George Tiller, one of the nation's few third-trimester abortionists, has invited Kansas legislators to visit his facility, Women's Health Services in Wichita.
Tiller gained notoriety in 1991 when Operation Rescue targeted Wichita for more than six weeks of protest (CT, Sept. 16, 1991, p. 44). The campaign drew pro-life support from across the nation and resulted in 2,500 arrests.
Tiller's "invitation to reality" is allowing legislators to visit on Mondays this month. When lawmakers make an appointment, they hear the same questions posed to women scheduling abortions.
During the visits, legislators pass through metal detectors, see the paperwork for late-term "fetal indication" abortions on babies with severe deformities, and meet with Tiller.
By mid-September, Tiller's publicist, Peggy Jarman of the Pro-Choice Action Network, told CT that three legislators had confirmed appointments.
Jarman says an open house has been in the works since the facility's recent expansion. "A tour and punch and cookies at the end is nice, but it's really not that helpful," Jarman says. "I thought it would be helpful to introduce some facts and reality."
"Whether the doctor is nice or the staff consists of caring people is not the issue," says Rep. Timothy Carmody of Overland Park. "It's what they do. Maybe he ought to bring down some pro-choice legislators to watch an actual abortion."
The tour will not include an actual abortion, Jarman says, because client confidentiality must be protected.
"It's really a hollow invitation," says April Holley of the National Right to Life Committee. "If Dr. Tiller wanted to show an accurate view of what happens at his clinic, then at the very least he would show a training tape of an actual abortion."
Despite controversy and adversity, Tiller has continued to perform third-term abortions, even surviving a 1993 shooting attempt on his life. Rachelle Renae Shannon is serving a seven-year sentence for attempted first-degree murder in the shooting (CT, April 25, 1994, p. 44).
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