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Abortion Foes Fear Backlash To Tiller's Slaying

(AP/Mike Hutmacher, Wichita Eagle)
Dr. George Tiller during his March trial for allegedly performing late-term abortions without properly consulting a second doctor. Tiller was acquitted.

NEW YORK (CBS/AP) Anti-abortion leaders are deeply worried that the Obama administration and other Democrats may try to capitalize on the slaying of Dr. George Tiller to defuse the abortion issue in upcoming Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

Many anti-abortion groups condemned the killing of Tiller, a prominent abortion provider in Kansas. But they expressed concern that abortion-rights activists would use the occasion to brand the entire anti-abortion movement as extremist.

They also worried that there would be an effort to stifle anti-abortion viewpoints during questioning of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Her exact views on abortion aren't known, but conservatives fear she supports abortion rights.

"No one should use this tragedy for political gain." said Rev. Patrick Mahoney, an anti-abortion activist.

Tiller was a controversial figure on both sides of the abortion debate. He was one of the few doctors in America to continue to perform so called late-term abortions. His clinic was often picketed by pro-life advocates and was bombed in 1985. Tiller himself was shot in both arms in 1993, but he carried on. In March of this year, he stood trial for allegedly performing late-term abortions without the proper consultation of an independent doctor. But Tiller prevailed.

Mainstream Christian conservatives have come out against both Dr. Tiller's slaying and his controversial medical practice.

"We are shocked by the murder of George Tiller, and we categorically condemn the act of vigilantism and violence that took his life," Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian advocacy group wrote on the organization's website. But he added that he believed, "the doctor had the blood of countless babies on his hands."

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