It seemed at first to be a sort of odd article to run on a day to celebrate a woman’s right to choose. A northern Kentucky media outlet decided that the 40th anniversary of Roe would be the perfect time to run an interview not with women who have sought out abortions, or providers reminiscing about no longer fearing jail for terminating pregnancies, or even an anti-choice advocate mourning the four decades of “lost babies.”
They interviewed a convicted clinic bomber.
John Brockhoeft, a member of the infamous and violent anti-abortion terrorist group known as the Army of God, has been out of jail for number of years after serving a seven-year sentence for bombing clinics that provide abortions. As disturbing as the fact that the KYPost thought his story would be the most interesting way to commemorate the anniversary is the obvious glee with which Brockhoeft explains to the reporter that not only does he not regret his actions, but that he thinks it was one of the best things that he had ever done with his life. Being in jail allowed him to meet his current wife and start a family, and he served time for what he believed was a righteous cause. “For me, personally, was it worth it? Incredibly so,” he told WCPO Digital.
Just as shocking as his complete lack of remorse is his admission that he is still in regular contact with his other violent compatriots.
Brockhoeft stays in contact with his fellow activists in the Army of God, and envisions stopping all abortions by “people taking to the streets and demanding an end to it.”
“I foresee victory – complete victory – but I don’t know how long it will take,” he said. “If you had asked me 30 years ago if this slaughter would go on for 40 years, I would’ve said no. God would bring judgment down before that. But here we are, 40 years later. I am still positive the Lord will give us victory someday. When? I don’t know.”
Brockhoeft was released from a detention facility in Burlington, Ky. in February 1995. As a condition of probation he was prohibited from associating with his former colleagues or being active in anti-abortion causes for several years.
Those conditions have long since lapsed, and Brockhoeft has reconnected with his Army of God comrades.
“The Army of God organization? What Army of God organization,” he replied at first, cracking a smile, when asked about the group.
“There’s a bunch of us old fogeys that have taken action and a couple of ladies, also. But anybody can say they’re a member of the Army of God,” Brockhoeft said. “There’s no real organization where somebody orders anybody else around and gives commands. Some of us convicts gather from time to time, we have picnics or we go to national events. We get together and reminisce.”
Both those who track violence against abortion clinics and those who track homegrown terrorism groups say that there isn’t really much going on with the Army of God anymore, and that Brockhoeft’s statement is more self-aggrandizing than anything else. Yet a new article from the Associated Press that examines the relationship between Angel Dillard and Scott Roeder, the man who murdered Dr. George Tiller, might not leave everyone quite so reassured.
According to reporter Roxana Hegeman, the Army of God is still quite active in its own pursuit of at the very least spreading the gospel of “justifiable homicide”—the belief that murder of abortion providers is called for if it will stop abortions from being performed—even if a large part of the recruiting is going on behind bars.
When Roeder opened fire on Tiller, he propelled himself to icon status among abortion opponent extremists – a status that hasn’t wavered since he was sentenced to life in prison. A leader in the Army of God, which supports violence against abortion doctors, notes Roeder gets more correspondence than other imprisoned anti-abortion activists.
Hailed by militant anti-abortion forces as a “prisoner of Christ,” Roeder has been spreading his radical views from a Kansas prison. Other extremists have gravitated to Roeder, visiting him in prison, sending him money and offering legal advice, court documents show.
The Rev. Don Spitz of Virginia, who runs the Army of God website, which supports violence against abortion providers and clinics, is helping Roeder with correspondence.
Roeder likes to “debate” with people who write and often asks Spitz to mail them a militant anti-abortion book written by Paul Hill, a Florida man who was executed for murdering an abortion provider in 1994, Spitz said. Roeder also asks him to send them the book written by the Rev. Michael Bray, an Ohio activist and author of “A Time to Kill,” which defends using lethal force to protect the unborn.
How effective can an organization be when a group of them are operating from their own jail cells? To answer that question, you just need to return to John Brockhoeft. When he was in prison, he wrote a newsletter called “The Brockhoeft Report.” Editor of that report, according to WCPO? Shelley Shannon.
Originally, the newsletter was edited by Shelley Shannon, an Oregon woman who was later convicted for shooting and injuring Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas physician, in 1993.
Shannon is serving a total of 30 years for attacking Tiller and setting fire to abortion clinics. Later, another anti-abortion activist assassinated Tiller in his church in 2009.
It’s clear that an underground group of those who believe in violence against both clinics and providers still exist, and that they still plot. Many are in jail, but others, especially those who signed the decree by Paul Hill advocating justifiable homicide, are not, and are still at clinics. Roy McMillan is a daily presence down at Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Matt Trewhella runs his church and hosts his own television show, and, as we saw in 2009, everyone is willing to get back together for a good cause, such as when they ran an eBay auction to raise money for Roeder’s defense.
“Picnics” and “reminiscing?” Let’s hope that’s all that is going on.