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Archive for Thursday, February 27, 2003

Wichita group welcomes abortion ruling

February 27, 2003

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— The Supreme Court's decision that federal racketeering and extortion laws were wrongly used to prevent abortion protests may result in the return of blockades at a Wichita clinic long targeted by abortion opponents, said Troy Newman, director of Operation Rescue West.

Newman, who attended the Supreme Court hearing in the case several months ago, said blockades are a methodology that allows people to live out their faith. Newman moved to Wichita a year ago to focus his abortion efforts here.

"I would welcome it," Newman said when asked if the ruling will mean protesters will return to clinic blockades. "I will never shy away from that type of rescue activity."

The court's ruling is a victory for Operation Rescue, anti-abortion leader Joseph Scheidler and others who were ordered to pay damages to abortion clinics.

Operation Rescue West plans a noon celebration rally Friday in front of the Wichita clinic run by Dr. George Tiller, one of the few physicians nationwide who performs late-term abortions.

Tiller did not return a call seeking comment on Wednesday. But Julie Burkhart, a spokeswoman for the abortion support group Pro Kan Do, said protesters must remember the court's ruling does not mean illegal activities -- such as trespassing, blockades or violence -- are allowable.

The 1994 Freedom to Access Clinic Entrances Act continues to make it federal crime to block the entrance of an abortion clinic, Burkhart said.

"This is not a license to commit illegal acts, and I hope that the City of Wichita will continue to uphold and enforce the law as well," Burkhart said.

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