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The event organizers must have had a sense of humor because the KFL booth shared a tent pole with the Kansas Democratic Party's booth. This provided me with some entertainment as smiles of recognition (fellow Christians and protectors of life!) curdled into stares of loathing (coat-hanger death panel!) and vice versa, depending on one's political views and which direction one was walking.
An older woman with dyed hair was handing out bumper stickers. She told me that her name was Norma. "Pamphlets and all the rest of the literature is free," she said. "Stickers are $1, and the pins are $2." She gestured toward a basket of gold pins; on closer inspection, I saw that they depicted very small pairs of feet. Each had a card attached, pointing out that the pin represented the size of a fetus' feet at eight weeks in the womb. They'd have made decent cuff links.
"Do you see that woman in purple there?" Norma asked, pointing toward a woman draped head to toe in the color. "I want to tell you something about her, but I want to wait until she's gone because I don't know if she'd like it."
The purple woman was looking at her. She nodded her head once, then turned and walked into the crowd.
"That woman knew the man who shot George Tiller," Norma whispered. Her hands were flat on our table, as if she had to steady herself.
"She told me that the FBI came to her house and started questioning her after they arrested Roeder. She wouldn't tell them anything. She knew something like this was going to happen, but she'd known Roeder so long, and he was her friend, and she didn't know what to do. And the FBI just forced themselves into her house and tried to get her to tell them all about him."
"Wow," I said. I looked away, but the woman in purple was already gone. "What did you think of all that?"
"I was glad it happened," Norma said without pausing to consider the question. "I know I shouldn't say that, but I'm glad he was murdered. All those innocent babies. He got what he deserved. And I'm glad it shut down that practice for good. The state's better off for it."
"I don't know," I said. "I just can't get behind taking the law into your own hands like that," I said.
"Normally I'd say that, too, but not this time. Tiller got what he needed to, and people will remember it."
And there it was. Whether people, like Dan, were embarrassed by Roeder or, like Norma, they cheered for him, everyone with Kansans for Life was glad that the clinic was gone. No one was getting a late-term abortion in Kansas, and more people would be scared to resume Tiller's work. Which is all Roeder wanted to accomplish. He won.
Republican campaign volunteers approached the table every so often to make their pitches for a Kansans for Life endorsement. I got the feeling that Norma liked the way they tried to sell her, as if she would duly return to headquarters, report in hand.
"I've worked on the campaigns on the Missouri side, and I think Kansas needs strong right-to-life candidates even more," said one young man. "Even if you just put a sign up in your yard, it'll help us," he said.