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Abortion Doctor’s Murder Puts Debate Into Sharper Focus

The murder of prominent Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller has raised new questions on where things stand among groups on both sides of the abortion debate. Kevin Eckstrom, editor of Religion News Service, examines the impact of Tiller's death on the abortion issue.

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    Dr. George Tiller's murder yesterday, while he stood in the lobby of a Wichita church, was the first killing of an abortion provider in 11 years.

    Tiller practiced medicine in Kansas for more than three decades and offered a variety of reproductive health services. But he was one of the very few doctors in the U.S. who performed especially controversial late-term abortions, those in the third trimester of pregnancy.

    Tiller was a staunch defender of the practice.


    I have a right to go to work. What I am doing is legal, what I am doing is moral, what I'm doing is ethical, and you're not going to run me out of town.


    Tiller was a frequent target of anti-abortion activists.


    We have incontrovertible evidence, incontrovertible evidence, right, that this man is executing babies about to be born in late term because the woman is depressed.


    Violent activists had Tiller in their sights for years. He was shot twice in 1993. His clinic was often vandalized; in 1995, it was bombed.

    A suspect in yesterday's murder was quickly apprehended: 51-year-old Scott Roeder is being held on one count of murder and two counts of assault. Roeder was reportedly affiliated with anti-abortion and anti-government groups.

    Tiller family attorney Dan Monnat says the murder may have its intended effect: stopping or limiting the practice of abortion.

  • DAN MONNAT, Tiller Family Attorney:

    Regardless of the motivation for this senseless act, the act itself will probably discourage other physicians from being involved in this high-risk health care.