Prominent voices of the pro-life movement have repudiated the murder of the late-term abortion provider George Tiller, who was shot and killed Sunday morning at a Wichita Lutheran church.
Tiller was shot dead by an unidentified assailant shortly after 10 a.m. at Reformation Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Wichita. The 67-year-old was one of the few U.S. physicians who still performed late-term abortions in the country.
Troy Newman, President of the Kansas-based Operation Rescue said in a statement that his organization “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."
Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the Susan B. Anthony List -a nationwide network of Americans dedicated to representing pro-life women in politics- also condemned "this anti-life act in the strongest of terms."
"The heart of the pro-life movement is one founded in love. Without this driving powerful center no justice can possibly be achieved. Authentic progress in women's rights has always encompassed the protection of human rights of every person across the board. The rights of one human being can never be honored by diminishing or ignoring the rights of another. This week as we gather for our annual June Tea event, themed Love Lets Live, we will lift up George Tiller's loved ones in prayer," Dannenfelser said.
Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, expressed his sadness at hearing of George Tiller's murder.
"At this point, we do not know the motives of this act, or who is behind it, whether an angry post- abortive man or woman, or a misguided activist, or an enemy within the abortion industry, or a political enemy frustrated with the way Tiller has escaped prosecution. We should not jump to conclusions or rush to judgment."
"But whatever the motives," Pavone emphasized, "we at Priests for Life continue to insist on a culture in which violence is never seen as the solution to any problem. Every life has to be protected, without regard to their age or views or actions."
Shaun Kenney, executive director of American Life League, explained that leaders within the pro-life movement "often discuss justice in connection with our mission to end the tragedy of abortion. Today, Dr. George Tiller's life ended in an act defying those principles."
"With genuine sorrow, we reflect on today's events in prayer. Justice for all human beings includes the lives of those with whom we fundamentally disagree as well as the victims of abortion. We firmly hope the perpetrators of this act are apprehended, that the facts be made known, and that justice according to the law is preserved and dispensed," Kenney said.
Rev. Patrick Mahoney, a former national spokesperson for Operation Rescue who had just completed leading two weeks of prayer vigils in Wichita during the latest trial of Dr. Tiller, also denounced the shooting, and said that he and other pro-life leaders will hold a news conference in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday "to discuss the impact the shooting of Dr. George Tiller will have on the pro-life movement and the Supreme Court."
Tiller began providing abortion services in 1973 but during the 80's became one of the most prominent and vocal late-term abortionists.
In 1991, his abortion clinic was the center of the "Summer of Mercy" protests organized by Operation Rescue. The protests drew thousands of pro-life activists to Wichita for peaceful demonstrations marked by civil disobedience and mass arrests.
After the protests, Tiller kept mostly to his heavily guarded clinic, but remained prominent in the news. In 1993, Tiller was shot in both arms by a protestor.
Tiller was a significant donor to the political campaigns of the former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius, the pro-abortion Catholic recently appointed as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Tiller contributed to Sebelius directly and to political action committees that he controlled. During Sebelius' tenure as governor, Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann declared that Kansas had become "infamous for being the late-term abortion center for the Midwest."
Sebelius repeatedly vetoed legislation that would have affected Tiller's business.According to the Wichita Police Department, a 51-year-old suspect was arrested three hours after the shooting about 170 miles from Wichita.