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National Abortion Federation Blog: Saporta Reporter

News about reproductive choice from the President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, Vicki Saporta. photo of Vicki Saporta
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  Remembering an American hero: George Tiller

We continue to mourn the loss of our friend and colleague, Dr. George Tiller. Dr. Tiller was a dedicated physician who provided quality abortion care to women, at great personal sacrifice and risk. He is truly a hero to his fellow abortion providers and his patients. Dr. Tiller’s office is filled with letters from women, thanking him for the excellent, compassionate care he provided. Many of these women say Dr. Tiller saved their lives.

Since his tragic death, we have received messages from some of his patients and from people around the world who are saddened and outraged. We feel it is important to share these words and tributes to our beloved colleague and friend. For the first time, we will enable comments on our blog so that all of you can share your condolences or offer memories of Dr. Tiller. We invite you to join us in honoring a true American hero, Dr. George Tiller.

Post your comments, condolences, and personal memories of Dr. Tiller

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

National Abortion Federation and ACLU Ask Court To Preclude Voluntary Manslaughter Charge In Trial Of Dr. Tiller’s Murderer

Today we issued this statement announcing a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the National Abortion Federation:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) today filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the National Abortion Federation, the ACLU, and the ACLU of Kansas in the trial of Scott Roeder, the alleged murderer of Dr. George Tiller, asking the court to preclude Roeder from arguing his anti-abortion beliefs in support of a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter rather than first degree murder.

“In a civilized society we cannot allow extremists to commit murder to advance their own religious or political beliefs,” said Vicki Saporta, President of the National Abortion Federation. “Scott Roeder should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

“Allowing the defense to argue that Scott Roeder’s anti-abortion beliefs in any way lessen his accountability in Dr. Tiller’s murder sends an ominous signal to all vigilantes,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “We should all be concerned; having sincere political beliefs does not mean someone should be able to get away with murder.”

Scott Roeder has been charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of Dr. George Tiller on May 31, 2009, while Dr. Tiller was attending services at his local church. Earlier this month, in pre-trial hearings, Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert ruled that he would not allow Roeder to use a justifiable homicide defense, but left open the possibility that the defense could put on evidence that would support the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. This ruling might permit Roeder to argue that he was motivated by anti-abortion beliefs and therefore should be held less accountable.

“This is a dangerous misinterpretation of the law,” said Doug Bonney, Chief Counsel & Legal Director, ACLU of Kansas & Western Missouri. “No matter what our political or moral beliefs, we are not entitled to kill those who disagree with us. We would not allow someone who murders a general to get a lesser sentence because the murder was motivated by a belief that war is unjustifiable.”

Doctors who provide abortion care deserve the full protection of the law. They devote their lives to ensuring that women can obtain the health care they need. It is important that we support a woman’s ability to make this most private, personal decision, and it is critical that we protect the medical professionals who care for them.

If convicted of first degree murder, Roeder could be facing a life sentence; if convicted of voluntary manslaughter, he could receive less than 10 years for Dr. Tiller’s murder.

Lawyers on today’s brief include Kolbi-Molinas and Talcott Camp of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project and Bonney of the ACLU of Kansas & Western Missouri.

The ACLU brief is available at http://www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/state-kansas-v-roeder-aclu-amicus-brief

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