Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
NOW President Kim Gandy
The murder of late-term abortionist George Tiller in Kansas has prompted a call upon the Department of Homeland Security to crack down on pro-lifers as just the kinds of “right-wing extremists” that the government identified earlier in a controversial report that sparked outrage across the country.
As WND reported, the DHS report defined Americans dedicated to typically conservative causes, such as gun rights, immigration enforcement and illegalizing abortion, as “extremists” that might carry out terrorist acts.
Now, the National Organization for Women, citing “a string of murders in the service of the anti-abortion cause” and referring to the Tiller murder, released the following statement:
“Bringing the killers to justice is not enough – the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security must root out and prosecute as domestic terrorists and violent racketeers the criminal enterprise that has organized and funded criminal acts for decades,” said the statement, attributed to NOW President Kim Gandy. “We call on the new attorney general, Eric Holder, and head of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to treat these murders in the same way they would treat politically-motivated domestic terrorism of any other kind and put the full resources of their two departments behind that effort.”
Attorney General Eric Holder has already taken action, directing U.S. Marshals to protect “approprite people and facilities around the nation,” according to a statement, in order to “help prevent any related acts of violence from occurring.”
And even though the last killing of an abortion doctor was over ten years ago, in 1998, others have joined NOW in taking this opportunity to cast the pro-life cause as an inherently violent movement.
“It is abhorrent that once again, individuals who oppose the right to choose have used violence to try to advance their extreme anti-choice agenda,” said Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, in a statement.
“People have a right to disagree about abortion,” said a statement from Michael B. Keegan, president of People for the American Way, “but it’s impossible to separate today’s tragedy from the violent language that has been directed for years at doctors like George Tiller.”
Columnist Mike Hendricks on a Kansas City Star website writes, “The motive for the crime we can all surmise in light of the vitriolic campaign that has been waged against Tiller for more than two decades by anti-abortion groups.”
Hendricks further lists as “accomplices” to Tiller’s murder “everyone who has ever called Tiller’s late term abortion clinic a murder mill … the groups who spent decades fomenting hate toward a man who simply believed that he was serving a purpose by being one of the few doctors in the country performing late-term abortions. Hate. Not heated opposition. Not strong disagreement. But blind hatred. The kind of hate that would prompt some maniac to take a gun into a church and shoot a man to death in front of friends and family.”
Several pro-life groups, however, immediately condemned the murder as counter to their cause.
“We are shocked at this morning’s disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down,” said a statement on the website of Wichita-based Operation Rescue. “Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller’s family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ.”
Kansans for Life joined the condemnation, telling LifeNews.com that it “deplores the murder of Dr. George Tiller.”
“Our organization has a board of directors and a 35-year history of bringing citizens together to achieve thoughtful education and legislation on the life issues here in Kansas,” said Mary Kay Culp, director of Kansans for Life. “We value life, completely deplore violence and are shocked and very upset by what happened in Wichita today.”
Nonetheless, pro-life groups have been criticized even for their condemnation.
Kansas City Star editorial page columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah writes, “The outspoken leaders of anti-abortion groups can save their feeble ‘we’re shocked and saddened’ statements. They are privately pleased at George Tiller’s murder on Sunday.”
“His accomplices know they have blood on their hands,” continued Hendricks, “which might explain why they were quick to issue statements today expressing disapproval of Tiller’s murder.”
Among the many pro-life voices condemning the murder, a statement from the Kansas Coalition for Life specifically addressed the association drawn between the pro-life movement as a whole and Tiller’s murderer.
“Although at the time of this writing, it is not known who killed Abortionist Tiller, we do know for certain that this crime was not the work of any true pro-life person,” the statement reads. “A true pro-life person respects human life as a gift from God and leaves all life and death decisions to God himself.”
The statement continues, “The Kansas Coalition for Life asks all reporters and commentators to make a clear distinction between lawless thugs who act on their own accord and the good pro-life people who obey the law, seeking a change in abortion laws via peaceful means and the legislative process.
“It is completely misleading,” the statement concludes, “for the media to imply, in any way that this is the work of the pro-life movement. We urge the media to report responsibly and truthfully in this regard.”
As WND reported, Tiller was shot and killed as he walked into his Wichita, Kan., church to attend Sunday services.
Tiller was a controversial figure in the abortion debate, accused on 19 counts of illegally aborting viable babies in violation of a state law that requires a second physician – without legal or financial ties to the abortionist – sign off on the procedure once the unborn child reaches a state in which it could survive outside the womb.