The hatred directed at Dr. George Tiller is partly to blame for his murder
As the assassination of Dr. George Tiller during church services in Kansas shows, terrorism is not something that occurs only elsewhere. For years there has been a large, loosely connected network of extremists in this country who believe terrorism and even murder are legitimate responses to the legal practice of abortion.
Eight people have been killed by anti-abortion terrorists, and there have been 17 attempted murders (including an earlier attempt on Tiller’s life), 41 bombings and 171 fires. There is no single, al Qaeda-like organization behind these incidents, but they do proceed from a shared belief among many anti-abortion activists that one of the most promising ways to limit abortion availability is to frighten doctors and others away from offering the service.
These crimes take place in a context of inflammatory rhetoric and veiled threats that provides the rationale for violence. The Internet is chockablock with sites that come just a hair’s-breadth short of calling for murder, and even such mainstream commentators as Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly felt free to refer to Tiller as “Tiller the Baby Killer” and suggest he didn’t deserve to live.
This is reprehensible, and O’Reilly and his cohorts on the right-wing fringe deserve some of the blame for what happened to Dr. Tiller. As President Obama has said, “However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.”