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Tiller clinic closes; colleague may fill gap

WASHINGTON (BP)–The family of slain abortion doctor George Tiller has permanently shut down his Wichita, Kan., clinic, but a colleague said in the wake of the decision he will perform the procedures in the third trimester at another location in the state.

Meanwhile, a pro-life organization that maintained a consistent presence outside Tiller’s clinic for years has signaled it is interested in purchasing the facility.

A statement released by lawyers for the Tiller family said his widow, Jeanne Tiller, and their four children were closing Women’s Health Care Services Inc. permanently. “Notice is being given today to all concerned that the Tiller family is ceasing operation of the clinic and any involvement by family members in any other similar clinic,” according to the statement.

The family would honor Tiller’s memory “through private charitable activities” but would make no further comment on issues regarding the clinic, the June 9 statement said.

Tiller, 67, was shot to death May 31 inside Reformation Lutheran Church, the Wichita congregation of which he was a member. Scott Roeder, 51, of Merriam, Kan., has been charged with murder. The country’s major pro-life organizations condemned the killing.

On June 10, fellow late-term abortion doctor LeRoy Carhart told the Associated Press he would do procedures for “later second- and the medically indicated third-trimester patients very soon” in Kansas. Carhart refused to say where he would perform such abortions and whether they would be at a new clinic or one already in existence, AP reported.

Though Carhart has his own clinic in Bellevue, Neb., he performed abortions later in pregnancy at Tiller’s Wichita clinic.

Carhart is well known for his performance in the past of partial-birth abortions. His challenge of a federal ban on the procedure reached the Supreme Court, which upheld the law in 2007.

Partial-birth abortion typically involves the nearly total delivery of a baby in the fifth or sixth month before his life is taken. During the procedure, an intact baby normally is delivered feet first until only the head is left in the birth canal. The doctor pierces the base of the infant’s skull with surgical scissors before inserting a catheter into the opening and suctioning out the brain, killing the baby.

Operation Rescue, which had done sidewalk counseling and other activities outside the Tiller clinic, told AP it was considering making an offer to purchase the building.

O.R. President Troy Newman said June 9 his organization was thankful the clinic is closed but expressed regret about the circumstances under which it was shut down. “We have worked very hard for this day, but we wish it would have come through the peaceful, legal channels that we were pursuing,” Newman said in a written statement.

Probably the best-known abortion provider in the United States, Tiller gained great notoriety among pro-lifers as the leading performer of late-term abortions. His clinic was a major reason Kansas has been described as “the late-term abortion capital of America.” The clinic advertised on its website it had “more experience in late abortion services over 24 weeks than anyone else currently practicing in the Western Hemisphere, Europe and Australia.” Women traveled to his clinic from throughout the United States and various foreign countries in order to have abortions even in the third trimester.
Compiled by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode.

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