1. Religion & Spirituality
Scott P. Richert

Late-Term Abortionist George Tiller Murdered

By May 31, 2009

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Kansas.com, the website of the Wichita Eagle newspaper, is reporting that late-term abortionist George Tiller "was shot to death this morning as he walked into church services." Tiller was a member of Wichita's Reformation Lutheran Church, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Tiller's abortion clinic "is one of the few in the country where late-term abortions are performed." According to reports, Tiller himself had performed over 60,000 abortions.

As Kansas.com notes, Tiller has repeatedly been the subject of lawsuits and criminal investigations. Most recently, "A Wichita jury ruled in March that he was not guilty of illegal abortion on 19 criminal charges he faced for allegedly violating a state law requiring an 'independent' second physician's concurring opinion before performing later term abortions." He remained under investigation for a similar complaint filed with the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts.

Tiller was also a significant donor to the political campaigns of former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius, the radically pro-abortion Catholic whom President Barack Obama appointed as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Tiller contributed to Sebelius directly and to political action committees that she controlled. During her tenure as governor, Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann declared that Kansas had become "infamous for being the late-term abortion center for the Midwest." Sebelius repeatedly vetoed legislation that would have affected Tiller's business.

All of that said, the murder of Tiller cannot—must not—be excused. Murder is murder, and those who would weigh the 60,000 lives that Tiller took (and those he might have taken in the future) against his own make a fundamental moral error. We cannot do evil that good may come of it, and God is the proper judge of Tiller's soul. Our duty as Christians remains the same after Tiller's murder as before: to pray for his soul.

Sadly, Tiller's actions (or most of them, anyway) were legal under the laws of the state of Kansas and under the current state of federal constitutional law. Even more disturbingly, Tiller's murderer may have set in motion a political backlash that could lead to a federal crackdown on abortion protests and a revived push to pass the federal Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama had promised to sign FOCA, a congressional bill that would force states and localities to remove restrictions on abortion, thus guaranteeing a uniform "right to an abortion" across the United States. Since his inauguration, President Obama has signaled that FOCA would not be a legislative priority for his administration. Abortion-rights groups, happy with what they have received from the Obama administration so far, were willing to give the President a pass on FOCA.

I predict that Tiller's murder will change all of that. FOCA will be reintroduced in Congress (it failed in the last legislative session), and President Obama will likely get behind it. We may also see federal marshals stationed outside abortion clinics, something that hasn't happened on a regular basis since the early years of Operation Rescue. And that will mean more arrests of peaceful protestors.

Over the past month, several polls, most prominent among them Gallup, have indicated that, for the first time since the question has been asked, there is a pro-life majority in the United States. The willingness of voters to identify themselves as pro-life seems to be a reaction to the pro-abortion policies of President Obama's first 100 days in office. Tiller's murder will likely cause a backlash on this front, too.

Murder is murder. By taking Tiller's life into his or her own hands, Tiller's murderer joined with Tiller in his sin. Unlike Tiller, he or she will likely be brought to justice.

But if the murder of Tiller prompts a political backlash, it is unborn children and those who spend their days on the front lines trying to save them—peacefully, through prayer and sidewalk counseling—who will pay the price for the murderer's decision to become what he or she despised.

Comments
May 31, 2009 at 4:35 pm
(1) Cindy Swanson says:

Excellent article!

May 31, 2009 at 5:28 pm
(2) Wichita Resident says:

George Tiller stood before his creator this morning. Our duty is Christians is NOT to pray for his soul – he has been judged already. If he was repentant of his sins, he stood forgiven. If he was impenitent, then sadly he is in hell. Not condoning his shooting – murder is murder and all is sin – but WE CANNOT pray for his soul. He has been judged, and there is nothing we can do about it. Instead, we should preach against the sin of abortion and murder as well, since both end a person’s time of grace – the time he is given to be brought to faith.

May 31, 2009 at 5:45 pm
(3) Allura says:

Dr. George Tiller was a hero. You seem to have forgotten that abortion is legal in America, and the work he did was brave and important despite the threats of anti-abortion nutjobs and murderers.

As for characterizing “Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius, the radically pro-abortion Catholic,” that’s evidence of a bias so supreme that it throws everything you write into question. The woman is pro-choice. She supports the law of the land.

Bottom line: If you don’t want/don’t “believe in” abortion, don’t have one. Otherwise, keep your extreme, anti-woman religious beliefs away from my body.

May 31, 2009 at 7:29 pm
(4) Scott P. Richert says:

Wichita Resident, I don’t know whether you’re a Catholic or not, but the Catholic Church teaches that we here on earth cannot know the final disposition of a man’s soul. We should indeed hope that Tiller repented at the last moment of all the evil that he had done, and in that hope, we should pray for the repose of his soul.

May 31, 2009 at 7:34 pm
(5) Scott P. Richert says:

Allura, you write:

You seem to have forgotten that abortion is legal in America

And you seem not to have read the article, because I wrote:

Sadly, Tiller’s actions (or most of them, anyway) were legal under the laws of the state of Kansas and under the current state of federal constitutional law.

But legality and morality are two separate (though related) things. At one time, federal courts imposed sterilization on those deemed unfit to have children. The action was as “legal” as Roe v. Wade. Yet I doubt that you would defend such sterilization as “brave and important” work.

May 31, 2009 at 8:57 pm
(6) Nancy says:

Excellent article, Scott. The ONLY thing we can do in this situation is to pray, for Dr. Tiller and his murderer, for the judge and jury who will be summoned to court to deal with this case, for our president and for our country.

(I prayed for Saddam Hussein, too…there is nothing too difficult for God to turn to His good.)

May 31, 2009 at 8:59 pm
(7) Kirt Higdon says:

I have already prayed for the repose of Dr. Tiller’s soul and will continue to do so. His death may well prove to be a disaster for the pro-life movement, which was damaged by the assassinations which took place in the 90s. I pray the rosary on a weekly basis in front of the local abortion mill, more often than not by myself, and the police simply ignore me. I’ll be very surprised if they are not more attentive the next time I come and more attentive still on those other days when more pro-lifers show up. But actual law enforcement harassment is not as serious a problem as pro-lifers who drop out for fear of such harassment or to avoid being thought of as terrorists.

June 2, 2009 at 9:48 am
(8) jp says:
June 2, 2009 at 11:38 am
(9) Tom says:

Posting US Marshal’s outside abortion clinics would publicize US government sponsorship and subsidization of abortions. Christian morality requires that we hold ourselves to a higher standard than state dictated legality. Slavery also was legal at one time. For those needing help (not judgment), Catholics are here for you: http://www.hopeafterabortion.com/rachel/

June 2, 2009 at 11:56 am
(10) Angel Gordon says:

Allura,says what he did makes him a hero ask the unborn childeren He Murdered that!!!!Is she a Catholic she sounds more like a Lutheran
or Calvinist,or Mormon maybe but not a True Catholic.We do Reap what we Sow,if We Sow Rightousness we get Rightousness,Sow Evil,we get Evil,I do not say go Kill any one of course not but He asked for his death this way Spiritually and people can not be surprised when it happened,this will not hurt the Pro Life Cause cause they did not have anything to do with it,and remember the Wages of SIN IS DEATH,BUT THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE,Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23.In The Book of Joshua,it states for God HimSelf is Speaking-”CHOOSE LIFE THAT YOU MAY LIVE”,he
the Doctor,did not.It does say in the Old Testament,to,Purge the Evil from among your mist,how we do that is in Prayer and Action according To God’s Holy Word and God’s Holy Will Only!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

June 2, 2009 at 12:00 pm
(11) Disco Catholic says:

Angel Gordon was totally right,he knew as a Doc. He was killing babies that should of lived,and could of do we Pray for the Soul of Hilter and his Medical Staff.We do not Pray for Evil People after they Die too be in Heaven,that is Un Bible and Scripture Based.Evil does not inherit the KINGDOM OF GOD
and THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.

June 2, 2009 at 12:06 pm
(12) April Spring says:

Angel was right do we Pray and Support Evil People on Earth and Pray for them to be in Heaven.No Way!!! Would You Pray for Hilter and his Medical Staff???No Hope Not!!!In Revelation it says Evil-Doers will not be thier or allowed enterance or place in the City of God,Read=Rev. chapthers 21 and 22.

June 2, 2009 at 12:15 pm
(13) Blessed Virgin Mary says:

Angel is an Angel on Earth and will be an Angel in Heaven.

June 2, 2009 at 12:15 pm
(14) Tom says:

Be outspoken and unapologetic about your faith, but temper your rhetoric with some compassionate. Remember your audience, don’t try to provoke the children, as they will rebel.

June 2, 2009 at 1:02 pm
(15) Mike Drabik says:

Scott’s statement on the condition of any human’s soul is right on the mark with the Catholic belief. No one will know, until Jesus returns, what happened to George Tiller,
or Timothy McVeigh or Pol Pot or Adolf Hitler or Ivan the Terrible or the Borgia Pope – Alexander VI – I am sure many names could be added too. Prayers for them can and must be said – otherwise we judge their souls which we have no right to do. But George Tiller’s deliberate actions resulting in the death of 60,000 near term unborn children was no hero – objectively speaking he was indeed a real killer. Backlash is sure to strike pro-lifers because of his murder – mainly because the pro-aborts, for the most part, have influence in major media outlets – indeed many famous media news reporters are proudly pro-abortion. They, like the Nazi propagandist, Goebbels, will get to tell the story and with Mr. Obama in there – they will have free reign to run where they will with this. These folks might show kids burned in a bombing attack in Iraq, but don’t expect to see anytime soon pictures or video of a partial birth abortion to show-up on the evening news. Because most Americans are not given the real truth the backlash will help FOCA proponents who will I believe and as Scott stated, unabashedly resubmit it to Congress and it may even pass. No matter what, though, pro-lifers must stand tall and stand to – they might hall us off to jail, but the truth must still be spoken no what matter happens. However, to conclude, I remember a scene from the movie ‘Cold Mountain’ where the character played by Renee Zellweger speaking in reference to the horrid treatment of an old woman by local enforcement officials said: “This world can’t go on long. God won’t let it.” We be can certain to count on that – even if we don’t see the end of it ourselves in person.

June 2, 2009 at 1:32 pm
(16) Catholic Forever says:

Allura, you wrote:
“Otherwise, keep your extreme, anti-woman religious beliefs away from my body.”
As a woman and a Catholic, I am offended by your remark. Being against abortion, the killing of any unborn child, does not make anyone anti-woman. God created woman to bear children. If any woman does not want a child, then abstain from the act that God also created to bring forth children. To abort a child under any circumstances is the most selfish act that any woman can commit. Also, statistics indicate that less than 1% of all abortions are performed on women who were pregnant as a result of rape or incest. Therefore, the other 99% had a choice to avoid pregnancy.
Abortion being legal in the United States does not make it morally acceptable. Have you had any children? Have you seen an ultrasound of a 20 week old fetus? I don’t know how anyone who has can say that a woman should have a choice to kill an unborn child. I praise all women who have had the courage to not abort their babies when they are in a real situation of dire stress because of an unwanted pregnancy. There are too many groups available today to help these women and too many couples who can not have children of their own and would love to adopt a baby.
When a civilization kills it’s unborn, then it is no longer civilized but instead is barbaric!

June 3, 2009 at 6:01 am
(17) Remain focused says:

None of us know how Dr Tiller was judged by Almighty God.
In the last split seconds of consciousness he might have received the grace to repent like the good thief on the cross-none of us have the right to make assumptions.
We now need to pray for his widow and family and the poor misguided man who killed him because unfortunately his actions will unleash a backlash against the prolife movement.
We have to soldier on regardless remembering prayer and pennance are still our greatest weapons and love for all is the answer not violence.
Helpers of God’s Precious Infants and Rachel’s Vineyard are two organisations whose approach is peaceful, prayerful and compassionate

June 3, 2009 at 11:35 am
(18) David says:

Just because something is legal desn’t make it moral.

June 4, 2009 at 9:38 am
(19) Cypress Green says:

an important fact:
O’Reilly on Tiller: 60,000 Abortions

On the 6/1/2009 “O’Reilly Report” on Fox News, Bill O’Reilly repeated the claim that recently-murdered Dr. George Tiller had performed 60,000 abortions in his career. But is that possible?

Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, so if Dr. Tiller’s abortions were all legal, they would have been performed in the last 36 years. Sixty thousand divided by 36 is about 1,667 per year. If Dr. Tiller took 4 weeks of vacation, sick leave, or other non-working days each year, that means he performed about 35 abortions a week, or about one an hour (assuming a 9-to-5 day with an hour off for lunch).

Performing an abortion an hour every working day for 36 years is a pace that would have taxed Lou Gehrig. I don’t believe it happened. http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/ecclesiastes/2009/06/oreilly-on-tiller-60000-aborti.php?ref=reccafe

June 4, 2009 at 11:12 am
(20) Scott P. Richert says:

Cypress Green, as I noted in the comments on the other article, not only is it possible, but a much greater rate would be possible:

Cypress Green, the abortion clinic here in Rockford, Illinois, is open only two days per week and consistently performs 35-40 abortions per week. What youíre missing is that much of the time for an abortion is prep time.

To make a poor analogy, my average dental checkup takes about 45 minutes. Yet the dentist himself sees four or five patients during that time period. Heís only in the room for what he needs to be. The rest is handled by assistants.

Itís the same in abortion clinics.

The clinic here in Rockford has only one abortionist on staff. If he can perform 35 abortions in two days, George Tiller could certainly perform that or more in a week.

June 4, 2009 at 4:37 pm
(21) kneeling catholic says:

why was President Clinton so bad at protecting the lives of abortionists?

Why was President Bush so good at it?

Why is President Obama so bad at it?

http://kneelingcatholic.blogspot.com/2009/06/why-was-president-bush-so-good-at.html

June 8, 2009 at 1:19 pm
(22) january28711 says:

Scott P. Richert: what you are forgetting is that Dr. Tiller performed much more serious and complicated procedures than an abortion clinic. Some of his procedures may well have been routine, but some would also qualify as major surgery. Cypress Green is correct; 60,000 strains credulity of anyone considering the matter seriously.

June 8, 2009 at 1:49 pm
(23) Scott P. Richert says:

what you are forgetting is that Dr. Tiller performed much more serious and complicated procedures than an abortion clinic. Some of his procedures may well have been routine, but some would also qualify as major surgery.

And so does the local abortionist here in Rockford, who, I repeat, performs 35-40 abortions in just two days per week. The numbers hardly “strain credulity.”

June 9, 2009 at 11:55 am
(24) traditionalcatholicart says:

Why was President Bush so good at it?

Why? Because it seems to me that pro-life (like me) people are hypocrites. When we get a pro-life president in office, we sit back all self satisfied and think we are stopping abortion and when we get a pro-abortion president we run around screaming that the sky is falling and whipping unstable people into a frenzy enough to kill the abortionists.

My friends never said one word about abortion during the Bush years, and now suddenly it’s URGENT that we stop abortion NOW!
Were abortions stopped during the Bush years?

I understand that Obama has done a lot of damage in a short time to the pro-life movement, but one lone anti-abortionist with one gunshot has done so much worse.

It’s not up to the president to legislate morality, it’s up to us to change the views and morals of our own communities.

We need to support and care for the women who are scared and need food, clothing and medical care so they won’t choose the evil of abortion at all.
What if there was not a need for George Tillers?

We need to fight the cause of abortion, poverty, fear, lack of moral education, parental failure…etc etc

Find your nearest crisis pregnancy center and donate time, money and love.
care_net.org is a great place to support
Get involved in your own towns.
THAT is how we will stop abortion, with love and care, not violence.

June 9, 2009 at 12:58 pm
(25) Mary says:

Traditionalcatholicart, you make a fantastic point. I also think that it is ridiculous that people fail to acknowledge what a limited role the president actually plays in whether abortions are carried out at any given time in history, and how many other important factors there are. If John McCain had been elected we would probablyk still have the exact same number of abortions right now.

What I really want to comment about, though, is the issue with the health of mothers. Although I’m not expecting that most readers on this blog are able to comment about medically precise issues, there are certainly pregnancies where the mother is in serious danger of death, (e.g. disseminated intravascular coagulation from placental tissue) and what does the Church say about those circumstances in which the fetus must be delivered or the mother can die? I really don’t know the answer myself, so I’m curious.

June 10, 2009 at 12:22 am
(26) pazimm says:

Catholic Forever wrote an awesome letter. So many good points. And I am pro choice. Well as long as the choice is made before conception. :)

June 10, 2009 at 12:49 am
(27) traditionalcatholicart says:

Mary, Speaking as a layman, not a doctor, I can’t think of any disease/condition where they could not just remove the baby from the mother via C-section, and do their best in a neonatal unit to keep the baby alive until it can breath on it’s own…..can you?
The Church’s stand is that no one can purposely do anything where the end cause is the death of any baby.
If the aim of the emergency C-section is to save both human beings and the side effect is that one dies, then there is no sin. The death was not the aim.

Think of it like an automobile accident. Inside is two people, both in a dangerous state. And let’s say that to save one or the other puts the other one in danger.
The firemen would not shoot one so they could save the other, they would try and save both even though it might mean the death of one.

If it took them too long on one and the car exploded before they could save the other, would you say they “killed” the other?
No, they tried to save both, but couldn’t.

June 10, 2009 at 4:07 am
(28) Patricia Carroll says:

How repugnant that people could celebrate the taking of this man’s life. The fact that his life was taken as he walked into church speaks volumes – against those that committed this crime.

June 12, 2009 at 10:27 pm
(29) tz says:

And what, exactly, do you call what american citizens are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan – mostly based on lies, exaggerations, fear, hate, and revenge which does not care if the guilty or some random person is punished?

Cheney has been going around trumpeting the total shredding of the rule of law – but we are safe because of it.

It seems that when muslims – who seem to be no more “persons” than “fetuses” were to tiller are killed en masse the Catholic right is utterly silent, if not actively supporting the slaughter, and often using language that were the same words in a different context would be recognized as racist and bigoted. But towelheads and fetuses are safe to victimize.

When justice fails, and does so in a public and spectacular way, it is difficult to sort killing from murder. If you wish to restore the bright lines, the black from the white, the light from the dark, it needed to be done several years ago, and should start with the war-crimes and objective evils of the previous “pro-life” administration – and naturally follow through.

Instead it sounds merely like partisanship – who really cares about dead babies when the GOP stands to gain house seats? Or hypocrisy.

Tiller might be a murderer, but then Cheney and company are a war criminals. The latter has been out there and far more vocal and proud of his “accomplishments”. If you wish to seek justice, feel free to cast the first stone, but insure that it is at the most deserving target.

June 13, 2009 at 1:50 pm
(30) cdx says:

Actually, CNN polled nationally for upholding vs overturning Roe v Wade a few days after the shooting. It’s 68% for upholding, 30% to overturn. “Pro-life” identification seems to mean sentiment rather than political stance to quite a few people- it might well be a sign that people no longer take the “pro-life” movement or its rhetoric with any authority anymore.

That’s pretty close to the level of supermajority at which organized political opposition collapses. It’s large enough that there’s no threat posed to national Democratic politicians anymore and the national Republican Party can’t achieve unity anymore.

And if it’s like other Culture War issues, which it seems to be, there’s an underlying 1% per year continuing popular opinion shift in favor of the liberal side. (And/or, breakdown of support for the conservative side.) In about 8 years the social conservative political bloc (the most reactionary 24% of the population) will breach. That’s when the organized anti-abortion political movement will break down.

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