Anglican Samizdat

January 29, 2010

Born-again Christian says he killed abortion doctor to save lives

Filed under: Abortion — David Jenkins @ 12:01 am

An interesting defence:

In an impassioned plea before a US court, a born-again Christian argued on Thursday that he had killed a prominent abortion doctor because he wanted to save the lives of unborn babies.

Scott Roeder, 51, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder in the May 2009 slaying of Dr George Tiller in the foyer of a Kansas church.

Instead in an unorthodox move he is seeking to convince jurors that he is guilty of the lesser offence of voluntary manslaughter, because he honestly believed he was saving people from greater harm.

George Tiller performed late-term abortions: he aborted babies after the 21st week of pregnancy, babies that have the potential for surviving outside the womb.

Now, if Roeder had killed a madman with a gun threatening babies in a nursery, he would be a hero; is his murder of Tiller substantially different?



  1. It all depends on when you believe life begins. Many people believe it begins at the moment of conception, which makes all abortions 1st degree murder. The law says that life does not begin until birth. Which makes all abortions nothing more than a rather routine medical procedure.

    So I will put out this questions:
    When do we as Anglicans believe life begins?
    If we believe that life begins at any time before birth, than what shall we do to protect the lives of babies that are about to be murdered?

    Comment by AMPisAnglican — January 29, 2010 @ 11:19 am

  2. Amp,
    I believe life begins at conception. As far as I can tell the ACoC doesn’t seem to have a coherent position on this; I don’t think ANiC does either, but it’s early days.

    I would thing that killing a baby in the womb after 21 weeks would be repugnant to almost everyone – even ACoC Anglicans.

    Comment by David — January 29, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

  3. Here’s an interesting position.

    First of all, I agree that life begins at conception and every abortion is taking a human life.

    But none other than John Piper gave the following example and rather sidestepped a direct answer, other than to say if there is a disagreement it is better to err on the side of caution.

    He tells of a female doctor he knows (Christian, ostensibly) who believes that life begins with the first breath drawn, based on Genesis 2:7,

    the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

    What does anyone think?

    Comment by John K — January 29, 2010 @ 5:22 pm

  4. John,

    Biblically, I think that would hold water only if we were made in the same way as Adam. To put it another way, Adam was a special case: he had no mother so was never in his mother’s womb. Also, once conception has occurred, a “living being” has been created even if it is not independent of its mother. Interestingly, the KJV renders that, “and man became a living soul” and the MSG “The Man came alive—a living soul!”.

    Comment by David — January 29, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

  5. John, the following quotation from Book VII of The Apostolic Constitutions puts emphasis on forming

    (15) Thou shall not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten; for “everything that is shaped, and has received a soul from God, if it be slain, shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed.”

    Basil takes a similar tact in Letter 188:

    II. The woman who purposely destroys her unborn child is guilty of murder. With us there is no nice enquiry as to its being formed or unformed. In this case it is not only the being about to be born who is vindicated, but the woman in her attack upon herself; because in most cases women who make such attempts die. The destruction of the embryo is an additional crime, a second murder, at all events if we regard it as done with intent. The punishment, however, of these women should not be for life, but for the term of ten years. And let their treatment depend not on mere lapse of time, but on the character of their repentance.

    Apart from the reference you provided, are you aware of the position held by the doctor being advocated at any time in church history? Your question is thought provoking.

    Comment by Warren — January 30, 2010 @ 6:39 pm

  6. If the child is viable, it is capable of drawing breath. How it gets “out” varies: C section,saline solution, or forceps.

    Comment by Jim Muirhead — January 31, 2010 @ 12:15 am

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