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A Wisconsin man arrested Wednesday night after accidentally shooting a pistol through the door of his Madison motel room faces federal charges for allegedly plotting to kill an abortion doctor and clinic workers.
Ralph Lang, 63, told police that he planned to use the gun to kill the doctor at a Planned Parenthood clinic near the motel. According to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court in Madison, Lang said he wanted to “lay out abortionists because they are killing babies.”
Lang suggested to the officers who interrogated him that they look up “Rosary of the Unborn.” The website, which sells rosaries and anti-abortion literature and paraphernalia, includes messages supposedly from Jesus. The divine messages posted this week call abortion “the greatest weapon of mass destruction” and declare that it’s responsible for “economic distress,” natural disasters ravaging the country and resource depletion. “If you will stand corrected, many problems within the heart of the world will be resolved.”
Lang, who has a history of menacing abortion clinics, told police that he had also been in Madison with his gun last week but had hesitated to commit the act because he was having “spiritual struggles.” Clinic workers confirmed that they had seen him outside the building last week, the affidavit says.
Asked if he planned to shoot anyone besides the doctor, Lang said he wanted to “line [the clinic workers] all up in a row, get a machine gun, and mow them all down,” the affidavit says. Echoing a comment he made during his 2007 arrest outside a different Wisconsin abortion clinic, he said that he intended to “do what I feel police officers fail to do.”
Along with the gun, Lang had in his motel room a box of anti-abortion literature along with a U.S. map marked with dots in each state and the handwritten words “Blessed Virgin Mary says Hell awaits any woman having an abortion.”
At least eight people – including four doctors, two clinic employees, a security guard and an escort – have been killed in anti-abortion violence in the U.S. According to a 2009 report by the National Abortion Federation, there have been 17 attempted murders, 418 death threats, 188 incidents of assault or battery, and four kidnappings committed against abortion providers in the U.S. and Canada since 1977.
Next Tuesday marks the second anniversary of the murder of George Tiller, a Kansas doctor shot through the eye by Scott Roeder, an anti-abortion radical with ties to the antigovernment sovereign citizens movement. Roeder was found guilty of first-degree murder and is serving a 52-year sentence without chance of parole.