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Guest: Senator Claire McCaskill

By Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel Maddow Show - February 14, 2011

Guests: Dr. Mila Means, Sen. Claire McCaskill, Dan Rather

           

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Good evening, Lawrence.  Thanks very much.

And thanks to you at home for sticking around with us this hour.

           

In 1993, this woman, her name is Shelley Shannon, walked up to a car in a parking lot at a medical clinic in Wichita, Kansas, and she shot the driver.  She shot the driver of the car she walked up to.  The driver was the doctor who ran that medical clinic.  She shot him through both arms.  The doctor survived the shooting and the very next day, he returned to work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. GEORGE TILLER, MEDICAL DOCTOR:  You know, I"m just like my patients.  You know, last night, I got shot and I was scared, but there was somebody there to take care of me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  The woman who shot that doctor in both arms got letters and visits in prison from a whole lot of people who said they agreed with what she did, and they wanted to support her in having tried to kill that doctor.

One of the people who visited Shelley Shannon in prison, and made friends with her on the basis of his admiration for her crime was this man.  Sixteen years after Shelley Shannon shot Dr. George Tiller in Kansas, Scott Roeder shot him, too.  Scott Roeder shot him point-blank in the head, at Dr. Tiller"s church and killed him.

A couple things have happened in this story since then.  First, Mr.  Roeder was tried and convicted.  Like Shelley Shannon before him, he was visited and got correspondents from a whole bunch of people said they agreed with him, that murder was the right thing to do in this instance, that it"s a justifiable way for one side to get what they want in the fight over abortion rights in America.

Two of the people who testified as character witnesses for Mr. Roeder at his sentencing wanted to make their case in court that it was right to kill that doctor.  That one legitimate way to get what you want in this country is to kill the people on the other side of the debate.  The judge essentially shut them down from making that case but they made it to the press and to anybody else who would listen.

You may also remember from when this story broke that the radical anti-abortion group, Operation Rescue, their phone number was found on a piece of paper on the dashboard of the killer"s car when he was pulled over just hours after the murder.

Now, the Feminist Majority Foundation is an organization that tracks threats and violence against clinics.  A legal coordinator for that foundation attended an anti-abortion rally last month, who"s put on by the Maryland Coalition for Life, it was held at a church in Germantown, Maryland.  The foundation reports that the operation of Operation Rescue, this group that had its phone number found in the car of the man who killed Dr. Tiller, the president of Operation Rescue was there last month, bragging in a speech about how Wichita, Kansas, had been made abortion-free.

They are right, that since the assassination of Dr. Tiller, abortion, as far as we know, has become unavailable in that city and in that part of Kansas.  The family decided to"”the family of Dr. Tiller decided to close the doctor"s clinic and another one has not opened in Wichita to replace it.

So, here"s the question that matters"”that looms over all this, regardless of how you feel about the abortion issue: is murder an effective political tactic in the United States in 2009, 2010, 2011?  If there"s a political movement that preaches that killing people is a just and appropriate way to achieve your desired political ends"”how do we as a country react when some extreme member of that extreme political movement actually follows through and really does kill someone?

It was May 31st, 2009, when a man who provided abortion services in Kansas was killed because he did that.  Nobody has openly provided abortion services in that city since then.  The movement to which the extremist who killed him belonged is now bragging about the effectiveness of their tactics at stopping abortion in Wichita.

And now, we can report exclusively that the same tactics of intimidation, harassment and the implicit threat of force are being used to keep anybody from replacing the doctor who was killed.  Again, regardless of how you feel about abortion, are we OK as a country with this being the way this issue gets decided?

In December, "The Associated Press" reported that two Wichita doctors were training to provide abortion services.  The doctors" names were leaked to the press by the anti-abortion movement and the "A.P." inexplicably decided to publish them, even though it did not necessarily advance the story.

The protest at the doctor"s offices against them potentially providing abortions at some point in the future started immediately.  And after a lawsuit filed by her landlord, one of these two doctors is now looking for another facility to move to, one where she"ll be able to set up enough security to be able to provide this supposedly constitutionally protected legal service.

But there"s more.  In October and November of last year, you may remember we reported on the disturbing reemergence of one of the most notorious tactics of the extreme pro-violent edge of this movement, the wanted poster, or the pseudo-wanted poster.  It used to happen a lot.

Before Dr. David Gunn was murdered, there was a "wanted" poster about him.  Before Dr. John Britton was murdered, the radical anti-abortion movement had a "wanted" poster out targeting him.  Before Dr. Tiller was shot the first time in 1993, it is believed this "wanted" poster targeting him was being circulated in anti-abortion circles.

And this past fall, we reported on the return of that tactic.  In North Carolina, these wanted posters targeting abortion doctors there.  Posters call them killers.  They show their photos.  They list their offices and in some cases, their home addresses.

One of the doctors targeted by the posters told us that he saw the poster very clearly as a threat against his life.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It reminds me of the old Wild West wanted posters.  That"s the way I took it.  The poster itself is a call for my murder.  The poster itself, I think, is targeting that person who has a personality that"s already borderline and will see this as a message to do some harm.  That is the purpose of the poster.  And if anything happens to me, that"s what"s going to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  A doctor in North Carolina speaking to us a couple of months ago, his identity severely shielded for his own safety at his request.

A member of the same group that put up the wanted posters that targeted that doctor in North Carolina is now doing it in Wichita, too.  They"re doing it by e-mail, but you recognize the format, right?  The grainy photo; the exact address of where to find the doctor.

We blocked all this out, but assure you, the information is very specific.  I have seen it.  It includes not only the address but the cross streets.  It also includes an instruction that this doctor should get visits at her office or at her home.  The doctor described as an unspeakable, horrific murderer who earns blood money for violently slaying the innocent.

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