Archive for Thursday, June 5, 2003

Abortion bill reaction mixed in Wichita

June 5, 2003

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— Even if a House vote Wednesday eventually leads to a nationwide ban of so-called "partial birth" abortion, one of the few clinics left in the country that still performs the procedure will remain able to offer late-term abortions, an anti-abortion leader said.

But the House vote will have a long-term, lasting effect on the conscience of America, said Troy Newman, director of Operation Rescue West.

"This is congruent with the recent gains that the pro-life movement has achieved through three decades of hard work," Newman said.

If approved as expected late Wednesday night, the vote in the House to ban the procedure would move the restriction a step closer to President Bush's signature, and a likely court challenge from groups that call it unconstitutional.

Wichita has long been at the center of the national abortion debate. The clinic of Dr. George Tiller, one of the few physicians nationwide who performs third-trimester abortions, was bombed in 1985, and he was shot in both arms by an abortion protester in 1993.

The 1991 "Summer of Mercy" campaign drew thousands of abortion protesters to Wichita and resulted in 2,700 arrests.

Tiller did not return messages seeking comment Wednesday at his office.

Kansas already has a partial birth abortion law, Newman said, but it has not stopped third-trimester abortions because the law is circumvented by using other abortion methods -- such as stopping the fetus' heart before delivery.

The expected victory Wednesday for abortion foes in Congress comes on the heels of the Supreme Court's decision in February that federal racketeering and extortion laws were wrongly used to prevent abortion protests.

"We've seen the House, Senate and Oval Office become pro-life -- actively pro-life," Newman said. "The number of abortions are at their lowest point in 30 years."

But abortion rights supporters said the legislation considered Wednesday by the House was unconstitutional.

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