Minn. abortion clinics react to Tiller killing

Abortion Provider George Tiller Killed In Wichita
Flowers are seen in front of the Women's Health Care Services abortion clinic and serve as a memorial to Dr. George Tiller's death May 31, 2009 in Wichita, Kansas. Dr. George Tiller, a late term abortion doctor, was gunned down inside the foyer at the Reformation Lutheran Church during morning church services. A suspect in the shooting has been apprehended in Kansas City.
Kelly Glasscock/Getty Images

The federal protection was offered to a number of organizations nationwide that provide abortions. The regional Planned Parenthood office would not release any details of the additional protection.

The organization did issue a statement denouncing the shooting death of Dr. George Tiller. The fatal shooting has prompted condemnation from organizations that both support and oppose legalized abortions.

Pat Sanden, the executive director of the Midwest Health Center for Women, said she was once again greeted by anti-abortion protesters as she entered her Minneapolis office. But she said this morning, anti-abortion protesters acknowledged Tiller's death.

"It paints us all with a broad brush and it's not helpful."

"Today, when I came in, one of the protestors said to me, 'Pat, we're sorry about the doctor being killed,'" Sanden said. "I tried to keep an open heart and think he probably does truly mean that. It's a sad an unfortunate thing."

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Despite Tiller's death, Sanden said she does not have plans to beef up security at her health center. She said there are cameras outside the building and in the lobby, and everyone has to show identification to enter the office. Doctors on her staff told her they have no security concerns, she's still advising staff to be more aware of their surroundings.

"Let's always be looking around us making sure you're well aware of your circumstances," Sanden told her staff. "I don't want staff members being here alone in the next few weeks. We need to make sure the security guards know when someone is here in the building, just a bit more heightened and aware of everyone and everything around us."

At least three doctors who perform abortions have been killed since 1993, and many organizations that oppose abortion said this type of violence actually hurts their cause.

"It paints us all with a broad brush and it's not helpful," said Scott Fischbach, executive director for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, a legislative and educational organization which opposes abortion.

Fischbach said his group has had an anti-violence policy since the 1980s. Today he reiterated that policy on the social network sites Facebook and Twitter and on his blog.

"We are a peaceful pro-life movement," Fischbach said. "We believe that even George Tiller had a right to life. We're a pro-life movement and we don't believe in killing at all."

That's the same message that Brian Gibson is sending. He's the executive director of Pro-Life Action Ministries, a 28-year-old St. Paul-based group that opposes abortion. His organization sends protestors to clinics where abortions are performed six days a week and he said they must adhere to the group's written policies against violence. He said when there is violence, such as Tiller's murder, it makes it harder for his group to do its work.

"It creates an atmosphere where we can be blamed or at least some partial blame can be assigned to us by those who are our opponents and would like to see us not doing the work we're doing," Gibson said. "So that makes it harmful. Public sentiment tends to weigh against us when someone does such a terrible act and we had nothing to do with it. So it makes it difficult, yes."

A suspect is in custody in the Kansas shooting and police say they believe the man acted alone. Meanwhile, the clinic where Tiller worked is closed for a week of mourning. In Minneapolis, the Midwest Health Center for Women is holding a candlelight vigil at Loring Park tomorrow night to mark his Tiller's death.