Defiant and unapologetic, a man accused of shooting a Kansas abortion provider confessed to the slaying Monday, telling The Associated Press that he killed the doctor to protect unborn children.
Scott Roeder, 51, of Kansas City, Mo., spoke to the AP in a telephone call from jail, saying he plans to argue at his trial that he was justified in shooting Dr. George Tiller at the abortion provider's Wichita church in May.
"Because of the fact preborn children's lives were in imminent danger this was the action I chose. ... I want to make sure that the focus is, of course, obviously on the preborn children and the necessity to defend them," Roeder said.
"Defending innocent life — that is what prompted me. It is pretty simple," he said.
Roeder is charged with one count of first-degree murder in Tiller's death and two counts of aggravated assault for allegedly threatening two ushers who tried to stop him during the May 31 melee in the foyer of the doctor's church. Roeder has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial in January.
In a more than 30-minute interview with the AP, Roeder did not apologize for the slaying.
"No, I don't have any regrets because I have been told so far at least four women have changed their minds, that I know of, and have chosen to have the baby," Roeder said. "So even if one changed her mind it would be worth it. No, I don't have any regrets."
His confession came on the same day several strident abortion opponents released their "Defensive Action Statement 3rd Edition" that proclaims any force that can be used to defend the life of a "born child is legitimate to defend the life of an unborn child." The statement's 21 signers demand Roeder's jurors be allowed to consider the "question of when life begins" in deciding whether lethal force was justified.
Among the signers are Eric Rudolph, James Kopp and Shelley Shannon — all serving prison time for targeting abortion doctors.
Lee Thompson, attorney for the Tiller family and executor of his estate, has said allowing such a defense would "invite chaos and be tantamount to anarchy." The Kansas Supreme Court rejected such a defense in a 1993 ruling over an abortion clinic trespassing case.
Tiller, 67, had been the target of relentless protests for most of the 36 years that he performed abortions at his Wichita clinic, where he practiced as one of the nation's few providers of late-term abortions. He was shot in both arms in 1993 and his clinic was bombed in 1986.
In rambling phone and jailhouse interviews shortly after his arrest in May, Roeder has said he would be pleased if others took action to stop abortion by any means necessary.
"Violence is not wrong in all situations, so if it takes that — then if it is done righteously — then, if it's done, it is OK," Roeder has said.
If convicted, Roeder is likely to face life in prison. Prosecutors have said they will not pursue the death penalty.