Police Arrest Alleged Killer of Dr. George Tiller

George_Tiller_croppedA Kansas man, Scott Roeder, has been arrested for the murder of Dr. George Tiller (left), 67, who was shot while serving as an usher at his Wichita church Sunday morning. Tiller was one of the few U.S. doctors performing late-term abortions in the country and had previously survived a 1993 shooting outside of his clinic when he was shot in both arms. I discussed this case on this segment of Rachel Maddow Show.

Tiller died Sunday morning in the foyer of Reformation Lutheran Church, where he served as an usher. Witnesses were able to identify the gunman’s car and give police its license plate.

Tiller practiced for 40 years and was the target of fierce criticism and anger. This anger was fueled by commentators like Bill O’Reilly who repeatedly attacked Tiller by name as guilty of “Nazi stuff” and described him as “Tiller the Baby Killer.” For a description of the Fox statements about Tiller, click here.story

He is only the latest victim of such an attack. In 1998, Dr. Barnett Slepian was killed by a sniper in his Amherst, New York, home.

In 1994, Dr. John Bayard Britton and a volunteer escort were shot and killed outside an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida.

In 1993, Dr. David Gunn, was shot to death outside his Pensacola clinic.

Eric Rudolph also attacked clinics, maimed a nurse, and killed an off-duty police in a spasm of violence in 1998. ,

For the full story, click here.

198 thoughts on “Police Arrest Alleged Killer of Dr. George Tiller”

  1. Etiquette rule # 2,132 Section B subsection 1(a) ddc: The Blawg Thread Continuity Clause

    Thou shalt not highjack a thread on abortion or any other with a long copy/paste of completely irrelevant material that can easily be found on 101,286 websites, including HuffPo.

    Thank you

  2. Jill,

    This one’s for you.

    Cheney’s secret briefings defended interrogations

    By PAMELA HESS, Associated Press Writer Pamela Hess, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 30 mins ago

    WASHINGTON – Dick Cheney as vice president conducted secret briefings for lawmakers in 2005 aimed at defending harsh interrogations as their methods were coming under congressional scrutiny, according to current and former government officials.

    The secret briefings followed the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal and public revelations about the CIA’s rendition and interrogation program, current and former officials with ties to Congress and government intelligence told The Associated Press.

    One official with direct knowledge of a March 8, 2005, meeting on the CIA’s interrogation program said the briefing was run by Cheney in the situation room at the White House, a secure meeting room. The official said CIA officers were on hand to provide details.

    The official said it was not unusual for Cheney to lead such briefings, as he was an aggressive champion of Bush administration national security policies and periodically conducted or sat in on meetings with members of Congress at the White House. The official asked not to be identified because the meeting was secret.

    Another Cheney briefing occurred in October 2005 for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., around the time he had won overwhelming Senate support for banning cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment for all U.S. prisoners, The Washington Post reported in its Wednesday editions. Two other briefings took place in October and November 2005, according to the Post.

    The briefings add to questions about the role Cheney played in the creation, approval and conduct of the CIA’s interrogation program, either directly or through his powerful chief of staff, David Addington.

    The Cheney briefings were among 40 conducted for members of Congress by Bush administration officials between 2002 and 2009.

    The CIA detailed the briefings on a chart created in May at the request of members of Congress after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed that the CIA failed to tell her at a September 2002 briefing that waterboarding had been used against a prisoner. That briefing occurred within weeks of the waterboarding of terror suspect Abu Zubaydah.

    Waterboarding is a form of simulated drowning that President Barack Obama says is torture. It was used against three alleged terrorists by the CIA in 2002 and 2003.

    Cheney personally signed off on the CIA’s interrogation program in 2002 as part of the National Security Council. He defended the program again this week, saying that it was the CIA’s idea but that he supported it.

    “We all approved it. I’m a strong believer in it. I think it was the right thing to do,” Cheney said.

    Republican members of Congress argue that Democrats knew about waterboarding as it was going on and did little to stop it, and say they should not now be criticizing the CIA for it.

    The identities of the briefers were left off the descriptions of seven of the meetings. The names of those briefers were “not available,” according to the charts.

    CIA officials said the charts, which were leaked to the news media, were drawn from meeting notes and recollections and that is why the records are sometimes incomplete or faulty.

    At least one of the seven briefings where the briefer is listed as “not available” was conducted by then-CIA Director Michael Hayden, according to a former intelligence official. Hayden is identified by title on the chart as conducting seven other briefings, with specific details on what he said in four of them.

  3. Bill O’s et al. speech is protected:

    “Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969), was a United States Supreme Court case based on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It held that government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless it is directed to inciting and likely to incite imminent lawless action.”


    Prof. Turley mentions Brandenburg in his video segment.

  4. “Should a woman be able to get an abortion if carrying the baby to term will kill her?”

    I don’t agree with your exact wording, but I do put the life of the mother before the life of the fetus. -We all have a natural right of self defense -no matter who is trying to kill us.

  5. So then if someone killed Dick Cheney Im sure you would feel the same way about bringing charges against Keith Olberman or Rachel Maddows.

    For the record I think that what Roeder did was deplorable and he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Calling the man a terrorist doesn’t make what he did any worse. I don’t however feel that because Bill O’Reilly spoke badly of the man that he somehow is responsible for Mr. Tillers death.

  6. And Doctor Patty C.: I’ll bet you’re not a neonatologist. Your beliefs, when it comes to the privacy, are no more relevant than mine. In fact, I could provide you with a plethora of physicians that are willing to support my position.

    I was about to post that I was the on who shut JB down with my response and when I went back to find it to copy, I came across all this ‘barf’ – nevermind…

    I really don’t have time for all of ‘this’ – sorry.

    I was not speaking in terms of ‘beliefs’, JB.

    It’s my job.

    I doubt you are fully aware of what you are suggesting but by all means, provide us with your plethora. We’d love to know who you think these doctors are!

  7. Gyges et al,

    Have you viewed Professor Turley’s video segment above? He cautions *against* calling this lone actor assassination a terrorist act.

  8. Chris,

    Bill O’Reilly repeatedly talked about Dr. Tiller in inflammatory, hateful language and referred to him as “Tiller the Baby Killer”. I don’t know if his speech rises to any kind of criminal incitement to violence, but I believe that morally he bears some responsibility for the death of Dr. Tiller and I’d bet long odds that Dr. Tiller’s killer had watched O’Reilly’s show.


    The dictionary definition of terrorism is: “The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.”, I think that it fits the actions of Scott Roeder and his ilk. And yes Chris, I also think that it applies to Bill Ayres’ actions – the main difference being that Ayres took steps to insure that no one was hurt in his bombings and Roeder gunned down Dr. Tiller in cold blood in a church. I don’t think that the whole argument is moot even if I consider the unborn life to be human life. Should a woman be able to get an abortion if carrying the baby to term will kill her? If you agree, then it becomes a matter of when abortion is allowable and when it is not – if you don’t agree then you are putting the life of the fetus above the life of the mother – what gives you the right to decide who lives and who dies? Finally, I think that about 1/2 dozen people have been killed by anti-abortion terrorists since Roe v. Wade – what does it have to do with anything? The defining characteristic of terrorism is using violence to engender fear in an attempt to accomplish (political) ends.

  9. Jim,

    From U.S. Code Title 22, Ch.38, Para. 2656f(d):

    The (2) the term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents

    The FBI definition of Terrorism:

    The unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

    The DOD’s definition:

    The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.

    You tell me, are we going overboard?

  10. Why would we bring civil or criminal charges against Bill O’Reilly?

  11. What is the law on incitement to violence? Is it possible to bring civil or criminal charges against Bill O’Reilly? What would the burden of proof be? It seems like this kind of behavior has the effect of denying rights which certainly seems wrong, but can this be addressed by the legal system?

  12. Slartibartfast,

    ““Create a child” was meant to encompass everything from the sex act to birth – don’t you think that under this definition the woman has more to do than the man?”

    Yes. That doesn’t grant her the right to kill.

    This whole argument is moot if you consider unborn life to be human life; doesn’t it?

    As for the breast cancer/abortion link. I posted it to show that lottakatz claim that it’s a “safe medical procedure” is incomplete. It does have potential consequences.
    Here’s a better study.

    While I agree that doctors performing abortions, their staff, and their patients should be able to do so without being exposed to violent acts; I think we’re going a bit overboard by calling it terrorism. I’ll admit that I don’t know how many people have been injured or killed by those that resort to violence. Perhaps the number is greater than I would have imagined. If someone can provide a link..that would be appreciated.

  13. JB,

    Your point about breast cancer is irrelevant to the issue whether or not abortion should be legal. It is medical information which should be provided to a woman considering abortion, but the final decision should still be hers.

  14. Lotta,

    Thanks for steering the conversation back to where it should be. You’re right that both instances the attacks were clearly ideologically based, but come on who ever heard of a CHRISTIAN terrorist?

  15. JB,

    I agree with what GWLSM said, so I’ll just add to her response. “Create a child” was meant to encompass everything from the sex act to birth – don’t you think that under this definition the woman has more to do than the man? As to “it takes a village…”, I have no problem with men or women giving moral guidance to a female youth (as most moral issues are not gender-specific), but it seems only reasonable to me that on issues (such as abortion) that are gender-specific that a woman’s opinion should be given more weight than a man’s. Furthermore, I don’t think that what a woman does with her own body is a moral issue (although I certainly understand that people like you see it as a moral issue).


    I totally agree. Your point about transplants reminds me of a Larry Niven short story where minor offenses are made into capital crimes in order to provide organs for transplantation which are the basis for longevity (the protagonist has been sentenced to death for a traffic violation). A good reminder that when you start to make decisions about other people’s bodies you are standing at the top of a very long and slippery slope…

  16. Safe?????

    In 1986, government scientists wrote a letter to the British journal Lancet and acknowledged that abortion is a cause of breast cancer. They wrote, “Induced abortion before first term pregnancy increases the risk of breast cancer.” (Lancet, 2/22/86, p. 436)

    As of 2006, eight medical organizations recognize that abortion raises a woman’s risk for breast cancer, independently of the risk of delaying the birth of a first child (a secondary effect that all experts already acknowledge). An additional medical organization, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, issued a statement in 2003 calling on doctors to inform patients about a “highly plausible” relationship between abortion and breast cancer. General counsel for that medical group wrote an article for its journal warning doctors that three women (two Americans, one Australian) successfully sued their abortion providers for neglecting to disclose the risks of breast cancer and emotional harm, although none of the women had developed the disease. Click here for more.

  17. I don’t think abortion laws have much to do with when life begins. They seem to be about the devaluation of women and the control of women’s sexuality/reproduction. The reason I think this is; for example in China, with a one child policy (now being relaxed) abortion was/is encouraged if the first child was a girl. Many cultures strongly encourage abortion of female fetuses, leading to a rather large gender differential favoring boys. So, although the proscription varies from culture to culture (and of course, within the culture itself) there is one constant that remains–women are worth less than men, and women’s sexuality/reproduction is under the control of others.

    I also think of liver and kidney transplants. Right now we have the medical capability to type everyone to see if they are a match to someone who needs a transplant. We not only do not engage in this matching, when there is a voluntary match, we would never consider forcing one person to undergo a transplant, even when the other person will die from the lack of transplantation. It cannot be an accident that the only time society thinks of coercing one person to undergo a medical proceedure for the sake of another person, is when it involves women’s reproduction.

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