Shooting of Abortion Practitioner Tiller Likely Won’t Affect Sotomayor Debate

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 2, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Shooting of Abortion Practitioner Tiller Likely Won’t Affect Sotomayor Debate

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 2
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — When pro-life advocates first heard the news that a vigilante shooter affiliated with militia groups had killed late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller, they were in the middle of researching Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and her judicial record on abortion.

With President Barack Obama potentially appointing a new high court judge who could continue the Roe v. Wade ruling and the more than 50 million abortions that have resulted from it, the last thing pro-life advocates needed was a national media focus on an extremist who has nothing to do with their efforts to peacefully and legally protect women and unborn children.

Although they are concerned with how the media is portraying the majority of Americans who are pro-life on abortion, they don’t think the Tiller shooting will affect the Sotomayor debate.

"I don’t think it has anything to do with the Supreme Court justice debate," David O’Steen, the executive director of National Right to Life, told ABC News.

Helen Alvare, a law professor at George Mason University and former spokeswoman for the nation’s Catholic bishops, told ABC News she agreed.

"I just don’t see the spark here is going to ignite the Sotomayor situation," Alvare said. "It will be attempted to influence it … [but] I don’t see it as a game changer."

However, Pat Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, is worried how the press is depicting the millions of Americans who are pro-life as supportive of or justifying the killing or, at minimum, not mainstream.

"If there is an aggressive effort to try and demonize the pro-life community and our message, then members of the judiciary committee and other pro-life supporters may feel intimidated," he said.

"They may feel that their rights are being chilled and they may not speak out as passionately as they would have," he worries.

Abortion advocates told ABC News that the Tiller shooting will remind pro-abortion members of the Senate about how they want to make sure abortion stays legal.

Nancy Northup, president of the pro-abortion legal group Center for Reproductive Rights, said, "I think it will give pro-choice senators and pro-choice public a crucial reminder of how vigilant they need to be to ensure we have Supreme Court justices who strongly understand and support the constitutional protection from Roe v. Wade."

"I think it intensifies the need for the senators to explore her legal views on the Roe v. Wade decision and projection to the right to abortion in the United States," she added.

Whether it influences the Senate debate on Sotomayor or not, abortion advocates already had the numbers to approve her nomination unless a revelation out of left field occurs.

When the post-Tiller and post-Sotomayor debates are done, pro-life advocates will likely return their focus to Obama and his extensive pro-abortion record.

Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From

Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report
Receive a free daily email report from with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.