The group that tried for years to put slain abortion provider Dr. George Tiller out of business is interested in buying his now-closed clinic in Wichita, its president said.
Operation Rescue president Troy Newman said that his group has discussed the idea of buying the tan, windowless clinic in east Wichita. He made the comment after the Tiller family announced that the clinic would be closed permanently.
"I would love to make an offer on that abortion clinic, and that's some of the discussion that we're having," Newman said in a telephone interview Tuesday from his group's headquarters in Wichita.
Tiller was shot May 31 while serving as an usher at his church. Scott Roeder, a 51-year-old Kansas City, Mo., resident, has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault.
Tiller attorney Dan Monnat declined to discuss Newman's suggestion.
"I'm just not going to respond to every irreverent publicity stunt or comment by these extremists," Monnat said.
Newman's group bought another former abortion clinic in Wichita in 2006 for its headquarters, but he said the group needs to expand. "We need a bigger office," he said.
Tiller's clinic was the site of a 45-day "Summer of Mercy" protest in 1991 that included attempts to blockade it and led to more than 2,700 arrests.
Operation Rescue was founded in the 1980s by Randall Terry, who led the "Summer of Mercy" effort. Terry stopped using the Operation Rescue name because of multiple lawsuits. He and Newman are engaged in a legal dispute over who has the right to use the name.
Newman moved to Wichita in 2002 and brought his anti-abortion group from California to wage an aggressive campaign to shut down Tiller's clinic.
"We would love to see that place established as a center for life, one that nurtures and cares for babies, rather than taking their lives," Newman said of Tiller's former clinic.
In other news, A Nebraska doctor said Wednesday that he will perform third-term abortions in Kansas after Tiller's murder, but would not say whether he will open a new facility or offer the procedure at an existing practice.
Dr. LeRoy Carhart declined to discuss his plans in detail during a telephone interview with The Associated Press, but insisted "there will be a place in Kansas for the later second- and the medically indicated third-trimester patients very soon."
"I just think that until everything is in place, it's something that doesn't need to be talked about" in detail, Carhart said a day after Tiller's family announced his Wichita clinic was permanently shutting its doors.
Tiller's clinic was one of the only facilities in the country that performed third-trimester abortions. Carhart has run his own clinic in Bellevue, Neb., since 1985, but had performed late-term abortions at Tiller's clinic because of Nebraska's more restrictive abortion laws.
Nebraska law does not allow an abortion if the fetus is considered viable, or able to survive outside the womb. Kansas law allows abortions on viable fetuses after the 21st week if carrying the pregnancy to term would endanger the mother's life or cause a "substantial and irreversible impairment" of a major bodily function. Courts have interpreted a "major bodily function" to include mental health.