Roundup: Suspect in Tiller Murder in Custody; Operation Rescue Links Discovered

Emily Douglas

Dr. George Tiller murdered in Wichita, Kansas; suspect in custody; links to Operation Rescue?

Dr. George Tiller Murdered in Wichita, Kansas, Suspect in Custody
Yesterday
the reproductive health community was devastated to learn of the murder
of Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas abortion provider subjected to decades
of anti-choice harassment (and shot in the arms before).  KansasCity.com
has more on the alleged killer: "Scott P. Roeder, 51, of Merriam, was
arrested on Interstate 35 near
Gardner nearly four hours after Tiller was shot to death just after 10
a.m. in the lobby of Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita. Roeder was
a member of an anti-government group in the 1990s and a staunch
abortion opponent…Authorities said they expected Roeder will be
charged today in Sedgwick
County with murder and two counts of aggravated assault. Federal
charges also are possible."  KansasCity.com offers more details about
Roeder, including that "In April 1996, Roeder was arrested in Topeka
after Shawnee County
sheriff’s deputies stopped him for not having a proper license plate.
The deputies said they searched the car and found ammunition, a
blasting cap, a fuse cord, a one-pound can of gunpowder and two 9-volt
batteries. One of the batteries was connected to a switch that could
have been used to trigger a bomb.  Roeder was found guilty and
sentenced in June 1996 to 24 months of probation with intensive
supervision. He also was ordered to dissociate himself from
anti-government groups that advocated violence."

Links to Operation Rescue?
Though Operation Rescue immediately denounced the murder
— "We are shocked at this morning’s disturbing news that Mr. Tiller
was
gunned down…Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful,
legal means,
and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We
denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning"
links between suspect Scott Roeder and the anti-abortion group are
already emerging. On The Daily Beast, Michelle Goldberg reports, "The man arrested for Tiller’s murder, Scott Roeder, posted
at least one comment on the Web site of the antiabortion group
Operation Rescue suggesting that antiabortion activists attend Tiller’s
church en masse. According to local news reports, he had the group’s
phone number on a Post-It in his car when he was arrested. He could be
a lone lunatic, but he might also be part of a movement that’s
reemerging after years of relative dormancy."  (Michelle and others have called attention to a comment posted on a cached Operation Rescue webpage by a person identifying as "Scott Roeder.")

LifeNews’s take on the murder?  "Just hours after the shooting death of late-term
abortion practitioner George Tiller and without a potential suspect,
leading pro-abortion organizations immediately blamed pro-life advocates
for George Tiller’s death."

The British Guardian provides context for the murder:

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Tiller’s death comes amid an intensifying of the abortion debate in
America since the election of Barack Obama. Anti-­abortionists are
suspicious of the new president, who they regard as an opponent. They
have been angered by some of Obama’s early decisions, particularly his
removal of restrictions imposed by George Bush on federal funding of
stem cell research and on funding family planning services that carry
out or assist abortions in foreign countries.

Two weeks ago,
discontent between the anti-abortion movement and Obama boiled over
when he gave a high-profile speech at a Catholic university in Indiana.
There were protests and several arrests at the University of Notre
Dame, and the president was heckled by some as he took on the abortion
issue head-on.

And the AP reports
that anti-choice leaders worry that Tiller’s murder will tamp down on
questioning of Sonia Sotomayor’s position on abortion rights during her
confirmation hearings.

Many anti-abortion groups condemned the killing
of Tiller, a
prominent abortion provider who was shot dead at his church in Wichita,
Kan. But they expressed concern that abortion-rights activists would
use the occasion to brand the entire anti-abortion movement as
extremist.

They also worried that there would now be an effort to
stifle anti-abortion viewpoints during questioning of Supreme Court
nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

The Community Responds
Reactions not to miss: Gloria Feldt on Salon,

I want to hear massive outrage on the part of the community. I want it to start with President Obama. His statement today is a good beginning.

But
that’s not nearly enough. He must immediately outline an action plan to
increase federal protection for providers and clinics and call for
stringent enforcement of the Federal Access to Clinic Entrances Act. He
has an opportunity to make a speech that addresses women’s moral right
to reproductive self-determination as passionately as his brilliant
speech about race did during the primary. He can and should lead the
nation to a larger and more productive conversation about the complex
choices women make, and why women deserve the respect, equality and
justice inherent in the right to choose to have, or not have, a child.
He should bring together pro-choice and anti-choice leaders and get
them to issue a joint statement decrying Tiller’s murder as well as all
such violent opposition to one another’s efforts. Now that would be
real common ground…

When it comes to decrying Tiller’s unspeakable murder, I want to hear
it from Congress. I want to hear it from clergy, the medical
profession, the media and civic leaders: "This kind of violation will
not be tolerated. Period." I want to see leaders and people at the
grassroots joining hands together in support of those who provide women
with reproductive health services, including abortion. I want them to
put the yellow armband on, to assume Tiller’s name as so many took on
the Obama’s middle name, Hussein, when he was disparaged during the
election. Doctors have a special responsibility. David Toub
M.D, MBA, who provided abortions when he was a practicing physician in
Philadelphia, told me, "This could have been any of us who provide or
provided abortion services. I’m just as annoyed by some of my own
colleagues and the American Medical Association who marginalized us and
even looked down at anyone involved in providing abortion."

 

Calling the murder of Tiller "a kind of terrorism that works," Matthew Yglesias assesses the impact of anti-choice violence: "Random murder of civilians in order to coerce political concessions
doesn’t have a great track-record. But direct action terrorist violence
against abortion providers has, I think, proven to be a fairly
successful tactic. Every time you murder a doctor, you create a
disincentive for other medical professionals to provide these services.
What’s more, you create a need for additional security at facilities
around the country. In addition, the anti-abortion protestors who
frequently gather near clinics are made to seem much more intimidating by the fact that the occurrence of these sorts of acts of violence."

More on Tiller
May 31: WJTV Mississippi: Jackson Abortion Clinic Takes Safety Precautions

May 31: USA Today: Abortion provider was accustomed to threats

May 31: Daily KOS: More proof that it’s anti-choice, not pro-life

May 31: Politics Daily: Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly Among Early Scapegoats for Tiller Murder

May 31: AP/HuffPo: Recent Cases Of Abortion-Related Violence

May 31: The Moderate Voice: Dr. George Tiller and Anti-Abortion Terrorism

May 31: Feministe: In honor of Dr. Tiller

May 31: The Colorado Independent: Late-term abortion doctor decries Tiller killing: ‘This is a fascist movement’

Other News to Note
May 31: The Washington Times: Middle East fertility wars

May 31: Nyasa Times: Mangochi poorly responding to family planning methods

May 31: NJ.com: Looney Liberals Against Abortion

May 31: Catholic News Agency: Kmiec and Robert George disagree on how to deal with Obama and abortion

May 31: Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Letter of the day: Diaz nomination to Holy See an affront to true Catholics

May 31: Abilene Reporter News: Planned Parenthood and medication abortions

May 31: Cleveland Daily Banner: Banquet raises ‘Hope’ awareness

May 31: The Olympian: Cuts to health care hit home

May 31: Las Vegas Review Journal: Couple starts family through ’embryo adoption’

May 31: Argus Leader: Editorial: Keep politics out of sex ed

May 31: The Star: Emotions high as veil around adoption lifts

May 31: Michigan Radio: Adoptions Increase in Michigan

May 31: The News and Observer: From fast track to mommy track to adoption activist

May 31: Fredericksburg.com: Obama and abortion: So much smoke

May 31: Asheville Citizen-Times: One district may show what’s ahead for sex ed

May 29: Kentucky News-Enterprise: Some situations certainly call for an overhaul

May 30: NYTimes: Sotomayor Would Be Sixth Catholic Justice, but the Pigeonholing Ends There

May 31: Boston Globe: No simple decree against abortion

May 30: Catholic News Agency: White House claims no Roe v. Wade ‘litmus test’ for Sotomayor

May 31: Scotland News: Dani Garavelli: Lessons on sex education

May 30: Christian Post: FOTF Praises Obama on Adoption Concern

May 31: HuffPo: Too Clever By Half: Obama, Sotomayor and The Politics of Abortion

May 31: Chicago Tribune: The ghosts of today’s abortion debate linger

May 31: Catholic News Service/Georgia Bulletin: Engage Obama or fight him? Law professors discuss his abortion stance

May 30: Patriot Ledger: Obama charisma a challenge to pro-life

May 30: The Star: ‘Extreme’ adoption: Finding foster families for life

May 30: Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette: Obama’s actions, beliefs fit many church teachings

May 30: Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel: Only safe sex is no sex

News Economic Justice

Colorado Voters Could Get a Chance to Boost the State’s Minimum Wage

Jason Salzman

A campaign fact sheet cited an April survey showing that 59% of the 2,400 U.S. small businesses polled favor raising the minimum wage, and that about 40 percent of those polled already pay entry-level employees "far above" the required minimum wage in their location.

Colorado’s minimum wage would increase from $8.31 to $12 by 2020 if Colorado voters approve a ballot initiative that could be headed to the November ballot.

Patty Kupfer, campaign manager for Colorado Families for a Fair Wage told reporters Monday that Colorado Families for a Fair Wage, a coalition of groups, submitted more than 200,000 signatures to the Colorado secretary of state, more than double the number required to make the ballot.

Hundreds of volunteers and dozens of organizations collected signatures, Kupfer said.

“Raising the minimum wage is fair and it’s smart,” Kupfer said. “It’s fair because people working full time should earn enough to support their families. It’s smart because when working people have more money in their pockets, they spend it here in Colorado, boosting our economy and helping our community thrive.”

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Speaking at the news conference staged in front of stacked boxes of petitions, Marrisa Guerrero, identified as a certified nursing assistant, said she works seven days a week and still relies on subsidized housing.

“Making $300 a week is not enough to pay rent and buy groceries for a family like mine,” said Guerrero, adding that she’d “really like” to see an increase in the minimum immediately, but “2020 would work wonders.”

After 2020, the state’s minimum wage would be adjusted annually for cost-of-living increases under the initiative.

Tyler Sandberg, a spokesperson for Keep Colorado Working, an organization opposing the initiative, appeared at the news conference and told reporters that he was “especially” worried about the initiative’s impact on small businesses.

“The big corporations, the wealthy areas of Denver and Boulder, might be able to afford [it], but small businesses, rural and poor communities, cannot afford this,” Sandberg told reporters. “So you are going to put people out of work with this. You’re going to harm the same people you’re trying to help.”

“It’s one size that doesn’t fit all. It’s the same for a small business as it is for Pepsi Cola,” said Sandberg, whose organization includes the Colorado Restaurant Association, the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, and the National Association of Independent Business.

Asked by Rewire to respond to Sandberg’s argument against a higher wage, Kupfer said, “Research shows small businesses support increasing the minimum wage. The truth is, when workers make more, that means more customers in local Colorado businesses. Both in rural and urban parts of the state, when working people do well, our communities thrive.”

A campaign fact sheet cited an April survey showing that 59% of the 2,400 U.S. small businesses polled favor raising the minimum wage, and that about 40 percent of those polled already pay entry-level employees “far above” the required minimum wage in their location.

“In my company, we have customer service representatives being paid $15 per hour,” Yoav Lurie, founder of Simple Energy, told reporters at the news conference. “While others might choose to pay customer service reps minimum wage, we have found that higher pay leads to improved performance and better retention and better customer satisfaction.”

Workers who rely on tips would see their minimum hourly wage increase by about 70 percent, from $5.29 to $8.98, while other workers would get a 44 percent increase by 2020. The initiative states that “no more than $3.02 in tip income may be used to offset the minimum wage of employees who regularly receive tips.”

Colorado passed a constitutional amendment in 2006 that bumped the minimum wage to $6.85. It’s been raised according to inflation since then.  The federal minimum wage is $7.25 and has not been increased since 2009.

Colorado’s Republican legislators killed legislation this year to allow cities to raise the minimum wage.

News Politics

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Resigns as Chair of DNC, Will Not Gavel in Convention

Ally Boguhn

Donna Brazile, vice chair of the DNC, will step in as interim replacement for Wasserman Schultz as committee chair.

On the eve of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) resigned her position as chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), effective after the convention, amid controversy over leaked internal party emails and months of criticism over her handling of the Democratic primary races.

Wasserman Schultz told the Sun Sentinel on Monday that she would not gavel in this week’s convention, according to Politico.

“I know that electing Hillary Clinton as our next president is critical for America’s future,” Wasserman Schultz said in a Sunday statement announcing her decision. “Going forward, the best way for me to accomplish those goals is to step down as Party Chair at the end of this convention.”

“We have planned a great and unified Convention this week and I hope and expect that the DNC team that has worked so hard to get us to this point will have the strong support of all Democrats in making sure this is the best convention we have ever had,” Wasserman Schultz continued.

Just prior to news that Wasserman Schultz would step down, it was announced that Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) would chair the DNC convention.

Donna Brazile, vice chair of the DNC, will step in as interim replacement for Wasserman Schultz as committee chair.

Wasserman Schultz’s resignation comes after WikiLeaks released more than 19,000 internal emails from the DNC, breathing new life into arguments that the Democratic Party—and Wasserman Schultz in particular—had “rigged” the primary in favor of nominating Hillary Clinton. As Vox‘s Timothy B. Lee pointed out, there seems to be “no bombshells” in the released emails, though one email does show that Brad Marshall, chief financial officer of the DNC, emailed asking whether an unnamed person could be questioned about “his” religious beliefs. Many believe the email was referencing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT).

Another email from Wasserman Schultz revealed the DNC chair had referred to Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, as a “damn liar.”

As previously reported by Rewire before the emails’ release, “Wasserman Schultz has been at the center of a string of heated criticisms directed at her handling of the DNC as well as allegations that she initially limited the number of the party’s primary debates, steadfastly refusing to add more until she came under pressure.” She also sparked controversy in January after suggesting that young women aren’t supporting Clinton because there is “a complacency among the generation” who were born after Roe v. Wade was decided.

“Debbie Wasserman Schultz has made the right decision for the future of the Democratic Party,” said Sanders in a Sunday statement. “While she deserves thanks for her years of service, the party now needs new leadership that will open the doors of the party and welcome in working people and young people. The party leadership must also always remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race.”

Sanders had previously demanded Wasserman Schultz’s resignation in light of the leaked emails during an appearance earlier that day on ABC’s This Week.

Clinton nevertheless stood by Wasserman Schultz in a Sunday statement responding to news of the resignation. “I am grateful to Debbie for getting the Democratic Party to this year’s historic convention in Philadelphia, and I know that this week’s events will be a success thanks to her hard work and leadership,” said Clinton. “There’s simply no one better at taking the fight to the Republicans than Debbie—which is why I am glad that she has agreed to serve as honorary chair of my campaign’s 50-state program to gain ground and elect Democrats in every part of the country, and will continue to serve as a surrogate for my campaign nationally, in Florida, and in other key states.”

Clinton added that she still looks “forward to campaigning with Debbie in Florida and helping her in her re-election bid.” Wasserman Schultz faces a primary challenger, Tim Canova, for her congressional seat in Florida’s 23rd district for the first time this year.