On December 31, 2000, an unknown person fired at least 25 bullets into a suburban Kansas City abortion clinic. An FBI spokesperson reported that the shots appeared to have been fired after 2 a.m. from outside the clinic, located in the suburb of Overland Park, KS. The damage did not affect patient-care areas, and the clinic, which performs about 4,000 abortions a year, was able to reopen later that day for business.
Kansas clinics and physicians have been frequently targeted by anti-abortion extremists, including a firebombing in Independence, shots fired into an abortion providerís home in Overland Park, an attempted arson in Kansas City, a 1991 shooting in Springfield that left two staff members wounded, and the 1993 shooting of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita. Anti-abortion extremist Rachelle Shannon was convicted of Dr. Tillerís attempted murder and sentenced to 11 years in prison for that crime.
Local and federal law enforcement officials are investigating the crime as a violation of the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. Violations of FACE, which was signed into law in 1994 by President Clinton, are investigated and prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department. Just before Christmas, President-elect George W. Bush named the virulent abortion opponent and former Missouri Republican senator John Ashcroft to head the Justice Department.
Persons with information about the Overland Park shooting can call (816) 474-TIPS; callers may remain anonymous and a reward of up to $1,000 is available.
Media Resources: Kansas City Star, January 2, 2001