(Photo: AP / Larry W. Smith, file)
The head of a pro-life group in Wichita said his group is interested in buying the clinic of slain late-term abortion provider George Tiller and turning it into a place that honors life rather than one that takes life away.
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, which is operating at the former site of an abortion clinic it purchased and closed, said he has brought up the idea of purchasing Tiller's clinic with a few board members but nothing has been confirmed.
He said that the group might turn the Women’s Health Care Services clinic – the site of Tiller's operations for decades – into a memorial museum for babies. The activist group has long tried to shut down the Wichita clinic.
"That is hallowed ground,” Newman said of Tiller's former clinic to The New York Times
"It’s iconic of the abortion movement, of abortion itself. It holds memories, sorrowful memories for countless women and for the babies that have died there," he said. "You can’t turn it into a coffee shop. You wouldn’t pave over Auschwitz or Dachau."
Newman is also considering turning the clinic into a center that nurtures and cares for babies, The Associated Press reported.
The pro-life activist expressed interest in acquiring the building shortly after family members of Tiller announced that they decided to permanently shut down the clinic.
Dan Mannot, a lawyer representing the Tiller family, commented on Operation Rescue's offer, calling it "just another irreverent, extremist publicity stunt."
Meanwhile, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), is also thinking about purchasing the Kansas abortion clinic. The well-known animal rights group is currently exploring options to buy the clinic and transform it into an animal cruelty education center, according to AP.
PETA recently dropped plans for vegetarian billboards it wanted to display following Tiller's shooting. The ads, which would have read, "Pro-Life? Go Vegetarian" and "Pro-Choice? Choose Vegetarian," drew ire from both sides of the abortion debate and were eventually rejected by billboard companies in the area.
Tiller was shot and killed on May 31 while serving as an usher during a Sunday service at his Lutheran church.
Pro-life leaders have strongly denounced his murder as an act of vigilantism and violence which ran counter to Christian and biblical teachings.
Many have been quick to adamantly reject any connections between the pro-life movement and 51-year-old Scott Roeder, who was charged with first-degree murder in Tiller's death.
Reports on Roeder describe him as being anti-abortion and anti-government and "very religious" but in an Old Testament "eye-for-an-eye way." A preliminary hearing on his case is set for June 16.
Tiller was among the few late-term abortion practitioners in the country. At the time of his death, he was under investigation by the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts for 11 petition allegations against him. In March, he was acquitted of 19 charges of illegal abortions by a six-member jury.
Kansas state law requires that post-viability abortions be signed off by an independent second physician who can verify that the abortion is medically necessary to save the mother's life.
Although the KSBA has closed the investigation because of his death, several Kansas-based pro-life groups urged the board to press forward with open complaints against other medical personnel associated with Tiller.
Operation Rescue has asked the board to look into open complaints filed against his employee, abortionist Shelley Sella.
Also, Kansas for Life on Friday renewed calls to the board to revoke the medical licenses of Kristin Neuhaus, a doctor who provided a second opinion in the 19 late-term abortions performed in 2003, and Tiller’s former associates LeRoy Carhart, Sella and Susan Robinson.
"Our concern is that unless the board follows up on other related open complaints, the illegal activity cited could be continued by these other doctors who also utilized Neuhaus for referrals," Kansas for Life said in statement. "This is especially urgent given that Leroy Carhart has announced his intention to open a late-term abortion clinic in Kansas."