Dr. George Tiller, whose clinic in Wichita, Kansas was one of the few in the nation to perform late-term abortions, was gunned down Sunday morning as he attended services at his local church.
Scott Roeder, the 51-year-old abortion opponent who police believe pulled the trigger is expected to be charged in the murder this afternoon.
Dr. Tiller had been the target of anti-abortion forces for years as protesters targeted his clinic, his home and his church. In fact, Dr. Tiller and the concentrated pro-life campaign to shut down his Wichita clinic were captured for Rolling Stone in Kimberley Sevcik's 2004 feature "One Man's God Squad." The piece centered on Troy Newman, the head of Operation Rescue, and his intensified efforts in Wichita. Those efforts included protesting not simply Tiller's clinic, but the homes of the people who worked there, as well as the churches, restaurants and businesses they frequented. The group dug through the trash of clinic employees to uncover any personal information that might aid their campaign — a spouse's workplace, a favorite restaurant, anything that might be a potential target, and all of it aimed at shutting Tiller down. "Wichita isn't big enough for George Tiller and me," Newman said in a print ad supporting his cause.
The group's efforts were relentless, aggressive and, as Newman would point out, nonviolent, a stance he affirmed in the wake of Tiller's murder. "Operation Rescue has worked tirelessly on peaceful, nonviolent measures to bring him to justice through the legal system, the legislative system," Newman said. We are pro-life, and this act was antithetical to what we believe." And while some have found evidence that Roeder may have followed Operation Rescue and posted on the group's Web site, Newman told the New York Times that Roeder "is not a friend, not a contributor, not a volunteer."
For a look at the long-simmering battle over Dr. Tiller and his clinic, read our report, "One Man's God Squad."