WASHINGTON (BP) --- The leaders of the country's major pro-life organizations universally decried the May 31 slaying of abortion doctor George Tiller, and many said they would be praying for his family.
Tiller, 67, was gunned down in Reformation Lutheran Church, the Wichita, Kan., congregation of which he was a member. He was likely the best-known abortion doctor in the United States, at least partly as a result of the late-term abortions he provided for women through this country and other parts of the world.
Among those issuing statements condemning the killing were representatives of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, National Right to Life Committee, Americans United for Life, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, Care Net, Susan B. Anthony List, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, American Life League, Operation Rescue, Christian Defense Coalition, 40 Days for Life, Stand True, Priests for Life and Pro-life Action League.
Excerpts from statements by some of the pro-life leaders:
-- Wendy Wright, president of Concern Women for America.
"Through the years, hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers have prayed for George Tiller, peacefully tried to persuade him to end his killing of innocent children and exploitation of women, and actively worked to enforce the laws of Kansas. We were guided by the hope that he would change his ways and find forgiveness in Jesus Christ.... Politicians, abortion activists, law enforcement and the media should be careful to distinguish between the millions of peaceful pro-lifers who seek the end of abortion and provide compassionate care for pregnant women, and the person who acted as a vigilante. We denounce this act of violence against George Tiller, just as we denounce the violence he committed against unborn babies and women."
-- Bryan Kemper, president of the Christian youth organization Stand True.
"We cannot kill people in the name of pro-life. Answering the violence of abortion with more violence will not serve the babies or help the pro-life movement in any way."
-- Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.
"The heart of the pro-life movement is one founded in love.... Authentic progress in women's rights has always encompassed the protection of human rights of every person across the board. The rights of one human being can never be honored by diminishing or ignoring the rights of another."
-- Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council.
"As Christians we pray and look toward the end of all violence and for the saving of souls, not the taking of human life. George Tiller was a man whom we publicly sought to stop through legal and peaceful means. We strongly condemn the actions taken today by this vigilante killer and we pray for the Tiller family and for the nation that we might once again be a nation that values all human life, both born and unborn."
-- Joseph Scheidler, national director of the Chicago-based Pro-life Action League.
"It has always been my philosophy that we convert abortionists. As activists committed to saving lives, we vigorously oppose violence.... I am adamantly opposed to what he did for a living. But I believe that anyone can come to the truth. Tiller deserved the chance to turn away from the evil of abortion."
-- Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue.
"Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller's family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ."
Compiled by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode.