June 2nd, 2009
07:23 PM ET

Truth or consequences

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on
In Session.”

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/02/tiller-george-courtesy-.kwch.jpg caption="George Tiller"]

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

Dr. George Tiller, one of only a few doctors in the nation who performed abortions late in pregnancy, was shot and killed Sunday — at his church of all places. Whatever you think of abortion, you have to agree that to kill a man at his house of worship on the Sabbath is a cowardly act; and whatever you think of the work he did, Dr. Tiller himself was no coward. He knew this was coming. He’d been shot and nearly killed once before while his clinic had been bombed and he received death threats every day.

The fact that he was killed at church on Sunday adds a cruel irony to a debate that is all about life, death and God. Those who oppose abortion do so because they see it as murder. They are passionate precisely because it is a matter of faith. That’s why the debate can reach a fever pitch.

The bation’s foremost anti-abortion advocacy group, Operation Rescue, was quick to respond to news of the killing. Co-founder Randall Terry said this:

“I stand before you today saying about George Tiller what I said in his life. He was a mass murderer. George Tiller was a mass murderer. He killed tens of thousands of innocent human beings at his own hand…”

Dr. Tiller, however, was not a mass murderer — not under the law. The Supreme Court has said so.
More to the point, this kind of incendiary language does not lead to a healthy debate. It leads to violence.

With the murder of Dr. Tiller, the abortion issue returns to center stage. As we engage in it, please let’s remember, that our words have consequences. The truth is that our differences cannot be resolved by acts of violence.

Find more In Session blogs here.

Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd • Women's Issues • Women's Rights
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Melissa

    Religion needs to stop having a strangle hold on this country. People need to start to realize that their religion is a private matter.

    Wishful thinking.

    This will bring things to the forefront for a little while, while zealotry regains its feet and things go back to exactly the same way as before.


    June 3, 2009 at 10:23 am |
  2. ronvan

    Randall Terry? Should be put on trial & then locked up, along with all the others that incite acts of violence & promotes the MURDER of another, only because they do not beleive in their views.

    June 3, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  3. Nancy

    The religious right will stop at nothing. Their holy mission is to return this country back to a time when men were in control and women were kept barefoot and pregnant. Their strategy is to first make late term abortions illegal, then all abortions and finally birth control pills, which they call "abortofacient". Rational people do not have any "common ground" with these religous extremists.

    June 3, 2009 at 8:32 am |
  4. J.V.Hodgson

    Yes Media, words do have consequences and this guy Randall Terry is guity to me of Incitement to riot, and behaving in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace. A charge on which drunks, hundreds of them, are arrested every day.
    You quote him without challenge that "he killed tens of thousands of innocent human beings" its plural ( tens of thousands) which equals minimum 20,000 and max 99,999.
    The lower number is maybe just possible but extremely unlikely and the higher would be physically impractical for one doctor.
    Where has your duty as reporters gone to only print verifiable facts not just the spewing of someone with extreme views who knows you guys print it because its dramatic, grabs attention and therefore share in my opinion his bad role on this extremely sensitive issue.
    As long as you print such garbage the media is part of the problem; even with your caveats in the last and penultimate paragraphs above.

    June 3, 2009 at 2:14 am |
  5. DanC

    I wanted to expand on your initial theme of religious irony. None of the newscasts have made any mention that last Sunday was not just any Sunday. It was Pentecost Sunday; arguably the third holiest day on the liturgical calendar. Pentecost is essentially the day that God gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to humanity. Luke speaks of the strange and miraculous things that the people did when they became filled with the Holy Spirit (i.e. speaking in tongues). As a religious zealout Roeder would certainly have been mindful of the twisted symbolism of his act.

    June 3, 2009 at 1:37 am |

    Right now my niece is DYING because her selfish mother, my brothers ex girlfriend, decided to murder her/abort her so she can continue with college. The thing is the abortion did NOT work. So now 30 weeks pregnant my niece has a hole in her heart, low kidney function, if any at all, low amniotic fluid, her arm growth is 2 months behind the rest of her body and she has no hand. Now the thing is this little girl could be a medical miracle. My brother, who NEVER wanted this girl to kill his baby, would not allow her to go to Kansas like the PRO CHOICE doctors wanted them to for a "surgical procedure". He wanted his baby to die with dignity and leave it up to Gianna(my unborn niece, yes she has a name) and God to make this decision. How Ironic that Dr. Tiller ws killed in church of all places. Maybe he went to church every Sunday to ask God to forgive him for the murders he committed during the week. An eye for an eye. Adults have the ability to make choices in life. I know many people are asking how could someone who is so prolife take the life of another. It makes total sense to me. Innocent babies are murdered. They never had the chance to choose how they were going to live their lives. Dr. Tiller did. He took it upon himself to never let these babies have that chance. I am for the death penalty but when someone is allowed by the government of Kansas to kill people how do you go about penalizing them? I guess the Christian part of me wants soo bad to think "It's between Dr. Tiller and God" and I do not condone the murder of him but I in noway feel bad about his death. I feel bad for the innocent lives that were lost and I am thankful that if my brothers ex girlfriend had wanted to change her mind and go to Kansas there is one less "Dr." who can MURDER my niece, Gianna, the gift from God.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:56 pm |
  7. june

    here in quebec,canada , when women decide to have an abortion we simpy call a hospital in montreal and it is done at the hospital with total respect for the decision that she chose to make

    June 2, 2009 at 11:44 pm |
  8. j pennell

    mr tiller,s family--his life was as important as any other-i am sure he accepted his late term abortion profession as having this result–he hoped it would not come to this--mr tiller and the woman involved made the decision together,which i am ok with--i feel it is wrong as far as the baby is concerned-but my deeper concern is for the mother in the future,can she release herself and be freein the future--i would also like to think ANDERSON COOPER for having D ELDER on talking about having her baby , knowing its condition, it lived only a few hours–she had love for the baby-and she was freed by its life--i feel mr tiller gave this option to all envolved in his practice--the actions fo the man who shot him i do not accept

    June 2, 2009 at 11:07 pm |
  9. Karyn

    Im only gona say its a womans right to a abortion,everyone has a reason for what they do,even a descion like that is exstreamley hard,but finel and they have to answer to god in the end.

    June 2, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  10. Ray Anderson

    I'm truly sorry about Dr. Tiller being murdered. I condemn it strongly. One thing you said I disagree with. You said he didn't kill when he killed babies because the Supreme Court said so. I'm Pro Life and I believe he did kill babies. They were alive at 22 weeks and he took their lives. However, I agree with you that Terry is a radical. But so was John Brown. He used violence because he saw injustice to blacks. Then there was Dr. King. He used peaceful means. Obviously, I prefer the peaceful means. The Supreme Court once said that Blacks were property and didn't deserve freedom. I don't think you'd disagree with me that the Court was WRONG to say blacks were property and should be slaves. So just because the Supreme Court says so doesn't it make it so. But, I definitly pray for Dr. Tiller's family. He was wrong, in my opinion, but that man did not have the right to take his life. Thanks. Ray from West Virginia.

    June 2, 2009 at 9:24 pm |
  11. Adriana--California

    I was raised by a very Catholic grandmother who had very high morals but was very compassionate.

    I don't believe in abortion for myself and would descourage my dayughters from having one. But, I do not have the right to tell someone else what to do with their bodies. Ultimately, they have to answer to god and I'm definitely not god.

    I find it very hypocritical that this so called "pro life" people do not honor the lifes of those that are alive in this world..what happened to taking some foster kids, the homeless, the people that are dying of hunger and those less fortunate like the undocummented workers? There are so many foster and unwanted kids that are suffering...I know, I was one of them.

    My criticism is also for the "pro choice" ...let's concentrate on prevention. Why are we having issues with unwanted pregnancies when there are methods of birth control? Let's do more on education!

    We need to stop the ignorance and madness....Men keep out of our decisions...a woman's body is definitely not up for discussion by men or women...Lets' encourage prevention and have a mechanism for support for those that decide to have a child.

    June 2, 2009 at 9:06 pm |
  12. CalinTacoma

    Does anybody find it Ironic that a man who beleived in Pro – life , as well as many others. In this great nation of ours in order to get his point across and to be heard. Would resort to the very thing that he and advocates or supporters of Pro -Life supposedly fight so hard to stop the taking of a human life.

    June 2, 2009 at 8:32 pm |
  13. Adam Los Angeles- CA

    Most people have a view about abortion. This is an important issue. However murder in my personal opinion is not the way to solve an issue when an (individual) woman has made up her mind to abort for whatever reason. Tiller may have been considered to be a mass murder by some or even many; under the Constitution he was doing what he believed was correct and allowed. Because someone does not agree with his carrier choice or actions, to commit first degree murder is also not acceptable in our day. Its each Americans prerogative. It’s our right, we can agree or disagree.The debate will continue, like it has.

    June 2, 2009 at 8:30 pm |
  14. Mike in NYC

    It's hard to imagine a supposedly "Christian" house of worship allowing a man in his line of work into their congregation.

    June 2, 2009 at 8:27 pm |
  15. lam0nt Austin

    The truth is right-winged influence has created terrorism in America
    Wowwwww!!!! See what happens when religion is used to justify a political point which wouldve been ok if that person followed the religious aspect of Thou shalt not kill or maybe do not judge (thats left up to god) so all I can say is its the devil within you people that can kill for whatever purpose beside defending yourself and even then I probably wouldnt kill unless that was the only way to survive while in the process of protecting myself.
    If this republican man that killed was really sane he wouldve none better. Sounds like the republican party I know.

    Lamont Austin

    June 2, 2009 at 8:17 pm |
  16. Annie Kate

    In a country where we are free to hold different beliefs we should be ashamed that murders like this happen – you may not agree with what the doctor was doing but he had a right to practice medicine in this manner; what he was doing was legal by law; and we should each other's right to believe and act according to our conscience (as long as our actions are legal). I feel for the Doctor's family and hope they will be ok – its terrible to lose a member of the family, much less lose them in church while you look on.

    June 2, 2009 at 8:00 pm |
  17. pmiller

    I believe in abortion rights. I don't agree with abortion, but I do believe you have the right to choose. I don't agree with killing babies with eyes and fingernails half way through the creation process no matter what you choose.. It's sad what happened, but even sadder what he had done.
    A serial Killer with a license to kill. I cant feel too sorry for Dr. Mengle with his "No fetus will defeat-us" attitude. The crazy thing is that I cant believe he would show his face at a church. What church would have this monster in it's membership. I can't even understand why he would ever go. They say when a child dies, a world of people die with him or her. His or Her kids, their kids & their kids etc. One Nut killed by another Nut! Isn't that special. Like two murderers murdering each other.

    June 2, 2009 at 7:52 pm |
  18. Teresa, OH

    I only wish men could be pregnant and go through the emotions that some women go through particularly in having to decide to end a late term pregnancy. One doesnt go throught months and months of taking care of herself to only be told you're carrying a dead / soon to be dead baby just to have to medically abort.

    I have to wonder at the courage ???, not sure the proper word there, of the people who make it their life's mission to protest abortion. Then I wonder about those of us, me included, who sit back and do nothing because I'm not the one having the abortion or the one doing the procedure.

    Certainly, killing the dr. was not the right thing to do. The killer is now equal to the dr. per his own standards.

    My condolences to the family of Dr. Tiller and to the people in the church at the time of the shooting.

    June 2, 2009 at 7:48 pm |

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