The Young Turks
According to NPR, on the morning of May 31st, 2009, a Wichita, Kansas doctor who performed late-term abortions – Dr. George Tiller – was shot at his church.
Several hours later, the shooter Scott Roeder was arrested as he was driving toward Kansas City.
At his trial, Roeder admitted killing Tiller. “I did what I thought was needed to be done to protect the children. I shot him,” Roeder said.
Roeder was convicted of first-degree murder and given an enhanced sentence of 50 years.
Tiller’s clinic had been previously bombed in 1986, and in 1993, Tiller was shot in both arms. There had also been a “massive effort organized by the Pro-Life Action Network and Operation Rescue” in 1991 where anti-abortionist protested at three clinics that provided abortion services in the area. The main protest area was at Dr. Tiller’s clinic, and thousands poured in from across the country, states NPR.
“They did everything, they laid down,” says former district attorney Nola Foulston. “They wouldn’t walk. The officers had to carry them. They cried that there was brutal treatment.”
The protests were repeated 10 years later in 2001. The presence of “sidewalk counselors” near the clinic’s driveway continued almost on a daily basis.
But in the years before his death, Tiller did not shy away from the gates of his clinic nor from the media coverage, including from Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who nicknamed him “Tiller the baby killer.” Through it all, Tiller remained defiant and vocal, according to NPR.
Even many Christians do not agree with the shooting of Dr. Tiller. The below editorial is from Christianity Today after the earlier, 1993 shooting of Tiller.
“A dangerous phrase is floating about pro-life circles these days. Following the murder of Dr. David Gunn and the shooting of Dr. George Tiller, extremists have rationalized those violent acts by calling them justifiable homicide. Fortunately, most people in the pro-life movement intuitively reject attempts to justify the murder of abortionists. But instinct may not serve us well in emotionally compelling situations. We must also think through the reasons for rejecting deadly violence in the abortion struggle.
“The logic for justifiable homicide runs like this: If a crazed killer enters your home and threatens the lives of your children, you are justified in grabbing your deer-hunting rifle and shooting the intruder. Likewise, these extremists argue, you are justified in using deadly force to stop a doctor known to be a “serial killer” of fetuses from murdering more.
“There are several assumptions in this argument that are worth examining. First, it is assumed one should try to kill a potential killer in order to prevent more killing. But the church has long recognized that the intent to kill is always sinful. The Christian may feel obliged to attempt to stop a madman with an AK-47. And that attempt may result in death. But moral theologians have applied the term justifiable homicide only to that killing which is an unintended secondary effect. The intent must be to protect the innocent. Disabling a killer—whether by hitting him with an unabridged dictionary or by shooting him with a bullet—may result in his death. But it is not permissible under the law of Christ for an individual acting alone to intend to kill another human being.
“Second, the analogy requires us to believe that the guilt of an intentional killing can be outweighed by preventing other, unknown, as-yet-not-committed evil acts. Christian ethicists have taught that we are not justified in committing a known evil in order to achieve a good end. Just as we do not cheat on our taxes in order to give more money to missions, we do not murder abortionists in order to bring more babies to term. The end does not justify the means.
“Shooting an abortionist, then, is unlike incidental killing in the defense of one’s family: it involves premeditation and sinful intention…