortion access imposed by opponents of abortion. Poor women and women of color are more likely to have an abortion than women with economic resources. Denied funding for abortions, these women also face punitive policies should they wish to become mothers or to have more children while on public assistance. “The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act” (the 1996 “welfare reform”law) contains many provisions constraining the reproductive options for poor women. This includes welfare caps that prohibit increased payments to women who have another child while on public assistance, “illegitimacy bonuses” which give cash to states that lower the rate of out-of-wedlock births while keeping the abortion rate down and denying immigrants health care for five years. (For more on this, see p28.)

    The attacks from conservatives demonstrate their understanding that abortion rights and mothering rights are two sides of the same reproductive freedom coin. For example, the federal Medicaid program pays about 90 percent of the cost of a sterilization, thus making it the more economically viable option for a poor woman who does not want to have more children. Denying both aspects of reproductive control to poor women is a matter of racial and class discrimination as well as gender inequity.

    One day I will write an article here about sterilization of Puerto Rican women, which is still the birth control method “chosen” by 45%.  I put chosen in quotes because there are numerous factors contributing to this – lack of access to other methods of limiting  pregnancies, the role of the Catholic church, and a massive population control program instituted in PR.  

    So Dr Tiller, and other providers of reproductive health services are denounced from pulpits and in the media as “abortionists” (they are not – they are Ob-Gyn physicians), and called “killers and murderers”.

    Anyway.  I am nattering on this morning.

    I better stop here.

  9. creamer

      I’ve always found it hard to deal with the obvious contradictions in Christianity and how its practiced in the U.S. Ignoring facts and logic. The need to have answers to unaswerable questions. Attacking anyone that doesn’t agree with them, typicaly looking down on anyone with differing views and beliefs. It saddens me. The facts and logic behind birth control and contraception are a prime example.

     I also try not to take offence when athiest and agnostics make judgemental and broad comments like “imaginary Gods” or “delusional”. Condenscending attitudes are not mutually exclusive.

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