The following is a Choice USA cross-post.
Scott Roeder has been found guilty of the first-degree murder of Dr. George Tiller, the later-term abortion provider from Wichita, KS who was shot and killed in the foyer of his church last May. Roeder faces a life imprisonment sentence with the possibility of parole after 25 years, MSNBC reports.
Roeder's defense had hoped to push for a voluntary manslaughter charge, which would have resulted in significantly less prison time, because Roeder felt he was acting "in defense of the unborn." Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert ruled that the jury could not consider such a charge.
The trial of Scott Roeder is significant in the abortion debate for obvious reasons, among them the rejection of a "necessity defense" in harming a doctor providing a legal medical procedure. However, regardless of Roeder's conviction, anti-choice forces are highly organized and emboldened by a continuing trend of violence against clinics and providers. Even though the murder of a provider or the bombing of a clinic are relatively rare occurrences, clinics all over the country continue to experience escalating threats, increased sidewalk bullying, and more legislative and financial barriers to providing such a service almost daily.
Anti-abortion groups can denounce Roeder's actions all they want, but their inflammatory hate speech and activities that push the limits of clinic protection laws are at the core of extremists like Roeder's actions. Roeder testified that he received most of his information regarding Dr. Tiller from Operation Rescue's "Tiller Watch" website, which listed the doctor's home address, his place of worship, the fact that he wore a bullet proof vest, and the fact that he drove an armored car. In light of these facts, we must ask key questions about the complicity of the anti-abortion movement at large in the death of Dr. Tiller and other providers who have been murdered or harmed, clinics that have been bombed or vandalized. Roeder may have acted alone in the actual shooting, but he was emboldened by the work of anti-abortion groups that are largely seen as law-abiding organizations simply exercising their First Amendment rights.