Thursday, January 28, 2010

The impact of considering Tiller's murder "justifiable"

Judge Rules "Justifiable Homicide" Defense Possible in Roeder Trial

Update: This week the judge ruled that the shooting could not be considered a "justifiable homicide" and on Friday, January 29, 2010, the jury returned a guilty verdict. 

On Tuesday, Jan 12, Kansas Judge Warren Wilbert ruled for a second time that attorneys for Scott Roeder, the man who confessed to the murder of Dr. George Tiller in May 2009, may argue a "justifiable homicide" defense under a plea of voluntary manslaughter.  Under Kansas law, voluntary manslaughter is defined as "an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force."

On both sides of the abortion debate, many believe the final decision may influence others to kill abortion providers because of the possibility of a lower sentence for voluntary manslaughter.  According to the Associated Press, Don Spitz, a supporter of Scott Roeder and website manager for the Army of God said that this decision "may increase the number of people who may be willing to take that risk."

Feminist Majority Foundation Executive Vice President Katherine Spiller agreed saying, "Let there be no mistake, the rulings of Kansas Judge Warren Wilbert are being seen by extremists as a green light for those who would murder abortion providers."

AAUW supports the right of every woman to safe, accessible, affordable, and comprehensive family planning and reproductive health services.  This position stems from AAUW's 2009-2011 Public Policy Program, which advocates, "choice in the determination of one's reproductive life ... increased access to health care and family planning services including expansion of patients' rights."

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