Kansas Ruling May Spur Abortion Violence

~Jennifer - posted on 01/12/2010 ( 11 moms have responded )




WICHITA, Kan. (Jan. 12) -- A Kansas judge's decision to allow a confessed killer to argue that he believes the slaying of one of the nation's few late-term abortion providers was a justified act aimed at saving unborn children has upended what most expected to be an open-and-shut first-degree murder case.

Prosecutors have challenged the ruling that allows Scott Roeder to tell a jury that the fatal shooting of Wichita doctor George Tiller was voluntary manslaughter. A Tuesday hearing is scheduled to allow Roeder's defense attorneys to respond.

Some abortion opponents were pleasantly stunned and eager to watch Roeder plead his case. Tiller's colleagues and abortion rights advocates were outraged and feared the court's actions give a more than tacit approval to further acts of violence.

"This judge has basically announced a death sentence for all of us who help women," said Dr. Warren Hern of Boulder, Colo., a longtime friend of Tiller who also performs late-term abortions. "That is the effect of the ruling."

The facts of the case are not in dispute: On a balmy Sunday morning, Roeder got up from a pew at Wichita's Reformation Lutheran Church at the start of services and walked to the foyer, where Tiller and a fellow usher were chatting. Wordlessly, he pressed the barrel of a .22-caliber handgun to Tiller's forehead and pulled the trigger.

Prosecutors charged Roeder with first-degree murder. The 51-year-old from Kansas City, Mo., later admitted to reporters and in a court filing that he killed Tiller. The prosecution stands ready with more than 250 prospective witnesses to prove it.

But what had been expected to be a simple trial was altered Friday when Sedgwick County Judge Warren Wilbert decided he would allow Roeder to build a defense case calling for a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter because Roeder sincerely believed the May 31 slaying would save unborn children.

Kansas law defines voluntary manslaughter as "an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force." A conviction could bring a prison sentence closer to five years, instead of a life term for first-degree murder.

Prosecutors argued Monday that such a defense should not be considered because there is no evidence Tiller posed an imminent threat at the time of the killing.

"The State encourages this Court to not be the first to enable a defendant to justify premeditated murder because of an emotionally charged political belief," the prosecution wrote.

As events unfold inside a Wichita courtroom, the Kansas Supreme Court was considering a challenge from four media outlets, including The Associated Press, over the judge's decision to bar reporters from witnessing jury selection.

But key questions being asked outside the courtroom have galvanized both sides of the abortion debate.

Will the judge's decision embolden militant anti-abortion activists and lead to open season on abortion providers? Does the Justice Department plan to file charges against Roeder under federal statutes guaranteeing access to clinics? And what does it portend for the unfolding case itself and the inevitable legal challenges to the nation's abortion laws?

Hern, the doctor in Colorado, said it's irrelevant that Wilbert won't decide until after the defense presents its evidence whether to allow jurors to actually consider a conviction on the lesser charge.

"The damage is done: The judge has agreed to give him a platform," Hern said. "It is an act of incomprehensible stupidity on the part of the judge, but he is carrying out the will of the people of Kansas who are trying to get out of the 19th century."

The Feminist Majority Foundation also denounced the ruling, saying Wilbert essentially was allowing a justifiable homicide defense. The group urged the Justice Department to file federal charges under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

Justice Department spokesman Alejandro Miyar declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation.

The Rev. Don Spitz of Chesapeake, Va., who runs a Web site supporting violence against abortion providers, said he and other activists from the Army of God plan to quietly observe the court proceedings.

"I am flabbergasted, but in a good way," Spitz said of the judge's decision.

Spitz acknowledged Wilbert's decision may influence some people who in the past wouldn't kill abortion providers because they risked a sentence of death or life imprisonment. "It may increase the number of people who may be willing to take that risk," he said.

In Des Moines, Iowa, militant anti-abortion activist Dave Leach agreed the decision opens the door to presenting the same evidence as in a case of justifiable homicide. It was Leach who wrote the 104-page legal brief Roeder signed and submitted to the court in which he admitted killing Tiller.

"The closer we come to a court actually addressing these issues, the less danger abortionists are going to be in," Leach said.



[deleted account]

Anyone who commmits murder has no right to call themselves pro-life. Hopefully the jury will do the right thing and convict him of first degree murder anyway.

Sara - posted on 01/12/2010




That is ridiculous. So it's ok to 1) be a vigilante and 2) be a vigilante against something that is legal. Give me a fucking break. I guess that means that now I can go out and shoot someone who I don't agree with philosophically and then come up with some bullshit defense for it and it will be ok, because now there's a presedent. Bravo, Kansas courty system. Absolutely ridiculous. I'm so sure this is exactly what Jesus would do.


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JL - posted on 01/13/2010




This is absurd. It sets a dangerous precident. So if a wing nut who believes soldiers are killers is justified in killing a soldier because they believe they are preventing a soldier from killing someone.

This decision is not just about abortion it is about people using their strong moral and political ideals as an excusable right for them to commit murder. Vigilantes.... assasinations...Heck might as well just screw using the court system..lets just completely take the law into our own hands, whats the point if you can justifiably walk into a church and kill someone and get only 5 years for it.

Rosie - posted on 01/13/2010




i know if you go to youtube and type in crazy church lady she pops up, and i do believe you are right with the name fred phelps, i think he may be her father. i don't get extremist behavior, they are doing more hurt to their cause than good, it's very sad.

Krista - posted on 01/13/2010




Quoting kati:

it is beyond ridiculous to me that anybody would consider this a justifiable killing. clearly the man premeditated, the whole thing. he took the gun to church and shot him, who the hell takes a gun to church?! people like him disgust me.
kindof reminds me of the crazy church lady-i can't remember her name but she protests at soldiers funerals with signs saying god planned 9/11 and these soldiers should burn in hell. crazy crazy crazy is all i can say!

You're thinking of Fred Phelps, methinks....he of the Westboro Baptist Church that has the large "God Hates Fags" sign on the building. 

[deleted account]

Kati, never heard of the crazy church lady. How sad for the families that have to deal with her at their loved one's funeral.

Rosie - posted on 01/13/2010




it is beyond ridiculous to me that anybody would consider this a justifiable killing. clearly the man premeditated, the whole thing. he took the gun to church and shot him, who the hell takes a gun to church?! people like him disgust me.

kindof reminds me of the crazy church lady-i can't remember her name but she protests at soldiers funerals with signs saying god planned 9/11 and these soldiers should burn in hell. crazy crazy crazy is all i can say!

La - posted on 01/12/2010




How hypocritical is it that he is so adamantly pro-life but feels it is okay to take the life of someone else to prove that? If the court allows this nonsense to go unpunished it will give free reign to radicals to act violently against anyone who opposes them. Besides, whether one agrees or disagrees with abortion it IS still legal...if this guy had shot up someone who was committing ILLEGAL acts (like rapists or pedophiles) I would feel more forgiving, but that's just my opinion.

[deleted account]

Totally uncalled for decision. There is no excuse for it. As a pro-lifer, I actually believe this hurts more than it helps. And Sara, I literally LOL at your last statement. Yeah, I'm so sure Jesus would shoot up all the docs at abortion clinics. Ridiculous.

Jenny - posted on 01/12/2010




So if I beleive in saving animals from being our food can I go shoot some ranchers? Or how about just stalk some hunters through the bush?

I hope the point of this was to shut him down hard on that defence but I do beleive it will only ignite the crazies even more.

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