Matthew Yglesias makes an important point about today’s murder of Dr. George Tiller — one of only two health care providers who still perform clinic-based late-term abortions:
Random murder of civilians in order to coerce political concessions doesn’t have a great track-record. But direct action terrorist violence against abortion providers has, I think, proven to be a fairly successful tactic. Every time you murder a doctor, you create a disincentive for other medical professionals to provide these services. What’s more, you create a need for additional security at facilities around the country. In addition, the anti-abortion protestors who frequently gather near clinics are made to seem much more intimidating by the fact that the occurrence of these sorts of acts of violence.
In general, I think people tend to overestimate the efficacy of violence as a political tactic. But in this particular case, I think people tend to understate it.