A Wichita jury has just ruled that Dr. George Tiller, MD is not guilty of illegal abortion on all 19 criminal charges brought against him.
"We're very grateful and relieved. With this unanimous jury verdict, hopefully politicians and lawyers may at last understand that legal harassment of Dr. Tiller must end," said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, reacting to the decision. The Feminist Majority Foundation, which runs the largest project in the nation to assist clinics targeted by anti-abortion extremists, has worked with Dr. Tiller and his clinics for some 20 years.
"He is a fine man who works to provide desperately needed health care services for women. In a modern nation with advanced medical knowledge, he should not have to go through such travails," said Kathy Spillar, Executive Vice President of FMF and Coordinator of FMF's National Clinic Access Project. "We need more doctors to stand up against ideological bullies."
Dr. George Tiller, medical director of the Women's Health Care Services clinic, is one of the few late-term abortion providers in the country. Desperate women with troubled pregnancies and with serious health problems come to Dr. Tiller's clinic from all over the country. He is often their last hope.
Dr. Tiller has courageously withstood repeated attacks by extremists, including massive blockades and arsons. In 1994, he survived an assassination attempt by an Army of God follower, in which he was shot and wounded.
Dr. Tiller's clinic has also faced nearly constant legal harassment, including two criminal grand jury investigations initiated by anti-abortion extremists under a citizen petition provision of Kansas law. Both grand juries found no basis for charging Dr. Tiller and were adjourned. And beginning in 2006, then-Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, an anti-abortion zealot, launched an investigation of Dr. Tiller's clinic.
Kline subpoenaed the unedited medical records of 90 women and girls who sought late-term abortions in 2003 at Dr. Tiller's clinic, claiming he needed the records to prosecute cases of child rape. But many of these women were over the age of 16 - the statutory child rape age. So, Kline changed his rationale for requesting the records, saying he was looking for "potential" crimes involving violations of the state's late-term abortion laws. This was clearly a fishing expedition.
So far Dr. Tiller has been winning. Dr. Tiller fought back to protect his patients' right to privacy. After months of legal maneuvers, the Kansas Supreme Court finally ordered the files turned over but ruled that all medical records must have the patients' names and personal information withheld.
Shortly afterwards, Kline was resoundingly defeated in his reelection bid in 2006. But, Kline's successor, the new attorney general, used the patient records Kline had finally secured to file 19 criminal charges against Dr. Tiller, accusing him of violating a state law that requires a second physician's opinion before a late-term abortion can be performed. Each charge on which the jury just ruled he was not guilty carried a penalty of up to a year in prison if convicted.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .