THE WICHITA DIVIDE by Stephen Singular


The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle Over Abortion
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An in-depth examination of the 2009 murder of an abortion doctor in Wichita, Kan.

Singular (When Men Become Gods: Mormon Polygamist Warren Jeffs, His Cult of Fear, and the Women Who Fought Back, 2008, etc.) frequently investigates hate crimes committed by individuals who have become unhinged extremists relying on ersatz religious doctrines. Scott Roeder, the 51-year-old assassin of Dr. George Tiller, fits the type. Tiller was one of the few physicians remaining in the United States willing to perform abortions during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Roeder, relatively stable while younger, a husband and father, became gradually obsessed with the immorality of abortion and focused his obsession on Tiller. Various conservative commentators with national audiences, especially Bill O'Reilly, fed the hatred by regularly referring to the doctor as "Tiller, the baby killer." Devoted to a woman’s right to choose, Tiller operated his Wichita clinic despite the fears of his wife, children, friends and employees. Though he had survived gunshot wounds and other injuries in the past, he could not survive Roeder's attack. With detailed reporting, Singular provides ample context about the divisive issue of abortion, and he often uses first-person passages to trace his investigations of violent extremists dating back to the ’80s. Though the author now lives in Denver, he grew up in Kansas and thus feels comfortable plumbing the political and cultural depths unique to that state. Disagreements over the morality and social utility of abortion have raged in cities across the nation, but Wichita served as ground zero during Tiller's lifetime. Roeder showed no remorse after his capture, expressing pride that he had shut down abortion services in Kansas' largest city.

A disturbing, haunting journey into unrepentant hatred.

Pub Date: April 12th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-62505-4
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2011


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