Who Killed George Tiller?

Many from within the anti-abortion movement, such as the National Right to Life Committee, Operation Rescue, Kansans for Life and various Jewish groups have condemned Scott Roeder, the alleged murderer of the doctor George Tiller. Others from within the anti-abortion movement have commended Roeder on right-wing blogs and threads; the Army of God, a violent anti-abortion group, has the following posted on their website: “The lives of innocent babies scheduled to be murdered by George Tiller are spared by the action of American Hero Scott Roeder. George Tiller the Babykiller reaped what he sowed and is now in eternal hell.” Some, like Pres. Obama, have expressed shock and anger while others, like Bill O’Reilly, have insinuated that Tiller got what he deserved.

George Tiller was one of the last late-term abortion doctors in this country. More than 66,000 women undergo an abortion between 13 and 20 weeks of gestation in the U.S. every year due to miscarriages, developmental complications and dangers to the woman’s own health. There are few physicians who know how to perform safe abortions so late in the pregnancy and Tiller’s murder has left a great demand for more doctors who can.

There has been talk throughout the country that conservative media has been fostering an environment for violent Christian fundamentalist terrorism for years; some from the left have used Tiller’s murder as an example of how the GOP is controlled by militant “Christianists” and that the Republicans will tear the U.S. apart with their violent fear. Similarly, there are a few paranoid conservatives who have theorized that the murder was a leftist plot to solidify the political control of the Democrats and that his murder empowers Obama.

This is something I’ve heard before: in the wake of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, liberals throughout the U.S. had similar reactions to discovering that Oswald was not a right-wing extremist but was a radical leftist who advocated Communism, and may have therefore attempted to cast Oswald as part of a large-scale right-wing conspiracy. Roeper is a white supremacist who believes that women are only meant for breeding and those who seek out abortions are “race traitors.” He doesn’t identify with either the left or the right – and ultimately, even this fact is inconsequential because it doesn’t change what he did.

It has been said of John F. Kennedy that the only thing he was fanatical about was his opposition towards fanatics. Ultimately, in this time of tragedy, we shouldn’t be asking ourselves “Who has the blood on their hands?” or “Did George Tiller get what he deserved?” or even “What could we have done to prevent this?” It’s too late for these questions. I think instead we should be asking ourselves, “Is it ever conducive to social progress to protect human life by attacking it?”

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