Civil Rights Crime and Punishment Public Health

The Murder of Dr. George Tiller


Wichita, Kansas physician, Dr. George Tiller,
was one of the three doctors in the U.S. who performed late term abortions. Yesterday, Dr. Tiller was shot to death as he was standing in the foyer of the Reformation Lutheran Church, preparing to serve as an usher. His wife was with the choir downstairs when the killer walked into the church and reportedly dropped Tiller with a single shot. Now there are two doctors left.

The photo above is from last night’s candlelight vigil for Dr. Tiller.

It was not the first time violence was aimed at Tiller. In 1993, he was shot in both arms, and in 1995, his clinic was bombed.

Yet the father, grandfather, husband continued
because he believed the services he offered helped women in a time of need.

So who are these women who have late term abortions? A commenter at John Cole’s Balloon Juice tells the story of the dilemma that brought him and his wife to Dr. Tiller for help.

In 1994 my wife and I found out that she was pregnant. The pregnancy was difficult and unusually uncomfortable but her doctor repeatedly told her things were fine. Sometime early in the 8th month my wife, an RN who at the time was working in an infertility clinic asked the Dr. she was working for what he thought of her discomfort. He examined her and said that he couldn’t be certain but thought that she might be having twins. We were thrilled and couldn’t wait to get a new sonogram that hopefully would confirm his thoughts. Two days later our joy was turned to unspeakable sadness when the new sonogram showed conjoined twins. Conjoined twins alone is not what was so difficult but the way they were joined meant that at best only one child would survive the surgery to separate them and the survivor would more than likely live a brief and painful life filled with surgery and organ transplants. We were advised that our options were to deliver into the world a child who’s life would be filled with horrible pain and suffering or fly out to Wichita Kansas and to terminate the pregnancy under the direction of Dr. George Tiller.

We made an informed decision to go to Kansas. One can only imagine the pain borne by a woman who happily carries a child for 8 months only to find out near the end of term that the children were not to be and that she had to make the decision to terminate the pregnancy and go against everything she had been taught to believe was right. This was what my wife had to do. …

There’s more to the story here.

Many Right to Life advocates have sincerely condemned Tiller’s murder in strong terms as the lawless act of terrorism that it was.

However, when Bill O’Reilly does his proforma condemnation of the murder on his show tonight, writes Gabriel Winant of Salon, it will ring as just a bit hollow.


  • It is interesting that what is shown above as an example of the “humanitarian” aspects of abortion providers (i.e. saving a woman from delivering conjoined twins) is in actuality a very small minority in the reasons for having an abortion only 13 percent are due to health concerns of the fetus.

    Conversely 74 percent say having another baby would “dramatically change my life” and list that as a reason for an abortion. yes, having another child changes life but not every life-altering occurrence involves ending another’s life as a way of ameliorating unwanted change.

    Only .5 percent have abortions due to rape.

    the example given does not represent the norm for reasons for abortion.

  • Condemning Bill O’Reilly for the murder of Dr. George Tiller is about as silly as condemning Marc Cooper for drawing our attention to the death squads in South America.

    The Factor has been investigating a late-term abortion clinic run by Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas. Dr. Tiller, known to his detractors as “Tiller the Baby Killer,” stonewalled us when we asked over the last year if he’d performed illegal abortions and covered up child rape at his clinic. But recently the Factor learned that Tiller terminated late-term pregnancies by citing temporary “depression” on the part of the mother, and performed these abortions on girls as young as ten, never informing police these girls were victims of rape or incest.

    The guest on the Factor on November 3 was the Kansas Attorney General Kline. “In every single instance, there was not a late-term abortion performed on a viable child to save the life of the mother,” Kline asserted, “and in every single instance, there was not an abortion performed for a physical reason.” So according to the records, Tiller was using “depression” as an excuse to terminate these pregnancies.

    “If we as a society allow an undefined mental health exception in late-term abortions, then babies can be killed for almost any reason… This is the kind of stuff that happened in Mao’s China and Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union… If we allow this, America will no longer be a noble nation… If we allow Dr. George Tiller and his acolytes to continue, we can no longer pass judgment on any behavior by anybody.”

    So Pokey still has a question:

    If science discovers a gay gene, should a parent be able to abort a gay fetus, just because a parent doesn’t want a gay child? Would this have been a good enough reason for Dr. Tiller for a late term abortion

  • Pokey – you’re a real piece of work. That’s as close to a full-tilt defense of this murder as anything I’ve read. And of course, it’s slanderous nonsense coming from the usual suspects in full-tilt bigotry and ignorance.

    Woody needs to chime in defending O’Reilly’s phony hatemongering and we’ll all be clear on how degraded “conservatism” has become in it’s march through the gutter to obscurity and irrelevance.

  • “Attorney General Kline” incidentally, is a far-right extremist who lost his post and was never able to prove any of his relentless smears of Dr. Tiller in court. He currently teaches at Liberty College – where it’s “illegal” for Democrats to organize on campus.

    What we’re seeing here are the rantiings of fascists. Anne Tyler is more than welcome to have as many children as she sees fit and also to mind her own goddam business rather than try to propagandize control over other women’s bodies and promote the bad old days of coat hangers and back alleys. Lot’s of folks don’t believe in abortion, but it takes a pretty perverse mentality to impose one’s own choices on others – certainly in the wake of this murder incited by O’Reilly and his ilk.

  • There is NO defense for Murder. My point was to show the inflammatory text of Bill O’Reilly, and defend it as Free Speech.

  • Reg,
    Don’t tell me that you would want to prevent Bill O’Reilly from freely expressing his opinions and publishing facts that he believes to be true, no matter how much you disagree?

  • I lost the big final last night, I am being taken to a psychiatric hospital for my breakdown… And this is the only fuck ass shit you peeps are talking about? My word! Ya’ll can stuff Mr. O’Reilly up my crotch.

  • Who cares about O’Reilly? He’s just out to sell his books and other merchandise, which you’re helping him with. He’s irrelevant to this discussion. This could be a defining moment, when people stand up and say they’ve had ENOUGH of bigots and fundamentalists defining how they should live, and who should live or die. It’s not like women are lining up for abortions because they’re fun!?! Maybe we, as a society should focus more on those kids who are born to parents who can’t necessarily care for them and grow up in squalor.

  • “There is NO defense for Murder.”

    Frankly, if I believed the insane wingnut rhetoric around abortion and choice, I’d consider Tiller’s murder something bordering on justifiable homicide.

    This chickenshit reaction is proof that O’Reilly, Terry, et. al. want to have it both ways – incite their fans and followers via hysterical rhetoric and then fail to take any responsibility for their words when someone pulls the trigger to stop “baby-killing.” How could it be indefensible to stop someone from killing babies ? Certainly not if your morality also believes a speech by George Bush could justify deciding to inflict the death and destruction of war on hundreds of thousands of Iraqis destined to perish. Come up with your storyline in morality and stick to it. I’d have more respect for these wingnuts if there was a bit of consistency and they just defended the assassin…

  • Mr. Pokey,

    If you would, please. Should women and teenage girls who obtain abortions be prosecuted for murder? And, if so, what criminal penalties do you think should be imposed on them for having obtained an abortion?

  • Prosecute women for murdering their own children? The knowlege and the guilt from that is a life time of punishment.

    Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation – Ronald Reagan

    …I have often said that when we talk about abortion, we are talking about two lives — the life of the mother and the life of the unborn child. Why else do we call a pregnant woman a mother?

    …The real question today is not when human life begins, but, What is the value of human life? The abortionist who reassembles the arms and legs of a tiny baby to make sure all its parts have been torn from its mother’s body can hardly doubt whether it is a human being.

    …Regrettably, we live at a time when some persons do not value all human life. They want to pick and choose which individuals have value. …Obviously, some influential people want to deny that every human life has intrinsic, sacred worth. They insist that a member of the human race must have certain qualities before they accord him or her status as a “human being.”

    …Abraham Lincoln recognized that we could not survive as a free land when some men could decide that others were not fit to be free and should therefore be slaves. Likewise, we cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion or infanticide.

    It’s not “fetal tissue.” Is there no “social justice” for children who deserve to live?

  • Woody – in order to protect himself from responsibility for the idiocy and hysteria of his own wingnut rhetoric – has come out against women being proscecuted if they murder their own children. Talk about “liberal” attitudes toward crime. This is amazing…and of course a phony, cowardly dodge to evade the “logic” that he heaps on us.

    Amazing !

  • Be sure to rub TrollBoy’s face in his desire to let murderers run free every time he drops a load on one of Celeste’s criminal justice posts.

    Hypocritical little doofus…

  • So this would be controversial if it were brought up anywhere except a blog comment section, but here we are and I’m going to try anyway.

    If you believe Dr. Tiller is running some kind of death camp where people are being murdered all the time, why is it morally wrong to kill him? Don’t get me wrong, I’m very glad all these conservatives do think it’s wrong – I think murdering abortion doctors is abhorent – but I don’t totally understand the logic. Certianly conservatives are not squeamish about upending the law if they believe it saves lives. Nor are they particularly bothered, generally speaking, about the cost to the soul of violence. So why the squeamishness about this kind of saving lives?

    Let’s put it this way, if in his free time, Pokey were running a death camp where he killed people, we would all be against that. And if we lived in a bizarro country where the government refused to act to stop him, I would be thrilled if an individual citizen did. Even though that citizen would be taking the law into his own hands.

    As far as I can figure, there are only two answers. One is that vigilante justice is a slippery slope and while this act might be justified, other ones might not be and it’s not good for people to take the law into their own hands. This might be true, but it’s not something anyone is actually saying. The second possibility is that even committed anti-abortion folk are not 100% sure they are right. Again, we’re not hearing this. I guess the third possibility is that it’s politically unacceptable, but that’s hopefully not the main reason. Am I missing something? Is there a moral or ethical case for not killing some one you believe runs a death camp? If so, what is it?

  • Mavis – you’re absolutely right on. If the wingnuts believe their rhetoric, my advice would be to lock and load. But Woody escapes out the back door, claiming that a case can’t be made for prosecuting mothers who kill their children…

    There’s some sort of weird cowardice inherent in that. Amp up the rhetoric, make “krazy klaims”, but when it’s all taken seriously – at face value and as an actual moral imperative – run…

  • reg: Woody escapes out the back door, claiming that a case can’t be made….

    I never said that. You constantly expose your stupidity, reg.

  • You ran out the back door, crying “Oh, no it’s worse for women who kill their children if we just leg them go.”

    You’re cowardly, even when you’re just drooling.

  • You don’t have to consider Tiller as being murdered if you can overlook that he was a person, like you overlook that babies are people, and conveniently label his death as, say, a late-term live-birth abortion.

    If you want to narrowly define those people who are entitled to life according to your criteria, then don’t be surprised when someone else does it according to their criteria.

    Life is too precious to say that some are entitled to it and others aren’t.

  • Late term abortions are only allowed for cases like this- severe fetal abnormalities or when continuing pregnancy poses a significant risk to mother’s life (for example mothers who were diagnosed with cancer and need immediate chemotherapy and fetus is not viable at that point). This is a very personal (and painful) choice for women and their family and it’s nobody else’s business. I can’t believe there are people who still believe there is such thing as a live-birth abortion. Such thing does not exist- if you were to deliver a otherwise healthy and viable baby then abort- that would be a murder, not an abortion. No women should be forced to carry to term and deliver a baby whoe has no chance at life once born (which needs to be opined by two independent doctors by law)- it should be remained as a choice.

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