Scott Roeder, the alleged murderer of Kansas abortion provider George Tiller, MD, confessed to the killing in an interview yesterday. Roeder spoke to the Associated Press by phone from the Sedgwick County Jail in Kansas, explaining his plans to pursue a “necessity defense” when his trial commences in January. Roeder faces a first degree murder charge and two counts of aggravated assault.
When asked if he killed Tiller, Roeder responded “That is correct,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Roeder stated that despite his confession, he will not change his not-guilty plea because he does not consider his act murder. Roeder said he plans to use a so-called necessity defense, arguing that his actions were motivated by “the fact [that] preborn children’s lives were in imminent danger,” reports the Associated Press. A similar defense used in an abortion clinic trespassing case was rejected by a 1993 Kansas Supreme Court ruling.
Yesterday, anti-choice activist Dave Leach praised Roeder’s intention to pursue the necessity defense and released an updated version of an extremist document advocating justifiable homicide, the “Defensive Action Statement 3rd Edition,” reports the Iowa Independent. The Defensive Action Statement, which has twenty-one signatories including three who are currently in prison for attacks against abortion providers, argues that the Roeder trial jury should be allowed to consider “when life begins” while evaluating “whether lethal force is justified to defend the lives of unborn children,” according to the Iowa Independent.
Tiller family attorney Lee Thompson told the Kansas City Star that Roeder’s defense is very unlikely to hold up in court. “Any pretense that it’s justifiable is legally wrong and reflective of the extremism that seems to characterize this act, which is nothing more than an act of premeditated violence,” he said. Kathy Spillar, executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, told the Los Angeles Times that Roeder’s confession “clearly shows his connection to the most extremist branch of the antiabortion movement, which has long advocated this defense, that somehow the murder of doctors is justifiable.”