Dr. George Tiller, 67, of Wichita, Kansas, was shot to death at about ten o'clock (CDT) this morning as he entered his church, the Reformation Lutheran Church, for services. Details are still sketchy, but Wichita police have confirmed that the victim of the shooting is Dr. Tiller.
As one of the few practitioners of late term abortions in the country, Tiller was a polarizing lightning rod of a figure in the ongoing national debate about abortion, and had earned the nickname of "Tiller the Killer" among conservative opponents of abortion.
During more than two decades of notoriety, Tiller was no stranger to threats and protests at his clinic in Wichita. He had been the target of a gunman once before, in 1993, when he was shot and wounded.
Wichita police have announced they are looking for a blue Ford Taurus with a K-State vanity plate, license number 225 BAB. Police described him as a white male in his 50s or 60s, 6 feet 1 inch tall, 220 pounds, wearing a white shirt and dark pants.
Late-term abortions are defined as those which take place after the twentieth week of gestation. They, along with partial birth abortions, are the most controversial procedures in the overall debate over abortion, which has raged ever since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in the early seventies. Opponents maintain that late-term fetuses are "viable," (capable of living) and should not be performed for that reason. The exact point at which viability occurs is variable and is at the heart of the controversy.