George Tiller

Late-term abortionist George Tiller was shot and killed this morning as he walked into his Wichita, Kan., church to attend Sunday services.

Tiller was a controversial figure in the abortion debate, accused on 19 counts of illegally aborting viable babies in violation of a state law that requires a second physician – without legal or financial ties to the abortionist – sign off on the procedure once the unborn child reaches a state in which it could survive outside the womb.

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Tiller was acquitted of the charges in March but still faced potential disciplinary measures from the Kansas Board of Healing Arts.

The Wichita Eagle reports Tiller was shot just after 10 a.m. at Reformation Lutheran Church, where he was a member.

The paper reports the gunman has been apprehended in flight and is being returned to Wichita. Police have not yet announced whether the suspect is a member of the church’s congregation.

The Associated Press reports the suspect arrested is named Scott Roeder, though no charges have yet been filed.

According to the Eagle, Tiller was wounded previously in a 1993 shooting by Rachelle Shannon, who remains in jail for the attack.

Operation Rescue, a Wichita-based pro-life organization that has protested and even blockaded Tiller’s abortion practice, however, condemned today’s violence.

“We are shocked at this morning’s disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down,” said a statement on the Operation Rescue website. “Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller’s family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ.”

Kansans for Life joined the condemnation, telling LifeNews.com that it “deplores the murder of Dr. George Tiller.”

“Our organization has a board of directors and a 35-year history of bringing citizens together to achieve thoughtful education and legislation on the life issues here in Kansas,” said Mary Kay Culp, director of Kansans for Life. “We value life, completely deplore violence and are shocked and very upset by what happened in Wichita today.”

Other organizations – including The Kansas Coalition for Life, Priests for Life, the American Life League, CatholicVote.org, the National Organization for Women and others – also joined in condemning the act.

Even President Obama released a statement:

“I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning,” said Obama. “However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.”

The Eagle reports that members of the congregation who were inside the sanctuary at the time of the shooting were being kept inside the church by police, and witnesses were transported downtown for interviews.

WND reported last year when Tiller, whose abortion industry was featured in a profile by WND columnist Jack Cashill, challenged the state law under which he was charged.

Former Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison filed the 19 misdemeanor counts brought against Tiller, replacing a package of 30 much more serious charges that had been filed after a lengthy investigation by the previous attorney general and now Johnson County district attorney, Phill Kline.

A 1998 law requires that two doctors without financial or legal ties must agree that continuation of a pregnancy will inflict “substantial or irreversible” harm to “a major bodily function” of the mother. Pro-abortion state officials have interpreted that to include issues for the mother such as depression.

But documents revealed that throughhout 2003, Tiller used a physician for his second opinion who had a financial relationship with him, Ann Kristin Neuhaus of Nortonville, an apparent violation of the law, officials said.

 


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