For the first time in years, only a Wichita police car has been waiting outside the abortion clinic of Dr. George R. Tiller, who was shot to death a week ago. Gone are the trucks bearing enormous images of bloody fetuses, the signs offering the home addresses of clinic workers, the crowd of protesters yelling to women as they enter.If your community has a physician who provides abortion services be on the lookout. Operation Rescue extremists might be heading your way.
Over almost 20 years, a vocal, diverse constellation of anti-abortion forces has grown up in this conservative city with an intensity rarely seen elsewhere, converging around Dr. Tiller’s practice. With his death, its future suddenly seems uncertain, too.
This city of 358,000 people, once the focal point of protests because of four abortion clinics — most significantly Dr. Tiller’s, which provided rare late-term abortions — last week had no abortion facility open for business, no target in chief, no immediate reason for this network of anti-abortion forces to be based here.
“I don’t know what the future holds,” said Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, one of the most well-known anti-abortion organizations. Seven years ago, Mr. Newman moved his organization’s national headquarters, its leaders and his family from Southern California to Wichita to focus a national spotlight on Dr. Tiller, whom he described as “the flagship” of the country’s abortion business.
“I think it’s too early to say what comes next,” he said.
The only question left to ask is how long Justice and the Department of Homeland Security is going to allow this domestic terrorist ring to exist?