An Act of Domestic Terrorism in Wichita
by Charles Lemos, Sun May 31, 2009 at 04:47:13 PM EDT
The murder of Dr. George Tiller is yet another assault upon the nation and its sensibilities but this is no ordinary murder. This was a political assassination. George Tiller's assassin had a political objective. This murder is little more than a brazen attempt by Christian fundamentalist terrorists to shutter one of the few late-term abortion clinics in the country and as Matt Yglesias to "create a disincentive for other medical professionals to provide these services."
Dr. Tiller's Women's Health Care Services is one of the few reproductive health clinics in the country where late-term abortions are performed. It is one of two clinics in the Plains states that perform late-term abortions. The clinic was first bombed in June 1986, and was severely vandalized earlier this month. According to the Associated Press, his lawyer said wires to security cameras and outdoor lights were cut and that the vandals also cut through the roof and plugged the buildings' downspouts. Rain poured through the roof and caused thousands of dollars of damage in the clinic. Tiller reportedly asked the FBI to investigate the incident. In 1991, Dr. Tiller's clinic became the focal point of nationwide protests with Operation Rescue targeting the clinic with its "Summer of Mercy" protests. In 1993, Dr. Tiller was shot and wounded in both arms by Rachelle Shannon, a Christian fundamentalist who belongs to an organization called the Army of God. At her 1994 trial, Ms. Shannon testified that she had considered bombing Dr. Tiller's clinic after she learned that the shooting had not stopped him from performing abortions. She added that "if somebody kills George Tiller, I would not assume they did the wrong thing." Can it be any clearer that this is a lunatic fringe that will stop at nothing to impose its warped values?
The National Organization of Women released a statement in which they identify the murder of Dr. George Tiller as an act of "domestic terrorism."
Women across the country have lost a champion today. The cold-blooded murder of Dr. George Tiller this morning in church is a stark reminder that women's bodies are still a battleground, and health care professionals are on the frontlines.
This kind man and skilled doctor braved blockades, harassment, assault, and countless threats, including an attempted murder in 1993 when he was shot in both arms. He knew his life was in constant jeopardy, and that he would likely die at the hands of an anti-abortion terrorist -- yet he continued to protect his patients and provide safe and legal abortions to women in often-desperate circumstances. Those who are behind this murder may believe that the killing of George Tiller will mean that these women will have nowhere else to turn, but they are wrong. On the contrary, I believe their depraved acts will inspire another doctor to take up the torch, and another, and another.
Dr. Tiller's slaying is the most recent in a string of murders in the service of the anti-abortion cause, and hundreds of people have been injured or threatened because they provide legal abortion services. Bringing the killers to justice is not enough - the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security must root out and prosecute as domestic terrorists and violent racketeers the criminal enterprise that has organized and funded criminal acts for decades. We call on the new attorney general Eric Holder and head of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to treat these murders in the same way they would treat politically-motivated domestic terrorism of any other kind and put the full resources of their two departments behind that effort.
Update [2009-5-31 21:7:0 by Charles Lemos]: What others are saying. Shannon Moore at the Huffington Post also finds the assassination of Dr. George Tiller to be an act of "Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism".
t's shocking to write. But it's time to start calling it what it is. When Jim D. Adkisson walked into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church with 76 rounds and a shot-gun, he killed 2 people and was charged with murder. His motive was "he hated the liberal movement" and was upset with "liberals in general as well as gays." He should have been charged with terrorism. Today George Tiller, a Wichita doctor, was killed INSIDE the lobby of his Wichita church. Reformation Lutheran Church became a crime scene; fundamentalist terrorism. The right wing media hacks make targets of the left. The fundamentalist reverends blather their intolerance of other Americans. Their marriages are in jeopardy if the GLBT community can walk down an aisle. Their children are going to be molested if you have to rent to a same sex couple. Fear...fear...fear the queer. Bill O'Reilly's hit piece on Dr. Tiller is a training tape for Christian Fundamentalist Terrorists. Never did he ask the woman interviewed how she, as a 13 year old, got pregnant, who was the father, or where her parents were when she underwent an abortion at Dr. Tiller's clinic. I'm sure O'Reilly's drivel will insist on personal accountability for the murderer. I'm sure he won't be in line for any "accountability" for calling the doctor "Tiller the baby-killer" or his clinic a "death mill."
Hours after the Sunday morning shooting death of late-term abortion doctor George Tiller in Wichita, Kan., a Boulder physician who says he could be the only doctor in the world still performing the procedure said Tillers assassination was the absolutely inevitable consequence of decades of anti-abortion fanaticism.
Im profoundly sad and Im furious and I think the American people need to understand that we have a fascist movement in this country, Dr. Warren Hern told The Colorado Independent on Sunday. We dont have to invade Iraq to find terrorists. Theyre right here killing abortion doctors.
Every doctor that does abortions has been under an assassination threat for decades, Hern said. The anti-abortion movement message is, Do what we tell you to do or we will kill you, and they do. This is a fascist movement.
Hern laid blame for Tillers death at the feet of the anti-abortion movements encouragement of violence against abortion providers and the Republican Partys exploitation of the extremist rhetoric.
Dr. Tiller is dead by an anti-abortion assassin, and this is the absolutely inevitable consequence of 35 years of anti-abortion fanatic rhetoric and intimidation and assassination violence and exploitation by the Republican Party of this movement, Hern told the Independent.
Hern, who described Tiller as a good friend of mine, said he doesnt know of any other doctors in the world doing late abortions like I am. The Boulder Abortion Clinic, run by Hern since he founded the practice in 1975, has as its motto Specializing in Late Abortions for Fetal Disorders.
Hern declined to say whether he planned any changes to his security precautions after the killing of Tiller, who was shot to death while ushering at his Lutheran church.
Noting that Tiller is the "fifth American doctor to be assassinated," Hern told the Los Angeles Times hes well aware of the dangers. "I get messages from these people saying, Dont bother wearing a bulletproof vest, were going for a head shot."
And via Ballon Juice comes a story of heart-breaking humanity:
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 couldnt be certain but thought that she might be having twins. We were thrilled and couldnt 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 whos 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. Dr. Tiller is a true American hero. The nightmare of our decision and the aftermath was only made bearable by the warmth and compassion of Dr. Tiller and his remarkable staff. Dr. Tiller understood that this decision was the most difficult thing that a woman could ever decide and he took the time to educate us and guide us along with the other two couples who at the time were being forced to make the same decision after discovering that they too were carrying children impacted by horrible fetal anomalies. I could describe in great detail the procedures and the pain and suffering that everyone is subjected to in these situations. However, that is not the point of the post. We can all imagine that this is not something that we would wish on anyone. The point is that the pain and suffering were only mitigated by the compassion and competence of Dr. George Tiller and his staff. We are all diminished today for a host of reasons but most of all because a man of great compassion and courage has been lost to the world.