An American doctor known for carrying out late-term abortions has been shot dead outside his church in Kansas.
Dr George Tiller was one of the few doctors in the country willing to perform abortions on women in their third trimester of pregnancy.
While Dr Tiller had been the subject of attacks in the past, his clinic was frequently the focus of peaceful protests by pro-life groups, many of whom have been quick to denounce the killing.
A local man called Scott Roeder has been charged with the murder. Mr Roeder’s ex-wife has since told reporters that her former husband’s anti-abortion fanaticism had contributed to the breakdown of their marriage.
American pro-life groups have pleaded against the murder being used for political gain.
“Please, don’t use this tragic situation to broad-brush the pro-life community as extremists,” said Revd Pat Mahoney of the anti-abortion Christian Defense Coalition.
The ProLife Alliance, a UK group, said it condemned the killing. In a statement released today, the group said: “We oppose the violence of abortion itself, and any other violence associated with it. There is no violent or aggressive activity in the UK by any pro-life group.”
John Smeaton, national director of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC), said Dr Tiller’s killing was a “crime against life”.
“SPUC has always condemned violence, whether against abortionists or unborn babies. Acts of violence towards the staff of abortion facilities are isolated. Those responsible have on each occasion acted as individuals, and not members of any pro-life group. Our sympathy goes out to Dr Tiller’s family.”