The killing of Dr. George Tiller, who provided abortion services to women with the hardest cases, will likely be attributed to some lone and deranged individual, acting on his own. Indeed, Operation Rescue, the hold-no-prisoners anti-abortion group, issued an immediate statement from Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, decrying Tiller's shooting as "a cowardly act."
In fact, the hands are many in the death of George Tiller, some more directly than others. Take Ann Coulter, for example. I watched her describe, to a church full of right-wing activists, abortion-clinic doctors and health care personnel who were murdered as either having been shot, "...or, depending on your point of view, had a procedure performed on them with a rifle." And she's still out there today, spewing the same bile with violent force.
Several weeks ago, President Barack Obama's commencement address at Notre Dame University spurred controversy when anti-abortion activists pressed the Catholic university to withdraw its invitation to the pro-choice president. Coulter responded with the suggestion that for next year's ceremony, "Notre Dame have an abortionist perform an abortion live on stage? They could have a partial-birth abortion for the advanced degrees."
As if that wasn't enough, Coulter added this:
Being such a prestigious institution, Notre Dame could probably get famed partial-birth abortion practitioner George Tiller to do the demonstration at next year's graduation. Obama could help -- inasmuch as Tiller the abortionist is a close friend of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
George Tiller, M.D., was unlikely national figure, but to the religious right, he was Enemy Number One.
Close watchers of national news may have known the name of George Tiller from the extraordinary actions of former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, who, three years ago subpoenaed from Tiller's clinic the records of hundreds of women who had undergone abortion procedures there. Kline, a frequent speaker at religious-right gatherings, claimed he needed the records for an investigation as to whether Tiller was following the law, but many in the reproductive health community saw Kline's actions as an attempt to intimidate women who were considering undergoing late-term abortions. Kline's case against Tiller was dismissed in 2006, after Kansas voters booted the AG from office.
Tiller's name became part of inside-the-Beltway parlance with the nomination of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to head the Department of Health and Human Services, when campaign contributions from Tiller and his associates became a bone of contention in her confirmation process. (She has since been confirmed, and is now HHS secretary.) Sometimes, it seems, having friends in high places only increases one's danger.
So my question to Ann Coulter is: Did George Tiller have "a procedure performed on him with a rifle"? Did he simply get his just desserts?
If the murderer was not a follower of Coulter's, he certainly acted from the sort of hateful sentiment she disseminates in popular and right-wing media.
Consider this comment left by a reader of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's posting of Associated Press coverage of the Tiller murder:
Although I would never do something like this, he got what was coming to him. Now he needs to answer to God for the thousands of innocent babies he has murdered.
Sounds like one of Annie's kids to me.
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