Bill O’Reilly is deservedly getting lots of attention for his years-long vicious crusade against George Tiller:
But it should be pointed out that O’Reilly had a lot of company in this effort to demonize Tiller, as Religious Right groups had been targeting Tiller for years and regularly holding him up as the epitome of the “evil” that is reproductive choice.
For instance, just last month, more than two dozen right-wing groups and activists sent a letter to Senators opposing the nomination of Kathleen Sebelius to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, citing among their primary concerns her “ties” to Tiller:
Governor Sebelius has long close and personal ties to notorious abortionist George Tiller, known for performing late-term abortions in Kansas, include donations from Mr. Tiller of hundreds of thousands of dollars to PACs and organizations controlled by the Kansas Governor. She has also repeatedly interfered in cases brought against Mr. Tiller, including recruiting a candidate to replace the state attorney general who was originally prosecuting the abortion doctor.
Signatories of the letter included the likes of Tom McClusky of Family Research Council Action, Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, Jim Backlin of the Christian Coalition, Phil Burress of Citizens for Community Values, Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, Brian Burch of Fidelis, Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, and Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition.
The fact of the matter is that, for years, right-wing groups sought to make Tiller the face of the abortion fight and a quick search of several of the leading organization’s websites demonstrates just how often they citied Tiller in their own anti-abortion efforts.
For instance, Tiller’s name was mentioned dozens if not hundreds of times on the websites of organization’s like Focus on the Family, Faith 2 Action, Vision America, American Family Association, Christian Coalition, American Center for Law and Justice, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, the Traditional Values Coalition, and the Alliance Defense Fund where he was often referred to with terms like “accused serial abortionist,” the most notorious abortionist in America,” “George (the Killer) Tiller,” and “Tiller the Killer.”
There are at least 78 mentions of the name “George Tiller” on the Family Research Council website, often in connection with statements like this from March of this year:
The trial of notorious Kansas abortionist, George Tiller, is now underway. During his career as an abortionist, Tiller has performed over 80,000 abortions, among them thousands of viable, third-trimester babies. Women travel to Kansas from all over the world to obtain late abortions they cannot get elsewhere. Tiller’s body count is greater by far than all the American troops killed in Vietnam … This man should be in jail. Whatever the outcome of the trial now underway, the fact is that jail is the only appropriate place for ‘doctors’ who kill children” … May George Tiller finally be brought to some semblance of justice!
But perhaps no organization outside of the single-issue groups like Operation Rescue made Tiller a bigger target than did Concerned Women for America, which has more than 200 mentions of him on its website, including this column by Janice Crouse from just a few weeks ago:
The bloodshed of the thousands of late-term abortions that Dr. George R. Tiller of Wichita, Kansas, performs each year vastly eclipses the death toll from the struggle over the slavery contest in Kansas in the years immediately prior to the Civil War. The slaughter in Tiller’s abortion clinic – by his own account he has performed over 60,000 abortions, with a “special interest” and focus on “late-term” abortions – should justly revive the label of “Bleeding Kansas.”
It is hard to know what is in the mind of someone like George Tiller, the abortionist who for years has routinely killed the babies of women in the last stages of their pregnancies – seven, even eight months along … Tiller takes upon himself the role of God and condemns to death any innocent child whose mother chooses to label it as “unwanted.” Then he executes them.
As I’ve been reading the coverage of Tiller’s murder over the last two days, I’ve been asking myself “why do I even know his name?”
I don’t know the name of even one other women’s health provider in this country, yet I was well-aware of George Tiller … and that is because, for years, the Right had demonized Tiller and his perfectly legal practice, turning him into the poster boy for the abortion debate writ large, and routinely holding him up as the incarnation of the absolute wickedness of abortion.