Doctor is killed by anti-abortion radical

Doctor is killed by anti-abortion radical

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Doctor Barnett Slepian is shot to death inside his home in Amherst, New York by an anti-abortion radical. His killing marks the fifth straight year that an abortion-providing doctor in upstate New York and Canada became the victim of a sniper attack.

Slepian and his family had just returned from religious services at their synagogue when a bullet shattered the kitchen window and struck him in the back. Each of the five attacks, the first four of which did not result in fatal wounds, occurred in late October or early November.

Investigators in both Canada and the United States believed that James Charles Kopp, known among abortion opponents as “Atomic Dog,” was responsible for Slepian’s murder. Although he had been seen in the vicinity of Slepian’s home in the weeks before the killing, Kopp, a member of the terrorist group Army of God, was nowhere to be found after the incident.

In the aftermath of Slepian’s murder, at least four doctors in upstate New York quit practicing, and countless other clinic staff members left their jobs. Following Slepian’s murder, a serious crackdown on anti-abortion terror cut down the number of violent incidents.

In 1999, for the first time in six years, there were no sniper attacks against any doctors during the course of the year. As the 20th century came to an end, Kopp remained at large, despite a $500,000 reward for information leading to his capture from the Justice Department and his place on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List.

In March 2001, the authorities caught up with Kopp in Europe, and he was extradited from France on the condition he would not receive the death penalty. Kopp, whose defense argued he only intended to wound Slepian, was convicted of second-degree murder. On May 9, 2003, Kopp was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Eric Rudolph

Eric Robert Rudolph (born September 19, 1966), also known as the Olympic Park Bomber, is an American terrorist convicted for a series of bombings across the southern United States between 1996 and 1998, which killed two people and injured over 100 others, [1] [2] including the Centennial Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. For five years, Rudolph was listed as one of the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives until he was caught in 2003.

In 2005, as part of a plea bargain, he pleaded guilty to numerous state and federal homicide charges and accepted four consecutive life sentences in exchange for avoiding a trial and a potential death sentence. He remains incarcerated at the ADX Florence Supermax prison near Florence, Colorado.

How doctors who perform abortions in US have been targeted

April 2007 Nail bomb is left in car park of Austin women's health centre in Texas, but found and defused.

23 October 1998 Dr Barnett Slepian shot dead at home in Buffalo, New York. Militant anti-abortionist James Kopp convicted of murder in 2003.

29 January 1998 Bomb explodes outside clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, killing police officer and ­wounding several others. Eric Rudolph later pleads guilty,and also to deadly bombing at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

16 January 1997 Two bomb blasts at Atlanta abortion clinic. Seven people injured. Rudolph charged in ­October 1998.

30 December 1994 John Salvi opens fire with rifle in two clinics in Boston, killing two receptionists and wounding five. Kills himself in prison in 1996.

8 November 1994 Dr Garson Romalis, who performs abortions in Vancouver, Canada, shot in the leg at home.

29 July 1994 Dr John Bayard Britton and volunteer escort, James Barrett, killed outside clinic in Pensacola, Florida. Paul Jennings Hill, a former minister, is sentenced to death for murder.

19 August 1993 Dr George Tiller is wounded outside clinic in Kansas. Rachelle Shannon jailed for 11 years for shooting.

10 March 1993 Dr David Gunn shot dead in Pensacola, Florida, first US doctor killed during anti-abortion protest. Michael Griffin jailed for life.


Tiller was born in Wichita, Kansas, the son of Catherine and Dean Jackson "Jack" Tiller, a prominent physician [5] He studied at the University of Kansas School of Medicine from 1963 to 1967. Shortly thereafter, he held a medical internship with United States Navy, and served as flight surgeon in Camp Pendleton, California, in 1969 and 1970. [6] In July 1970, he planned to start a dermatology residency.

On August 21, 1970, his parents, sister and brother-in-law were killed in an aircraft accident. In her will, his sister requested that Tiller take care of her one-year-old son. Tiller intended to go back to Wichita, close up his father's family practice and then go back to become a dermatologist, but he felt pressure to take over his father's family practice. Tiller's father had performed abortions at his practice. After hearing about a woman who had died from an illegal abortion, Tiller stayed in Wichita to continue his father's practice. [7]

Tiller struggled with substance abuse at various points in his life, which came to a head in 1984 when he was arrested for driving under the influence. He sought treatment, overcame his addiction, and later served on the Kansas Medical Society's impaired physicians committee. [8]

Tiller's practice performed postviability abortions, which made Tiller a focal point for anti-abortion protest and violence. Tiller treated patients who discovered late in pregnancy that their fetuses had severe or fatal birth defects. He also aborted healthy late-term fetuses in cases where two doctors certified that carrying the fetus to term would cause the woman "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function." [9] His practice frequently made him the focus of anti-abortion groups. The Kansas Coalition for Life kept a daily vigil outside Tiller's facility from May 9, 2004, until May 31, 2009. [10] The group known as Operation Rescue held an event called "The Summer of Mercy" in July and August 1991, focusing on Tiller's clinic but also protesting other abortion providers in Wichita, Kansas. Years later, a branch that split from the main Operation Rescue group moved from California to Kansas specifically to focus on Tiller, initially named Operation Rescue West.

In 2007, Kansas prosecutors charged Tiller with 19 misdemeanors for allegedly consulting a physician who was financially affiliated with him in late-term abortion cases in 2003. [11] [12] Kansas law prohibits abortions after the beginning of fetal viability unless two doctors certify that continuing the pregnancy would cause the woman "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function", with the requirement that the two consulting doctors must not be "financially affiliated" with the doctor performing the abortion. [9] The case became a cause célèbre for both supporters and opponents of legal abortion. WorldNetDaily columnist Jack Cashill compared the trial to the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals, [13] while Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Professor Jacob Appel described Tiller as "a genuine hero who ranks alongside Susan B. Anthony and Martin Luther King Jr. in the pantheon of defenders of human liberty." [14] The trial took place in March 2009, with the jury finding Tiller not guilty on all charges on March 27, approximately two months before his death.

At the time of his death, Tiller was board certified with the American Board of Family Practice, an Associate of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and a clinical instructor in the Department of Family Medicine for Wesley Medical Center, where he had previously served as president of the medical staff. [15]

Tiller was discussed in 28 episodes of the Fox News talk show The O'Reilly Factor in the years leading up to his death, focusing national attention on his practice. Although he later denied it, show host Bill O'Reilly sometimes described him as "Tiller the Baby Killer," [16] [17] a nickname that Congressman Robert Dornan had used on the floor of the US House of Representatives. O'Reilly said he would not want to be Tiller, Kathleen Sebelius, and other pro-choice Kansas politicians "if there is a judgment day." [18] On November 3, 2006, O'Reilly featured an exclusive segment on The O'Reilly Factor, saying that he had an "inside source" with official clinic documentation indicating that Tiller performed late-term abortions to alleviate "temporary depression" in pregnant women. [19] He characterized the doctor as "a savage on the loose, killing babies willy-nilly," and accused him of "operating a death mill," and of protecting the rapists of children. He suggested that Tiller performed abortions for women who had "a bit of a headache or anxiety" or who felt "a bit blue." [20] O'Reilly's campaign against Tiller included the on-air disclosure of confidential patient information provided by former-Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, for which breach of professional conduct Kline's law license was eventually suspended indefinitely. Kline obtained some records provided via his demand to Tiller's associate, Dr. Kristin Neuhaus, whose prosecution he pursued after Tiller's assassination, and illegally disclosed them, including discussing them with O'Reilly on television. [21]

After Tiller was murdered, O'Reilly denied responsibility and defended his campaign against Tiller, saying: "When I heard about Tiller’s murder, I knew pro-abortion zealots and Fox News haters would attempt to blame us for the crime, and that’s exactly what has happened. [. ] Every single thing we said about Tiller was true, and my analysis was based on those facts. [. ] Now, it’s clear that the far left is exploiting—exploiting—the death of the doctor. Those vicious individuals want to stifle any criticism of people like Tiller. That—and hating Fox News—is the real agenda here." [22]

Throughout his career, Tiller was a frequent target of anti-abortion violence. In June 1986, his clinic was firebombed. While it was being rebuilt, Tiller displayed a sign reading "Hell no, we won't go." [23] On August 19, 1993, anti-abortion extremist [24] [25] [26] Shelley Shannon shot Tiller five times, while he was in his car. [27] [28] [29] At the time she attacked Tiller, Shannon had been an anti-abortion extremist for five years and had written letters of support to the convicted murderer Michael Griffin, who had murdered Dr. David Gunn. She called him "a hero." [30] At her trial in state court, Shannon testified that there was nothing wrong with trying to kill Tiller. The jury convicted Shannon of attempted murder, and she was sentenced to 11 years in prison. [31] [32] The following year, Shannon was sentenced to an additional 20 years in prison on charges of arson, interference with commerce by force and interstate travel in aid of racketeering in connection to her participation in several fires and acid attacks on abortion clinics. [33] [34] [35]

Assassination of George Tiller in May 2009

Tiller was fatally shot in the side of the head on May 31, 2009 by anti-abortion extremist [36] [37] [38] Scott Roeder during worship services at the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, where he was serving as an usher and handing out church bulletins. [23] [39] [40] After threatening to shoot two people who initially pursued him, Roeder fled and escaped in his car. [41] Three hours after the shooting, Roeder was arrested about 170 miles (270 km) away in suburban Kansas City.

Operation Rescue West's vice president Cheryl Sullenger was in prolonged communication with Roeder before he assassinated Tiller. Sullenger initially denied any contact with Roeder. After her name and cell phone number was discovered on a post-it note on the dashboard of Roeder's car, she subsequently admitted that she had informed Roeder of Tiller's scheduled court dates. [42] [43]

On June 2, 2009, Roeder was charged with first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault in connection with the shooting, [40] [44] subsequently convicted in January 2010 on those charges, and sentenced on April 1, 2010, to life imprisonment without parole for 50 years, the maximum sentence available in Kansas. The no-parole term was later reduced to 25 years. [45] [46]

Tiller's killing was largely condemned by groups and individuals on both sides of the abortion issue. [47] [48] [49] US President Barack Obama said he was "shocked and outraged" [50] by the murder. David N. O'Steen, director of the National Right to Life Committee, said the group "unequivocally condemns any such acts of violence regardless of motivation". [47] Some others who spoke publicly were more confrontational. Anti-abortion extremist Randall Terry described Tiller as a mass murderer and said of other abortion providers, "We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches", [51] and Southern Baptist minister and radio host Wiley Drake said, "I am glad that he is dead." [52] [53]

After the shooting, Tiller's colleague, Leroy Carhart of Nebraska, stated that Tiller's clinic, Women's Health Care Services, would reopen after being closed for one week to mourn his death. [54] The following week, Tiller's family announced that the clinic would be closed permanently. [55]

The aftermath of Tiller's assassination was the subject of the 2013 documentary After Tiller, which followed the daily lives and work of the four remaining late-term abortion providers in the United States.

The George Tiller Memorial Abortion Fund was established by the National Network of Abortion Funds. [56] In 2019, during the successful 23–14 vote confirmation of David Toland as Kansas Secretary of Commerce, objections were raised to his nomination because he had led the Thrive Allen County non-profit, which had obtained $20,000 in grants from the Fund in 2015 and 2018, to help low-income pregnant women to stop smoking and to help prevent their unintended pregnancies. State Senators Rob Olson and Mary Pilcher-Cook, joined 12 other Republican senators, and community opponents including Mary Kay Culp, leader of Kansans for Life, to oppose his nomination. [57]

Trust Women Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, purchased and re-opened the clinic that Tiller operated and continues to perform abortions and other medical services. [58] The foundation currently operates two clinics, the aforementioned in Wichita, KS, as well as one in Oklahoma City, OK. The organization also operated a third clinic in Seattle, WA until it was closed on December 31, 2019. [59]


George Tiller was shot dead on May 31, 2009, during worship services at the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, where he was serving as an usher. The church is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Tiller was shot in the head at point blank range he was wearing body armor, as he had been since 1998, when the FBI told him he was being targeted by anti-abortion militants. [10] After threatening two others who tried to prevent his departure, the gunman fled in a car. Witnesses described the vehicle as a powder-blue 1993 Ford Taurus. [11]

Calling the murder "an abhorrent act of violence", U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced,

Federal law enforcement is coordinating with local law enforcement officials in Kansas on the investigation of this crime, and I have directed the United States Marshals Service to offer protection to other appropriate people and facilities around the nation. [12] [13]

Wichita became the largest metropolitan area without an abortion provider [14] until 2013, when Trust Women Foundation opened a clinic in the city. [15]

Scott Philip Roeder (born ( 1958-02-25 ) February 25, 1958 (age 63) ) [17] from Merriam, Kansas, [18] was arrested in Gardner, Kansas, 170 miles (270 km) away in suburban Kansas City three hours after the shooting. [19] [20] He was charged on June 2, 2009, with first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault. [21] [22] [23] Roeder was formally charged before a Sedgwick County district judge on June 2. He said very little during the hearing, where he asked for a public defender and did not enter a plea.

Prosecutors said the killing did not meet Kansas' standards for capital murder, which would have carried a possible death penalty. [24] [25] Prior to the shooting, Roeder was not among the people monitored as potential threats by some abortion rights groups, including the state chapter of the National Organization for Women. [24] It has been reported that neither the FBI nor local police arrested him in the days leading up to the murder despite reports and evidence offered to both that he vandalized a women's clinic the week before and the day before. [26]

In a telephone call to the press from prison, Roeder admitted that he had shot and killed Tiller, and declared that he felt no remorse. [27]

Known employment and psychiatric histories Edit

In the six months before Roeder's arrest, he said, he had worked for an airport shuttle service, a party-rental shop, a convenience store and a property management enterprise. [28]

After his arrest, Roeder's ex-wife, Lindsey Roeder, claimed that Roeder had been suffering from mental illness and that at about the age of 20 he was diagnosed with possible schizophrenia, but she offered her own diagnosis of bipolar disorder. [29] Roeder claimed to be the father of a young child and asked for time for visitation, but the mother of that child did not wish such visitation. [29] The 2005 Pennsylvania family court which ruled on Roeder's custody petition regarding a daughter born in 2002 took formal notice that Roeder had been diagnosed with possible schizophrenia and was not on medication. [30]

The Associated Press quoted Roeder's brother, David, who said that Scott had suffered from mental illness from time to time:

However, none of us ever saw Scott as a person capable of or willing to take another person's life. Our deepest regrets, prayers and sympathy go out to the Tiller family during this terrible time. [30]

Anti-government activism Edit

Roeder had been a member of the anti-government Montana Freemen group. He was stopped in Topeka, Kansas, in April 1996 while displaying a placard reading "Sovereign Citizen" in lieu of a license plate. He had no driver's license, vehicle registration or proof of insurance. Police officers searching his car discovered explosives charges, a fuse cord, a pound of gunpowder and nine-volt batteries in the trunk. He was charged, represented by a public defender, convicted in June of all four counts and sentenced to 24 months probation. In July 1997 his probation was revoked for failure to pay taxes and provide his social security number to his employer as well as other probation violations. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison to be followed by 24 months parole supervision. He filed notice of appeal and was represented by a state-funded appellate attorney who challenged the basis of the original search that found the bomb components. The Kansas Court of Appeals overturned this conviction in March 1998, ruling that the search of Roeder's car had been illegal and remanded the case to the trial court. Roeder was released after serving eight months. [31] [32] [33] [34] [35]

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Roeder belonged to a group called the Sovereign Citizen Movement, which believes that virtually all existing government in the United States is illegitimate. [36] The ADL's National Director Abraham Foxman stated that "Roeder's attachment to extreme causes extended beyond anti-abortion extremism. His extremism cross-pollinated between anti-government extremism and anti-abortion activism and led to violence and murder." [37] [38]

After being charged with murder, Roeder frequently called an Associated Press reporter from the county jail. He complained about being treated like a criminal and about his having been characterized in other media as having been anti-government. Roeder told the reporter, "I want people to stop and think: It is not anti-government, it is anti-corrupt-government." [39]

Lindsey Roeder statements Edit

Lindsey and Scott Roeder were married in 1986, and were together for ten years. [29] Immediately after his 2009 arrest, she stated that the explosives which led to his 1996 arrest had been intended for detonation at an abortion clinic. [40]

On June 2, 2009, Lindsey Roeder gave an interview to Anderson Cooper of CNN about when and why her husband became radicalized:

It was about 1991–92 when he basically couldn't cope with everyday life. He couldn't make ends meet, he couldn't pay the bills and didn't know why he couldn't do that. And someone told him that if he didn't pay his federal taxes, if those taxes were left in his check, he could make ends meet. And then he started investigating that and someone told him that it wasn't ratified properly in the Constitution, that it was illegal. And he went from there and got into the anti-government, got into the militia, got into the Freeman, and along those lines anti-abortion issues came up and he started becoming very religious in the sense that he finally – he was reading the Bible. But then, after we were divorced, his religion took on a whole new right wing of itself. [29]

Anti-abortion militancy Edit

David Leach, publisher of Prayer & Action News, a magazine that opines that the killing of abortion providers would be justifiable homicide, told reporters that he and Roeder had met once in the late 1990s and that Roeder at that time had authored contributions to Leach's publication. [41] [42] [43] Leach published the Army of God manual, which advocates the killing of the providers of abortion and contains bomb-making instructions, in the January 1996 issue of his magazine. [44] A Kansas acquaintance of Roeder's, Regina Dinwiddie, told a reporter after Tiller's murder (speaking of Roeder), "I know that he believed in justifiable homicide." Dinwiddie, an anti-abortion militant featured in the 2000 HBO documentary Soldiers in the Army of God, added that she had observed Roeder in 1996 enter Kansas City Planned Parenthood's abortion clinic and ask to talk to the physician there after staring at him for nearly a minute, Roeder said, "I've seen you now," before turning and walking away. [45]

Roeder's former roommate of two years, Eddie Ebecher, who had met Roeder through the Freemen movement in the 1990s, told a reporter after Tiller's murder that he and Roeder had considered themselves members of the Army of God. Ebecher said Roeder was obsessed with Tiller and discussed killing him, but that Ebecher warned him not to do so. Ebecher, who went by the nom de guerre "Wolfgang Anacon," added that he believed Roeder held "high moral convictions in order to carry out this act. I feel that Scott had a burden for all the children being murdered." [46]

In 2007, someone who identified himself as Scott Roeder posted on the website of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue that, "Tiller is the concentration camp 'Mengele' of our day and needs to be stopped before he and those who protect him bring judgment upon our nation." This was reported by the ADL's Center on Extremism, noting that Roeder called for "the closing of his death camp." [37] [38] After Tiller's murder, officials from Operation Rescue, which had long opposed Tiller's abortion practices but denounced his shooting, said Roeder was not a contributor or member of the group. [24] The cell phone number for Operation Rescue's senior policy advisor, convicted clinic bomb plotter Cheryl Sullenger, was found on the dashboard of Scott Roeder's car. [47] At first, Sullenger denied any contact with Roeder, saying that her phone number is freely available online. Then, she revised her statements, indicating that Roeder's interest was in court hearings involving Tiller.

He would call and say, "When does court start? When's the next hearing?" I was polite enough to give him the information. I had no reason not to. Who knew? Who knew, you know what I mean? [18]

Roeder reportedly attended the 2009 trial in which Tiller was acquitted of violating state abortion laws Roeder called the trial "a sham" and felt the justice system failed in letting Tiller go free. On May 30, one day before Tiller was killed, a worker at a Kansas City clinic told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that Roeder had tried gluing the locks of the clinic shut, something Roeder was suspected of doing there before years earlier. [24] The Kansas City Star reported that a man of Roeder's description had glued the locks shut at the Central Family Medicine clinic in Kansas City on May 23 and 30. [18]

President Barack Obama said, "I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence." [48]

A number of other organizations also condemned the murder. Cardinal Justin Rigali of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated,

Our bishops' conference and all its members have repeatedly and publicly denounced all forms of violence in our society, including abortion as well as the misguided resort to violence by anyone opposed to abortion. Such killing is the opposite of everything we stand for, and everything we want our culture to stand for: respect for the life of each and every human being from its beginning to its natural end. We pray for Dr. Tiller and his family. [49]

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, condemned the killing, saying,

We are stunned at today's news. As Christians we pray and look toward the end of all violence and for the saving of souls, not the taking of human life. George Tiller was a man who we publicly sought to stop through legal and peaceful means. We strongly condemn the actions taken today by this vigilante killer and we pray for the Tiller family and for the nation that we might once again be a nation that values all human life, both born and unborn. [50]

The American Jewish Congress stated in a press release that Tiller's murder "exemplifies criminal anarchy, not legitimate protest. Dr. Tiller's murder was not just a terrible crime against an individual. It was also a crime against our democracy. Murder is not a debating technique. It is never, and must never be, an accepted way of advancing a point of view." [51] The National Council of Jewish Women also condemned the murder, with President Nancy Ratzan stating that "Dr. Tiller devoted his life to ensuring that women did indeed have choices when confronted with an unintended or untenable pregnancy. His murder – his assassination – is intended to terrorize not only all involved with providing abortions but anyone even remotely associated with abortion rights." The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism also condemned Tiller's murder. [52]

National Right to Life extends its sympathies to Dr. Tiller's family over this loss of life. Further, the National Right to Life Committee unequivocally condemns any such acts of violence regardless of motivation. The pro-life movement works to protect the right to life and increase respect for human life. The unlawful use of violence is directly contrary to that goal. [53]

We are shocked at this morning's disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down. Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller's family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ. [54]

  • Mary Kay Culp, director of Kansans for Life, said that the organization "deplores the murder of Dr. George Tiller, and we wish to express our deep and sincere sympathy to his family and friends. We value life, completely deplore violence, and are shocked and very upset by what happened in Wichita today." [55] , the founder of Operation Rescue, condemned the victim rather than the murderer:

George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller's killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name murder. Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches. [56]

    , vice-presidential candidate for the America's Independent Party ticket in 2008 and the second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2006–2007, [57] asked on his radio show, "Would you have rejoiced when Adolf Hitler died during the war? . I would have said, 'Amen! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! I'm glad he's dead.' This man, George Tiller, was far greater in his atrocities than Adolf Hitler, so I am happy I am glad that he is dead." [57][58]
  • Anti-abortion militants The Army of God, a group that promotes "leaderless resistance" as its organizing principle, [59][60] issued a statement calling Tiller's presumed killer an "American hero." [61]Donald Spitz from that group stated, “I believe what he (Scott Roeder) did was justified manslaughter to save those unborn children from the baby murderer Dr. Tiller”. [62]
  • Pointing out what he saw as a philosophical problem with "non-violent" right-to-lifism, Reason columnist Jacob Sullum wrote "if you honestly believe abortion is the murder of helpless children, it's hard to see why using deadly force against those who carry it out is immoral, especially since the government refuses to act." [63]William Saletan, [64]Jacob Appel [citation needed] , Colby Cosh, [65] and Damon Linker[66] similarly questioned the anti-abortion movement's consistency in condemning Tiller's murder.

Some commentators argued that the treatment of the murder, by both the White House and the media, was absurdly disproportionate. [67] [68] The day after the murder, two soldiers were attacked at an Army recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas: one died the other suffered injuries. Comparing this incident with the Tiller murder, Michelle Malkin wrote,

Tiller's suspected murderer, Scott Roeder, was white, Christian, anti-government, and anti-abortion. The gunman in the military recruiting center attack, Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad, was black, a Muslim convert, anti-military, and anti-American. Both crimes are despicable, cowardly acts of domestic terrorism. But the disparate treatment of the two brutal cases by both the White House and the media is striking. [67]

James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal found fault with this view, claiming that its proponents failed to acknowledge that the crimes were different in nature and, therefore, in public import. Although equally "abhorrent",

in the hierarchy of public significance, assassinations rank higher than hate crimes, which in turn rank higher than "ordinary" murders. The murder of Martin Luther King was bigger news, and is a more important part of history, than any individual lynching, even though both were atrocious crimes spurred by similar ideological motives. [69]

Taranto also felt that the President's sentiments on the cases could be read quite differently: although his condemnation of the Tiller killing was worded far more strongly, it was only to the soldiers and their kin that condolences and sympathy were proffered, in spite of the fact that Tiller's wife was present at her husband's death. [70] "If anything", Taranto opined, the statement was somewhat "cowardly", and the pains to which he went to appease the anti-abortion movement were duly noted. [71]

Another response to Malkin's charge of "disparate treatment of the two brutal cases" has been that the true disparity was the mass media's downplaying of Roeder's Christianity. In this view, major media outlets "relegate Mr. Roeder's religious motivation to the margins, while all play up Mr. Muhammad's connections to Islam." [72]

Fox News Channel commentator Bill O'Reilly has also been accused of demonizing Tiller. [73] O'Reilly was found to have mentioned Tiller by name on The O'Reilly Factor, his show on the Fox News Channel, 42 separate times prior to Tiller's death, referring to him specifically as a "baby killer" in 24 instances. [74] The Weekly Standard blogger John McCormack has argued that there is no evidence to show that O'Reilly condones vigilantism, [75] O'Reilly said he was not responsible for Tiller's death and defended his campaign against Tiller, saying:

When I heard about Tiller's murder, I knew pro-abortion zealots and Fox News haters would attempt to blame us for the crime, and that's exactly what has happened. [. ] Every single thing we said about Tiller was true, and my analysis was based on those facts. [. ] Now, it's clear that the far left is exploiting — exploiting — the death of the doctor. Those vicious individuals want to stifle any criticism of people like Tiller. That — and hating Fox News — is the real agenda here. [76]

In 2009, Congressman Keith Ellison said, "There is no room in America to 'justify' murder in the name of ideological differences. I condemn the act committed against Dr. Tiller as well as those who take comfort from his death." [77]

On June 9, U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter sponsored a House resolution condemning the murder of Tiller, which was unanimously passed. [78]

Several anti-abortion groups claimed to have received death threats in the aftermath of the shooting, some of them threatening "vengeance" against the anti-abortion movement. [79]

Although most anti-abortion activists avoided Tiller's funeral, 17 members from the Westboro Baptist Church picketed the funeral. The church members held signs that read "God sent the shooter", "Abortion is bloody murder", and "Baby Killer in Hell". [80] [81]

On June 2, 2009, the District Attorney of the 18th Judicial District of the State of Kansas filed charges on behalf of the State of Kansas against Scott Roeder consisting of one count first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault. [82] A preliminary hearing was held in Wichita on July 28, 2009. [83]

Judge Warren Wilbert ruled on January 8, 2010, that he would allow Roeder's defense team to argue for a voluntary manslaughter conviction, which in Kansas is defined as killing with "an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force." [84]

Jury selection was scheduled to begin Monday, January 11, 2010, but was delayed after prosecutors challenged the judge's decision to allow the defense to build a case for a lesser charge. [83] Selection proceedings began in closed session on January 12, 2010. Judge Wilbert had ordered jury selection closed to the public and press citing fears jurors would be less than truthful if questioned in public. [85] The Kansas State Supreme Court overturned his order, although parts of the questions to individual jurors remained private.

The court heard opening statements on January 22, 2010. [86]

The defense had asked the court to hear the testimony of the former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline and Barry Disney, a current member of that office. Both had previously tried to convict Tiller of providing illegal late-term abortions. The judge, upon previewing the testimony of Kline, disallowed his testimony pointing out such abortions are legal in Kansas and citing the possibility of prejudicing the jury. [87]

Scott Roeder took the stand in his own defense on January 28, 2010. At the outset, he admitted to killing Tiller, defending his act as an attempt to save unborn children and giving his views on abortion. Under questioning by his attorney, he attempted to describe abortion practices in detail but was repeatedly halted by objections based on his lack of medical expertise. [83]

Following Roeder's testimony on the stand, Judge Wilbert ruled that the jury would not have the voluntary manslaughter option. [88]

On January 29, 2010, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all three charges after less than 40 minutes of deliberation. [89] Roeder's attorneys appealed the conviction, arguing that the jury should have been given the voluntary manslaughter option. The Kansas Supreme Court heard the appeal on January 29, 2014, and rejected it, upholding Roeder's conviction, on October 24, 2014. [90]

On April 1, 2010, in Wichita, Kansas, Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert sentenced Roeder to a "Hard 50", meaning life in prison with no possibility of parole for 50 years, for the murder of Tiller, the maximum sentence available in Kansas, plus an additional two years for the two counts of aggravated assault. [9] Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court has altered the rules regarding when mandatory minimum sentences such as the "Hard 50" may be imposed, and on October 24, 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court called for re-sentencing. According to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, the "hard 50" can still be imposed, but the finding that the circumstances of the crime justify the sentence must be made by a jury, rather than by the judge. [90]

On November 23, 2016, Roeder was re-sentenced to life in prison but is now eligible to apply for parole after serving 25 years rather than after 50 years. As before, besides the sentence for murder, Roeder was also sentenced to two additional years for aggravated assault because he had threatened to shoot two church ushers while fleeing the murder. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said that prosecutors made the decision not to convene a new jury or ask for the reinstatement of the "hard 50", because of Roeder's age, his worsening health, and the likelihood that he will die in prison before the 25 years pass. The prosecutors also consulted Tiller's family, who said that they were comfortable with the reduction. [91]

Further threats from prison Edit

In 2013, Roeder was placed in solitary confinement for 45 days for issuing further threats of violence during a telephone interview with anti-abortion activist David Leach. [92] [93] [94] He referenced the work of Julie Burkhart, Founder and CEO of Trust Women Foundation to open an abortion providing facility in Wichita.

Tiller's murder inspired an episode of the television legal drama Law & Order entitled "Dignity". In that episode, an anti-abortion activist murdered a doctor who performed late-term abortions in New York. The defense said it was a justifiable homicide, since the murderer did it in order to prevent the doctor from performing a late-term abortion upon a specific woman, hence, he did it in defense of another human being. In the end, the jury decided that the defendant was guilty of murder in the first degree. The episode's reception was polarized: the anti-abortion blogosphere appreciated the episode's handling of the abortion issue as a whole, [95] while many pro-abortion rights sources condemned the episode. [96] [97] [98]

The aftermath of Tiller's death is also the subject of the 2013 documentary After Tiller, which follows the lives of four other late-term abortion providers after Tiller's murder.

The assassination of Tiller was mentioned in the anti-abortion movie Unplanned (2019). [99]

The George Tiller Memorial Abortion Fund was established by the National Network of Abortion Funds. [100]

Obit: Hamilton doctor Hugh Short was a victim of sniper shooting by anti-abortion radical in 1995

Dr. Hugh Short was a respected and well-liked doctor at the Henderson General Hospital. He had a successful practice on Concession Street, across from the hospital, and worked in obstetrics and gynecology.

He delivered babies (thousands of them), aided pregnant women and performed abortion services.

But his life was turned upside down in 1995 when he was shot in the arm by a sniper while he watched TV at his Ancaster home.

His medical practice ended and he never returned to the Henderson, now called the Juravinski Hospital.

Short &mdash who died at age 86 on March 2 &mdash was one of three Canadian doctors and an American doctor shot by a sniper near Remembrance Day in the mid-1990s.

He was the last survivor of the four, who included Dr. Garson Romalis of Vancouver (shot in the thigh in 1994), Dr. Jack Fainan of Winnipeg (shot in the shoulder in 1997) and Dr. Barnett Slepian of Buffalo.

Slepian was killed by the sniper in his home in Amherst, N.Y. in 1998. Both Romalis and Fainan died in 2014.

The case garnered sensational headlines and led to an international manhunt that saw anti-abortion radical James Kopp of California arrested in France in 2001. He was convicted of killing Slepian in 2003 and was sentenced to life.

Kopp was charged with the attempted murder of Short in 2000, but the charge was shelved by police in 2009 as it appeared he would never face justice in a Canadian court.

Short never spoke publicly about his ordeal and Kopp never admitted his involvement in the almost fatal wounding of the Ancaster doctor. Kopp told The Spectator in a jailhouse interview in 2015 he was not the Canadian shooter.

His DNA, however, was recovered in a balaclava from the scene, his car crossed the border several times around the time of the shooting and his vehicle was pulled over on Highway 403 in Hamilton one week before the incident.

The only public remarks Short made was when he was contacted by a Spec reporter in 2009.

"I'm doing all right," he said.

He had no doubt who his assailant was and knew he would spend the rest of his life in an American prison.

"He's already been sentenced," said Short.

Short, a native of Sarnia, graduated in medicine in 1959. He completed his specialty training in 1961 and set up his practice in Hamilton. At the time of the shooting, Short was the longest-serving member of the obstetrics and gynecology department at the Henderson.

Short and his wife Mona were relaxing in their home at 353 Sulphur Springs Rd., near Deerview Avenue, on the night of Friday, Nov. 10, 1995. The couple, who had lived there since 1968, were in the den on the second floor watching TV.

At about 9:30 p.m., two shots rang out, coming from the direction of a wooded ravine. The second struck Short in his right elbow, causing a devastating injury. A Hamilton police officer who arrived on the scene found the doctor fighting for his life when he walked in the den and reported seeing the doctor's clothes soaked in blood.

Short told the officer he was a doctor and, with his wife's help, had wrapped a tourniquet with a belt on the wound.

The officer helped secure a second belt.


Short, who suffered nerve and muscle damage, was taken to hospital in serious condition. He was released about a week later.

Judy Sparks is a retired Henderson nurse and worked with the doctor between 1973-1995. She was on duty the night he was shot and recalled everyone at the hospital was in shock when they heard the report on the 11 p.m. news. She said everyone thought highly of Short.

"I don't think anyone said anything bad about him," said Sparks, who retired in 2009. "I loved working with him. He had a good sense of humour. He was a character, he really was. He always had a good attitude."

She said he was knowledgable and caring "and I would say a common theme would be he cared about women." She recalled one time a patient was losing blood after giving birth and she was a little concerned about her recovery.

"He could tell (I was upset)," Sparks recalled. "He said, 'She's going to be all right.' Then, off we went to the OR. We all loved him."

Other retired nurses echoed Sparks' sentiments.

"One of the kindest men that I had the pleasure to work with," said Judith Barlow in a Facebook post.

Jody White Munro wrote on Barlow's page, "He had a twinkle in his eye and had a great sense of humour. I remember him telling us about the time he got in the elevator with a cigarette in his hand and he stared into the eyes of the fire chief who was there to do an inspection."

Short is survived by his four children, Tom, Katharine, John and Hugh Pat, eight grandchildren and two step-grandchildren. His wife of 50 years, Mona, died in March, 2008.

Correction: This story was updated April 10 to correct the name of Dr. Garson Romalis.

Abortion Activist Foils Own Plot to Kill Doctor, Clinic Workers

A Wisconsin man arrested Wednesday night after accidentally shooting a pistol through the door of his Madison motel room faces federal charges for allegedly plotting to kill an abortion doctor and clinic workers.

Ralph Lang, 63, told police that he planned to use the gun to kill the doctor at a Planned Parenthood clinic near the motel. According to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court in Madison, Lang said he wanted to “lay out abortionists because they are killing babies.”

Lang suggested to the officers who interrogated him that they look up “Rosary of the Unborn.” The website, which sells rosaries and anti-abortion literature and paraphernalia, includes messages supposedly from Jesus. The divine messages posted this week call abortion “the greatest weapon of mass destruction” and declare that it’s responsible for “economic distress,” natural disasters ravaging the country and resource depletion. “If you will stand corrected, many problems within the heart of the world will be resolved.”

Lang, who has a history of menacing abortion clinics, told police that he had also been in Madison with his gun last week but had hesitated to commit the act because he was having “spiritual struggles.” Clinic workers confirmed that they had seen him outside the building last week, the affidavit says.

Asked if he planned to shoot anyone besides the doctor, Lang said he wanted to “line [the clinic workers] all up in a row, get a machine gun, and mow them all down,” the affidavit says. Echoing a comment he made during his 2007 arrest outside a different Wisconsin abortion clinic, he said that he intended to “do what I feel police officers fail to do.”

Along with the gun, Lang had in his motel room a box of anti-abortion literature along with a U.S. map marked with dots in each state and the handwritten words “Blessed Virgin Mary says Hell awaits any woman having an abortion.”

At least eight people – including four doctors, two clinic employees, a security guard and an escort – have been killed in anti-abortion violence in the U.S. According to a 2009 report by the National Abortion Federation, there have been 17 attempted murders, 418 death threats, 188 incidents of assault or battery, and four kidnappings committed against abortion providers in the U.S. and Canada since 1977.

Next Tuesday marks the second anniversary of the murder of George Tiller, a Kansas doctor shot through the eye by Scott Roeder, an anti-abortion radical with ties to the antigovernment sovereign citizens movement. Roeder was found guilty of first-degree murder and is serving a 52-year sentence without chance of parole.

Doctor's Alleged Killer Had 'Sovereign' Ties

The man accused of fatally shooting Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller this spring has longstanding ties to antigovernment groups and radical anti-abortion activism.

sovereign citizens movement. Sovereign citizens generally believe the government has no jurisdiction over them and often deluge courts with phony liens and other paperwork. Many of them also believe that only whites can be sovereigns, while blacks and others are mere "14th Amendment citizens" who must obey all government rules.

Police stopped Roeder in 1996 because he didn't have a valid license plate and instead was using a tag that declared he was a "sovereign" citizen who didn't have to obey the government. During a search of his car, police discovered bomb-making materials including gunpowder and a homemade fuse. He was found guilty of criminal use of explosives, but an appeals court ruled that the car had been improperly searched and overturned the conviction.

Dave Leach told reporters that Roeder had contributed to his newsletter, Prayer and Action News, which argues that killing abortion providers is justifiable. A former roommate told CNN that Roeder belonged to the "Army of God," whose website praises the killings and asserts that Tiller is now in hell. Roeder also made inflammatory posts to Operation Rescue, a Wichita-based group that long had tried to prevent Tiller from providing late-term abortions. In one 2007 post, Roeder wrote: "Tiller is the concentration camp 'Mengele' of our day and needs to be stopped before he and those who protect him bring judgment upon our nation."

Roeder's family said he has suffered from bouts of mental illness.

Roeder may also have vandalized a Kansas City clinic shortly before he allegedly shot Tiller. A man repeating phrases such as "baby killer" was spotted using super glue to jam a door lock at the Aid for Women clinic the day before Tiller's death. He fled in a car with the same license plate as Roeder's vehicle.

Speaking with The Associated Press after his June arrest, Roeder said: "I know there are many other similar events planned around the country as long as abortion remains legal." He would not say if he was referring to killings.


Anti-abortion violence is specifically directed towards people who or places which provide abortion. [2] It is recognized as "single-issue terrorism". [3] Incidents include vandalism, arson, and bombings of abortion clinics, such as those committed by Eric Rudolph (1996–98), and murders or attempted murders of physicians and clinic staff, as committed by James Kopp (1998), Paul Jennings Hill (1994), Scott Roeder (2009), Michael F. Griffin (1993), and Peter James Knight (2001).

Those who engage in or support such actions defend the use of force with claims of justifiable homicide or defense of others in the interest of protecting the life of the fetus. [4] [5] David C. Nice, of the University of Georgia, describes support for anti-abortion violence as a political weapon against women's rights, one that is associated with tolerance for violence toward women. [6] Numerous organizations have also recognized anti-abortion extremism as a form of Christian terrorism. [7]

At least eleven murders occurred in the United States since 1990, as well as 41 bombings and 173 arsons at clinics since 1977. At least one murder occurred in Australia, as well several attempted murders in Canada. There were 1,793 abortion providers in the United States in 2008, [8] as well as 197 abortion providers in Canada in 2001. [9] The National Abortion Federation reported between 1,356 and 13,415 incidents of picketing at United States providers each year from 1995 to 2014. [10]

The Federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act was passed in 1994 to protect reproductive health service facilities and their staff and patients from violent threats, assault, vandalism, and blockade. The law (18 U.S.C. sec. 248) also provides the same level of legal protection to all pregnancy-related medical clinics, including anti-abortion counseling centers it also applies to use of threatening tactics directed towards churches and places of worship. [11] State, provincial, and local governments have also passed similar laws designed to afford legal protection of access to abortion in the United States and Canada. [ citation needed ]

Australia Edit

  • July 16, 2001:Peter James Knight attacked a clinic in Melbourne, Australia, shooting and killing the security guard, Steven Rogers. Knight brought ropes and gags into the clinic along with 16 litres of kerosene, intending to burn all 15 staff and 26 patients to death. [I 1][I 2] Knight was charged and was sentenced to life in prison on November 19, 2002. [I 3]
  • January 6, 2009: A firebombing using Molotov cocktails was attempted at a medical clinic in Mosman Park, Western Australia. Damage was minimal and only resulted in smashed windows and blackened external walls. Police believed graffiti saying "baby killers" on the building was related to the attack, however, the medical clinic did not actually offer abortion services. [12][13]

Canada Edit

Attempted murder Edit

Violence has also occurred in Canada, where at least three doctors have been attacked to date. The physicians were part of a pattern of attacks, which targeted providers in Canada and upstate New York (including the fatal shooting of Barnett Slepian of New York). All victims were shot, or shot at, in their homes with a rifle, at dusk or in the morning, in late October or early November over a multi-year period. There is speculation that the timing of the shootings is related to the Canadian observance of Remembrance Day.

A joint Canadian-FBI task force investigating the shootings was formed in December 1997—three years after the first attack. An official of the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police complained that the Canadian Government was not adequately financing the investigation. He said he requested more funds in July that would raise its budget to $250,000. Federal officials rejected the request on October 15, a week before Slepian was killed. [I 4]

In 2001, James Kopp, an American citizen and resident was charged with the murder of Slepian and the attempted murder of Short some speculate that Kopp was responsible for the other shootings. [I 5] [I 6]

  • November 8, 1994: In 1994, a sniper fired two bullets into the home of Garson Romalis, a gynaecologist of Vancouver, British Columbia who was eating breakfast. One hit his thigh, destroyed some of his muscles, broke his femur and damaged his femoral artery. Romalis saved his own life by using his bathrobe belt as a tourniquet. Romalis had become more outspoken about abortion rights since he was shot, citing the harm done to women by illegal abortion and the thousands of cases of septic abortion that came to his hospital in residency. [I 4][I 7]
  • November 10, 1995: Hugh Short of Ancaster, Ontario was shot. A sniper's bullet fired into his home shattered his elbow and ended his surgical career. Short was not a high-profile target: it was not widely known that he did abortions. [I 4]
  • November 11, 1997: Jack Fainman, a physician of Winnipeg, Manitoba, was shot. A gunman fired through the back window of Fainman's riverbank home in Winnipeg about 9 pm and struck him in the right shoulder, inches from his heart. The police would not comment on whether Fainman, who has declined interview requests since the attack, is still performing abortions. [I 4]
  • July 11, 2000: Garson Romalis was stabbed by an unidentified assailant in the lobby of his clinic. [I 8]

Bombing and property damage Edit

  • February 25, 1990: Two men broke into a clinic in Vancouver and destroyed C$30,000 worth of medical equipment with crowbars. [I 9]
  • May 18, 1992: A Toronto clinic operated by Henry Morgentaler was firebombed, causing the entire front wall of the building to collapse. [I 10] The Morgentaler Clinic on Harbord Street in Toronto was firebombed during the night by two people (caught on security camera) using gasoline and a firework to set off the explosion. [I 11] The next day, clinic management announced that the firebombing failed to prevent any abortions, since all scheduled abortions were carried out in alternative locations. A portion of the Toronto Women's Bookstore, next door, was damaged. No one was hurt but the building had to be demolished. As a result of the arson, the Ontario government decided to spend $420,000 on improved security for abortion clinics. At the time, all four free-standing clinics in Ontario were in Toronto. The government wanted to gather information about activities by anti-abortion sympathizers at the time, law enforcement agencies in Canada did not collect statistics about harassment and violence against abortion providers, their clinics, or their clients. [I 11] Six months after the attack, the Toronto Police Force still had not made any progress in uncovering the attackers, any leads on suspects lead to dead-ends.

New Zealand Edit

  • Circa 1999: In the late 1990s, Graeme White was found guilty and sent to prison for tunneling into an abortion clinic [I 12][I 13] with what the police described as "incendiary devices". [I 14] [unreliable source?] [I 15]
  • 1976: An arson attack was carried out at the Auckland Medical Aid Centre, which was estimated to cause $100,000 in damages to the facility. The Auckland office of the Sisters Overseas Service organisation was targeted that same evening. [14]

United States Edit

Murders Edit

In the United States, violence directed towards abortion providers has killed at least eleven people, including four doctors, two clinic employees, a security guard, a police officer, two people (unclear of their connection), and a clinic escort. [I 16] [I 17] Seven murders occurred in the 1990s. [I 18]

  • March 10, 1993: Gynaecologist David Gunn of Pensacola, Florida was fatally shot during a protest. He had been the subject of wanted-style posters distributed by Operation Rescue in the summer of 1992. Michael F. Griffin was found guilty of Gunn's murder and was sentenced to life in prison. [I 19]
  • July 29, 1994:John Britton, a physician, and James Barrett, a clinic escort, were both shot to death outside another facility, the Ladies Center, in Pensacola. Paul Jennings Hill was charged with the killings. Hill received a death sentence and was executed on September 3, 2003. The clinic in Pensacola had been bombed before in 1984 and was also bombed subsequently in 2012. [I 20]
  • December 30, 1994: Two receptionists, Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols, were killed in two clinic attacks in Brookline, Massachusetts. John Salvi was arrested and confessed to the killings. He died in prison and guards found his body under his bed with a plastic garbage bag tied around his head. Salvi had also confessed to a non-lethal attack in Norfolk, Virginia days before the Brookline killings. [I 20]
  • January 29, 1998: Robert Sanderson, an off-duty police officer who worked as a security guard at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, was killed when his workplace was bombed. Eric Rudolph admitted responsibility he was also charged with three Atlanta bombings: the 1997 bombing of an abortion center, the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing, and another of a lesbian nightclub. He was found guilty of the crimes and received two life sentences as a result. [I 21]
  • October 23, 1998:Barnett Slepian was shot to death with a high-powered rifle at his home in Amherst, New York. His was the last in a series of similar shootings against providers in Canada and northern New York state which were all likely committed by James Kopp. Kopp was convicted of Slepian's murder after being apprehended in France in 2001. [I 22]
  • May 31, 2009:George Tiller was shot and killed by Scott Roeder as Tiller served as an usher at a church in Wichita, Kansas. [I 23] This was not Tiller's first time being a victim to anti-abortion violence. Tiller was shot once before in 1993 by Shelley Shannon, who was sentenced 10 years in prison for the shooting.
  • November 29, 2015:A shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, left three dead and several injured, and a suspect Robert L. Dear was apprehended. [I 24][I 25][I 26] The suspect had previously acted against other clinics, and referred to himself as a "warrior for the babies" at his hearing. [I 27][I 28] Neighbors and former neighbors described the suspect as "reclusive", [I 25] and police from several states where the suspect resided described a history of run-ins dating from at least 1997. [I 26] As of December 2015, the trial of the suspect was open [I 27] but, on May 11, 2016, the court declared the suspect incompetent to stand trial after a mental evaluation was completed. [I 29]

Attempted murder, assault, and kidnapping Edit

According to statistics gathered by the National Abortion Federation (NAF), an organization of abortion providers, since 1977 in the United States and Canada, there have been 17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault or battery, 13 wounded, [I 30] 100 butyric acid stink bomb attacks, 373 physical invasions, 41 bombings, 655 anthrax threats, [I 31] and 3 kidnappings committed against abortion providers. [I 32] Between 1977 and 1990, 77 death threats were made, with 250 made between 1991 and 1999. [I 30] Attempted murders in the U.S. included: [I 16] [I 5] [I 6] in 1985 45% of clinics reported bomb threats, decreasing to 15% in 2000. One fifth of clinics in 2000 experienced some form of extreme activity. [I 33]

  • August 1982: Three men identifying as the Army of God kidnapped Hector Zevallos (a doctor and clinic owner) and his wife, Rosalee Jean, holding them for eight days. [15]
  • June 15, 1984: A month after he destroyed suction equipment at a Birmingham clinic, Edward Markley, a Benedictine priest who was the Birmingham diocesan "Coordinator for Pro-Life Activities". [I 34][I 35] (and perhaps an accomplice [citation needed] ), entered the Women's Community Health Center in Huntsville, Alabama, assaulting at least three clinic workers. [citation needed] Kathryn Wood, one of the workers, received back injuries and a broken neck vertebrae while preventing Markley from splashing red paint on the clinic's equipment. Markley was convicted of first-degree criminal mischief, one count of third-degree assault, and one count of harassment in the Huntsville attack. [16]
  • August 19, 1993:George Tiller was shot outside of an abortion facility in Wichita, Kansas. Shelley Shannon was convicted of the crime and received an 11-year prison sentence (20 years were later added for arson and acid attacks on clinics).
  • July 29, 1994: June Barrett was shot in the same attack which claimed the lives of James Barrett, her husband, and John Britton.
  • December 30, 1994: Five individuals were wounded in the shootings which killed Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols.
  • December 18, 1996: Calvin Jackson, a medical doctor of New Orleans, Louisiana was stabbed 15 times, losing 4 pints of blood. Donald Cooper was charged with second degree attempted murder and was sentenced to 20 years. "Donald Cooper's Day of Violence", by Kara Lowentheil, Choice! Magazine, December 21, 2004.
  • October 28, 1997: David Gandell, a medical doctor of Rochester, New York sustained serious injuries after being targeted by a sniper firing through a window in his home. [I 36]
  • January 29, 1998:Emily Lyons, a nurse, was severely injured, and lost an eye, in the bombing which also killed off-duty police officer Robert Sanderson.

Arson, bombing, and property crime Edit

According to NAF, since 1977 in the United States and Canada, property crimes committed against abortion providers have included 41 bombings, 173 arsons, 91 attempted bombings or arsons, 619 bomb threats, 1630 incidents of trespassing, 1264 incidents of vandalism, and 100 attacks with butyric acid ("stink bombs"). [I 32] The New York Times also cites over one hundred clinic bombings and incidents of arson, over three hundred invasions, and over four hundred incidents of vandalism between 1978 and 1993. [I 37] The first clinic arson occurred in Oregon in March 1976 and the first bombing occurred in February 1978 in Ohio. [I 38] Incidents have included:

  • May 26, 1983: Joseph Grace set the Hillcrest clinic in Norfolk, Virginia ablaze. He was arrested while sleeping in his van a few blocks from the clinic when a patrol officer noticed the smell of kerosene. [I 39]
  • May 12, 1984: Two men entered a Birmingham, Alabama clinic on Mother's Day weekend shortly after a lone woman opened the doors at 7:25 A.M. Forcing their way into the clinic, one of the men threatened the woman if she tried to prevent the attack while the other, wielding a sledgehammer, did between $7,500 and $8,500 of damage to suction equipment. The man who damaged the equipment was later identified as Edward Markley. Markley is a Benedictine priest who was the Birmingham diocesan "Coordinator for Pro-Life Activities". Markley was convicted of first-degree criminal mischief and second-degree burglary. His accomplice has never been identified. The following month (near Father's Day), Markley entered a women's health center in Huntsville, Alabama (see above). [I 35]
  • December 25, 1984: An abortion clinic and two physicians' offices in Pensacola, Florida, were bombed in the early morning of Christmas Day by a quartet of young people (Matt Goldsby, Jimmy Simmons, Kathy Simmons, Kaye Wiggins) who later called the bombings "a gift to Jesus on his birthday." [I 40][I 41][I 42] The clinic, the Ladies Center, would later be the site of the murder of John Britton and James Barrett in 1994 and a firebombing in 2012.
  • March 26, 1986: Six anti-abortion activists, including John Burt and Joan Andrews, were arrested after invading an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida, causing property damage and injuring two women (a clinic manager and a member of the local NOW chapter). [17][18] Burt was convicted of attempted burglary of an occupied building, assault, battery, and resisting arrest without violence, and was sentenced to 141 days already served in jail and four years of probation his 18-year-old daughter, Sarah Burt, who also took part in the invasion, was sentenced to 15 days in jail (with credit for two days already served) and three years of probation. [18] Andrews refused to pledge not to carry out such actions in the future and was convicted of burglary, criminal mischief and resisting arrest without violence. She was sentenced to five years in prison, which she spent largely in self-imposed isolation, refusing a mattress and all medical care. [19]
  • July 27, 1987: Eight members of the Bible Missionary Fellowship, a fundamentalist church in Santee, California, attempted to bomb the Alvarado Medical Center abortion clinic. Church member Cheryl Sullenger procured gunpowder, bomb materials, and a disguise for co-conspirator Eric Everett Svelmoe, who planted a gasoline bomb. It was placed at the premises but failed to detonate as the fuse was blown out by wind. [20]
  • July 3, 1989: A fire was started at the Feminist Health Center clinic in Concord, New Hampshire, on the day U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Missouri law banning funding of public facilities as related to abortion. The clinic was set afire again in 2000. [I 43]
  • March 29, 1993: Blue Mountain Clinic in Missoula, Montana at around 1 a.m., an arsonist snuck onto the premises and firebombed the clinic. The perpetrator, a Washington man, was ultimately caught, convicted and imprisoned. The facility was a near-total loss, but all of the patients' records, though damaged, survived the fire in metal file cabinets. [I 44][I 45][I 46][I 43]
  • January 1997:Eric Rudolph admitted, as part of a plea deal for the Centennial Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Olympic Games to placing a pair of bombs that exploded at the Northside Family Planning Services clinic in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs. [I 21]
  • May 21, 1998: Three people were injured when acid was poured at the entrances of five abortion clinics in Miami, Florida. [I 47]
  • October 1999: Martin Uphoff set fire to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Sioux Falls, South Dakotacausing minimal damage. He was later sentenced to 60 months in prison. [21]
  • May 28, 2000: An arson at a clinic in Concord, New Hampshire, resulted in several thousand dollars' worth of damage. The case remains unsolved. [I 48][I 49][I 50] This was the second arson at the clinic. [I 43]
  • September 30, 2000: John Earl, a Catholic priest, drove his car into the Northern Illinois Health Clinic after learning that the FDA had approved the drug RU-486. He pulled out an ax before being forced to the ground by the owner of the building, who fired two warning shots from a shotgun. [I 51]
  • June 11, 2001: An unsolved bombing at a clinic in Tacoma, Washington, destroyed a wall, resulting in $6,000 in damages. [I 52]
  • July 4, 2005: A clinic in West Palm Beach, Florida, was the target of an probable arson. [22][23]
  • December 12, 2005: Patricia Hughes and Jeremy Dunahoe threw a Molotov cocktail at a clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana. The device missed the building and no damage was caused. In August 2006, Hughes was sentenced to six years in prison, and Dunahoe to one year. Hughes claimed the bomb was a "memorial lamp" for an abortion she had had there. [I 53]
  • September 11, 2006: David McMenemy of Rochester Hills, Michigan, crashed his car into the Edgerton Women's Care Center in Davenport, Iowa. He then doused the lobby in gasoline and started a fire. McMenemy committed these acts in the belief that the center was performing abortions however, Edgerton is not an abortion clinic. [I 54]Time magazine listed the incident in a "Top 10 Inept Terrorist Plots" list. [I 55]
  • April 25, 2007: A package left at a women's health clinic in Austin, Texas, contained an explosive device capable of inflicting serious injury or death. A bomb squad detonated the device after evacuating the building. Paul Ross Evans (who had a criminal record for armed robbery and theft) was found guilty of the crime. [I 56]
  • May 9, 2007: An unidentified person deliberately set fire to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Virginia Beach, Virginia. [I 57]
  • December 6, 2007: Chad Altman and Sergio Baca were arrested for the arson of Curtis Boyd's clinic in Albuquerque. Baca's girlfriend had scheduled an appointment for an abortion at the clinic. [I 58][I 59]
  • January 22, 2009: Matthew L. Derosia, 32, who was reported to have had a history of mental illness, [I 60] rammed an SUV into the front entrance of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Saint Paul, Minnesota, [I 61] causing between $2,500 and $5,000 in damage. [24] Derosia, who told police that Jesus told him to "stop the murderers," was ruled competent to stand trial. He pleaded guilty in March 2009 to one count of criminal damage to property. [24]
  • January 1, 2012: Bobby Joe Rogers, 41, firebombed the American Family Planning Clinic in Pensacola, Florida, with a Molotov cocktail the fire gutted the building. Rogers told investigators that he was motivated to commit the crime by his opposition to abortion, and that what more directly prompted the act was seeing a patient enter the clinic during one of the frequent anti-abortion protests there. The clinic had previously been bombed at Christmas in 1984 and was the site of the murder of John Britton and James Barrett in 1994. [I 62]
  • April 1, 2012: A bomb exploded on the windowsill of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Grand Chute, Wisconsin, resulting in a fire that caused minimal damage. [25]
  • April 11, 2013: Benjamin David Curell, 27, caused extensive damage to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bloomington, Indiana, vandalizing it with an axe. [I 63][26] Curell was convicted in state court of felony burglary, and pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. In the federal case, he was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay restitution. [27]
  • September 4, 2015: A Planned Parenthood clinic in Pullman, Washington was intentionally set on fire. No injuries were reported due to the time of day, but the FBI was involved because of a history of domestic terrorism against the clinic. [I 64] The crime was never solved. The clinic reopened six months later. [28]
  • October 22, 2015: A Planned Parenthood clinic in Claremont, New Hampshire was vandalized by a juvenile intruder. Damaged in the attack were computers, furniture, plumbing fixtures, office equipment, medical equipment, phone lines, windows, and walls. The flooding that resulted from the vandalism also damaged an adjacent business. [I 65][I 66]
  • February 24–25, 2016: Travis Reynolds, 21, vandalized a Baltimore-area women's health care clinic with anti-abortion graffiti. [29][30] After being arrested, Reynolds "admitted to police that he defaced the clinic's doors, walls and windows because he thought that it would deter women from using the clinic." [30] Reynolds pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act in October 2016. [30]
  • March 7, 2016: Rachel Ann Jackson, 71, vandalized a Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbus, Ohio, with the message "SATAN DEN OF BABY KILLERS. " She pleaded guilty to felony counts of breaking and entering and vandalism and a misdemeanor count of aggravated trespass. [31][32] Jackson was sentenced to probation, with the judge citing her struggle with serious mental illness as a mitigating factor. [32]
  • January 23, 2021: An unknown individual fired a shotgun at a TennesseePlanned Parenthood clinic no one was injured. News outlets noted that the attack took place on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision and at a time when Tennessee's governor, Bill Lee, was involved in a heated online debate regarding abortion and health care. [33]

Anthrax threats Edit

The first hoax letters claiming to contain anthrax were mailed to U.S. clinics in October 1998, a few days after the shooting of Barnett Slepian since then, there have been 655 such bioterror threats made against abortion providers. None of the "anthrax" in these cases was real. [I 5] [I 67]

  • November 2001: After the genuine 2001 anthrax attacks, Clayton Waagner mailed hoax letters containing a white powder to 554 clinics. On December 3, 2003, Waagner was convicted of 51 charges relating to the anthrax scare.

Army of God Edit

The Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security's joint Terrorism Knowledge Base, identify the Army of God as an underground terrorist organization active in the United States. It was formed in 1982, and is responsible for a substantial amount of anti-abortion violence. The group has committed property crimes, acts of kidnapping, attempted murder, and murder. While sharing a common ideology and tactics, members claim to rarely communicate [34] to avoid risk of information leaking to outside sources.

In August 1982, three men identifying as the Army of God kidnapped Hector Zevallos (a doctor and clinic owner) and his wife, Rosalee Jean, holding them for eight days and released them unharmed. [15] In 1993, Shelly Shannon, an Army of God member, admitted to the attempted murder of George Tiller. [35] Law enforcement officials found the Army of God Manual, a tactical guide to arson, chemical attacks, invasions, and bombings buried in Shelly Shannon's backyard. [15] Paul Jennings Hill was found guilty of the murder of both John Britton and clinic escort James Barrett.

The Army of God published a "Defensive Action Statement" signed by more than two dozen supporters of Hill, saying that "whatever force is legitimate to defend the life of a born child is legitimate to defend the life of an unborn child. if in fact Paul Hill did kill or wound abortionist John Britton and clinic assistants James Barrett and Mrs. Barrett, his actions are morally justified if they were necessary for the purpose of defending innocent human life". [36] [I 5] The AOG claimed responsibility for Eric Robert Rudolph's 1997 shrapnel bombing of abortion clinics in Atlanta and Birmingham. [37] The organization embraces its description as terrorist. [38]

Physician "wanted" posters Edit

In the late 1990s, an organization called American Coalition of Life Activists (ACLA) was accused of implicitly advocating violence by its publication on its "Nuremberg Files" website of wanted-style posters, which featured a photograph of a physician who performed abortions along with a monetary reward for any information that would lead to his "arrest, conviction, and revocation of license to practice medicine". [39] The ACLA's website described these physicians as war criminals [40] and accused them of committing "crimes against humanity". The web site also published names, home addresses, telephone numbers, and other personal information regarding abortion providers—highlighting the names of those who had been wounded and striking out those of who had been killed. George Tiller's name was included on this list along with many others. The site was accused of being a thinly-veiled hit list intended to incite violence others claimed that it was protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. [41] In 2002, after a prolonged debate, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the "posters" constituted an illegal threat. [42]

Anti-abortion reactions Edit

In a 2009 press release, Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry issued a statement calling for peaceful protests to expose abortion providers. According to Media Matters and the Colorado Independent, however, Terry has also led apparently contradictory public prayers that an abortion provider would "[convert] to God" or that "calamity [would] strike him". [45] [46] Terry added that he hoped the "baby killer would be tried and executed for crimes against humanity". [46] The doctor targeted by Terry's prayers said to the press, "He's clearly inciting someone, anyone, to kill me" a spokesman responded that Terry only meant that "God would deal with [the doctor]". [46]

Flip Benham, director of Operation Rescue, accused "those in the abortion-providing industry" of committing most of the violence in an attempt to discredit the antiabortion movement. He defended his organization's use of inflammatory rhetoric, saying: "This whole thing isn't about violence. It's all about silence – silencing the Christian message. That's what they want." He also stated, "Our inflammatory rhetoric is only revealing a far more inflammatory truth." [47]

The Murderer Who Started a Movement

Dr. David Gunn was 47 years old when he was gunned down in 1993 during an abortion protest outside his clinic in Pensacola, Florida. Today we think of this as the first targeted killing of an abortion doctor in America—the murder that led to passage of the FACE Act, which made it a federal crime to block access to clinics. It also established the battle lines in an ever more violent and nihilistic war against abortion providers, one that has led to the murders of nearly a dozen more people in the decades since.

Michael Frederick Griffin reportedly shouted “Don’t kill any more babies” just before putting three bullets in Gunn’s back. While the doctor bled to death, Griffin calmly surrendered to the police, saying, “I just shot someone.” Those attending the protest with Griffin showed no alarm at the shooting, a witness told the Washington Post’s William Booth: “It looked like they were just happy.”

At Griffin’s murder trial, his defense counsel would blame his actions on a pro-life leader named John Burt. A former KKK member, Burt was eventually convicted of molesting and sexually abusing teens at a shelter he founded for unwed mothers. He died in prison. After Gunn’s killing, Burt had announced, “We don’t condone this, but we have to remember that Dr. Gunn has killed thousands and thousands of babies.” At trial, Griffin claimed he’d been manipulated by Burt and others.

The jury had little sympathy for Griffin, who was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in a Florida state prison, with a mandatory minimum of 25 years. In a television interview broadcast in Australia in 2010, he didn’t say anything about having been brainwashed. Rather, Griffin owned his actions, saying that “we’re all commanded to protect the innocent children. I just accepted that responsibility, I guess.”

Griffin’s remorselessness has made him a cult hero, birthing a form of radical activism others would emulate. For the last quarter-century, he’s inspired his followers from behind bars. But this week, the man who murdered David Gunn will go before the Florida Commission on Offender Review. He could leave that hearing with an expected release date and the hope that he’ll soon be a free man.

Gunn had been targeted by radical anti-abortion forces in the months before his murder. Operation Rescue put the doctor’s face and phone number on a “Wanted” poster and displayed it everywhere, including at his daughter’s school in Alabama.

Immediately after Gunn’s killing, militant anti-abortion activist Paul Hill began circulating what became known as the “defensive action statement,” condoning and justifying the killing. The statement, signed by 34 pro-life leaders, read as follows:

You can draw a straight line between Griffin and the murderers and attempted murderers who came in his wake. First there was Rachelle “Shelley” Shannon, who corresponded with Griffin after he went to prison. (“I know you did the right thing,” she wrote in one of her letters. “It was not murder. You shot a murderer. It was more like anti-murder.”) Shannon, who like Hill was connected to the Christian terrorist group the Army of God, called Griffin “the awesomest greatest hero of our time.” Shannon is now serving a prison sentence for a failed attempt to murder Dr. George Tiller, as well as for her part in bombings and arson attacks on other clinics. Sixteen years after Shannon shot Tiller in both arms, the doctor was murdered by Scott Roeder, another member of the Army of God.

Then there’s Hill himself, who went on Donahue five days after Gunn’s murder and announced that the doctor had deserved to die. In his autobiography, Hill wrote that the act of taking Gunn’s life was comparable to “killing a Nazi concentration camp ‘doctor.’ ” Hill, who sat through Griffin’s trial, murdered Dr. John Britton and James Barrett in Pensacola on July 29, 1994. Hill was killed by lethal injection in 2003 and went to his own death unrepentant about the murders he’d committed. His last words were, “If you believe abortion is a lethal force, you should oppose the force and do what you have to do to stop it. May God help you to protect the unborn as you would want to be protected.”

In December 1994, a 22-year-old anti-abortion activist named John Salvi III walked into a clinic in Brookline, Massachusetts, and started shooting, killing two and eventually injuring five others. Salvi was also reportedly inspired by Griffin. More recently, Robert Lewis Dear, who killed three people in a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic in 2015, reportedly told police that Griffin’s follower Hill was “somebody that he thought very highly of.” After murdering a police officer and two civilians, Dear allegedly said, “No more baby parts.”

David Gunn Jr. was 22 years old when his father was murdered. In a 13-page letter to the Florida Commission on Offender Review, Gunn Jr. paints a vivid picture of a man committed to his family and his patients. The doctor, born in Kentucky in 1945, was a victim of childhood polio and walked with a limp for his whole life owing to a disfigured leg. He specialized in obstetrics and gynecology at Vanderbilt, later pioneering a technique to deliver breach babies. In the 1980s, Gunn Jr. writes, his father “agreed to provide abortion services to a clinic in Columbus, Georgia when the owner called and asked for his help. They had no shortage of patients but lacked a committed doctor.” Gunn, who had three children, the oldest of whom died in a car accident, soon began making a weekly run from Eufala, Alabama, to Columbus to Montgomery, Alabama, to Mobile, Alabama, to Pensacola. He explained to his son that “women would suffer without care if he refused as there was a shortage of doctors willing to [provide abortion services] in the area.”

In the last year of his life, Gunn was stalked, threatened, harassed, and intimidated. “Dad lived under constant threat of violence for years,” Gunn Jr. writes.

In his letter, Gunn Jr. describes the last time he saw his father. They grilled steaks, watched college basketball, and talked about the protesters threatening to harm him. Three days later, Griffin “emerged from a hedgerow where he was hiding with all the discipline and cold calculation of a trained assassin, and pumped three pistol rounds into my dad’s back.”

Gunn Jr. is now 47 years old and works as a case manager at a law firm in Birmingham, Alabama. He became an activist after his father’s murder, pushing Congress to pass the FACE Act. Gunn Jr. also sat next to Hill on Phil Donahue’s show, listening as the anti-abortion zealot explained why the murderer Michael Griffin was in fact a hero.

Although Florida effectively abolished parole in 1983, those who committed first-degree murder prior to 1995 are part of a small group of inmates who remain eligible. In a phone interview, Gunn Jr. told me a victims’ services representative from the Florida Commission on Offender Review informed him roughly a year ago that Griffin’s hearing would be scheduled for the fall of 2017 and that the commission would likely set his presumptive parole release date at that time. He said he learned only in the past month that the hearing would be on Wednesday.

Griffin fits the profile of what Rebecca Traister has described as a classic killer: a man with a history of violence against women. In 1991, two years before Griffin murdered Gunn, Griffin’s wife said in a divorce action that he’d physically abused her. (She later withdrew that divorce action.) He also reportedly suffered from violent fits of rage.

Despite the clear and overwhelming evidence of Griffin’s pathology, Gunn Jr. has reason to be concerned about the outcome of this week’s hearing. On Sept. 29, the Commission on Offender Review produced a memorandum titled “Initial Parole Interview: Rationale / Basis for Recommendation.” That document cites Griffin’s “outstanding and above satisfactory work ratings,” notes that he is a GED dorm tutor and a math classroom tutor, and says he “has received no processed disciplinary reports since his initial incarceration.” It also includes a lengthy list of largely faith-related programs the 56-year-old Griffin has completed, among them “Becoming a Contagious Christian” and “Forward in Faith.”

Given his “lack of [disciplinary reports] and program participation,” the memo states, the investigator assigned to look over Griffin’s parole case recommended that he “be referred to the [Florida International University] lifer’s program” upon his presumptive parole release date. That date may be set at this week’s hearing.

The Florida International University lifer’s program, per a 2016 op-ed in the Miami Herald, consists of a series of workshops and classes that prepare men for the transition “from institutionalized prison life back into the free world, and not one has returned to prison for committing another violent crime.” An essay on the website Forgotten Majority notes that an inmate may enter the program only “through direct recommendation from the Florida Parole Commission.” It further says that the “coveted Program is the exit door from state prison for enrollees who successfully complete.”

In an interview with James Risen and Judy L. Thomas of Newsweek in 1998, Michael Frederick Griffin showed no remorse whatsoever for the murder of Dr. David Gunn. “I thought it was Providence,” Griffin said, describing an encounter with Gunn in the days before the murder. “I knew he was getting ready to go kill children that day. I asked the Lord what he wanted me to do. And he told me to tell him that he had one more chance. … I felt like I had another word from the Lord for him: that he was accused and convicted of murder and that his sentence was Genesis 9:6, ‘Whosoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed.’ ”

Griffin hadn’t changed his attitude in 2010, when he sat down for a jailhouse interview with 60 Minutes Australia. “The only people who should be in fear and terror are the abortion doctors,” he said, explaining that “they’ve got to have a reckoning one day with God.” Griffin added that a doctor performing abortions today “should stop what he’s doing and get saved and repent of it.” When the interviewer, Tara Brown, replied, “Well, he says he’s not going to stop,” Griffin answered, “He’ll stop one day, take my word for it.” He said that was “a promise.”

Brown ended her report by noting that the “good news is, [Griffin] is unlikely to ever get out of jail.” Griffin closed his part of the interview by urging his acolytes to commit murder.

Today, seven years after that interview aired on Australian television, Griffin says he takes “full responsibility for my actions.” He makes that claim in a four-page handwritten letter to the Commission on Offender Review in which he argues that he should be granted parole. In that letter, Griffin spells out his deep commitment to his faith, to education, and to his mission to help others. He also briefly cites his “past apology to the [name redacted] family,” presumably that of David Gunn. (The Commission on Offender Review redacted the name in advance of providing me the letter.)

Gunn Jr. was shocked when he read that statement on Monday. He had seen Griffin’s interview with 60 Minutes Australia, and he knew that his father’s killer had no remorse. Gunn Jr. says Griffin has never apologized to him nor to his sister or his mother.

In his letter and in our phone conversation, Gunn Jr. noted Chapter 947 of the Florida state code, which states, “No person shall be placed on parole merely as a reward for good conduct or efficient performance of duties assigned in prison.” Even so, the parole interview report recommending Griffin’s admission to the lifer’s program—“the exit door from state prison”—does not mention anything beyond good behavior and the completion of classes.

In interviews with the communications director of the Florida Commission on Offender Review, I was told that the decision to set a presumptive parole release date is made by the three commissioners themselves and does not in any way rely on the commission investigator’s recommendation. When the commission meets this week, Gunn Jr. will be given 10 minutes to explain why Griffin should not be released from Blackwater River Correctional Facility. He will split that time with Shad Redmon, who will speak in opposition to Griffin’s release on behalf of the state attorney’s office. Redmon shared the following statement with me via email: “We, as the State Attorney’s Office, will be opposing parole for this defendant. The facts and circumstances surrounding this crime, in total, indicate that society will be best served and protected with his continued incarceration.”

In his letter to the Commission on Offender Review, Gunn Jr. points to the killers who claimed to be inspired by Griffin. “If you parole the first person to murder a doctor for providing his patients with a legal service the assassin finds morally reprehensible, are you setting a dangerous precedent?” he asks.

White Supremacists Applaud Murder of Abortion Doctor

The veteran anti-abortion outfit Operation Rescue denounced as a “cowardly act” the recent murder of abortion provider George Tiller in Wichita, Kan., allegedly committed by Scott Roeder, a man with a long history of anti-abortion and anti-government extremism.

Not so white supremacists, most of whom have greeted Roeder’s actions with praise. On Stormfront, the largest white supremacist forum in terms of members, the more than 400 comments that have been posted about Tiller’s murder are running about ten-to-one in favor of the killing.

“Well that vile scumbag will never kill another White child. I’d say mission accomplished on this one. Taking things into our own hands is not just right it is our duty!” wrote “Whitelad 88” on Stormfront. His compatriot “Mechanicalstar” chimed in with, “We can't wince at every action one of our people take when they get fed up and go over the edge, because things aren't going to change simply by talking a whole lot on the Internet.” Another poster wrote, “Scott Roeder will and should go down as a hero in our pantheon.”

A Stormfront moderator posting as “Jack Boot” chimed in to report that he’d smoked a celebratory cigar he’d been saving for the execution of black radical and convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

“I was saving this cigar for Mumia's date with the devil. An excellent smoke, a corona,” wrote Boot. “I think the most enjoyable parties just spontaneously happen, like friends gathering to just share each others company after any given cheerful event. Weddings, births, new cars, shooting down Tiller, that kind of thing. We must see about a defense fund for the accused.”

Sentiments were similar on other white supremacist web forums.

The Vanguard News Network (VNN) forum was filled with congratulatory messages. “Too bad that it didn't seem like a very painful death,” wrote “psychologicalschock.” “Reset,” posting to another racist forum, New Nation Newsreporters Newsroom (NNNN), wrote, “This scumbag killed tens of thousands of white infants. A shame the guy got caught, the good 'doctor' is not worth dying in prison for.”

Others expressed a sentiment widespread in racist circles—that abortion is perfectly legitimate as long as it involves non-whites. “Good riddance,” wrote “deathtozog” on VNN. “The only abortion doctors that get any approval from me are those set up in places like DC or Detroit and are aborting non-White babies.” “Bigdhe3” penned on NNNN, “why is there any uproar over this… the LESS friggin n ------ there are the better.”

The few racists brave enough to express their opposition to Tiller’s murder were blasted for being race-traitors, Jews and trolls.

“Wow, the comments in this thread amaze me,” wrote "Exare" on Stormfront, “Even if you disagree with abortion you honestly agree with this sort of self-righteous taking the law into your own hand method? The shooter is a murderer and a criminal and should be dealt with harshly. No wonder white nationalists have such a negative social image. The majority of you people only feed the negative gun wielding redneck persona that the media tries to paint us white nationalists as.”