Legacy of Tiller’s Murder: Anti-Choice Terrorists Threaten Staff at Wichita Clinic

Every community has its own unique history shaped its people, its geography, and its circumstance. Wichita, Kansas, has been home to such notable people as Carrie Nation and Wyatt Earp. Its geography has made it home to Indian settlements, cattle drives, and the aircraft manufacturing industry. It was the home to the first civil rights sit-in. It also earned notoriety as the home of the serial killer BTK. But another undeniable part of Wichita’s history is its place as the epicenter of the “abortion wars.” The 1991 “Summer of Mercy” (SOM), when thousands of anti-choice activists flooded into Wichita to protest Dr. George Tiller, marked the beginning of the use of extreme anti-choice tactics like harassing doctors, clinic staff, and women seeking abortions. As reproductive rights supporters in this community celebrate the recent opening of Southwind Women’s Care Center and the access to abortion care that it brings, they also brace themselves for a new wave of SOM-style tactics and a new round of anti-choice terrorist actions.

Nearly four years after Dr. Tiller’s assassination, anti-choice violence continues to percolate in Wichita. It started up again two years ago, with the harassment of Dr. Mila Means. Anti-choice terrorist Angel Dillard penned a letter threatening violence against the doctor, who sought to include abortion care in her private practice. That letter has resulted in federal charges against Dillard brought under the FACE Act. In addition to the letter, it was reported this week by RH Reality Check that the U.S. Department of Justice filed papers in court revealing that a Kansas county jail inmate said Dillard asked him last year to firebomb the home of Dr. Means.

The opening of the new abortion clinic has brought yet another round of frightening behavior from local anti-choice forces. The clinic’s executive director, Julie Burkhart, has been harassed at her home and has had to file a temporary restraining order against local terrorist Mark Hollick after he pointed a sign saying “Where is Your Church?” at her home (an obvious reference to the place of Dr. Tiller’s assassination). Meanwhile, Troy Newman, of Operation Rescue infamy, is already posting pictures and audio of a person who he claims is a new physician at the clinic.

A recent YouTube video posted by David Leach from the anti-choice group Army of God should cause local law enforcement officials to raise their local terrorist alert to red. The video is a recording of a recent jailhouse conversation with Scott Roeder, the convicted murderer of Dr. Tiller. What follows is the an excerpt of the recorded conversation and a partial transcript.

Leach: If someone would shoot the new abortionist like Scott shot George Tiller back in the Operation Rescue days, people called him Tiller the Killer, hardly anyone would appreciate it, but the babies. It will be a blessing to the babies, everyone else will panic. Of all places to open up a killing office, to reopen the one office in the United States more notorious for decades than any other is an act of defiance against God and the last remaining remnants of reverence for human life. It is what the Supreme Court classifies as “fighting words,” like throwing lard in a Mosque, burning a cross in a Black neighborhood, or immersing a cross in urine at taxpayers’ expense. It is a reckless act. It is not the act of someone who values their own safety. It is a gauntlet thrown down, by someone who wants a fight. Of course, I don’t know if anyone will pick up the gauntlet. I didn’t know Scott would act, before he did.

Roeder: It is a little bit death-defying for someone to walk back in there. For Julie “Darkheart” to walk back in there and reopen a murder mill where a man was stopped. It’s almost like putting a target on your back, saying, “Well, let’s see if you can shoot ME! I have to go back to what Pastor Mike Bray said: If 100 abortionists were shot, they [surviving abortionists] would probably go out of business. I think eight have been shot, so we’ve got 92 to go. Maybe she’ll be number nine. I don’t know, but she’s kind of painting a target on her.

The video is obviously a message to abortion terrorists near and far. Scott Roeder even bestows Burkhart with a sinister name, “Julie Darkheart,” a la “Tiller the Killer.”

Dr. Tiller was a particularly popular anti-choice target because he provided later abortions. The Southwind Women’s Clinic will not be providing these medically necessary procedures. The clinic’s staff have instead chosen to provide abortion care up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. But the transcript above reveals that this fight is no longer about the “type” of abortion that is performed in Wichita. Rather, it is the geographical location that holds great significance to these terrorists. They hold their “victory” via murder in Wichita as a highly prized feather in their cap. National anti-choicers strive for an “abortion-free state,” and they view Wichita as a local accomplishment toward that larger goal. They have laid claim to this city. It is a claim baptized in the blood of our beloved physician, Dr. Tiller, and it is clear that these people are openly inviting a repeat performance from anyone who will pick up the “gauntlet.”

That’s why the City of Wichita would be wise to take these people very seriously. But if the city’s recent reaction to Kansans for Life’s zoning request is any indicator, this community has adequate cause for concern. While the planning committee voted to deny the rezoning request, the vote count was 6-to-4—just one vote away from having the support of half the legislative body, on a vote that logically shouldn’t have been close.

These anti-choice groups are heavily invested in elections at every level, and city council candidates proudly tout their endorsements on campaign materials. So when push comes to shove on issues of importance regarding safety measures for this clinic, such as a possible buffer zone, enforcement of no-parking signs, and other city laws and regulations, whose interests will the city council support? Will it do what is necessary to prevent another tragedy? Or will it be anti-choice business as usual in Wichita, as it was prior to the murder of Dr. Tiller?

We haven’t seen the climate change in the Kansas legislature. In fact, it has become even more hostile toward women, with recent laws being passed declaring that life begins at fertilization and requiring that doctors lie to women about the nonexistent link between abortion and breast cancer. As Wichita welcomes back safe abortion access after a four-year hiatus, will city officials protect individuals seeking to access this legal health-care service? Will they heed these recent threats, remember our local history, and use that knowledge to govern rationally? This test could have actual life and death consequences for the city’s living, breathing, post-womb human citizens.

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  • Dezzydez

    I’m happy that these terrorists are actually being taken seriously this time before they kill someone else.

    • Pope Ratzo

      Who says it’s being taken seriously by anyone but the people reading this blog? You think law enforcement in Kansas or the Obama Justice Department is going to mess up the crease in their pants to do anything?
      If Eric Holder wasn’t so feckless, he would do something about this domestic terrorist threat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003555854703 Donald Spitz

    Unlike the babykilling abortion mills that murder helpless children in the name of choice

    • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

      Come on, Donny, we all know you don’t actually care about children. What you and your group care about is using violence and intimidation to stalk and terrorize women and doctors.

    • imajicka1

      Hypocritical to support murder as a means to end murder.

    • http://twitter.com/deadpansnarker Dani

      But if women have those kids even though they can’t take care of them, you’d be right back here bellowing about “welfare queens” and “irresponsible sluts”. You have to flipping PICK ONE. You can’t have it both ways. Oh, wait, no, your type just wants women punished for daring to have sex, that’s what it is. You either stop the crusade against family planning and birth control, or you stop the crusade that apparently approves of MURDER as a tactic.

    • http://www.facebook.com/amanda.kazarian Amanda Kazarian

      Well Don, just stop having sex with women. Do you your part to make sure no woman kills your offspring by not contributing to the problem.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Feral.9.Hex Carla Clark

      No babies involved. What about your favourite, pregnancy mills, such as CPC’s? Don’t care that they’re mills, either, then why bring it up, moron? Abortion is not murder. Fetuses aren’t defenseless. Why do you think women are prevented from taking medication while pregnant? Because fetuses ATTACK women’s immune system. Doesn’t sound helpless to me, IDIOT. Fetuses aren’t children. If women aren’t the ones choosing to abort or maintain a pregnancy then there is no CHOICE. So, like Dani said, I think you just want women to be punished for daring to have consensual sex. And idiots like you wonder why we call you misogynists? it is to LAUGH.

      • goatini

        Not only are so-called “CPCs” pregnancy mills, but they are also funneling operations to the billion-dollar adoption mill industry, aka human trafficking.

  • Researcher

    Wow. Fetuses attack women’s immune system??? They’re a disease? Fetuses aren’t defenseless??? What? that fetus packing a gun in there? Exactly how often does the kid come out the winner? Women have been aborting children for centuries… Nothing new here. With easy access and often free birth control why is this still an issue? 1.2 million-ish aborted a year. At least that is the number being tracked. There are higher rates of depression and suicide of women who had abortions versus carrying the child to term. Very good studies were done in Denmark and Finland that would be worth review. There a human cost to the mother. It’s foolish for a women to subject themselves to this. Only a fool chooses to harm themselves.

    • Dez

      Such bullshit. Access is being restricted by “pro-lifers” everyday to the point that doctors like Dr. Gosnell are preying on low income women of color. Birth control is not free everywhere or even affordable. That is the problem also. Plus a lack of sexual education in schools that could prevent unwanted pregnancies and STDs. Abortions will happen no matter what. Accidents happen even when contraception is used. People are not perfect. Again I call bullshit. Abortion is safer than pregnancy. Yet you will ignore women that have had abortions and suffer no consequences. People like you try to shame and guilt women into feeling this way because you want them to suffer. It’s insulting that you think women are idiots incapable of making up their own mind on their own private medical decsions. Should we all go to you to make our choices since we apparantly do not have the intelligence to do so?

    • http://www.facebook.com/susan.lowe.921 Susan Lowe

      There have been at least 40 million women who’ve had abortions since Roe v. Wade was enacted. Yet, the entire group of women who are claiming that they regret or have had a bad outcome from that abortion is either silent on the topic or heavily in favor of retaining a woman’s right to choose. Run the numbers, “Researcher.”
      Further more, it’s possible that the numbers of women who have unplanned pregnancies who suffer depression after having an abortion were clinically depressed when they got pregnant.
      That’s giving you the benefit of the doubt on these “studies” which I don’t. Btw, I dislike being told that I’m “foolish” because I believe that I have the requisite intelligence to make decisions about my body.

  • Sandy

    How does the writer know that it was Mark Holick holding the sign at Julie’s home?

    • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

      Oh, I’m sure Mr. Holick would be more than pleased to admit to his stalking and terrorizing. After all, it’s what he does.

      • Sandy

        But was it actually him? and if not does that make the accuser a liar?

        • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

          I’m betting it probably was him, yes. Being a terrorist, he’s more likely to be a liar than his accuser. Wouldn’t you agree?

          • Sandy

            This case will be dropped, & how much are you willing to wager? Mark Holick may be many things but not a liar.

          • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

            No, sorry, hon–take it from me. This man is a terrorist, a criminal and a liar. He’s connected to Donald Spitz and the Army of God that spawned killers like Paul Hill. What else do you need to know? They really need to go back to trying to prosecute these clowns under the RICO statutes because as it is these people feel free to terrorize and threaten anyone they choose and it has to stop.

            No, this case won’t be dropped and hopefully your little friend won’t be able to do this stuff anymore. End of story.

          • Sandy

            What do you mean “connected”? What is the source for your statement? “This man is a terrorist” How would you define terrorist? do you mean violent? Is there any evidence that M Holick has been violent in a physical manner? Why do you say “your little friend”? I’m just looking for some factual reporting not just some personal commentary. Jennifer do you think M Holick should be sent to prison? for what? how long?

          • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

            Excuse my language, but don’t bullshit me, Sandy. Don’t play dumb. You’re not ‘just asking questions’. You have a bias or some connection with this guy and what you’re doing is trolling. As to what defines a terrorist. let me put it very plainly. Targeted protests in front of someone’s home is terrorism. Blockading a clinic, which was a common practice in the ’80s and ’90s before the passage of the FACE act, is terrorism. Putting a doctor’s personal information, name, home address, license plate number, etc online in the hopes that some nutjob will commit violence or harassment against them is terrorism. Protesting in front of their child’s school is terrorism. Making wanted posters or sending fliers to the neighbors of doctors or clinic workers is terrorism. Are we all clear now, Sandy? I hope so.

          • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

            And by connected i mean Facebook Friend, compatriot, accomplice. Even most of the so-called moderate ‘pro-lifers’ have radical ties, and they are complicit in encouraging violence even if they don’t personally engage in it themselves.

          • Sandy

            Does M. Holick have a criminal history? all I’ve ever found on him is some trespass protest stuff, nothing that really would be considered criminal in the sense. and who’s Paul Hill?

          • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

            If you don’t know who Paul Hill is, you’re really not that well informed about your own movement. He’s the terrorist who murdered Dr. John Britton and his bodyguard in Florida in 1994 and was put to death.

          • Sandy

            “about your own movement”? I don’t have movement. I’m simply asking you to substantiate your statements. I’m not defending Mr. Holick but the writer has made a claim & so have you (Jennifer) I was really looking for some facts not simply opinion.

          • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

            Again, bullshit.

          • Sandy

            Grace & Peace to you Jennifer Starr.

          • http://www.facebook.com/susan.lowe.921 Susan Lowe

            You don’t think that trespass is a crime? I beg to differ. There are several states in the south that give people the right to shoot and kill anyone who trespasses on their property.

          • goatini

            The radical theocratic misogynists, of ALL such cults, believe that lying for their “cause” is acceptable.

          • Sandy

            You believe Holick to hate women? why?

          • http://www.facebook.com/susan.lowe.921 Susan Lowe

            I would guess that the clinic has photographs of all of the regular and/or most dangerous anti-abortion stalkers.

  • wildthang

    Murder is a society defined legal term and as such applies to the murder of abortion clinic personnel and not people performing abortions. We have even more tolerance of wars for lies where massive numbers of innocent children, women, and men are murdered indiscriminately as in Iraq but enabled by the acceptance of nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki, fire-bombing Dresdan and Tokyo and may other Japanese cities too with the advent of faceless air warfare. Now everyone want to get in the act to do their own self defined forms of justice at the barrel of a gun or smart bombs, agent orange, marauding neutrons etc. Always more killing to end killing or in the this case legal medical procedures or non-existent WMD’s. or in retaliation for the same as in Boston. Or wanted dead or alive a prescription for murder of misidentified people and injustice as well as drone strikes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gordon.hilgers Gordon Hilgers

    This kind of extremism is so saddening, mainly because anyone who is old enough to remember the original Roe v Wade public debate will know that our biggest concern wasn’t the morality or immorality of abortion but the sheer number of women under the age of 25 who were dying horrific deaths due to back-room abortions. What that should teach the anti-abortion/anti-contraception extremists is that, nope, outlawing abortion isn’t going to end abortions. It will only endanger women who choose to abort. Here in Texas, we’re already seeing women go to Mexico for questionably-viable medications that cause abortions, and some of these women are dying.

    If the anti-abortion/anti-contraception extremists had one brain cell between them, they’d take a look at the prohibition on marijuana simply to see that, rather than stopping the multi-billion-a-year black market industry, the U.S. government (us taxpayers) have actually WASTED over one trillion dollars in a futile attempt to outlaw what, like abortion or contraception, should be left to individual choice.

    Politicization of religion has already devastated the Middle East. The American Taliban is being very selfish in forcing their Christo-fascism on the rest of us.

    • SimbaLover

      Those “christians” think that pregnancy is a good punishment for women daring to have – let alone enjoy- sex