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Mai Shiozaki, 202-628-8669, ext. 116; cell 202-641-1906
NOW Applauds Life Sentence for Roeder, Calls for Anti-Abortion Rights Violence to be Acknowledged as Terrorism
Statement of NOW President Terry O'Neill
WASHINGTON - April 2 - The National Organization for Women is grateful that anti-abortion rights murderer Scott Roeder was given a life sentence for his deliberate killing of Dr. George Tiller last May. Judge Warren Wilbert made a just decision in handing down the strictest sentence possible, ensuring that Roeder will not be eligible for parole for 51 years and eight months (even with possible time off for good behavior).
Dr. Tiller was a courageous and caring doctor who provided women with safe and legal abortions. Because he was one of the few doctors in this country who performed late-term procedures, many of the women he treated were in desperate circumstances with no where else to turn. In order to treat his patients, Dr. Tiller braved blockades, harassment, assault and countless threats, as well as a previous attempt on his life. He knew his life was in constant jeopardy, and that he would likely die at the hands of an anti-abortion rights terrorist. Roeder saw to it that this tragedy came true.
While Roeder will sit in jail for the rest of his life, the issue of anti-abortion rights terrorism is far greater than one man. For decades, NOW has worked to put an end to clinic violence. Doctors, security guards, clinic escorts, even receptionists have been murdered. Others have been severely wounded. Clinics have been bombed, set on fire and otherwise vandalized. All in the name of denying women their fundamental right to the full range of reproductive health services.
As we've seen recently, factions of the radical right are getting riled up again. But any reproductive rights advocate can tell you that they have long been riled up when it comes to women having control over their own bodies. And we've seen how ugly it can get. Brave physicians like Dr. LeRoy Carhart are trying to fill the gap left by Dr. Tiller, to carry the torch of reproductive freedom, but they can't do it without protection and support.
NOW calls once again on the U.S. Justice Department to investigate this hostile campaign, and to prosecute both the assassins and the ringleaders of what rightly can be termed terrorism.