Pro-lifers in Wichita, Kansas were planning to hold a memorial and prayer service today at the clinic where George Tiller performed 70,000 abortions. Facing the prospect of a counter demonstration by the National Organization for Women (NOW), the service was moved to maintain a respectful atmosphere.
While the two of the main sponsors of the memorial service both condemned the murder of Dr. Tiller, Operation Rescue and the Christian Defense Coaltion were seeking to highlight another offense against life—the death of 70,000 children at the now-shuttered clinic.
Upon learning of the memorial service, NOW's leaders decided to organize a protest to disrupt the service. Seeking to avoid the jeers of the pro-abortion protesters, the pro-life organizers moved their service to a location near the Operation Rescue offices.
Participants plan to leave 1,500 flowers to honor the 70,000 children that died at Dr. Tiller's clinic and then proceed to Wesley Hospital, where they will leave 1,500 flowers to “celebrate new life, justice and human rights in Wichita,” organizers said.
The pro-abortion protesters see Dr. Tiller as a “religious” martyr, “who joins the list of martyrs for ethical decency and human rights, killed for healing with compassion,” according to comments made by Rabbi Arthur Waskov and posted on the Wichita chapter of NOW's website. The site also states that Tiller “literally gave his life for women” and that “he saved lives.”
However, pro-lifers, while condemning the slaying of George Tiller and disavowing all forms of violence, also see a greater tragedy.
Organizers of the prayer service explained that their goal was “simply to conduct a prayer vigil and memorial to remember and honor the 70,000 innocent lives that were lost at Dr. Tiller's clinic and work for social justice and pray for an end to violence in Wichita.”
The pro-life memorial and prayer service is being led by Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, who stated that it is “shameful that the National Organization for Women would disrupt a prayer vigil and memorial service for women and children with a counter demonstration.
“It seems they are taking a page out of the playbook of hatemonger Fred Phelps with their disturbing actions,” he said.
"Sadly, NOW decided to show utter contempt for a religious and solemn service and decided to disrupt it. We are thankful that the pro-life community showed respect for Dr. Tiller and his family and chose not to disrupt or demonstrate at his memorial service," Rev. Mahoney added.