SmackAMack’s Blog

May 31, 2009

US Abortion Doctor Shot Dead

Filed under: Uncategorized — smackamack @ 7:48 pm

 

George Tiller

 A prominent US abortion doctor has been shot dead at a church in the city of Wichita, Kansas.

Sixty-seven year-old George Tiller was killed just after 1000 (1500 GMT) at the Reformation Lutheran Church.

The gunman, described as a white man, fled in a car, but officials say a suspect is now in custody.

Dr Tiller, one of the few US doctors who performed so-called late-term abortions, had been vilified by anti-abortionists in the US.

His clinic – called Women’s Health Care Services – had often been the site of demonstrations, and he had been shot and wounded by an assailant 16 years ago.

Dr Tiller’s lawyer, Dan Monnat, said he was killed while serving as an usher during a morning church service. His wife was in the choir at the time.

Dr Tiller’s widow, four children and 10 grandchildren issued a statement calling his killing “an unspeakable tragedy”.

The statement said: “This is particularly heart-wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace.”

They said his death was a loss for Wichita and for women across America, saying he had dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality health care, despite frequent threats and violence.

‘Cowardly’

Anti-abortion groups also denounced the shooting.

In a statement, Troy Newman of Operation Rescue said his group had worked for years through peaceful and legal means and through the proper channels to see Dr Tiller “brought to justice”.

“We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning.”

Phill Kline, an opponent of Dr Tiller and a former attorney-general of the state of Kansas, said: “I am stunned by this lawless and violent act, which must be condemned and should be met with the full force of law.”

The shooting came two weeks after President Barack Obama made a major speech on abortion at one of the main Catholic universities in the US.

Correspondents say the president is attempting to defuse the abortion issue – a highly emotive subject in US public life – by arguing that while it should remain legal, the government should do all it can to limit the number of unwanted pregnancies.

But members of the anti-abortion movement have been angered by the president’s reversal of restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and for family-planning groups which carry out or facilitate abortions outside the US.

A late-term abortion is the termination of a foetus beyond the 20th week of pregnancy, when it is potentially old enough to survive outside the womb.

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