WANTED: Safety for Abortion Doctors

Though Scott Roeder, the convicted murderer of abortion provider Dr. Tiller, will be behind bars for 50 years to life, the final chapter of the story may not yet have been written.

The Kansas City Star and the Associated Press report that a federal grand jury in Kansas City is looking into whether “a broader case surrounds Tiller’s shooting.”

What might such a case look like? A preview can be found in a Ms. article published last Spring investigating Roeder’s connections to existing networks of extremists who advocate the murder of abortion doctors.

Tonight at 8 p.m. EST, an in-depth documentary by Rachel Maddow on Dr. Tiller’s murder will air in place of her regular show. It describes the “No Place to Hide” campaign waged against Dr. Tiller by anti-abortion group Operation Rescue in the years leading up to the murder. According to The Kansas City Star, Operation Rescue President Troy Newman is interviewed about

a citywide leaflet campaign Operation Rescue undertook that linked Tiller with his “collaborators,” including area businesses such as cab companies. His account is sandwiched between quotes from Tiller’s friends and associates, who call the campaign intimidating and say it led to fears for their own safety as well as the safety of Tiller and his family.

Such efforts to further probe into Dr. Tiller’s murder need to be accompanied by taking note of the campaigns of terror afoot against abortion doctors right now. Ms. has reported that two months after the murder, extremists began plastering Charlotte, N.C. with “WANTED” posters listing the names and home addresses of abortion doctors. Under the bolded heading “WANTED,” they read,

We would like to introduce you to Drs. X and Y [names withheld here]. Their specialties are Obstetrics, Gynecology and Murder. Not only do these two men assist women and deliver babies, but they also harm women and kill babies…. You may contact them at their office or the clinic in which they perform the abortions.

Tonight [UPDATE: Tuesday, October 26], CBS Evening News will air a segment on the posters, interviewing one of the abortion doctors who’s been targeted. Look, too, for an interview with Ms. Executive Editor and Feminist Majority Foundation Executive Vice President Katherine Spillar, who reminds us that such posters have not been empty threats:

Repeatedly, the murder of a targeted abortion doctor has followed WANTED posters being disseminated.

Perhaps with such major media attention, the tide is turning and we will begin to see abortion terrorist networks investigated, prosecuted and dismantled. Let’s hope so, because the gap between “WANTED” posters and homicidal action is smaller than we’d like to think.