In the 1990s, Rachelle “Shelley” Shannon shot and injured Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider who was later assassinated. She also committed multiple acts of firebombing and acid attacks against abortion clinics. For all this, she was sentenced to more than two decades in prison.
And now she’s free.
Rachelle “Shelley” Shannon was released from a halfway house in Portland, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons confirmed. She will be on supervised release for three years but the bureau said conditions of her release will not be revealed.
“We’re extremely concerned,” said Katherine Spillar, executive director of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “We’re alerting providers, briefing them and making sure they have enough security precautions in place.”
Hopefully, “supervised release” means not being allowed within 500 feet of an abortion clinic as well as regular parole visits…
Needless to say, her release is a concern for anyone involved in women’s health. It’s never good when people fear for their lives because a “pro-life” activist is on the loose. But by far the most disturbing thing about this may be how the anti-abortion movement fails to take any responsibility for shaping and influencing menaces like Shannon. For people so concerned with the “murder” of fetuses, they have relatively little to say about the murder of doctors — or at least their rhetoric contributes to the idea that killing abortion doctors is somehow an act of bravery.
Stephen Peifer, a former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted Shannon in Portland in 1995, said Shannon could do something violent herself but it’s more likely she would counsel other people to do so.
“She’s completely unrehabilitated and totally incorrigible,” Peifer said. “She has the same mentality and goals that she had when she was convicted.”
After all, if you knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a building on your street was kidnapping children and torturing them, would you stand outside holding protest signs and praying? No. Chances are that you’d probably storm in and attempt to save the children, even if it meant inflicting violence on the perpetrators. No decent person could just casually allow the abuse to happen.
Even pacifists such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who was executed for his role in a plot to kill Hitler, justified their actions as being necessary for the “greater good”: saving more lives. That means people like Shannon, despicable though they are, maintain some barbaric sense of logical consistency. You can’t keep calling abortion “murder,” or even “genocide,” and then act shocked when some people take it literally.