Pro-life leaders plan to stop a Nebraska doctor from setting up an abortion clinic in Wichita, Kan., where infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller had operated for more than three decades before his death this past May.
After hearing that Leroy Carhart still hopes to set up an abortion clinic in Wichita, pastors from several local churches met with the media Thursday afternoon to voice their objections.
"We do not want the label of abortion in any form attached to our city any longer," said Pastor David Griffis with the Heartland Transformation Ministry Network, according to The Wichita Eagle.
"For once the city of Wichita is abortion free," added David Gittrich with Kansans for Life. "I feel a whole lot more peaceful, I assume you guys feel a lot more peaceful too that there's not any holocaust going on with children in the womb."
On June 9, the family of the late George Tiller had announced that the Women's Health Care Services clinic would be "permanently closed" following the death of the abortion doctor, who was shot and killed during a Sunday service at his Lutheran church on May 31.
Since 1975, Tiller had run the clinic as one of the few late-term abortion practitioners in the country. At the time of his death, Tiller was under investigation by the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts for 11 petition allegations against him. 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, including Carhart, who has been accused by pro-life activists for being responsible for the death of a pregnant 19-year-old who they say was a victim of an illegal forced abortion.
Following Tiller's death, Carhart told The Associated Press that "there will be a place in Kansas for the later second- and the medically indicated third-trimester patients very soon," but declined to discuss his plans in detail.
Then, earlier this week, Carhart said he plans to open a late-term abortion clinic in Kansas and that his "main choice" for the clinic's location would be Wichita.
In response, anti-abortion group Operation Rescue launched its "Keep It Closed" campaign to stop Carhart from opening a late-term abortion clinic "in Nebraska, Kansas, or any other state."
"We are dedicated to working through every legal means to stop LeRoy Carhart from following through on his threats to open a late-term abortion clinic to replace Tiller's clinic," said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.
According to the group, Carhart's "poorly-maintained abortion clinic in Nebraska presents a hazard to women that would only increase with the introduction of the more dangerous third-trimester abortions."
Furthermore, records on file with the Nebraska Department of Heath "indicate that Carhart has falsified entries on patient charts, interrupted abortions due to fatigue or exhaustion, engaged in personal phone conversations in the middle of abortions, and failed to train his staff on infection control protocols," Operation Rescue added.
"We have vast experience gained over years of legally and peacefully closing abortion clinics around the nation and will be putting that experience into practice in new and creative ways in the coming weeks and months," said Newman.
Pastors affiliated with the Heartland Transformation Ministry Network and the Full Gospel Pastor's Association, meanwhile, are calling on the Kansas Board of Healing Arts to take a closer look at Carhart, saying that he likely broke Kansas' late-term abortion law when he subbed in for Tiller during the time they worked together.
The group handed the board a petition a couple years ago, asking them to investigate a group of doctors who worked with Tiller. That petition, however, was put aside as the board looked into complaints against Tiller. Now, with the investigation closed, they want that 2007 petition given more attention.
"Understandably, because of his murder, the Board has dropped the complaint against Dr. Tiller's license," expressed Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, in a statement dated June 12.
"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," she continued. "This is especially urgent given that Leroy Carhart has announced his intention to open a late-term abortion clinic in Kansas."
According to Culp's group, abortionists have been required to file state abortion reports since 1998, but "none of the over 5,000 late-term abortions (nearly 3,000 of them on viable unborn babies) since then, have been reported as done to prevent the mother's death."
At the time of Tiller's death, the state Healing Arts Board had reportedly taken two out of three steps to revoke the abortionist's medical license.
In addition to Carhart, Kansans for Life is calling for regulatory actions and revocation of the medical licenses of Tiller's referring doctor, Kristin Neuhaus, and Tiller's former associates - Shelly Sella and Susan Robinson.