Yesterday, 51-year-old man named Scott Roeder gunned down George Tiller, a Kansas doctor who administered abortions, as he stood in the foyer of his church. As PFAW noted, Tiller had “long been the most prominent target of anti-abortion activists in this country due to the fact that he was one of the few physicians in the country willing to perform ‘late-term’ abortions.”
Shortly after news broke of the killing, Troy Newman, President of the anti-choice group Operation Rescue, issued a statement condemning Roeder’s actions: “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.”
However, veteran anti-abortion activist Randall Terry — who founded Operation Rescue — issued a statement calling Tiller a “mass murderer,” adding that he was an “evil man” whose “hands were covered with blood.” “We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches,” he said.
Operation Rescue’s protests were often far from peaceful. Tiller had to be protected by federal marshals and his clinic was fortified by bulletproof glass and security guards. Operation Rescue’s 1991 protests drew “thousands of anti-abortion activists to this city for demonstrations marked by civil disobedience and mass arrests.”
Roeder, in fact, had been an active member of the Operation Rescue community and used the group as a platform for his vigilantism. (Authorities found a Post-It note with the group’s phone number in his car after the shooting.) This morning, Operation Rescue President Troy Newman issued a new statement, trying to distance his group even further from Roeder’s actions:
Scott Roeder has never been a member, contributor, or volunteer with Operation Rescue. Mr. Roeder may have posted to our open blog web site, as have thousands of members of the public, including those with pro-abortion views, but he is not affiliated with this organization. […]
In spite of these horrific events, we remain dedicated to working through all peaceful and legal means available to bring an end to the killing of innocent children through abortion.
In May 2007, Operation Rescue organized a “77-hour round the clock prayer vigil” in Wichita, KS, Tiller’s hometown. “Let’s keep the pressure on George Tiller and the authorities until they are willing to bring him to justice!” read the announcement for the event. On May 19, Roeder commented on the thread, chillingly urging Operation Rescue members to take the fight inside Tiller’s church:
Bleass [sic] 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.
Hunter at DailyKos also caught a “Scott Roeder” commenting on another Operation Rescue site, Charge Tiller, which has since been taken down. On Sept. 3, 2007, Roeder stepped up the violence in his rhetoric, writing:
It seems as though what is happening in Kansas could be compared to the “lawlessness” which is spoken of in the Bible. Tiller is the concentration camp “Mengele” of our day and needs to be stopped before he and those who protect him bring judgement [sic] upon our nation.
As Mike Hendricks of the Kansas-City Star wrote yesterday, Operation Rescue couldn’t have been “shocked” by Tiller’s death. After all, it was that group that coined the name “Tiller the Killer” and “spent decades fomenting hate toward a man who simply believed that he was serving a purpose by being one of the few doctors in the country performing late-term abortions.” “His accomplices know they have blood on their hands, which might explain why they were quick to issue statements…expressing disapproval of Tiller’s murder,” added Hendricks.
– – Here’s the most shocking quote on this that I’ve seen:
“Late-term abortion doctor George Tiller was gunned down at his church in Kansas Sunday morning in a thoroughly evil, cold-blooded act of domestic terrorism. Yes, terrorism. Not ‘extremism,'” – Michelle Malkin.