(Photo: AP Images / Susan Walsh)
Opponents of abortion, fearful of a public backlash, have strongly denied any connections to the suspected killer of the nation’s most prominent abortion provider.
Pro-life news site, LifeNews.com, ran a headline that read, “George Tiller Shooting Suspect Caught, No Connection with Pro-Life Groups,” while Dr. Richard Land, a spokesperson for the conservative Southern Baptist Convention, denounced the killing of the abortion provider as “unbiblical, unchristian and un-American.”
Across America, pro-life groups scrambled to distance themselves from Scott Roeder, 51, a Kansas man suspected of killing late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller Sunday morning.
Roeder was in jail Monday accused of fatally shooting Tiller while he served as an usher at his Lutheran church in Wichita, Kan.
Police records and an interview with his ex-wife suggest that Roeder’s action was heavily influenced by an extremist political group he was associated with. He was arrested in 1996 in Topeka because his car did not have a valid license tag, but instead had a tag stating Roeder a “sovereign” immune from state law.
Moreover, his trunk contained materials that could be used to make a bomb.
He was convicted and sentenced to two years of probation for the incident, and ordered to cut his connection with violent anti-government groups.
In an interview with The Associated Press, his ex-wife Lindsey Roeder said that his extreme anti-government views led to the demise of their marriage. She also said he became “very religious” but in an Old Testament “eye-for-an-eye way.”
She added, "He was very vocal about his anti-abortion views, but I never thought he'd go this far."
On the pro-life Web site of Operation Rescue, someone under the name of Scott Roeder had posted comments that compared Tiller to a Nazi death-camp doctor. The comment said Tiller “needs to be stopped before he and those who protect him bring judgment upon our nation.”
Operation Rescue, in response to Roeder’s arrest, stated that the suspect has “never been a member, contributor, or volunteer” with the pro-life organization. The Wichita-based group also pointed out that even though Roeder posted a comment on the group’s public forum, thousands of people, including those with pro-abortion views, also post on the site.
The group has strongly condemned the murder of Tiller and stressed that it only works to advance the pro-life movement through legal means.
Although dozens of pro-life groups have released statements and communicated to the media that they deplore the violent act, some have placed the blame on the rhetoric of conservative groups.
"The right-wing stations who are fueling this, they don't recognize you can't incite this kind of stuff," said the Rev. Mark Thompson of Washington, D.C.'s Israel Baptist Church, during a vigil Monday night, according to The Washington Post. "It's out of control."
But Gingi Edmonds, a pro-life activist, argues Tiller was killed by a pro-choice act.
"Tiller's killer was truly 'pro-choice,'" Edmonds contends. "He believed in the idea that if a person's existence troubles you, you have the right to kill them."
Meanwhile, SBC’s Land stressed, “The murder of Dr. George Tiller is a human tragedy. Murdering someone is a grotesque and bizarre way to emphasize one’s commitment to the sanctity of human life. People who truly believe in the sanctity of human life believe in the sanctity of the lives of abortion providers as well as the unborn babies who are aborted.”
Pro-life advocates have called for legal justice to be carried out against Tiller’s murderer.