Kansas has passed a new legislative rule that affects mandatory minimum sentences and that has a number of people behind bars appealing. Most notable among those convicted is Scott Roeder, the man who murdered Dr. George Tiller in 2009. Roeder’s lawyers have decided to appeal his sentence, arguing that the mandatory minimum of 50 years with no possibility for parole that he faces is no longer constitutional. But as part of their appeal, they also intend to argue that the jury should have been able to convict him of voluntary manslaughter, a lesser offense, predicated on the idea that Roeder believed that he had to kill Dr. Tiller in order to “save the lives” of the embryos and fetuses that the abortion provider would terminate.
A new trial for Roeder means a repeat of the media circus that surrounded his last court appearances. It also means a resurgence of the anti-choice terrorists that supported Roeder in his quest to murder the doctor, or after the fact. Operation Rescue will no doubt be present, as both the local arm of the militant anti-choice wing and because of Cheryl Sullenger’s link with Roeder. Also expected to make an appearance would be those who associate themselves with justifiable homicide, such as Operation Save America members, Missionaries to the Preborn and, of course, the Army of God, who call Roeder an “American Hero” and facilitate conversations with him.
There’s little doubt that Army of God is already involved in this new hearing. Violent anti-choice terrorists flooded the original trial with their support, including legal documents, and they have apparently drawn up more briefings this time as well. “The high court has been presented with a litany of issues on appeal, both from abortion opponent Scott Roeder’s court-appointed defense attorney and from filings written for him by militant anti-abortion activists,” writes the Associated Press. Foremost among these filings is a reiteration that Roeder believed he was saving lives, or what anti-abortion activists refer to as the “necessity defense.”
Roeder’s new hearing isn’t the only place the Army of God is popping up, either. They’ve also decided to host Eric Rudolph’s autobiography on their site. Rudolph is in jail for multiple bombings, including both abortion providers and the site of the 1996 Olympics. Rudolph originally tried to publish the book through a publisher, but was forbidden from making money off of his crimes, so now the website will host it for free download.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has called Rudolph’s book “reprehensible.” “It is reprehensible for a criminal who killed a police officer and caused so many families so much pain, to attempt to justify his crimes at this late date,” Peggy Sanford, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, stated in an email to AL.com. “If Rudolph makes any effort to profit from this publication, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will take appropriate steps to ensure that does not happen.”
Guttmacher has released its latest state of reproductive rights legislation analysis, and recent count shows that although anti-choice laws have slowed down, there have been more restrictions passed in the last three years than there were in the decade prior. No wonder pro-choice groups are arguing that 2014 is the year to stop playing defense on abortion and birth control access. For that to happen, however, we need strong politicians in office who will uphold the right to bodily autonomy. The question becomes: what do we do with candidates who don’t have that track record?
That’s one that will soon need to be asked in Wisconsin, as Kathleen Vinehout challenges Mary Burke for the Democratic endorsement for Governor. Republican Scott Walker is one of the most vulnerable GOP governors in the 2014 cycle, but the two women most likely to take him on have vastly different records on the right to an abortion. Vinehout, a former Democrat for Life, says that she has “evolved” on the issue, however, as the pro-life platform has turned into an all or nothing “protect life from fertilized egg to moment of natural death by ceasing of heartbeat” litmus test.
Vinehout might not be the only politician in Wisconsin evolving, either. Even the Republican party itself seems to be cooling on their anti-choice platitudes, with the Senate leader saying there may no longer be enough support to pass anymore restrictions this legislative session. Then again, that could just be a facade, since no one ever wants to have a number of contentious social issue votes happening right before a reelection.
Except of course for Republican Governor Sam Brownback. The Kansas leader says he’s not sure if any abortion restriction will come to his desk this year, especially the contentious “heartbeat” ban that would make abortion illegal as early as 4 weeks post conception. If they do, however, he wants people to remember that he “is prolife,” so he’d sign anything he can get his hands on.
Pro-life advocates in Louisiana want to make abortion the primary voting issue during the 2014 election, and Ohio is still desperate to get a “personhood” amendment on the ballot. In Texas, clinics continue to remain closed because of unnecessary regulations while crisis pregnancy centers are taking over the landscape with their advice on how to stay pregnant and their refusal to help people avoid pregnancy in the first place. One small part of the birth control mandate was blocked from going into effect this week, but soon we will see if any of the other lawsuits will bear fruit. In Israel, abortions will be free if you are between the ages of 20 and 33, regardless of the reason you want one, but you will have to tell a panel of judges why you are requesting it.
Finally, two fantastic profiles this week: one an extensive look at Dr. Kenneth Edelin, who passed away this week. Dr. Edelin was convicted of manslaughter by a racist jury when performing a legal abortion in 1975. The second is an interview with Tamesha Means, the woman suing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for not allowing her to obtain an abortion when she was miscarrying at a Catholic hospital.
Read more: Army of God, crisis pregnancy centers, dr george tiller, Eric Rudolph, Guttmacher, Kathleen Vinehout, Mary Burke, ohio, personhood, scott roeder, scott walker, texas, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USSCB, wisconsin
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