It’s a good thing that a Witchita, Kan., jury found Scott Roeder guilty of murder in the slaying of Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider. If they had instead found Roeder guilty of a lesser charge, the verdict would have accelerated what is already a slow slide into anti-abortion terrorism.
To recap, Roeder stalked Tiller for a period of time, then walked into his church and shot him in the head at close range. Roeder’s defense attorneys had hoped to see him convicted of a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. In Kansas, a killer can be found guilty of voluntary manslaughter if he acted out of an “honest but unreasonable belief” that the use of force was necessary in defense of another.
Roeder and other anti-life, anti-abortion militants felt this was a perfect description of the battle they hope to wage in the United States. To save the unborn, they argue, they may have to kill.
It’s a waste of time to explain that Dr. Tiller was a compassionate man who provided a service sought only by the most desperate pregnant women — those whose fetuses were badly (often fatally) malformed, who faced terrible health crises themselves or who’d been raped and would rather die than carry their pregnancy to term.
Instead, it’s important to face head-on what is becoming an anti-abortion terrorist movement. Tiller isn’t the first victim of this movement.
Between 1983 and 1995, the Washington Post reported 123 cases of arson and 37 bombings at abortion clinics in 33 states. In addition, there were more than 1,500 cases of stalking, assault, property destruction and burglary, according to records compiled by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
Then things really got nasty.
Over a 22-month period from 1993 to 1995, two doctors, two clinic workers and one volunteer escort were murdered. Clinics in Massachusetts and Virginia were attacked by gunmen.
On July 27, 1996, Eric Robert Rudolph set off explosives in the midst of the Centennial Olympic Park, killing one and wounding 111 in an effort somehow to further his militant Christian cause which centered largely on abortion. In 1997, he bombed an abortion clinic, killing a security guard and badly wounding a nurse. He also bombed a lesbian night club.
In 1998, Dr. Barnett Slepian was gunned down in front of his family by James C. Kopp.
These men have not acted alone, but with the outspoken support of men like The (not-so) Rev. Donald Spitz of Chesapeake, Va., who runs the Army of God website, which sanctions violence against abortion providers, and loose-knit movements such as Christian Identity and Christian Patriot.
Claiming to have the support of God and the Bible, people like these believe they must do whatever it takes to stop abortions from happening in the United States.
Like other terrorists — the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and so on — they see themselves as the true champions of God’s justice and are willing to kill, if necessary, to have their way. The only difference between the Taliban and the Roeders of this world is the book they use as their excuse for killing and the issue or action that prompts them to kill.
True, Islamist terror organizations kill somewhat indiscriminately, but then again so did Rudolph. Besides, it looks as if these crazies are just getting warmed up.
Angered that the jury found Roeder guilty of murder, Spitz told an Associated Press reporter, “Times change. People are not as passive as they have been. They are more assertive.”
What he means is “more violent.”
It was almost funny watching Randall Terry, the misogynist behind Operation Rescue, try to find the words to condemn Roeder last year. He couldn’t — at least not convincingly. He glowered after the jury’s verdict was read.
“The blood of the babies slain by Tiller is crying for vengeance,” he told the AP.
If that’s not a call for further violence, what is?
Welcome to the age of homegrown Christian terrorism.