In a bizarre twist to what otherwise seemed to be a cut and dry murder trial, Scott Roeder, the militant anti-abortionist who gunned down infamous late-term abortion provider George Tiller, may get a chance to defend his actions as “necessary” to stop the killing of unborn children.
Scott Roeder has admitted to gunning down George Tiller in the vestibule of his church in May 2009. Mr. Roeder is charged with first-degree murder, but late last week, his defense lawyers persuaded the judge in the case, Warren Wilbert, to allow them to argue that their client’s actions warrant the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.
Voluntary manslaughter is applied in cases when a defendant acts believing that his or her actions are justified. Roeder has insisted his actions were justified because they prevented Dr. Tiller from performing further abortions. Some call this a “necessity defense” argument.
The necessity-defense argument has not been permitted in other high-profile abortion-related trials, including that of Paul Hill, who received the death sentence for killing an abortion doctor in 1994; and James Kopp, who is serving a life sentence for killing an abortion doctor in 1998.
I’m no law scholar, but, to me, this seems nuts.
What’s next? If a person believes the use of gasoline is contributing to the death of the environment, would he be able to present his case that he was “justified” in killing the gas station attendant since he feels it’s his part to prevent world disaster?
Roeder acted on the pre-meditated belief that what he was doing was socially justifiable, and it was his obligation to do it. There is a big difference in a wife who murdered her physically abusive husband out of self-defense than some kook who kills another person because he disagrees with his actions.
In the opinion of many, Tiller was a murderer. He killed babies for profit. While his actions were legal, they were a horrible product of a society which feels that responsible behavior is not a valued trait, and that self-absorbed gratification is a right in all its forms.
Roeder is a killer. Both men are despicable, but, Tiller had a right to live.
For the justice system to possibly allow this twisted precedent to proceed, will add another injustice to an already sad situation.