Friday, January 22, 2010

Not. About. Abortion

At least twice today, one of Roeder's public defenders, Mark Rudy, tried to lead a witness down the road Rudy had traveled during the preliminary hearing. The witness, Dr. Ryding, said he had noticed Roeder a few months before and had tried to have a conversation. Roeder was "defensive" and his conversation disjointed. Rudy wanted to know why Ryding, and the congregation, was so interested in new people. Ryding insisted it is because they are an open, welcoming church, but Rudy wanted him to say it's because some people come there to protest Dr. Tiller. Ryding worked hard not to go there, and Nola Foulston objected several times. At one point, Ryding said quite forcefully into the microphone the word "worship". When I first heard it, I wasn't certain what he had said. Apparently, neither was Rudy. He thought the word was "abortion" and repeated it. I figured it was "worship" because that's how Ryding continued. Rudy said "abortion" twice when questioning Ryding before he was stopped and the jury dismissed. The transcript was read back. Other than Rudy, everyone had heard "worship". Judge Wilbert gave Rudy the benefit of the doubt that he had honestly heard "abortion" (like I said, I questioned it originally). Later, Rudy was leading Ryding down the path to say he knew Dr. Tiller would eventually be killed, based on what he had told a detective back in May. Before Foulston could object, Wilbert stopped the questioning and called everyone to his bench. After that, Rudy stopped trying to get the answer.

Wilbert said if the witness opened the door to talk about Dr. Tiller's profession, Rudy could continue. But that Ryding had not opened the door. He had let Rudy try to get it out of Ryding, but he stopped it when it was going no where. It was getting the witness and Rudy quite frustrated (there were a couple of heated exchanges).

Wilbert had said several times before that this trial would not be about abortion. Today, he reminded the gallery not to make noises or motions that would influence the jury one way or the other. And then he stopped Rudy from forcing a witness to talk about Dr. Tiller's profession. Wilbert is keeping an eye on the questioning and keeping the trial about murder, not abortion.

Day One -- Terrorists in Waiting

I am working on a post for RH Reality Check on the details of evidence today, but rather than repeat that here, I figure I'll talk about the behind-the-scenes stuff.

I was not the first one in this morning -- one person was before me. After me was a woman from Texas (her name is apparently in dispute; it had been up on the Kansas City Star but isn't anymore) who was quite fidgety. Regina Dinwiddie showed up along with a woman identified as her mother. Cathy Ramey came in from Oregon. Jennifer McCoy was also there. In addition was a woman who was a friend of Dr. Tiller's (I spent a lot of time with her) and a local attorney who had attended a couple of hearings, also a friend of Dr. Tiller's.

From Judy Thomas's fairly detailed KC Star article:
About a half-dozen of Roeder's supporters attended Friday's session. Roeder glanced at them and smiled as he entered the courtroom. As the session began, the judge warned those in attendance not to cause any outbursts or distractions. During the session, one woman was admonished when she reacted with glee when a photo of Tiller's body was shown to jurors.

Cathy Ramey, a longtime anti-abortion activist from Oregon, said she came to Wichita to observe the trial.

"I'm here because I believe that God has a consistent standard of justice and whatever force is necessary to protect an innocent born person ought to be applied to an innocent unborn person as well," Ramey said. Regina Dinwiddie, a friend of Roeder's from Kansas City, showed reporters a petition that she had been taking around Wichita. It said, "We, the undersigned, declare the justice of taking all godly action necessary to defend innocent human life,. We proclaim that whatever force is legitimate to defend the life of a born child is legitimate to defend the life of an unborn child. We further declare that if Scott Roeder shot and killed George Tiller, Roeder's actions are morally justified if they were necessary for the purpose of defending innocent human life. Under these conditions, Scott Roeder should be acquitted of all charges."

Dinwiddie said she’d gathered about 100 signatures on her petition.

"The tide is turning,," she said.

The woman "with glee" was the one from Texas. In the afternoon, she was having some sort of laughing or crying fit (we couldn't figure it out).

As for the petition ... I had caught this in a Google Alert a couple of days ago but did not see that it happened in Wichita. Ramey wrote the update I had found. I don't know which Wal-Mart they went to, but she also told Thomas today that she had a much lower response rate when she went to QuikTrip (a regional gas station). Dinwiddie estimated 8% of Americans support killing of abortion providers. Even if that were anywhere near true, no matter how many people are fine with murder does not make it right. Lots of people were fine with lynching.

Before the trial began, Dinwiddie wanted to see how far she could go before getting kicked out of the courtroom. She and Texas wanted to wanted to stand up when their "hero" came in. Seemed they wanted to cause a bit of a fuss. They were told they couldn't at all. Texas was disappointed (which I could tell because she was sitting next to me). We also saw the bomb-sniffing dog. Texas was all giddy. After I explained it's a bomb-sniffing dog, she complained that it's not fair that dog gets to be there but she can't bring hers. I tried to explain the dog is on duty, but that was wasted breath.

I found out Bray is "expected" in town next week, and Spitz is due in on the 31st. I didn't catch when Leach was suppose to be here. They told the media they hadn't planned any protests so far.

On a much happier note, over the lunch break we saw a young couple get married! We wished them well before the terrorists and terrorist sympathizers came back up. As the floor got more crowded, a gay couple introduced us to their newborn baby daughter, only 30 hours old when we met her. When we told them who was on the other side and who we were, they were glad they randomly picked to sit on our bench.

If you see something while reading these posts on the trial that you don't understand or think I should certainly be mentioning, please email us! These first few days are going to be quite strange for me. I'm still adjusting to all the national (and international) media attention on my hometown. It's surreal.

Another Pathetic Response From Todd Tiahrt

Todd Tiahrt will not protect women in the pending healthcare legislation.

Thank you for contacting me to express your support for the inclusion of abortion services in healthcare reform legislation. I appreciate hearing from you on this important matter.

I must respectfully disagree with you on this issue. I believe that God is the giver of life, that every life is sacred and should be protected, from conception to natural death. I cannot, in good conscience, support any healthcare reform legislation that provides taxpayer coverage for abortions. While abortion has been made legal in this country, an overwhelming majority of Americans do not want their tax dollars to pay for abortion. I strongly agree with this policy. Excluding abortion from the healthcare bill would not outlaw the practice, it would merely protect taxpayers from funding abortions.

The House passed H.R. 3962, the healthcare reform bill, on November 7, 2009. Included in the bill was an amendment that prevents federal funding from being used for abortion, or from going to benefits packages that include abortion. However, it does still allow individuals who wish to use their own private funds to purchase supplemental insurance that covers abortions. I voted in favor of this amendment, which passed by a vote of 240-194. H.R. 3962 is currently awaiting consideration in the Senate.

Again, thank you for contacting me. If you have any additional questions on this matter, please do not hesitate to call on me or Richard Henkle of my Washington, D.C. staff. It is an honor to serve the people of Kansas in the United States Congress.

Best regards,

Todd Tiahrt
Member of Congress


Thursday, January 21, 2010

The jury has been selected, opening statements Friday

Thursday evening, 8 men and 6 women were seated for the jury in the trial of Scott Roeder. Friday morning, there will be a few more motions before the jury is sworn in and opening statements begin. Word on the street is Regina Dinwiddie has been in town a couple of days and both Don Spitz and Dave Leach will be here shortly, if they are not already. We expect Jennifer McCoy to attend at least a few days of the trial though she is due with her tenth child on Valentine's Day. We're certain others will be in town as well.

This starts on an auspicious day. Tomorrow is the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It is the day pro-choice activists celebrate the recognition of women's right to choose in their pregnancies. Abortion is one of the ways in which women are empowered to participate in society (though the Roe decision is far more than just abortion: it is also to prevent laws regulating pregnancy). Though since Dr. Tiller died, thousands of women in Kansas have lost that part of our empowerment. Of our 105 counties, only two counties have abortion clinics, both in the extreme northeast. Women in western Kansas already faced a difficult and long journey to Wichita, one they likely couldn't afford on top of the cost of the medical procedure, and they must now travel even more. While we celebrate the recognition of our right to choose, we are also faced with the cold, sad reality that we in Kansas have quite limited access to it. I am feeling today much as I did on May 31st: angry and sad.

We will try to update our twitter page throughout the day. Also follow Ron Sylvester and RH Reality Check for additional updates. Tomorrow night, expect a report on opening statements.

Tomorrow, keep Dr. Tiller in your minds. And celebrate choice.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Judge Wilbert Gets High Marks From Attorneys

The Wichita Eagle and the Wichita Bar Association conduct a survey of attorneys every election year to get an evaluation of the District Court judges from those that practice in front of them. The most recent survey was in 2008.

173 attorneys ranked Judge Wilbert. The percentage who stated they "agree" or "strongly agree" with the survey questions was above 60% in every category:

Is fair ------------------------------------------------------- 68%

Demonstrates knowledge of the law,
including the rules of procedure and evidence ----------------- 77%

Communicates orally and in writing in
a clear and logical manner ----------------------------------- 79%

Clearly explains rulings -------------------------------------- 73%

Is prepared for court ----------------------------------------- 79%

Is respectful, courteous and professional --------------------- 71%

Is punctual and demonstrates a fair work ethic. --------------- 78%

Applies the law appropriately --------------------------------- 67%

Treats people fairly without regard to
race, gender or sexual orientation ---------------------------- 71%

Is ethical ---------------------------------------------------- 66%

If the attorneys who appear before Judge Wilbert feel this strongly about him (and we know some win and some lose) then we need to calm down and trust him to try the case appropriately.

Senator Brownback Does Not Know About the Medical Needs of Women in the Military

On Wednesday, we told you that Todd Tiahrt Does Not Care About the Medical Needs of Women in the Military. We've now heard back from Senator Brownback and his position is . . . well . . . unknown. Read this non-responsive response and let us know if you can decipher what he means.

Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding the Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act. You may be assured of my interest in this matter, and I appreciate your taking the time to express your views to me. Please be assured that I will give this issue my most careful consideration, keeping your particular comments in mind.

I am honored and privileged to serve you in the United States Senate. Kansans elected me to Congress on a platform of Reduce, Reform, and Return in order to restore the American dream for Kansans and all Americans; and I continue to base my service upon these principles. From taxes to welfare reform to education to matters of fiscal responsibility to defense and all that comes in between, I cast my vote with these principles in mind.

The undergirding principle behind all of this is my deep and abiding respect for the dignity of every human being. When the Congress passes a law or Washington bureaucrats write a regulation, the lives of many people can be affected. Too often, policy in Washington is short-sighted or fails to take into account the long-term or broader effects and implications of laws and regulations on individuals' lives. While the Federal government does play an essential role -- especially in the areas of defense, commerce, and transportation -- I do believe that many other important decisions are better made at the local level where individuals have faces, and are more than just numbers or statistics.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this issue. As I continue my service in Washington on behalf of all Kansans, please continue to keep me informed on issues that are affecting you. I encourage you to visit my website at to learn more about issues on which I am working. You are the reason that I am here, and I look forward to hearing from you in the future.


Sam Brownback
United States Senator


AOG Doesn't Like Pro-All-Life Groups

We've always known that the folks over at AOG don't see eye to eye with their anti-choice brethern. Let's face it, AOG is "pro-life" and advocates killing while most other pro-life organizations are, well pro-life. So while doing some research today I wasn't that surprised to see that AOG had issued a "List of the Baby Betrayers."

This is a list of pro-life groups that took a pro-life stance and denounced the terrorist acts of Scott Roeder. So, who are these "evil" pro-life groups that think that all life has value?

Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalitions.

Rev. Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council

Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

40 Days For Life

Center for Bio Ethical Reform

American Life League

Focus on the Family

Women Influencing the Nation

Campaign Life Coalition

Kansas Coalition for Life

Life Issues Institute

Family Research Council

The Christian Anti-Defamation League

Kansas Family Policy Council

Susan B. Anthony List

Priests For Life

Kansans For Life

Stand True

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC),

Kelowna Right to Life

Real Women of BC

Rev Chet Gallagher OSA Las Vegas

Flip Benham OSA/Operation Rescue

Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League

We're not big fans of many of these folks either, but we do respect them taking a stance against terrorism and for that they get to be mentioned in this blog (this once) out of respect.

As for you AOG, we wouldn't expect anything less from you than your anti-life position. Your tinfoil hat is in the mail.