Wichita: Gunman Murders Dr. George Tiller in Lutheran Church This Morning

Wichita Kansas: Media outlets are reporting that Dr. George Tiller has been murdered at his church in Wichita, Kan. He is one of the nation’s few doctors who performs late-term abortions in keeping with state and federal laws. (I will be researching the diagnosis and eitiology of those late-term medical abortions soon, insofar as HIPAA laws will allow, to see what circumstances led to these particular operations being undertaken. There are often severe conditions warranting such surgery that are rarely reported by media, such as massive injury and irrepairable trauma to the infant in utero, as in the case of auto accidents for instance.)

Anonymous police sources said the 67-year-old doctor was killed Sunday morning inside the Reformation Lutheran Church, that the gunman lay in wait, sprang out, and shot the Doctor to death.

Police spokesman Gordon Bassham would not confirm the victim’s identity pending notification of relatives but said a 67-year-old “high-profile individual in the community” was shot and killed.

Tiller’s clinic, home and church have repeatedly been the site of protests for about two decades, and he was shot in both arms by a protester in 1993.

Just as three peripheral notes for now:

Wichita is not far from Topeka… the home of Fred Phelps who with his family of self-ordained Baptists, shows up to veterans funerals and tragedy memorial services with signs saying God Hates You.

Wichita is also the home of perhaps the most fundementalist Catholic Dioscese in the nation, one whose Bishop has issued press release after press release for years now, about how he is punishing and shaming errant Catholics, and naming them by name.

While I was in South Bend, Indiana during the week of the 17th, covering Barack Obama’s speech at Notre Dame, but more so, the community’s response to 8 weeks of Randall Terry who has positioned himself as anti-abortionist hero, bringing hoards of his anti-abortion protesters in from out of state, and littering the community with mobile billboards of dead children, placing them near schools and other places where actual living children must pass … and finding in my research in prep for that article that Randall Terry (who converted to Catholicism two years ago, saying the Evangelical Protestants werent hard enough on the abortion issue) has more than once publicly called for the murder of persons who undergo abortions, assist with abortions, perform abortions, give money to/for abortion. There is much more to this story.

But in all, murder as a “justice” intervention? Those of you who read my work, know my heart on bringing children to life; you know my spirit on the matter. But, taking the life of a person who performs within the laws of the land, is Christian?

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Author: DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

  • CStanley

    Murder is obviously NOT just. A belief in right to life should extend to all IMO (including opposition of state imposed death penalty.)

    I'm horrified and disgusted at this vigilante “justice” even though I strongly opposed the actions of Dr. Tiller.

  • http://greendreams.wordpress.com GreenDreams

    Reflecting on the proclamations by some of our commenters justifying racial profiling (haven't most terrorists been Middle Eastern Muslims?), it occurs to me that this is the other source of domestic terrorism. Does anyone think the perpetrators of these acts are Democrats? Anyone think they are non-Christians? Logically, then, Christian Republicans would be appropriate targets for surveillance if we hope to stem the tide of domestic terrorism.

    Of course I'm not serious. I disagree with any domestic surveillance without probable cause, but those who made similar points about Muslims might want to reconsider…

  • kathykattenburg

    Well said, CStanley. Equally to the point, and it cannot be said often enough, abortion is legal in this country — and that includes the late-term abortions provided by Dr. Tiller. Tiller was murdered for providing entirely lawful medical services.

  • CStanley

    Well, Kathy, the question of legality is quite a bit more muddy than that with regard to whether or not Tiller was acting in accordance with the restrictions put on late term abortions by Kansas law, and as far as I'm concerned his trial was mired in political corruption. But none of that justifies his murder in the least.

  • asty

    Kansas doctor George Tiller killed today!
    WICHITA, Kansas – Media reports say that abortion provider Dr. George Tiller has been shot and killed at his Wichita church. Tiller has been among the few U.S. physicians performing late-term abortion. His clinic has repeatedly been the site of protests for about two decades. He was acquitted in March of misdemeanor charges stemming from procedures he performed, but moments after the verdict the state’s medical board announced it was investigating allegations against him that are nearly identical to those the jury had rejected.
    The video from the scene:Dr. George Tiller-video

  • Jim_Satterfield

    I'm not suprised. I'm just not. If anything I'm surprised it didn't happen earlier. Do you know what it's like if these people think you're a “murderer”? About twenty years ago I worked as the sole member of the IT staff for Planned Parenthood of Greater Kansas City. Like any other office worker at that time I showed up at 8 AM dressed in slacks and a nice shirt and left at 5 ( I get away with a polo shirt and khakis or nice jeans now. Crawling under desks on no notice just doesn't work well with nice clothes.). On the days that the protesters showed up they assumed that I was a doctor. The epithets and screams were predictable.

    Sometimes I parked on the other side of a very busy street, thinking that it was easier to run across and hop in to get my wife from her office at the end of the day than get out of the area on the clinic's side of the road. Once though she'd left work early and gotten a ride from a friend to get something I had in the car for them. I admit though that while I thought about it occasionally somehow since I knew I wasn't really a doctor I didn't let it consume me. She was not amused at what she saw and heard, though, when they were screaming at drivers that the murderer and baby killer should be run over. They loudly expressed their opinion that I should be killed. I don't think it had really hit my wife before what my days were like on occasion even though I had told her about things like cleaning up glass from the windows that had been shot out and having to evacuate because of bomb threats. When some people are convinced of the righteousness of their cause there are no limits to what they will do. Sad.

  • http://www.themoderatevoice.com Patrick E

    While I am troubled by late term procedures, clearly this crime was not the solution.

    Pro life means pro LIFE, of all kinds, including this doctor.

    I hope they catch, try and convict whoever committed this murder.

  • CStanley

    I don't deny or attempt to downplay the violence by prolife extremists, and I denounce all of it. However, it's also true that there are violent attacks made on prolife protestors, even when they're protesting peacefully. Many prochoice advocates can't abide even the presence of prolifers who attempt to counsel women before they go into abortion clinics.

    I think there was even a documented report about Dr. Tiller himself running over some protestors outside his clinic, and causing serious injuries.

    Again, I don't feel that any of it is justified, but the extremism isn't all one sided.

  • kathykattenburg

    Well, Kathy, the question of legality is quite a bit more muddy than that with regard to whether or not Tiller was acting in accordance with the restrictions put on late term abortions by Kansas law, and as far as I'm concerned his trial was mired in political corruption.

    What do you mean? I understand what you mean (although I don't necessarily agree) with the end part of your sentence following the comma after “Kansas law,” but I don't follow the distinction you make between the question of legaility (of late-term abortion and abortion in general) and Dr. Tiller's compliance with the restrictions on late-term abortions by state law in Kansas. If Dr. Tiller complied with state law, how could the question of legality be muddy?

    I'm not arguing (at least not yet :-) ) — I'm just not clear on what you mean.

  • CStanley

    I don't believe he was acting in accordance with the state law, despite his acquittal. The state licensing board has since censured him and if he hadn't have been murdered he was in serious risk of losing his medical licensure.

    Just because the law isn't being enforced doesn't mean that what he was doing was legal. His physician for second opinions was anything but independent, which is what the law requires. She's also no psychiatric expert and should not have been qualified to make determinations about the mental status of the women.

  • kathykattenburg

    However, it's also true that there are violent attacks made on prolife protestors, even when they're protesting peacefully. Many prochoice advocates can't abide even the presence of prolifers who attempt to counsel women before they go into abortion clinics.

    As someone who has volunteered at clinics that provided abortions (in addition to many other ob-gyn services), I understand the anger at pro-life protesters who come up to women and try to persuade them not to have an abortion, but I don't condone violent reactions, either. Violence, whether lethal or less than lethal, is never justified on either side of this issue.

    I have a friend who used to say to her youngest daughter back when she was little and would begin screaming and crying over some frustration, “Elizabeth, use your words.” That was so long ago, and it's stuck in my mind. It applies just as well to a lot of adults. Violence to express disagreement on abortion, on either side, is never okay.

  • http://greendreams.wordpress.com GreenDreams

    CS, first, it doesn't matter what you believe. A jury of his peers acquitted him. Action by the licensing board is irrelevant with respect to guilt or innocence. I hardly think you want to hold them up as arbiters of justice, do you?

    As for your comment about violence against anti-abortionists, that was sufficiently interesting to me to do a bit of digging. I think you're wrong about that, or at least glossing over the huge levels of violence on your side of the issue. (got links?)

    That brief research shocked me. I've changed my mind about my first comment here. After over 500 anthrax threats by your anti-abortionists and thousands of death threats and bomb threats, I do believe those groups should be under constant surveillance as high-probability domestic terrorists.

  • kathykattenburg

    don't believe he was acting in accordance with the state law, despite his acquittal. The state licensing board has since censured him and if he hadn't have been murdered he was in serious risk of losing his medical licensure.

    Okay, I take your meaning now. And admittedly it's true that I did not closely follow Dr. Tiller's trial, so you may know more about it than I do. Having said that, is it possible that the state censure was politically motivated as well? I mean, Kansas is a very conservative, anti-abortion state, and if the prosecutors did not have or could not come up with enough evidence to convict Dr. Tiller, that has to mean something.

    Just because the law isn't being enforced doesn't mean that what he was doing was legal. His physician for second opinions was anything but independent, which is what the law requires. She's also no psychiatric expert and should not have been qualified to make determinations about the mental status of the women.

    Understood, but (with the same caveat as above), isn't it also true that just because Dr. Tiller was acquitted, doesn't necessarily mean the law isn't being enforced? In what way was Tiller's physician for second opinions “anything but independent”? What defines “independent”? And in what way was she “no psychiatric expert”? Was she a licensed psychiatrist? Did she practice psychiatry? Again, I don't know these details, which is why I'm asking.

  • kathykattenburg

    GD, where did you go for that research? I'd like to take a look myself.

  • CStanley

    Action by the licensing board is irrelevant with respect to guilt or innocence. I hardly think you want to hold them up as arbiters of justice, do you?
    Since they are apolitical, a medical board censuring a doctor for the same reasons that he would have been convicted of breaking the law is a significant sign that the legal process was corrupted in my opinion. I don't know how in the world any jury could look at the circumstances of the doctor who gave all of the second opinions and not find that the law was broken. She had no other source of income and was the sole provider of second opinions for Dr. Tiller. She was also largely unable to perform any other medical services because she'd had her DEA registration revoked and had had several other complaints against her in the past.

    Some of what I refer to about violence committed by prochoicers against prolifers is anecdotal from people I know, but here's a link to an organization that documents events.. I don't know why you accuse me of glossing over prolife extremism, as I've made several condemnations of it already and have explicitly stated that I'm not arguing that there's equivalent amounts of this sort of thing on either side of the spectrum.

  • http://greendreams.wordpress.com GreenDreams

    CS: omg. medical licensing boards apolitical? ask your doctor friends about that. It is very clearly not true. Here's an example from personal experience. A doctor friend who had run two successful methadone clinics was taken down by the medical licensing board for “over use” of pain killers. The politics of pain amelioration for cancer patients have changed now, but at the time, our medical board took a moralistic view of the use of narcotics and believed even terminal patients should not ever have 'on demand' medication. My doc friend lost his license and yes, his DEA registration, over pInstead of being contrite, he told the board that he did not fear his patients becoming addicted to morphine, having treated thousands of morphine addicts. He said his actions were appropriate and that should one of his patients survive their disease, he was confident he could break any residual pain killer addiction.

  • CStanley

    The medical boards do take ethical stands, GD (some of which we may agree or disagree with), but they aren't bought and sold by lobbyists in my experience. DA's do get strongarmed by their state and local officials over politcally connected groups' influence.

  • http://greendreams.wordpress.com GreenDreams

    “Glossing over” was inaccurate, CS. I apologize. But I don't think there is any comparison in terms of violence from anti-abortionists and pro-choice protestors.

    Anti-abortionists have deliberately caused millions in property damage through arson and vandalism, and have resorted to everything except weapons of mass destruction (though they have threatened that over 600 times) in their frankly terrorist campaign against abortion clinics and even Planned Parenthood offices that don't provide abortions.

    Links, Kathy: From Canada, this article details the cases up to 2004 (when it was written): http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_viol.htm
    Wikipedia's entry on “anti-abortion violence” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-abortion_viol… (there isn't one on 'pro-abortion' violence).

    Do visit the link CS provided and see if you can find details. I found it was pretty weak.

    I have no doubt there have been cases on both sides, and I join CS deploring violence on both sides.

    Anti-abortion violence in Australia: http://tech.mit.edu/V113/N54/neimark.54o.html

    The Department of Homeland Security, in a study begun by GW Bush warned about elements of the anti-abortion movement:

    “A movement of groups or individuals who are virulently antiabortion and advocate violence against providers of abortion-related services, their employees, and their facilities. Some cite various racist and anti-Semitic beliefs to justify their criminal activities.”

  • Davebo


    Did you post that link with a straight face?

    I mean, seriously, 1,251 homicides and other killings?????

    Why not just claim over 10,000 since they refuse to document any of them anyway? And they list Dr Milos Klvana in their “more” section despite the fact that his conviction had to do with attempting home deliveries, not abortion.

    Don't believe everything you read on the internet.

  • http://polimom.com Polimom

    CStanley — you posted a link that was, I understand, to demonstrate “violence committed by prochoicers against prolifers”.

    Did you actually look at their documentation? Since I have a great deal of respect for you, and have generally found your positions to be based on rational bases, I have to assume not. But you probably should take the time to do so before relying on this particular source in the future. To say their numbers are suspect would be a massive understatement.

  • ordinarysparrow

    So sorry for the lost of this life, i have meet him and he was a decent “salt of the earth Kansan”. . .What kind of mentality justifies gunning down some one at church???

    and C Stanley, i would suggest you doing a bit of research on the case brought against Dr. Tiller. . .Let me suggest doing a little research on Phil Kline. . .Zealot Fundamentalist Politician obsessed with anything sexual or having to do with reproductive rights. . .

    Here is a bit from wicki on Phil Kline. . .the lawsuits had more to do with Kline and his agenda than anything that Dr. Tiller did or did not do. . . Muddy water does not even begin to describe the sludge pit of this political quagmire that accompanied the lawsuits brought against Dr. Tiller. . . I heard and honor your stance on pro-life, but to judge the death of Dr. Tiller with the trumped up lawsuits brought to him by Phil Kline is really not fair. . .

    “Abortion controversy

    In 2003, Kline began investigating possible cases of child rape and illegal partial-birth and late-term abortions. In doing so, Kline requested the redacted medical records (without names) of 90 women and girls who either gave birth to a child or had an abortion. His office was ultimately granted these redacted records by the Kansas Supreme Court.[6]

    On December 21, 2006, Kline charged abortion provider Dr. George Tiller with more than 30 misdemeanors, most involving abortions Tiller allegedly performed on minors. But just hours after the charges were unsealed, a Sedgwick County judge threw them out “at the request of Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston, who said her office had not been consulted by Kline.”[7] However, on June 28, 2007, a 19-count indictment was unexpectedly filed against Tiller by Kline's successor, Paul Morrison. On March 27, 2009 Dr. George Tiller was found not guilty of all 19 misdemeanor charges stemming from some abortions he performed at his Wichita clinic in 2003. [8]

    In a related matter, Kline was named a defendant in a suit brought in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas challenging a state law requiring “doctors and other professionals”[9] to report “all consensual underage sexual activity as sexual abuse.”[10] On April 18, 2006, Judge J. Thomas Marten agreed and issued a permanent injunction, ruling that such a policy was contrary to state law.[10]

    In 2006, Operation Rescue and Phil Kline claimed that an alleged rapist was captured with the help of abortion clinic medical records subpoenaed as a result of Kline's investigation.[11] The District Attorney who prosecuted Estrada challenged Operation Rescue's claims, stating that Kline and the records had no involvement in the prosecution.[11]

  • CStanley

    So, ordinarysparrow, what does wiki say about the Harvard psychiatrist who reviewed the files (redacted of personally identifying information to protect privacy) and found that there was no psychiatric history taken, no diagnosis given, but the determination of need was based on frivolous reasons? The guy who was not even consulted by AG Morrison, let alone allowed to provide testimony?

    It's much more convenient to smear the character of Kline than to actually examine the evidence he uncovered.

    It's also important to follow the money when we question the biases of the two AG's involved:
    ProKanDo, a political action committee formed by Tiller in 2002, raised more than $650,000 in 2005-06, including $121,000 from Tiller. It worked to defeat Attorney General Phill Kline, an anti-abortion Republican.


  • CStanley

    Did you actually look at their documentation? Since I have a great deal of respect for you, and have generally found your positions to be based on rationality, I have to assume not.

    PM, I'm not highly familiar with that source, but each of their allegations is documented either to media sources or court records. I recall reading some of the info on their site about some GA cases, which they reference back to legitimate stories from the AJC, so those at least were valid (I remember some of the cases from local news reports.) Those particular stories weren't about violence against prolife demonstrators though.

    I also already stated that part of the assertion I expressed is based on personal anecdote, which I can't document. Unfortunately it seems that most of the time when these events occur, there is no national press attention at all, and the sources that do aggregate the stories are invariably going to be branded as biased or inadmissable.

  • ordinarysparrow

    when i tried the link given by asty on Dr. Tiller. . .received a warning that it contained a virus. . .i use to not have a warning alert, so if other's don't have an alert might want to avoid the link. . . .

  • archangel

    re asty, and a link that warns of a virus. When I followed the link, it led to a site of gibberish. Asy's comment with same wording was left three times on three different posting re Dr. Tiller, and appears to be a form of spam. The comment has been deleted so as not to mislead other TMV readers, and asty's stats marked as spam.

    If asty is a real person who is not trying to wallpaper a website targeting a murder victim by name, he/ she can log into TMV under another name, and his /her comments which are not spam, are welcomed.

    Assistant Editor, TMV

  • D. E.Rodriguez

    I have been reading the comments on this post and on other blogs.

    The vast majority express anger, sorrow and horror at the senseless killing of Dr. George Tiller, as it should be.

    However, I am puzzled at some of the inevitable “buts” which sometimes follow such expressions..

    In this case, I feel there are no ifs, ands, or buts, period. But, perhaps I am wrong

  • tom_brain

    This was a very sad news in any point of view.

    Mexico Medicines

  • Ghostdreams

    That url you gave for as proof for the violence against pro-lifers is a hate site.
    The url they give for their state by state documentation?
    Check it out.
    http://abortionviolence.com/0.HTM (or go to the url you listed and click on their state by state doc link – it's right there under a big picture of the USA).
    This site gives you 1001 reasons (all of which are lies, exaggerated half truths, yellow journalism) to hate GBLT people, unionists, feminists, civil rights activists and even animal rights activists (yes, even those of us who have companion animals are dangerous to this site!), anti-apartheid activists, etc.

    Below, I've copied/pasted, in italics, part of their intro statement concerning “anti pro-life violence,” and I don't believe you would have posted the site if you knew they had this nicely tucked away as part of their documentation”
    “Introduction. We can't honestly deny that some so-called “pro-lifers” have committed murder, have bombed and burned abortion mills, and are guilty of physical assault. This behavior is inexcusable but inevitable when you consider the vast size of the pro-life movement. With more than a million active members, there is absolutely no practical way to screen out every person with violent thoughts or inclinations.
    Yet history shows us that the pro-life movement is by far the most peaceful social movement in the history of the world. Every other social movement is guilty of far greater death and destruction, including the civil rights movement, the unionization movement, the anti-apartheid movement, the “gay rights” movement, and, of course, the pro-abortion movement.
    Violence by the Homosexuals. Anyone who has dealt with homosexual activists knows that they are extremely violent and uncontrolled by nature. The Bible correctly labels them “vicious men, great sinners against Yahweh” (Genesis 13:13). Homosexual activists routinely use violence and threats of violence to accomplish their objectives. Even the “birth” of the modern “gay-rights” movement happened during a riot.”

    It's hate rhetoric and it's fanatical (think Fred Phelps and his “godhatesfags.com”).

    The one url you mentioned that's listed there from the Justice Dept, didn't exist. It was a blank page. When I looked it in a search it up it was this addy: http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/crim/tfreppub.php and it talks about the violence against pro-choice doctors and providers. Nothing about pro-life people being targeted. It's not what the website is even there for.


  • Ghostdreams

    Hiyas doc.
    The murder is horrible. He was known as a very kind and gentle man.
    According to wikipedia he leaves behind a wife.
    The idea of that woman, alone without her life partner is ….tear provoking. :(
    Night night.

    Oh wait!
    This just in!
    Murder suspect
    Scott Philip Roeder (born February 25, 1958(1958-02-25)) was arrested some 170 miles away in suburban Kansas City three hours after the shooting, Wichita Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz said. [29][7][30] The suspect had been a member of the anti-government Freemen group and was convicted in 1996 on explosives charges after police officers discovered fuse cord, a pound of gunpowder and nine-volt batteries in the trunk his car, but an appeals court overturned this conviction in 1997, ruling that the search of Roeder's car had been illegal.
    Ok……are you wondering who the Freemen are? I am.
    Gotta love wikipedia:
    The Montana Freemen were a Christian Patriot group based near the town of Jordan in the U.S. state of Montana.
    The Montana Freemen claimed to believe in the doctrine of individual sovereignty as expounded by the Sovereign Citizen Movement, and rejected the authority of the United States federal government. As a result of these claimed beliefs, they attempted to set up their own parallel systems of government (“Justus Township”), common-law court, banking, and credit. They became publicly known during their 81-day-long standoff with U.S. Marshals from March 25 through June 13, 1996.

    I am babbling again.
    Time for night night ..
    Good night. 😀

  • CStanley

    Ghostdreams, as I've stated I am not deeply familiar with that source and I'll take you at your word about what you found there. It doesn't nullify some of the accurate information that is found in some of the links to valid sources though.

    And come on, although I clicked on that one page and I see the rhetoric about homosexuals, which I certainly don't agree with or condone, I also think you're being a bit over the top in ridiculing any claims of violence in the animal rights movement. There certainly are some such groups which are extremist and use violent, even terroristic, tactics. Obviously criticizing that isn't the same as saying that companion animal owners are a threat.

  • http://twitter.com/FrancheskaRose Jackie Gysler

    Jesus stated “He without sin among you let him cast the first stone at her.” Some religious still stone raped women & own women. Who should own them as a slave? Exodus describes no penalty for women who choose to terminate pregnancy, nor does any Bible verse.

    Medically, a fetus becomes a baby at its first breath. Then, siblings recognize it & it's named, christened, given citizenship, & celebrates zero. Unless you're a surrogate, the only way to give rights to unborn is to take away women's.

    Check out the extremism: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamer