- (Photo: AP)
Late-term abortionist George Tiller was acquitted on 19 charges of illegal abortions.
A jury of three men and three women reached the not guilty verdict on Friday in less than an hour, disappointing pro-life groups that were closely watching the trial of one of the nation's few late-term abortion practitioners.
But the pro-lifers say the case will not have much impact on future cases challenging abortion.
"This was an important case, but putting it in perspective, it was not about abortion," said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Washington-based Christian Defense Coalition, according to Agance France Presse.
Tiller was on trial this week for having an impromper financial relationship with a doctor, Kristin Neuhaus, who provided a second opinion in the 19 late-term abortions performed in 2003.
Kansas law requires a second independent physician to sign off on the validity of late-term abortions.
Both Tiller and Neuhaus denied impropriety in their financial arrangement.
Each of the 19 counts carried a possible penalty of one year in prison and a $2,500 fine.
Despite the acquittal, the Kansas State Board of Healing ARts released a statement saying it plans to move forward with a disciplinary petition the board filed against Tiller last December.
The petition includes 11 allegations, including performing an abortion on a fetus that was viable without having a documented referral from another physician not legally or financially affiliated with him; unprofessional or dishonorable conduct or professional incompetency; and commitment of acts likely to deceive, defraud or harm the public.
The case filed by the medical board is independent from the criminal charges Tiller was acquitted from this week and will proceed in its own merits, according to the board's statement.
Tiller could have his medical license revoked, suspended, or dramatically restricted.
Operation Rescue president Troy Newman noted that the 19 charges Tiller faced this week were "only a small fraction of the illegal activity" that believe occurs at Tiller's Wichita abortion clinic. Moreover, those 19 were "the weakest charges that could have been brought by the state."
"On behalf of the pre-born children wrongly killed by Tiller and his associates, we vow to press on until Tiller is finally held accountable to the law and his late-term abortion mill is permanently closed," said Newman, who attended the trial.