Scott Roeder, the imprisoned convicted murderer of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, will face disciplinary action for making threats against abortion providers in a phone conversation with a member of the anti-choice terrorist group Army of God. In the conversation, which was recorded and posted to YouTube last month, Roeder and Iowa Army of God member David Leach discussed the opening of a new reproductive health clinic in Wichita at the same site as Dr. Tiller’s old clinic, and talked about violence that could potentially occur there, including the shooting of providers.
In the conversation, Roeder said that “eight [providers] have been shot, so we’ve got 92 to go,” referencing an anti-choice pastor who once claimed, according to Roeder, “If 100 abortionists were shot, [the surviving abortion providers] would probably go out of business.” Roeder also referred to Julie Burkhart, founder of the South Wind Women’s Clinic in Wichita, as “Julie Darkheart” and said, “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!’”
Leach said that opening the clinic “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.”
Leach claims he never meant for the conversation to constitute a threat. “That’s not exactly a call for that to happen,” Leach told the Des Moines Register in April. “Any reasonable person looking at that statement would not equate that with a call for action.”
Despite Leach’s assurances, however, the Kansas Department of Corrections is treating the recording as a serious threat. According to the Register, “[P]rison spokesman Jeremy Barclay said today that authorities plan to prosecute Roeder for violating a prison regulation against ‘threatening or intimidating any person,’” an action they consider a “top violation.” Among the punishments he may face are the loss of privileges and access to visitors or outsiders.
There continues to be concern about new anti-choice terrorism plots, even among individuals who have been jailed for previous actions or threats. Angel Dillard, another Kansas abortion opponent, frequently visited Roeder before she was jailed for threatening a provider. It has been alleged that Dillard has attempted from prison, to recruit others to continue harassment, threats, and possibly even violence.
As of this writing, the sole comment on this article on the Des Moines Register website is a defense of Roeder from someone claiming to be Donald Spitz. Spitz, who runs the Army of God website, has referred to Roeder as an “American hero” and solicits letters and donations on his behalf. “I like Scott Roeder and he should have free speech rights. He didn’t threaten anyone. This is not right,” reads the comment, which then quotes scripture.