- (Photo: AP Images / Orlin Wagner)
More than 850 people gathered Saturday to pay their last respects to late-term abortion provider George Tiller, who was gunned down last Sunday in the foyer of his own church.
Tiller’s funeral at College Hill United Method Church in Wichita, Kan., also drew out protestors from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, a virulent cult that has terrorized funerals across the nation.
Local police and federal marshals, however, were on site to provide security, keeping protestors about 500 feet away from the church. A dozen counter-demonstrators were also present to drown out the singing of the Westboro clan.
Though Tiller for years had been chastised for providing abortions for women more than seven months pregnant, his murder last week was widely condemned.
Pro-lifers, especially, came out swiftly and strongly in their condemnation of the killing though they had long opposed the third-trimester abortions that Tiller had performed at his clinic in Wichita.
“Clearly the killing of abortion providers is unbiblical, unchristian and un-American. Such callous disregard for human beings brutalizes everyone,” commented Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“The struggle here is not between ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ – it is between civilization and barbarism,” he added. “The murder of Dr. Tiller is an act of domestic terrorism and should be condemned by every civilized person in our nation.”
Though Tiller's clinic was target of regular protests because it was among the few in the nation that performed late-term abortions, most were peaceful. Only twice did protests turn violent, including a bombing in 1986 and non-fatal shooting in 1993.
Sunday’s fatal attack took place as Tiller was worshipping at Reformation Lutheran Church.
Tiller’s killer, Scott Roeder, was a 51-year-old abortion opponent whose ex-wife described him as “very religious” but in an Old Testament “eye-for-an-eye way.”
Aside from being anti-abortion, Roeder was also reportedly anti-government.
On Tuesday, Roeder was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault in Sunday's shooting death.
If convicted of murder, Roeder would face a mandatory life sentence and would not be eligible for parole for at least 25 years.
A preliminary hearing is set for June 16.