Tiller’s Murder and Our Greatest Danger

The pro-life leadership has gone out of its way — and rightly so — to condemn the violence that took the life of abortionist George Tiller on Sunday. I join with those voices, as I always have done, that declare that the end never justifies the means, and that violence has no place in the effort to end abortion.

I have been asked what I think the biggest negative effect of this killing will be on our pro-life movement. Does it tar the movement’s reputation? Yes, it does, despite the fact that those who kill abortionists are always disconnected from pro-life organizations. Does it make the government reach too far in clamping down on First Amendment activity against abortion? Yes, it does and it will.

But those are not the biggest dangers.

The biggest danger is the enemy within. It is the fear and self-doubt to which we can all too easily fall victim. It is the voice inside that makes us feel guilty for saying “Abortion is murder” or “Abortion is a holocaust” or “The babies who are being killed need to be defended now.” It is the fear inside that keeps us from going out to the abortion mills and intervening to save the children scheduled to be killed there each day.

The biggest danger is that some will listen to those in the pro-abortion movement who try to lay blame for violence on us and who, as one person wrote on my blog, think that saying “Abortion is murder” should be prosecuted because it leads to violence against abortionists.

The Church teaches us that we have to look evil in the eye. John Paul II, in “The Gospel of Life”, said that we have to call evil by its proper name. This is no time to shrink back from the reality of what is going on every day in abortion. Children are being killed, and the reason it continues is that too many of our fellow citizens are blind to it.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, responded to criticisms that the civil rights activists were fomenting violence. No, he said. That’s like saying the person who owns money is fomenting the activity of the robber. To expose the violence that is already occurring, to call it what it is, and to sound the alarm that it has to stop, is not to foment violence.

The pro-life movement is a movement of non-violence. As Ghandi and Dr. King taught, and as we teach, non-violence is not passivity, and it is not obscurity. It is a force. It is a clear and strong response against violence, in whatever form that violence takes.

Let the outcry against Tiller’s murder be loud and clear. And let the outcry against the murders he committed – and that other abortionists commit — be loud and clear as well.

Click below to hear Dr. Tiller’s words to prospective abortion clients. Notice, he makes no attempt to deny that this is a baby, and offers the parents the opportunity to view their dead baby and say goodbye with religious and other rituals. (06:43)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

If you have trouble opening the link above, go to www.priestsforlife.org/images/tiller-audio.htm

Please watch and comment on Fr. Frank’s You Tube video:


Additional note: Luhra Tivis Warren, who once worked at the Tiller abortion business, gave her testimony at a public conference of former abortion providers sponsored by the Pro-Life action League in Chicago on April 3, 1993. She described the crematorium on the premises which George Tiller used to burn the bodies of his victims, which included babies even in the third trimester of pregnancy. She states, “I could smell the babies burning.”

Fr. Frank Pavone


Father Frank A. Pavone is an American Roman Catholic priest and pro-life activist. He is the National Director of Priests for Life and serves as the Chairman and Pastoral Director of Rachel's Vineyard.

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  • SeanReynoldsNZ

    I’m listening to the recording. My pregnant wie is crying as she listens to it. This man is one seriously sick psychopath. (Us New Zealanders and Australians have a different way of phrasing that, but my comment would get censored). It is clear that he understands what he was doing to the unborn as you can tell from the way he talks about the child. He has engaged in Orwellian doublethink to black out from his mind what it is that he is truly doing.

    I have seen other people go from believing abortion is wrong to tacitly approving it to calling pro-lifers idiots because they allow their lusts to overpower their conscience.

    The two biggest problems with his murder are:
    > One – This murderer was murdered himself, and it is NEVER EVER acceptable to do evil that good may come of it;
    > Two – Who knows, but God’s grace works in mysterious ways as it did with Bernard Nathanson, and he may have come to repent of abortion, and become a witness for life.

    We must continue to bear witness to the value of human life, including the value of the lives of the abortionists.

  • dennisofraleigh

    Fr. Pavone is right on the mark. Our biggest mistake now would be to allow the other side to shut us up.
    BTW, check out today’s USA Today article about the “rhetoric” that allegedly drove Tiller’s accused assailant to shoot him. One qoute in particular struck me with particular irony:
    “Pro-life groups have created this climate through language and attacking those of us who are pro-choice for being killers,” said the Rev. Carlton W. Veazey, president of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
    Reading that I heard echoes of another accused “killer,” notorious for contributing to the deaths of hundreds of thousands. His name was Adolph Eichmann. “I am not the monster I am made out to be,” said Eichmann shortly before receiving a sentence of death for his part in Hitler’s “Final Solution.”
    Unfortunately there is little the pro-life movement can do to stop wing-nuts like the guy who allegedly shot Tiller.
    We can (does anybody see the irony in this request?) pray for the protection of the abortionists and workers at the abortuaries at which we hold our vigils. I know we pray for their repentance and conversion. But never forget, God does not delight in the death of any unrepentant sinner (Ezek. 33:11). Neither should we. Even the Eichmanns in our midst.

  • elkabrikir

    First, I am a law abiding citizen. I find “dennis'” point interesting, however. And would like to discuss it.

    Under Just War doctrine, and I’m no expert, killing is necessary sometimes. Why can an 18 year old Marine fighting for his country kill and be killed, but Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, Eichmann, or Tiller kill but not be killed without it being called an “assasination”?

    How come deadly force can’t be used to truly defend the innocent babies against murderers operating under unjust laws?

    For all the prayers before an abortion clinic, few babies are actually saved. (several lives saved a year is cause for celebration….don’t the rest count?) When they’re dead, they’re dead ……….just a statistic among the 50,000,000 murdered by people like Tiller.

    Violence begets violence……..I know. But is there a time to defend our country from evil murderers?

    If we were talking about people being ushered into a gas chamber, would we just be sitting there silently praying the rosary?

    I’ve prayed for Tiller’s soul and for the conversion of those involved in the murdering business. I’m not going to hell because of him. But, I’m glad he’s out of business. May God have mercy on me…..I’m glad he’s gone, I hope he repented before his last breath.

  • I will quote one of my favorite fictional sages. It’s something to ponder; I’ve been chewing on it for years now.

    “Many that live deserve death, and some who die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment, for even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

  • elkabrikir

    Did you have to quote Gandolf?

  • Pingback: Scott Bradford: Off on a Tangent » Blog Archive » The Murder of George Tiller()

  • DWC

    Scary, “the women is the patient, the fetus is the problem” … then he must have extended that believe to: the child is the problem and the mother is the patient …. and the father is the patient and the grandmother is the problem …. one constantly wonders how those with this mentality are allowed to practice medicine — just because one is subordinate to a caregiver!

  • goral

    Elkabrikir, I wouldn’t apply the just war doctrine in this instance because these are two civilians and another code of justice should be applied.
    That other code is not there.
    Our argument needs to be that absent a process that at least half of the citizens in this country demand there then surfaces the justice of the Wild West.
    How did the federal gov’t deal with that, they sent out marshals and judges who dealt justice swiftly and visibly.

    There is no justice for those in the womb – none.
    What follows then is one bad guy shooting another.

    Tiller handed out his own sentence many babies ago. He already cursed himself.
    It was just a matter of time before someone carried it out.
    The way I see it justice was done. Now let the law which allowed this scene to play out, deal with the injustice part of it.

    Maybe even the wayward church that welcomed the wayward doctor has to consider it’s part.
    Let’s not wear the shoe that doesn’t fit.
    Good riddence to bad rubbish.

  • elkabrikir

    “Just War” this is not. I agree. My fear is the “Wild West” scenario just played out. I can hardly believe more passionate people haven’t responded with such violence. Roe V Wade is leading us down the path to vigilantism.

    But it is a war, none-the-less. And what are our weapons? Decades of prayer? Years of legal rangeling? (remember urgency matters to the individual unborn child.) To quote Eliza Dolittle, “Words! Words! I’m so sick of words!
    I get words all day through…”

    With the stakes being thousands of lives a day, words seem futile.

    The only peace my soul can take from the ongoing slaughter, is that the blood of these tiny martyrs must be valuable to God. Perhaps it is shed on behalf of the rest of us cowards.

  • goral

    I know what you meant with the Just War statement, elkabrikir, and in a sense it does apply because this is a spiritual battle of proportions so vast that it makes our earthly wars look like skirmishes.

    Prayers didn’t stop the despots, millions of lives were lost. Yet we are instructed to always pray that we do the right thing.
    Let’s pray for the gunman who actually did a pro publico bono.
    The way I see it, a murderer’s career was snuffed out prematurely.
    Vigilantism is a pressure valve that prompts the authorities that they are not
    doing their job.

    This incident should raise a platform for discussing this heinous injustice
    that is the law of the land.
    Without tragic incidents like this we would fall asleep with our rosary beads
    always confident that we will wake up in the morning and all will be well.
    All is not well.

  • gerimom

    Fr. Frank Pavone’s article says that the pro-life movement’s greatest danger is that pro-lifers will be cowardly in defending the unborn. I fear another danger that has ravaged the pro-life movement for some time now and that is maybe even worse than this one.

    An old saying says that Christians are known by their love. The terrible tragedy is that many pro-lifers are known to the world for their hate. This is not caused entirely by media bias. I’ve seen as well as heard of many instances where Christians go too far with their righteous indignation. They bad-talk and sneer at Obama, they become so enraged when coversing with pro-abortion people about their beliefs that these people start to fear for their safety. It’s not only evil to act this way, it looks terrible. It makes the other side look and feel like they have the moral high ground!

    I’m so suprised to hear how many of you doubt the power of prayer. If anything, our poor world needs more of it. But more than prayer, our world needs love. Saint John of the Cross once said, “The least action done out of pure love is worth more than all of the good works of the Church put together.”

    We do not need vigilantism, because the motive behind vigilantism is not pure love. Anger destroys love, or at least blinds it. True love in this case would be that which Mary showed at the murder of her son. There was no way she could hold the soldiers back from piercing his hands and feet. So, instead of fighting for Jesus as Peter tried to do, she stood at the foot of the cross and prayed. This required so much bravery and love on Mary’s part, because she had to watch her son die and feel as if she could do nothing for Him. But in the end she did more for Him than all the saints and angels have ever done. It is the same case here. We cannot possibly kill the pro-choice movement by murder, violence, or hatred. So, we help the movement in other ways. We pray, we love, we suffer. These are the weapons Jesus and Mary used against evil too. Even though we may feel like we’re not doing enough, we know we’re doing plenty. Our pure love will save souls.

  • dennisofraleigh

    Elka (and others) it is true for all our prayers at the abortion mills “few babies are saved,” (not yet, anyway, but who knows?) but let us not forget that the Church of God (the “Church Militant”) also strives for justice and the common good in the political arena. Yes, I know it doesn’t appear we’ve made a lot of progress on that front either since 1973, but the alternative you suggest would bring trouble on the Church on a level of nightmarish proportions. And effectively end any political influence we might have for many, many years.

    So far, “they” haven’t taken away our vote or our First Amendment rights to continue speaking out and organize in opposition to the forces of anti-life. And popular opinion is beginning to swing in the direction of “pro-life” rather than “pro-choice.” The trick now is to translate that pro-life sentiment into votes for pro-life candidates for office. As we have seen in a few states just having parental consent laws and waiting periods does save babies. So we must keep praying and working. What is it St. Augustine is famously to have said? “Work as if it all depended on you. Pray as if it all depended on God.”

  • elkabrikir

    Geri, I don’t doubt the power of prayer. One of my points is this: unborn babies have a short window of opportunity to live in the body of a woman contemplating abortion. A particular baby doesn’t have 40 years to wait for just laws.

    I have offered up MANY of my pregnancy woes over the years for women in a crisis pregnancy AT THAT MOMENT IN TIME my her heart be turned toward her child in love. I offered up my recent miscarriage on Jan 11th for the same purpose. My prayers did not save the–approximately–495,000 babies who were murdered since my child died in the womb.

    I would have been shot dead for trying to stop the Nazis in Germany if I was forced to watch that many people be brought to the gas chambers for murder.

    I don’t suggest violence, either, dennis. I simply posed a question which I think needs to be discussed: If abortion is really murder, are we doing enough to stop it (both at the clinic level and the legislative level….and let me add, within our own churches.)

    Sit-ins, staged traffic jams, packed sidewalks, trips to jail, how many of those nonviolent events have occurred? Marching on Washington once a year has become trite and worthless except to motivate the pro life troops.

    I am angry, but pray I don’t sin, because I think Christians are partially culpable for Roe V Wade, and it started long before the decision was handed down. Now millions pay the price, while we pray and work through the system.

    I don’t have answers. But I think questions must be asked. As Goral said, vigilantism is a pressure valve for authorities to wake up and take note that all is NOT WELL. Geri, my conclusion is the same as yours, but I do wonder……..souls may be saved, but for all we know 45 million unbaptized souls, who died through abortion, may be lost. Would you stand by praying while the entire population of Poland (about 41 million souls) was gassed? well many folks did 60 years ago. What’s the differnce? The victims are tiny and unseen?

  • Bruce Roeder


    Here’s an appropriate comment, whcih addresses your question, from a Catholic webpage:

    Our job is to live our faith. Follow Pope Benedict’s lead: We have to
    spread within our sphere of influence an increased confidence in our
    ability to know and understand what is real, what is true. Or, as Father
    Schall likes to say, simply what is. Obviously we contact the ultimate
    reality when we pray, and when we stay close to the sacraments.

    But we make progress in the every day exercise our intellects too. Turn off the
    television, go to the theater. Shut off the computer, read a book. When
    you talk to your neighbors, don’t gossip, talk about important things.
    Start a book club and read serious books.

    Our friends and neighbors have lost the ability to distinguish the true
    from the false. It’s almost like we have to teach one another how to
    walk again. That’s how elementary the needed skill is.

    As a teacher, I like to think I contribute something toward the effort.
    But we all have to join in, because that’s all there is between us and
    the dark age. It’s a long shot at this point, but it was a long shot in
    the actual dark ages. We’re the monks, gathering and preserving what’s
    left of civilization even as we’re being overrun. I’m totally up for it.
    Are you?

    Bruce Roeder (no relation)

  • plowshare

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned here is that Tiller wasn’t just any abortionist: he was one of a handful of abortionists who did elective third-trimester abortions. A child born at that stage has an excellent chance of living, but prior to inducing labor, Tiller tried to make sure the child would be dead by injecting its heart with a lethal dose of digoxin.

    Despite this, I was shocked, almost numbed by the news of his death. Besides the fact that murder is seriously wrong no matter how bad the victim, there is no possibility for true justice to be done on this earth.

    Here was a man who I hoped could be brought to justice, and despite many setbacks it looked as though an attempt to have his license suspended had a chance of succeeding. Now we will never know how much he violated normal medical protocol in addition to his abortions.

  • elkabrikir


    thanks for your response. In fact, that has been my conclusion too, which is why I participate in my neighborhood Bunko group among other “profane” activities. At last Friday’s Bunko my heart was truly touched by the sheep without a shepherd there. I even invited one of the noncatholic ladies to come to mass with me on Pentecost. She did!

    I’m up for it! We’ve tried to raise our children to be yeast in the world. Amazingly, they are living forces that actively raise the dough of humanity wherever they go (in simple ways). People notice, and are positively affected (so they say)

    Thanks for teaching….me.