You are hereABC News: Suit Reveals Ties Among Radical Abortion Opponents

ABC News: Suit Reveals Ties Among Radical Abortion Opponents


-By Roxana Hegeman (Associated Press)

January 27, 2013- A lawsuit against a Kansas woman who publicly proclaimed her admiration for the man who gunned down one of the country's few late-term abortion providers is revealing the unwavering support a small group of radical anti-abortion activists has for the imprisoned killer despite an ongoing federal investigation into the 2009 slaying.

Though no federal indictments have been handed down by a grand jury investigating whether Dr. George Tiller's death was connected to a broader case involving extreme anti-abortion activists, the lawsuit against Angel Dillard is one indication the Justice Department is taking a more heavy handed approach to perceived threats to abortion providers. In addition to alleging Dillard, of Valley Center, sent a threatening letter in 2011 to another Wichita doctor who was training to offer abortions, the lawsuit also highlights Dillard's relationship with Scott Roeder, the man convicted of fatally shooting Tiller at the physician's church.

When Roeder opened fire on Tiller, he propelled himself to icon status among abortion opponent extremists — a status that hasn't wavered since he was sentenced to life in prison. A leader in the Army of God, which supports violence against abortion doctors, notes Roeder gets more correspondence than other imprisoned anti-abortion activists.

AP PhotoThis combination of undated file photos shows... View Full Size AP PhotoThis combination of undated file photos shows Scott Roeder, left, and Angel Dillard.
Hailed by militant anti-abortion forces as a "prisoner of Christ," Roeder has been spreading his radical views from a Kansas prison. Other extremists have gravitated to Roeder, visiting him in prison, sending him money and offering legal advice, court documents show.

Abortion rights supporters fear a disturbing pattern whereby imprisoned abortion opponents inspire others to commit further acts of violence against abortion providers and clinics. But radical anti-abortion activists contend the government is trying to suppress "serious opposition" to abortion by targeting Dillard.

"We are always concerned when extremists are getting together and spreading hate and encouraging others to engage in criminal activity," said Vicki Saporta, executive director of the National Abortion Federation, the professional association representing abortion providers.

A federal grand jury began investigating in 2010 whether Tiller's murder was connected to a larger case involving radical anti-abortion activists. Though no public charges have been filed, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, Dena Iverson, said the investigation is still open.

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