A woman who shot late-term abortion doctor George Tiller was released from custody Wednesday, putting abortion clinics on edge as they warn other facilities to take precautions against what they see as a possible threat.
“We’re extremely concerned,” Feminist Majority Foundation Executive Director Katherine Spillar said, according to The Wichita Eagle. “We’re alerting providers, briefing them and making sure they have enough security precautions in place.”
Oregon resident Rachelle “Shelley” Shannon shot Tiller in both arms in 1993 and was arrested that year. Shannon, now 62, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for attempted murder. She was also sentenced in 1995 to 20 years for two acid attacks and six firebombing attacks on abortion clinics in Oregon, California and Nevada, according to the Eagle.
She was released Wednesday after serving 25 years in prison for her multiple felonies.
“Shelley Shannon’s release absolutely makes us nervous,” said the interim president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, Katherine H. Ragsdale, according to the Eagle. “She’s not only committed multiple acts of violence herself, but has encouraged violence in others.”
Shannon will remain on supervised release for three years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons that confirmed her release Wednesday.
At the time of the shooting, Tiller was one of the only doctors in America who performed third trimester abortions. He was shot to death by Scott Roeder in a church in Wichita, Kansas, in May 2009. Roader admired Shannon and had visited her many times in prison prior to the shooting.
After Shannon was arrested for shooting Tiller in 1993, police found a letter addressed to Shannon’s daughter reading, “I’m not denying I shot Tiller. But I deny that it was wrong. It was the most holy, most righteous thing I’ve ever done. I have no regrets.”
Prior to his death, Tiller faced two grand juries investigating whether Tiller had followed state law by providing abortions after 22 weeks only in cases where the unborn baby would not survive or where the mother would face “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,” The New York Times reported. Tiller was summoned to testify by citizen-led petitions, according to TheNYT.
“We are pro-life, and this act was antithetical to what we believe,” Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said after Tiller was killed, condemning the act of violence.
Tiller was not the first abortion doctor to be violently attacked for his work, according to the National Abortion Federation.
“I don’t think she’ll be doing anything violent,” said Reverand Donald Spitz, an anti-abortion activist. “She’s glad to be getting out, she’s going to church again. Just doing everyday things,” he added.
The lead prosecutor on Shannon’s federal case in Portland, Oregon, in 1995, Stephen Peifer, disagrees. “She’s completely unrehabilitated and totally incorrigible,” he told The Eagle. “She has the same mentality and goals that she had when she was convicted” he added.
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