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Archive for Friday, June 18, 2004

Praying protesters arrested while blocking Wichita abortion clinic entrance

June 18, 2004

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— Police arrested 12 abortion protesters Wednesday at a women's clinic that performs late-term abortions.

The group got down on their knees and started praying, blocking the entrance to the parking lot at Dr. George Tiller's clinic and refusing to leave when asked, said Janet Johnson, spokeswoman for the Wichita Police Department.

All 12 were arrested for trespassing and two were also charged with resisting arrest, she said. All -- 10 men and two women -- were local residents.

"We believe that their conduct was illegal and probably violated federal law. We appreciate local authority's expedient handling of the situation," said Julie Burkhart, a spokeswoman for the clinic and director of the abortion support group Pro Kan Do in Wichita.

Tiller has been the focus of anti-abortion groups because he is one of the few physicians in the country who performs late-term abortions. His clinic was bombed in 1985 and he was shot in both arms by an abortion protester in 1993.

Although protesters are frequently outside the clinic, the past few years have been relatively quiet, Johnson said.

Abortion opponent Kip Bloss, who has gone to the clinic to pray every Tuesday for 12 years, said he was prepared to join the group blocking the clinic's entrance but was asked to stay behind and be their spokesman. He said there was no organization behind the protest.

"About two or three months ago God began to draw a line in the sand and challenge us that we needed to deny ourselves and lay down our lives for the children," he said.

Donna Lippoldt, administrator of Operation Save America-Wichita, and Tony Newman, president of Operation Rescue West, both said their organizations were not involved in the protest.

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