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Rachel Maddow: Right-Wing Terrorism Must Be Stopped

The tactics of anti-choice extremists are designed to change policy by terrorizing Americans. How do we stop them from committing violent acts?

Editor's Note: The following is an edited version of a transcript from the Rachel Maddow Show.

We begin tonight with another deadly act of domestic terrorism. The first time a doctor was murdered by the modern anti-abortion terrorist movement in America was March 1993.  Anti-abortion demonstrators were protesting at a clinic in Pensacola, Florida.  As Dr. David Gunn arrived at a clinic, a young man named Michael Griffin shot Dr. Gunn several times in the chest with a snub-nose .38 revolver.

Michael Griffin, the killer, became a cause celebre among anti-abortion extremists.  He was associated with the group called Rescue America, which said after Griffin killed Dr. Gunn that while they did not condone the killing, they didn‘t condemn it either.

Five months after Dr. David Gunn was killed, another doctor, George Tiller—yes, the same Dr. Tiller from today‘s headlines—was shot by a woman named Shelly Shannon.  Shannon had written letters of support for Michael Griffin, who killed Dr. David Gunn.  She called him a hero.

In 1992 and 1993, Shelly Shannon set fires and used acid to attack at least 10 abortion clinics in Oregon, California, Idaho and Nevada.  In 1993, she went to Wichita, Kansas, and used a semiautomatic pistol to shoot Dr. George Tiller in each of his arms outside the clinic at which he worked.

While she was in prison, Ms. Shannon signed on to a pledge of support for Paul Hill, the murderer of yet another American doctor.  In June 1994, Paul Hill shot to death Dr. George Britton and a 74-year-old clinic escort named James Barrett, and he seriously wounded Mr. Barrett‘s wife.

Six months later, a man named John Salvi walked into two clinics in Brookline, Massachusetts, and killed two receptionists and wounded five other people.  In January 1998, yet another murder—security guard Robert Sanderson was killed and a nurse named Emily Lyons was critically injured by a nail bomb that exploded at an Alabama abortion clinic at which they worked.  That bomb was planted by a man named Eric Rudolph.

Eric Rudolph had also bombed another abortion clinic and a gay bar in Atlanta the year before and he had famously bombed the Atlanta Olympics the year before that, killing Alice Hawthorne and wounding 111 other people.  The Atlanta Olympics bombing was a terrorist act committed by an anti-abortion extremist.

In October 1998, another murder—in Amherst, New York, Dr. Barnett Slepian was standing inside his house when James Kopp shot and killed him with a sniper rifle.  Kopp was a member of an anti-abortion extremist group that calls itself the Lambs of Christ.

And [last Sunday], George Tiller was shot again.  This time, it was inside his church in Wichita.  He was killed instantly.  A man named Scott Roeder is the suspect in custody in this case.  He‘s known in extremist anti-abortion circles.  He has had writings published in a newsletter called “Prayer and Action News,” which promotes the idea of killing people who provide abortion services as justifiable homicide.

Someone calling himself Scott Roeder had participated in anti-abortion discussion at a Web site of the group called Operation Rescue.  The group‘s founder, Randal Terry, spoke at the National Press Club today and celebrated Dr. George Tiller‘s death.

RANDALL TERRY, FOUNDER, OPERATION RESCUE:  I stand before you today saying about George Tiller what I said in his life.  He was a mass murderer.  George Tiller was a mass murderer.  He killed tens of thousands of innocent human beings at his own hand.  George Tiller was a murderer and he was doing something that was literally demonic.