Monday, January 11, 2010

Murder Trial and Abortion Debate

Jury selection begins this week in the murder trial of a man who admits he fatally shot Dr. George Tiller, one of four abortion providers in the country who performed late-term abortions.

But if defendant Scott Roeder has his way, abortion also will be on trial when testimony begins.

Roeder, 51, has never denied shooting Tiller. In statements to the news media and in pretrial memos, he has asserted that he was justified under the theory that he was trying to save the lives of unborn children when he gunned down Tiller at Sunday church services on May 20, 2009.

Tiller, who had been performing late-term abortions in his Wichita clinic since 1973, was serving as an usher at Reformation Lutheran Church when Roeder shot him in the head at point-blank range.

Read the criminal complaint

Sedgwick County prosecutors have fought to keep the issue of abortion out of the trial, and even the presiding judge has said he does not want the case to become a venue for a debate on the legality of abortion.

With Roeder's beliefs expected to be the focal point of the defense case, the trial could become the next forum in the fierce debate over one of the nation's most emotionally charged and divisive issues.


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