One of the most infuriating events of 2009, the murder of abortion doctor Georges Tiller in Kansas, is still taking its course as the shooter finally confessed to the murder in court, supposedly rolling in an easy first degree murder conviction. Tiller, a hero to women, providing late-term abortions to those in precarious situations in and outside Kansas, who had already been shot in the arm, saw his life end violently and abruptly while attending his regular Sunday Church service.

Now a key event to the most radical fringe of the pro-life movement such as Operation Rescue, the murder of Dr. Tiller, which should have raised the question of the limits to which the government is going to restrict abortion rights and the infinite dangerosity floating around doctor’s lives, is carrying in its wake a dangerous miscarriage of justice: the soon-to-be-convicted shooter has been allowed by the defense to present his case as being « morally justified ». From’s Wendy Norris:

Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert ruled Tuesday that Kansas law does not recognize the “necessity defense” — a legal claim that a defendant is justified in breaking the law to thwart a greater imminent threat. Roeder admitted to news reporters last month that he killed Wichita physician George Tiller May 31in the foyer of a church to prevent him from performing abortions.

The judge said allowing the personal beliefs of defendants to justify unlawful actions would “not only lead to chaos but would be tantamount to sanctioning anarchy.”

For months, the Army of God, a militant anti-abortion group linked to murders, clinic arsons and domestic terrorism, has egged Roeder on to claim Tiller’s death was Biblically justified.

However, that ultimate aim has not been entirely lost.

Wilbert said he would “leave the door open” for Roeder’s defense team to argue to jurors that his religious beliefs about abortion compelled him to act.

Let’s be clear. There is such a thing as an absolute truth ; morals may be subjective, and conditioned by religious (or non-religious, for that matter) beliefs, but the role of the law is to rise above such subjectivity and provide an objective, stone-cold compass for the entirety of society to live by. The law is not a tool to be easily manipulated by successive governments, it is not meant to serve a specific personal, religious, or political ideology. The law is, in itself, the absolute ; and every society that proclaims order over chaos and humanity over disenfrenchisement is unequivocal regarding murder. Killing another human being is wrong on all possible levels, and will be subsequently punished. The fact that murder is also the first cardinal sin in all three monotheists religions is no coincidence. Murder is where one would draw the line on their soul, specifically when said murder was premeditated, such as Doctor Tiller’s case, where Scott Roeder was driven by ideology.

Because the Constitution clearly states that every man is innocent until proven otherwise, and that all citizens are entitled to a fair trial, when evidence is strongly held against the defendant, the defense usually seeks for circumstancial evidence that could have explained the desperate gesture that murder is, from self-defense to temporary insanity, from a difficult childhood and everything in-between. Even the very question surrounding the controversy of the death penalty circles around the belief that regardless of the situation, no matter how righteous one feels, killing someone is a display of social inadequacy. In order to provide nuances and allow space for difficult situations, second degree murder and manslaughter created a hierarchy in a crime resulting in the death of an individual, the classification resting on the responsibility and the intent of the defendant.

However, the court is creating what can only seem as a precedent – is there such a thing as « morally justified murder » ? Would it then be considered somewhat alright by legal standards to play God with people’s lives for as long as they do not follow the ideology we put our faith in ? Is this not how the current climate of terrorism presents itself, the coercion of an entire population into bending to another’s cultural and religious beliefs in the name of a set of morals we do not understand ? If murder can be justified, will it then cross into misdemeanour territory, a minor glitch into someone’s role in society, a try-out at rectifying and regulating the course of political and social action ? Is that a gateway into legalizing mob justice ? What is it, the Far West circa 1812 ? As Wendy Norris continues to explain, the “necessity defense” course of action is nothing new in the pro-life movement – a group called the Army of God (sic) once used it to justify their violent actions as being a “defensive force” as described in the Christian Dominionist version of the Bible.

As a woman, would I be morally justified into killing members of Operation Rescue as they are in direct infraction with my own human and civil rights, or are we backpedaling to the times when women are considered to be void of any soul? If citizens can not turn to the judicial branch of their nation to protect them from harm, is there such a thing as a legal state anymore, or should we just go ahead and assume that the Bible holds supraconstitutional value in the United States?