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Killing an Abortion Doctor: Maybe Not So Bad, Judge Rules

The judge in the George Tiller homicide case has ruled that, at least for now, the defense may present the jury with the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. If convicted on this lesser charge, Scott Roeder may end up spending only a few years in prison for what everyone agrees was a deliberate act: Roeder walked up to Tiller in church, put a gun to his head, and calmly pulled the trigger.

Why voluntary manslaughter? That’s the usual conviction where the defendant believes, unreasonably but sincerely, that he needs to take a life in self-defense, or in defense of a third party. Here, though, the claim is quite different. Roeder claims that he believed he was saving the life of unborn children from Tiller, who performed some late-term abortions.

The judge’s decision to allow this theory to proceed beggars belief. Whatever Roeder’s personal, philosophical or religious convictions, the plain fact is that Tiller was performing procedures that are legal and sanctioned by the state. Would the judge allow this lesser-crime argument to be made by a defendant who killed a flag-burner because he thought that was the only way to prevent terrorist attacks? The logic is a bit more attenuated, but the theory is the same: As long as you have a good-faith (if nutso) belief in what you’re doing, let the arguments for  reduced culpability begin.

If this works, expect further violence against abortion providers. We’ve already got a good example of how this ruling will embolden other “baby-saving” killers: The “Rev.” Don Spitz, who runs this astonishing website calling for violence against doctors who perform abortions, pronounced himself “flabbergasted, but in a good way,” at the ruling. The site applauds Scott Roeder. Click over at your own risk.

Were I the prosecutor, I would immediately take whatever steps I could to get this insane decision reversed: stay, mandamus — whatever the local rules allow. This dangerous action can’t go unchallenged.

  1. A Parent
    January 15th, 2010 at 16:17 | #1

    Rev. (sic) Spitz’s opinion on the beliefs or behavior of others should carry no weight whatsoever. He uses his own website to try to make heroes out of murdering terrorists like Paul Hill, Eric Rudolph, John Salvi, James Kopp, and now Scott Roeder, the man who shot of Dr. Tiller in his church. Therefore, the recent designation of Spitz’s Army of God as a domestic terrorist group by the Virginia State Police is very appropriate. Spitz is so delusional that he thinks that he was ordained by the International Gospel Crusade, a denomination that only exists in his imagination. This makes Spitz even more of a concern.

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