Front Page » Table of Contents » Archive: Human Rights: January 2010

Our Trial of Scott Roeder

WICHITA, Kan. - For eight months, many parts of America waited for the decision of a jury of twelve: did Scott Roeder plan out the murder of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in a church on May 31, 2009? And many Americans feared the jury - and, often times, the judge - would not side with justice, no matter their beliefs on abortion. The trial is now over with sentencing and appeals to come. Roeder very likely will spend the rest of his life in jail. It seemed a foregone conclusion that this would be the result of the trial. So why did so many people fear Roeder wouldn't?

Some of the fear I saw floating around the internet was that Kansans, living in a red state, would let Roeder walk because they are anti-abortion and wanted Dr. Tiller to stop providing them. Dead is as good as in jail. After all, we did elect Phill Kline. The jury would surely nullify and set him free. There are a few problems with this line of thought. Kline, for one, won in 2002 with only 50.3% of the vote against a candidate who barely campaigned. Hardly a referendum on abortion and Dr. Tiller.

WICHITA, Kan. - Members of the Kansas National Organization for Women (Kansas NOW) breathe a collective sigh of relief upon receipt of the news that the jury in the trial of admitted murderer Scott Roeder has handed down a guilty verdict, finding the him guilty of the crime of first degree murder and aggravated assault.

We hope that it will serve as a strong message to those that have exalted this coward into a position of prominence in the so called pro-life movement. Violence in any form against abortion doctors will not be tolerated.

WICHITA, Kan. - I wrote previously here at the Kansas Free Press about the vigil that Kansas NOW hosted in honor of the 37th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade Day.

The vigil honored Dr. Tiller, the thousands of women who lost their lives prior to legalized abortion and the doctors and clinic staff that have been murdered in acts of fanatical violence. Our crowd was small in size, but the vigil impacted each and every participant present. Wichita NOW member, Vickie Stangl sent me an email the very next day.

She said, "I was so inspired, astonished and moved by the vigil. I couldn't sleep and started writing." Vickie's words are powerful. I post them here with her permission...

WICHITA, Kan. - On January 22, 2010, Kansas NOW and Wichita NOW held a candlelight vigil in honor of the 37th Anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision. The program was dedicated to the late Dr. George Tiller, the thousands of women who died prior to Roe v. Wade and the abortion providers and staff that the nation has lost to senseless acts of violence.

The New York Times cover from January 23, 1973;
Lyndon B. Johnson died the same day the Roe case was decided
It was an emotional evening that featured a candlelight ceremony to honor our fallen heroes. You can listen to an NPR story that features some audio coverage of the vigil here.

Tiffany Campbell came from South Dakota to share about her personal abortion story. Attendees shared their personal stories of abortion and how important it is that it remain safe, legal and accessible.

I have shared some of the evening's transcript below, which includes statements provided for the event from Dr. Warren Hern and Dr. Susan Wicklund....

MANHATTAN, Kan. - When terrible things happen, it's natural for people to turn their attention to the problems, evaluate the situations and figure out what needs to be done in order to make things better.

"For me, an area of moral clarity is: you're in front of someone who's suffering and you have the tools at your disposal to alleviate that suffering or even eradicate it, and you act." - Paul Farmer

Not everyone reacts with the same amount of compassion or willingness to help. In some situations, some people are repulsed or made uneasy by the pain and suffering of others. People can turn away and avoid involvement or the feelings of uneasiness by blaming or fearing the victims.

Did biases towards the victims prevent effective life-saving responses to the Hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans? Could the same thing happen in Haiti? Under what circumstances do people sometimes blame and criticize victims, deeming them unworthy of help?

When assessing the amount of help someone needs, people's perceptions can be skewed by their racial biases, according to a recent Kansas State University study.

WICHITA, Kan. -The Kansas National Organization for Women condemns Judge Wilbert for his decision to allow a manslaughter defense in the trial of the murder of Dr. George Tiller.

His decision opens the door for a society that would condone vigilantism and violence against abortion providers. Scott Roeder, the accused murderer, has already made his malicious intent toward Dr. Tiller clear through his repeated jailhouse confessions to the press.

Judge Wilbert's decision sends the message that religious fanaticism can be considered a defense for murder.

barack-obama-1.jpgSALINA, Kan. - The ninth season of the hit television program American Idol is scheduled to begin tomorrow night, almost a year after the inauguration of Barack Obama as the first African American president of the United States. Professor Sherrilyn A. Ifill, a civil rights lawyer and law professor at the University of Maryland Law School, authored a provocative essay exploring the link between the two phenomena.

From Idol to Obama: What TV Elections Teach Us About Race, Youth & Voting appears in the recently released collection of essays Barack Obama and African American Empowerment: The Rise of Black America's New Leadership. The book, edited by Manning Marable, professor of history and political science, and public affairs at Columbia University includes the contribution of over a dozen scholars analyzing the significance of the election of President Obama.

kansas-state-capitol-3.jpgTOPEKA, Kan. - Join Kansas NOW on January 21, 2010 for Roe v. Wade Day at the Capitol!

Now, more than ever, it is important that we have a strong pro-choice presence in Topeka. This is the first Roe v. Wade Day event since the assassination of Dr. Tiller.

Come to the Capitol and honor him and his unfailing dedication to the women of Kansas.

Transportation is available from Kansas City and Wichita.

EMPORIA, Kan. - The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States ensures that persons charged with crimes are permitted to have the assistance of counsel. In the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) it was determined that for those persons who cannot afford an attorney, one must be appointed for them by the charging jurisdiction. In order to comply with the ruling, the State of Kansas currently reimburses private attorneys in counties which do not have established Public Defender offices but recent budget cuts imperil the rights of defendants as fewer attorneys will be able to offer their services to the citizens of Kansas.

NEW YORK, New York - My past two weeks in New York has inspired me to delve into the world and history of feminism and lesbianism in the United States.

I thought to myself, where did I come from? What's my history, my background? Instead of visiting Ellis Island and searching for my ancestors' names, I chose to visit the Lesbian Herstory Archives in the Park Slope Area of Brooklyn.

The Lesbian Herstory Archives is completely volunteer-run and has been accepting donations of items from lesbians around the world since the 1970s. The archives' purpose statement is as follows:

The Lesbian Herstory Archives exists to gather and preserve records of Lesbian lives and activities so that future generations will have ready access to materials relevant to their lives. The process of gathering this material will uncover and collect our herstory denied to us previously by patriarchal historians in the interests of the culture which they serve. We will be able to analyze and reevaluate the Lesbian experience; we also hope the existence of the Archives will encourage Lesbians to record their experiences in order to formulate our living herstory.

The evening I visited the archives, it was only open from 6:00 until 9:00 pm. I was warmly greeted by a volunteer who gave me an in-depth tour of the archives' various collections, including books, posters, buttons, stickers, newsletters, periodicals, visual art, films, and more.

Transgenders Are People Too

LAWRENCE, Kan. - This past year, the Lawrence branch of the Kansas Equality Coalition, a statewide group that advocates for the rights of GLBT Kansans, went to the Lawrence city commission asking that the city add the term "gender identity" to Lawrence's human rights ordinance. The ordinance as it stands now includes language protecting Lawrence residents from discrimination based on race, sex, religion, color, national origin, age, ancestry, sexual orientation, disability or familial status.

Apparently the city commission wasn't sure whether or not to include two more words in the ordinance, so they passed the issue on to the Lawrence Human Relations Commission for a recommendation. After holding an open forum where the public could speak its mind and then discussing the matter amongst themselves, in November of 2009, the Human Relations Commission recommended to the city commission that it NOT add the term "gender identity" to the anti-discrimination policy.

We have more! This page only lists entries in a particular month. We encourage you to look back through our archives in this same category.

The previous archive is Human Rights: December 2009. The next archive is Human Rights: February 2010.

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This is an archive page containing all of the stories posted to Kansas Free Press in one particular topic in a particular month. These stories were published in the Human Rights: January 2010 section.

The previous archive is Human Rights: December 2009. The next archive is Human Rights: February 2010.

The most current posts can always be found on our Front Page.

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