Inflammatory language has but one goal: To ignite the passions of like-minded individuals, and, if possible, trigger extreme actions. Thus, when such language results in death or destruction, blame must be assigned. This is true of Islamic militants who advocate suicide bombings and of abortion foes who publicly label doctors performing such procedures mass-murderers.
So it is that Randall Terry, founder of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, and such cable television talkers as Bill O’Reilly must be held to account for the slaying of Dr. George Tiller.
Tiller, one of the few physicians in this country performing late-term abortions, was shot dead Sunday while attending church services in Wichita, Kan. The accused killer is 51-year-old Scott Roeder, who is being held on one count of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault.
It is irrelevant that Roeder did not belong to any of the major anti-abortion organizations. He obviously heard the call to arms.
Indeed, Terry, who split from Operation Rescue in 1991, insisted Monday that opponents of abortion have no reason to tone down their rhetoric. Tiller was a “mass murderer, and horrifically, he reaped what he sowed,” said Terry, who most recently organized protests against President Barack Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame.
It is ironic — and hypocritical — that some individuals who rail against abortion, which they view as murder, aren’t as offended when murder is committed in the name of their cause. Rather than worry about the backlash from Sunday’s killing in the Reformation Lutheran Church, Terry and others of his ilk should use this opportunity to make it clear that they are opposed to all murder and do not countenance violence against doctors who perform abortions.
The tactics adopted by the anti-abortion movement meet the definition of terrorism. And, those who do bodily harm to individuals who work for abortion clinics or women’s centers, or those who bomb such facilities are nothing but terrorists.
It does not matter what caused accused killer Roeder to stalk Dr. Tiller, follow him into the church and then shoot him in cold blood while his wife and children looked on.
What is clear is that it was an act of premeditation, similar to suicide bombings by Islamic extremists.
It is noteworthy, however, that while suicide bombers are willing to give up their lives for their cause, abortion foes have one thing in common: cowardice. They usually run after they have committed their dastardly deeds.
Scott Roeder held witnesses at bay with his gun after shooting the doctor and then fled in his car. He was arrested by Johnson County sheriff’s deputies on I-35.
By contrast, the victim provided health services to women despite the fact that he had been a target of the anti-abortion movement for decades. His clinic was the site of numerous protests, and in 1985 it was bombed.
Eight years later, Dr. Tiller was shot in both arms by a protester.
He could easily have given up his practice, but as his wife, Jeanne, his four children and 10 grandchildren said in a statement, “George dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality health care despite frequent threats and violence.”
Abortion is legal in the United States; murder is not.
The slaying of Dr. Tiller must be investigated fully and the accused prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. To do anything less would be to embolden others who believe they have a right to play god.