Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kansas abortion doctor shot dead at church

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - A Kansas doctor who was a controversial provider of so-called "late-term" abortions was shot and killed at his church on Sunday, local media reported.

The Wichita Eagle newspaper reported that 67-year-old George Tiller, a longtime target of anti-abortion activists, was shot to death as he walked into services at Reformation Lutheran Church.

Police are searching for a white male who fled the scene after shooting Tiller with a handgun, local media reported.

Local television station KAKE said on its website that sources close to the investigation and the doctor confirmed that Tiller was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after emergency crews arrived.

Police Captain Brent Allred did not name the victim, but he classified the case as high-profile and said the victim has been the target of violence in the past, the station said.

Tiller's clinic in Wichita has been the site of mass protests by anti-abortion groups and was bombed in 1985. Tiller was shot and wounded by an abortion opponent in 1993.

Abortions are generally considered late-term when they are performed after the 20th week of gestation on fetuses potentially old enough to survive outside the womb.

Anti-abortion group Operation Rescue said it was shocked by the news. "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," the group said in a statement on its website.

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