The man who murdered prominent abortionist George Tiller said Thursday that the decision to do so was the "most agonizing and most stressful" he's ever had to make.
"[A]nd it took years to come to this conclusion," 52-year-old Scott Roeder said at his sentencing, "especially with the knowledge I may never see my son, my daughter or my family again."
But knowing that Tiller admitted to "killing" 60,000 of the over 50 million "innocent children" who were aborted in the United States since Roe v. Wade, Roeder decided he had to stop the late-term abortionist "so he could not kill again."
"I stopped him so he could not dismember another helpless, innocent baby," Roeder said before District Judge Warren Wilbert sentenced him to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 50 years.
Roeder had been found guilty in January of the first-degree murder of Tiller and for the aggravated assaults on two church ushers who confronted him after he shot the 67-year-old abortion doctor last year at point blank. Tiller was worshiping at Reformation Lutheran Church in Witchita at the time of the shooting and was regarded as among the most notorious figures in the pro-abortion movement.
Despite their strong opposition to Tiller's late-term abortion practices, many Christian pro-life groups strongly denounced his murder and adamantly rejected any connections between the pro-life movement and Roeder, who has been described as being anti-abortion, anti-government, and "very religious" but in an Old Testament "eye-for-an-eye way."
Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission denounced the killing of the abortion provider as "unbiblical, unchristian and un-American."
"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," Land said shortly after Tiller's death.
In a lengthy testimony Thursday, however, Roeder justified his actions – something he was not allowed to do during the trial – and blamed the legal system for Tiller's death.
"It is the duty of the state of Kansas to protect all of the people including those whom George Tiller killed. Had the courts acted rightfully, I would have not shot George Tiller," he said during his 40-minute statement.
Roeder went as far as calling Tiller the "hit-man" for the state of Kansas, which he said "permits, protects, and promotes the slaughter of these children."
"Do you expect ordinary people to just sit back and watch this happen?" he asked. "Americans fought a bloody civil war because our courts denied personhood to people of color. Thirty-seven years ago, the rights of the unborn were similarly denied. And in 37 minutes a Kansas jury found George Tiller innocent and me guilty of murder.
"You may sentence me to 25 or 50 years in prison, but this does not serve justice in any way. My imprisonment merely assuages the seared conscience of a bloody-thirsty people who have lost their sense of humanity," he added.
Following Thursday's sentencing, Tiller's family released a statement, calling the sentence "appropriate" as it was the most severe penalty available to the judge under Kansas law.
"This crime was cruel and heinous not only because it took our husband, father and grandfather; but because it was a hate crime committed against George – but also against all women and their constitutional rights," the Tiller family stated.
"We only can hope that this sentence will serve as a deterrent to those who have conspired and continue to conspire to murder abortion providers," they added. "Certainly everything possible should be done by the prison system to insure that this man does not continue to foment hatred and violence from his prison cell."
During the hearing, four of Roeder's friends described the Kansas City native as a friendly, compassionate man who became angry at the state's refusal to stop Tiller's practice. They said he was motivated by a strong believe that abortion is wrong.
"Scott longs to be a law-abiding citizen," said Dave Leach, an anti-abortion activist from Des Moines, Iowa, according to The Associated Press. "He hates anarchy. He wants to do what he can to make America better."
Notably, at the time of his death, Tiller was under investigation by the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts for 11 petition allegations against him. Tiller was one of the few late-term abortion practitioners in the country and was said to have offered abortion services for women up until the time of birth.