Dr. George Tiller's Clinic Closes for Good

By Christine Cupaiuolo — June 10, 2009

Ed. note: We’ve updated the collection of writings about Dr. George Tiller with more news and policy analysis.

The family of Dr. George Tiller announced today it will not re-open the health clinic where Tiller provided abortion services for three decades.

The family’s lawyers said in a statement that the clinic, Women’s Health Care Services, will be permanently closed, effective immediately:

The family of Dr. George Tiller announces that effective immediately, Women’s Health Care Services, Inc., will be permanently closed. Notice is being given today to all concerned that the Tiller family is ceasing operation of the clinic and any involvement by family members in any other similar clinic.

We are proud of the service and courage shown by our husband and father and know that women’s health care needs have been met because of his dedication and service. That is a legacy that will never die. The family will honor Dr. Tiller’s memory through private charitable activities. The Tiller family wishes to assure Dr. Tiller’s past patients that the privacy of their medical histories and patient records will remain as fiercely protected now and in the future as they were during Dr. Tiller’s lifetime.

The Wichita Eagle reported on how the closing affects access to abortion clinics in the Midwest. The closest abortion provider is in Overland Park, Kan., about a three-hour drive from Wichita.

“A three-hour trip time is not unusual for many women in America, especially if you look at places like Mississippi and Arkansas, where substantial populations don’t have an abortion provider,” said Jenny O’Donnell of the Massachusetts-based Abortion Access Project.

Nationally, about 87 percent of counties have no abortion provider, according to 2005 statistics from the Guttmacher Institute, a New York think tank focused on sexual and reproductive health.

In the Midwest, the percentage of counties without a provider was 94. In Kansas, 96 percent of counties had no abortion provider, before Tiller’s clinic closure added Sedgwick County to the list.

In 1992, Kansas had 15 abortion providers; by 2005, that number had declined to seven. Nationwide, the number of providers declined from 2,380 to 1,787, the Guttmacher report said.

Finally, if you missed Rachel Maddow’s interview Monday night with repentant former anti-abortion activist Frank Schaeffer, author of “Crazy for God,” watch below.

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