From the New York Times, the closure of Dr. Tiller's clinic after his murder has led to significant limitations in abortion access in his service area. I imagine Dr. Tiller also provided other reproductive health services and education.
The Kansas abortion clinic run by the doctor who was shot to death in church last month has closed permanently, his family said on Tuesday.
The clinic of Dr. George R. Tiller, in Wichita, had been one of a few in the country to provide abortions to women late in their pregnancies, and for decades, women had traveled there from all over the nation and overseas. The office, Women’s Health Care Services Inc., was also the state’s only remaining clinic, even for abortions performed early in pregnancy, outside the Kansas City area.
“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,” a statement issued by Dr. Tiller’s lawyers read. The lawyers said the Tiller family would offer no additional comments.
After Dr. Tiller was killed as he served as an usher at his church on May 31, national abortion rights advocates had hoped, they said, that others might step in and keep his clinic open to provide late-term abortions. Many of these advocates expressed empathy on Tuesday for the decision of the Tiller family, which had been the target of criticism, protest and attacks for more than 30 years, but they also said the loss of the clinic might prove devastating to families of those few women who learned late in pregnancy of catastrophic health issues.
“It is unacceptable that anti-abortion intimidation and violence has led to the closing of Dr. Tiller’s clinic,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Not only have we lost a fearless defender of women’s fundamental health and rights in Dr. Tiller’s murder, but the closing of his clinic leaves an immediate and immense void in the availability of abortion.”
Warren M. Hern, a doctor from Boulder, Colo., who also performs late-term abortions and was a friend of Dr. Tiller, described the outcome as “horrifying.”
“Where does it end?” Dr. Hern said. “The anti-abortion fanatics got exactly what they wanted.”
Dr. LeRoy Carhart, a Nebraska physician who had worked with Dr. Tiller in his clinic at times, issued a statement saying he was “currently exploring every option to be able to continue to make second- and early, medically indicated third-trimester abortions available.” Nebraska law bars such abortions, and Dr. Carhart provided no details about what options he was considering to make them available without Dr. Tiller’s Kansas clinic.
Abortion opponents, who had devoted years to fighting Dr. Tiller’s clinic with criminal investigations, protests and, earlier, blockades of the building, described this outcome as “bittersweet.”
“We are thankful that Tiller’s clinic will not reopen and thankful that Wichita is now abortion free,” Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, which moved to Wichita because of Dr. Tiller’s clinic, said in a written statement. “It is our sincere prayer that threats to open another third-trimester abortion clinic in Kansas will not come to fruition so that the healing process for this state and community can begin.”
Still, Mr. Newman said, “we have worked very hard for this day, but we wish it would have come through the peaceful, legal channels that we were pursuing.”
Mr. Newman and many others in Wichita have said since Dr. Tiller’s death that they firmly believed an investigation by Kansas regulators into possible license violations would have resulted in Dr. Tiller’s losing his clinic in a matter of months. (That investigation, a Kansas spokeswoman said Tuesday, was closed after Dr. Tiller’s death.)
The president of the Kansas Coalition for Life, Mark S. Gietzen, who since 2004 had arranged for daily volunteers to stand outside the clinic and call out to the women going in, said his group might turn its efforts to abortion centers in the Kansas City region now, or perhaps to North Dakota.
“It looks like our prayer was answered,” Mr. Gietzen said of the clinic’s closing.
“We would have liked to have done this a different way though,” he said. “Now we have thousands of people bad-mouthing us, refusing to donate, telling us our Web site incited this.”
Scott P. Roeder, an abortion opponent from Kansas City, Mo., is in a Wichita jail, charged with murder in Dr. Tiller’s death. In Wichita, the anti-abortion groups have said Mr. Roeder was not a member or donor, though some leaders said they had seen him before or received phone calls from him.
In a jailhouse interview on Tuesday, Mr. Roeder told a reporter from CNN that he had received letters of encouragement, and described the closing of the clinic as “a victory for all of the unborn children,” according to CNN.
In the first days after Dr. Tiller’s death, his family said the clinic would close for the moment, but no permanent decision was made public until Tuesday.
In the statement released by lawyers, Dr. Tiller’s family said it wished to assure his previous patients that it would work to keep their medical histories and patient records “as fiercely protected now and in the future as they were during Dr. Tiller’s lifetime.”
The family also said Dr. Tiller’s work would be honored through private charitable work. Abortion rights advocates said they thought the abortion providers nearest to Wichita might now be about three hours away, in Overland Park, Kan.; Kansas City, Kan.; and Tulsa, Okla.