I watched a bit of Scott Roeder's sentencing yesterday, and that little bit was more than enough. Even with the judge's interruptions, Roeder was able to sermonize about the evils of abortion. The defendant also invited a handful of character witnesses to testify about what a sweet, nonviolent killer he is. In the end, he received a Hard 50 sentence, the next best thing to life without parole. And like any good drama queen, he was led screaming from the courtroom.
Roeder got what he wanted, though. George Tiller is gone, and so is his clinic. Wichita's nearest abortion clinics are now in Kansas City and Oklahoma City. As Judy Thomas noted in her story this morning, the number of late-term abortions plummeted last year in Kansas.
And that doesn't count the terrible loss that Tiller's loved ones have suffered. I was struck by the family's statement, about how they hope the sentence will discourage other people from threatening abortion providers. They asked the authorities to make sure Roeder isn't allowed to "foment hatred and violence from his prison cell." Here's hoping. I can't help feeling that, on some level, he's perfectly happy to wait out the rest of his life in a prison cell, viewing himself as some kind of misunderstood martyr.
Jeanne Tiller, widow of slain abortion doctor George Tiller, hugs a family member during the sentencing of Scott Roeder in Sedgwick County District Court in Wichita, Kan., Thursday, April 1, 2010. Roeder was convicted last January of murdering Tiller's husband, Dr. George Tiller. (AP Photo/Jeff Tuttle, Pool)