Why Was the Killing of George Tiller Wrong?

Recently, late-term abortionist George Tiller was gunned down by an abortion opponent.  Truth be told, many in the pro-life community have a hard time feeling sorry for a man who ended so many thousands of innocent lives, but still we know that his murder was morally wrong.

A crucial question is this:  If Dr. Tiller was really a mass murderer of innocent children, then why is it morally wrong to kill him?  After all, it seems reasonable to protect an innocent child from a killer and that’s what pro-lifers call abortion – the murder of an innocent child.

I think there are several answers to this question, but I want to quote from a Stand to Reason article on this subject:

It simply does not follow that if one believes that abortion is murder then he would advocate killing individual abortionists. What follows is this: He would work to end the wholesale killing as expediently as possible. It doesn’t follow he would kill abortionists. It follows that he would do whatever he can to stop the killing as quickly as possible. Now, that may or may not entail the shooting of individual abortionists. The answer to that question would depend on other considerations.

What are those considerations?

Well, anyone familiar with military tactics knows how such a thing can be the case. . . . Imagine for just a minute commandos in the Second World War impersonating Nazi officers, dropped behind Nazi lines to infiltrate concentration camps. Their mission? Destroy the gas chambers. Now mingling incognito with the rest of the camp cadre, they have many opportunities to kill other soldiers, even officers. Even the Commandant. But do you kill the individual executioner or do you go after the gas chamber? In this case, it seems that killing the individual would be wrong even though he was truly murderous, because it would keep the commandos from fulfilling their larger mission. And their failure would mean more lives lost in the long run. The short term gain would be no victory because the machinery of destruction would still be in place. Do you see that?

So what is the machinery of abortion that pro-lifers should be going after?

What this illustration shows is that there is no necessary contradiction in the view that abortion is a holocaust, yet the killing of individual abortionists is properly condemned. In fact, it is precisely because we hold to the innocent humanity of the unborn that we insist on an approach to this solution that is directed at the machinery of the killing–the laws, the economics and the deep human need that makes the alternative appealing. That’s our focus.

I would add that individual Christians should not be using using illegal, lethal force when any other means are available to stop an immoral act.  Since abortion is legal in this country, then every George Tiller that is killed will just be replaced by someone else.  It is the laws of the land and court of public opinion that need our attention.  Killing abortion doctors will never, in the long run, prevent abortion.

  • kay

    The killer is now no better person than Tiller was.

  • This is tragic. The bible tells us to repay evil with good. Not evil with evil. God also tells us the vengeance is “His” not ours. As believers we are deeply troubled by the abortion issue – but we can be doing more on our knees crying out to God then taking a gun and killing.
    Simply tragic,

  • I think it’s worth talking about whether godless worldviews can even ground the rational condemnation of murder at all, like Christianity can.

    I was talking to my atheist cousin who is a radical pro-abortionist. When I asked her how murder can be objectively and rationally wrong on her worldview, she denied that it was wrong. She refused to make a moral judgment against Tiller’s killer. We Christians thought it was wrong, but she couldn’t say so, on her worldview.

    I wrote about it here:

  • bamascot

    I met Dr Tiller. He was the Doctor that removed our daughter from my wifes womb after the very late miscarriage (22 weeks). He was a very strange man, quirky, terrible sense of humor. His office gave me the creeps. Because we were not there for an abortion, we were kepted in a different part of the clinic. His staff treated us extremely well. The protesters yelled at us, even though our daughter was already dead. I didn’t want to be there but our OBGYN thought it was the best for my wife. Abbie, our daughter had TD2 dwarfism, terrible deformations of the head and body and the OBGYN thought it best for her to be removed so we don’t see her. Dr Tillers office cremated her for us and we have her ashes here with us today. All this happened Oct 2008, and now, my wife is 6 weeks pregnant. God is blessing us with a second child, althought our first is staying with Him for now. She is safe in His arms and she is beautiful now too. I hate Dr Tiler was killed, what an awesome witness he could have been for prolife if given time to repent. If, he would have ever repented. I remember looking at his hands, and tears came to my eyes, the only person that held my little girl, killed so many others.
    God bless us all….

  • Bill Pratt

    Praise God for your new child! I wish the best for your family and thanks for sharing this information on our blog.

    God bless,

  • bamascot

    Looks like we are gonna have twins! Once again, God gives more than expected. Praise the Lord!

  • Bill Pratt


  • Michael

    If you were in the street, and you saw a grown man with a metal pipe smashing the head of an infant with the metal pipe, and the only way to stop him was to kill him, would you kill him?

  • linda

    people should learn to be nice george tiller death evil pido was like killing cancer evil baby killer he makes bullies how they are i think gts handicapped and his mum should of had a abortion evil pido