Using force to get their way, in America



Anti-abortion activists showed up Tuesday night at the home of Dr. Mila Means, a family practitioner who’d like to offer abortion services in Wichita, Kansas. Dr. Means would be the first open provider in Wichita since the last one, Dr. George Tiller, was murdered in 2009. She had talked to us on the show the night before.

As we reported Wednesday, the protesters turned up at Dr. Means’ house without much attempt to deliver their message to anyone but her. “She is killing babies right now in Ks. City, and plans to kill in Wichita,” protest leader Rob Rotola e-mailed us later. “We will notify her neighbors and all who do business with her.”

Theirs is a clear attempt to intimidate any would-be abortion providers away. Pro-choice supporters have also worried about intimidation elsewhere this week, in South Dakota, where a bill would have expanded “justifiable homicide” to include the defense of an “unborn child.”

The sponsor of that South Dakota bill said he was talking about violent assaults, not legal abortions. But pro-choice groups saw in it the potential for violence against abortion doctors, and so did the anti-abortion side. The bill has now been shelved, perhaps until its language can be made more clear.

Whatever its literal meaning, the bill carried a clear message for Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman, which hounded Dr. Tiller in the months before his murder and whose website for a time included Dr. Means’ home address in its comments. The New York Times reports that Newman “said he was ‘shocked’ when he read the bill, which he worried could encourage violence. ‘The pro-life movement, by definition, is in favor of protecting human life from the moment of conception to natural death, and we reject all forms of violence,’ he said.”

The Times also talked to Dave Leach, who testified as a character witness on behalf of the man who killed Dr. Tiller. From the NYT:

[Dave Leach] praised the bill, saying it could end abortions in South Dakota by scaring away doctors or by establishing grounds for someone to kill those who stay.

“There may be something I’m overlooking, but from all appearances, this bill would certainly justify an individual taking the life of an abortionist in order to save human lives,” he said.