(Update: The White House on Sunday released a statement from President Obama calling the shooting of a Michigan pro-life activist James Pouillon "deplorable." Obama said that "whichever side of a public debate you're on, violence is never the right answer." His comment came two days after Pouillon was shot while standing across the street from a school, holding a sign that pictured the image of an aborted baby.)
(CNSNews.com) – Reaction to the shooting death of a 63-year-old disabled man who was gunned down as he held up a sign protesting abortion near a high school in Owosso, Mich., on Friday came swiftly as pro-life groups across the nation offered eulogies about an individual they said was passionate about the fate of unborn children.
Known as “the sign man,” Pouillon, who had leg braces and required oxygen, was a pro-life activist for many years and well-known by other pro-life advocates around the country.
“He was just a kind, gentle man who loved life and endeavored to save other people’s lives,” Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, told the Associated Press.
But Jim Pouillon’s passing was not marked by the Obama administration, Planned Parenthood or NARAL Pro-Choice America, all of which quickly issued statements condemning the shooting death of abortion provider George Tiller, who was shot and killed inside his church in May.
“I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning,” President Barack Obama said in a statement released by the White House on the day Tiller died.
“However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence,” Obama said.
“The entire Planned Parenthood family is deeply saddened by the murder of Dr. George Tiller,” Cecile Richards said in a statement dated June 1, 2009 on the group’s Web site. “Dr. Tiller was the epitome of high quality medical care underscored by deep compassion for his patients.
“He was continually harassed by abortion opponents for much of his career - his clinic was burned down, he was shot by a health center protestor, and he was recently targeted for investigation only to be acquitted by a jury just a few months ago,” Richards said.
“None of this stopped George Tiller from his commitment to providing women and their families with compassionate care that others were unwilling to offer,” Richards added.
“On behalf of NARAL Pro-Choice America, our prayers and thoughts are with Dr. Tiller’s family and friends at this moment, a moment that fills us with immeasurable shock and deep sadness,” Nancy Keenan, president of the organization, said in a statement issued on the day of Tiller’s death.
“Dr. Tiller’s murder will send a chill down the spines of the brave and courageous providers and other professionals who are part of reproductive-health centers that serve women across this country,” Keenan said.
“We want them to know that they have our support as they move forward in providing these essential services in the aftermath of the shocking news from Wichita,” she said.
Pro-life groups across the country also issued statements on the day of Tiller’s death, denouncing his killer and the violence used, no matter one’s stand on the abortion issue.
Following Tiller’s death, the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office launched a federal investigation into federal crimes in connection with the murder and called a meeting of the National Task Force on Violence Against Reproductive Health Care Providers.
Repeated requests by CNSNews.com to both the White House and the Department of Justice asking whether any statements would be released and if similar actions would be taken in the wake of Pouillon’s murder were not answered.
Reid Cherlin, the White House spokesman that CNSNews.com was told was in charge of matters of this nature, did not respond to any of numerous inquiries for a reaction to Pouillon’s death.
Inquiries to the press office for Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America about whether statements would be released also were not answered.
A 33-year-old man was arrested shortly after Pouillon was killed at around 7:20 a.m. Friday near Owosso High School. Law enforcement officials believe the man also killed 61-year-old Mike Fuoss, who was found dead in his office at a gravel production company some time later.
The local paper published a photograph online of the spot where Pouillon died, cordoned off by yellow police tape. His sign and oxygen tank were still lying in the grass.
In a statement released on Friday, the Pro-Life Action League called on the federal government to provide equal protection and create a task force for violence against pro-life advocates.
“We are shocked to learn of the killing of pro-life activist Jim Pouillon, a man who day after day stood as a witness to the violence of abortion,” Joesph Scheidler, national director of the Chicago-based league.
Scheidler said people in his organization have been threatened before and called for an investigation into violence against protesters as well as a task force to be created to address such violence.
“Now the Pro-Life Action League is calling on those government agencies to investigate this murder and establish a task force to protect pro-life advocates,” Scheidler said.