SAD DAY FOR ALL OF US WHO BELIEVE IN WOMEN'S RIGHT TO CHOOSE.
A prominent US abortion doctor has been shot dead at a church in the city of Wichita, Kansas.
Sixty-seven year-old George Tiller was killed just after 1000 (1500 GMT) at the Reformation Lutheran Church.
The gunman, described as a white man, fled in a car, but officials say a suspect is now in custody in Wichita.
Dr Tiller, one of the few US doctors who performed so-called late-term abortions, had been vilified by anti-abortionists in the US.
His clinic - called Women's Health Care Services - had often been the site of demonstrations, and he had been shot and wounded by an assailant 16 years ago.
Questioning of the suspect, a 51 year-old man, is continuing. Wichita Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz said he was likely to face one charge of murder and two counts of aggravated assault for allegedly pointing a gun at two other men.
Dr Tiller's lawyer, Dan Monnat, said his client was killed while serving as an usher during a morning church service. His wife was in the choir at the time.
Dr Tiller's widow, four children and 10 grandchildren issued a statement calling his killing "an unspeakable tragedy".
The statement said: "This is particularly heart-wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace."
They said his death was a loss for Wichita and for women across America, saying he had dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality health care, despite frequent threats and violence.
Anti-abortion groups also denounced the shooting.
In a statement, Troy Newman of Operation Rescue said his group had worked for years through peaceful and legal means and through the proper channels to see Dr Tiller "brought to justice".
・ Oct 1998: Dr Barnett Slepian shot dead, Buffalo, New York
・ Jan 1998: Policeman killed in blast at clinic near Birmingham, Alabama
・ Dec 30 1994: Two receptionists shot dead at clinics near Boston
・ July 1994: Dr John Britton and a volunteer escort killed outside clinic, Pensacola, Florida
"We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning."
Phill Kline, an opponent of Dr Tiller and a former attorney-general of the state of Kansas, said: "I am stunned by this lawless and violent act, which must be condemned and should be met with the full force of law."
The shooting came two weeks after President Barack Obama made a major speech on abortion at one of the main Catholic universities in the US.
Correspondents say the president is attempting to defuse the abortion issue - a highly emotive subject in US public life - by arguing that while it should remain legal, the government should do all it can to limit the number of unwanted pregnancies.
But members of the anti-abortion movement have been angered by the president's reversal of restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and for family-planning groups which carry out or facilitate abortions outside the US.
A late-term abortion is the termination of a foetus beyond the 20th week of pregnancy, when it is potentially old enough to survive outside the womb.
Story from BBC NEWS:
By Anna Clark
Created May 31 2009 - 3:22pm
(cross-posted at Isak )
Many have heard the really terrifying news that Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider in Kansas, was gunned down this morning while he attended services at his Lutheran church in Wichita.
At this writing, a suspect has just been taken into custody. 
The chilling fact of Dr. Tiller's death comes after years of being terrorized: he'd been shot before (in both arms); had his clinic bombed, flooded and vandalized; received decades of death threats;
wild lawsuits; and was the unfortunate target of conservative media that hounded him. He'd also been stabbed--and went back to work the next day.
While of course everybody has the right to personally oppose abortion, the killing and harassment of Dr. Tiller is beyond the pale. (I've articulated my own pro-choice feelings about abortion here , here
, and here ). The hypocrisy of murder being the recourse of someone who is "pro-life" is so evident it barely needs discussing.
What does need emphasizing: Dr. Tiller's courage in persevering with his work--his commitment to the women who came to him--even in the face of such cruelty is astonishing. His murder comes down in my mind to an act of terrorism; it is, after all, intended to send a fearful message to other abortion providers or advocates or women who seek abortions. (Matthew Yglesias makes a powerful point  about how effective this is.)
As Feministe points out , this is the first direct shooting of an abortion provider in more than a decade (after a fearful spate of them through most of the 1990s), though the anniversary of Roe v. Wade last January saw one man smashing his SUV into a St. Paul clinic full of patients and employees . It seems that clinic bombings and murders increase substantially during pro-choice administrations.
A candlelight vigil in honor of Dr. Tiller is planned in Wichita tonight at 8pm in Old Town Square. Find more info on Facebook. 
As well, this is a wonderful time to donate and volunteer our time to organizations that have Tiller-esque courage and compassion. Consider showing your love for these favorites of mine: Medical Students for Choice 
National Abortion Federation 
Abortion Conversation Project 
Read more about Dr. Tiller--his life, work, and death--here:
The Wichita Eagle 
The Kansas City Star 
Mike Hendricks 
Daily Kos 
Dr. George Tiller's clinic website 
Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War , by James Risin
Peace, my friends. Peace.
Access to Abortion
Dr. George Tiller
late term abortion