The trial of Scott Roeder, the man accused of killing Dr. George Tiller last May, is set to begin tomorrow.
On May 31, 2009, an armed man fitting Roeder's description entered Reformation Lutheran Church, where Dr. Tiller was performing usher duties, and administered one deadly shot to the head. Scott Roeder was detained driving on I-35 several hours later.
Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert will allow Roeder's defense to argue that he acted "upon an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force," meaning he could be charged with voluntary manslaughter instead of first-degree murder. Wilbert previously denied Roeder a "necessity defense" plea.
Although the court does not want to open the flood gates for a trial on abortion specifically, there's no doubt the procedure, especially later-term abortions, will be a core topic of debate amongst media coverage of the trial.
Pro-choice factions should be prepared to be outspoken in our defense of Dr. Tiller and his life's work. While mainstream anti-choice groups condemn Roeder's actions, most continue to focus on Tiller's occupation instead of asking key questions about how their own methods could have provoked this act of violent extremism. Operation Rescue, for example, had a webpage titled "Tiller Watch" that published details regarding the whereabouts of the doctor, his staff members, and family.
Reframing the discussion on later-term abortion will be key to ensuring reproductive justice and justice for Dr. George Tiller and his surviving family. Though the procedures Tiller performed are decidedly more controversial and emotion-laden than a basic early-term abortion, we must stick to our convictions about the right for women and their families to choose what they believe to be the best decisions in their reproductive lives. Indeed, the liberation of all women depends on it.