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.
Random murder of civilians in order to coerce political concessions doesn’t have a great track-record. But direct action terrorist violence against abortion providers has, I think, proven to be a fairly successful tactic. Every time you murder a doctor, you create a disincentive for other medical professionals to provide these services. What’s more, you create a need for additional security at facilities around the country. In addition, the anti-abortion protestors who frequently gather near clinics are made to seem much more intimidating by the fact that the occurrence of these sorts of acts of violence.
In general, I think people tend to overestimate the efficacy of violence as a political tactic. But in this particular case, I think people tend to understate it.
I highly recommend this post from Ann Friedman on the situation.