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ABORTION NEWS | Preliminary Hearing Set for Suspect in Murder of Abortion Provider Tiller

ABORTION NEWS | Preliminary Hearing Set for Suspect in Murder of Abortion Provider Tiller
[July 27, 2009]

A preliminary hearing for Scott Roeder, the man charged with the May 31 murder of Kansas abortion provider George Tiller, is set for Tuesday, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports. During the hearing, prosecutors will attempt to convince a judge they have enough evidence for a trial, according to the AP/Chronicle.

Roeder is charged with one count of first-degree murder in Tiller's death, as well as two counts of aggravated assault for allegedly threatening two ushers who tried to stop him from shooting Tiller in the foyer of his Wichita church. According to the AP/Chronicle, Roeder will enter a plea if the judge determines that the case can go to trial. He has not indicated what plea he intends to enter should that occur (Hegeman, AP/Houston Chronicle, 7/26).

In related news, the New York Times on Sunday examined the life and career of Tiller, who was one of the few abortion providers who performed the procedure later in pregnancy. Throughout Tiller's career -- which began in the 1970s -- he "made himself the nation's pre-eminent abortion practitioner," according to the Times. In addition, antiabortion-rights advocates made his clinic the "most visible abortion battleground" in the U.S., as well as "a magnet for activists from all corners of the country," the Times reports. However, Tiller "would not budge" and "[wore] their contempt as a badge of honor." According to the Times, employees at the clinic said Tiller believed his work saved women's lives and ensured their right to an abortion. "We have made higher education possible," Tiller said in a speech, adding, "We have helped correct some of the results of rape and incest. We have helped battered women escape to a safer life. We have made recovery from chemical dependency possible. We have helped women and families struggle to save their unwell, unborn child after a lifetime of pain."

According to the Times, advocates on both sides of the abortion-rights debate "have been measuring the larger ramifications" of Tiller's murder. Abortion-rights opponents are "bracing for a drop in support, especially from those in the murky middle ground of the debate." Abortion-rights supporters, on the other hand, are "reeling from the loss of one of their most experienced and savviest leaders," the Times reports. The article also examined Tiller's career choice, tactics employed by abortion-rights opponents and some of the legal challenges Tiller faced (Barstow, New York Times, 7/26). In addition, the Times on Sunday included an online discussion and slide show involving a man and woman with differing views on abortion rights (New York Times, 7/26).

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Star on Sunday included an interview with Roeder, during which he said he was "elated" that Tiller was dead and that he considers killing abortion providers to be justifiable homicide. In the interview, Roeder said that "[n]obody was willing to do anything" about the abortions performed at Tiller's clinic, adding that it is wrong "for society to allow such an egregious sin to go on." Roeder also discussed his actions on the day of the murder, his past dealings with the antiabortion-rights movement and his possible trial strategy (Thomas, Kansas City Star, 7/26).